Give Prisoners Basic Rights and Decent Living Conditions

Target: U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons Acting Director Thomas R. Kane

Goal: Stop driving prisoners into barely paid labor and improve horrid and dangerous prison conditions.

Prisoners across the U.S. recently launched a nation-wide strike against substandard living conditions, inadequate healthcare, and a prison labor system that has been often compared to slavery. Though work programs in many prisons are not mandatory, inmates are reportedly coerced into hard, dangerous jobs through the threat of longer prison sentences and a lack of decent food.

In recent years, there have been many complaints about the quality of the food in prisons, which is often found to be moldy and potentially dangerous to eat. Inmates must pay for any additional food and can only get money from family members and friends on the outside or through work programs. However, prison labor typically pays only pennies per hour. Some of these jobs are also dangerous, such as fighting wildfires in California or working in extreme temperatures.

Prisoners who refuse to work are often denied privileges and early release. Even if it isn’t mandatory, this kind of coercion barely gives inmates a choice, and at 12 cents per hour or, in three states, nothing, this is practically slavery. It’s even more shameful in a nation with a history of enslaving the same race that is disproportionately thrown into our prisons.

The list of problems in America’s prisons goes for miles, yet their suffering is largely ignored. No matter what someone has done, slavery and the denial of basic rights and human dignity is wrong. Sign our petition to demand mass reform of U.S. prisons in accordance with the strikers’ demands.


Dear Director Kane,

As I’m sure you’re aware, prisoners across the nation recently launched a mass strike to protest underpaid or non-paid prison labor that is often backbreaking and dangerous as well as poor conditions and inadequate healthcare. The U.S. prison system has been plagued with problems for some time, in part because people have little sympathy for those who have been convicted of crimes. But prisoners are still people, and they deserve edible food, reasonable lodging, and protection from dangerous conditions.

Phasing out private prisons on a federal level is a start, but much more needs to be done to alleviate the horrid conditions that inmates are forced to endure. One of the biggest injustices is the prison labor that inmates are often coerced into performing for only pennies per hour. This is tantamount to slavery and only adds to a national shame that plagues this country’s history. We demand that the government takes real steps toward comprehensive prison reform, starting with an end to coercive and underpaid prison labor.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: California Department of Corrections

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One Comment

  1. I have a problem with this petition… WHY should we worry about the criminals before the rest our American society?? They already get more rights and benefits that many others… (people living in nursing homes are treated MUCH worse, and have to pay a Fortune to be treated like a doormat! They get 2 to 3 showers/baths a week… If they’re lucky! Cold meals, No visitors, no life, etc.) Other people deserve better than criminals!!

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