Inmates Are Striking Over Conditions They Compare To ‘Modern-Day Slavery’

Aug 23, 2018

Demonstrators carry a banner in support of the national prison strike at a rally in Polk Place in Chapel Hill on August 20th, 2018. Hours later the confederate monument 'Silent Sam' would be pulled down.
Credit Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Inmates around the country are on strike demanding improved prison conditions, better pay and increased rehabilitation services. The National Prison Strike started Tuesday, and is set to end on Sunday, Sept. 9.  

It is a response to a prison riot in South Carolina in April, which left seven inmates dead and 22 injured. Organizers are asking prisoners to participate in work stoppages, boycotts, sit-ins, and hunger strikes. 

Incarcerated people at the Hyde Correctional Institution in North Carolina demonstrated Monday to show solidarity with the national strike. Host Frank Stasio talks to John Roberts, an activist who is part of a coalition of people providing support to striking inmates.

Attorney Eli Albiston of Edelstein and Payne in Raleigh also joins the conversation. They talk about the history of organizing and striking in North Carolina prisons, break down the inmates’ demands and discuss the legal rights of inmates.

Todd Martin, who is incarcerated at the Hyde Correctional Institution, also shares his thoughts on the strike.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety declined an invitation to join the conversation. They gave this statement about working conditions in North Carolina prisons:

“The North Carolina prison system is one of the most progressive in the country in providing rehabilitative and reentry services to our offender population. Incarcerated individuals have many opportunities to further their education thanks to partnerships with community colleges and other entities. They can participate in job training that will assist them in obtaining and maintaining employment once they leave prison. Through these work programs, they are taught skills and responsibility and are better equipped to pay such things as restitution owed for their infractions, as well as prepare for life outside prison.”