U.S. Prisoners Are Staging A Historic Protest That Will Affect The Entire Nation…And The Media Is Silent.

11 months ago Matthew Taylor

We are a new blog reporting on current events through a progressive lens. We are trying to combat the digital media trends of clickbait and reporting with no substance. If you like what you see here, please like us on Facebook.

On September 9, 1971, inmates at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility staged an uprising to demand increased rights and improved living conditions. Over the next four days, they took control, holding members of the prison staff hostage. Many of their demands were agreed to, and it has since become recognized as one of the most defining and well-known events in the Prisoners’ Rights Movement.

45 years later, September 9 marked the first day of what has become a nationwide 3-week prison strike, the largest in U.S. history. Over 24,000 inmates and some prison staff are refusing to work until untenable prison conditions are addressed and rectified. Precise figures and statistics from impartial sources are difficult to come by, as there are almost no mainstream sources giving this any coverage.

The best mainstream media outlet for information on the strike is NPR. You can listen to their excellent segment below:

Most of the highlighted issues are a result of the prison-industrial complex, meaning the predominance of private, for-profit prisons in the U.S. If these institutions didn’t already exist as the status quo, the very notion of them would be absurd. Corporations whose profits depend on keeping prisons full, using inmate labor for production of goods, and keeping costs low to the detriment of the well-being of the people inside should not be part of our criminal justice system. Yet they play an integral role, and it’s reprehensible.

Prisoners are forced to work for indefensible “wages” ranging from 23 cents to $1.15 per hour. As the Free Alabama Movement—the group that initiated the strike in Alabama’s William C. Holman Correctional Institute—pointed out, this is nothing less than “a call to end slavery in America.”

Many people assume that slavery is illegal in the U.S. as a result of the 13th Amendment. However, the Amendment actually states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (emphasis mine). That highlighted clause enables the prison conditions that we see today. It is a continuation of slavery that still disproportionately subjugates the same race that suffered from slavery to begin with.

Alabama in particular is a state with a troubling history of racism and violence against black people.

This history matters because it persists. The statistics on race, discrimination, and abuse in the U.S. prison system are vile. But they are not contemporary problems that exist in isolation. They can be best understood as the present-day manifestation of the violent racial subjugation that is embedded in our nation’s very foundation.

We should all take this opportunity to educate ourselves about the travesty of justice that is the prison-industrial complex and in turn to educate those around us. The conditions inside American prisons and the societal conditions that predictably funnel certain demographics into these prisons are some of the most inexcusable elements of contemporary U.S. society.

There are plenty of resources, but I wholeheartedly recommend the Free Alabama Movement’s own site to hear the unfiltered message from the prisoners themselves. It is especially eye-opening to see the recent events concerning Correctional Officers who have joined the strike.

Please share this post on social media and help spread the word.

We are a new blog reporting on current events through a progressive lens. We are trying to combat the digital media trends of clickbait and reporting with no substance. If you like what you see here, please like us on Facebook.