Thousands of incarcerated men and women throughout the United States are participating in a coordinated strike to protest the inhumane conditions in U.S. prisons. The United States currently imprisons over 2.4 million people -- far more than any other country in the world. Structural racism in the U.S. criminal justice system ensures that people of color disproportionately fill these jails. In 2005, an Amnesty International report referred to the U.S. prison system as the "gulag of our times." This strike reveals how conditions have only gotten worse.
I have worked for prisoner rights at many capacities throughout my life. For more than a decade, I worked tirelessly against the death penalty meeting with prisoners on death row and their families. I can attest to the ruthless violations of their human rights. Solitary confinement. Psychological and physical abuse. Systematic racism. Slave labor. The state is responsible for these criminal activities and must be held accountable.
Today, strikers commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising, where 33 inmates were executed for protesting similar conditions. Then and now, U.S. politicians routinely exploit prisoners and expect people not to notice. They are wrong. We stand in solidarity with the strikers as they struggle against injustice and a system that continues to fail them.