How to Support the National Prisoner Strike

Jared: What are some things people on the outside can do in solidarity with the National Prisoners’ Strike scheduled for Aug. 21- Sept. 9?

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak Representative: I was talking to some of the JLS comrades, we were talking about what can these groups do. From past strikes, what we’ve learned—for instance when they did a [demonstration] a couple years back, and then they did the Millions For Prisoners [Human Rights March]—what we did learn is that from the outside, the more people that tend to stand up from the outside, particularly demos at the prisons, what it does is it incites. It incites inside and this is why prisons have a problem against it.

So the biggest thing that we can ask any of these groups or any organization is to hold some type of event, particularly an event that can get radio attention, news media attention, anything that can get back into the jail cells and the prisons. The more radio programs that pick it up, the prisoners can listen to it. Particularly the prisoners that don’t have access to phones or internet access, they can at least get it while they’re listening to their radios or they can see it on TV.

This is very important. This is how Florida’s strikes spread so fast, because they were able to get it in through the channels. They were able to raise enough hell to where the media caught on to it and it was getting back into the prisons and cells that [prison officials] really didn’t want it to get into.

Jared: So should people be doing that now, should they be doing it all throughout the strike, when should they be doing that?

JailhouseLawyer: All of the above. There’s no straight-up strategy to this right here. I think we’re all still feeling and learning as we go along, but I think all of the above

Like for instance, in South Carolina when they held the rally in front of Lee County Prison, well that helped incite the guys inside and let them know that there was outside support to the point where now, Lee County, these guys are one way or another planning on participating. Because certain areas of Lee County you couldn’t even get word in what was going on, but that outside [support] helped get word inside. And that was before the actual strike date.

We need groups on the outside to be doing that. Something else they can do is try to link up with organizations or groups in their area that they know usually do this type of prison work, and a lot of these groups you’ll see them on social media, facebook, twitter, just link up with some of these organizers. Bigger organizations that want to help, they need to link up with these smaller organizations that’s been on the ground that’s already working and follow the lead there.


Jared: I saw recently that JLS issued a statement of solidarity with those in ICE detention. There were already connections made by the strike organizers in terms of the demands that reference people who are in immigrant detention centers. And the solidarity statement also spoke on folks that were working on the outside that were occupying ICE offices and things like that. Can you expand a little bit about the connections that you all are making there, between your situation and the situation in immigration detention centers?

JailhouseLawyer: As far as the connection with ICE and why we’re in solidarity, the biggest reason is because we understand those cages. And not only that, but it’s all the same system. And this is something that JLS has been promoting from day one. The entire system itself—the judicial system, the injustice system—it is a big ball of corruption, a big ball of crap [laughs]. Just being straightforward.

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