How did a group of prisoners calling themselves the Free Alabama Movement organize the single largest prison strike in US history?

"The Prison Factory", 2017.The US state of Alabama has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the world. Its prison system has become so dangerously overcrowded that the US Justice Department launched an unprecedented federal civil rights investigation into the entire state’s prison conditions in 2016. Meanwhile, prisoners have been taking matters into their own hands. Inmates at Holman Prison went on strike to protest against what they call cruel and unusual forms of punishment in September 2016 – including labour, for little to no pay. Inmates used smuggled cellphones to spread the word about the strike, which took hold in about two dozen states. Josh Rushing travelled to Alabama to find out more about the inmates and allies behind the movement – discovering two of the group’s leaders are now in solitary confinement. Despite their isolation, inmates are still finding ways to share their message with the world through letters and videos.

If you trace it back to the slave plantation, this is where solitary confinement punishment started. If you tried to run away they would put you in a box. If you talked back to the slave master, they put you in a box. And so it has evolved from a small box to a small cell.

Melvin Ray, a.k.a Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement
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Mat Skene, executive producer | Paul Abowd, producer | Joel Van Haren, director of photography | Warwick Meade, editor | Josh Rushing, correspondent