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To: Georgia Corrections Commissioner Owen, Georgia Atty General Baker, Georgia Gov. Perdue, Attorney General Holder, President Obama
cc: Georgia Legislature, Georgia Congressional Delegation, Congressional Leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban, members of the media
Stop the violence and abuse against the courageous Georgia Prison Strikers! Grant the prisoners' just demands of respect for their humanity and human rights!
Beginning on Dec 9 the prisoners in at least 6 facilities across the state of Georgia carried out a united non-violent strike, sitting down and refusing to perform slave labor for no pay. Demonstrating unity and solidarity among all prisoners -- Black, Latino, white, Muslims, Christians, Rastafarians -- the prisoners have issued a set of demands that boil down to one: they insist on being treated like human beings. Yet the response of the Georgia prison system has been violence and more abuse.
At Augusta State Prison, at least six prisoners were dragged from their cells and beaten, resulting in broken ribs and other serious injuries.
At Telfair State Prison, guards rampaged through the cells, destroying personal property while searching for contraband cell phones.
At Macon State Prison, the prison authorities first shut off the heat as temperatures dropped below freezing and then, on the second day of the strike, also cut off the hot water.
An unknown number of prisoners have been taken to isolation or "the hole" at the various facilities.
I demand that this abusive treatment cease immediately, and that there be no reprisals against the strikers. I further demand that the prisoners' just demands be met immediately. The list of them itself speaks volumes condemning and exposing the totally inhuman and barbaric conditions in the Georgia prison system. They must be addressed immediately. They are:
· 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.
Hands off the Georgia Prison Strikers! Grant their just demands immediately!
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