Nearly 1% of the U.S. population is now imprisoned. Three times as many are under some other form of judicial control: probation, supervision, parole, house arrest, etc. These millions are not managed as people, capable of political speech and participation in community, but as bodies to be herded in and out of cages. A myriad of measures have been developed over the past decades to silence prisoners and penalize them for speaking or writing about their conditions.
One common path into the Secure Housing Units – the ultra-repressive regime where this hunger strike began – is to speak out and organize in the wider prison system for improved conditions and against the violence of the guards. So the prisoners are rendered silent, recognized only in their criminal aspect. Thus, as inmates develop modes of communication, with each other and the world, and of struggle, it’s vital that we amplify these first efforts. We can, on our own, publicize their demands, news of the course of the hunger strike, and solidarity actions outside, in the face of a deafening media silence that perpetuates the criminal, mute representation of the entire prison population.