On December 9, prisoners across the state of Georgia staged a strike to protest the conditions under which they are incarcerated. Cell phones purchased from prison guards were reportedly used to organize the action. Four of the prisons participating in the protest are still under lock down today. This work stoppage has cut across racial and religious boundaries, as leaders of various factions, normally at odds with each other, worked together to find an effective means of resistance to the conditions under which they have all been forced to exist.
The demands of the prisoners are reasonable, and include educational opportunities, wages for work performed, and decent health care. Prisoners in various facilities have reported that prison officials have attempted to provoke violence from the peaceful protesters. Prison officials have used such tactics as turning off the heat, forcing prisoners to shower without hot water, and leaving prisoners outside in a cold prison yard without adequate protection from the elements. Several prisons have been inundated by tactical teams brandishing weapons and tearing apart inmates cells and property. But the prisoners have expressed a determination to remain on strike until their demands are met. Prisoners have expressed the need for outside entities to intervene in order to help force the DOC to provide adequate living conditions for the incarcerated population.
On December 8, a press release was issued that outlined the demands of the striking prisoners. The men participating in the strike have expressed that they will not give up the fight for their rights, that no matter the consequences, they will continue to peacefully demand decent treatment from the DOC. The following are the demands of the striking prisoners. I'm not sure how you may feel about them. But I'd really like to get some feedback from you as to whether they're unreasonable or not:
These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the following demands:Source
· 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.
Prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!”