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Inmates on strike across Georgia, via cellphone

Inmates in Georgia are mounting a historic strike, and they’re using technology to coordinate it. The New York Times reports:

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.

Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.

Their demands are listen on the website of the Georgia Green Party:

A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK:  In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:  For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

DECENT HEALTH CARE:  In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.

AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS:  In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS:  Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.

NUTRITIONAL MEALS:  Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:  The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.

ACCESS TO FAMILIES:  The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.

JUST PAROLE DECISIONS:  The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

Common Dreams gives a bit of a sense of the conditions these people are dealing with. Note the flagrant promotion of particular forms of religion, which is becoming increasingly common in prisons across the United States:

It’s a fact that Georgia prisons skimp on medical care and nutrition behind the walls, and that in Georgia’s prisons recreational facilities are non-existent, and there are no educational programs available beyond GED, with the exception of a single program that trains inmates to be Baptist ministers. Inmates know that upon their release they will have no more education than they did when they went in, and will be legally excluded from Pell Grants and most kinds of educational assistance, they and their families potentially locked into a disadvantaged economic status for life.

Both Common Dreams and the Greens are publishing the phone numbers of prison wardens and encouraging readers to call and express their support for the striking inmates:

  • Macon State Prison is (978) 472-3900
  • Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400
  • Telfair State prison is (229) 868-7721
  • Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218
  • Valdosta State Prison is (229) 333-7900
  • Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000
  • The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http://www.dcor.state.ga.us and their phone number is (478) 992-5246

H/t Eli.