Tag: Inmate labor
A copy of this historic document in its original form was sent to Bay View arts editor Wanda Sabir by Kumasi, a Los Angeles-based prison movement scholar and central leader of the Black August Organizing Committee who was a close comrade to George Jackson. Kumasi was reminded of this Manifesto when he learned of the National Prison Strike that began in Black August 2018 and believed Bay View readers would value the opportunity to witness prison movement evolution.
In September, prisoners across the country launched a nationwide strike to demand better working conditions at the numerous facilities that employ inmate labor for little or no pay. Inmates in America’s state prisons – who make everything from license plates to college diploma covers – are not only excluded from the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on slave labor, but also exist largely outside the reach of federal safety regulations meant to ensure that Americans are not injured or killed on the job.
Environmental injustices are forced upon people of color and disadvantaged minorities. This is a fact and not a subjective feeling or statement. Prison officials and ACA inspectors attempt to cover up and downplay the fact that numerous Texas prisons have contaminated water supplies and Texas Correctional Industries employees force prisoners to work in toxic environments. Does anyone think the U.S. government will intercede on our behalf?
“Slavery 400 years ago, slavery today. It’s the same, but with a new name. They’re practicing slavery under color of law,” writes Ruchell Cinque Magee. America’s history of prison labor began before slavery ended. After the Civil War, private companies leased prisoners and sold their products for profit. Laws criminalizing harmless activities dramatically increased the number of Blacks in Southern prisons. This set the pattern that today has the prison industry rated #6 of the top 10 fastest growing industries in the U.S.
In a region where nine out of 10 residents are white, the cleanup workers are almost exclusively Black men. NAACP President Ben Jealous wrote to BP CEO Tony Hayward demanding to know why Black people were over-represented in “the most physically difficult, lowest paying jobs, with the most significant exposure to toxins.”