Regarding security in prisons
I want to comment on something I read in the March/April 2010 ULK 13. I note that the SNYs [Special Needs Yards prisoners] are complaining about how the picklesuits are doing an excellent job of keeping prisoners in California at each others' throats. I doubt that there is a prisoner in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) that hates/resists petty over-authoritated power as much as I do. But so many prisoners at the drop of a hat go SNY/PC(Protective Custody) that it created a mad rush for police defense for not just those who may need it for the few real reasons that may exist.
I'm in general population (GP) and I would stay in the hole before I would allow the pig to twist me up into that SNY/PC nonsense. I heard people in Administrative Segregation (Ad-seg) and the Security Housing Units (SHU) when I was there be proud to say in front of the pig that they are active this or that which is in effect volunteering intelligence to the pig. Then you got those seeking to gather intelligence to provide the pig and that is both in and out of SNY. While SNY may outnumber general population 3 to 1 it is clear to me that one's condition in prison will not in reality become much (if any) better. Seeking the easy way out creates a moral quandary in that the reality of prison in California has not changed and the exodus to SNY has provided the pigs with more leverage to abuse and play nationalities against each other to the detriment of the whole.
I do not sympathize with SNY conditions nor do I sympathize with the conditions of GP. The fact that so many have to run to SNY has made the Green Wall stronger, since you in SNY have run away from your responsibilities. There are some very sorry so-called men in these prisons nowadays and I personally can do my time on the line or in the SHU as I will never allow the pig to turn me into a passive submissive subjugated sheep.
Sun Tzu's Art of War emphasized knowing one's enemy and I believe that a SNY's own worst enemy is one's self. There's still a lot of so-called hard core gang members on the line that say "I don't want to go here or there cause I got enemies." What ever happened to dealing with an issue on sight or leaving the matter alone? Particularly when there is no real substance to the basis in which one claims enemies. I do not have any prisoner enemies; this is silly and to claim such to a pig is sheer stupidity as it is to tell the pig you are a gang member. However, this seems to have become the custom. Wherever you are, grow up and be a man and take responsibility for your actions and quit depending on others to fight your battles. Simply educate yourself on how to use real strategies and tactics in order to learn how to be brave, fortuitous enough to gravitate to those who have a selfless desire to make a difference for all of our brothers. Bias and prejudice exuded by those around you only works against you in the long run. Until one learns to unite for the true cause and quit telling on self or others, the nonsense will continue. It's easy to spot agent provocateurs and quislings, and observation will expose the creeps for who they are. Prisoners are an open book and if you use your brain you can find out accurate facts and there is an old navy saying that "loose lips sink ships." It's a fact, people who think, do not follow, they cooperate for mutual benefit.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The snitching discussion has brought a lot of interest from readers and is integral to a discussion of organizing strategy. Another important question for those under state supervision is creating space for organizing. The purpose of control units is to elminate the space within the prison system where study and agitation can occur.
We warn against an ultra-left stance that leads one to accept years in a torture cell with no access to other people and limited access to mail and literature just so you can toughly say, "I never submitted." Comrades in control units have a hard time doing work, which is the whole reason the SHU was invented. Comrades also suffer mentally and physically in ways that can affect their ability to be productive even after release. So telling people to take SHU should not be done lightly and SHU should not be taken as one's "duty" to the cause when you are really just setting the struggle back.
Certainly, this writer makes correct points about working with the state and how that plays into the overall oppression of oppressed nations. And certainly, there are cases where submitting to torture in a control unit is the best thing for the struggle. But as we pointed out in ULK 13, many are finding themselves in a situation where those who promised to serve their people are doing the state's dirty work themselves. As this comrade recognizes, conditions in GP in California aren't more commendable than what's going on in SNY. It was the lumpen organizations following CDCR leadership that made SNY possible by what they did in GP. They pushed people so far that they were willing to snitch on something they were once willing to die for. This is the reality of the situation now that we must deal with. And in that reality, we find comrades on both sides of the SNY/GP wall. If we do it right this time and eliminate all this fighting between the oppressed then we will start to deal with the problem of snitching in a material way. This comrade gets it right when he says it is silly for prisoners to claim they are enemies for no reason.
Finally, we disagree with the claim that agent provocateurs and quislings are easy to spot. It may seem that way when you are surrounded by lazy, self-interested people, but that is not always true, and the most dangerous agents are hardest to spot.
For more on the morality of snitching, see our accompanying article discussing "The situational ethics of snitching."