The biggest prison strike in U.S. history is happening right now and no one’s talking about it

The biggest prison strike in America’s history is happening right now, but the media isn’t talking about it, which means many of you probably didn’t know it was even happening.

Inmates in approximately 12 states and 29 prisons have taken part in the strike to protest free prison labor, totaling about 24,000 inmates. The strike began on September 9, which is the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising.

“They cannot run these facilities without us,” said one organizing flyer. “We hope to end prison slavery by making it impossible, by refusing to be slaves any longer.”

Certain subject matter can sometimes challenge the attention spans of news consumers in the social media age, so writer and teacher Clint Smith broke the specifics of the story down to a 15-part tweetstorm:

Forcing inmates to do labor for little to no money is still a common practice in U.S. prisons. Making the practice possible is the fact that he 13th Amendment banned slavery for all except the criminally convicted.

From Mother Jones:

Inmates in state and federal prisons do many different types of work. All inmates who are medically able must do mandatory jobs, such as maintenance, cleaning, and kitchen duties. Inmates may be paid for this work—usually between 12 to 40 cents an hour. But some states, including Texas, Arkansas, and Georgia, do not pay inmates at all. Eligible inmates may participate in work programs, such as the Federal Prison Industries programs (known as UNICOR) or the Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) Certification program, which pay wages and generally teach work skills. In UNICOR programs, wages range from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour. However, only about 7 percent of eligible inmates are employed by federal prison industry programs.

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