With prisoners in more than 17 states on strike for the fourth day, reports of hunger strikes and refusal to work is nationwide. Prisoners, who went on strike starting Aug. 21, are protesting “unjust sentencing laws, poor living conditions, and the continues existence of slavery within the nation’s carceral system,” Common Dreams reported.
While prisoners strike inside prisons, a show of solidarity is happening outside the prisons around the country. Some protests have taken place outside Broward County Jail in Florida and Metropolitan Detention Center in New York.
“We saw outside solidarity actions in at least 21 cities around the US and as far abroad as Leipzig, Germany, prison strike organizers said on Wednesday. “We saw Palestinian political prisoners give a statement of solidarity from their prisons in occupied Palestine.”
Organizers of the strike claim 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,” Amani Awari, Jared Ware, and Brooke Terpsta, who are covering the strike and trying to spread information, said. “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.”
The prison strike is demanding a thorough prison reform including these 10 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- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole.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.
“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,” organizers wrote. “This is a human rights campaign and each of these demands should be understood through a human rights lens.”
As organizers predict this to be the largest prison strike in U.S. history, it’s gained support from many social justice and human rights advocates including ACLU and Democratic Socialists of America.
The nationwide prison strike is set to go through Sept. 9.
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