Massachusetts Prison Facts (Separate page cuz we continually update it.)
Relevant to the recent bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan, the movie raised the issue of so-called Amerikan democracy. One person commented that he was dismayed to learn the truth about the united snakes after so many years of believing that this country was great. But he enthusiastically turned to the question of what to do with this information and how to fight imperialism.
Discussion revolved around potential solutions to imperialism including the idea of boycotting the corporations like those described in the video who were exploiting and oppressing the people in Third World countries. One participant pointed out that while he could go buy cheap shoes and other clothing, it would all still be manufactured in the Third World. A RAIL comrade pointed out that we would really have to boycott all consumer goods if we wanted to oppose products of all multinational corporations and so this is not a solution to ending imperialism.
All participants agreed on the need to educate using alternative media because the information in this video is not available in mainstream media. We hear cheerleading for the U.$. as a global cop attacking Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq but never the reality of u.s. terrorism. RAIL calls on all who oppose imperialist militarism to join us in building independent media and organizing to defeat this global terrorist system.
--A Massachusetts Prisoner, 10 April 1998
July 25th 1998 marked the 100 year anniversary of the U.$. military invasion that landed in Puerto Rico through Guanica in 1898. Thousands of people came out to protest the u.s. occupation in cities across the u.s. and in Puerto Rico. RAIL organized a contingent to attend several of the rallies in support of the struggle for independence and self-determination for Puerto Rico. The RAIL contingent focused on the anti-imperialist struggle both within u.s. borders and on the island of Puerto Rico as we draw connections to national liberation struggles world wide.
The economy of Puerto Rico, where the average wage is far lower than in the u.s., suffers from high unemployment and low paying jobs. U.$. corporations control 90% of the Puerto Rican economy and the u.s. has important military bases on the island. To control its investment, the U.$. has set up a puppet government in Puerto Rico that does the bidding of their imperialist masters. The u.s. government is attempting to co-opt the Puerto Rican people's desire for self-determination by offering a plebiscite on the status of the island. But under u.s. military and economic domination this plebiscite will do no more than put a democratic face on the u.s. occupation of the island.
RAIL joins the struggle for true self-determination for the Puerto Rican people. We demand that the Puerto Rican people be given immediate independence from u.s. colonialism and we will not stop fighting the U.$. imperialist occupation of Puerto Rico until independence has been won.
In New York city thousands of Puerto Ricans and supporters of other nationalities joined a festive march to the United Nations to demand an end to the U.$. imperialist occupation and independence for Puerto Rico. Two buses full of activists from Massachusetts joined the march and rally in New York. The overriding message was anti-imperialist and many speakers decried the U.$. occupation while calling for revolution. The march took advantage of the U.N. resolution 1514 which recognizes the right of colonies to self-determination. Puerto Rico is recognized as a colony of the United Snakes and so, if the U.N. were not controlled by the imperialists, principally by the U.S., this U.N. resolution would apply.
A large contingent of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation participated in the march. There were also organizations of Asians and Blacks and other Latino nations promoting revolutionary solidarity with the struggle of the Puerto Rican people. A RAIL contingent marched in the rally under a banner demanding an end to the U.$. imperialist occupation of Puerto Rico and distributed many copies of the RAIL Notes pamphlet on Puerto Rico and Notas Rojas. While many organizations claiming to be Marxist or Marxist-led showed up at the rally to distribute their literature, with the exception of RAIL, these groups were trying to connect the Puerto Rican peoples struggle with the so-called working class in the United Snakes promoting false solidarity between the white labor aristocracy and the Puerto Rican nation.
The speakers at the march drew attention to the general strike in Puerto Rico and the on-going phone workers strike correctly calling for solidarity with the Puerto Rican peoples struggle. But the so-called Marxists tried to claim that the workers struggles in the United Snakes, demanding even greater wages for their parasitic jobs, were linked to the struggle of the Puerto Rican people. As one RAIL comrade pointed out in discussions at the rally, just exactly when is it that the white labor aristocracy struggles for greater wages ever turned their demands against U.S. imperialism or in any way threatened capitalism? While the Puerto Rican workers are drawing connections between the U.$. corporate control of the economy and the U.$. military occupation of the island, the Amerikan workers are supporting u.s. military plunder around the world.
Thursday, August 19, RAIL showed ITAL Palante END, a documentary about the 1960s and 70s Latino Organization, the Young Lords Party. The YLP was a Latino based revolutionary party who followed a program very similar to that of the Black Panther Party. The Young Lords put a large emphasis on serve the people programs and initiated TB testing, lead-paint screening, breakfast for children programs, community clean-ups and many other progressive programs. They also put a large emphasis on revolutionary education, and the need to organize against the system as a whole in order to build for a future socialist society.
Though RAIL has shown this event many times in the past, this event was successful in building revolutionary and organizational ties with many Latino students, students and local youth. Some representatives from La Unidad Latina and Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc. who came to the event were interested in co-sponsoring Palante this coming semester. They also were very informed about prisons and the need for organizing in the communities. Unfortunately, many had to leave before we could hear specifically what their groups plans were for the nation, but RAIL hopes to hear more about their activism and organize with them in the future. RAIL is always looking for better and more ideas on how to organize people into social change in order to ultimately bring about the end of imperialist oppression. We look forward to working with them in the future.
