The push for better food and higher pay in prisons coupled with ongoing parole denials sparked a nationwide prison protest in August.
Prison reform advocacy groups confirmed that demonstrations were taking place in prisons across the country and beyond—from California and Washington to Nova Scotia in Canada, according to The Guardian.
There were also unconfirmed reports of prison strikes in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The strike, which was the first nationwide prison demonstration in two years, was triggered by a riot in a South Carolina prison last spring that occurred when seven prisoners were killed, the article reported.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group of incarcerated activists, put out a set of 10 demands to “overhaul” the jail systems throughout America.
Top priority on the list: To end forced, or underpaid, labor.
“Slave labor…still exists in the United States in 2018,” wrote inmate Kevin Rashid Johnson to The Guardian. “In fact, slavery never ended in this country.”
Johnson is serving a life sentence in Sussex state prison in Waverly, Va.
Other demands called for a greater investment in rehabilitation and better medical and mental health treatment.
In North Carolina, a manifesto calling for the end of solitary confinement was released in July. It states, “No human shall be sentenced to death by incarceration.”
Organizers were trying to get the public’s attention about the spike of in-custody deaths. In Mississippi alone, The Guardian reported that 10 prisoners died in their cells within a three-week period in August.
No cause of death was reported, the article said.
Also in North Carolina, inmates at another prison held banners that read “Parole,” “Better Food” and “In Solidarity.”
There were reports of inmates who didn’t work, avoided purchasing at prison commissaries, and went on hunger strikes.
But accounts of the events happening on the inside remain contested.
In Florida, unconfirmed reports surfaced alleging that 11 of the state’s 143 prisons were impacted by the protests. That report stood in contrast to what a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections said: “We’ve had no stoppages, protests or lockdowns related to the strike.”
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, an advocacy group, said that because of “the nature of high-security prisons,” a lot of the activity going on inside has not reached the public yet—and may not ever.