Prisoners striking in 17 states over prison conditions

Prisoners striking in 17 states over prison conditions
© Getty

Prisoners across 17 states are planning to strike for nearly three weeks starting later this month to protest prison conditions, Vox reports.

The demonstrations are planned to take place from Aug. 21 to Sept. 9, marking the anniversary of a bloody prison uprising in upstate New York in 1971.

Protesters are “demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery,” according to the website for the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC).

ADVERTISEMENT

Protesters will refuse to report to assigned jobs, engage in sit-ins and begin hunger strikes, according to a press release tweeted out by a group supporting the strike.

“Every single field and industry is affected on some level by prisons, from our license plates to the fast food that we eat to the stores that we shop at. So we really need to recognize how we are supporting the prison industrial complex through the dollars that we spend,” Amani Sawari, a spokesperson representing organizers of the protests, told Vox. 

The strike is in direct response to an April riot at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, in which seven inmates died, according to organizers. The IWOC claims “prison officials turned their backs on a riot they provoked.”

The use of inmate labor has come under closer scrutiny in recent weeks as prisoners have been used to fight California’s most recent wildfires, often for paltry wages. Vox reports that inmate firefighters make $1 per hour plus $2 per day. 

The planned strikers also address labor directly on the strike website, demanding: “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.”