RAIL also had many conversations with a lot of local youth, who were hungry for knowledge more progressive then the bourgeois excuses for oppression they learn in school. Many admitted to knowing very little about prisoners struggles, and overall liberation movements around the world, and tied that in to both white nation complacence to oppression and bourgeois education and media. Many united around easy Amerikkkans have it, at the expense of the rest of the world, and were eager to learn more about RAIL and attend future events in hopes of working with RAIL. All attendants were enthusiastic about exposing national oppression in Amerikkka, and specifically about the need for people to organize and raise the masses consciousness. One person mentioned how a family member grew up during the mass repression of the YLP and other revolutionary movements, and from that, has adopted the line that people should just worry about getting by, saying that to live oppressed is better then dying. RAIL had to point out that it wasn't because people spoke out about people being repressed, but that them speaking out was a result of years of oppression. Programs such as the U$ Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) were used specifically to destroy movements that were resisting things like the colonization of Puerto Rico, and the continued poverty of the Ghettos. But the massive attacks were also a tactic the system used to pacify the masses and make them too scared to speak out. Another person pointed out that though COINTELPRO still exists, it doesn't need to be as outright fascistic as it was in the 60s. Instead of gunning down revolutionaries like Fred Hampton in cold blood, the state funds policing programs and builds more prisons where more oppressed nationals die a slow death behind bars.
The person was correct in exposing the extreme violence by the U$ government in the 60s, it is incorrect to think that being passive and accepting the system will decrease oppression. Today, in the control unit section of a Massachusetts prison, over 90% of the prisoners are Latino. Most are there for allegedly being gang members, but all are certainly their as a result of the state and imperialist governments plan of keeping the oppressed people oppressed and unable to rise up and defend themselves.
All attendants united around the plans of the YLP, and the need to put progressive and revolutionary theory into practice. RAIL will be hosting a number of events in the next semester, as well as continuing its Free Books for Prisoners collections, getting MIMs Legal Resource list off the ground, and struggling to dismantle the oppressive system.
On Thursday, August 13, Friends of RAIL showed the film, "The Last Graduation". The event was made possible by the financial support of the Umass, Amherst, Student Government Association. The film is a documentary about U$ legislation passed in 1996 ending all Pell Grant availability to prisoners. Since most prisoners are poor, oppressed nationals, Pell Grants were the only way in which prisoners could receive a college education. The Pell Grants and other educational access were initially provided after
the 1971 Attica uprising, and in the wake of the very revolutionary 60s. The film made a correct point to show how events like the Attica Rebellion spurred a higher mass consciousness about prisoners and prison reform.
These historical points show how continued pressure from the oppressed masses can force the unjust system to fork over material concessions like college education. However, they also point out how fighting for small concessions can not take the place of fighting against the system in general. Instead, RAIL sees that fighting for such short term goals are useful in making the masses stronger, but the system itself relies on oppressing and repressing the majority of the worlds people. Never has a true liberation movement ever gained power over their oppressor by merely waging legal battles within the system. It takes a full blown peoples war and liberation movement to truly get the parasitic U$ off of the worlds neck.
The graduation of students at Greenhaven prison from Marist College in 1995 marks the last state funded college education prisoners have received while imprisoned. Many of the proponents of the budget cut say that a prisoner should be punished and not "be given a free education with taxpayer money". But many studies and first hand knowledge show that education is one of the few ways to reforming people to become productive members of society. Even if RAIL were to assume that every person in prison was there for some criminal act, which we don't agree with, the actions by the state to cut education are directly counter the idea that the system is supposedly meant to reform people. RAIL says that prisons are not about reform, but about social control of oppressed nationals. The news footage in the film showed how legislatures were far from interested in reform, but put most of their energy into torture and punishment of prisoners. Education could successfully give prisoners job skills, a knowledge of history, and most of all a political and revolutionary awareness of the world to motivate future organizing.
Many at the event agreed that prisons were not acting to prevent crime, by cutting such programs, but act more as a social control mechanism of oppressed people. RAIL also brought up the country-wide practice of cutting all access to outside information to prisoners. Specifically, censoring mail(both personal and political mail like MIM Notes) and limiting or destroying prison libraries. Many prisoners who organize to get more education in prison, or who are outspoken about censorship and direct violations of their First Amendment Rights, end up in solitary confinement, additional years in prison, beating and other such repressive actions by the system.
With MIMs Free Books for Prisoners program, RAIL and MIM have successfully provided the revolutionary, educational and organizing resources to prisoners to begin to successfully organize themselves. Two of the people who came to the event agreed that the coming semester would be a great time to get students aware, and raise funds. They agreed, along with RAIL, to hold Books for Prisoners drives during the semester. If others would like to help contact RAIL at the address on page 2. Overall the event was a great success and RAIL plans on showing the event again on November 2 during the 5th annual Prison Awareness Week to attract new and all
students, and community members, into supporting prisoners struggles. For more information on "The Last Graduation: The Rise and Fall of College Programs in Prison" contact: Zahm Productions 101 West 79 Street 4C New York NY 10024 telephone or fax: 212 595 5002 [email protected] http://www.igc.org/deepdish/lastgrad Institutions: $199, Grassroots organizations $39.95
April 15, Court House in Plymouth Mass., -- The Amerikkkan states of Massachusetts and New York kidnapped one of the 24 defendants, an Onondaga Nation activist, at the day's preliminary hearing. The activist rightly considers himself a prisoner of war. Resulting from an police attack on peaceful marchers protesting the Thanksgiving myth and 400 years of genocide against the First Nations, the defendants were charged with disorderly conduct and assaulting police officers.
The United Snakes of Imperialism is currently waging a war against oppressed nations throughout the world and within its illegitimate borders. The Amerikan settler nation dominates internal semi-colonies just as an occupying military force in Third World nations. As the war of genocide, mass imprisonment, forced poverty, slavery and repression continues, the Amerikkkan imperialists have captured yet another prisoner of war.
The Onondaga activist was arrested because he missed a court date in New York that he was never notified about. Despite trying to contact the NY court for information on this trial, and willfully showing up for the Plymouth court date, the judge accepted the prosecution's argument that the activist was a flight risk and the bail was set at the outrageous sum of $5000 cash. As of this evening, less than $1000 had been raised, and the activist is awaiting extradition to New York from Massachusetts. After the hearing, when the activist was brought out to the Sheriff's van in leg irons and a waist chain, he was met with many raised fists and loud cheers.
