I was recently made aware of a nationwide prison strike in US (and now Canadian) prisons beginning August 21st and ending September 9th.
The strike, organized by Jailhouse Lawyers speak and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) has ten demands, among them access to rehabilitation, humane living conditions, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery. Incarcerated comrades have begun hunger strikes as well as sit-ins, commissary strikes and refusal of labor in an effort to draw attention to the demands.
In full, the demands are:
1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
2. 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.
3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
5 .An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
9.Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
10.The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
In solidarity with the brave souls peacefully protesting, I have promised to play my Black Lives Matter song 'Rising Down' at every show through to September 9th.
WANT TO HELP?
There are more than 150 groups standing in solidarity with the prisoners. I will be posting more in the following days about how to get involved. For now, here are some links to pertinent organizations endorsing the strike:
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Millions for Prisoners
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The People's Consortium
And a helpful link from The Cut to understand the history and goals of striking prisoners: