Nationwide Prison Strike Launches in 24 States and 40 Facilities over Conditions & Forced Labor
Much like the prisoners who took over New York’s infamous correctional facility in 1971, today’s prisoners are protesting long-term isolation, inadequate healthcare, overcrowding, violent attacks and slave labor. We feature an excerpt from our interview in May with one of the organizers, Kinetik Justice, who joined us by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility. He is co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement. He was serving his 28th month in solitary for organizing a similar protest in 2014.
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JUAN GONZÃLEZ: Today prisoners in at least 24 states are set to participate in a nationally coordinated strike that comes on the 45th anniversary of the prison uprising at Attica. Much like the prisoners who took over New York’s infamous correctional facility in 1971, today’s prisoners are protesting long-term isolation, inadequate healthcare, overcrowding, violent attacks and slave labor. Today’s actions follow similar protests earlier this year. In March, thousands in Michigan prisons launched a hunger strike after private vendor Aramark Correctional Services served them unrefrigerated meat, and then the company called Trinity, that was brought in to replace them, served small portions of watery food. The same company prompted protests in Georgia when it underfed prisoners to the point that one resorted to eating toothpaste.
AMY GOODMAN: In May, men in several Alabama prisons began a 10-day strike on International Workers’ Day over unpaid labor and poor conditions. Organizers said guards retaliated by serving meals that are significantly smaller than usual, a practice they call "bird feeding," and by putting the facilities on lockdown, partially to allow guards to perform jobs normally carried out by prisoners. During the strike, Democracy Now! spoke with Kinetik Justice, who joined us by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility, co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement, one of the organizers of today’s strike, as well. He was serving his 28th month in solitary for organizing a similar protest in 2014.
KINETIK JUSTICE: These strikes are our method for challenging mass incarceration. As we understand it, the prison system is a continuation of the slave system, and which in all entities is an economical system. Therefore, for the reform and changes that we’ve been fighting for in Alabama, we’ve tried petitioning through the courts. We’ve tried to get in touch with our legislators and so forth. And we haven’t had any recourse. Therefore, we understood that our incarceration was pretty much about our labor and the money that was being generated through the prison system, therefore we began organizing around our labor and used it as a means and a method in order to bring about reform in the Alabama prison system.
JUAN GONZÃLEZ: That was Kinetik Justice, speaking by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama in May.