RAIL received word that the activist is on a hunger strike until he is released.In 1784, the Onondaga signed a treaty with the white nation called the Two Row Wampum. This treaty allowed for each nation to live together "like two canoes on a river," separately without disturbing each other. The treaty expired in 1984, and due to Amerika's violation of the treaty, no efforts have been made to renew it.
This activist, arrested for walking in Plymouth, is part of the First Nations dominated by Amerika which have a far greater claim to land than Amerikkka. In addition, he is a diplomat of his nation sent to contact other nations and build support for self-determination. The white nation courts regularly grant diplomats immunity, but not in this case. In a broader sense, RAIL argues that the white nation courts should have no jurisdiction over other nations. Justice can only be accurately served when people are tried before a jury of their peers. RAIL has no doubt that the activist's nation would consider his activities to be patriotic, not criminal. After the arrest, one defense attorney requested that his arrested client be returned to the courtroom for the Plymouth-related hearing. The judge ruled his presence wasn't necessary, since this was only a preliminary hearing. However, the judge ruled against defense motions for this hearing and the next one, asking that the 24 defendants not be forced to commute back to Plymouth for hearings where thy weren't needed. The judge in this case has no interest in justice, but in further repressing people who stand up for their nation.
Note: See MIM Notes 153, 1 January 1998, p. 1, 4 for information about the pigs assault on the marchers at Plymouth.
On June 5 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that citizens of the commonwealth can legally have their phones tapped by the police without warrant or justification. The decision came after a case where the State Police used eavesdropped on telephone conversations to get evidence in an unlawful entry case. The Justice said, "Any expectation of privacy in a telephone conversation is not objectively reasonable."
The court's decision on the basis of "objective reasonability" is based on imperialism's contradictory line and practice of calling anything unreasonable if it doesn't serve the interests of the oppressor. This decision makes it possible for the pigs to listen in on any conversation and use it against the masses in court. Since no warrant need be obtained, conversations from unrelated times can be used and manipulated to "prove" a persyn guilty in the white man's courts. Considering the decision came from a case where the taped evidence was not presented, only mentioned, pigs will not be expected to present documentation of conversations. Instead, implicating evidence can be admitted just by the word of the pigs. One judge disagreed, saying that a warrant is not a hard thing to obtain.
RAIL unites with anyone saying this is an unjust decision, but also realizes the irony in the judge's statement. In reality, warrants are easily obtained. Now however, the short bureaucratic trip to the courthouse can be cut out of the injustice systems attack on the oppressed. The decision falls right in line with the rest of the U$ plan to give pigs more autonomy as an occupying force and as the leg men for the hanging courts.
RAIL has learned through practice and studying history that the first people attacked are activists. That is why we uphold strict lines on security which include making political phone calls from pay phones, getting P.O. boxes and using fake names whenever doing political work. We are open about this policy, and its necessity to make the job of the pigs as imperialism's domestic army as difficult as possible.
Note: Boston Globe, June 7, 1998 p. B8
In previous years, the Friends of RAIL student organizations have fought for the right to set up literature tables in the Campus Center, which is one of the few high-traffic areas in the summer. In 1996, there was a "no tabling in the summer" policy, but exceptions were made for banks, the New Students Program itself, the bus company and the police. The fight against this anti-student censorship was won, and a new policy gave everyone a fair opportunity to use the Campus Center. On June 23, Friends of RAIL attempted to set up a literature table on the
UMass Campus Center concourse, but within 2 minutes the "student" bureaucrat from the Campus Center/Student Union Commission (CCSUC) and 2 Campus Center security officers were on the scene to shut us down. The comrades refused to leave until the policy that said we couldn't table without prior registration was produced. The policy did in fact require registration, but had provisions for "walk-on" registration. But the requirement to "walk-on" was to sign in at the info desk between 9 and 11, which is unstaffed during those hours. So the Friends of RAIL agreed to give the system a day to work itself through and agreed to meet with the CCSUC bureaucrat to discuss the situation (despite his promise that no matter what, we were not tabling in the summer).
Friends of RAIL immediately started gathering signatures on the same anti-censorship petition we used two years ago to win the tabling policy. We recruited graduate and undergraduate student government leaders to attend this meeting with us. Together, we consistently exposed the hypocrisy of the CCSUC bureaucrat. He would argue that we couldn't table because the whole concourse was booked by the New Students Program, but there is a walk-on policy and a policy that not used tables can be given to other groups. He argued that FORAIL was not a student group, despite documentation that it was. He argued that students should have to show id at all times on the concourse, despite no such regulation in his policy.
The following things were revealed at this meeting or shortly afterward:
1. The CCSUC bureaucrat was neither a student nor a member of the CCSUC commission. He had recently graduated, and when the CCSUC (a part of student government) had temporarily lapsed, the Director of the Campus Center didn't notify student government but inserted someone loyal to them into the paid position. FoRAIL considered this an administration takeover of student government. Student government took immediate action to take CCSUC back into their control
2. The CCSUC bureaucrat's strings were being pulled by Assistant Director of the Campus Center Bud Wilkes and New Students Program Director Sara Hamilton. Every time we exposed a contradiction in his logic or his application of the policy, the CCSUC bureaucrat would attempt to call these two administrators for the answer. The student government leaders would then object on the grounds that the CCSUC is a student government body and should not take orders from the administration (especially Hamilton, since her jurisdiction isn't the Campus Center anyway).
3. Other University Departments are involved in the anti FoRAIL conspiracy. The bureaucrat waved in our faces, but did not let us fully read, a letter from Campus Activities to the New Students Program informing on our activities and student organization status. This letter was illegally withheld by Hamilton when a FoRAIL activist filed a state open records law request seeking it.
