These undated photos from the South Carolina Department of Corrections show, top row from left, Corey Scott, Eddie Casey Gaskins, Raymond Angelo Scott and Damonte Rivera; bottom row from left, Michael Milledge, Cornelius McClary and Joshua Jenkins. The seven were killed and 22 prisoners wounded in a rebellion at the Lee Correctional Institution late Sunday and early Monday, April 15-16, 2018, in Bishopville, S.C.
Check out this piece about the incident at Lee Correctional Institution, How a South Carolina Prison Riot Really Went Down
From the piece:
Yes, it was a gang fight, prisoners tell me, but it was corrections officials who had decided to house rival gangs in the same dormitory, and it was the officials’ increasingly punitive policies that exacerbated tensions on the inside. The fact that the rioting went on for seven hours, and that so many died and were injured — 22 were taken to the hospital — was, they say, in no small part because corrections officers were AWOL.
Notably, it is contraband cellphones that make it possible for these prisoners to get their own accounts of the riot to the public, as well as to document their claim that corrections officials could have prevented the high death toll.
Then there was the video a prisoner sent me of the putrid water coming out of the sink of his cell — water, another man told me, that it “smells like feces.”
And they want us all to know that cellphones don’t just help them to tell the public about abuses in the system; cellphones also tether them to family, which should matter to all of us. (Prisons have phones inmates can use, but they are controlled by private companies that charge usurious rates.) As one man explained to me, every night he calls his daughter to help her with her homework. He is trying hard to be a good father even though he is locked up. The state is telling us that the inmates fight over cellphones, but this man told me he willingly shares his phone so others can reach out to their families, and that this practice is common.
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 Amerikkka! 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.