Activists march in Lansing for better prison conditions as nationwide prisoner strike continues

Aug 23, 2018

Incarcerated Americans are on strike.

A national protest by prisoners started August 21. It will run until September 9, the anniversary of the deadly uprising in 1971 at Attica Prison in upstate New York. 

Organizers have drawn up a list of 10 demands they say could change America's prison system for the better. 

In Michigan, there was a protest march Thursday afternoon in Lansing in solidarity with the strike. The protesters include formerly incarcerated people, anti-prison activists, and community members marching to the Michigan Department of Corrections building.

One of those marching was Dennis Boatwright, who spent 24 years in a Michigan prison for manslaughter before being released in 2015. He's now a business owner and a college graduate. 

Boatwright and Chris Gautz, a spokesman with the Michigan Department of Corrections, joined Stateside to talk about what's happening in Michigan prisons.

Gautz said that Michigan prisoners are not taking part in the current nationwide strike.

"The prisoners there have all been reporting to work all across the state, and we have not had issues in any of our facilities," he said.

Boatwright said the march in Lansing is meant to bring attention to the "conditions that were below government standards, poor food quality, harassment, as well as racism" that he and others experienced while in Michigan's prison system. 

Listen above to hear more about labor and conditions in Michigan's prisons.

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