On June 11, 20 inmates started a hunger strike against conditions in solitary at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. The fight dates back to December 2010, when a hunger strike broke out across the Georgia prison system. It was met with a crackdown by prison authorities. Thirty-seven prisoners involved in the protests were shipped to Jackson and thrown into solitary.
One of the central leaders of the strike is Miguel Jackson, a participant in the 2010 protests. He was beaten on the head with a hammer in retaliation before being transferred to Jackson and placed in solitary, according to his family.
“They have no rights to anything,” Cowanda Jackson, Miguel’s sister-in-law, told a rally outside the state’s Department of Corrections in Forsyth July 16, reported the Black Agenda Report, an online newsletter. “We can’t see them, we can’t write to them, they are not allowed to brush their teeth or sleep on a bed… they need to be treated like human beings and not animals.”
The prisoners’ central demand is for release from solitary and that prison officials conduct monthly review of their status, as required by law. They also demand restoration of family visits, which have been shut down; access to their mail; and medical attention.
Dozens of prisoners in three prisons in North Carolina—Central Prison in Raleigh, Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor and Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg—began hunger strikes July 16, according to Solitarywatch.com, a website that covers prison conditions.
Among the leaders are eight prisoners known as the “Strong 8,” who staged a sit-down strike last December to protest working conditions in Central’s kitchen. In response, prison authorities threw them into solitary.
The strikers’ aim is to draw attention to their conditions and to demonstrate to other prisoners that it is possible to organize across lines of race and gang labels.
Over the course of the last three weeks, the strikers have won some of their most immediate demands. They have received toilet brushes and other tools to help clean their cells and the prison has cleaned their small windows so they can get some sunlight and see the outside world.