Biggest prisoner strike in US history- this week in Georgia


December 11, 2010 by tristan savage


Thousands of Georgia Prisoners Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010…

re-posted from the Black Agenda Report

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia’s notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other. 

The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of Georgia’s more than one hundred state prisons, correctional facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional facilities.  We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.

Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with reckless and brutal aggression.  So calls to the warden’s office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

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 and their phone number is 478-992-5246

One in every thirteen adults in the state of Georgia is in prison, on parole or probation or some form of court or correctional supervision.

Press Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211,;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348,; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046,

These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights.  They have set forth the following demands:

·         A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK:  In violation of the 13th 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.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: No more slavery.  Injustice in one place is injustice to all.  Inform your family to support our cause.  Lock down for liberty!
*UPDATE* (re-posted from Davey D):

Despite that the prisoners’ protest remained non-violent, the DOC violently attempted to force the men back to work—claiming it was “lawful” to order prisoners to work without pay, in defiance of the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery.  In Augusta State Prison, six or seven inmates were brutally ripped from their cells by CERT Team guards and beaten, resulting in broken ribs for several men, one man beaten beyond recognition.  This brutality continues there.  At Telfair, the Tactical Squad trashed all the property in inmate cells.  At Macon State, the Tactical Squad has menaced the men for two days, removing some to the “hole,” and the warden ordered the heat and hot water turned off.  Still, today, men at Macon, Smith, Augusta, Hays and Telfair State Prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike.  Inmate leaders, representing blacks, Hispanics, whites, Muslims, Rastafarians, Christians, have stated the men will stay down until their demands are addressed, one issuing this statement:

“…Brothers, we have accomplished a major step in our struggle…We must continue what we have started…The only way to achieve our goals is to continue with our peaceful sit-down…I ask each and every one of my Brothers in this struggle to continue the fight.  ON MONDAY MORNING, WHEN THE DOORS OPEN, CLOSE THEM.  DO NOT GO TO WORK.  They cannot do anything to us that they haven’t already done at one time or another.  Brothers, DON’T GIVE UP NOW.  Make them come to the table.  Be strong.  DO NOT MAKE MONEY FOR THE STATE THAT THEY IN TURN USE TO KEEP US AS SLAVES….”

*UPDATE* (re-posted from Prison Law Blog):

  • At, you can sign a petition to the commissioner of the Georgia DOC.
  • Interview with former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown, who is helping to coordinate the strike, on Hard Knock Radio. (I haven’t had a chance to listen to this myself.)

and an article from the New York Times on use of cellphones in organizing the strike:

7 thoughts on “Biggest prisoner strike in US history- this week in Georgia

  1. […] stumbled across this post about the Georgia prison riots at a blog dedicated to Mormonism and radical politics. My mind is […]

  2. Grégoire says:

    Great article. Prison labour has its roots in slavery, and has been continuously used by capital to depress wages in the general population since the days before the American revolution. Solidarity with the exploited.

    • Joseph says:

      Great to see you commenting here again, Gregoire. And I enjoyed the article.

      I also enjoyed following the links to your blog where you discuss a Cormac McCarthy novel (one of my favorite authors, though I haven’t read “The Road” yet).

      Interestingly enough, I was first exposed to Cormac McCarthy in a goth lit class. In that class the teacher presented the idea of prisoners being the real “living dead,” since they die civilly in that they have all their rights taken away, but their bodies ares still living. Anyway, a kind of tangential relationship.

      I also listened to a Tibetan Monk who visited the college I work at, who spoke about the horrific treatment he received in Chinese prisons. He pointed out that the Chinese economy is based on prison labor.

      I have learned exploited prison labor is also an important part of the U.S. economy, and your article as well as the article above in the original post have further demonstrated this.

  3. Ron Madson says:

    Gregoire is the Man! Good to hear from you.

    Just after this article was posted I happened to see the 1980 film “Brubaker” was on TV. Perfect movie to illustrate the problems articulated in this post. I would recommend the movie. Here is the trailer:

  4. J. Madson says:

    another good article on prison conditions and access to justice

  5. J. Madson says:

    oh and one more thing of the modern “slavery” or jim crow that is our penal system

    Ta-Nehisi puts it in this perspective:

    Of the 2.3 million people in American jails, 806,000 are black males. African-Americans–males and females–make up .6 percent of the entire world’s population, but African-American males–alone–make up 8 percent of the entire world’s prison population…. a group that makes up roughly one in 200 citizens of the world, comprises one in 12 of its prisoners.

  6. […] I dont want to detract from katy’s excellent post below and Im sure many of you have seen the video released by the SL tribune today but I think its important for people to see the “war on drugs” firsthand and some of its victims. For some more insight into our criminal justice system you can look at these prior posts […]

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