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That's why inmates are striking in 17 states – VICE News



Inmates across the country are on strike for three weeks on Tuesday demanding better conditions and the end of cheap labor camps.

Unemployed will not appear to work in institutions in 17 states. Others will host sit-ins, refuse to buy anything from jail, and go on a hunger strike, said Amani Sawari, organizer of the prison strike over Democracy Now. The strike was held in response to the rebellion in April at the Lee Correctional Facility in South Carolina, which killed seven inmates.

"Because of the brutality at Lee Prison earlier this year, it was decided that action had to be taken now," said Cole Dorsey, a former detained organizer of the Detained Workers Organizing Committee, Democracy Now. "That led to this list of 1

0 claims that are really just a human rights statement."

The demands include the immediate improvement of prison conditions to make them more humane, rehabilitation facilities for inmates named violent criminals, voting rights for all current and former criminals, and the elimination of life without probation and "band extensions" that extend prison sentences for gang members ,

Also on the claim list is the end of "prison slavery" – the system used by inmates working for less than a dollar an hour, not enough to buy the most basic supplies from prison commissioners. While human rights activists say that the system is modern slavery, it is currently completely legal.

Prisoners across the country have been on strike for three weeks since Tuesday demanding better conditions and the end of cheap prison labor.

Prisoners with jobs will not appear to work in institutions in 17 states. Others will host sit-ins, refuse to buy anything from jail, and go on a hunger strike, said Amani Sawari, organizer of the prison strike over Democracy Now. The strike was held in response to the rebellion in April at the Lee Correctional Facility in South Carolina, which killed seven inmates.

"Because of the brutality at Lee Prison earlier this year, it was decided that action had to be taken now," said Cole Dorsey, a former detained organizer of the Detained Workers Organizing Committee, Democracy Now. "That led to this list of 10 claims that are really just a human rights statement."

The demands include the immediate improvement of prison conditions to make them more humane, rehabilitation facilities for inmates named violent criminals, voting rights for all current and former criminals, and the elimination of life without probation and "band extensions" that extend prison sentences for gang members ,

Also on the claim list is the end of "prison slavery" – the system used by inmates working for less than a dollar an hour, not enough to buy the most basic supplies from prison commissioners. While human rights activists say that the system is modern slavery, it is currently completely legal.

The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited slavery, but made an exception for the prisoners: "except as punishment for crimes whose party should have been properly sentenced."

Inmates maintain prison facilities and perform tasks such as cooking, cleaning and waiting. They also produce for private companies and wildfire for states struggling through contracts. The average hourly pay for an inmate, according to Marshall Project, is 20 cents an hour. The striking prisoners demand to receive at least the state minimum wage.

With the strike starting on Tuesday, the ACLU called on law enforcement officials not to avenge striking prisoners.

"Peaceful demonstrations that challenge unfair conditions and practices do not merit putting the participants in solitary confinement or prolonging their sentences," said Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Intelligent Justice campaign Statement.

A similar prisoner strike took place on 9 September 2016. The exact size of the strike is difficult to determine. Prison authorities in some states did not confirm work stoppages, but the organizers said 24,000 detainees had participated in 12 states.

The start date of this year's strike – August 21 – pays homage to murdered African American George Jackson this year in 1971 while trying to escape San Quentin Prison in California.

The news of his death quickly spread throughout prisons across the country, and the outcry on September 9 led to the bloody riots in Attica – the day this year's strike is due to end. At the Attica Correctional Facility in New York, inmates spent four days taking control of the prison to protest inhuman conditions and a lack of medical care. Twenty-nine inmates and ten hostages were killed.

Envelope: The April 30, 2018 file photo shows the Lee Penitentiary in Bishopville, SC Several inmates were killed in battles between prisoners in the maximum security prison in the south and others seriously injured Carolina. (AP Photo / Sean Rayford, file)


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