4. In 1996, FoRAIL won a new tabling policy in spirit and it was written down in late April 1997. FoRAIL was not invited to the official meetings as promised by CCSUC pig Esther Salas, but Hamilton was. She didn't go, but sent a letter which was leaked to us. Hamilton wrote:
Last year a problem arose when other offices, programs (religious groups, RSO's) wanted to have access to new students and/or parents and were not able to get a table on the Concourse. We are amenable to having these groups use the Concourse rather than accosting students and parents around campus, outside the Dining Halls and in the Quad. As you know, the policy last summer put everyone in a bad position. We would tell them to confine their activity to the CC Concourse which was denied to them, but open to the banks. This was a particular problem for the Maoist organization, who then had a point about "capitalistic" institutions being authorized while they were not. We don't want to "cut off our noses to spite our face" by restricting all tables. We feel that Public Safety, religious organizations and the banks present necessary information. Our experience is that often RSO groups run out of steam and enthusiasm for the tables after an initial rush. Of course, we'd rather not have the Discover Card vampires and the "Legalize Drugs" groups in our faces at all; but if we must, at least on the Concourse they're controlled and can be avoided with some effort.
This letter shows clearly that Hamilton is skating on the edges of the law in an effort to continue the slick no-politics presentation about student life at UMass. This condescending letter was illegally withheld by Hamilton when a FoRAIL activist filed a state open records law request seeking it.
5. The CCSUC bureaucrat for a while said that we couldn't table because the NSP had the whole concourse booked. The Vice-President of the Graduate Student Senate called Sara Hamilton, but she denied reserving anything on the concourse. Assistant Director of the Campus Center tried to hide the status of the concourse reservations from FoRAIL by refusing answer questions from one polite activist who refused to show id. (You might refuse to show id too, if you have recently been threatened with arrest by the same department.) A state open records law request revealed that in fact the concourse was reserved by Hamilton herself. Why did Hamilton lie? In 1997 FoRAIL had no problem tabling. But Hamilton obviously wasn't happy with that. In 1997 she reserved her (4-6) tables on April 22. But she reserved the whole concourse for the key dates in 1998 in October 1997.
The June 27 meeting continued for several hours, and the next day we received word that we would be allowed to table. It became clear to us that the CCSUC bureaucrat was under incredible pressure from the administration, and through exerting political pressure on him (since he was the one who was supposed to be responsible) we were able to win him partially over. In addition, we normally focused on talking to students about prisons, but when we started using the censorship petitions, we immediately started to see more concern from the parents, which no doubt caught Hamilton's attention.
By exposing the bureaucratic university administration for its blatent censorship, RAIL exposes the hypocrysy and repression within the system as a whole. The U.S. is protecting its imperialist, capitalist goals when it censors the voices of the people. RAIL believes the people must fight this repression without loosing sight that true freedom of speech will not be reached until imperialist, capitalist oppression is smashed.
In the summer of 1998 RAIL literature was again distributed to incoming UMass students at the Orientation sessions. This year we were much more aggressive about combating the slander against us made by the Advisors (under orders from their boss.) We also spent more time at the Oreintations, not just distributing literature, but also talking to students about our campaigns and collecting petition signatures against control unit expansion in the Massachusetts prisons. Within the white nation, young people are the group with the most revolutionary potential as they are not yet fully tied into the parasitism of the system. They also have the most to lose from continuing environmental degradation, etc. Incoming students are an attractive group to talk to because they are trying out new experiences and new ideas, but the New Students Program makes our work easier in two ways:
First, the program is so boring, monotone and controlling that it makes students want to break out and try other things.
Secondly, while slandering us does scare away some middle-of-the-road students from speaking with us or reading our literature, it gets the attention of more radical students who were not aware of our presence. These students then actively seek us out and are the ones who ask for petition clipboards and literature to distribute to other incoming students.
It is not just FoRAIL that met censorship from the New Students Program. Last year Adam Prentice died under suspicious circumstances, and the police covered up the details. Adam's mother has put posters up around campus offering a reward for information. The New Students Program took these posters down. Massaging the public relations for the school is apparently more important to Sara Hamilton than a mother trying to find out why her son died.
In addition, the Student Government Association was not allowed to advertise in the dorms it's NSP-approved orientation program, which negatively effects turnout. The Student Government then scheduled a meeting with Sarah Hamilton's boss, Assistant Vice Chancellor Joe Marshall. On request from the SGA we solicited statements from students who were being told to not speak to us or to not sign petitions. One student wrote a statement that she "tried to get involved with the Friends of RAIL organization and was told that it was "frowned down upon" and that I should not participate, by a counselor."
Upon receipt of this statement, Joe Marshall ordered Hamilton to instruct advisors to stop doing this. We received no reports from friendly advisors that this happened, although the majority of the advisors got a lot more subtle in their open statements against us. Immediately after this Marshall meeting, for the first time in 5 years of literature distribution in the same spot, students were shepherded a different way to lunch that avoided our table. In the next 2 weeks, students again reported being told to not speak with us and were again writing statements to that fact.
This contradiction allowed FoRAIL to talk to students about how the First Amendment and other "rights" don't really exist unless you have the power to enforce them. And counter to NSP claims, the students had shown themselves quite capable of making their own decisions. While we made many new allies, many students expressed their disagreement with us. Some even participated in public debates before over 30 students at a time. One was openly offended when an NSP advisor attempted to stop it because the she thought the student was unwilling to defend his ideas in public. Universities claim that they train students to compete in the "marketplace of ideas", and Sarah Hamilton's failed efforts to repress us has given the students some valuable lessons:
1. Amerikkkan universities are only interested in ideas supportive of the system.
2. If students are willing to fight for it, they can win considerable space to do their own organizing
The youth know that this system doesn't work for them. They are sick of living in a society with the highest incarceration rate in the world, murderous violence in their relationships and rapidly increasing environmental degradation. They know they are being sold a load of bull by this system, and desire to break free of political uniformity. The more careful the status quo's script--like at college orientations--the more students want to rebel.
