International Action Center - iacenter.org
Sign online to tell President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Georgia Governor Perdue, Georgia Attorney General Baker, Georgia Corrections Commissioner Owens, the Georgia Legislature, the Georgia Congressional Delegation, Congressional leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban, and members of the media you want no violence and no reprisals against the courageous Georgia Prison Strikers and you want their demands met.
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According to reports from family members and prisoner rights advocates, thousands of incarcerated men engaged in a coordinated strike starting Dec. 9. They refused to go to work or participate in other assignments or activities, but stayed in their cells, calling it a “lockdown for liberty.”
Using unauthorized cell phones, the prisoners have been able to organize among themselves and to communicate with news media and supporters.
What is so extraordinary about this action besides its statewide character is its unity among the prisoners - Black, Latino, white, Muslims, Christians, Rastafarians - to achieve their central demand to be treated as human beings, not slaves or animals.
The Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) has refused to provide any information to date but did release a short statement on Dec. 9 claiming that no job action had taken place and nothing unusual was happening. However, the DOC acknowledged that based on the “rumor” of a strike, wardens at four facilities had ordered a general “lock down” of the institution to prevent any disruption. A lock down means that all prisoners are confined to their cells and no visitors or phone calls are allowed.
Inmate families and community organizers such as Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panther Party and long-time prisoner rights activist have received numerous phone calls recounting instances of violence and intimidation by prison guards and officials in response to this peaceful protest.
At Augusta State Prison, at least six prisoners were dragged from their cells and beaten, resulting in broken ribs and other serious injuries.
At Telfair State Prison, guards rampaged through the cells, destroying personal property while searching for contraband cell phones.
At Macon State Prison, the prison authorities first shut off the heat as temperatures dropped below freezing and then on the second day of the strike, also cut off the hot water.
An unknown number of prisoners have been taken to the “hole” at the various facilities.
Georgia has over 100 prisons, work camps and other detention centers with the 5th largest prison population in the US. It is estimated that 1 in 13 adult Georgians are under some sort of legal control by the state – in prison or jail, on parole or out on bond with charges pending or under some sort of court or correctional supervision.
In a message sent from a prisoner on Day 3 of the strike, he urged “Don’t Give Up Now! On Monday, when the doors (to the cells – editor) open, close them. Do Not Go To Work.”
Prior to the strike, the prisoners issued a statement outlining nine specific demands:
· A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the13th 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.
The conditions that have caused these men to take such a courageous action are duplicated in prisons and jails across the US. News about their historic strike has been censored with next to no coverage throughout Georgia. The New York Times did print information about the strike following calls by prisoners to the newspaper (Dec. 12, 2010).
Solidarity is needed to ensure the safety of the prisoners and the improvement of their conditions. Calls to the following Georgia prisons are encouraged, demanding no retaliation or reprisals and full compliance with the prisoners’ demands.
Macon State Prison – (978) 472-3900.
Hays State Prison - (706) 857-0400
Telfair State prison – (229) 868-7721
Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218
Valdosta State Prison - (229) 333-7900
Smith State Prison - (912) 654-5000
SIGN ONLINE AT http://www.iacenter.org/prisoners/gaprisonstrikepetition NOW!