things that matter

Immigration Detainees Joined Prisoners Nationwide To Strike Against Living Conditions And Very Low Wages In Prisons

@IGD_News / Twitter

The U.S. has just experienced on of the largest prison strikes in U.S. history. People who are incarcerated in at least 17 prisons across the U.S. are protested their living and working conditions. From privatized prisons stacking humans in cells to prison systems replacing the U.S. Postal Service with companies that charge impossibly high fees to send an email, this strike matters.

Latinos are incarcerated 200 percent more often than non-Latino white folks and are often sentenced to more time than white offenders for the same crime. While that is an entirely separate issue based in racism and classism. However, the fact remains that there are Latinos in prison who likely wouldn’t be there for as long or at all if they were white.

The strike began on August 21, the 47th anniversary of Black Panther activist George Jackson’s death.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

The strike was announced a week after the April 15 prison riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina. Seven inmates were killed and another 22 people were injured. The Lee riots were ignited as the result of substantiated correctional officer (CO) brutality. The brutality is well-documented in several lawsuits against the very same prison.

The strike ended on Sept. 12, but it is unclear is the strikes did anything to better conditions in the prisons.

CREDIT: @AmericanIndian8 / Twitter

The people incarcerated participated in work strikes, hunger strikes, peaceful sit-ins and spending boycotts. The protests were supposed to end on Sept. 9, the same day as the Attica prison riots. If you haven’t seen “Thirteen” yet, do yourself a favor and learn about the history of black slavery in the U.S. and how the latest systemization of subjugating minorities is all in the prison system.

The inmates are protesting what they’re calling “modern-day slavery.”

CREDIT: @MaxHPF / Twitter

It’s no coincidence that you’re only seeing brown faces on these promotional materials. People of color have long been arrested and policed at disproportional levels in comparison to their white counterparts.

Many states can legally force prisoners to work without any compensation.

CREDIT: @armedtosketch / Twitter

Most states require prisoners to work dangerous jobs, and when they are paid, the wages are very low. Just a couple weeks ago, The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) bragged via Twitter about it’s 2,000 “volunteer” inmate firefighters, including 58 youth offenders. The inmates were fighting dangerous wildfires for $1 an hour.

The program saves the state $90-$100 million a year. Despite their experience, the prisoners can’t get jobs as firefighters when they are released. That’s because California requires firefighter to be licenses emergency medical technicians (EMTs) but those with criminal records are often denied EMT licenses.

Detainees in immigration center joined in on the protest to call attention to ICE treatment and conditions.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

Caption: “Up to 200 detained immigrants at Northwest Detention Center in Washington are on a work and hunger strike to protest forced labor. They join striking inmates in up to 17 prisons across the U.S. who are protesting sentencing laws, poor treatment and ‘prison slavery.'”

No. 1 on their list of demands: recognize humanity.

CREDIT: @WSWS_Updates / Twitter

“Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.”

Second, they want “an immediate end to prison slavery.”

CREDIT: @mmbilal / Twitter

They want to immediately be paid the “prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.” What that means is most likely minimum wage, which would be a 5,300 percent increase in wages.

They also want the Prison Litigation Reform Act rescinded immediately.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

The PLRA was enacted in 1996 as a means to prevent prisoners from litigating within prison. It also prevents prisoners from taking legal action “with respect to prison conditions” until “administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” It basically lets correctional officers and prison administration to regulate themselves.

Prisoners need our help in making sure their demands are heard.

CREDIT: @abqdsa / Twitter

Included in their demands are more funding for rehabilitation services.

“No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.”

Caption: “Putting in work for the workers on the inside. #PrisonStrike #PrisonStrike2018”

Top Democrats stayed quiet on the prison strike.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

It’s shocking but it’s true. Democrats who claim to be all for prison reform, like California Senator Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker or Bernie Sanders have stayed silent.

Folks on the outside have rallied in support of the inmates, hoping to garner political attention.

