Aug. 21 (UPI) -- A nationwide strike began among U.S. prison inmates Tuesday, aimed at improving living conditions and other privileges like voting rights, an advocacy group said.
The two-week strike, planned for Tuesday through Sept. 9, was timed to begin on the anniversary of the death of George Jackson, an African-American activist and imprisoned member of the Black Panther Party, who was killed in a 1971 escape attempt.
The strike is led by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a network of inmates fighting for rights at the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, a prison where an April riot resulted in the deaths of seven prisoners.
As part of the strike, inmates plan to abstain from doing their assigned jobs, withhold commissary spending, refuse to eat and stage peaceful sit-ins.
Prisoners in some states say wardens have warned inmates against taking part in the strike, and indicated there will be consequences if they do, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak said in a statement.
"Even with the authorities threatening, prisoners are ready for action," the network said. "It's a human rights issue. ... Prisons in America are a war zone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us it's as if we are already dead. So what do we have to lose?"
A blog post Tuesday, organizers said numerous U.S. jails are already seeing hunger strikes -- and the movement has even spread to Canadian jails.
"Prison officials are also cracking down on various facilities, shutting them down, and locking up prison rebel leaders as deep in the hole as they can," the blog post read.
The final day of the strike will occur on the 47th anniversary of the start of the infamous 1971 Attica Prison riots, which killed 33 inmates and 10 officers before police regained control of the facility. The uprising started two weeks after Jackson's death at California's San Quentin Prison.