The Inmate Behind the 2016 Prison Strike

The Prison Factory

Al Jazeera (2017)

Film Review

This remarkable Al Jazeera documentary is about an Alabama prisoner named Kinetik Justice who organized the September 2016 nationwide prison strike with a cellphone he smuggled into solitary confinement. The strike, which spread to 50 prisons in 24 states, also included guards in some prisons, owing to their abysmal working conditions.

Strike demands included an end the illegal use of solitary confinement and beatings by guards, overcrowding (most Alabama prisons exceed their capacity by 100%), inedible food, lack of access to health care and being forced to work without pay.

The escalating hunger strikes and work stoppages organized by Kinetik Justice and the Free Alabama Movement prompted the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation into Alabama prisons (where the majority of prisoners are African American) in 2016.

Since Trump has taken office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who as governor reinstated chain gains in Alabama prisons in 1995) has announced the Department of Justice will “back off” this investigation.

In 1996, Sessions’ chain gangs were outlawed by federal court.