NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Georgia Prisoners’ Hunger Strike at Critical Stage


    Bruce Dixon: Hunger strike follows brutal crackdown on prisoners who protested intolerable conditions -   July 27, 2012
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    Honest, truthful, never doublespeak, news. - Elin
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Bruce Dixon is the managing editor of the Black Agenda Report. He’s had an extensive career as a union activist in a string of factories, plants and workplaces. He’s also the co-chair of the Georgia Green Party.

    Transcript

    Georgia Prisoners’ Hunger Strike at Critical StagePAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

    Prisoners in a Georgia state prison are on hunger strike. If you live outside of Georgia, you're likely not to have heard anything or very much about this, but they are on strike. It began with ten prisoners for about a month. Two are still on strike, and they are on day 47 of this strike.

    And now joining us from Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss the strike is Bruce Dixon. Bruce is the managing editor of the Black Agenda Report. He's had an extensive career as a union activist and in factories and plants. He's also the cochair of the Georgia Green Party. And he joins us now, as I said, from Atlanta. Thanks for joining us, Bruce.

    BRUCE DIXON, MANAGING EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for the invite, Paul.

    JAY: So first of all tell us the story. How did this begin? And why are they on hunger strike?

    DIXON: It began in December 2010 when inmates at 11 or 12 Georgia prisons staged a peaceful strike, remaining in their cells and not going on work assignments. They were demanding simple things like transparency in inmate accounts, like wages for work, like educational programs behind the walls and such. Georgia prison officials retaliated, first by cutting off heat and hot water to some of the buildings, locking them down, and eventually with a wave of savage retaliatory beatings across multiple prisons. Some of the prisoners were beaten nearly to death and a couple of them hung in cold—well, one in particular we know of, named Terrance Dean, was beaten into a coma and he hung between life and death. He was shuttled back and forth between several prisons and hospitals without the authorities notifying his family or the public.

    JAY: Now, before we go on, let me just ask you. If I understand correctly, out of all of this, one guard was actually charged. Where is that? Has there been any accountability for what happened?

    DIXON: Although the wave of beatings stretched across many prisons and the operation to move prisoners back and forth to conceal their condition would seem to have had the cooperation of departmental officials on the highest level, there were only two investigations done. And out of those two investigations, people struggled for months and months to get a DA to render any indictment. Finally the feds stepped in, and one prison guard has capitulated, and apparently he's informing on the others, and he's already surrendered and started to do his time.

    JAY: Okay. Now pick up the story and get us to the beginning of the hunger strike.

    DIXON: Okay. And after the strike, there was the brief period when community groups were allowed open access to two of the prisons and allowed to interview prisoners. But after that, the wave of savage retaliatory beatings commenced again, and 37 prisoners were rounded up whom the authorities believe were responsible for the prison strike. They were placed in close confinement, in solitary confinement in Jackson State Prison, the same maximum security institution where Troy Davis was murdered, and they've been there on close lockdown ever since.

    JAY: Okay. So some of the leaders that were jailed here then begin a hunger strike, and it's ten, if I understand correctly, at the start. So tell us what were their demands and what's been happening.

    DIXON: Their demands this time are rather simple. All they're demanding now is that their status in solitary confinement be reviewed, as per written state procedure, every 30 days, so that the state should give a reason for why they are in solitary. They are also demanding that the state restore their families' visitation privileges, because most of them have had these privileges arbitrarily suspended and the state has not deigned to explain why. Their mail and access to legal help is also being circumscribed by the state, and they have not, once again, been inclined to explain why. So they're just demanding that. And they are demanding medical attention for some of the injuries that they suffered when they were beat down 19 months ago.

    The last two prisoners who are still remaining on hunger strike now, Miguel Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson, ought to be evaluated by doctors, ought to receive medical care. If someone has been without fluids for nine or ten days, Georgia's Department of Corrections departmental procedure says that they are to be evaluated by a physician. Miguel Jackson has gone more than 45 days now and has not seen a physician yet. Kelvin Stevenson, who is one of the people who were beat down 19 months ago, has also been more than 30 days without food, and he too has not been allowed to see a doctor. Neither of them are allowed to correspond with or see their families.

    JAY: And how many days have they been without fluids now?

    DIXON: For—not without fluids. I meant without food.

    JAY: Okay. So they are getting fluids.

    DIXON: They are getting fluids. They are getting fluids.

    JAY: And what is their state of health? Or do we know?

    DIXON: We don't know. Their state of health cannot be good. You know, any time you go that long without food, you are endangering your life. These people are, as they said in a letter that they did send to the outside at the beginning of the strike, starving for change. They want to see some accountability for the practices of the Georgia Department of Corrections; and broader, they want to see us on the outside get up off our butts and be concerned and organize to do something about this prison state that we have allowed to develop.

