Across the country, inmates are protesting a wide range of issues: from harsh parole systems and three-strike laws to the lack of educational services, medical neglect, and overcrowding.
But the issue that has unified protesters is that of prison labor — a $2 billion a year industry that employs nearly 900,000 prisoners while paying them a few cents an hour in some states, and nothing at all in others.
In addition to work for private companies, prisoners also cook, clean, and work on maintenance and construction in the prisons themselves — forcing officials to pay staff to carry out those tasks in response to work stoppages.
“They cannot run these facilities without us,” organizers wrote ahead of the strike. “We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.”
UPDATE 9/22/2016 6:25 PM EASTERN: