Statement on Nationwide Prison Strike

NEW YORK, NY – Today, incarcerated men and women in prisons across 17 states began a  19 day strike to draw attention to the poor conditions they face and to demand change for all those who live and work in prisons across the country.

Nicholas Turner, President of the Vera Institute of Justice, released the following statement:

“Our country has a long and fraught history of dehumanizing incarceration, rooted in racial oppression. The fundamental experience remains one of hardship and isolation that produces irreparable harm. It is imperative that Americans listen closely to the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. Through the Nationwide Prison Strike, the committee and its allies are forcefully protesting conditions that affect the lives of 2.2 million people who are locked up, their families and their communities. These are conditions that the American public has neglected – malignly – for years. Different from other elements of justice reform where people can see evidence that undermines the flawed assumptions that the system is working – videos of police brutality, imposition of bail in public courtrooms – most people are blind when it comes to prison conditions. What happens behind those grey walls is obscured from public view. This is what the committee is telling us.

Radical change and reimagining is needed—not only to disrupt the habit of current practices, but also to break with historical legacy. We stand with the men and women in prisons nationwide who are peacefully advocating for their rights, and we urge the reshaping of the practice of imprisonment by grounding it in a foundational commitment to human dignity.”

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