Asheville Prison Books endorses the national prison strike called for by prisoners which begins August 21st and extends to September 9th.
The insane incarceration rate in the United Sates should be common knowledge by now, but you may not have known this horrifying piece of information: North Carolina, which has a population of about 10 million, has almost as many people locked up as France, a country with about 67 million people. NC has about 66k and France has about 69k. If that wasn't bad enough, NC only has the 12th largest incarcerated popluation by state and the 31st highest incarceration rate. If they have a paying job, prisoners in NC make between $0.05 and $0.38 per hour.
After seven people were killed in a South Carolina prison earlier this year, Jailhouse Laywers Speak (a national collective of incarcerated people who fight for human rights by providing other incarcerated people with access to legal education, resources, and assistance) put out a press release calling for a two-week national strike beginning on August 21st, the anniversary of George Jackson's assassination, and extending until September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion in 1971.
This strike is already being met with repression. People have been transferred around to other facilities and communication has been restricted. Facilities will be put on lockdown as they have during strikes for the past couple of years. Last year, the entire Florida DOC locked down.
Bringing more visibility to this movement will help combat the repression. Prison officials will be more hesitant with the public's eyes on them and will be less likely to mess with particular prisoners if they have outside support. This is one reason Asheville Prison Books is endorsing the national prison strike. We encourage you to spread the word about the strike. Post about it on social media and try to get news outlets to cover it. Have your organization endorse the strike. Start corresponding and building relationships with people inside.
We are also endorsing the strike because we believe it's necessary to support the movements that are attempting to transform the prison conditions that we work to mitigate every day: The lack of resources, the sense of isolation and boredom, the dehumanization and despair that comes with being viewed as disposable, and the physical danger and emotional trauma that comes along with the consequences of that disposability.
The demands of the strike speak directly to these realities, including basic things such as "prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women," and "recognition of voting rights." The demands also include things near to the hearts of many in this network, such as reinstatement of Pell Grants and access to rehabilitation services. You can find the full list of demands and the press release announcing the strike below.
There will be a meeting this coming Tuesday, July 17th, at 5:00PM at Firestorm Books & Coffee to discuss building support for striking prisoners.
We'll also be holding our monthly volunteer orientation this Sunday, July 15th, at 1:00PM also at Firestorm. Please come to the orientation if you're interested in supporting the strike but can't make it to the meeting on Tuesday.
Press release from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak:
Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology.
These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.
These are the NATIONAL DEMANDS of the men and women in federal, immigration and state prisons:
- 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.
- Rescission of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- Rescission of the Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act 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 denial of access to rehabilitation programs for imprisoned humans at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
- State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
- Reinstatement of Pell grant eligibility to prisoners in all US states and territories.
- Recognition of voting rights for all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees and so-called “ex-felons.” Their votes must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!
We all agree to spread this strike throughout the prisons of Ameri¢¢¢a! From Aug. 21 to Sept. 9, 2018, men and women in prisons across the nation will strike in the following manner:
- Work Strikes: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
- Sit-ins: In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit-in protests.
- Boycotts: All spending should be halted. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the inside will inform you if they are participating in this boycott. We support the call of the Free Alabama Movement Campaign to “Redistribute the Pain” 2018, as Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray, has laid out – with the exception of refusing visitation. See these principles described here: https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com/.
- Hunger Strikes: Men and women shall refuse to eat.
How you can help:
- Make the nation take a look at our demands. Demand action on our demands by contacting your local, state and federal political representatives with these demands. Ask them where they stand.
- Spread the strike and word of the strike in every place of detention.
- Contact a supporting local organization to see how you can be supportive. If you are unsure of who to connect with, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be prepared by making contact with people in prison, family members of prisoners and prisoner support organizations in your state to assist in notifying the public and media on strike conditions.
- Assist in our announced initiatives to have the votes of people in jail and prison counted in elections.
Media inquiries should be directed to email@example.com.