Tuesday, members of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak announced the start of a 19-day nationwide prisoner-led strike across the United States prison system.
Organizers say the 19-day peaceful protest will see prisoners refusing to work, holding sit-ins, and conducting hunger strikes.
A statement issued from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak stated that this year’s strike was sparked by the deadly riot this past April at Lee Correctional Institute in South Carolina which left 7 inmates dead.
The statement went on to list 10 prison reform-related demands that they hope prison officials and bureaucrats will take action on during the 19-day strike. Demands range from reform of current prison conditions and unfair wages to requesting the reinstatement of prisoners’ voting rights, as well as seeing an end to life sentences without the possibility of parole.
When questioned about the motivation of today’s strike, JLS representatives responded, “Why is this so important to us? Fundamentally, it’s a human rights issue. Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. We know that our conditions are causing physical harm and deaths that could be avoided if prison policy makers actually gave a damn. Prisons in America are a warzone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead. So what do we have to lose?”