United States: Prisoners’ strike demands living wage, human rights

Monday, January 24, 2011

Georgia prisoner strike demands

Over December 9-15, prisoners in a number of prisons in the US state of Georgia organised a strike via contraband mobile phones. The prisoners refused to perform prison labour in protest at a range of unjust conditions they face. BlackAgendaReport.com said on December 15 that one in 12 Georgians were in prison.

The December 20 Huffington Post published the prisoners' demands, which are listed below.

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A living wage for work: In violation of the 13th amendment to the constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) demands prisoners work for free.

Educational opportunities: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond high school level, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

Decent health care: In violation of the eighth 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 eighth amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

Decent living conditions: 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.

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 regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

From GLW issue 865