Prison inmates around the country have called for a series of strikes against forced labor, demanding reforms of parole systems and prison policies, as well as more humane living conditions, a reduced use of solitary confinement, and better health care.
Inmates at up to five Texas prisons pledged to refuse to leave their cells today. The strike’s organizers remain anonymous but have circulated fliers listing a series of grievances and demands, and a letter articulating the reasons for the strike. The Texas strikers’ demands range from the specific, such as a “good-time” credit toward sentence reduction and an end to $100 medical co-pays, to the systemic, namely a drastic downsizing of the state’s incarcerated population.
“Texas’s prisoners are the slaves of today, and that slavery affects our society economically, morally and politically,” reads the five-page letter announcing the strike. “Beginning on April 4, 2016, all inmates around Texas will stop all labor in order to get the attention from politicians and Texas’s community alike.”
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state’s prisons, “is aware of the situation and is closely monitoring it,” spokesperson Robert Hurst wrote in a statement to The Intercept. He did not comment on the prisoners’ grievances and demands. Prisoner rights advocates said at least one prison — the French Robertson Unit in Abilene — was placed under lockdown today, but Hurst denied any prisons in Texas were on lockdown because of planned strikes.