Prison strikes have been going on for many years but tend to get very little coverage in the media. So this might be the first you're hearing of a 17-state-wide prisoner strike happening today to fight against slave labor.
America’s prisoners are going on strike in at least 17 states
The demonstrations are planned to take place from August 21 to September 9, which marks the anniversary of the bloody uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. During this time, inmates across the US plan to refuse to work and, in some cases, refuse to eat to draw attention to poor prison conditions and what many view as exploitative labor practices in American correctional facilities.
“Prisoners want to be valued as contributors to our society,” Amani Sawari, a spokesperson for the protests, told me. “Every single field and industry is affected on some level by prisons, from our license plates to the fast food that we eat to the stores that we shop at. So we really need to recognize how we are supporting the prison industrial complex through the dollars that we spend.”
These demands represent the most basic human rights. It's messed up that they have to strike just to be "valued as contributors." By the by, you don't have to "contribute" to society in the form of capitalist exploitation in order to have value.
But at the very least, there should be no profit to be had in the act of imprisoning people. If we're going to believe that profit is the best/only motivator (capitalist bullshit but stay with me), then we could at least try to avoid motivating the rich to imprison and enslave the poor.
A big part of the problem is that we've been tricked into believing that prisoners are less than human. Being put into a jail or prison is automatic proof of guilt, we've come to believe. And committing any kind of crime is proof that you no longer deserve any rights, dignity, or even life.
People commit crimes because the society has failed them. Throwing them into cages where they're abused and exploited for years and then hobbled for the rest of their lives upon release does not discourage crime. It increases it.