“No one can speak for us like we can. No one has to endure what we have.”
The demands of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) describe the historical root causes of prison conditions today. They dismantle the myth of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that did not abolish slavery completely but preserved the institution for convicted people. They connect the 1901 Alabama Constitution to its explicit purpose to maintain white supremacy and economic exploitation.
The demands also connect current sentencing laws to an overcrowded and dangerous system while challenging the trend of prison construction and private prisons. From the demands: A lot of the pressure could be released by Revising and Modifying the Laws and Policies that Created and Perpetuates these Cruel and Inhumane Conditions; not by building bigger more expensive prisons.” Repealing the Habitual Offenders Statute and eliminating Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences for minor charges and abolishing LWOP for first-time offenders are key components of the demands. Additional demands include education opportunities, re-entry preparation. 3,000 prisoners are eligible for release but are trapped due to budgetary concerns and bureaucracy. READ THE FULL DEMANDS HERE
Kinetik, one of the leaders with Free Alabama Movement, has been in solitary confinement since January 2014 when they launched FAM. Today, he said the atmosphere was jubilant due to outpouring of love and support, including the rally organized with TOPS and families.
“When we stop working, the prison stops. Riot teams and intimidation tactics have no effect on a nonviolent peaceful strike. Officers are having to do all the demeaning tasks.” And though seeing the role reversal emboldens the prisoners, retaliation tactics are in full effect. Guards are “bird-feeding” the prisoners, but the limitations on food have made people angry and more committed to the strike. The strike is spreading to facilities in Mississippi and Texas.
“This is an inside outside solidarity movement. It takes all of us to do this.” Kinetik asks for continued support and is working with Rev. Glasgow to take next strategic steps to demand meetings with the AL Governor and legislators who can meet the demands.
The Free Alabama Movement and The Ordinary People Society held a Peaceful Protest /Rally and Press Conference at the Atmore, AL Holman Correctional Facility Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 12:00pm.
The Free Alabama Movement and The Ordinary People Society will hold a Peaceful Protest /Rally and Press Conference at the Atmore, AL Holman Correctional Facility Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 12:00pm.
For seven days, since their Mayday announcement on Sunday, May 1, prisoners have shut down 3 different facilities in Alabama: Elmore, Holman, and Staton. Each facility houses at least 1,500 incarcerated men. The week-long work stoppage interrupts a $1.5 million annual industry. Alabama officials have transferred prisoners from nearby prison Red Eagle to replace striking workers. Retaliation against the striking prisoners has included a practice called “bird-feeding” when the corrections officers reduce meals systematically.
The press conference and rally is in response to Governor Bentley and his Administration’s refusal to address the real issues raised by the men at Holman Correctional Facility. These issues include but are not limited to: Overcrowding, Barbaric Treatment, the Inadequacies of Classifications and the Parole Board.
From communication released by the prisoners: “Let us be clear, this is not just about the Deplorable Conditions of Confinement, but more so about the 13th Amendment, the Alabama Constitution of 1901, and the Statutory Laws discriminatorily enacted from both. The laws that create and maintain the denial of our Human Rights and perpetuation of our Economical Exploitation. From Wrongful Convictions, Exceedingly Excessive sentences and Mandatory Life Without Parole, Alabama’s prisons are literally Warehouses of Men stacked on top of one another, and due to an Arbitrary and Biased Parole Board System, thousands of Men eligible to be released are stopped up in a broken and dangerous system.”
Prisoners in Alabama started the Free Alabama Movement in January 2014 after studying the systemic issues of mass incarceration from the inside out. Some of the movement leaders have been held in solitary confinement since that time. Through their families and advocates, the prisoners are communicating their demands and a website freealabamamovement.com
The Free Alabama Movement speaks through their families and advocate on the outside, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, founder of the The Ordinary People Society (TOPS) and leader in the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People Families Movement. Pastor Glasgow celebrated last night with 100 community members at the 15th annual Unity Banquet to recognize the daily community work in Dothan, Alabama and turn the focus to the strike.
“This strike is significant because it not only brings attention to the horrific conditions inside these prisons, it draws attention to the horrific conditions that affect us all on the outside. We live in a society where there are legal indentured servants and slavery-style working conditions. The striking prisoners name the 13th Amendment that allows free labor to continue as convicted people. This strike is about all workers who are being exploited,” says Pastor Glasgow.
Today, Pastor Glasgow will release the Mayday Demands at the press conference on the steps of the Holman prison. The goal of the Free Alabama Movement campaign is to educate and empower the citizens in Alabama to raise awareness that “Incarcerated Lives Matter,” the racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and the real need for prison reform.
Pastor Glasgow has requested to meet with Governor Bentley on Monday and will visit the striking prisoners this week. As part of 2008 lawsuit, Glasgow, the Dept. of Corrections must allow his visits with requested inmates. Pastor Glasgow calls on labor unions, churches, community groups, and families to stand in solidarity. As part of a Southern-wide coalition of organizations, the Southern Movement Assembly, TOPS connects the Alabama Prison Strike to labor violations across the Southeast, mass incarceration, and failed drug policy.
“People have been trying to address mass incarceration from the outside in, but we are addressing the crisis from the inside out,” says Glasgow. “The focus should be on the leadership of those still incarcerated as well as those of us who are formerly incarcerated. Together, we are stronger.”
Interested parties can learn more about the Incarcerated Lives Matter campaign by visiting https://freealabamamovement.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/pamphlet-fam-fmm-uspapersize.pdf
Free Alabama Movement
P.O. BOX 186
New Market, AL 35761
“Alabama’s prisons are literally Warehouses of Men stacked on top of one another”
-Incarcerated Lives Matter – Alabama Prison Strike Releases Demands Today