Georgia prisoners in 6 of the state’s prisons staged a work strike in order to protest their treatment in the Georgia penal system. The strike was unprecedented in Georgia. Prisoners demanded wages for their work, better social services and respect for their civil liberties.
Georgia is the only where prisoners do not receive any money for their labor. They also have to buy their medicine if they get sick, and are demanding that it be provided at a cost their love ones can afford.
In retaliation against the prisoners, officials locked down the prison,beat some prisoners, forced others to stand in the cold with their pensises exposed to give urine samples, turned off the hot water, and heat, attempted to transfer the leaders, and seized cell phones.
Mali Zulu Shabazz, an attorney and Chairman of the New Black Panther Party traveled to Macon State Prison to speak to the relatives of some of the prison protesters. “We are going to see if there have been any human rights abuses of the prisoners” said Shabazz. The New Black Panther Party has set up a hotline for anyone whose loved ones have been abused because of this work strike. The number is 678-754-4832.
The strike lasted 6 days and was called off, according to one inmate so they could be taken off lockdown and be able to use the library in order to address the legal issues involved.
Cell phones were used to coordinate the strike, as it quickly spread throughout the prison system. Cell phones are considered contraband in prison, however, it is reported that guards sell them to prisoners. It appears that the prison industry is beneficial to everyone, except the prisoners who labor for nothing.
There are nearly a million prisoners in the U.S. who make license plates, office furniture, make hotel reservations in call centers, and body armor for the U.S. military.
Yet, when they are released they are hard pressed to get jobs, because they have a record. Many of them resort to crime again, are imprisoned again, and the cycle of slave labor continues.
The Georgia prisoners demands are as follows:
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 Eighth 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 Eighth 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.