Prisoners all across the country go on strike against Slave Labor!
On August 21st, the anniversary of the killing of Black Panther George Jackson, prisoners all over the country went on strike. There are sit-ins, work-stoppages, commissary boycotts, and other actions happening till September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica Uprising. This strike could be the largest strike since the national prison in late 2016.
Launched on September 9th, the 2016 strike was one of the largest prison actions in US history, drawing the participation of an estimated 24,000 prisoners in 20 facilities across two dozen states.
In April of this year the uprising in South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Facility, in which seven people died, sparked the idea of the current strike.
Prisons are plagued with massive under-staffing, poor food, and unhealthy water. The under-staffing leads to extensive use of lock-downs and solitary.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak has previously issued this list of ten demands:
- Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
- An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
- An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
- An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
- No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
- State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
- Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
- The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
Kevin Steel, is a former prisoner, who is a spokesperson for the New York Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). “There are a lot of peaceful protests that go unspoken outside the prison walls,” said Steele, “That’s something a lot of people out here don’t expect because of the stigma that incarcerated people are violent,” he added.
Deirdre Wilson, a former inmate who served as a firefighter in the Puerta La Cruz fire in California, told Newsweek that prison volunteer firefighting was a “cruel joke” after it was revealed that firefighters typically make about $75,000 per year plus benefits, while inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation make about $2 per day, and $1 extra when fighting an active fire.
“You’re not really volunteering,” Wilson told Newsweek. “The system evolved out of a system of slavery where we commodify human bodies and function off their labor.”