Inmates Nationwide Go on Work Strike to End "Slavery"

Inmates Nationwide Go on Work Strike to End

A nationwide strike of inmates in 40 facilities in 24 states kicked off Friday morning.

The strike is being organized, in part, by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), a branch of the Industrial Workers of the World. In a statement, the IWOC likens prisons to modern slave holding pens, where prisoners are forced to work for little or no pay.

It reads, in part, "They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but numerous other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals".

Prison inmates lay water pipe on a work project outside Oak Glen Conservation Fire Camp #35 in Yucaipa, California November 6, 2014. Major corporations including Walmart, Victoria's Secret, and AT&T contract out work to prisoners.

Our protest against prison slavery is a protest against the school to prison pipeline, a protest against police terror, a protest against post-release controls. NPR recently chronicled the rise of ramen noodles as the currency of choice as prison officials limit the quantity and quality of food provided in cafeterias. 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.

People are inclined to strike when they feel they have no other option and nothing to lose.

"Prison impacts everyone, when we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families, and allies on the outside will have our backs", the call to action reads.

Prisoners in more than 20 states went on a coordinated strike Friday, refusing to go to their assigned jobs and demanding an "end to prison slavery".

McDonald says although it was done in the wrong way it does highlight frustration with the state prison system, a topic he believes is important.

In response to the call, which has largely spread through social media, thousands of prisoners have taken action. Unsurprisingly, news from inside the gates has been slow to emerge today - many prisons will respond with a communications lockdown as a first line of defense to prisoner unrest. "Do we want them just sitting in prison, lifting weights, becoming violent and thinking about the next crime?" A press release called it a "peaceful protest".

These non-violent and peaceful protests are created to expose the nefarious economic motives of individuals, state and federal government, and corporations like McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks, John Deer, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), Victoria's Secret, U.S. military, Whole Foods, Walmart, Keefe, AT&T and Verizon call centers, and many others behind laws like mandatory minimums, three strikes laws, juvenile prosecution as adults, etc. that are used to incarcerate people under oppressive, inhumane conditions for extended periods of time, exclusively for the use of free prison labor for profit - yet in the name of crime and punishment.

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