CT Green Party Supports National Prisoner Strike, Green Candidates Demand Reforms to CT Criminal Justice
Owen Charles, Chair, Shoreline Green Party
From Aug. 21 to Sept. 9, 2018, prisoners around the United States will be participating in strike actions, calling for an end to inhumane conditions of confinement, including overcrowding, lack of rehabilitation services, labor at a fraction of the minimum wage, and the absence of any meaningful process by which prisoners may voice grievances.
The Connecticut Green Party and its candidates for public office express their solidarity and support for the prisoners’ strike and observe that here, in the “land of the free,” the U.S. has the largest prison population and the highest percentage of the population in prison of any country in the world. In this election season, with so much discussion about the role of voting in effecting change, there has been little discussion about those to whom the right to vote is denied. That includes millions of African American voters whose votes are suppressed through both legal and illegal means, as well as transgender voters who are prevented by antiquated ID laws from being able to vote.
Disenfranchisement is also a fact for 6 million citizens in the US who are presently or were incarcerated. When government deprives human beings of their right to peaceably and lawfully oppose unfair treatment, it forces those human beings to take up other means of protest. The national prisoner strike is the cry of resistance of a population that the government tries to keep silent.
The Green Party of Connecticut and its candidates for public office call on the State of Connecticut to implement the following measures that would help to address the over-incarceration that especially affects people of color and poor people in our state, and the dehumanizing conditions that exist in our prisons:
Abolish money fines and cash bail. Fines are a regressive tax on poor people, and cash bail is nothing less than the criminalization of poverty. Whether or how a person is treated when they are arrested should not depend on the size of their bank account!
- Assign an ombudsperson to oversee the health care system in Connecticut’s prisons;
- Provide genuine mental health treatment, not just pill-pushing.
- Ensure educational programs are available in prisons as part of rehabilitative services;
- Abolish slave labor. Guarantee the Connecticut minimum wage for all prison labor; and
- Restore the vote. Enfranchise all prisoners and formerly incarcerated people.