CRIME
03/13/2013 03:38 pm ET

William Lecuyer, New Jersey Inmate, On Year-Long Hunger Strike, Protests 'Unfair Punishment'

William Lecuyer has not eaten solid food since March 2012.

The New Jersey State Prison inmate, serving a 22-year sentence for armed robberies in 2000, refuses to eat in protest of what he claims was an "unfair punishment," the Star Ledger reports.

He's referring to a disciplinary charge that occurred in 2011, when prison dogs detected something in Lecuyer's cell. When guards found no drugs, Lecuyer allegedly refused to provide a urine sample.

His story is different.

According to the Ledger, the 34-year-old says he waited two hours for the guards to take his sample, and by then he'd already relieved himself. Nonetheless, officials sentenced him to four months of solitary confinement for denying a sample.

The inmate then vowed to live off about one nutritional drink a week and occasional intravenous solutions, the Star Ledger reported in February, until he's given access the Department of Corrections' logbook, which he says will prove his story.

New Jersey guidelines prevent Lecuyer from access to the logbook, according to UPI.

"The prison administration cannot allow itself to be coerced by an inmate," said Martin Horn, former New York City corrections commissioner.

A year in, photos of his weight loss and his deteriorating health are alarming officials and Lecuyer's family.

In February, Lecuyer's attorney tried to work out an agreement with the state prison to end the standoff, NBC New York reported. Prison administrators denied his appeal.

Now, the Ledger reports, his appeal will go to a state appellate court. His diminishing condition, though, may get in the way of that. However, in an exclusive interview with the Star Ledger, Lecuyer said that he is not afraid of dying, and will not give up his fight.

Hunger strikes in prison are not unheard of, but Lecuyer's case is rare. Back in 2011, thousands of prisoners in California partook in a statewide hunger strike to protest prison conditions. But when inmates began growing ill, they started a "rolling hunger strike," taking turns receiving meals.

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