In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.
Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.
Despite the single biggest predictor of successful reintegration into society being sustained contact with family and community, Georgia’s prison authorities make visits and family contact needlessly difficult and expensive. Georgia no longer allows families to send funds via US postal money orders to inmates. It requires families to send money through J-Pay, a private company that rakes off nearly ten percent of all transfers. Telephone conversations between Georgia prisoners and their families are also a profit centers for another prison contractor, Global Tel-Link which extracts about $55 a month for a weekly 15 minute phone call from cash-strapped families.
Where’s the AJC, Georgia’s leading newspaper? Apparently still wondering, did state prisoners protest or not? Late Thursday they quote Department of Corrections spokeswoman Peggy Chapman that there had been no problems:
“For us, it was a rumor,” Chapman said. “There’s nothing really going on. Inmates are working … [except at] the prisons we put on lock down. I think that [the protest] was the plan but I don’t think it’s come to fruition.”