Central Prison Kitchen Workers Sit Down to Protest Hours, Gain Time

On December 16th, 2011, sixteen prisoners who work in the kitchen at Central Prison in Raleigh sat down on their shift. The prisoners, who are forced to work seven days a week, ten hours a day, with no breaks, refused to continue to work until receiving answers to concerns regarding hours and gain time.

An administrator in charge of the kitchen refused to address their concerns and ordered the men to, “Get their sorry asses back to work.” After that, eight guards came in, threatening the use of force. Eight of the prisoners stood strong, and were immediately locked up.

These eight prisoners have been charged with work stoppage and disobeying a direct order. They all plead not guilty. After a month and a half, they were sent to see the DHO board. The prisoners requested staff statements, video tape of incident, and certain staff’s presence at their hearing, in their defense. They were denied all of these things, and immediately found guilty. The new warden at the prison, Kenneth Lassiter, has expressed that he wants the prisoners put on I-Con (essentially, solitary) indefinitely. According to one prisoner, calling himself simply “one of the strong eight,” “Our rights have been violated. We have tried to write grievances, and inmate janitors have found them in the garbage torn up. Repeatedly.”

The prisoners remain resolute and have expressed gratitude for support and care shown from the outside, and a desire to have news of this injustice spread. “Still we are standing strong. Eight inmates fighting for our rights in this crooked prison, where it seems everybody, including the warden, makes their own rules.”