Today is, I believe, Day 6 of the “strike” by inmates at various Georgia state jails. Stories on the strike have focused mostly on the inmates’ use of contraband cellphones as a means to coordinate the strike among the various facilities, as reported in the Times. This, however, is a side issue at best, and should not detract from the significance of the strike itself and, of equal importance, the reasons why it even came about in the first place. As to the latter, I provide here the list of demands made by the striking inmates that are currently on the table and which the Georgia Department of Corrections has to this date still refused to acknowledge:
A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
The Black Agenda Report has the full press release issued by civilian activists supporting the strike including Elaine Brown.
If you have a friend, relative, or loved one who is participating in the strike whether as a prisoner or as civilian, please share your story with us below.