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Prisons in some states are withholding newspapers from inmates amid a strike against prison conditions and billions of dollars worth of prison labor. The passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865 formally abolished slavery, but with a stipulation that enabled plantation owners to use prisoners as a replacement for the lost labor. As a group called the Free Alabama Movement rallied for a Sept. 9 labor strike in spring, prison authorities across the country began clamping down on news and information in ways that the ACLU says may be in violation of the First Amendment.
Not since the 1980s, when the state of Michigan simultaneously ratcheted up “tough on crime” laws and eliminated good time credits, have Michigan’s prisons been so overcrowded and seething with so much discontent. Crammed into overcrowded prisons, underfed, denied proper medical care and programming while forced to work for declining slave wages as commissary prices rise, no wonder Michigan prisoners are rising up! The only question is, Why did it take so long?