Issued by the Prison Strike Media Team
official outside media representative of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Freelance Journalist covering prisoner movements
@jaybeware on Twitter
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC)
National Media Committee
@IWW_IWOC on twitter
August 22, 2018
So the prisoner strike has been underway for more than 24 hours now.
In the first day we got word of actions coming out from the prisons from
Halifax, Nova Scotia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington and Folsom Prison in
California reported strike action.
We saw outside solidarity actions in at least 21 cities around the US
and as far abroad as Leipzig, Germany. We saw Palestinian political
prisoners give a statement of solidarity from their prisons in occupied
We called this conference call because those of us who have been
coordinating media relations on the outside have been overwhelmed by the
number of reporters and outlets who are covering the strike. Some of us
who were involved with media relations in 2016 can say that the
difference is dramatic and we thank you for your interest in this
prisoner-led movement. Many of you have the same questions and so we
want to give you all an opportunity to hear our responses in one place.
We want to note that although there aren’t widespread reports of
actions coming out of prisons that people need to understand that the
tactics being used in this strike are not always visible. Prisoners are
boycotting commissaries, they are engaging in hunger strikes which can
take days for the state to acknowledge, and they will be engaging in
sit-ins and work strikes which are not always reported to the outside.
As we saw in 2016, Departments of Corrections are not reliable sources
of information for these actions and will deny them and seek to repress
those who are engaged in them.
We have spoken with family members who have suggested that cell phone
lines may be being jammed at multiple prisons in South Carolina, New
Mexico had a statewide lockdown yesterday. The Departments of
Corrections in this country are working overtime to try and prevent
strike action and to try and prevent word from getting out about actions
that are taking place.
As you report the strike, we encourage you to uplift the actions that
we do know about, but also acknowledge that strikers may be resisting
in ways that are tougher to quantify and view. We encourage outlets to
issue FOIA requests to prisons that we believe will show attempts to
quell the strike and also evidence of boycotts and other strike
We also really want to remind the media that this strike is about ten
different demands. While prison slavery has become a galvanizing force
in the public eye, and it is a key element that prisoners are protesting
against, they have given you ten specific demands and it is important
to talk about all of them or report on them individually. People need to
understand how truth in sentencing laws function, how gang enhancement
laws function, and how the prison litigation reform act works and why
these are things that prisoners are targeting their protest around. We
need to be talking about the lack of rehabilitation programs, mental
health care, and the lack of education programs and how this undermines
the ostensibly rehabilitative nature of the prison system itself.
Prisoners crafted these demands carefully through national
organizing, based on the circumstances of the Lee Prison violence that
occurred earlier this year, in an understanding of how the state brings
about the conditions of violence like that, and the types of changes
that are necessary to prevent that sort of violence from recurring. This
is a human rights campaign and each of these demands should be
understood through a human rights lens.