A brief history of Marion

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[Control Units] [US Penitentiary Marion] [Federal]
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A brief history of Marion

There are various rumors going around that we will soon be transferred to the new Federal prison complex at Florence, Colorado. Some say we all won't be transferred there; some say only those of us who are classified as "sixes," which is the highest security level in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). We hear that we will be isolated from other convicts, and then we hear we will participate in recreation in groups of nine men. Some say the transfer will begin in September; other indications are that it will be sooner.

We won't know for sure until it happens, and that's the way the BOP wants it—shrouded in mystery.

Whatever happens here in regards to the transfer to Florence, CO, this marks the beginning of a new era in repression of the ever-increasing, restless and angry prison population in the U.S.

With the closing of Alcatraz in 1962 and the simultaneous opening of Marion in Illinois, the Federal BOP has had 32 years to study Marion prisoners, and has shared this knowledge with the state prison systems and prison systems throughout the world. They concentrated what they called High Security Level prisoners here at Marion and began their experiments. For years it was common knowledge that Marion's water was contaminated with PCBs. Several ex-Marion prisoners have died or still suffer from various forms of cancers and central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

In 1972, after an institution-wide work strike [and, notably, after the 1971 Attica prisoners' rebellion —MC49], 150 prisoners were put in disciplinary segregation. Sixteen months later, 36 prisoners were still in what had been officially designated the control unit. The control unit on H-unit was a mini-Alcatraz. There, in that strictly- regulated environment, Marion concentrated its most "disruptive" inmates and, of course, the system's revolutionaries.

Today, there are many control units in prisons throughout the United States and the world, and they have been perfected for the purpose of burying any activist, POW, political prisoner, and any prisoner the administration doesn't want to influence other prisoners.

Repression is mounting throughout the world, as the powers that be attempt to contain and silence the just grievances of the oppressed peoples who are doing what is necessary to survive in a world where greed is king and is protected by the power of the gun. "Power comes from the barrel of a gun," said Mao, and today we see how right he was.

Peace and power,

—a Marion prisoner

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