Announcement of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for Sept 9, 2016

This comes from the IWOC, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee:

4-1-2016

Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

Read the rest here.


This is an article that appeared on TruthDig:

National Prison Strike Campaign Vows to End ‘American Slave System’
Posted on Apr 2, 2016
By Eric Ortiz

Starting Sept. 9, prisoners in the United States will begin a coordinated effort to shut down prisons across the country. They plan to stop working in correctional institutions. Without prisoners doing their jobs, these facilities cannot be run. According to Support Prisoner Resistance, the nationwide prisoner work stoppage will serve as a protest against prison slavery, the school-to-prison pipeline, police terror and post-release controls.

Prisoners organizing the strike are not making demands or requests in the usual sense. They are calling themselves to action in a planned protest and want every prisoner in every state and federal institution across America to “stop being a slave.”

Some people may bristle at the notion that prisoners are slaves, but they are forced to work for little or no pay. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, also maintains a legal exception for continued slavery in prisons. It states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

Correctional officers watch over every move of prisoners, and if assigned tasks are not performed correctly, prisoners are punished.

Read the rest here.

Georgia prison strikers fight on

From: SF Bay View
June 11, 2011
Abdul-Mujahid-Khalil, aka Lester J. Smith Jr.

Dear Bay View,

The article that ran in the April 2011 Bay View in Behind Enemy Lines regarding the Georgia prison strike by Bruce Dixon of Marietta, Ga., was well needed. My name is Abdul-Mujahid-Khalil. I’m here with the brother Hamim, aka Shawn Whatley, and the rest of the guys mentioned in the article.

To get progress made on this issue and many more we face, litigation is a must. Reaching out to Commissioner Brian Owens and Gov. Nathan Deal is worthless.

I say that for the following reasons: One, this is nothing new; it’s been occurring. Two, these two individuals are what you call good ol’ boys, as in Jim Crow torch passers. Three, their job and duty to one another is to protect each other and their subordinates.

Do the homework and background check on Deal. You’ll find he was named in the Top 10 of corrupt people in politics. I’m filing two lawsuits myself regarding the neglect and treatment I’ve endured and continue to face.

These Southern dudes are lost mentally. If they would learn their rights as prisoners protected by the United States Constitution, they would be able to attack the Georgia Department of Corrections’ upper echelon and those who violate them.

Don’t get me wrong. Reaching out to Owens and Deal puts them on notice that eyes are on them, which is a temporary fix. The organizations that are here in the South do not stand up like those on the West and East Coasts. They are truly remiss toward our rights as a whole or individually.

Abdul-Mujahid-Khalil, aka Lester J. Smith Jr.

Send our brother some love and light: Lester Smith, 977285, P.O. Box 3877, GDCP, Jackson GA 30233.

Support Georgia Prisoners!

Please visit this new website, which is a project of the Thousand Kites:

I support the Georgia Prisoners

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!”

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Georgia: Prisoners’ protest over. For now.

By Rhonda Cook
3:49 p.m. Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The prison system began lifting lock downs at four institutions and returning the facilities to normal operations Wednesday and inmate said they were ending their protest for now and reporting to work assignments.
One of the organizers of the protest said prisoners are still going to pursue their concerns. If the Department of Corrections ignores their requests, the next protest will be violent, he said.
Prison officials did not say what led to the decision to end the lock downs that had been in place since last Thursday. But an inmate at Smith State Prison in Glenville said in a telephone interview prisoners had agreed to end their “non-violent” protest to allow administrators time to focus on their concerns rather than operating the institutions without inmate labor.
“We’ve ended the protest,” said Mike, a convicted armed robber who was one of the inmates who planned and coordinated the work stoppage. “We needed to come off lock down so we can go to the law library and start … the paperwork for a [prison conditions] lawsuit.
“We’re just giving them time to … meet our requests without having to worry about us on lock down,” Mike told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday.
Mike is one of the inmates who organized the protest at Smith prison who has talked to the AJC about it. He did not want his last name published for fear of retaliation from prison officials, but agreed to allow the AJC to verify his prisoner identification number, which the paper then cross-checked with the Department of Corrections website.
Inmates began planning the protest in early September when tobacco was banned throughout the prison system. The inmates said they picked  Dec. 9 as the day to start because it allowed time for the word to spread throughout the system and because the temperature in the cellblocks would be cooler by then, which is important when otherwise violent men are trying to keep their tempers in check.
Over the months before the protest and in the days after it began, updates and details were spread inmate-to-inmate and prison-to-prison using cell phones, text messages and word of mouth.
Beginning last Thursday and for six days inmates at several prisons refused to leave their cells in protest of the lack of pay for the work they do maintaining and running prison operations and cleaning other government properties; state law forbids paying inmates except for one limited program. The  prisoners also were protesting the quality of the food and the lack of  fruits and vegetables, the quality of medical care, the availability of education and job training programs, parole decisions and overall conditions.
Read more here… 