    JAY: Now, they do have access to lawyers, do they not? And if so, what are the lawyers saying?

    DIXON: The lawyers are saying that they are still alive and that they are still resolute and that they are still not being afforded medical attention that they deserve. I have not talked to the lawyers at all. I've been talking to the families who talk to the lawyers. So I can't tell you directly what the lawyers said.

    JAY: Now, I guess it's clear the state of Georgia's sending a message: you must not rebel within Georgia's prisons.

    DIXON: Apparently that is the message. The visiting privileges of Delma Jackson, who is the wife of Miguel Jackson, were suspended last weekend after she spoke to the press for the first time. And so that clearly is the message, that if you rebel, that you will be punished, and if your relatives speak to the press, then you won't get to talk to your relatives anymore either.

    JAY: So give us a sense of the broader problems facing prisoners, and also a little sense of who's in prison, and also in relation to the demographics of Georgia.

    DIXON: The United States is the world's first prison state. We lock up more people for longer and for less than anyone else does on this planet. African Americans, who are one-eighth of the nation's population, make up over 40 percent of this nation's prisoners. Latinos, who are another one-eighth, make up an additional 30 percent, and their numbers are climbing. So that means that between blacks and Latinos, who make up a quarter of the nation's population, are three-quarters of its prisoners. In Georgia we have 1 in 13 adults who are either in prison, out on bail, or on parole, on bond, or some form of court supervision. That's the highest number of any state in the union, 1 in 13 adults.

    JAY: And would most of them be ineligible to vote?

    DIXON: Anyone who has been convicted of a felony in Georgia on paper is eligible to get their voting rights restored, but the restoral process involves a lot of rigamarole and jumping through hoops that people are usually too busy trying to live their life to get to do. So, effectively there is still a lifetime ban on the vote for Georgia felons, although the law actually reads differently. Effectively that ban still exists, yes, sir.

    JAY: And one of the things I understand was one of the demands was about wages for work. What is the situation in terms of work in the prisons?

    DIXON: Overall in the prisons, not many prisoners are doing work. But prisoners do believe that if they do do work, they should be paid for it. That's a human right. There's a name for work without wages, isn't there? They used to call that slavery.

    JAY: What is the demographics of Georgia, in terms of racial demographics?

    DIXON: Georgia is about 26 percent black. Georgia's about 26 percent black. I think we have about 5 percent Latinos, and the rest is the rest. The majority of Georgia prisoners, however, are black and brown, the vast majority. Georgia locks up just under 60,000 prisoners, and our population here is about 11.5 million.

    JAY: Now, you—in one of the articles you wrote, you actually ask people to call some of the state officials. Explain to us what it was you're asking people to do. And if you want, you might as well plug the numbers as well.

    DIXON: It would help. Okay. People should call the Department of Corrections' Brian Owens and express your concern for the rights of prisoners and their families who are on hunger strike, and ask that these people receive medical attention and the care that human beings deserve. And you should call Brian Owens at the Department of Corrections. He's the head of the Department of Corrections.

    JAY: Okay. Just one final question. Why are so many African Americans in jail, I mean, not just in Georgia, but across the country? But maybe you could focus on Georgia.

    DIXON: That's a rather complicated question, or at least it has a complicated answer. Back in the days of Jim Crow, Jim Crow was inflicted on all black people, regardless of class. The enormous numbers of African Americans who are in prison now are not your African Americans who've been to college. A college-educated black man now stands perhaps one-third the chance of going to prison than he did 25 or 30 years ago, whereas a young man who is a high school dropout has six times the likelihood—a young black man who's a high school dropout has six times the likelihood of going to prison than he did 30 years ago.

    So the prison state visits its afflictions upon us not just based on race, but by a combination of race and class. They are targeting—the prison states targets lower-class, lower economic class blacks and Latinos. And in the South it's a little different, too. I should say I'm from Chicago, from the North. When you go to the criminal courts [unintel.] Cook County in Chicago, you hardly see a white face. In the South, they actually do lock up white people—poor white people, but there is a significant percentage of whites in the prisons in Georgia.

    Lastly I should say, too, that there are white prisoners among the leaders of this prison strike and the hunger strike. The prisoners standing up for their rights are black, brown, and white, something that we—which is the opposite of what we hear or think of when we think of prisons in the United States. Prisoners are standing together across those lines.

    JAY: Okay. We'll come back to you another time soon, Bruce, and we'll talk more about all this and kind of dig into some of the issues of structural poverty and such and focus on Georgia. Thanks very much for joining us.

    DIXON: Thank you, Paul.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting