“Some of these men are the Jackson State Prison hunger strikers. After two weeks, according to the families of Miguel Jackson and Preston Whiting, they are weak from hunger and subject to fainting spells. But they seem to believe they have little to lose. They are, a letter from one of them asserts, ‘starving for change.’”
By this time, the photo of Miguel Jackson’s swollen face after his literal hammering had become an icon of the Georgia prison strike. Dixon wrote: “One of the strikers is Miguel Jackson, who was taken in handcuffs from his cell at Smith State Prison 18 months ago, removed to a secluded area out of range of the video cameras that monitor almost every inch of most Georgia prisons, and beaten with a hammer-like object. Jackson is one of several brutalized prisoners whose injuries have been untreated since.
“Despite a blizzard of demands by his attorney, prison officials have refused Jackson and other prisoners medical attention for months. And although they have not eaten in two weeks, Jackson’s wife said, at the nine-day mark when medical necessity usually demands prisoners be removed to the infirmary, prison officials simply told Jackson, ‘You’re going to die,’ and left it at that.”
Now we know that Miguel Jackson’s beating was not out of range of the video cameras. The video shows both Jackson and Kelvin Stevenson being beaten and later sitting in wheelchairs, bloody and bandaged.
Now the California prisoner hunger strike is being billed as the largest and longest in history. Originally involving 30,000 prisoners across the state, dozens still surviving on water only since July 8, 2013, are approaching two months of starvation. For their families and advocates, this video showing the fury of prison guards against prisoners who refuse to be their slaves is particularly chilling.
As we fight for the human rights of our brothers and sisters behind enemy lines in California, let us also remember the prisoners in Georgia who are still being brutally punished for their brave one-day work strike – clearly a precedent for all the prison strikes that have followed, including the current California strike. We who know that prisoners are human and deserving of human rights must unite with families and advocates in Georgia in their demand for an end to the retaliation and with all people of good will to end prison torture everywhere.
By: Mary Ratcliff