Rat Fur, Arsenic And Copper: The Dangerous Ingredients In US Prison Water

"Incarcerated people often must drink unhealthy water, a particularly cruel – but not unusual – form of punishment".

"Russell Rowe spent almost two and a half years in Washington DC’s central detention facility, where rusty water flowed from taps in sinks that were connected to toilets. He remembers dawdling at the nurse’s station when it was time to take his meds, in hopes she’d give him an extra, tiny “portion” cup of water, the cup that often holds or accompanies pills.

“I was just in a state of constant dehydration,” he said. “My whole body felt different. I just didn’t feel well.”

For many of the 2 million people incarcerated across the United States, constant thirst is a hallmark of their time behind bars. So is having to drink disgusting and dangerous water.

Of the dozen years Broderick Hollins spent in (mostly) Illinois prisons and jails, he will never forget the tap water. Brown water at Stateville correctional center tasted like onions. It also sometimes came with clumps of rat hairs, flowing into residents’ cells via lead pipes."

Lela Nargi reports for the Guardian March 19, 2024.

Source: Guardian, 03/20/2024