USA // 2018 Prison Strike~ 2 min

Poster for the Prison Strike campaign.
Image created by Melanie Cervantes (@Meloniousfunk) for the prison strike campaign.

By Simone Vieira

On the 15th of April 2018, a conflict broke out in the Lee Correctional Institution maximum-security prison in South Carolina, U.S.. It left 7 dead, 12 injured and a further 22 hospitalized. The prison guards chose not to intervene or provide medical care in due course. The conflict lasted more than seven hours under these conditions.

The dehumanization felt in the past two years which culminated in this conflict has led prisoners of various federal, state and immigration facilities to call for a national strike. Men and women demand better conditions in prisons, an environment they consider hostile, violent and contributing to fuel social stereotypes.

Bill Clinton and his prison policies (1996) have influenced the current environment of American prisons. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is one of the Acts which Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group of prisoners with legal training, demand an end to. This reform has made it difficult to file lawsuits and further increased the number of sentences ending in jail. Defendants have no platform and face many difficulties when defending themselves from the violation of their rights. Their demands extend to the Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act, laws created to encourage an increase in death penalties and imprisonment sentences, perpetuating the violation of human rights.

They argue that parole should be an alternative to imprisonment so as to facilitate social reintegration. They demand wages for work carried out inside prisons. They call for the end of racial discrimination which leads to heavier penalties for non-white people. They demand the right to vote for all prisoners, including those who have already served their sentence, since democratic representation is everyone’s right.

It’s a setting where the concept of a “gang” takes on a new meaning as people are forced to organize themselves in groups for survival. Such groups end up competing against one another in a structure where there are few to zero options and in which prison officers are the first to provoke you into conflict. Consequently, this strike aims to bring to society’s attention that prisons are not part of the solution, but rather the problem. They instigate violence and lead those who dwell therein, mostly coming from disadvantaged social backgrounds, to only know the language of violence.

The strike will run until the 9th of September. Molleindustria have created a small game on the social consequences resulting from the existence of prisons.

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