Inmates in at least seven Georgia prisons have used contraband cellphones to coordinate a nonviolent strike this weekend, reports the New York Times. They say they want better living conditions and pay for work they do in the prisons. Inmates said they would not perform chores, work for the corrections department’s industrial arm, or shop at prison commissaries until their demands are addressed, including compensation for work, more educational opportunities, better food, and sentencing rules changes.
The protest began Thursday, but inmates said that organizers had spent months building a web of disparate factions and gangs into a unified coalition using text messaging and word of mouth. The Georgia protest appears to be the first use of cellphones to orchestrate a grass-roots movement behind bars. “They took the cigarettes away in August or September, and a bunch of us just got to talking, and that was a big factor,” said Mike, an inmate at the Smith State Prison in Downing who declined to give his full name.