Despite news coverage of the prison strike that started on August 21 and ended on September 9th, congressmen, who are in charge of federal prison policy, told the Huffington Post, that they have not heard about the prison strike.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) did not know of any prison strike. Other Republicans on the subcommittee that directly monitors prisons, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.) and Louie Gohmert (Texas), and the top Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), also had not heard about the protest.
Gohmert stated, “I had not heard that.”
The idea to strike came after 7 inmates died in a South Carolina prison riot this past April. The strike began with the Twitter video of 26-year-old Folsom Prison inmate Heriberto Garcia refusing food. With the video, word spread to prisons in at least 15- 17 states.
The strike organizers, a group of imprisoned activists, known as Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, (supported by Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee), issued 10 demands. The most important demand called for an end to “Prison Slave Labor,”where inmates are paid pennies per hour for their work.
For example, inmates at Louisiana’s Angola prison, (ironically, located on a former slave plantation), work for as little as four cents an hour. This exploitation of inmates–slave labor varies from state to state. At the same time, many prison commissaries charge inmates and their families, exorbitant prices for food, and hygiene items.
The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee’s website has called for an end to unpaid labor, and the restoration of voting rights.
Unfortunately, as usuals, Congress is not paying attention!