One of the largest prison strikes in American history is currently underway.
The justice and especially penal system in the United States has long been the focus of concerns for humans rights abuses. In addition to a prisoner population that consists disproportionately of people of colour, American jails and prisons are often criticized for their harsh living conditions, brutal enforcement, and inadequate care. Many felons are also unable to vote in public elections.
Prisoners and activists have called the American penal structure a system of modern slavery.
Such claims have become especially emphatic this month in the wake of historic wildfires in the state of California. To meet the labour demand created by the quickly spreading claims, state officials have begun to use prisoners as amateur firefighters.
According to Vox, those prisoners make only one dollar per hour for that dangerous work.
Such conditions and a spike in prison deaths in recent years led prisoners to organize a strike to demand better living conditions and an end to cruel labour conditions. The strike, including a refusal to consume food, has been scheduled from August 21st to September 9th.
Organizers released a list of ten demands, which include an "end to prison slavery" and "racial overcharging" and the reinstitution of voting rights. You can read and share the share the list of demands here.
Now, Canadian prisoners have joined the protest in solidarity.
Organizers at the Burnside jail (officially, the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility) released their own set of demands through the Halifax Examiner.
Admittedly more "modest" than the list from their American counterparts, the Canadian prisoners' demands nonetheless address pressing issues like better health care and higher quality food.
Read the list of demands here. The full statement is a striking condemnation of the entire Canadian penal system and its roots in "colonialism, racism, and capitalism."
The prisoners at the Burnside jail have vowed to join the American protest for its entire duration.
Officials at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility were contacted for comment but did not respond by the publication of this article. This post will be updated if and when they respond to our request for information.
The Burnside jail has been in the news before for concerns about its security and violence.
Its inmates have called for other prisoners and supporters to join the protest. But there's no word yet about strikes at other Canadian institutions.