The prisoners of Missouri’s South Central Correctional Center’s ad-seg units have initiated a consolidated effort to protest and change the conditions found not only at the facility, but in every other Level 5 institution across the state. Prisoners began to refuse their cellmates on the basis of protective custody, after which they are placed on iron benches, shackled with hands behind their backs for hours at a time where they are denied meals and, due to overcrowding, not offered any alternative cell to go to – ultimately forcing prisoners to accept living in a volatile situation just in order to get to eat.
There is one place in the U.S. where slavery is still constitutionally legal: in prisons. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed in 1864, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. But prisoners held in this enslavement are organizing resistance. Brave prisoners within the Florida state prison system have organized themselves into a month-long work strike called Operation Push. It began on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Day. In a phone interview, an anonymous prisoner-activist specifically linked the strike to King’s legacy of protest against racism and economic injustice.
The following message is from a group of prisoners who are spread throughout the Florida Department of Corrections. It was sent anonymously and compiled from a series of letters received on Nov. 26 and 27. According to their statement, these prisoners plan to initiate a work stoppage or “laydown” beginning Monday, Jan. 15, coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, in nonviolent protest of conditions in Florida prisons. They are calling it Operation PUSH.
At Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama, only two officers reported for work for the second shift Saturday, Oct. 8. Officers confess being fed up with Gov. Robert Bentley’s putting their very lives in jeopardy simply to further his political agenda of institutionalizing Alabama with plans for new state-of-the-art prisons. The officers at Holman are walking off the job and refusing to come back to work after filing grievance after grievance concerning the ill treatment of prisoners, overcrowding and forced slave labor.
During the month of April, at least 100 of those incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, about an hour outside of Chicago, Illinois, participated in a boycott of the overpriced phone calls, commissary goods and vending machines. “Mass incarceration is a luxury business,” stated Patrick Pursley, one of the men who joined in the boycott. The boycott comes at a time of growing demonstrations led by those inside U.S. prisons.
Friday night, March 11, prisoners took over Holman Prison in Alabama. A fight between inmates escalated to include guards and even the warden. Staff fled, and the prisoners took over, lighting guard towers on fire and barricading the doors. Prisoners say the officer had used excessive force to break up a minor fight. “He went in swinging his stick and throwing inmates around. People get tired of seeing their fellow convicts get treated that way (and) are getting more and more aggravated every day when their rights are being taken away, even the rights we’re supposed to have as human beings.” A rally at Holman is set for Saturday, March 19, 9-11 a.m.
Though on paper they took Mumia off death row, it seems like the government has opted to passively murder the activist under the cloak of bureaucratic immunity. The state seems intent to allow the Hepatitis C to “progress” until Mumia dies. This is just another case of murder by the hands of a racist system. They are content to cut costs by denying us proper healthcare. They’re killing our OGs y’all. Look at what they are doing to Mumia!
When Dr. Samuel Cartwright coined the term “drapetomania” in 1864, he advanced a historical agenda to secure Black subjugation in America. The logic underlying the continuation and funding of the mass incarceration of the disproportionately Black mentally ill and Dr. Cartwright’s medical breakthroughs is the same: Black people’s mental health cannot be achieved, so society has to maintain extreme and inhumane restrictions on their freedom.
In “Mass Incarceration on Trial,” Jonathan Simon writes, the decisions in Madrid v. Gomez, Coleman v. Wilson, Plata v. Davis, Coleman-Plata v. Schwarzenegger and Brown v. Plata “are legal precedents with ongoing relevance to prison lawyers and officials, but they are also a public sociology text, addressed to all of us, concerning the threat that mass incarceration poses to prisoners, prison officers, and any society with pretensions to decency.”
This week members of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), advocates and activists representing diverse communities are attending the Senate Public Safety and Assembly Budget Committee hearings in Sacramento to speak out against billions in funding for new prison and jail expansion. The Assembly Budget Committee hearing will begin on Wednesday, April 23, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol in Sacramento.
In recent times there has been an avalanche of misrepresentations, deceit, cover-ups and outright lies waged against the truth as it relates to prisoners and what is really going on out of the eyesight of the public. Now the SHU class is uniting to say enough with the deception and untruth, enough of the cruel and unjust treatment at the hands of corrupt administrators working to maintain this profitable system adverse to human life.
On July 25, a prisoner on hunger strike at the Doña Juana Penitentiary in Colombia died after having been refused medical treatment by his guards. He had been experiencing chest pains and asking to see a doctor, but his request was ignored. Soon the prisoner was dead from a heart attack. The next morning, 18 of the hunger strikers sewed their mouths shut in protest, and the hunger strike has risen to 176 participants.
The battle over the future of Tamms became the most visible and contentious example of a phenomenon seen around the country: Otherwise progressive unions are taking reactionary positions when it comes to prisons, supporting addiction to mass incarceration. And when it comes to issues of prisoners’ rights in general, and solitary confinement in particular, they are seen as a major obstacle to reform.
Young women at the Chowchilla Freedom Rally Jan. 26 spoke out passionately for their sisters in a prison packed to nearly double its capacity, demanding that the 4,500 prisoners eligible for release be freed. At least 400 people came from all over California to show their support for the women locked up in the Central California Women’s Facility, currently the state’s only women’s prison.
Support for the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike is strong and expanding as people inside and outside prison all over the world are connecting the Pelican Bay hunger strike to local struggles against powerlessness and inequality.
Inmate beatings by prison guards occur across Georgia following an eight-day peaceful protest to highlight inhumane conditions in the prisons. These protesting prisoners must be silenced because a whole range of corporate interests has found that they can profit from caging human beings.
Dr. Chris Zamani, who led the medical contingent of the medical-media team that Minister of Information JR took to Haiti, writes of the oppression in Haiti as "the imperialists ... warning of what will happen to those that dare to grasp their own destiny and establish freedom for their descendants by any means necessary." Watch the unforgettable film of their trip and meet them in person: "Back from Haiti" Thursday, March 11, 7 p.m., Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St., West Oakland, and Thursday, March 18, 7 p.m., SF State, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco.
California state prisons are to begin implementing a plan for the unsupervised release of up to 40,000 non-violent inmates and are required to train staff on non-revocable parole eligibility by Jan. 21, according to a memo sent from the State Department of Corrections.