The police often run RAIL off campuses. Administrators tell us to go away saying 'students have more important things to do than think about politics' or as the UMass New Students Program says each year: 'These students aren't ready for politics yet.' or 'They are so open minded now. Can't you come back later?'
All around the world, young people and students take leading roles in revolutions. In Palestine, youth risk death by throwing stones at the Israeli military occupying their country. In the film "Battle of Algiers" you will see 3 and 4 year-olds, under the leadership of the National Liberation Movement, clear the Casbah of drunks, and a 7 or 8 year-old steals a microphone from the French police to denounce them and stir up the scared adults against the French colonialists. In the United Snakes the youngest Black Panther was 12 years old. [Much later he went to UMass.] The examples could go on forever for each country.
If young children in the colonies can decide to risk death for national liberation, we think that college students in the U.$. can decide for themselves what literature they want to read.
Youth, ask yourselves: Why does your school restrict our organizing? Do they really think you are too stupid to think for yourselves, or do they fear that what we have to say threatens the very same status quo that they are so invested in?
As far as RAIL is concerned, the UMass cops killed Adam Prentice on September 27, 1997. When they encountered a badly bleeding white young man smelling like alcohol laying next to a broken window at 1am, they just said: criminal.
With an 8inch piece of glass coming out of Prentice's back, the police decided that appropriate medical treatment was a pair of handcuffs. If Prentice had been Black or Latino, might treatment have been a boot to the head? Prentice was only sent to the hospital at 4am, where he died shortly thereafter of a loss of blood. Cops have medical training and for anyone else to withhold medical treatment that results in death would be manslaughter at least.
One certainly has to ask questions about the police's motives in their "investigation" when they told Adam's friends he was alone and THEN asked for information. The Police badly want the official memory of Prentice to disappear, although they are quite content to let fear mongers run amuck.
The Campus Center Administration is using Prentice's death in a two-pronged way. First, as poster-boy against drinking on campus. RAIL opposes substance abuse, but beyond that doesn't get involved in discussions about one leisure time activity as compared to another. We think people should focus on leisure less, and revolution more. But the school's problem with drinking is that its students getting together in a fashion unscripted by the school. Secondly, while the campus police publicly brag about how safe the campus is, they manipulate students to cry "Fear!" and demand more police, call boxes, cruisers, etc.
This letter and enclosed materials are being sent to your attention in regards your prior requests for any and all commentaries from prisoners held within this commonwealth's correctional crypts... One question that you'd asked in the past was what is my "status", to that I answer that at present I'm being held in the states maximum security prison. Where I've been housed six out of the eight years which I've been incarcerated here in Massachusetts...As it stands I will be completely finished with all my penal obligations this upcoming August, when a lengthy sojourn through this penal purgatory realm will officially end!!!...For me the past decade-plus years have been a time of acute financial hardship as I entered prison at the age of 25 with no saved up assets to rely upon and an immediate family and set of "so-called friends", hopelessly delinquent in regards to assisting me on a monetary/material level.
For most prisoners in my financial position, prison offers brief respites in the form of slave wages type "job employment", but for me as one who has been constantly in a state of friction with my wicked white warders, as a black man of modest intellectual capacity, I am deemed to be uppity and hence I get nothing where others might get the few crumbs the system tosses its slave-like prisoners. In only a few cases will prisoners get whatever the system gives them, based on merit as opposed to the largesse of a benevolent overlord or officer. So basically I get nothing from those one might assume would feel a stake in assisting me and because of my politically conscious activities and my daily standing up for my rights as a person...I get nothing from those who don't want to validate me and my penal peers as being anything other than subhuman.
Being so close to release and having lived under the circumstances that I have silently suffered through these past pain-filled years, upon my exit from prison I plan on entering a shelter and trying to get any kind of government aid available to a person in my dire situation. But these circumstances in no way should serve as a notice that I am totally incapacitated, for I heartfeltly do believe that as long as my faith is for real and my spirits are strong, then I will eventually obtain the types of successes which will let me actualize my dreams of leaving prison and starting up an ex-prisoner run social and criminal advocacy agency. There are many reasons why I will devote the rest of my life to protracted engagement in the arena of prisoner's rights and penal reform, but the most important one is that as I have spent a huge segment of my life imprisoned, more often than not my need for most things for most things has been gained by my penal peers of all hues, colors, and ages!!! So for me to give back to the convicted collective is an obligation I adamantly seek to comply with. Nothing will stop me except death. On the issue of censorship of political literature here in prison, all I can honestly say is that because there are a select few prisoners who habitually like to read such awakening types of materials, they are already known to their respective prison administrators and all their actions are highly watched and many attempted control measures are implemented. So any type of censorship is primarily based upon keeping the awakened prisoner dead to what's going on outside these dungeons of despair. the recently regulation which now prohibits to prison correspondence is part of the overall design to keep active prisoners separated and ununiformed , because the system is a well entrenched entity and has mastered the parameters of social control.
Whenever outside sources want to send prisoners books/reading materials, the rules fluctuate based upon the type of literature being sent as well as to whom such material is being sent. The rules states that all books must come direct from the publisher ( hardcover or softcover, but note that soft-covered books are admitted into the institution faster and easier, as they say that the hardcover bindings are typical storage places for incoming contraband). When a people are enslaved then their labor is predicted upon the whims of their rulers/overlords, in this case the prison staff.
