In 1970, prisoners protesting about the brutal regime at Folsom Prison, went on strike for 19 days. They wrote the following manifesto and bill of rights in support of their action.
The following manifesto and bill of rights were written in 1970 by inmates at Folsom prison in the United States. They were formulated to support a prisoners strike.
Over 2,400 prisoners organised a strike. They refused to leave their cells for nineteen days, in the face of constant hunger, discomfort, and psychological and psychological intimidation. Their action was taken in protest again the overcrowded, racist, and brutal prison system.
The manifesto is overtly political, and the prisoners called for the end of injustice suffered by all prisoners, regardless of race, colour, or creed. They referred to the United States prisons as ‘Fascist concentration camps’
The prisoners believed that they were treated like ‘domesticated animals’, selected to their bidding in slave labour, and furnished as personal whipping dogs for the sadistic psychopathic hate of the prison staff.
The manifesto included a section on the ‘unionisation’ of prisoners, as a means to end political persecution, and enabling peaceful dissent. It referenced explicit abuse of powers by prison authorities, such as tear-gassing, locking up of dissenting inmates, shootings, and unusual punishments, and other brutality.
Folsom prison strike manifesto
1 We demand legal representation at the time of all (Adult Authority hearings).
2 A change in medical staff and medical policy and procedure.
3 Adequate visiting conditions and facilities.
4 That each man presently held in the Adjustment Centre be given a written notice with the Warden of Custody signature on it explaining the exact reason for his placement in the severely restrictive confines of the Adjustment Centre.
5 An immediate end to indeterminate adjustment centre terms.
6 An end to the segregation of prisoners from the mainline population because of their political beliefs.
7 An end to political persecution, racial persecution, and the denial of prisoners, to subscribe to political papers.
8 An end to the persecution and punishment of prisoners who practice the constitutional right of peaceful dissent.
9 An end to the tear gassing of prisoners who are locked in their cells.
10 The passing of a minimum and maximum term bill which calls for an end to indeterminate sentences.
11 That industries be allowed to enter the institutions and employ inmates to work eight hours a day and fit into the category of workers for scale wages.
12 That inmates be allowed to form or join labour unions.
13 That inmates be granted the right to support their own families.
14 That correctional officers be prosecuted as a matter of law for shooting inmates.
15 That all institutions who use inmate labour be made to conform with the state and federal minimum wage laws.
16 An end to trials being held on the premises of San Quentin prison.
17 An end to the escalating practice of physical brutality.
18 Appointment of three lawyers from the California Bar Association to provide legal assistance for inmates seeking post conviction relief.
19 Update of industry working conditions.
20 Establishment of inmate workers' insurance.
21 Establishment of unionized vocational training program comparable to that of the Federal Union System.
22 Annual accounting of Inmate Welfare Fund.
23 That the Adult Authority Board appointed by the governor be eradicated and replaced by a parole board elected by popular vote of the people. (24) A full time salaried board of overseers for the state prisons.
25 An immediate end to the agitation of race relations.
26 Ethnic counsellors.
27 An end to the discrimination in the judgment and quota of parole for Black and Brown people.
28 That all prisoners be present at the time that their cells and property are being searched.
A bill of rights for prisoners
This composite bill of rights for prisoners has been assembled from various state prisoners' demands:
1. Right to organize prisoner unions.
2. Right to adequate diet, clothing and health care.
3. Right to vote and end second class citizenship.
4. Right to furloughs or institutional accommodations to maintain social, sexual and familial ties.
5. Right to non-censorship of mail, literature and law books.
6. Right to access to the press and media.
7. Right to procedural and substantive due process to guarantee rights.
8. Right to personality; resistance to coercive attempts by "correctional" staff to change behaviour thru brain surgery, electric stimulation of brain, aversion therapy, hormones or modification techniques.
9. Right to properly trained counsel.
10. Right to be free from racial, ethnic and sexist discrimination.
11. Right to freedom from mental and physical brutality.
12. Right to have the community come into the prison.
13. Right to have surveillance teams in prisons to monitor rights, protect prisoners' due process and see that they have access to their own files.
14. Right to make restitution in lieu of further incarceration.
15. Right to know their release date at time of entry to the prison.