The national prison strike is over. Now is the time prisoners are most in danger. : The Conversation
The national prison strike is over. Now is the time prisoners are most in danger.
The Conversation by Heather Ann Thompson
Sept 15, 2018
Over the last few weeks men and women across the United States – and even as far away as Nova Scotia, Canada – have protested to demand humane treatment for the incarcerated.
In 2016, when prisoners engaged in similar hunger strikes, sit-ins, and work stoppages, their actions barely registered with the national media. As someone who regularly writes about the history of prisoner protests and prison conditions today, this lack of interest was striking.
This time around, though, prisoner demands to improve the conditions of confinement have captured the attention of reporters everywhere. Coverage can be found in such major newspapers as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Popular magazines such as GQ and Teen Vogue have also published pieces.
All seem to sense that American prisons may well be descending into crisis, so perhaps it is time to start paying attention.
Nationwide strike by prisoners set to end on Sunday after weeks of protests
USA Today by Dalvin Brown
Sept 8, 2018
A nationwide strike by prison inmates is set to end Sunday, 19 days after it began.
Since Aug. 21, some prisoners have chosen to forgo meals, organize peaceful sit-in protests, refuse to work and halt commissary spending. Meanwhile, allies on the outside stood in solidarity with the protest by marching, chanting and pressuring government officials to take action against what rally organizers call “modern-day slavery.”
US Prisoners' Strike is a Reminder How Common Inmate Labor Is
CBS News by Ruben Garcia
September 3, 2018
Prisoners in 17 U.S. states went on strike on Aug. 21 by refusing to eat or work to call attention to a number of troubling issues, including dilapidated facilities, harsh sentences and other aspects of mass incarceration in America.
As we approach Labor Day, the strike places a spotlight on the questionable practice of putting prisoners to work for very low or no wages. Examples of whatincarcerated people do or have done include answering customer service phone calls, fighting wildfires, packaging Starbucks coffee and producing consumer goods such as lingerie.
But this practice may run afoul of several U.S. legal commitments – including the 13th Amendment ending slavery – and even violates voluntary codes of conduct of some of the companies involved.
The economics behind the prison strike: An inmate’s guide to earning 24 cents per hour
Salon by Michael Fischer
August 31, 2018
When I first heard about the incarcerated workers strike last week, I went to my closet and dug out some old paperwork. I still have my payroll receipts from Livingston Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison where I served time for a nonviolent crime. When I was released from there in 2015, I left almost everything behind. I gave away my plastic bowl and my blanket, a couple cans of black beans. But I took my payroll receipts with me. They serve as a reminder of what New York State thinks I’m worth.
... It’s strange how deeply mere numbers can cut. I did my best to hold my head up when the state took away my name and replaced it with six numbers and a letter. I often stare at the dates on the calendar and tell myself I can make it to the end of each month. But the paltry amounts trickling into my commissary account settle on my shoulders in a way I can’t shake off. Of all the ways prison seeks to diminish my self-respect — strip searches, supervised urine tests — this is the one that sticks. ...
The Viral Success of a Strike No One Can See
The Atlantic by Vauhini Vara
August 30, 2018
Months ago, inmates across the U.S. began planning a strike over prison conditions, including low or nonexistent wages. To start getting the word out, they didn’t target big news organizations. Instead, organizers posted about the imminent strikes to their own social-media followers. And they contacted publications with an activist bent, like Shadowproof, a press organization focused on marginalized communities, and the San Francisco Bay View, a black-liberation newspaper.
They worried, based on past experience, that mainstream outlets would emphasize that prisoners’ often anonymous accounts of the strike couldn’t be verified and the fact that the impact of the strike was hard to predict. But more radical publications, they believed, would focus on the strikers’ message, about unjust prison conditions and what should be done about them. That message could be amplified online, and picked up by bigger publications. “We intentionally went from the bottom up,” Brooke Terpstra, an organizer in Oakland with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a group that has been supporting the strike, told me.
