As COVID-19 rips through American prisons, incarcerated people have braved violent repression to demand a humane response to their suffering. In an interview with Jacobin, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Heather Ann Thompson explains the current wave of prisoner protest — and what it could signal about the future of American politics.
Heather Ann Thompson is a historian and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy and Whose Detroit? Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City. She is on faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
There's still a lot we don't know about the nationwide prison strike. But we do know one thing: the legitimacy of American prisons is on the decline.
A nationwide, 19-day prison strike is honoring the history of prisoner rebellion while demanding humane conditions now.
The recent protests at the St Louis Workhouse jail serve as a brutal reminder that American prisons are oppressive hellholes.
At Vaughn prison and elsewhere, we should demand transparency and stand with the inmates who dare to affirm their humanity.
The Attica Prison inmates who rebelled on this day in 1971 remain a symbol of resistance in the face of injustice.