On Thursday, December 9, prisoners across Georgia joined in solidarity to demand that their basic human needs be met. You can help them gain access to the supports and services that will preserve their dignity by supporting their nonviolent protest. Please sign the following letter to Brian Owens, Commissioner of the GA Department of Corrections.
Photo Credit: B.S. Wise
These acts of violence must stop, and the conditions of Georgia's prisons must be addressed without further delay. I stand in solidarity with the prisoners and insist that they be treated with respect and dignity, and that you act now to begin fulfilling the following demands:
· A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
· EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
· DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
· AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
· DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
· NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
· VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
· ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
· JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
I expect that you will convene a committee that includes prisoners, lawmakers, prison authorities, and prisoner advocates to take positive and concrete steps toward alleviating the inhumane conditions and lack of opportunities within Georgia’s correctional facilities.