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Sep 9, 16

Worcester: Rally to Support National Prison Strike

Submitted to It’s Going Down

On Friday, September 9th at 5:00 pm, around 40 community members rallied at the Worcester County Juvenile Detention Center at 363 Belmont St in Worcester in support of the national prison work stoppage. Organizers played music as part of the demonstration. “Our hope is that some of the youngest affected by the prison system will hear the music and know that we care for them and are fighting for a city where they are given opportunities rather than punishment,” says Jen Burt. The rally was organized by loved ones of prisoners and community members who spoke out about the devastating effects of a mass incarceration system driven by racism and greed.

The rate of incarceration in Massachusetts places it on par with the worst ten countries in the world in terms of incarceration. In fiscal year 2013, Massachusetts spent $1.28 billion on prisons, probation and parole. This does not include the costs of prosecutors, courts, and other law enforcement budgets. Massachusetts now spends more on prisons than on higher education. In the midst of an addiction crisis, the state continues to spend funds on incarceration rather than treatment. At the same time, $2.5 billion worth of products are produced nationwide by inmates each year making prison wages, usually cents per hour.

National organizers said in a statement, “This is not only a strike against bad conditions, for the changing of rules around things like parole, and to actually be paid for their labor which makes billions for multi-national corporations, but against white supremacy itself. When the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865, it in theory banned slavery, except in the form of imprisonment.”

“We are protesting in front of the Juvenile Detention Center to draw connections between the increased policing of Worcester youth, which is paid for using tax dollars that result in budget cuts of actual educational programming. That relates to a larger trend in the U.S. of decreasing funding for education and social services while increasing funding for the prison-industrial-complex, allowing the prison industry to flourish while bolstering the country’s position as having the highest incarceration rate in the world,” says Olivia Wilkins-Becker, youth worker and former prison volunteer.

Today, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising in New York, prisoners are starting a general strike across all prisons in the United States against prison slavery and white supremacy. Prison slavery allows corporations to reap billions off of unpaid and barely paid, predominantly black and brown prison workers. Prisoners are also standing against a number of prison injustices, such as toxic work conditions, extreme heat, insufficient access to healthcare and contaminated drinking/bathing water, as well as against the school to prison pipeline, police terror, and post-release controls.

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