Champions for Change: The State of Incarcerated Activism

We salute the work of currently incarcerated #ChampionsForChange✨, who despite their situations, are leading the fight for safer living conditions, fairer sentencing and more labor and voting rights. Check out some of there work below.

Residents of a St. Louis jail took over 2 units in an uprising in response to poor treatment and living conditions like lack of proper heat, insufficient PPE, and visitation rights for families. As a result Rep. Cori Bush has called on city leaders for more transparency around covid testing data and treatment of residents, and state Rep. Rasheed Aldridge is drafting legislation to create an independent commission to investigate complaints at the state’s correctional facilities.

The National Lifers of America is a network of mutual support by and for people sentenced to life in prison, and was founded 40 years ago in State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson, Michigan. They educate and support each other, and recently led a contentious effort to put an initiative to restore “good time” credits on the Michigan ballot. The credits would allow someone serving life to reduce their sentence if they don’t get into trouble and participate in self-improvement programs.

The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee is a subset of the Industrial Workers of the World union. They are led by currently incarcerated people, have the goal of ending prison slavery, and have members in over 15 prisons nationwide. In 2016, they helped organize the largest prison strike in the country’s history.

In Washington State, members of the concerned lifers organization at the Washington State Reformatory worked with an organization called Prison Voice Washington to plan a vigil honoring the 1,300 people in the state who were serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Initiate Justice, based in California, trains and supports currently incarcerated people to lead campaigns from the inside. Recently, they advocated for the passage of Proposition 17, which restored the right to vote for Californians on parole.