Prisoners in Florida have chosen Martin Luther King’s holiday to launch a somewhat unusual strike, where they claim to be used to ‘work at gunpoint’ for the state whenever unpaid clean-up crews for storm debris are needed. Prisoners’ rights organizations blame for example the sweltering temperatures in which they had to work last September after Hurricane Irma struck the sunshine state.
The inmates’ advocacy group Fight Toxic Prisons stated: “Our goal is to make the governor realize that it will cost the state of Florida millions of dollars daily to contract outside companies to come and cook, clean and handle the maintenance.”
“This will cause a total breakdown. We must use everything we have to show that we mean business.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">“Florida Prisoners To Launch ‘Operation PUSH’ Strike Against Prison Slavery” great overview of the strike and boycott planned today but ignored by most media, from <a href="https://twitter.com/HalfAtlanta?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HalfAtlanta</a> <a href="https://t.co/52GhMvGR5V">https://t.co/52GhMvGR5V</a></p>— Brian Sonenstein (@bsonenstein) <a href="https://twitter.com/bsonenstein/status/952906438459961345?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Florida is home to some 97,000 prisoners, according to official statistics. And it is also one of the most troubled and violent systems in the country.
Some 32% of prisoners in Florida inmates are black, which is striking as they are only 17% of the general population.
Mr. Paul Wright is the executive director of the Florida-based Human Rights Defense Center. He stated that “they force them to work at gunpoint and they pay them nothing. There’s a word for that, it’s called slavery.”
“Florida is one of the few states in the country that doesn’t pretend to pay even a nominal wage. Some states might say they pay 10 cents a day, or 15 cents an hour, or whatever, but here they make it pretty clear they don’t pay prisoners anything, they’re not going to, and prisoners are totally enslaved at every level. There’s no legal way for Florida’s prisoners to earn money in the prison system.”