In the U.S. today there are 2.2 million prisoners, 19 million felons and 70 million people total with an arrest and conviction record. The era of mass incarceration is alive and well. The Prison Industrial Complex is an $80 billion annual industry.
The national prison strike which went from Aug. 21 to Sept. 9 is prompting dialogue across the country. It has been covered by such media as Democracy Now and on a website the conversation.com. Prisoners at Washington State Penitentiary were participating as well as others at other prisons (in at least 17 states) including myself at Airway Heights Corrections Center. I boycotted the chow hall and halted spending. Many prisoners nationally went further refusing work assignments and organizing sit-ins.
A list of ten demands were made, such as improved conditions, an end to prison slavery, prevailing wages, more rehabilitative services and voting rights for prisoners and felons. At the very least the national prison strike has started a conversation in the public as to how to treat such a large segment of our country more humanely. Let’s move to make the criminal justice system a more just place.