December 16, 2010
Inmates in several Georgia prisons were divided over how to continue their protest on Wednesday, with some returning to work after a six-day strike. Many vowed to continue boycotting their jobs until their demands were met.
The shift came after the Georgia Department of Corrections lifted a lockdown Tuesday at four of the prisons that had been centers of the coordinated protest. Organizing with contraband cellphones, the inmates are seeking payment for work and changes to parole rules among other things.
A “handful” of factional leaders told their groups they could return to work Wednesday, said Mike, 33, a prisoner at Smith State Prison in Glennville who asked that his last name not be used because he was using a contraband phone. After hearing from prison officials, some inmates decided to call off the strike so the administration could consider the request without the lockdown as a distraction.
“Within the week we were locked down, we took over the prison in a nonviolent way,” Mike said. But, if changes are not in motion by some point in January, he warned, “the next way, it’s not going to be nonviolent.”
A “significant number” of inmates are still on strike, said Elaine Brown, a prisoner advocate. A corrections department spokeswoman did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.