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
PRESS RELEASE Friday, October 7, 2016 Contact: Duncan Tarr, 313-409-8615, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peacefully Marching Prisoners Tear Gassed, Zip-Tied, Left Out in Rain in Retaliation
KINCHELOE, MI – More than two weeks after prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility participated in a nationwide prison workers’ strike, the prisoners’ own accounts of what happened are beginning to emerge. Prisoners report that the facility was on lockdown from September 10 to the morning of September 22, preventing communication with their outside supporters.
Most prisoners, including kitchen staff, did not report for work on September 9 in conjunction with the nationwide work stoppage. The following morning between 400 and 500 prisoners marched peacefully in the yard. The deputy wardens came to the prisoners who communicated their grievances, including low wages, the commutation process, restrictive visitation room seating in violation of MDOC policy, high phone rates, poor quality and quantity of food provided by private contractor Trinity Services Group, the way the yard is run, living conditions that squeeze eight men into a room intended for four, no re-entry programs, no bleach for clothes, MP3 players that break easily and cannot be fixed or replaced, not enough room in the law library, not enough room in the visiting room causing some visitors to be turned away, and not being allowed to transfer to other facilities. Continue reading
From Solidarity Research Center
Authors: Solidarity Research Center and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Date: October 2016
September 9, 2016 was the start of the largest prison strike in U.S. history. Over 72,000 incarcerated workers in 22 states refused to provide their labor to profit the prison industrial complex. California forces 5,588 incarcerated workers to labor in exchange for little or no compensation. The financial losses to the California prison system are as much as $636,068 in revenue or $156,736 in profit for every day of the prison strike.
Download the full report here.
From Free Alabama Movement
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (F.A.M.) RESPONDS TO NEW D.O.J. INVESTIGATION: CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mother’s and F.A.M.ilies
P.O. BOX 186
New Market, Al 35761
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (F.A.M.) is pleased with the news that the U.S. Department of Justice (D.O.J.) will be conducting a statewide investigation into the issues of abuse, violence and safe, secure and sanitary conditions in Alabama’s men’s prisons, even though we believe that the women’s prison should also be revisited. We would like to emphasize that we are looking for an open, transparent and inclusive investigation that will keep the public updated, informed and INVOLVED throughout this process. Alabama prisons are unique in that they are the most overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed prisons in America. Therefore, any solutions to the existing problems will need to be unique and require “outside-of-the-box” thinking as well. Continue reading
From The Intercept
A prisoner at Ohio State Penitentiary says he is facing disciplinary action for participating in an NPR interview about the nationwide prison strike that started on September 9.
Nearly a month after inmates embarked on the largest prison strike in the country’s history, the media and the public continue to know little about where and how the action played out, and even less about officials’ retaliation against striking prisoners.
As The Intercept has reported, that’s no coincidence. Prison officials regularly go to great lengths to control the information leaving their institutions, and this strike has proven no exception, despite gradually developing media interest in the protest.
Undeterred by challenges, prison activists have succeeded in releasing sporadic updates on the strike as it spread across the country, and some of them have even used a combination of contraband cellphones and their regularly allotted phone time to speak with media organizations.
But those calls come at a cost.
In an incident suggesting just how difficult and risky it can be for prisoners to communicate with the outside, and with journalists in particular, Siddique Hasan, a prison activist sentenced to death for his role in a 1993 prison uprising, said he was “written up” by a prison investigator for his participation in a September 28 episode of the NPR show “On Point with Tom Ashbrook.” Continue reading
From It’s Going Down
It hardly seems necessary to summarize what has gone down inside U.S. prisons since September 9th. Hunger strikes, work stoppages, and riots have spread throughout the country on a scale that we likely aren’t even fully aware of yet. Some uprisings appeared took us by surprise, such as in several Florida prisons, while others presumably grew from recent organizing endeavors on the inside, such as at Kinross in Michigan or Holman in Alabama. By rough estimates, over 20,000 prisoners were involved in some way. That’s huge.
On the outside, solidarity burned so brightly all over the world. Banner drops, graffiti slogans, noise demonstrations and more showed that we had the backs of all who would partake in the strike. It is worth noting however that the vast majority of this took place the first weekend of the strike. But this prison strike—and the struggle against prisons more broadly—is about more than a day or a week. It didn’t start on September 9th and it isn’t ending any time soon. Some prisoners may return to work while others decide to stop working for the first time. It’s easier when there is a definitive date to take action on, to build momentum towards, but that’s not going to be enough.
Therefore, we would like to offer a call for renewed actions in solidarity with the prison strike and the struggle against prison society. Right now many are organizing anti-repression campaigns for striking prisoners and that is of course very necessary and not nearly as exciting work. But it would be a mistake to conceive of this struggle in a linear fashion—that is to say, a single wave where we demonstrate as it crests and write letters as it crashes. How many prisoners hadn’t heard about the strike until after it had started? How many knew but didn’t think people would actually be there to support them? Three weeks after the start of the strike, inmates in Turbeville, South Carolina rebelled against a guard and took over their dorm. How can we stop while inmates are still risking their lives for freedom? Continue reading
First and foremost we would like to advise you, that we as individuals on our own accord
have decided to invoke our First Amendment Right to assemble and have a peaceful
protest to address our grievances that go unanswered. We are in solidarity with the Nation &
World Wide Prison/Jail Strikes on the 45th anniversary of the Uprising of Attica Prison
and also want to expose our own local issues. For this we expect there not be any
repercussions or reprisals or any form of disciplinary actions taken during or after this
peaceful protest, which will be a hunger strike and refusal of all movements. Continue reading
A prisoner in Menard Illinois wrote this in response to a noise demo outside of the prison on September 9th.
“Last week we heard the love outside. No doubt we gave it back. They sent a few police up here and around on other wings to quiet the noise, but it was already said and done. We really appreciate the love. It’s always appreciated.”