The following message is from a group of prisoners who are spread throughout the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC). It was sent anonymously and compiled from a series of correspondences received on November 26 and 27 by both the Gainesville chapter of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and the national Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons.
We have been able to verify the authenticity of this message which was also posted on SPARC (Supporting Prisoners and Real Change), a social media page for Florida prisoners and their families.
According to their statement, these prisoners plan to initiate a work stoppage or “laydown” beginning Monday, January 15th, coinciding with MLK Day, in nonviolent protest of conditions in FL prisons. They are calling it Operation PUSH.
Their primary demands are clear and concise: end prison slavery, stop price gouging, and fully return parole. They believe these issues have directly created the overcrowding that is responsible for the deplorable conditions in Florida prisons.
Their statement also raises other major issues that need to be grappled with, including the death penalty, voting rights and environmental health conditions.
From the communication we have received, these prisoners claim to represent thousands in at least eight facilities already. And say they are prepared to “stay down indefinitely” until someone addresses their concerns.
The following text is their message regarding Operation PUSH in its entirety:
FL Prisoners Call for Operation PUSH to Improve the Lives of Incarcerated People and the Communities We Come From
Sending out an S.O.S. to all parties concerned!
We are currently forming a network agency within D.O.C. We are asking all prisoners within the Department of Corrections to take a stand by laying down starting January 15, 2018, until the injustice we see facing prisoners within the Florida system is resolved.
We are calling on all organized groups as well as religious systems to come together on the same page. We will be taking a stand for:
1. Payment for our labor, rather than the current slave arrangement
2. Ending outrageous canteen prices
3. Reintroducing parole incentives to lifers and those with Buck Rogers dates
Along with these primary demands, we are also expressing our support for the following goals:
• Stop the overcrowding and acts of brutality committed by officers throughout FDOC which have resulted in the highest death rates in prison history.
• Expose the environmental conditions we face, like extreme temperatures, mold, contaminated water, and being placed next to toxic sites such as landfills, military bases and phosphate mines (including a proposed mine which would surround the Reception and Medical Center prison in Lake Butler).
• Honor the moratorium on state executions, as a court-ordered the state to do, without the legal loophole now being used to kill prisoners on death row.
• Restore voting rights as a basic human right to all, not a privilege, regardless of criminal convictions.