Historian, Author Heather Ann Thompson on Prison Strikes


Prisoners incarcerated across 17 states have joined a strike that is expected to last into mid September, with work stoppages and hunger striking in protest of inhumane living conditions.

The prisoners have formed a list of 10 demands, including prevailing wages for manual labor, fair treatment of black and brown prisoners, access to rehab services, and the right to vote.

The mounting pressures and lack of humanity in the prison systems of America have been long discussed by Heather Ann Thompson, professor of history at University of Michigan and author of the Pulizer Prize winner Blood In The Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971.

Heather Ann Thompson

The overall picture is terrible,” Thompson tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. ”They’re really calling attention — not just to prison labor and conditions — but also sentences.”

What [many people] don’t understand is that [prison labor] is a deep level of exploitation. It’s not that prisoners don’t want to work. They want to work… [but] for those on the inside, this does feel like slavery.”

To hear more from Thompson on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Laura Weber Davis/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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