What Else is Happening

Why the Largest Prison Strike in US History May be Imminent

posted by Breanna Khorrami 0 comments
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Inmates across the nation are fed up with the conditions under which they live. It seems that the largest prison strike in U.S. history may be imminent.

Inmates in 24 states are sick of solitary confinement, poisoned water, and forced labor. Many of them plan to strike on September 9th.

As the Nation reports,

Potentially thousands of inmates across both state and federal prisons in as many as 24 states plan to engage in a coordinated strike and protest in an attempt to bring attention to the daily injustice of their lives. The strikers are calling for an end to “slave-like” working conditions, illegal reprisals, and inhumane living conditions.”

Carefully planned to occur on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising, the strike would be the largest prison strike to take place in the history of the United States.

While the government has recently been praised for planning to phase out the use of for-profit prisons, prison abuses continued to take place in other prisons as well. The strike plans to shed light on the deplorable conditions under which many inmates have been forced to live.

One key aspect of this strike is that it truthfully didn’t come out of nowhere, though many may feel that it did.

“Siddique Abdullah Hasan, an inmate in Ohio State Penitentiary and a member of the Free Ohio Movement, describes it as just the latest part of “an ongoing resistance movement” that has seen increasing numbers of work strikes, hunger strikes, and protests hitting prisons across the country in the past decade. Back in 2010, inmates in at least six different state prisons in Georgia staged a labor strike, protesting prison conditions and lack of remuneration for their forced labor.”

As recently as 2013, up to 30,000 inmates in California staged a hunger strike that resulted in reform to the long-term solitary confinement policies and the release of up to 2,000 prisoners to the general prison population. In 2016, inmates in states including Alabama, Texas, and Wisconsin have followed suit, engaging in protests as a means of forcing the system to change their decrepit living conditions in the prison system.

Tensions have been boiling over for some time and the American public has, by and large, avoided exposure to the realities of prison life. While many believe that, for instance, forced labor is inhumane and has no place in the United States, we tolerate it and buy products from companies that exploit it when the forced labor comes from within prison walls.

Prisons are also rife with abuses on behalf of the guards. The Nation reports that in Texas,

“Tijerina [an inmate] also told me that officers have a habit of writing bogus cases against inmates, which can result in them getting removed from their cells (their ‘homes,’ as he referred to them) and being put in the more dangerous and populous dorms. Even when inmates are sick, he told me, they are refused medical attention and forced to work. Bergstrom, meanwhile, wrote about riding what he called a slave wagon out to the fields in the mornings to pick cotton at gunpoint. ‘It’s slavery,’ Tijerina said. ‘There’s no two ways about it.'”

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