On April 15th, 2018, a riot at Lee Correctional Facility in South Carolina resulted in the deaths of seven inmates, just two months after advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit alleging rampant violence and corruption in the prison. The incident was due in part to broken locks, abundant contraband weapons and cell phones used to organize gang activity, and guards that were slow or unwilling to act. In response to these deadly conditions, prisoners across the country have declared a nation-wide prison strike from August 21st to September 9th.
The conditions faced by incarcerated people shock the conscience - prisoners face abuse, sexual violence, forced medication, isolation, and slave labor conditions. In California, children are forced to risk their lives fighting wildfires for a few dollars a day, all while knowing that they will be unable to do this professionally after completing their sentence because of their criminal record.
An entire industry exists to profit from human misery, charging exorbitant rates for incarcerated people to call and email loved ones or purchase basic hygiene supplies and food items. This includes those in jail who are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of any crime. The for-profit prison system stands in direct opposition to rehabilitating inmates or restoring communities. Policies like the recent ban enacted by several prisons in Ohio on inmates receiving used books by mail drive up profits while preventing incarcerated people from taking steps to get their lives back on track and to re-enter society.
This is unjust and unacceptable, and incarcerated people are fighting for change.
Prisoners & detainees across the country have been organizing against these conditions, with hunger strikes happening in Tacoma, Iowa Park, Huntsville, & Karnes County within the last year, & prison strike Operation Push having been organized by Florida prison workers in January 2018.
The demands of the August 21st prison strike are an assertion of the rights & humanity of all incarcerated persons in the face of the exploitative & dehumanizing conditions of prisons & the criminal justice system in the United States. The callous warehousing of incarcerated people in the United States, which incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other country in the world, results from the same material interests that lead ICE to cage children as their families seek asylum at the border. These are the same conditions that allow police officers to gun down black and brown people with impunity, to prosecute an ongoing drug war on our poorest communities, and to commit unchecked violence against those whose lives are not seen as having value, as in the recent use of a taser by an Ohio police officer against an 11-year-old girl suspected of shoplifting. The struggle of incarcerated people is the struggle for human justice in the face of commodified suffering, and we all have a stake in the fight.
We, the undersigned organizations, call on all our members and supporters in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area to support striking prisoners. Outside support is crucial for the success of prisoners' resistance. Non-incarcerated people can shine a light on repression and retaliation, and provide material support for prisoners' organizing.
- ADVOCATE tell your friends, family and coworkers about the prison strike; use hashtags #August21 and #prisonstrike on social media
- CALL - Phone Zap to #FreeHasan, 614-752-1153
- DONATE - Here is the link to the official strike fund