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Fasting

Fasting in jail can be a powerful tactic, but it's very dangerous and should be used only as a last resort and when well researched. People with current or chronic medical conditions should not fast. Previous or current heavy drug or alcohol users also should not fast. You should clearly understand the medical implications of fasting. When in doubt, do not fast.

Some activists have reported that the effects of fasting can be felt in less than 12 hours. Effects reportedly include headache, dizziness, confusion, coating on the tongue, chills, lethargy, mood swings and weight loss. Hunger pangs can be intense for a period of time but disappear for most people after several days. Expect to be mentally slow, cloudy, and moody. In light of these effects a few people could refrain from fasting so they can act as caretakers and facilitators.

Your body goes through an intense detoxification process during a fast. Here are suggestions by activists to minimise harmful effects and discomfort:

Drink plenty of water. Remember; keep your pee pale in jail. If your urine turns dark, stop fasting. Shower as often as possible. Brush your skin with a rough towel to help remove toxins. Your tongue also excretes toxins, so brush it and your teeth often. Try to keep yourself warm at all times. If possible, sneak extra sets of clothes, towels or sheets to hide under your jail uniform. Slow down! Be clear before you start your fast. You will not think as clearly after. Develop a system ahead of time that allows you to stop someone's fast without undermining them (e.g. after someone passes out twice, they have to stop fasting).

Even when only one person is fasting in jail, it has worked well when decided through consensus with your affinity or legal support group. If demands are attached to the fast, question whether the demands can be met in the time you are willing to fast.

Fasts also work best when done within a well-organised, supported and publicised framework. There are many things supporters can do to help, such as publicising the fast or fasting themselves outside the jail. The public can become involved and sometimes even guards become concerned.

Much of this section is based on materials written or compiled by Katya Komisark from the Midnight Special Law Collective.

Also see Strategies for court