The Phoenix Flyer

Florida inmates expected to join in a nationwide prison strike today

By: - August 21, 2018 1:04 pm
Photo courtesy of Gainesville IWOC

Prisoners in Florida correctional facilities are refusing to report to their assigned jobs and in some cases engaged in peaceful sit-ins to demand immediate improvements to living conditions.

It’s part of a strike in 17 states called by prisoner advocacy groups in the wake of bloodshed at a maximum-security South Carolina prison back in April, when seven men were stabbed to death and many more were severely injured.

The strike is being led by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) a prisoner-led division of the Industrial Workers of the World and Jailhouse Lawyers, a prisoner rights advocacy group.

Members of the Gainesville chapter of IWOC held a rally Tuesday morning at the Gainesville Work Camp, a minimum-security prison that provides labor in Alachua County.

“We had a noise demonstration out there to let the prisoners know we were out there; we stand with them,” said Karen Smith, of the Gainesville IWOC.

Among the list of demands that the prisoners want: Sentencing and parole reforms and more rehabilitation services, as well as voting rights for prisoners and ex-felons.

The Gainesville IWOC chapter is conducting a “phone zap” today, calling on citizens to contact Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones about those demands, as well as a request to start paying incarcerated workers for their labor and to reduce the price of products in prison canteens.

Those demands were written by incarcerated people, says Smith, with the Gainesville IWOC. “We’re just amplifying it for them with our resources and our voices.”

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.