Across Massachusetts gulags, because so many prisoners are susceptible to allowing themselves to be trodden upon, the labor policies and rules are arbitrarily established and enforced. Each respective work-site overseer dictates who will work and in certain situations who will be payed what. (At some Mass. prisons, prisoners work for cash payments to their respective inmate accounts, others only get good-time credits deductible from their term of imprisonment, then too there are select cases where some prisoners will work for free hoping to get a payslot or happy with gratuities they receive from "benovolent" masters. Like every other area of prison life, the Health Care Services are substandard and haphazardly administrated to prisoners in need. The medical staff are often intimately related with security personnel, this means there are no medical secrets and that often any disagreement with medical staff is met with a backlash from security personnel with a personal vendetta.
New rules general prison population purchase items such as aspirin from the prison canteen, this way any money that the state pays they get back). The only type of treatment for prisoners with substance abuse problems is that they are randomly given urinanalysis testing and if a person is found delinquent he's got to serve some type of disciplinary sactions. Meanwhile his substance abuse problems go unattended to. At certain prisons, prisoners are able to enroll in a six month substance abuse treatment program and join NA or AA groups... Here, educational programs are of the GED- level only and these are administered via the institutional TV-channel . There is no in-class type of schooling ... Said classes are another farce that allows the state to get federal funds under recently enacted crime-bills. Because the average prisoner's mind is enraptured with TV, sex, drugs, etc. of modern society, any attempt to start a study group so far has been met with abject indifference. Lower security prisons are more open...Thus the only recourse I have found here is to build our own classroom in small cells and express our respective ideas/ideals.
-A Massachusetts prisoner
Dear RAIL Boston:
As regards your letter...and your question as to whether there is a way to get literature into the institution, we suggest that you begin with newsletters, current and past, with one to each of us to begin with. Since this is a Level 4 institution with a large population, scrutiny may not be as acute. Both myself and Mr. X are now in the same institution and you should attempt an initial mailing and see how that pans out. If receipt is successful we will then try for publications and books you wish to send.
I would personally like to compliment you on your aggressive correspondence with prison officials in Massachusetts. This creates a record for judicial review that is important to prisoners' rights and to MIM's struggle against suppression of the First Amendment. What is important for MIM to show to its readers, as well as to judicial authorities is the chameleon-like policy of the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Written policies are interpreted to mean anything a mail room officer might feel, or any other arbitrary justification that pops into the miniscule correctional process.
Your letter-writing campaign has exposed the thin authoritative veil that evaporates when prison officials are taken to task by legitimate common sense. Your correspondence spells out the word ACCOUNTABILITY in capital letters! The lack of accountability in Massachusetts prisons is so appalling that rights are routinely violated because prison officials feel they are omnipotent. They feel they can say or do anything because the atmosphere of intimidation and the arbitrary imposition of punishment is alive and breathing like some rampant viral infection. Anyone who examines the CMRs (regulations) too closely is considered a potential threat to the status quo. A fine examples of that is the PAC (political action committee) formed by prisoners at MCI-Norfolk. Intentionally vague and overbroad policy is made so that dozens of interpretations can be made and only the most repressive policy considerations can be adopted. What, for example, should it matter that MIM is a distributor or a publisher? The legitimacy of publisher, distributor, or individual mailing a newsletter is not the issue and never was. This is about a myopic view taken by mentally challenged subhuman prisoncrats who substitute their personal beliefs for individual rights. By taking the issue to the streets and making censorship a serious issue in the public view, this will cause the cockroach-like prisoncrats to go scurrying for the dark when the light of public scrutiny shines on their practices. I applaud your efforts in this matter and look forward, as does Mr. X, to your continued construction of the administration record.
In Struggle, a Massachusetts prisoner
On August 14, Massachusetts prisoners won a victory in the courts, with Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein ruling that the state's DNA database was unconstitutional. Forty-seven other states have similar laws, and the prisoner's and probationer's attorneys hope that precedent has been set to strike down these other laws.
The principal grounds by which the law was struck down was of privacy rights based on the Fourth Amendment. The judge argued that "[r]egardless of the state's compelling interest, an unjustified random bodily intrusion without any indication of individualized suspicion is unreasonable and intolerable." Typically privacy "rights" are reserved for those with power and prestige to protect. We put rights in quotation marks because unlike the bourgeoisie, we don't pretend that there are certain rights that people have. Rather, we believe, as Mao Zedong said, that "there are no rights, only power struggles." The only thing that we can count on in this world is what the masses themselves can fight to gain and retain.
The Bill of Rights in the U.$ Constitution claims to speak for all citizens, even thought it is rarely that way in practice. But it is a good tactic for progressive lawyers to try and get the Bill of Rights to apply to everyone, especially prisoners.
An additional weakness of the Massachusetts law is that it did not restrict what the DNA could be used for. It would have been totally legal for the pigs to use it in their current state-funded racist quest for a "crime gene." Nor was information gleaned from the DNA--such as disease susceptibility--required to be shared with the person from which it was snatched.
RAIL opposes the DNA database because it is a potential weapon in Amerika's war against the internal colonies. The database could be (mis)used in many ways, but even as it relates to the fight against actual crime, we don't want to see the pigs gain any additional tools. As sixty years of government statistics show, locking more people up doesn't affect crime.
RAIL isn't saying that violent crime is Ok, although we rarely fail to point out that such crime is a small portion of what prisoners are incarcerated for. But we can't let this system and its leaders point fingers at street crime when they are guilty of far larger and more violent crimes each day. We need a new society--a revolutionary society!
While a large number of people were interested in the MASS RAIL and some gave RAIL donations, it was less than could be expected at a prison related event. In fact, the organizers were so disturbed by our presence that we were offered a bribe to go away. They were afraid that we were scare away their invited Department of KKKorrection guests and therefore sabatoge their efforts to bring this reactionary movement into more prisons.
