Prison Radio
Bilal Muhammad

My name is Bilal Hasan Mohammed II. I’m illegally detained pretrial at the El Paso County Jail Annex.

I’ve been fighting starvation and malnourishment for most, if not all, my stay here, going on eight years. There have been many points in time when I did not have any food whatsoever for up to eight days. The Torah requires me to consume only orthodox kosher food; state and federal law requires the jail to furnish me with such a diet which also provides me with adequate nutrition, but the jail refuses to do so. So, I’m forced to live off purchasing kosher food items from the jail weekly commissary, which there are not a lot of said items to choose from, nor do I have many, if any, healthy culture options to choose from in that commissary.

All the items in the weekly commissary are also outrageously expensive; in comparison, you would pay only a fraction of the cost at your local grocery store or convenience store. Being so, I cannot afford commissary all the time; even if I could, that would still not allow me to stay healthy. For example, I can spend $150 on commissary, and that may not even last five days, then two days I would go without food til the next commissary order. So either way, whether I have commissary or not, results in me being malnourished as my body never gets the proper amounts of essential protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals, etc. Since this has been going on long term, my body has developed thryoid disease and many other health complications, not to mention the psychological and neurological negative effects. So there’s a lot on my plate that I’m dealing with emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially.

I have been fighting this federal lawsuit against the jail since 2019. Jail medical was given me a small food supplementation of Ensures, an eight ounce portion two times a day, which helped a little in terms of nutrition and a lot in commissary expenses, but was stopped recently for no reason the same time my federal lawsuit had motions which led up to its dismissal. And I believe that the jail basically cut my nutrition or the Ensures to hamper my ability to prosecute those motions and the expected appeal. So all this started about or a little before I stopped giving my commentary. Well, the lawsuit is basically to enforce various civil rights, especially my religious and nutritional rights. The Federal District Court has been very hostile toward me, and has all but directly said to me that I have no rights, nor do I have the right to adequate nutrition, which is contrary to law. And to put this in a little more context, the district court has already this month dismissed of my lawsuit two or three times in the past, which I appealed to the US Court of Appeals, the Fifth Circuit, and I won every time, then the suit was remanded back to the District Court.

I call this unjust tactic used by the district court “judicial ping pong.” And this is how it’s played, basically: my suit gets wrongfully dismissed, and I’m being the ball and then served to the appellate court. Then I get paddled back to the district court and so on and so forth. Most people give up due to the delay in costs that are incurred in the appeal. The District Court has been wearing me down over the years by playing this game of ping pong. So recently, I’ve been way more malnourished than I normally am and dealing with the district court and designing my appeal. You know, to be honest, you know, all of this has got me down a lot. You all give me hope and the strength to keep going, and I love each and every single one of you. Power to the people.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.