Food Strike By Jail Protester


Source: Evening Argus, Worthing, UK

Pub Date: Monday 12th January 2004

Subj: Food Strike By Jail Protester



Ref:      Legalise Cannabis Alliance 

            Cannabis Cafes and Chris Baldwin




A jailed cannabis cafe owner has gone on hunger strike in protest at his prison diet.


Chris Baldwin, 53, a vegan, is refusing to eat the diet provided at HMP High Down, in Sutton, Surrey, because he is not convinced that the food is free of animal products.


He has pledged to refuse food and water until the prison proves his meals are vegan.


The cannabis campaigner was jailed for six months on Friday after pleading guilty to allowing people to smoke cannabis at a property on November 27, 2002, and possessing cannabis with intent to supply on May 20, last year.


Baldwin was arrested after police raided his notorious Dutch-style cafe. the Quantum Leaf in Worthing.


The prisoner, who suffers from spastic paraplegia phoned his friend and home carer Trevor Scott, of Carnegie Close, Worthing, yesterday to say he would starve in his cell until appropriate vegan cuisine was provided.


Mr Scott, who has looked after Baldwin for more than ten years, said he was worried the campaigner would damage his health.


Mr Scott said: "He told me he could not eat the vegan food given and he's refusing food and water until the prison authorities listen to him.  I called the prison and they said inmates get what they are given and put the phone down.  It's really unfair.  He's a fussy eater.  A lot of people are.  Even toast with vegan spread would be fine but he would have to know that the spread didn't have animal produce in it - that's his prerogative as a human being."


Sarah Chalk, of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, said: "We're feeling that he should not be in prison in the first place for a cannabis crime.  It's appalling that he was not provided for when he arrived.  Bearing in mind that he is a disabled man and needs more caring than a normal prisoner, the prison should have addressed his needs straight away."


High Down Assistant Governor Charlotte Millar said: "A prisoner has complained about the availability of vegan meals.  High Down currently holds 750 prisoners of which approximately five are recorded as vegan.  But there is a wide-ranging menu selection for prisoners which caters for many forms of diet, including vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher amongst others.  The meals conforming to these diet requirements are clearly marked on the menu selection sheet provided to prisoners each week."


Ms Millar said new prisoners are asked about their dietary requirements on arrival and Baldwin was offered a cold vegan meal and fruit but refused to eat it.

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