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Incarcerated People In Alabama Sue Governor Over Forced Labor

Six people incarcerated in Alabama prisons are suing Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner for forcing them to labor against their will. Plaintiffs Trayveka Stanley, Reginald Burrell, Dexter Avery, Charlie Gray, Melvin Pringle and Ranquel Smith chose to file their suit against Ivey and Commissioner John Hamm in response to Alabama's 2022 state Constitution, which the people of Alabama voted to ratify, banning slavery in all forms, Montgomery Advertiser reports. The plaintiffs have requested that the court ban forced labor within Alabama prisons and also protect them from retaliation if they refuse to work. They also ask that the court prohibit the use of extra work as a punishment for breaking rules within the prison system. They've also asked the court to expunge any disciplinary records related to refusing to work during the 2022 prison strike, which lasted nearly a month to protest forced labor within Alabama prisons.

The suit alleges prison officials routinely threaten incarcerated people who refuse to work with solitary confinement and revoke earned good time that reduces their sentences. The Center for Constitutional Rights stated that the lawsuit is the first of its kind in Alabama. “We chose to file this case on May 1, in solidarity with workers around the world, because ending forced prison labor in ADOC isn’t just about stopping the state’s extractive profiteering from the labor of Black people – both inside and outside of prisons," said CJ Sandley, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, in the statement. "It’s also about eliminating the control that forced prison labor enables the state to exercise over Black people – an extension of the control exerted by the state through slavery, the Black Codes, convict leasing, and Jim Crow."


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