Hey, in case folks haven't heard yet, a general strike by prisoners throughout the Georgia prison system has shut down 10 prisons since Thursday.
Elaine Brown, former chairperson of the Black Panther Party, describes it as the biggest prison strike in U.S. history. She's taken the lead on advocating for the prisoners from the outside, and insists the strike was initiated and self-organized by the prisoners themselves. The story finally made it into the NYTimes today, where they report prisoners used contraband cellphones to communicate with one another, and now, to talk to the press.
Starting at 9:20, Elaine Brown reports on and anlyzes the prison strike for 20min
BIGGEST PRISONER STRIKE IN U.S. HISTORY
Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest
December 8, 2010…Atlanta, Georgia
Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211, email@example.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, firstname.lastname@example.org; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046, email@example.com
Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights. The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.
These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the following 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!”