Just this past August all of North America saw one of the largest Prison Strikes. No it’s not that all the prisons went on strike and weren’t taking any more inmates which would cause mass pandemonium across the populous. If the prisons weren’t taking anymore inmates the so called civilized would go nuts, breaking every law they could. Dudes would be masturbating on every corner, laughing maniacally! Basic bitches would be looting at every mall! Alcoholics would be putting their filthy mouths right up to the taps at every bar.
And I’m not saying alcoholics are the only ones with filthy mouths…mouths in general are gross. So settled down you sensitive pricks ok, I have alcoholic friends so I can make a joke like that. Hell, I’d break a few laws. I’d just park where I want, when I want. What’s that princess parking on the sidewalk, don’t mind if I do! And then tell all the Parking Authority to go fuck themselves and that you can’t own parking spots! It’s the people’s parking spot now! And then I’d spraypaint the Anarchy A right on their Parking Authority shirt!
The first one is pretty simple. The conditions of prisons should be humane. After all isn’t the point of prison to help people that committed a crime find their humanity back. Rehabilitate them back into society. If the conditions of their removal from society isn’t something you would want it to be in then how can we expect them to function well when they get out?
Prisons are often built next to sludge pools that contaminate their water and food supplies. Cafeteria food isn’t supposed to all that great, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be ACTUAL sludge. It’s just supposed to look like it.
Look I went to public school, which some of us thought was like prison. Instead of gangs you just had cliques. The cheerleaders, the jocks, the burnouts, the kids that dressed up like their favorite Anime character everyday! These little cliques were little gangs and they would have little initiation ceremonies for you get in.
But if you served actual sludge to High School kids, the gangs will unite and revolt. The cheerleaders would creating an environmental disaster with how much they’d puking. The jocks would be running plays to get the vending machines and the primo shit in the Teacher’s Lounges. And the Anime Nerds would Kame-Hame-Ha you to kingdom come! The plus side is the prisoners are probably more mature than teenagers and decided to strike against being treated like the sludge they are fed.
In terms of mental health, solitary confinement can break a person’s psyche. The UN considers it torture, but then again, when has America really considered what the UN has to say. Solitary confinement teaches you how be in a cubicle, staring at the gray wall in front of you as you slowly forget what the concept of time and become one with the spreadsheet. Well there’s no spreadsheets in solitary confinement in Prisons…not yet anyway. You wouldn’t want blatant evidence of the corporatocracy.
And the conditions of the prison was a spark to mobilize the Strike. The Strike wasn’t supposed to happen till 2019 but a riot at Lee Correctional facility in South Carolina that left 7 inmates dead and more injured, which prompted the strikers decided to move forward. The riot happened after access to the inmates lockers were taken away, swapping cell mates and poking the politics of prison inmates. The guards didn’t do much and let it escalate before getting involved.
So the conditions of our current prisons don’t rehabilitate but rather wind these people up so tight that they burst. From less than poor living conditions, to losing what little you have to constantly being poked and prodded this system does little to ensure that the inmates are ready for society. Hell they are barely ready for middle school by the end of it. I doubt even the burnouts would want to hangout with some these inmates, and that’s damn shame, because I bet these inmates know exactly where to get some great weed.
The second is the big one! End Prison Slavery! Prisoners are paid next to nothing for their labor. This is also a major demand of the Operation PUSH movement too. Back in January there was a 30 day Prison Strike in Florida and end wage slavery for prisoners was top of the list. This addresses the fact that items in Prison are highly inflated in price. A $4 can of soup is $17 in prison! You’d think the prison wardens were getting tips from Bankers… … …
So the major question everyone has, why should we care that Prisoners aren’t getting paid anything for their labor? These are criminals, deviants, depots, pot smokers and jay-walkers… why should they get paid a decent wage. I’m glad you asked. I’ll repeat this again. If the point of Prison is meant to rehabilitate, then they should know what it’s like to manage a budget and make a decent wage. It’s important know the value of yourself so you can learn the value of another human life.
But then again that’ll mean changing the way we look at our own jobs. Perhaps if we knew the value of our own work, we’d fight a little harder for the value of prison labor. But labor itself is the transformation of slavery. CEOs and Corporate Lords are making 400 times what the employee makes in some cases and some of us on the outside are working 2 or 3 jobs to get by. When a society treats its civilians this terribly it’s no surprise that the prison population is given hardly anything for their labor.
Organizations like Operation PUSH and Jailhouse Lawyers Speak advocate for prisoner wage reform so when they leave and re-enter society they can afford a way to get back on their feet instead of the system telling them to sink or swim. At the current moment that’s what the system says and this is causes the recidivism. That’s when ex-felons commits a crime again that puts them back in prison.
I mean the system says the thing to us when it comes to the job market. The competitive edge to make sure you succeed and someone else fails. So in some ways, the current prison system is showing what the corporate world has to offer on the outside, since that’s who owns the prisons anyway. The only difference is promotion in a corporation is gained through mentally shiving your opponent instead of physically.
In Floridian prisons, gain time is practiced. This is where the Prisoners can work to decrease time off their sentence. Doesn’t sound so bad. It kinda sucks when you realize that it doesn’t help anyone serving long sentences or even life sentences. What’s a few years when you have 65 years and no parole on your docket. It’s like being stuck in classroom on the first day summer and your teacher says we’re getting out 2 minutes early. It’s cruel and feels like time has stopped.
If we paid Prisoners a decent wage then they can buy what they need comfortably and if need be they can send some money home. That’s right, even though they are serving time, some inmates would jump at the chance to help their families. And that’s how bad our income disparity is…that even though someone works 2 jobs they might still need income from an inmate to be stable! Labor is just transformed slavery!
And this is one of the major things the Strikes achieved. After this was revealed people don’t want to see prisoners exploited and diminished for their work. This strike started the conversation for ending prison slavery!
The Strike also asked for ensuring legal services to inmates, stop the denial of rehabilitation programs, and restoring the right for prisoners to vote! Once again if the point is to rehabilitate then when you get out of prison should you be able to do what everyone else does. So their voices should count in the world they are reintroduced to. If not it repeats the cycle of resentment and increases recidivism.
This current system is not about rehabilitation. It’s part of the reason that was in the list of demands. The current system is for profit. The prisons are owned by corporate sugar daddies and they don’t get their allowance unless those cells and beds are filled.
Recidivism is what they rely on. That’s their bread and butter. They can’t keep inventing new crimes to put people in prison for. With the rate that marijuana is getting legalized in this country they can’t use that as a boogeyman. So they have to go with long con…pardon the pun there…and psychologically attack the inmates to ensure they come back to the system or stay in it! It’s like they want people to get addicted to Prisons. I don’t think our society can handle a Prison Epidemic right now.
And I know there are some of you out there are saying, “Krish this was weeks and weeks ago, why talk about it now!? The news cycle is over with this story! We all know Prisons are bad now!” Well that’s not enough. I don’t want people to forget. Just because the news cycle is over doesn’t mean the Prison Industrial Complex is! So consider this bringing it back in the news cycle!
The main point of this Strike is to make sure that inmates regain their humanity. And forgetting about the strikes is forgetting that. This should still be on people’s lips. Ex felons and cons should be treated with the same dignity as everyone else. That’s the first step to changing this broken system!
Dotstoyevsky said “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” We should have better prisons. If there was Prison Reform then maybe there would less and less crime. Then when we outgrow the need for a prison, we can politely ask the man masturbating on the street corner to put his dick away! AND we can finally park on logical areas in the streets without fear of the oppression of the rent-a-cops that think they’re the law! It will be the people’s parking!
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!