Why Prisoners Across the Country Have Gone on Strike

Following a call for a nationwide prison strike that began September 9, inmates in at least three states have organized work stoppages or staged protests in support of improving their wages and working conditions. Here’s the latest on the strike and the issues behind it:

How many prisoners are on strike?

The strike’s organizers had originally expected prisoners in 21 states to participate. So far, they say that prisoners in at least 29 prisons in 12 states have launched strikes and more than 24,000 prisoners have missed work.

• In Florida, protests erupted in four facilities last week, and a small group of inmates refused to follow orders at one facility, according to a Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson. The prisons were placed on lockdown, but resumed normal operations on September 12.

• Prisoners at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan, refused to report for kitchen work, forcing correctional officers to provide bagged food for lunch and breakfast the next day, says Chris Gautz, a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman. Four hundred prisonersmarched peacefully in the yard for several hours, but after a common room area was damaged, the facility went on lockdown, says Gautz. Around 150 prisoners who are considered strike organizers are being transferred to other prisons in the state.

• In Atmore, Alabama, inmates at the William C. Holman Correctional Institute facility did not report to work on September 9, but returned to workon the next day, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

• In South Carolina, inmates released a list of demands that included a call for fair wages, restarting GED classes, and “more meaningful” rehabilitation programs.

• In Alabama, inmates who are part of the Free Alabama Movement, an organization that helped launch the strike, released a “freedom bill” that called for the abolishment of free labor from prisoners.

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