Doing Time, Doing Vipassana is a 50 minute documentary about the introduction of a program of 10-day Vipassana Mediation courses in Tihar Jail New Delhi. According to the video, Tihar is one of the world's most notorious jails. Tihar is maximum security, but an accused pickpocket can spend 6 years there waiting to get a 1 year sentence. Vipassana's response to this injustice? Don't think about it, but concentrate on yourself, how you hurt society, and seek forgiveness. The introduction of Vipassana mediation into prisons is a thick liberal veneer over a terribly reactionary core of perpetuating this system.
The liberal veneer can confuse some. For example, the Vipassana teachers insist that some guards and prison staff also take the course. In Tihar Jail, the warden sent the most corrupt and violent guards--under threat of termination--to the courses. Many came back improved, less violent people. Which gets us to the next part of the veneer, that the course helps people to concentrate and reflect on their actions. Any highly structured quasi-voluntary program of doing nothing but listening to your breathing for 10 days couldn't but help people to focus. The corrupt guards learned that their practice wasn't an effective control strategy and it was about to lose them their jobs. The course also made many prisoners began to feel sorry for their actions against society. It is important that people take responsibility for their actions. In a just society, crime will have to be dealt with by the people and not an occupation government. Criminals will undergo a process of self-criticism by which they transform their outlook and behavior. But this can only take place when the larger society has some moral authority.
The Amerikan government actively imports drugs into the country with it's CIA, and yet it has the nerve to call small-time dealers and possessors of drugs to be criminals. For Amerika to look down its nose at prisoners is hypocrisy at best, and more accurately it could be called a carefully packaged program of changing the subject. Crime is without doubt a problem, but the solution to crime is increasing social justice. When people live in an honorable society and have a way to contribute to society in a socially useful way, crime will no longer exist. Focusing on yourself--to the exclusion of society--merely helps you fit into the dominant ideology of imperialism.
According to some people it was part of a calculated plan of the United Snakes to take over the Caribbean. Guatanamo Bay, Vieques, and 100 years of history would seem to prove this point. Just like most of the imperialist minded people of the U$ empire, the citizens of Amherst joined in calling for the U$ invasion of Puerto Rico.
Like all good patriotic Amerikans, the white people of Amherst wanted Amerika to plunder all they could from the falling Spanish empire. Some Amherst residents supported Amerikan imperialist domination of Puerto Rico so strongly that they even gave their lives for it. Spain was calling for a peace conference to end the Spanish-Amerikan war, but that did not fit into the plans of imperialist expansionists like President McKinley and the good people of Amherst. Stealing beautiful Caribbean islands seemed like a much more profitable option to such barbarians. McKinley had one goal in mind, building a U$ empire, and he was not bashful about saying so. This what Mckinley said of the war,"While we are conducting the war and until its conclusion, we must keep all we can get. When the war is over we must keep what we want." Mckinley was truly a great Amerikan patriot. He knew what Amerika was all about and served imperialism to the best of his abilities.
What Mckinley was not even slightly concerned with was the desires of the Puerto Rican people to achieve independence. In fact, before the Spanish-Amerikan War, both the Cuban and Puerto Rican peoples had won significant levels of autonomy through struggles against Spanish imperialism. Puerto Rico even had its own constitution. But things like people's independence or sovereign governments and constitutions never really concerned Amerika. Just ask the Nations of the Iroquois Confederation. Puerto Rico, just like all other land stolen by the apartheid empire of the united snakes, was forced under U$ rule without the slightest regard for the desires of the people of Puerto Rico. Mckinley sent a dozen warships and 30,000 troops to makes sure Amerika would not have to be concerned with the needs and desires of Puerto Ricans for freedom. To this day 13% of the beautiful nation of Puerto Rico is occupied by the imperialist U$ armed forces to ensure that Puerto Ricans still won't be able to act or live freely. Just like Guam and the Philippines 100 years of foreign occupation troops and imperialist puppet governments are what it meant to be "liberated" by the U$ empire.
The only desires that the U$ government ever did consider were the desires of the imperialist white settler nation. Within a few days after the U$ invasion and theft of Puerto Rico the Amherst Record expressed Amerika's true concerns for Puerto Rico. "The Island of Puerto Rico. The melting loveliness of its tropical landscape. Thirteen hundred streams, a wealth of vegetation, highly cultivable soil, and vast deposits of minerals." Amherst joined the rest of the imperialist U$ in celebration of the newly acquired opportunity to enjoy vacations on a beautiful Caribbean island and were even happier to find out that they could also rape it for all sorts os natural resources. What could make settler imperialists any happier? Even Hitler would have had to admire imperialism taken to such an extreme and reaping such benefits for the empire. The citizens of Amherst should congratulate themselves for being part of one of the greatest imperialist achievements of all time.
note: Amherst Bulletin Friday, July 31, 1998
But it gets better. First, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi--who is in police custody--and James "Whitey" Bulger--whereabouts unknown--were long time informants for the FBI. Flemmi and other Globe sources say the pair were allowed to commit any crime short of murder, and the Globe has uncovered evidence that the pair were killers and the FBI knew about it and did nothing. Flemmi and Bulger regularly socialized with the Irish FBI agents and gave them expensive gifts, including cash.
The FBI agents than scuttled or sabotaged other police agencies' investigations of Flemmi and Bulger. And as if the connection between "legal crime" and "illegal crime" wasn't thin enough, Bulger's brother is former Senate President and current UMass President William Bulger. William Bulger is reported to have walked into social/business meetings with his brother, Flemmi and the FBI.
Flemmi's revelations that he and Bulger were informants--a story first publicized by the Globe in 1988--also jeopardizes previous government convictions of mobsters. In the past, accused mobsters would argue in their defense that the Mafia doesn't exist. But in the last few years the FBI was able to use a "roving wiretap" to tape an alleged Mafia induction ceremony. But the police only got permission to use such a wiretap by misleading a judge that they did not in fact have informants inside the mob.
