Workers Solidarity Alliance Statement in Support of the Recent and Ongoing Prisoners Strike in Georgia
December 13, 2010
We express our utmost support and solidarity to all of the prisoners in Georgia who have been on strike for the past three days, refusing to leave their cells to work or perform any prisoner-related duties assigned them by the prison. The strike is astounding in more than one way, perhaps the most important of which is that it has broken the racial boundaries that structure prisons. Black, white, and hispanic prisoners are uniting together to demand the following:
- A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC [Department of Corrections] 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.
In the prisoners own words: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!”
The strike is taking place in at least half a dozen prisons across Georgia, involving thousands of prisoners. There have been reports of Telfair and Macon State prisons sending in tactical squads to brutally assault prisoners, in what can only be described as state terrorism aimed at silencing dissent. We stand in the company of countless others, condemning this brutal policy of repression and violence. We know that this is a strike that threatens the balance of power in the prisons, something that the wardens and guards will not allow.
That is, if the prisoners are left isolated, without public support, without us taking on their call for justice and taking action in solidarity with their struggle.
The prisoners in Macon, Hays, Telfair, Baldwin, Valdosta, and Smith state prisons do not have picket signs we can read, no do they have speeches that can be read out loud to us. We cannot see their faces or hear their voices. They are mostly invisible to us. It is now up to us to break though this wall of invisibility purposely imposed upon us and prisoners, by those who control society and our lives. The right to strike is the right of every exploited person in an exploitive society, prisoner or not. The wardens and guards in Telfair prison tuned off the heat last Thursday night when temperatures reached 30 degrees, in yet another attempt to silence the striking prisoners through dangerous and life-threatening measures. A prison system that first, does not provide adequate health-care, is now turning off the heat in the December cold of Georgia! The message is clear: “YOU DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS, WE CAN AND WILL STOP THIS STRIKE!”
We cannot allow the prisoners’ struggle to be an isolated struggle, it is a fight that needs fighting outside of prisons in order to win. Isolation kills struggles and movements, especially movements that are in firm opposition to the power of an elite class and its institutions, and the practice of those institutions. The Georgia prisoners strike demands our attention, we cannot afford to ignore struggles for human dignity. Every day is a struggle for us to retain some sense of dignity. Capitalist society lives off the dignity plundered from our lives; it exists with the exploitation of its masses for the sake of the few who build their mansions within sight of our prisons. It will exist this way until we destroy it. The working class is the victim of the global crime of Capitalism and State. We labor to build it up, all the while it buries us, quite literally. If we are going to change our society we are going to have to recognize the sources of our oppression. The oppression of the prisoners in Georgia, and all prisoners, is our oppression. Prisons are our oppression, as is the State that requires working class people to build prisons for other working class people. Support the struggle of the striking prisoners: CALL THE PRISONS DEMANDING HANDS OFF THE STRIKERS!
- Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900.
- 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 www.dcor.state.ga.us and their phone number is 478-992-5246
The Workers Solidarity Alliance aims to build a working class movement that can challenge this political and social environment, and transform society into one of self-management, where the needs of all its members are met, and none are exploited.
FOR A WORLD WITHOUT BOSSES, BUREAUCRATS OR STATES