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

Gabriella Bulgarelli

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 Institutionin 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.”

Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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