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... These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.
The United States incarcerates the highest number of people in the world, both in absolute and relative terms. But prisoners and abolitionists are challenging the foundations of mass incarceration. Over the past decade, a wave of prison rebellions has swept the country, increasing in both frequency and intensity. In September 2016 the largest coordinated national prisoner strike occurred in facilities around the country. These rebellions prove time and time again that caging and torturing humans is
violence and will be resisted by those locked up by the system. Prisoner resistance demonstrates that instead of solving the crisis of capitalism, prisons themselves are the crisis.
What follows is a press release put out in April 2018 by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak calling for a two-week stretch of protests beginning on August 21 and extending until September 9, the anniversary of both the Attica Prison Rebellion in 1971 and the national strike in 2016. The author of this release, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, is a national collective of incarcerated people who fight for human rights by providing other incarcerated people with access to legal education, resources, and assistance. The national call to action has now been endorsed by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) as well as various other prisoner-advocacy and abolitionist groups around the country.
April, 2018 Press Release from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak:
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
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 [email protected]
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 [email protected]
A number of resources have been created by groups such as Michigan Abolition and Prison Solidarity and Oakland IWOC to assist in spreading the word about the strike, and Oakland IWOC have also drawn up the following list of ways to support the strike:
WAYS TO SUPPORT:
1) Calling during a phone blast that is announced through news media or through the IWOC list. To subscribe, please contact [email protected].
Receiving hundreds of phone calls places pressure on prison administrators. As phone actions are announced, make calls and mobilize friends or family to do so as well.
2) Sharing updates with your communities
Access and share the national demands of the prison strike here: http://sawarimi.org/national-prison-strike and view a participating state map. This page can also be used to pledge your endorsement of the strike.
3) Direct outreach
While you may access information regarding the strike digitally, sharing and communicating directly with others is essential. Gather support for the strike with individuals in your workplace and groups to increase awareness and mobilize support! Consider seeking an endorsement and commitment to support from your organization. Ask others to join a phone support network. And, importantly, familiarize yourself with the demands of the strike so that you can inform others and convey its urgency.
Finally, the strike call first appeared in the San Francisco Bay View, and readers who find this information useful may wish to donate to help cover the Bay View's printing costs so that the print edition can continue getting into prisons around the country.