Prison inmates from across the nation began Aug. 21 one of the largest strikes the country has witnessed to protest “modern-day slavery,” jail conditions, life without parole and other human rights concerns, reports said.

The event was initiated by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, which is “a national collective of incarcerated people providing legal assistance and support to other prisoners,” a resource file published by Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, a prisoner-led trade group that is supporting the event, stated.

After a deadly prison uprising at Lee correctional facility in South Carolina on April 15, the collective decided the degradations, oppression, and torture by the prison system needed to be addressed without violence between prisoners. Seven prisoners had died then.

As part of the strike, inmates will abandon work duties — some may even abandon food — to create awareness about what they call “modern-day slavery” at American prisons. The action might bring the inmates punishments.

The inmates complained they were paid pennies for dollar per hour labor, which was legalized by an exemption in the 13th Amendment. It also allowed involuntary servitude for people convicted of crimes in the United States.

“Prisoner participation depends on their location and privilege status,” Amani Sawari, a prison reform activist and spokesperson for the strike, said. “If inmates are working they can suffocate the prison industrial complex by reducing their spending. In some detention facilities, prisoners may not be working so they might do a sit-in. It all depends.”

The two-week long peaceful strike began Aug. 21 and will end Sept 9. The dates of the strike bear significance.

On Aug. 21, 1971, a black activist named George Jackson was assassinated by San Quentin, California, guards when he tried to escape by holding guards and two inmates hostage. It was followed by protests and acts of defiance by prisoners across the country, which finally ended with the taking over of the Attica Correctional Facility in New York by prisoners on Sept 9. of the same year. Forty people were killed when the police stormed in to retake the facility.

“This year, prison rebels will use those same dates for a sustained and equally transformational protest,” the resource file stated.

National Prison Strike 2018 Largest In US History
The national prison strike protests against “modern-day slavery,” jail conditions, life without parole and other human rights concerns in prisons. In this image, a guard walks between buildings at the Lee Correctional Institution, in Bishopville, South Carolina, April 16, 2018. Getty Images/Logan Cyrus

A similar strike was coordinated by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee in 2016, which, at the time, was the largest prison strike ever recorded in the history of U.S.

“Between September 9th 2016 and this year there have been multiple attempts to repeat and escalate national protest actions which had limited success for multiple reasons,” the resource file from Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee said.

On Sept. 9, 2016, around 24,000 prisoners from 29 prisons in 12 states went on strike for better wages, benefits and working conditions, reports said.

A similar strike was conducted Aug. 19, 2017, in prisons in Florida and South Carolina, which led to the lockdown of their entire system. The event impacted over 121,000 prisoners, which was double the number of the 2016 strike, according to the resource file.

According to Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the main reason for the limited success of the strikes was “intensive state repression against prison rebels and incarcerated leadership … J20 cases, Trumpism, and fighting the alt-right additionally overshadowed other struggles…”