Political Preference for Segregated Housing
In prison, it is considered to be a privilege to be a part of the general population (G.P.). And it is considered a punishment to be placed in a segregated housing unit (SHU). In order to compel prisoners to abide by the rules of the prison, this system of reward and punishment is put into place.
Here are a few key differences between G.P. and a SHU:
In G.P., you may get to come out of your cell for two to three hours a day. You live with a cellmate. You may have access to the gym and library. You may spend any funds you have on canteen items. You may walk to the chow hall, and you may walk to medical and any other program you attend.
In a segregated housing unit, you are in your cell for twenty-three to twenty-four hours a day. You may or may not have a cellmate. You have no access to the gym and the only books you have access to are the ones the librarian sends to segregation. You may only spend funds on legal material, stationary, and hygiene products. You have your food brought to your door as well as your medication, and your opportunity to participate in programs is limited.
Now, I shall elaborate upon this contradiction and give you the views of a politically conscious prisoner. Most prisoners are so uneducated and illiterate that if a topic doesn't show up on television, they know nothing about it. To be placed in segregation away from their "idiot box" would bring them unbearable anguish. They also cannot do without being able to get on the telephone, shake their loved ones down for money, and then spending it all on extremely over-priced canteen items. The young hip-hop generation cannot imagine having to exist without the support of their fellow gang members to boost their courage to oppress another, or trade hedonistic rap songs with one another.
Therefore, being placed in a segregated housing unit is terrifying to most prisoners. So much so, that they will tap-dance, bend over backwards and shine the warden's boots. Quietly suffering verbal abuse and humiliation from corrupt psychotic pigs. And when their frustration builds up, they will direct their anger at another prisoner, never abasing the iron hand oppressor.
Then there are those of us who do not care for rewards and punishments. We simply choose not to participate in the perpetuation of our own dehumanization. We choose not to assimilate into the machinations of the koncentration kamp. We don't care about snack cakes, sodas, and chips; we'd rather not be brainwashed by the Nazi programs; and we can do without the zombifying tel-a-vision. We find peace in the seclusion of solitary confinement where there are fewer distractions. Without having to be herded like cattle to and from to the chow hall and medical, we have more time to reflect, study and work toward our goal of state-less society.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Yes, we should try to take advantage of any opportunity do the best possible political work we can. For those locked in solitary, this means plenty of time to study and write and think. But we know this isolation has some very negative consequences for humyn physical and mental health.
Organizing is necessarily about interacting with other people. So while it's true that we run into lots of folks who are content to just sit in front of the T.V. and do their time, our challenge is finding ways to reach them. Isolating ourselves from the masses inherently makes us disconnected from them, and also isolates us from potential recruits who are mixed in G.P. and ready to jump on board. For those in seg, this comrade's advice about making it a good use of your time is well placed. But for those with contact with others, let's strive to make the best of it in G.P. too by building and growing the movement.