by Zachary Medeiros, Socialist Party Los Angeles
The plantations are stirring again. From August 21, the 47th anniversary of revolutionary George Jackson’s murder at the hands of prison guards, to September 9, the 47th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, incarcerated people across the United States have joined a nationwide prison revolt. As I write this, there are reports of work stoppages, hunger strikes, and other actions coming out of Washington, Florida, Georgia, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Nova Scotia. Given the immense level of repression organizers and all other uncooperative prisoners and detainees face, these reports probably represent only a fraction of the resistance.
The strikers are answering a call put out in April by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and other prisoner’s groups, which was sparked by the deadly riot at South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Institution. The strike demands, which cover a wide range of human rights issues, are worth reproducing here in full:
Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.