While prison inmates launched a nationwide strike last Friday — the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison riots — a small but vocal group of activists gathered in Austin to support their cause.
Hundreds of inmates have joined the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), a division of the Industrial Workers of the World union and a major motivator of the strike. Inmates at 40 facilities in 24 states were expected to take part, and some Texas prisoners have been engaging in work stoppages since April.
Prisoners say they want their work to count toward time off their sentences, improved living conditions in prisons, better access to attorneys during disputes, and an end to an annual $100 copay on medical services.
“The inmates in Attica were rioting for some of the same conditions that inmates are striking for today: An end to prison slavery, human dignity, access to adequate medical care, adequate access to wages,” said Azzurra Crispino, an Austin union organizer and part of the Prison Abolition and Prisoners Solidarity group.
Used with permission from The Texas Observer.