CREDIT: @TheFinalCall / Twitter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for the Congress, is one of the only Democrats to say something substantive.

In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez shared an article along with this statement, “Today begins a nationwide prison strike demanding humane conditions & end to prison slavery. The U.S. incarcerates more than any other nation in the world. To change, we must acknowledge the direct lineage that mass incarceration has to slavery & Jim Crow.”

Inmates are demanding that their voting rights never be taken from them as an American right.

CREDIT: @MI_Abolition / Twitter

It’s nauseating to find out that the reason convicted felons have their voting rights stripped is a living breathing Jim Crow law. This is how you continue to keep American politics white and how to keep brown and black people out of politics.

Even anarchists have made themselves known in favor of inmates rights.

CREDIT: @TheBaseBK / Twitter

Caption: “Anarchists represented for the #PrisonStrike last night in Brooklyn. Revolutionaries must keep up the pressure for the #PrisonRebels as the fight inside escalates!”

We don’t know how big the prison strike really is.

CREDIT: @SawariMi / Twitter

That’s largely because the administration is trying to silence the prisoners. As of August 28, the highlighted states have confirmed prison action thus far, ranging from North Carolina labor strikes to several prisons going on lockdown after initiating strikes.

Some prison systems did bow to some pressure from the strikes.

CREDIT: @BRRN_Fed / Twitter

For inmates who have lost all ties to the life, family and world they built before being incarcerated, those 20 cents per minutes add up. Specifically, they add up to $25 saved per two hours of talking with their mami’s, esposos y hijos.

If you’re making $.14 an hour, that is gold.

We’re also seeing supporters get creative on the streets.

CREDIT: @cjdronanron / Twitter

Prisoners of the state are modern day slave laborers. The most important thing we can do to support prisoners is to raise awareness of their plight. “Orange is the New Black” was a great start to getting Americans to see the humanity in inmates and the injustices of the prison system, but it’s time to wake up to make change in real life.

Some of the protests called for violence against the prisons.

CREDIT: @Lefebvre_Sam / Twitter

Caption: “#PrisonStrike comes for the OkCupid billboards in Oakland.”

A report released on August 28 suspects that thousands of prisoners participated in 20 prisons, all the way to Canada.

CREDIT: @Evict_Twit_ter / Twitter

On the first day of the strike, more than 200 immigrants who are currently detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, publicly announced they were joining the strike in solidarity.

The truth is that since the 2016 strike, America cares more about inmates than ever before.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

One can only assume that this is the start of a larger prison reform movement. As the strike gets further in the rearview mirror, it will be telling to see how states adapt rules and laws around how prisoners are treated.


READ: A New Study Shows The Financial Incentive For Corporations To Maintain Prisons And Detention Centers

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Mother Of Three, Who Also Has Asthma, Was Savagely Tortured By Prison Officers And It Was Caught On Tape

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Mother Of Three, Who Also Has Asthma, Was Savagely Tortured By Prison Officers And It Was Caught On Tape

Former inmates often talk about prison as a place in hell.

By definition, prison is a facility that is meant to confine a person while also denying them a variety of freedoms as punishment for their crimes. It is also meant to rehabilitate them so that they can return to society a better person. As a government institution, it is also meant to protect the prisoners inside of it. It is not, meant to be a facility for torture. Anyone tuning into the news today has to be aware that when it comes to the criminal justice system, women, particularly Black and Latino ones, are treated extremely unfairly. Police violence against, Black women, in particular, can be extremely alarming.

A video, which recently went viral, is an example of the startling pattern of violence against Black women by police.

Gruesome footage from an Ohio jail shows prison guards beating up a mother of three.

Chantelle Glass, a 29-year-old woman, was taken to jail after her mother called the police on her because Chantelle and her sister had a verbal dispute in 2018. Chantelle remained in prison because she had a 2016 traffic violation. That is all the Ohio police had on this woman: an argument and traffic violation.

County officials tried to prevent the video from being released because they knew full well the ramifications that this would cause.

