From Jailhouse Lawyers Speak:
National Prison Strike – August 21st 2018 to September 9th 2018
Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.
These are the NATIONAL DEMANDS of the men and women in federal, immigration, and state prisons:
- 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- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole.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.
We all agree to spread this strike throughout the prisons of Ameri$$$a! From August 21st to September 9th, 2018, men and women in prisons across the nation will strike in the following manner:
- Work Strikes: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
- Sit-ins : In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit – in protests.
- Boycotts: All spending should be halted. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the in side will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
- Hunger Strikes: Men and women shall refuse to eat.
We support the call of Free Alabama Movement Campaign to “Redistribute the Pain” 2018 as Bennu Hannibal Ra – Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray has laid out (with the exception of refusing visitation). See these principles described here: https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com/
How You Can Help
- Make the nation take a look at our demands. Demand action on our demands by contacting your local, state, and federal political representatives with these demands. Ask them where they stand.
- Spread the strike and word of the strike in every place of detention.
- Contact a supporting local organization to see how you can be supportive. If you are unsure of who to connect with, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Be prepared by making contact with people in prison, family members of prisoners, and prisoner support organizations in your state to assist in notifying the public and media on strike conditions.
- Assist in our announced initiatives to have the votes of people in jail and prison counted in elections.
For the Media: Inquiries should be directed to
Wayne Unit, Huntsville, TX
April 11- April 20, 2018
Prisoners launch a hunger strike in protest of a lockdown at the prison. According to prison officials, 50 prisoners refuse meals at the height of the 10 day hunger strike.
“Huntsville prison hunger strike ‘essentially’ over, officials say”, Chron, April 20, 2018.
“Huntsville prisoners protest lockdown by going on hunger strike, officials say”, ABC 13, April 18, 2018
On October 21, 2016 Robert Earl Council (aka Kinetik Justice Amun) went on a Hunger Strike based on threats against his life from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) administration and staff. He was transferred to a supermax facility, and water was shut off in his cell in an effort to force him out of his hunger strike. His transfers happened after the media exposed the ADOC during a nationwide prison strike to demand changes to prison conditions and unpaid labor.
As of November 3, 2016, Kinetik Justice is in danger for his life, and organizers are calling for action. Continue reading
Over a month after September 9 there are still few things we can say with certainty about the scale of the strike. Many inside contacts have still not been able to connect with us, many prisons continue to be opaque and unaccountable to the public. Where we do have good information coming out, we’re often hearing about extreme violence of prison authorities’ response.
Now is the time when we determine the future of prisoner resistance in America. We can either make consequences for the prison’s violent responses, staying their hand, eroding their legitimacy, creating systems and expectations of oversight and improving the strategic groundwork for future actions, or we can allow the authorities to torture and even kill prison rebels with impunity.
It is essential that our responses be decentralized, localized and coalitional. IWOC and the National Lawyer’s Guild have a national-wide presence, but their resources are too limited to fight every fight from the top even if they wanted to, so instead they’ve been coordinating and supporting state-level responses.
In Michigan, the story about Kinross’ protest and retaliation is breaking and a newly formed coalition of activists and family members are exposing the DOC’s violence. The NLG is helping recruit lawyers, new protests are being planned, and IWOC is helping coordinate media connections to keep the story of the state’s violence central. http://supportprisonerresistance.noblogs.org/post/2016/10/18/kinross-coverage/
Information is just now beginning to escape from Kinross Correctional Facility in northern Michigan, where one of the larger, more inspiring strike actions occurred on September 9. Retaliation by MDOC officials has been severe and violent. Three prisoners have turned up dead under suspicious circumstances. Find links to news reports and coverage below, and updates at https://www.facebook.com/Michigan-for-Prison-Abolition-585834328095870
Local organizations have connected and coordinated with National Lawyers Guild and IWOC as well as family members and the prisoners to get more information out and to build an effective response to the state’s violence and refusal to release information. Continue reading
A nationwide prison work stoppage and hunger strike, begun on Sept. 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, have seen over 20,000 prisoners in about 30 prisons do what we on the outside should do—refuse to cooperate. “We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves,” prisoners of the Free Alabama Movement, the Free Ohio Movement and the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee wrote in a communique.
This round of prison strikes—there will be more—has had little outside support and press coverage. There have been few protests outside prison walls. Prison authorities—unlike during the 1971 Attica uprising when the press was allowed into the yard to interview the rebellious prisoners—have shut out a compliant media. They have identified strike leaders and placed them in isolation. Whole prisons in states such as Texas were put on lockdown on the eve of the strike. It is hard to know how many prisoners are still on strike, just as it is hard to know how many stopped work or started to fast on Sept. 9.
Before the strike I was able to speak to prisoner leaders including Melvin Ray, James Pleasant and Robert Earl Council, all of whom led work stoppages in Alabama prisons in January 2014 as part of the Free Alabama Movement, as well as Siddique Hasan, one of five leaders of the April 1993 uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville, Ohio. (The Ohio revolt saw prisoners take control of the facility for 11 days after numerous grievances, including complaints about deaths allegedly caused by beatings from guards, went unanswered.) Now, authorities have cut off the access of these and other prisoner leaders to the press and the rest of the outside world. I have not been able to communicate with the four men since the strike began. Continue reading
As a national prison strike enters its second month, the Department of Justice says it will investigate conditions in Alabama prisons. And some corrections officers are expressing support.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into prison conditions in Alabama, weeks after inmates there joined a nationwide prisoner strike in protest of forced labor and living conditions.
“The investigation will focus on whether prisoners are adequately protected from physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; whether prisoners are adequately protected from use of excessive force and staff sexual abuse by correctional officers; and whether the prisons provide sanitary, secure and safe living conditions,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The department declined to comment on what prompted the state-wide probe. But Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, a leader of the Free Alabama Movement, an advocacy group that helped support the strike, credited the actions of prisoners and corrections officers of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.
“I do believe the prison strike that was initiated led and organized by those on the inside of Holman prison is the reason for the DOJ launching the investigation,” he said. “And I think when they saw that even the officers admitted that the administration was allowing a hostile environment to be created, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
As the prisoner strike continued in late September, corrections officers at Holman prison did not show up to scheduled work shifts and spoke out about dangerous conditions. And in Michigan, unionized corrections officers have expressed sympathy for the prisoners’ cause. Continue reading
Ohio prisoner Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan says he was recently threatened with disciplinary action by an investigator at the Ohio State Penitentiary for speaking on the National Public Radio program, “On Point,” about the September 9 national prison strike.
Hasan, who is a Muslim spiritual leader on death row for his alleged role in the 1993 Lucasville Uprising, said he was informed he would be written up for unauthorized use of the phone and could have his phone and email privileges restricted, despite an understanding with prison officials that he could use his phone and email time to communicate with media as he has done for the past decade.
On Monday, Hasan told Shadowproof he was not sure when the disciplinary actions would come down, but he and his supporters expect it to be imminent. If it happens, it will be the second time he’s faced retaliation for supporting the strike in as many months.
“I’m getting kind of mentally exhausted. How am I going to deal with this nonsense?” Hasan said. “I’m not going to throw in the towel. I just remain in the trenches.” Continue reading