The Waiting Room
The Marshall Project by Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve
Oct 31, 2018
... I stood still in front of this long stretch of wall and wires on 26th Street, right across the street from the jail, where it is normal to never see another soul. Then I saw Luis. He is the attendant in the public parking lot that is the only alternative to the pricey two-hour meters, which don't even work most of the time. Luis collects money for parking and calls the tow truck on those who deserve it. And day after day, he watches the regular convoys of white sheriff's department buses moving people from police lockups around the city....
America's Other Family-Separation Crisis
The New Yorker by Sarah Stillman
... America imprisons women in astonishing numbers. The population of women in state prisons has increased by more than eight hundred per cent in the past four decades. The number of women in local jails is fourteen times higher than it was in the nineteen-seventies; most of these women haven’t been convicted of a crime but are too poor to post bail while awaiting trial. The majority have been charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession, shoplifting, and parole violations. The result is that more than a quarter of a million children in the U.S. have a mother in jail. One in nine black children has a parent who is, or has been, incarcerated. ...
Former Logan inmate sues over alleged sexual assault
State Capitol Bureau By Doug Finke
September 21, 2018
A former inmate at the Logan Correctional Center says she was sexually assaulted by a prison employee and that prison staff knew of the assaults but did nothing to stop them. The allegations are laid out in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Springfield.
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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