———————– 
Here is a message of support to those who went on strike in the Georgia prisons:

A letter to the prisoners on strike in Georgia
Posted By Mary On December 15, 2010 SF Bay View
The organizations expressing their support in this letter are sponsoring a rally and march on Friday, Dec. 17, starting at 4 p.m. at North County Jail, 661 Washington St. in Downtown Oakland, and later marching to 14th and Broadway – JOIN THEM!
We, as members of activist and community organizations in the Bay Area of California, send our support for your strike against the terrible conditions you face in Georgia’s prisons. We salute you for making history as your strike has become the largest prison strike in the history of this nation. As steadfast defenders of human and civil rights, we recognize the potential that your action has to improve the lives of millions subject to inhumane treatment in correctional facilities across this country.
Photo:
This chain gang was photographed on a road near the maximum security South Florida Reception Center in Miami. Chain gangs are becoming common again, especially in the South. If the striking Georgia prisoners draw enough support, prisoners in neighboring states like Florida and around the country are likely to make similar demands.
Every single day, prisoners face the same deplorable and unnecessarily punitive conditions that you have courageously decided to stand up against. For too long, this nation has chosen silence in the face of the gross injustices that our brothers and sisters in prison are subjected to. Your fight against these injustices is a necessary and righteous struggle that must be carried out to victory.
We have heard about the brutal acts that Georgia Department of Corrections officers have been resorting to as a means of breaking your protest and we denounce them. In order to put a stop to the violence to which you have been subjected, we are now in the process of developing contacts with the personnel at the different prison facilities and circulating petitions addressed to the governor and the Georgia DOC. We will continue to expose the DOC’s shameless physical attacks on you and use our influence to call for an immediate end to the violence.
Here, in the Bay Area, we are all too familiar with the violence that this system is known to unleash upon our people. Recently, our community erupted in protest over the killing of an unarmed innocent Black man named Oscar Grant by transit police in Oakland. We forced the authorities to arrest and convict the police officer responsible for Grant’s murder by building up a mass movement. We intend to win justice with you and stop the violent repression of your peaceful protest in the same way – by appealing to the power and influence of the masses.
We fully support all of your demands. We strongly identify with your demand for expanded educational opportunities. In recent years, our state government has been initiating a series of massive cuts to our system of public education that continue to endanger our right to a quality, affordable education; in response, students all across our state have stood up and fought back just as you are doing now.
In fact, students and workers across the globe have begun to organize and fight back against austerity measures and the corresponding violence of the state. Just in the past few weeks in Greece, Ireland, Spain, England, Italy, Haiti, Puerto Rico – tens and hundreds of thousands of students and workers have taken to the streets. We, as a movement, are gaining momentum and we do so even more as our struggles are unified and seen as interdependent.
At times we are discouraged. It may seem insurmountable. But in the words of Malcolm X, “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression.”
You have inspired us. News of your strike, from day one, has served to inspire and invigorate hundreds of students and community organizers here in Berkeley and Oakland alone. We are especially inspired by your ability to organize across color lines and are interested in hearing an account from the inside of how this process developed and was accomplished.
You have also encouraged us to take more direct actions toward radical prison reform in our own communities, namely Santa Rita County Jail and San Quentin Prison. We are now beginning the process of developing a similar set of demands regarding expediting processing – it can take 20-30 hours to get a bed; they call it “bullpen therapy” – nutrition, visiting and phone calls, educational services, legal support, compensation for labor and humane treatment in general. We will also seek to unify the education and prison justice movements by collaborating with existing organizations that have been engaging in this work.
We echo your call: No more Slavery! Injustice to one is injustice to all!
In us, students, activists, the community members and people of the Bay Area, you have an ally. We will continue to spread the news about your cause all over the Bay Area and California, the country and world. We pledge to do everything in our power to make sure your demands are met.
In solidarity,
UC-Berkeley Student Worker Action Team (SWAT), Community Action Project (CAP), La Voz de los Trabajadores (www.lavozlit.com), Laney College Student Unity & Power (SUPLaney.wordpress.com), Laney College Black Student Union (BSU), Bay Area United Against War Newsletter (bauaw.org), Socialist Viewpoint magazine (socialistviewpoint.org), Workers International League (www.socialistappeal.org), Bay Area ISO (norcalsocialism.org), We Are the Crisis (UC Davis Chapter), Bicycle Barricades (UC Davis)

