Behind the Walls: Prisoner resistance roundup

By Mirinda Crissman
June 1, 2020

A Philadelphia caravan on March 30 demands freedom for all incarcerated in Pennsylvania prisons. Photo: Joe Piette

Prisoners are acting to protect themselves and each other in the middle of the global pandemic as they protest inhuman cages across the country and across the world. In the brutal facilities of incarceration in the U.S. alone, there have been hundreds of recorded actions related to COVID-19 since late March.

The frequency of this resistance clearly demonstrates that prison conditions are rapidly deteriorating in the present health crisis. As the prisoner support group Free Them All Connecticut says, “Jail and prison walls can’t contain the spread of the virus. What is on the outside will be on the inside, and what happens to our communities on the inside will affect us all.” (

Prisons, jails and migrant detention centers stand in defiance of public health needs every day. The colonizing capitalist class has murdered countless humans in a myriad of ways for hundreds of years. They will continue to do so at an unprecedented rate, unless we act in response to what those affected are calling for.

Incarcerated people are alive, ready to fight and yelling to be heard in any way they can. They have the right to resist their premature death, by any means necessary. Solidarity with our incarcerated siblings! Free Them All — for public health!

This list of prisoner actions from is extensive — and by no means represents all actions, many unknown or unreported.

May 20: Hunger strike at Florence Correctional Center, Ariz.
May 19: Sit-in protest at Shelby County Jail, Tenn.
May 14: Uprising at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison
May 11: Disturbance at Redgranite Correctional Institution, Wis.
May 10: Uprising at Covington County Jail, Ala.

May 9: Work stoppage at Northwest Detention Center, Wash.
May 8: Hunger strike at North Lake Correctional Facility, Mich.
May 6: Group escape from Ouachita Parish Work Release, Monroe, La.
May 6: Food strike at Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio
May 4: Protest at Dillwyn Correctional Center, Va.

May 3: Protest at Catahoula Correctional Center, La.
May 2: Fire and disturbance at Cummins Unit, Ark.
May 1: Uprising at Bristol County House of Correction, Mass.
May 1: Uprising at Southern State Correctional Facility, Vt., during May Day protest outside the walls
April 30: Strike organized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees in Women’s Unit, Adelanto ICE Processing Center, Calif.

April 29: Uprising at Cook County Jail, Chicago
April 28: Refusal and attack on guards at Cook County Jail, Chicago
April 22: Disturbance at Westville Correctional Facility, Ind.
April 22: Protest at D.C. Central Detention Facility, Washington, D.C.
April 20: Protest at Franklin Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio

April 20: Disturbance at Bridge City Center for Youth, La.
April 19: Disturbance at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, Mich.
April 19: Attack on guards at Sumter Correctional Institution, Bushnell, Fla.
April 17: Disturbance at Pendleton Correctional Facility, Ind.
April 16: Escape from Columbia Correctional Institution, Wis.

April 14: Prisoners attack guards, attempt to free others at Cook County Jail, Chicago
April 12: Uprising at Cummins Unit, Ark.
April 12: Uprising at Ellsworth Correctional Facility, Kan.
April 12: Escape attempt at Southwest Arkansas Community Corrections Facility, Texarkana
April 12: Uprising at Crossroads Juvenile Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

April 11: Uprising at La Palma Correctional Center, Ariz.
April 11: Protest at East Mesa Reentry Facility, San Diego, Calif.
April 11: Coordinated threat of suicide at Cook County Jail, Chicago
April 10: Food strike and work stoppage at Irwin County Detention Center, Ga.