“We’re at a fork in the road,” Alabama state Senator Cam Ward, chairman of the Prison Reform Task Force, said in June 2014. “We have two paths to choose from and neither one is easy. Those of us on the task force can solve, it or federal courts can do it for us. It’s our choice.”
With the state’s prison system at around 192% of capacity, lawsuits pending over inadequate medical care and high levels of violence, and federal oversight due to pervasive staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse, Alabama has one of the nation’s most troubled Departments of Corrections. The state’s creation of the Task Force in early 2014 was a measure taken in an effort to avoid a federal court-appointed receiver or monitor over its prison system, as occurred in California.
PLN has been reporting for over two decades on deteriorating and abysmal conditions in Alabama’s correctional facilities. While prison systems in Southern states are typically at the forefront with respect to regressive policies and practices, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has been an outlier with its message of “incarceration means harsh and degrading punishment” – which may as well be its official motto.
Inmates at three Alabama prisons have issued unified demands after initiating a widespread work stoppage on May 1, 2016. They are protesting exploitative labor policies and horrific prison conditions caused, in part, by overcrowding; Alabama’s prisons are operating at close to 200 percent over capacity.
Prison staff have attempted to suppress the civil disobedience by significantly reducing prisoners’ meal portions, a tactic known as “bird feeding.” Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has brought work release prisoners from other facilities in an effort to undermine the strike.
Strikes are taking place at St. Clair Correctional Facility, Holman Correctional Facility, and Staton Correctional Facility.
The Free Alabama Movement, an organization comprised of inmates at numerous prisons, recently released demands through their advocate on the outside, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow. Glasgow is the founder of The Ordinary People Society and a leader in the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement. He announced the demands in a press conference on May 7, 2016.
From The Intercept
Alabama prisoners who have been on strike for ten days over unpaid labor and prison conditions are accusing officials of retaliating against their protest by starving them. The coordinated strike started on May 1, International Workers’ Day, when prisoners at the Holman and Elmore facilities refused to report to their prison jobs and has since expanded to Staton, St. Clair, and Donaldson’s facilities, according to organizers with the Free Alabama Movement, a network of prison activists.
Prison officials responded by putting the facilities on lockdown, partially to allow guards to perform jobs normally carried out by prisoners. But prisoners told The Intercept that officials also punished them by serving meals that are significantly smaller than usual, a practice they have referred to as “bird feeding.”
The weekend of May 7-8 saw solidarity actions with the Free Alabama Movement’s May Day strike in at least three cities across the US. Making this work stoppage a national issue, raising public awareness of prison slavery, and shaming the state of Alabama and ADOC for their abysmal practices are good ways to support the actions on the inside. Please consider organizing an event, a rally, or workshop in your town. If you do, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Mothers and Families at Holman Prison on May 7th.
About a dozen protesters from Mothers and Families (MAF) of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) marched on Holman prison on Saturday, shouting Free Alabama! and Incarcerated Lives Matter!
Prisoners at multiple facilities in Alabama initiated a work stoppage on Sunday May 1st. Prisoners at Holman, Elmore, and St Clair announced the strike, there are reports of shut downs elsewhere in Alabama, and the administration denies that any facility other than Holman is on strike. Holman Prison, outside of Atmore Alabama has been the site of ongoing resistance since two back-to-back uprisings took over the facility in early March.
Holman houses the tag plant, a factory that produces license-plates for the State of Alabama with coerced labor of prisoners.
Perhaps more impact than shutting down the tag plant, striking prisoners are refusing to do the various jobs needed to maintain the prison itself. Everything from menial tasks of laundry and cleaning to preparing food and skilled maintenance jobs are typically done for free by prisoners themselves.
When they refuse, ADOC is forced to pay people- either correctional officers, or scabs, to maintain the prison and feed the prisoners. As a result, already unsanitary and substandard conditions at these prisons are degrading further. Paying staff overtime, or hiring outside workers will strain the already tenuous budget of the Alabama prison system. ADOC can hardly afford to operate it’s prisons with the help of compliant prisoner-slaves, so by refusing to work, the prisoners render their continued confinement impossible. Continue reading
On April 27, 2016 the realities of Overcrowding continues to translate into violence. As yet again, 2 Officers were assaulted in the Segregation Unit in 2 separate incidents.
Due to such a shortage of Staff and surplus of prisoners, Officers result to being over aggressive in order to emphasize their control, which in turn causes an influx of violent altercations between the two.
Since the Riots of March 11th & 14th, where an Officer and the Warden were assaulted, a Lt and 3 CO’s have been assaulted in the Segregation Unit alone as prisoners fight back against the repressive treatment.
How long will the ADOC allow this Overcrowding and associated violence continue before they realize that the money is not worth the cost of keeping so many people incarcerated in its dilapidated system?
Once again, the ADOC CERT TEAM is expected to arrive at Holman Correctional Facility to reassert control and instill fear as a means of addressing the deteriorating conditions.
After 4 attempts in the past 45 days, seems like it would be clear that this is not the most effective method.
As until Overcrowding is properly addressed the violence will persist.
Prisoners in Texas are still on strike, prisoners in Alabama will be joining them on May 1st, food protests continue in Michigan, as well as hunger strikes in Louisiana. Holman Unit in Alabama continues to be a place of strife and open conflict with the authorities.
The fight against slavery, torture and confinement is raging on the inside, and calling for support on the outside. Prisoner supporters and the IWOC are responding to the call, with rallies, phone zaps, and educational events and outreach. See below for ways you can participate! Continue reading
Believe it or not, the entire country is looking at Alabama. Specifically, the Alabama Prison System and its Leadership. Right Now- We have a spotlight on the National stage to show & prove the Effects of:
Alabama’s draconian Habitual Offenders Statute,
Alabama’s Mandatory Life without Parole Capital Offense Statute,
Alabama’s arbitrary Parole Board,
Alabama’s parasitic policy of Warehousing & Economical Exploitation rather than Education, Rehabilitation and ReEntry Preparedness.
Believe it or not,
the entire country is listening– OUR COLLECTIVE ACTION/INACTION will speak louder than words.
As in all Emergency Distress Calls… “MAY DAY , MAY DAY”
May 1- May 31… 30 DAYS OF NOTHING!
… No Work No Talk!
Friday, Feb. 12, 2016 – Monday, Feb. 15, 2016
What began as a confrontation between prisoners from different regions of Alabama – namely, B’ham and Montgomery, with B’ham being the largest – escalated into two short riots against the pigs. After the prisoners squashed the beef among themselves without any violence, two pigs ran into C-dorm, which houses 114 prisoners and was informed that there was no problem and everything was under control.
One pig (Tate) tried to bogart his way through a crowd of prisoners and was immediately stabbed a number of times. After the two pigs ran out the dorm, one bloodied the warden, Carter Davenport, who has a reputation as an extremely sadistic, disrespectful, and nasty scumfuck fascist, who was recently removed from his post as warden at St. Clair maximum security prison for assaulting a prisoner, and reassigned as warden at Holman in 2015. He was stabbed after entering C-dorm like some kind of god. Continue reading