Dylann Roof, the white supremacist convicted of murdering nine Black church members in Charleston, South Carolina as they attended Bible study five years ago, went on a hunger strike this month to protest treatment by prison staff while on federal death row.
In letters to The Associated Press, Roof, 25, claims he’s been targeted by staff members, “verbally harassed and abused without cause” and “treated disproportionately harsh.” Roof told the AP in a Feb. 13 letter, that staff at the Terre Haute, Indiana realize that he is “hated by the general public” and thus feel their alleged poor treatment of him is warranted.
Roof told the news organization that he went on a hunger strike to protest how he is being treated by a Bureau of Prisons disciplinary hearing officer. He further brought up earlier complaints alleging that he was denied access to the law library and a copy machine to file legal papers.
In one letter to the news outlet, he mentioned that he was already “several days” into the hunger strike. However, in a subsequent letter, Roof told them that the strike ended on Feb. 14, after correctional officers attempted to take his blood, and inject an IV into his arm.
“I feel confident I could have gone much, much longer without food,” Roof wrote in the second letter, dated Feb. 16, according to the Associated Press. “It’s just not worth being murdered over.”
The Bureau of Prisons have not verified Roof’s claims, with a spokeswoman citing privacy concerns and telling the AP the agency would have no comment.
In a statement to the AP, Roof’s lawyers said they are “working with BOP to resolve the issues addressed in the letters.”
Last month, the lawyers filed an appeal hoping to reverse his federal capital murder convictions and death sentence. They claim he is mentally ill and shouldn’t have represented himself during the penalty portion of his trial.
In the appeal, Roof’s lawyers submitted a 321-page legal brief, arguing that U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel should not have prevented Roof from representing himself during the penalty phase because the ninth-grade dropout “believed his sentence didn’t matter because white nationalists would free him from prison after an impending race war.”