Reprinted from The Washington Post byon January 24, 2017.
In the weeks leading up to Martin Luther King Day, prisoners in Florida promised to celebrate in a manner the slain civil rights leader would have appreciated: by going on strike for a month. Along with the abuses they highlight in their statement, the prisoners demanded payment for their labor, an end to overcharging for food and other supplies sold at the prison canteen (including $17 for a case of soup) and the reintroduction of parole for those serving lengthy sentences.
Yet the Florida Department of Corrections claims the promised strike is not happening. “Prisons and institutions across the state had no interruption to daily operations,” the FDC wrote in a terse response to a January 15 protest at its headquarters in solidarity with the strike. “There were no reports of inmate work stoppages.”
A Facebook page for Florida prisoners and their family members offers insight as to why that might be. It reports that strike organizers in at least 15 prisons were placed in isolation and denied their property, including writing instruments, to forestall the strike and limit their ability to communicate. Some facilities have allegedly denied prisoners any access to the telephone, cutting off the only form of immediate communication available to prisoners — regardless of whether they were participating in the strike. …