From: The Stream

The labour rights fight in US prisons

Inmates nationwide strike for better wages and working conditions.

For months inmates have been using smuggled cellphones and social media to mobilise strikes that began on September 9 in prisons across the United States.  


Prisoners refused to report to their jobs, demanding better wages and safer working conditions. Some inmates make as little as 12 cents an hour in prison work programmes, while some states reportedly don’t require wages be paid at all. Strikers and activists call this “modern-day slavery”. But correction officials have a different perspective. They say it’s rehabilitation, preparing those incarcerated with skills they’ll need once they are released.


This month’s strike came on the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising, when thousands of prisoners at a New York correctional facility took over part of the prison to demand better treatment. So, 45 years on, what’s changed?


We speak with former inmates about prison labour and the strikes. 


On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Kinetik Justice @FreeAlaMovement
Inmate in solitary confinement, Holman Correctional Facility

Kerry Richmond
Associate professor of criminal justice, Lycoming College

Phillip Ruiz @IWW_IWOC
West Coast spokesperson, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee

Chris Gautz @ChrisGautz
Public information officer, Michigan Department of Corrections


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