The video, and it is scary to watch, shows the officers tying Chantelle to a chair. She is literally restrained in every capacity, which made it even easier for the guards to beat her.

In total, ten jail employees were “charged in a variety of cases investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, including five other officers charged in connection with three attacks on inmates,” Cleveland.com reports.

“She had no idea she was about to be tortured,” Subodh Chandra, Chantelle lawyer told a Fox affiliate. “She comes into the room pretty cooperatively.” She added, “They wanted to hurt her.”

Glass, who is a mother of three, suffers from asthma and says she could hardly breathe in the two hours the officers had her tied to the chair.

“That day, I thought I was going to die,” Glass said in a recent interview. “I sat in that cell I prayed to God that I wouldn’t die because I couldn’t breathe. I prayed that I wouldn’t die there.”

Now, eight months after the incident Cpl. Idris-Farid Clark and officer Robert Marsh, two of the officers involved have been indicted. Previously they were on paid leave.

On Monday, Clark was charged with second-degree felony assault and misdemeanor counts of assault. He was also charged with interfering with civil rights as well as unlawful restraint. Marsh has also been charged with assault, interfering with civil rights and unlawful restraint. All of which are misdemeanors.

In the video, officers pepper-sprayed Chantelle, dumped water on her head, and punched her in the head. See the video below, but be warned it’s hard to unsee.

READ: Latina’s Horrifying Uber Kidnapping Story Is A Reminder That Uber’s Vetting Process Is Not Built To Protect Women From Violence

A Group Of Angry Tias And Abuelas Is Doing What The Government Cannot: Helping Undocumented People

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A Group Of Angry Tias And Abuelas Is Doing What The Government Cannot: Helping Undocumented People

Angry Tias And Abuelas / Facebook

All over the country groups and nonprofits are taking it upon themselves to deal with the immigration crisis in a humane way. They are doing what the government cannot: provide help to thousands of undocumented migrants looking for refuge. However, helping people isn’t as easy as one may think. Dr. Scott Warren was just on trial this week for giving undocumented migrants water and food. Thankfully the trial ended in a hung jury, but that goes to show that in this country, people do risk prosecution for giving people the dignity they deserve. That is why the story of these women warms our heart.

A group of women received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for their advocacy of undocumented people.

Facebook/angrytiasandabuelas

The women, who call their organization the Angry Tias and Abuelas, got honored last week for helping undocumented people transition from the moment that government officials release them from detention.

Here’s their mission: To advocate for dignity and justice for individuals and families seeking asylum at our borders. As they embark on their journeys to destinations across the U.S., our aim is to assure their basic health and safety needs are met. We provide emergency assistance such as food, water, clothing, toiletries, logistical support, and cash funds when needed to those recently released from ICE custody at bus depots or shelters in Brownsville and McAllen. We inform asylum seekers of their rights as they await entry across international bridges and give direct financial support to refugee shelters in the RGV and select immigrant shelters in Matamoros and Reynosa.

While the group said the award means everything to them, they are more frustrated with how the government is treating people at the border.

“Yes, we are mad,” she told NBC News. “We’re mad at the brutality of the United States government against the same people who are the same background as our own. These are families seeking safety from repression exactly like our own forefathers.”

The group launched just last year after seeing groups of women and children sleeping outside in torturous heat.

“It was quite a shocking scene,” Joyce Hamilton told CBS News about their first encounter with undocumented people. She said that her friends gathered to do something about it and help any way they could.

“We started talking to each other and meeting, and then enough of us were seeing each other enough times that some of us met for coffee at my house just to talk about coordinating a little bit and we formed the Angry Tias, thinking it would last for a few months,” Jennifer Harbury also said to CBS News. But the issue has not been resolved, and so they’ve continued to work.

Click here if you’d like more information on how you can help the Angry Tias and Abuelas group.

READ: Trial Begins For Scott Warren, The Volunteer Arrested For Giving Undocumented People Water, Saving Lives

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