Georgia Prisoners Use Smuggled Cell Phones to Organize Statewide Protest

The worry over allowing prison inmates the use of cell phones is usually that they'll call in murder jobs on the outside or fashion an old StarTAC into a shank. But prisons across Georgia employed contraband phones for civil disobedience.

While perhaps not as thrilling as your typical prison revolt, the inmates should be applauded (as much as one can applaud prison inmates) for their nonviolent organization as a means towards improved living conditions and compensation for their labor. I mean, maybe the bar is just set low, but reading things like "We have to come together and set aside all differences, whites, blacks, those of us that are affiliated in gangs," as one organizer told the New York Times, is pretty heartwarming! By prison-heartwarming standards.

In the meantime, leaders in seven Georgian prisons are urging their followers to cease all obligatory labor and chores until their demands are met—arguing that a modest source of income and educational opportunities while locked up will prevent repeat offenses in the future.

You might be wondering, how do you get a cell phone in prison? This isn't a movie, so they aren't baked into birthday cakes—it's actually a lot simpler (and more cynical). Mike, one of the inmates that contacted the Times, says he bought his $20 phone off a guard for 400 bucks. [New York Times]

Photo by Andrew Bardwell