The little-known protests were organized around September 9 in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the bloody uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York and the demonstrations have continued in several other states since then.
Here are some of the bigger protests, based on the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee’s tracker, the Nation’s breakdown, and other news reports:
- Alabama: Starting on September 9, inmates went on strike as part of the Free Alabama Movement, an advocacy group for prisoners. Some reports suggested that prison guards also joined the strikes to speak out against unsafe conditions, but higher-ups deny it. Perhaps in response, the US Department of Justice on October 6 announced that it will investigate Alabama’s prisons for men.
- California: At least 100 inmates in Merced County Jail went on a hunger strike starting on September 9, with inmates in Santa Clara County Jail planning to join on October 1.
- Florida: Hundreds of inmates rose up in at least five state prisons in early September, refusing orders while taking over dorms and cellblocks. The Miami Herald has found deplorable conditions in Florida prisons for years: understaffing, violence, and lack of air conditioning in scorching hot weather.
- Michigan: Inmates began striking in Kinross Correctional Facility on September 9. But after discussing their demands with the warden, a tactical team used guns, rifles, tear gas, and shields to subdue and handcuff around 150 inmates, leaving them in the rain for five to six hours. Prison officials told the Detroit Free Press that inmates started a fire and damaged several buildings during the demonstrations.
- South Carolina: There were several weeks of work stoppages in state facilities. After one inmate died in the McCormick Correctional Institution, some inmates also rose up in what one prisoner described to the Nation as an “active rebellion.”
- Texas: Although prison officials have denied strike activity, multiple prisons in Texas have reportedly gone on lockdown in the past few months due to inmates refusing to work.
- Wisconsin: Before September 9, prisoners were already on hunger strike in protest of solitary confinement. Some inmates were force-fed through a nasal tube throughout the protests, but the strikes were reportedly still going on as of September 23.
There have been protests in other facilities within these seven states and prisons in up to 17 other states. But the details are scarce, because prison officials refuse to provide them.