National Prison Strike - Solidarity With The Striking Prisoners!
August 21st sees the beginning of a nationwide prison strike. The date marks the anniversary of the death of George Jackson, a revolutionary Marxist-Maoist and member of the Black Panther Party. In his struggle for black liberation and communist revolution, George Jackson died at San Quentin Prison, shot by guards. The details of his death and alleged escape attempt remain obfuscated to this day.
George Jackson is known, among other things, for writing two books: Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye. The former is a collection of letters written to family and comrades, detailing his childhood and how he ended up in prison at the age of 20, sentenced to life for armed robbery of $70. The latter book is a more theoretical and political treatise, examining the role of a revolutionary vanguard party in the context of fascism. If it could be summed up in a single idea, perhaps it would be that fascism has always existed in the United States, and a revolutionary organization needs to reflect this fact.
The prison strike aims to last for 19 days, ending on the anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising.
The call for the strike - by members of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) - lists multiple ways that prisoners can get involved. This includes work stoppages, sit-ins, boycotts and hunger strikes. Prisoners across the country plan to get involved but which prisons in particular will remain anonymous until the strike begins to thwart retaliation by the prison guards. There are over 150 organizations expressing solidarity with the strike.
From sawarimi.org, the prisoner’s demands are listed below. The essence of their demands reflect the abasement and depravity of the Amerikkkan prison complex, which operates on a system of profit accruement and dehumanization.
The system is not designed for rehabilitation but to promote itself, prove a reason for itself to be. The growth of the prison industry reflects a strategy of containment not just of the black working class but all redundant labor, rendered so by neoliberalism. With increased unemployment and radicalization of the working class in the 1960s and 1970s came the need for that containment. The war on drugs proved a viable way to destroy the revolutionary movements for black liberation, in particular the Black Panther Party. Prisons today maintain this role of containing the black nation and the reserve army of labor..
It is a political maneuver as much as an economic one. Penal labor is a billion dollar industry in the United States. In a jarring display of how inhuman these prisons are, the workers are rendered slaves, used as sources of labor that garners incredible profits for the commodities they produce.
The demands are as follows:
- 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.
- The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
- The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded 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 imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
- State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
- Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
- The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!