The Ancestors Are Watching Over Us And Directing Our Path to Freedom

In 2014, inmates across three Alabama prisons, organized by a prison group called the Free Alabama Movement, participated in work stoppages for over 3 weeks to protest deplorable conditions behind bars and to call for an end to mass incarceration and prison slavery.

The Free Alabama Movement expanded its efforts outside of Alabama in 2016 to organize the largest prisoner collective action protest in U.S. history: a nationwide prison strike involving more than 24,000 inmates. Although they did not issue a “single, unified list of demands,” the 2016 prison strikers generally protested for “fair pay for their work, humane living conditions, and better access to education and rehabilitation programs.”

While largely unsuccessful in effectuating major changes to the American prison system, the 2016 prison strike and the prison strikes of the past decade have raised the salience of prisoner collective action efforts on the national level.
For the first time, prisoners are collectively making their voices loudly heard across the country — injecting their viewpoints and demands into our national debates on mass incarceration, forced labor, and other injustices of our carceral state.

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