GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Sat, 12/11/2010 - 11:24
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by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The peaceful strike begun by inmates of several Georgia state prisons continued for a second day on Friday, according to family members of some of the participants. Copyrighted news stories by AP, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and local TV stations in Macon and Atlanta quote state corrections who say several institutions were placed on lockdown beginning Thursday in anticipation of the inmate protest, on the initiative of wardens of those prisons.

GA Prisoner Strike Continues a Second Day, Corporate Media Mostly Ignores Them, Corrections Officials Decline Comment

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Offices of the wardens at Hay's, Macon State, Telfair, and Augusta state all referred our inquiries to the Department of Corrections public affairs officer, who so far has declined to return our repeated calls.

The prisoner strike in Georgia is unique, sources among inmates and their families say, because it includes not just black prisoners, but Latinos and whites too, a departure from the usual sharp racial divisions that exist behind prison walls. Inmate families and other sources claim that when thousands of prisoners remained in their cells Thursday, authorities responded with violence and intimidation. Tactical officers rampaged through Telfair State Prison destroying inmate personal effects and severely beating at least six prisoners. Inmates in Macon State Prison say authorities cut the prisoners' hot water, and at Telfair the administration shut off heat Thursday when daytime temperatures were in the 30s. Prisoners responded by screening their cells with blankets, keeping prison authorities from performing an accurate count, a crucial aspect of prison operations.

As of Friday, inmates at several prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike. “We are going to ride it,” the inmate press release quotes one, “till the wheels fall off. We want our human rights.”

The peaceful inmate strike is being led from within the prison. Some of those thought to be its leaders have been placed under close confinement.

The nine specific demands made by Georgia's striking prisoners in two press releases pointedly reflect many of the systemic failures of the U.S. regime of mass incarceration, and the utter disconnection of U.S. prisons from any notions of protecting or serving the public interest. Prisoners are demanding, in their own words, decent living conditions, adequate medical care and nutrition, educational and self-improvement opportunities, just parole decisions, just parole decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better access to their families.

It's a fact that Georgia prisons skimp on medical care and nutrition behind the walls, and that in Georgia's prisons recreational facilities are non-existent, and there are no educational programs available beyond GED, with the exception of a single program that trains inmates to be Baptist ministers. Inmates know that upon their release they will have no more education than they did when they went in, and will be legally excluded from Pell Grants and most kinds of educational assistance, they and their families potentially locked into a disadvantaged economic status for life.

Despite the single biggest predictor of successful reintegration into society being sustained contact with family and community, Georgia's prison

authorities make visits and family contact needlessly difficult and expensive. Georgia no longer allows families to send funds via US postal money orders to inmates. It requires families to send money through J-Pay, a private company that rakes off nearly ten percent of all transfers. Telephone conversations between Georgia prisoners and their families are also a profit centers for another prison contractor, Global Tel-Link which extracts about $55 a month for a weekly 15 minute phone call from cash-strapped families. It's hard to imagine why the state cannot operate reliable payment and phone systems for inmates and their families with public employees at lower cost, except that this would put contractors, who probably make hefty contributions to local politicians out of business.

Besides being big business, prisons are public policy. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world's population, but accounts for almost a quarter of its prisoners. African Americans are one eighth this nation's population, but make up almost half the locked down. The nation's prison population increased more than 450% in a generation beginning about 1981. It wasn't about crime rates, because those went up, and then back down. It wasn't about rates of drug use, since African Americans have the same rates of drug use as whites and Latinos. Since the 1980s, the nation has undertaken a well-documented policy of mass incarceration, focused primarily though not exclusively on African Americans. The good news is that public policies are ultimately the responsibility of the public to alter, to change or do do away with. America's policy of mass incarceration is overdue for real and sustained public scrutiny. A movement has to be built on both sides of the walls that will demand an end to the prison industry and to the American policy of mass incarceration. That movement will have to be outside the Republican and Democratic parties. Both are responsible for building this system, and both rely on it to sustain their careers. The best Democrats could do on the 100 to 1 crack to powder cocaine disparity this year, with a black president in the White House and thumping majorities in the House and Senate was to reduce it to 18 to 1, and then only by lengthening the sentences for powder cocaine. On this issue, Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem, not the solution.

As this article goes to print Saturday morning, it's not known whether the strike will continue a third day. With prison officials not talking, and corporate media ignoring prisoners not just this week but every day, outlets like Black Agenda Report and the web site upon which you're reading this are among the chief means inmates and their families have of communicating with the public. The prisoners are asking the public to continue to call the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the individual prisons listed below to express concern for the welfare of the prisoners.

Prison is about corruption, power and isolation. You can help break the isolation by calling the wardens' offices at the following prisons. Prisons, naturally , are open Saturdays and Sundays too.



Macon State Prison is 478-472-3900.  

Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400

Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721

Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218

Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900

Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000

The Georgia Department of Corrections is at http://www.dcor.state.ga.us and their phone number is 478-992-5246

A Sunday update to this story will be posted at Black Agenda Report, about 9AM EST.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA. Dixon is a member of the state committee of the GA Green party.

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12 comments

set some info straight

Submitted by bsmi021 on Tue, 12/14/2010 - 22:04.

