The other day, I was inspired. I was also shocked, amazed and uplifted by the courage being shown by the individuals who helped to pull off the largest prison strike in United States history. The effort evolved by sneaking cell phones into the facilities, leading to inmate communication and virtually unprecedented coordination between six different prisons. I wanted to help them.
The inmates are protesting against slavery, which is actually still legal in the United States. The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution abolishes slavery for most of us, but it deliberately leaves one gaping loophole: Being convicted of a crime. In that regard, the Constitution makes it clear that enslaving another human being is OK as long as you've found a way to label them as being a bad person.
To that end, corporations now earn millions of dollars from prison labor. The participants in this labor pool are not given a choice, they are forced into corporate servitude. Given that black and brown people are more likely to be searched, arrested and incarcerated, we have a prison system that is filled with black men. Justice requires money, and public defenders are only wired to offer plea deals. So many of the men and women in prison are either innocent of the crimes for which they've been convicted or are less guilty than others who were able to walk free.