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United States Inmates Stage Nationwide Prison Labor Strike Over ‘Modern Slavery’

A vast majority of imprisoned men and women are coming together in solidarity to stage the largest protest “PEACEFUL” might I add, in US history. Nineteen days of peaceful protest are planned across the nation, organized largely by prisoners themselves.

According to The Guardian:

The strike is being spearheaded by incarcerated members of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group of prisoners providing mutual help and legal training to other inmates.

Organizers have put together a list of 10 national demands. They include improved prison conditions, an end to life without parole sentences or “death by incarceration” as the authors call them, increased funding for rehabilitation services and an end to the disenfranchisement of some 6 million Americans with felony convictions who are barred from voting.

One of the most passionately held demands is an immediate end to imposed labor in return for paltry wages, a widespread practice in US prisons that the strike organisers call a modern form of slavery. In addition to a refusal to work, inmates engaging with the strike plan to go on hunger strikes, hold sit-in protests and stage a boycott of commissaries, collect phone calls and other payment streams where private and state-owned companies make money out of them.

The boycott was the brainchild of Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun of the Free Alabama Movement under the rubric Redistribute the Pain. He called on fellow prisoners to stop channeling either their own or their relatives’ money to what he called the “prison industrialized complex”.

This year’s strike was triggered by the riot at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina in April in which seven inmates died in what was the most deadly prison unrest in a quarter of a century. The bloody melee, fueled by gang rivalry over contraband, lasted for seven hours while prison guards did next to nothing to stop it. Within days of the South Carolina carnage, and the renewed spotlight it put on the gross overcrowding, understaffing and inhumane living conditions in American prisons, the idea of a nationwide strike began to form.

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