I have to say from the comments left so far they are all from inmates and for anyone who should know better i would expect nothing less then what has been said.

But know to the correct statement that is not being said, these people are INMATES you are there because you are great people,you are in jail because you did break a law. If the inmates want to go on strike go at it, but remember that when you are done it will be back to normal! I am not aware of many inmates not being treated humanly, if you are not it is done on a case by case thing and it can be brought up and dealt with through the channels it should go through.

And so that some of you do not start throwing things about yes i working in the system in Sing Sing in NY so please do not throw and flames or bleeding heart at me as i will not listen to any of it.

There was not 1 inmate i worked with who at some point did not say they were framed or did not belong in jail so please there is always two sides to any and all stories!

Solidary message from Kevin Cooper from San Quentin's death row

Submitted by patfoley on Tue, 12/14/2010 - 00:33.

In Solidarity

By Kevin Cooper 

 

On Thursday, December 9, 2010, the inmates in the state of Georgia sat down in unity and peace in order to stand up for their human rights.

 

African American, White, and Latino inmates put aside their differences, if they had any, and came together as a 'People' fighting for their humanity in a system that dehumanizes all of them.

 

For this they have my utmost respect and appreciation and support. I am in true solidarity with them all!

Kevin Cooper is an innocent man on California's death row. 
www.freekevincooper.org

how in the

Submitted by tyronewashington on Wed, 03/02/2011 - 18:51.

hell does the media ignore something like this? this is huge on so many different levels that it should AT LEAST be getting some newspaper coverage, but i never saw anything. anyone wanna chime in? thanks Tyrone

Solidarity from Greece !!!

Submitted by mick on Sun, 12/12/2010 - 19:20.

Solidarity from Greece, where 1200 prisoners are in hunger strike since several days now. One of them has died because of lack of doctors during the strike. The freedom of us outside the hell of jailhouses is totally related with the time when the prisons all around the world will be smashed down and we will hug our brothers in freedom!

 For contact with the Initiative For The Prisoners' Rights, Greece: kratoumenoi@yahoo.gr

 More info about the strike in Greek jailhouses in english: http://en.contrainfo.espiv.net/2010/12/10/greek-prisons-nationwide-prote...

FYI

Submitted by erindaisy on Sun, 12/12/2010 - 13:03.

Just so y'all know, I called that Macon State Prison number and A) It says that is a Massachusetts number, and B) It doesn't go through, anyhow. I did call Hays and all of the employees of the facility were actually very nice and became increasingly helpful after I voiced my solidarity with the striking prisoners. They actually transferred me directly to the warden, although they didn't answer and there was no voicemail to leave my message. Maybe they are in solidarity with the prisoners, too? Here's to hoping. I was also told that the press had been granted access to information about the strike and that there should be an article available in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but I don't see one posted up on their site just yet so I am not sure.

Thanks for the scoop. We all have a responsibility to work against a prison industrial complex that is at least proto-genocidal in its machinations.

Macon State Prison number now corrected

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Sun, 12/12/2010 - 14:34.

Wrong area code, now corrected.  Thank you for pointing out the mistake.  

Press release

Submitted by ericgj on Sat, 12/11/2010 - 19:24.

Thanks very much for posting this crucial news.  Could you post the prisoners' press release?

Eric

GA Prison Inmates Strike Day Two Press Release

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Sat, 12/11/2010 - 20:54.

 

Press Release

BIGGEST PRISONER STRIKE IN U.S. HISTORY—DAY TWO

Thousands of Georgia Prisoners Continue Peaceful Protest

Georgia Department of Corrections Responds with Violence

 

December 10, 2010…Atlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211, sistaelaine@gmail.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net.

 

            Yesterday morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners refused to work, stopped all other activities and locked down in their cells in a peaceful protest for their human rights.  The December 9 Strike was the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

 

            Thousands of men, from Augusta, Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, went on strike to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights.  They have set forth the following demands:

 

·         A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK

·         EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

·         DECENT HEALTH CARE

·         AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS

·         DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS

·         NUTRITIONAL MEALS

·         VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES

·         ACCESS TO FAMILIES

·         JUST PAROLE DECISIONS

 

Despite that the prisoners’ protest was non-violent, the DOC violently attempted to force the men back to work—claiming it was “lawful” to order prisoners to work without pay, in defiance of the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery.  In Augusta State Prison, six or seven inmates were brutally ripped from their cells by CERT Team guards and beaten, resulting in broken ribs for several men, one man beaten beyond recognition.  At Telfair, the Tactical Squad trashed all the property in inmate cells.  At Macon State, the Tactical Squad menaced the men all day, removing some to the “hole,” and the warden ordered the heat turned off, and today, the hot water.  Still, men at Macon, Smith, Augusta, Hays and Telfair State Prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike, one inmate stating, “We’re going to ride it until the wheel falls off.  We want our human rights.”

When the strike began, prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all.  Inform your family to support our cause.  Lock down for liberty!”

"in defiance of the 13th Amendment", well not really...

Submitted by Peon on Mon, 12/13/2010 - 21:59.

Atleast read the 13th amendment....

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

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