by Jean Trounstine, Truthout.org
This past January, prisoners in Florida went on strike to protest what they called modern-day slavery in the state’s prisons. As of March, not only had the Florida Department of Corrections not responded to the demand for paid labor and improved living conditions, it had also placed some of the prisoners who were demanding fair wages into solitary confinement. As Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, succinctly said on Democracy Now!, “If you do not treat people as human beings they will eventually erupt.” The fight is far from over.
Florida is one of five states where prisoners receive no money for their work, forcing families to cough up money for food and necessities. Florida is also one of 43 states that charge prisoners for their so-called “stay” behind bars, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. This egregious injustice disproportionately targets African Americans, who fill a third of Florida’s prison beds, although they only make up 17 percent of the state’s overall population.
While the movement to end money bail has gained steam across the nation, the burgeoning fight against ...