Inmates are the largest single workforce in Georgia. THEY ARE PAID NO WAGES. To anyone who is familiar with Doug Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name,” this forced convict labor system should come as no surprise. It is part of the “New Jim Crow” mass incarceration system that reincarnates the Old Jim Crow in the first half of the 20th century.So some inmates decided to do something about it.
This action by the inmates was a STRIKE, not a riot or a protest. It was an action by workers TO WITHHOLD THEIR LABOR by refusing to leave their cells. The risks they have taken are enormous. Refusal to work gets you a “Disciplinary Report,” which can affect parole and your “privileges” in prison.
The demands they presented were for
WAGES and WORKING CONDITIONS, which in their case of course includes living conditions. Since the work stoppage involved THOUSANDS OF INMATES, it is probably the largest strike or labor action in Georgia in decades. Moreover, the inmates have firmly taken a stand of interracial solidarity, particularly crucial in Georgia where more than one third of the inmates are white.And what did they get for striking?
Miguel Jackson was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and beaten with hammers, resulting in a fractured nose and 50 stitches to his face, and guards tried to throw him over the railing from the second floor, his wife said.Who do they work for?
All 54,000 Georgia inmates work for “Prison Industries” – not a private corporation but the wholly owned subsidiary of the Department of Corrections. In effect, PI employs more workers than Delta Airlines, Coca Cola, Home Depot or any of the largest corporate employers in the state.Does this sound like “good clean industry” to you?
What did the strikers want?
…education, wages, decent food and medical care, the right to be in touch with their families, and a chance at a decent life once they are released by learning employable skills.If they’re striking for these things in publicly-owned and operated prisons, what do you think conditions will be like in private prisons scraping out alleged savings by scrimping on guards and everything else? And they don’t save money, not in Arizona, and not nationally.
We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend those tax dollars on rehabilitation and education.