The Georgia prison system began lifting lock downs at four institutions and returning the facilities to normal operations yesterday and inmates said they were ending their protest for now and reporting to work assignments, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. One organizer of the protest said prisoners are still going to pursue their concerns. If the Department of Corrections ignores their requests, the next protest will be violent, he said. One inmate said prisoners had agreed to end their “non-violent” protest to allow administrators time to focus on their concerns rather than operating the institutions without inmate labor.
“We're just giving them time to [ ] meet our requests without having to worry about us on lock down,” Mike, an armed robber, told the Journal-Constitution. Inmates began planning the protest in early September when tobacco was banned throughout the prison system. The inmates said they picked Dec. 9 as the day to start because it allowed time for the word to spread throughout the system and because the temperature in the cellblocks would be cooler by then, which is important when otherwise violent men are trying to keep their tempers in check. Beginning last Thursday and for six days inmates at several prisons refused to leave their cells in protest of the lack of pay for the work they do running prison operations and cleaning other government properties; state law forbids paying inmates except for one limited program. The prisoners protested the quality of the food and the lack of fruits and vegetables, the quality of medical care, the availability of education and job training programs, parole decisions, and overall conditions.