The ANSWER Coalition expresses its complete solidarity with the ongoing, heroic strike by prisoners across the country protesting the many injustices of the mass incarceration system in the United States. Large numbers of prisoners in many states are participating in this inspiring action that is elevating the struggle to a new level.
The strike began on August 21, to mark the anniversary of the murder of imprisoned revolutionary and Black Panther leader George Jackson. It will continue until September 9, the date of the beginning of the historic Attica Prison uprising.
Participants in the strike are demanding an end to the slave labor and dehumanizing conditions imposed on incarcerated people. In place of the current system that exists in order to control and contain poor and oppressed people, the strike is demanding full recognition of civil and political rights. It is dealing a blow against one of the main pillars of white supremacy in the United States.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, there are 2.3 million people locked up in different types of prisons and jails across the country, in addition to 3.7 million people on probation and 840,000 people on parole. The majority of incarcerated people are being held for non-violent offenses, and one-in-five people in prison are there due to drug charges. The vast majority of the 615,000 people held in local jails have not even been convicted of a crime!
To ensure that the strike is a success, everyone on the outside needs to mobilize as well. ANSWER organizers are committed to building solidarity with the national prison strike and the ongoing movement against mass incarceration.
Demands of the national prison strike
- Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
- An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
- An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
- An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
- No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
- State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
- Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
- The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.