Serving Time Should Not Mean ‘Prison Slavery’
Opinion New York Times by Erik Loomis
August 30, 2018
A national strike by prisoners is the latest iteration of demands for freedom from forced labor.
Since Aug. 21, prisoners across the United States have been on one of the largest prison strikes the nation has seen in years. They have several demands, but at the top is the end of the forced labor the state coerces out of them. Up to 800,000 prisoners a day are put out for work without their choice, usually for extremely paltry compensation that in Louisiana is as low as 4 cents per hour.
No One Knows How Big the Prison Strike is, But Organizers are Already Calling it a Success: Mother Jones
No One Knows How Big the Prison Strike is, But Organizers are Already Calling it a Success
Mother Jones by Madison Pauly
August 29, 2018
For weeks, the outside organizers of the nationwide prison strike that kicked off last Tuesday had been spreading the word that inmates in at least 17 states had pledged to protest prison conditions over 19 days. The plan was for thousands of prisoners to resist however they could—by refusing to work, turning away meals, or staging sit-ins. Yet in the week since the strike began, details about it have proved nearly impossible to confirm through official channels, with corrections officials almost uniformly denying that any protests or disruptions are underway.
The strike’s organizers on the outside scoff at these denials. The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), the main outside group supporting the strike, says that “thousands” of prisoners are participating. “Prison authorities may prove successful in concealing or even deterring participation in some of those states,” IWOC and other organizers stated, “but they cannot refute the righteousness of the 10 prisoner demands,” referring to the strikers’ demands, which include improving living conditions, ending racially biased sentencing and parole decisions, and increasing access to rehabilitation.
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Prison Strike Organizers Aim to Improve Conditions and Pay
New York Times by Mitch Smith
August 26, 2017
The Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., after a riot killed seven inmates in April. A number of American prisoners have declared a strike demanding changes to correctional institutions including pay and living conditions.
The inmates at North Carolina’s Hyde Correctional Institution hung three banners from the prison fence last week as supporters gathered outside. One sign asked for better food; another requested parole; the third said, “In solidarity.”
The protest came in support of a nationwide prisoner strike to call attention to the low inmate wages, decrepit facilities and harsh sentences that organizers say plague prison populations across the country. Though it is unclear how widespread such demonstrations have been, activists said they had shown a new ability to reach inmates across state lines at a time when prison unrest and in-custody deaths are frequently in the news.
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Why the nationwide strike against 'modern-day slavery' may not reach IL. And why it's already hereMaya Dukmasova : Chicago Reader
ARTICLE: Why the nationwide strike against 'modern-day slavery' may not reach IL. And why it's already here
Maya Dukmasova : Chicago Reader
On August 21, incarcerated people in at least 17 different states launched a 19-day "strike" in response to an April riot at South Carolina's Lee Correctional Institution that left seven inmates dead. Organized by a South Carolina-based group of incarcerated individuals calling themselves Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the strike was rolled out with a list of ten demands challenging conditions of "modern day slavery" at state and federal jails and prisons and immigration detention centers. The demands, circulated on social media and endorsed by more than 150 allied groups are as follows:
1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
2. 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.
3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
10. 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!
In some states prisoners are required to work difficult or dangerous jobs—such as fighting wildfires, farming, and manufacturing—for little or no pay. In others, private prisons contract with private companies to provide cheap labor. But in Illinois (where there are no private prisons), prison work is actually so scarce that inmates may not be striking against it.
America's prisoners are going on strike in at least 17 states
VOX - by German Lopez
Incarcerated Americans are often forced to work for cents an hour. So they’re launching what could be their biggest protest ever. America’s prisoners are going on strike.The demonstrations are planned to take place from August 21 to September 9, which marks the anniversary of the bloody uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. During this time, inmates across the US plan to refuse to work and, in some cases, refuse to eat to draw attention to poor prison conditions and what many view as exploitative labor practices in American correctional facilities.
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