This is a huge deal, but has been universally ignored by the mainstream media (with the exception of a small NYT article). Inmates in Georgia issued a call on Thursday for a one day strike where prisoners would not leave their cells for labor. In response, the Georgia Department of Corrections somewhat ironically ordered a lockdown, to keep prisoners in their cells. Prisoners responded to the lockdown in anonymous comments to the press that they “locked themselves down,” and the DOC wasn’t doing anything the prisoners weren’t going to do (i.e., stay in their cells).
The original article I read about the strike is here (Black Agenda), and I found a couple other instances of this story across the web. The strike transcends racial divides that have been used to divide inmates against each other in viscous ways.
The inmates issued a press release with the following platform of demands:
A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
· EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
· DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
· AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
· DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
· NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
· VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
· ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
· JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
Prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!”