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Prison Labor Strike

Annual Poster Session 2021
Illustration by Layla Behnia: "Prison Labor Strike"

Student Illustrator: Layla Behnia

Student Author: Madeline Matthews

In 2018, inmates in prisons across the United States held the largest prison strike in US history. Organizers of the strike planned nineteen days of peaceful protests including the refusal to work, hunger strikes, sit-ins, and boycotts of commissaries and collect phone calls. The strike came with a list of demands, among them was an end to inhumane wages for inmate’s labor. Prison labor is widely regarded as a form of modern-day slavery. Inmates are put to work, sometimes doing hard labor for up to twelve hours at a time, for as little as four cents an hour in some states.  Anyone participating in the strike faced severe potential consequences. The inmates participating in the strike knew the risks but thought the potential rewards would be worth the risk. In this paper, the prison strike will be assessed by looking at conflict theory, deviance, and sanctions. Prison in general is viewed by conflict theorists as a way to keep the people with power on top and the people without on the bottom. 

This is part of the 2021 Annual Poster Session, a collaboration between the Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Department and the Media Arts and Technologies Department, featuring work by social science and illustration students.