Why Today’s National Prison Strike Should Matter to Everyone

Incarcerated people and their supporters are observing National Prison Strike today on the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising.

Host Eleanor Goldfield explains why today’s prison strike matters on Occupy.org’s Act Out show.

If you are looking to stay up to date, Mask Magazine is providing ongoing coverage of today’s actions at their website and through their social media.

The Nation spoke to prisoners and prisoner advocates about the grievances currently facing the incarcerated:

 Due to the number of facilities involved in September’s strike, the list of grievances, as well as the list of demands, is long, and varies both state-to-state and prison-to-prison. In Texas one of the common complaints is the deadly heat, with most facilities lacking air-conditioning, and heat indexes reportedly rising into the 150s Fahrenheit in some units. Inmates in Wisconsin and Ohio are protesting the excessive use of solitary confinement.

Facilities in Texas, Alabama and elsewhere regularly serve rotten food to inmates (a video posted on YouTube by members of the group Free Alabama Movement (FAM) show revolting “hamburger patties” that were green with mold). In prisons across the country, including in Texas, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, drinking water has been found to be contaminated with arsenic or other poisonous chemicals.

But there is one issue that has driven the energy behind September’s actions more than any other: Prison labor. Across the US, there are nearly 900,000 inmates who currently work in prisons. In states such as Colorado and Arizona, inmates earn as little as little as a few cents per hour for their work. In Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas, incarcerated people are forced to work for free.

If you’d like to help spread awareness, PrisonStrikePosters.com is archiving social media images for sharing today.

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