Inmates in 10 prisons in the Georgia, USA coordinated a strike that lasted a week, and inclusive of all of the usually conflicting groups (Bloods, Crips, Muslim brotherhood and so forth). While the article in deathandtaxes raises the point that the mainstream media missed this strike, the, well, striking thing to me is the reasonableness of the prisoner’s demands:
- 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 8th 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 8th 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.
While we need prisons, the evidence of these demands is that society is not at all interested in rehabilitation, and that the prison system, public or private perhaps, has the inventive to keep inmates locked up.
It’s not acceptable. People that do bad things should be punished through removal of freedoms, but let’s help them become better people and productive, happy and caring members of society while doing so. It starts with the basics of food, education and health care.