Georgia prisoners on strike:
Starving for change

Family members say that 10 prisoners at Jackson Diagnostic and Classification Prison are on a month-long hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions. This prison complex, about 50 miles from Atlanta, is where Troy Davis was executed. It currently holds several dozen men who the state suspects of being leaders of the December 10, 2010, work stoppage, often described as “the largest prisoner strike in the history of the U.S.”

Some 18 months ago, in prisons across the state, for two weeks prisoners refused to leave their cells in a nonviolent, mass action to call attention to the lack of medical care, decent food and educational opportunities, the brutal and racist treatment by guards, arbitrary parole decisions, limited visitation and communication with family and friends, and other violations of basic human rights. The strike action brought national attention to the overcrowded, unsanitary and degrading conditions in Georgia’s prisons.

Once the spotlight was gone, the Department of Corrections quickly moved those it deemed “leaders” to different facilities. Many were beaten and otherwise brutalized and held incommunicado.

Now, a year and a half later, on June 10, Miguel Jackson and nine others held at the prison are on a hunger strike. Their demands are the same, but if possible, even more critical. They have been refused medical treatment after being beaten by guards; they are being held in particularly unsanitary conditions; they have been held in prolonged solitary confinement; and they are often deprived of family visitation, communication and access to meager personal possessions.

The state Department of Corrections has issued no statement confirming the hunger strike despite having information that several men are in need of medical attention. According to family members of the prisoners, guards have told them their loved ones will be “left to die.”

The prisoners and their families are receiving support from organizations and individuals including Black Agenda Report, U.S. Human Rights Network, The Ordinary People Society, the International Action Center and Occupy Atlanta.

On July 9, the family of Miguel Jackson along with dozens of supporters took letters to the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, urging him to intervene immediately to resolve the prisoners’ demands.

To sign a petition, go to and search for “governor-nathan-deal-our-loved-ones-are-starving-for-change.” For more information, see georgiahungerstrike.wordpress.

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