Incarcerated People are Going on a Nationwide Strike

Today, people in America’s prisons, jails, and detention centers will be going on strike.

Incarcerated people across 17 states will refuse to work and engage in hunger strikes and boycotts to demand “humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.” Their list of ten demands includes “an immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of black and brown humans,” repeal of Clinton-era laws that limit rights to appeal, and reinstatement of “the voting rights of all confined citizens.”

Prison strikes target our nation’s reliance on the forced labor of incarcerated people, even in so-called progressive states like California. As with earlier forms of slavery in the U.S., prisons are a multibillion dollar industry that profits from the suffering of black and brown humans in cages, their families, and their entire communities.

People in prisons, jails, and detention centers in the U.S. are forced to live in hellish conditions, denied access to basic necessities like clean water and menstrual products, regularly raped and abused, shackled during childbirth, and prevented from reading, voting, or participating in the world beyond bars.

Even in the face of horrifying abuse and erasure, people in prisons have taken great risks to organize this strike, which is part of Black August, a long legacy of Black resistance against prisons and the violence of the American state.

The strike begins on the August 21st, the 187th anniversary of the Nat Turner rebellion and ends on September 9, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising, in which  incarcerated people at the prison in upstate New York fought back against abuse, medical neglect and unsanitary conditions. In the aftermath, police and prison guards massacred 29 people and lied to the public about their murders and the prison conditions.

We should anticipate that this strike will be met with the kind of retaliation and violence that has happened in the past and be prepared to fight against the misinformation that the state uses to dehumanize incarcerated people. Those of us who are not in prison can spread the word about the strike, contact our representatives and nearby prisons, and take part in local solidarity actions. Check out the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee for more info.

As the recent public outcry over our unjust immigration detention practices—particularly the images of children held in cages and ripped from their families— starts to fade, it is crucial to remember that the atrocities of our immigration and prison systems are connected. These institutions need to be fought simultaneously, and supporting the people most directly impacted by them is one way to do that.

Image credit: It’s Going Down

Jess is a first-gen college graduate, cat parent, and LGBTQ person living in Boston, MA. At Feministing, Jess writes about the intersection of state and interpersonal violence, LGBTQ communities and radical activism. They can usually be found on public transportation or the internet.

Jess is a first-gen college graduate, cat parent, and LGBTQ person living in Boston, MA. They can usually be found on public transportation or the internet.

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