Protesting Prison Slavery: Inmates Across The Country Plan To Go On Strike Refusing To Eat And Work
Prison inmates across the country are preparing to go on strike by refusing to eat or work, as a way to protest what they call ‘prison slavery’ and poor conditions.
Go ahead and starve yourselves to death. Your actions lead you to where you are today and I have no sympathy for any of you.
Though the extent of the planned strike is not known, prisoners in at least 17 states say they will be taking part in the coordinated action, which will begin on Tuesday and last through September 9.
Organizers say the strike is partly in response to the April riot in South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Institution, where seven inmates were killed by other prisoners when gang tensions boiled over.
The masterminds of the strike have issued a list of 10 ‘demands’, including an improvement of prison conditions, an end to life imprisonment, and an end to low-paid jobs behind bars.
Currently, hundreds of thousands of inmates work behind bars, in jobs ranging from GED tutors to custodial and other work that helps prisons run. The average pay runs about 20 cents an hour.
In California, more than 1,000 minimum-security inmates have been deployed at trained firefighters to combat the wildfires blazing across the state. They are paid $2 a day plus $1 an hour.
Now, prisoner advocates say that the low-paid work amounts to ‘slavery’ and demanding that taxpayers pay inmates higher wages for their work behind bars.
‘Prisoners do like having the opportunity to earn because they do have to support themselves financially in a lot of ways,’ Amani Sawari, a spokesperson for the protests, told Vox.
‘They have to buy food if they want to eat outside the three times a day most prisons serve…. Any little thing they need, they have to buy that. So they want to be able to.’ More
Here are the 10 ‘demands’ of prison strikers:
- 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- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole.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.