A Serial Killer Went On Hunger Strike, Demanding A PlayStation
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A whole lot of serial killers have targeted hitchhikers over the years, to the point that when you ask a true crime fan about someone called "the hitchhiker killer," they'll inevitably ask you, "Which one?" Today, we're talking about Ivan Milat, who's more often called the Backpacker Killer, after the particular type of hitchhiker he chased.
Milat killed seven backpacking hitchhikers (or hitchhiking backpackers) between 1989 and 1993. Australia gave him seven life sentences, which he was to serve in Goulburn Correctional Centre, the highest-security prison in the whole country.
When people hear "maximum security," they imagine a torture facility, and that's not always accurate. And so, in 2006, some members of the Australian public were outraged to learn that Goulburn had provided Milat with a toaster oven (for sandwiches) and a personal TV. The controversy grew big enough that the prison removed the items, until a review decided that these rewards for good behavior are good for the prison, and they returned them to him.
But Milat had more demands. In 2011, he asked for his own PlayStation in his cell, so he could "exercise his mind." The prison, predictably, turned him down. So starting May 3, he stopped eating.
Prisoners who choose to hunger strike do so because they've been denied all other forms of expression to protest injustices (injustices like not getting their own PlayStation). Often, the prison ends up force-feeding them, which is so horrific that it works at gaining the prisoner publicity and sympathy. As Milat went days without eating, Coulburn was prepared to feed him intravenously if he fainted. In the end, he lasted nine days, without fainting, before giving up and eating again.
The prison had not given in to his demands. During those nine days, news sources say he lost 25 kilograms (55 pounds), a figure that strains credibility.
This wasn't Milat's wildest stunt. In 2009, he cut off his pinky finger, planning to mail it to a judge. As a result, when he demanded his PlayStation, a prison official quipped that "there'd be no point if he got one because he needs two hands to use it." Goulburn was wrong about that, though. You don't use your pinky at all with a controller, and you can even get adaptive controllers and play totally one-handed. So, good news for everyone with accessibility issues (who isn't currently incarcerated for killing seven hitchhikers).
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