This letter originally appeared at Defend California Public Education [2] on Dec. 15, posted by Juan G. It is also available there and below as a petition you can sign: Solidarity Petition for the Prisoners on Strike in Georgia

GA Prison Inmates Stage 1-Day Peaceful Strike Today (9th December 2010)

From: Black Agenda Report

12/09/2010 – Bruce A. Dixon

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia’s notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other. PRESS RELEASE BELOW THE FOLD

The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of Georgia’s more than one hundred state prisons, correctional facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional facilities. We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.

Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with reckless and brutal aggression. So calls to the warden’s office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

Press Release

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, sistaelaine@gmail.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046, reshelias@yahoo.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!”

————————————————————————————

See also: New York Times

December 12, 2010
Prisoners Strike in Georgia
By SARAH WHEATON

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.

Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.

“Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer.

Ms. Brown said thousands of inmates were participating in the strike.

The Georgia Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

“We’re not coming out until something is done. We’re not going to work until something is done,” said one inmate at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. He refused to give his name because he was speaking on a banned cellphone.

Several inmates, who used cellphones to call The Times from their cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages and did not know whether specific individuals were behind it.

“This is a pretty much organic effort on their part,” said Ms. Brown, a longtime prisoner advocate, who distilled the inmates’ complaints into a list of demands. “They did it, and then they reached out to me.” Ms. Brown, the founder of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform in Locust Grove, Ga., said she has spoken to more than 200 prisoners over the past two days.

The Corrections Department placed several of the facilities where inmates planned to strike under indefinite lockdown on Thursday, according to local reports.

“We’re hearing in the news they’re putting it down as we’re starting a riot, so they locked all the prison down,” said a 20-year-old inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, who also refused to give his name. But, he said, “We locked ourselves down.”

Even if the Corrections Department did want to sit down at the table with the inmates, the spontaneous nature of the strike has left the prisoners without a representative to serve as negotiator, Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown, who lives in Oakland, Calif., said she planned to gather legal and advocacy groups on Monday to help coordinate a strategy for the inmates.

Chief among the prisoners’ demands is that they be compensated for jailhouse labor. They are also demanding better educational opportunities, nutrition, and access to their families.

“We committed the crime, we’re here for a reason,” said the Hays inmate. “But at the same time we’re men. We can’t be treated like animals.”

AJC: Prisoners Discuss Planning, Details of Prison Protest

Inmates discuss planning, details of ongoing prison protest
By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

As happens every morning at Smith State Prison, the cell doors were remotely unlocked just before dawn Tuesday.

