[Pnews] Alabama prisons on strike

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Jan 3 00:02:37 EST 2021

https://www.workers.org/2021/01/53547/ Alabama prisons: ON STRIKE!
January 1, 2021

Occupied Muscogee Creek / Cherokee / Yuchi / Choctaw / Shawnee / Chickasaw

As of Jan. 1, 2021, incarcerated workers in Alabama’s odious prison system
are on strike!  Led by the Free Alabama Movement, incarcerated workers
throughout the state of Alabama have put down their work tools and refused
to go to work from now until Jan. 31.

The inhumane conditions of Alabama Department of Corrections, their
negligence around COVID-19, and their implementation of video visitation
equipment in prisons that ADOC claims is “due to COVID,” but is really a
front for eliminating in-person visitation, has contributed further to the
psychological warfare against everyone incarcerated in Alabama prisons and
has fueled this strike.

Officially called the “30 Day Economic Blackout,” the strike was called to
order in a powerful statement via video from Free Alabama Movement
co-founder Kinetik Justice, who states that this economic blackout is the
culmination of six years of reports on the inhumane conditions inside the
walls of Alabama prisons by the Free Alabama Movement, and the subsequent
foot-dragging of the government to do hardly anything about it. At the
core, the ones suffering the most inside Alabama prisons are Black men.

#30DayEconomicBlackout, prisoner led!

*Alabama prisons a death trap for Black men*

A groundbreaking report from Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice
entitled “*Death Traps” *(https://bit.ly/34SrShU) reveals that Black men
are at the highest risk for violence inside Alabama prisons. Out of 48
homicides in Alabama prisons between June 2014 and September 2020, 37 were
Black men. They are also 3.3 times more likely than their white
counterparts to be murdered within the walls of Alabama prisons.

The ADOC has been ruled the deadliest prison system in the country. An
imprisoned person in Alabama prisons is ten times more likely to be a
victim of homicide than in any other state. In 2019 the homicide rate in
Alabama prisons was 73 people per 100,000, compared to the overall rate in
Alabama of 7.8 people per 100,000.

The Free Alabama Movement, founded and operated by Black men behind the
walls, has sought to bring this knowledge to the public, which is one of
the main reasons behind the prison strike. Their lives are on the line;
this is a matter of life and death for them.

*Alabama prisons ruled ‘unconstitutional’** twice **in 18 months!*

Twice in the last 18 months, the conditions inside ADOC prisons have been
revealed to be so shocking that the Department of Justice ruled that the
entire Alabama prison system is “unconstitutional under the Eighth
Amendment.” Video footage from within the prisons shows deplorable living
conditions, overcrowded cells, violence between inmates and excessive force
from guards, and many other factors in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
On Dec. 9, 2020, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against ADOC over these inhumane
conditions, citing understaffing and ongoing violence as two major factors
in the lawsuit. (https://abcn.ws/2KMzhZ7)

AP reporter Kim Chandler writes: “Alabama had been in negotiations with the
Justice Department since the first 2019 report in the hopes of staving off
a lawsuit, but federal officials said the state has ‘failed or refused to
correct’ the unconstitutional conditions.

“The 24-page lawsuit said that conditions in Alabama prisons have gotten
worse since the initial findings — with homicides increasing and prisons
becoming even more overcrowded than in 2016 when the investigation was
initiated. ‘The State of Alabama is deliberately indifferent to the serious
and systematic constitutional problems present in Alabama’s prisons for
men,’ the lawsuit states.” (Dec. 10, 2020)

In a disgusting, careless response, Alabama governor Kay Ivey has vowed to
have three Alabama mega-prisons constructed over the next several years,
costing Alabama taxpayers more than two and a half billion dollars! Two of
the prisons, slated to be built in Brierfield and Tallassee, Ala., have
been met with fervent local resistance by residents who do not want a
prison in their communities or neighborhoods. (https://bit.ly/34Ri3AW)

*Video visitation: economic and psychological warfare*

Another core of this revolutionary strike is to protest the implementation
of video visitation equipment in prisons across Alabama. This equipment,
designed by Securus Technologies, has been touted as “a safer alternative
to in-person visits during COVID-19,” but there are no guarantees that this
equipment would be removed and in-person visits resumed once COVID-19 rates
begin to drop.

Many prison abolition advocates in the Free Alabama Movement say that this
is a long-conceived plan from ADOC to eliminate in-person visitation
altogether, as a form of psychological warfare on those incarcerated
workers behind the wall. When incarcerated workers have to deal with cell
overcrowding, violence, and heinous living conditions, in-person visitation
is for many a brief reprieve from the sickening situations they are in. But
the state of Alabama, hoping to break them mentally and emotionally, is
seeking to do away with even this small reprieve.

Psychological warfare is not the only reason behind this. Follow the money!
Securus Technologies rakes in over $1,750,000,000 a year from this
equipment installed in prisons. It currently has 6,000 contracts out with
prisons across the U.S. (https://bit.ly/3psMq8z) While Securus profits, the
ADOC can cut costs and make more money for its prison-industrial complex.

Securus Technologies is one of five companies that the Free Alabama
Movement is asking all those in solidarity to actively boycott during the
month-long strike. The others are JPay, Access Corrections, Union Supply
Company, and Alabama Correctional Industries, all of whom directly benefit
from the slave labor of incarcerated workers in Alabama prisons.

*Support the strike! Abolish the prisons!*

Although the ADOC has been ruled the “deadliest prison system in the
country,” it is important to note that all prisons are inherently deadly,
inhumane, and cruel – a massive monument to capitalism-imperialism,
colonialism, and slavery. In a Dec. 10 interview, Free Alabama Movement
co-founder and abolitionist Swift Justice said: “I personally wouldn’t sit
there and try to gauge how inhumane one prison is over another prison in
the United States. Any prison that has any human rights violations is
inhumane; it’s all equal in our eyes. The issue here in Alabama is that for
so long society in Alabama — they just cherish the fact that individuals
come to prison and are basically tortured and treated like animals.” (

In the coming month this strike, led by Black incarcerated workers behind
the walls of Alabama prisons, will be the revolutionary boost that kicks
off 2021.  Halfway through the strike, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as
president, but has announced no plans to even address prison reforms. His
victory, seen as “revolutionary” by bourgeois liberals, will be challenged
at every turn.

The Alabama prison strike/30 Day Economic Blackout will kick off resistance
to the decaying neoliberal, capitalist-imperialist system in the U.S. It is
critical that progressives unequivocally support the Alabama prison strike,
the Free Alabama Movement, and the continued struggle to tear down the
walls and abolish prisons once and for all!

*Devin Cole is a transgender Marxist organizer and writer. They are the
president of Strive (Socialist Trans Initiative), a transgender advocacy
organization in northwest Florida, and a member of the Workers World Party
– Central Gulf Coast (Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi) branch. *
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