Ten years after stabbing a man to death, an inmate held in a supermax prison facility in Illinois was disciplined by prison authorities for creating a "pro-life" drawing of a newborn baby in an incubator that was used in a fundraiser by a nonprofit, pro-life pregnancy center in the state.
For a drawing that netted only $7 in proceeds, Corey Fox was disciplined for "entering into a business venture without alerting anybody," Sharyn Elman, a spokeswoman at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), told The Christian Post. Elman said IDOC policy prohibits her from commenting on what punishment Fox actually faced, but that in general, punishments at a supermax facility where prisoners are already in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, includes the taking away of "privileges," such as television, music, and writing instruments.
People associated with Fox say that the IDOC's reaction was too harsh, considering the accusations.
Fox, 36, is a troubled man. In 2001, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for stabbing a co-worker to death. In 2004, he strangled his cellmate to death, which earned Fox a second life term and a move to the Tamms Correctional Center (TCC), a maximum security prison where "the worst of the worst" go, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Fox once said that killing was a part of who he was. "Basically, that is the superstructure of Corey Fox," he once told a reporter, according to Belleville News Democrat.
While being held at TCC, Fox began corresponding with Nancy Meyer, a Christian woman who works at a clinic for the mentally disabled. At one point during their correspondence, Fox sent Meyer an ink drawing of a newborn baby in an incubator.
Meyer decided it could be put to good use by printing it on a t-shirt to raise money for the TLC Pregnancy Center, a Christian-based, pro-life clinic in Elgin, Ill., according to Vivian Maly, the executive director of the clinic.
"It was just a beautiful drawing," Maly told CP. "And it was so amazing he was able to do it because he had next to nothing to draw it with – just a tiny pen prisoners are allowed to use. He just wanted to use his God-given talents for something good."
In September, Meyer sent a letter to Fox informing him that the drawing only raised $2.50 at the time. The suggestion of a "business venture" caused TCC officials to start the investigation to find out if disciplinary action should be taken.
"This is just crazy," Meyer said, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. "Corey never asked for any money. He did it just to be good. How much money is the state going to spend investigating this?"
Meyer added that Fox would be put in "the hole," meaning he would be "stripped of all possessions and fed a bland, baked concoction called 'meal loaf.' "
As a supermax facility, TCC normally places its prisoners in solitary confinement, where they spend 23 hours a day with little to no human contact.
The IDOC has been criticized by human rights groups like Amnesty International and the ACLU for its "overuse" of the punishment, which the United Nations considers to be a form of torture when used for more than 15 days at a time.
Juan Mendez, a professor of law at American University in Washington and the U.N. lead investigator on torture, told the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee in October that solitary confinement for more than 15 days can lead to severe mental and physical harm.
"Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause, it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles," he said, according to the BBC.
Maly said she cannot believe the reaction from prison authorities.
"It's incredible. He didn't get a dime. We got $7, and they threw him in the hole," she said.