And, as has happened for the previous five days, that clicking noise was followed with a similar mechanical sound as inmates relocked their cell doors, the echoes ringing through the concrete and metal cell blocks at the close-security prison in Glennville, Ga.

“When they pop the doors we locked the doors back,” said Mike, a convicted armed robber who is one of the organizers of a protest that has spread to at least four state prisons.

“We are not coming out of our rooms,” said Mike, who gave an interview to ajc.com via cell phone. “Once we lock the doors they [prison guards] leave it at that. We’re in control of this situation as of now.”

The AJC learned some details of what appears to be a carefully orchestrated protest via phone interviews with four inmates at Smith prison, one of the four Georgia facilities currently in a lockdown. The inmates said they acquired the phones, considered contraband by prison officials, from guards and used them to organize the protests.

The inmates did not want their last names published for fear of retaliation from prison officials, but agreed to allow the AJC to verify their prisoner identification numbers, which the paper then cross-checked with the Department of Corrections website.

According to the prisoners and their advocates, inmates are refusing to report to their work assignments that usually involve cleaning or maintaining the prison or nearby government buildings.

Department of Corrections officials dispute the inmates’ version. They say, as a precaution, wardens at four of its 30 prisons — Hays State Prison in Trion; Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe; Telfair State Prison in Helena and Smith State Prison, about an hour’s drive west of Savannah — decided to lock down their institutions before the protest started, and the situation had not changed.

“That’s wrong. We’ve locked ourselves down,” said Mike.

Cell phones — Mike said he bought his from a guard — were key in organizing the protest and for sharing information once it began, especially with text messaging.

Mike forwarded several to the AJC.

“The tactic squad spent the nite at the prison last nite, n they stayn tnite, too. Pass the word and stay on ur toes,” was a text message sent Tuesday.

One sent Monday read, “Glad yall str8. Stay down. Evry1 needs 2 file grievances. We not getting 2500 calories wit these sandwiches, we sposed 2 get 2 hot meals, and da laundry. Da resolution iz lawsuit! Evry1 do it!”

Another inmate, Diego, who is serving a sentence for murder, said only five prisons were participating in the protest but inmates at another were trying to organize.

“The word went out [that] this is a non-violent movement,” according to Diego, who said he paid a guard $350 for a basic pre-paid cell phone. “But the word got out today: ‘If you break this [protest] and go to work, the inmates are going to deal with you. If you go to work, you might as well pack your [stuff] and take it with you because you’re not coming back.’”

Inmates Mike, Diego, Carlos and Tyquan said they had been given only bologna sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner as inmates assigned to the kitchen detail are refusing to work and officers are having to step in.

Diego said the warden passed through his cell block Tuesday morning trying to get inmates to work.

Later officers came into the cells and removed the doors to each inmate’s locker where they store personal items and their purchases from the prison commissary, the inmates said.

That makes it “enticing for inmates to steal” from each other,” Mike said.

The Department of Corrections declined to comment on Tuesday, referring a reporter to previously issued statements.

“The department’s mission of maintaining safe and secure facilities is non-negotiable and will not be jeopardized,” said corrections Commissioner Brian Owens. “The Department will ensure appropriate safety measures are in place before the lockdown is lifted.”

The inmates’ key concerns are that they are not paid for the work they do at the prison. With the exception of very few in a special program, the inmates also are not paid to work at prison factories, which make furniture, clothing, signs and other items that are sold to state or local governmental agencies.

“If they would start paying us, that would reduce crime behind the walls,” Mike said. “Inmates would have the means to get hygiene [items] and food from the commissary.”

The prisoners also take issue with the quality of the food and the lack of fruit and vegetables they are given, and with a perceived shortage of education and job training programs.

Planning the protest began in September shortly after cigarettes were banned.

“That enticed us to want to get together, to stand as one and overlook all differences in race and religion,” Mike said.

Read the rest here:

http://www.ajc.com/news/inmates-discuss-planning-details-776618.html