on december 9, 2010 thousands of prisoners in six of of georgia's state prisons initiated the largest prisoner strike in u.s. history. they united across racial & religious boundaries to demand an immediate end to the cruel & dehumanizing conditions which damage the lives of prisoners, their families & the communities they return to.
prisoners demand access to families, a living wage for work, an end to cruel & unusual punishment, decent health care, decent living conditions, increased educational opportunities, just parole decisions, nutritional meals, self-improvement & vocational opportunities. their demands are not only fair & just, but mandatory under the u.s. constitution & international human rights laws.
its not just in georgia where oppressive conditions exist. prisoners across america are denied basic medical care, exposed to illnesses, obstructed from accessing the court, subject to routine dehumanization, separation from their families & violence. u.s. jails & prisons are in constant violation of the international covenant on civil & political rights, the united nations convention against torture & other cruel, inhuman & degrading treatment & the standard minimum rights for the treatment of prisoners.
its imperative concerned members of the general public, faith-based communities, human rights advocates, legal community members & social justice activists mobilize in support of prisoners & their families today. georgia prison authorities have reportedly reacted to the prison strike with violence. the threat of retaliation will remain for the foreseeable future & we must rise to the occasion with increased action & vigilance.
the legal community has a unique role & serious responsibility in working to support prisoners & communities targeted by policies of mass incarceration. the forces fighting against race & class-based policies must be strengthened & supported. under the guise of a war on drugs, the u.s. government has constructed the largest prison economy on the planet, incarcerating more of its own people than any place else in the world.
when evidence of the pervasive targeting of communities of color at every level of the criminal legal system is recognized for what it is, there is only one conclusion to arrive at: mass incarceration is the new jim crow. like the old jim crow this system serves to perpetuate economic inequality, institutionalized racism & political disenfranchisement. it seeks to divide people of color & poor whites in order to keep middle-class & working communities enslaved on an economic & political plantation prioritizing profits over folks' decency & democracy.
the transcending of the politics of racial antagonism by the prisoners in georgia striking for their human rights & human dignity is a profound call for the renewal of visionary mass movements for freedom & social justice. our communities outside of these walls are in dire need of human rights as well: a livable planet, educational opportunities, food, health care, housing, jobs & peace. in building an integrated, mass movement for human rights inside & outside the prisons we are working to undermine the conditions of economic, political & social oppression fueling apathy, crime & violence.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.