In 1995, indictments came down for Flemmi and Bulger. But somebody tipped off Bulger and he disappeared. For the first 2 years, the FBI could hardly be said to be seriously looking for Bulger and who had appearances across the country. August 20, Flemmi revealed who tipped off Bulger: FBI Supervisor John Morris. Flemmi is currently arguing in court that the charges against him should be dropped because of his immunity agreement with the FBI.
RAIL doesn't case whether individual mobsters go to jail when the FBI is a far more corrupt, violent and dangerous enterprise. Prosecutors are trying to convict Flemmi anyway, saying the immunity deal--if it even existed--was created by "rogue agents" and shouldn't bind the government. This should serve as a warning to potential informants within our own movement: You might get some short term gain from the pigs, but they'll leave you out to dry when they are done with you. The largest lesson we can draw from this soap opera is that the FBI and Amerikkkan government has no moral authority to say what's a crime and who deserves punishment, since they are the largest criminals of them all.
At the urging of prisoners and RAIL comrades who do work with MIM, MIM is launching a Serve the People Prisoners' Legal Clinic as part of the new MIM-led anti-imperialist prisoner organization. The Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) is organized around prisoners combining their own legal knowledge and skills to meet their own needs. Prisoners who work as part of the legal clinic will write articles for publication explaining the major legal issues facing political prisoners today, and back those articles up with legal briefs that will be available to all political prisoners who need additional legal firepower to wage their battles against the prisons cyst'm. The PLC is centered around political goals, specifically using the law to facilitate political work of political prisoners in Amerika and educating about prisons through coverage of prisoners' legal concerns. This means that the types of legal questions the prisoners tackle should be those that most directly relate to organizing, like censorship, property, library access and Security Threat Group policies.
RAIL Notes is publishing this announcement to call on all interested people to volunteer their time for the PLC. We need people on the outside to help with typing up articles for comrades under lock & key who do not have typewriters. We need your help editing legal articles into plain English that we can print to educate people on the connections between political imprisonment and the law. You do not have to be a lawyer or know anything about the law to volunteer for this work. Many comrades in prisons have taught themselves law and are now ready to do work with others who do not have the background they do. All you need are fingers ready to type and a single hour of free time and you can be a help to this program.
If you want to contribute your time or money to the Prisoners' Legal Clinic, please get in touch with us at the addresses on page two.
Note: MIM believes that all prisoners in the u.$. criminal INjustice system are political prisoners because the system of imprisonment is political. This is evidenced in the disproportionate weight of prison terms on the oppressed nations, in laws that hold theft of a rich person's property to be a more heinous crime than theft of a poor nation's land, and in the overwhelming presence of physical and mental abuse coupled with the absence of physical or mental enhancement in the so-called Corrections systems.
Because MIM treats all prisoners as political prisoners, this Serve the People program under MIM leadership will specifically address the political problems of prisoners. The goal of this program is to be part of a movement against imperialism and against oppression in prisons. This means that the legal focus will be on clearing enough space for prisoners to organize -- to build independent institutions of the oppressed toward the eventual goal of revolution.
RAIL joined in the protest and distributed MN #164. RAIL made sure to show the people there the article on page 5 about the bogus "peace agreement" in Ireland. RAIL did not encounter anyone at this rally that was fooled by the sham referendum that was brokered by the unitedsnakes. Some even wore IRA colors and others stated quite clearly that they believe the IRA would never disarm until english soldiers leave Ireland. Most people that actually read the MN article strongly agreed with MIM's position on the bogus peace talks. One womyn told RAIL that she really liked the paper and encouraged us keep doing the work we are doing in support of national liberation struggles.
RAIL also spoke to many young passerbys. Many of them were too young to know who Margaret Thatcher was or why people should be protesting against her presence. Many of these young masses were Puerto Rican and it was very easy for RAIL to explain the situation in Ireland to these young people. RAIL very simply explained to the Puerto Rican and Black Nation youth that what England does to Ireland is very much like what the U$ does to their nations. Not only did this explanation make sense to the Latin and Black youths, it also caused some of them to show open support for the Irish nationalists.
Someday there will be much more and stronger unity between the liberation struggles of the Puerto Rican, Black, and Irish peoples as well as all others under attack from U$ imperialism. Events like this prove that it can happen. RAIL intends to make sure it will. y
The June-September 1998 issue of the Mass RAIL ran an article about cigarette smuggling in the prisons. This article was incorrect.
This issue was funded in part by generous contributions supporters and in part by creative fundraising by our comrades. One person saw Mass RAIL at a rally for prisoners in Boston and recognized the value of Mass RAIL, and immediately donated $20. Some comrades sold ads. One group of comrades helped one individual comrade save a lot of money over the next few years. Since doing this, the comrade has saved $100 and donated this sumwhich Amerikkkan corporations would otherwise have takento this issue of Mass RAIL. One comrade earned an honorarium speaking for a RAIL student group and donated the money to this publication. Our goal for Mass RAIL is to put the publication on steady financial ground, so that an issue need never be held up for lack of funds. Contact RAIL to discuss how you can help us reach this goal.
MassRAIL is a resource to expose the repression waged against the oppressed masses in Massachusetts. As a independent newspaper dedicated to saying what the main stream media ignores, we think that MassRAIL should be paid for by the masses who think exposing the truth is important.
RAIL engages in many struggles, and with contributions from more of the masses, other funds can go to activities like mailing literature and letters to prisoners and putting on local events.
We at RAIL thank all who have made this issue possible. What we need is more people to step up to fund this publication, and we need people to make regular pledges to support our goal of thrice-a-year publication. We need to be able to count on this money coming in in order to reach this goal.
No contribution is too small or too large, so send it in! Checks should be made out to "MIM" not RAIL, and stamps are as good as cash.
RAIL PO Box 712 Amherst MA 01004-0712 RAIL PO Box 559 Cambridge MA 02140
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