Snitch strategy backfires
When will prisoners stop repeating the same errors? I'm referring to the different examples where prisoners declare and promise to be the ones to contribute to change prisoners violations, inhumane conditions or prison problems? Then you realize that everything was only a trap. You burn your brain out trying to figure out how you became an oppressor, an enemy of prison change, or prison progress. That bunch of idiots who you thought were down/hard core prison reformers or revolutionaries, as always turn out to be only real cowards, or snitches. Functioning under lie after lie, to control you somehow.
Under the prison system, prisoners are turned into oppressors. A recent example is a group of prisoners devoted to snitching. They keep their Laundry List, as it is called, of targets for repression. They operate under sentencing guidelines 5K1.1 that has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. Under this guideline, they receive preferential treatment in exchange for snitch info. Prison informants usually turn in false information to the prison administration so they can get away with disciplinary infractions or other kinds of illegal actions.
Other city homeboys and I decided to infiltrate the snitch group that claimed they were against prison gangs, even though the group itself was acting as an undercover snitch prison gang that wanted prison protection in exchange for snitch info. They took it to another level: they turned in false info to the administration to lock up gang members or any prison group they feared, violent or not. If you didn't want to be a snitch you would end up in Ad-Seg, on lockdown, usually under false info. So now many sit in Ad-Seg, misclassified to prison gangs they never belonged to. The only way to get out of Ad-Seg in Texas is to denounce a gang. How do you denounce a gang you never belonged to?
Let's recall some of the Texas prison struggles. In 1974 the Texas prison system had no prison gangs, but officials had "Building Tenders" (BTs) carrying out all kinds of violence against other Texas prisoners. The BTs acted as prison guards dressed in white prisoners uniforms. They were allowed to get away with anything, even killings.
In 1976 the first Texas prison gang popped up, promising to go against the BTs, in an act of retribution that would present a better challenge for prisoner rights. The honorable United States Judge William Wayne Justice decided to abolish the BTs system, under a federal court ruling. With the BT system dead, other prisoners in Texas formed themselves into hostile prison gangs.
At the same time racist riots popped off across the Texas prison system because each cultural group was against each others' strategies to defend prisoners' rights. A "we got the better strategies for prison reform" mentality blossom up because "my" race or city is always better than "yours."
Today in the 2000s this group is the New Building Tenders. Yet their snitch, or rather false info, tactics against other prisoners has now backfired in their face because the ex-gang members continue to grow and have become a group that can't be placed in Ad-Seg unless they return back to their old gangs.
Once a Laundry List is turned in with all kinds of prisoners' names, 99.5% of the time they are placed in Ad-Seg. So the snitches proclaim to be doing a great job against Texas gangs. The prison system refuses to classify them as a gang so they cann't be placed in Ad-Seg as long as they stay in line.
Under the sentencing guidelines 5K1.1 methods, it allows the government (in this case the prison security threat office) to recommend a downward departure from the guidelines. In this case disciplinary reports given to prison informants, in exchange for substantial assistance provided to the government by a prison informant in the prosecution of others.
The availability of a benefit by cooperation with the government (prison administration) can create a strong incentive for a criminal defendant (prison informant) to exaggerate or even fabricate false info against another prisoner, which is usually acted upon without real facts or evidence.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Most lumpen organizations(LOs) have their origins in youth from a certain group banding together in self-defense. Originally, it was always self-defense from the oppressor nation who terrorized them to keep them outside of the labor market. Once the prison boom launched off the backs of the oppressed nations, then the need for self-defense from constant state harassment and brutality was needed. But the broader the organizations of the oppressed were, the more they were targeted for repression and destruction, leaving only the small, narrow-focused groups who were more easily turned against each other, especially after crack cocaine was thrown in the mix to create real economic competition between the groups.
Amerikkka has always repressed LOs because they represent a power of the oppressed that is independent of the state. When mere membership in an organization triggers the state to throw you in a torture cell, you must realize that something serious is going on.
Many people on all sides recognize that the struggle and strife between LOs got out of control a long time ago. Many among the lumpen have been critical of their current and former affiliations. As we said to the LOs in the last issue of ULK, the best way to stop snitching is to run an organization that the oppressed can respect, especially if you are recruiting people by claiming to represent the struggles of the oppressed in some way. Criminal organizations will never have a shortage of snitches, especially when the state is much more powerful than them.
Another issue brought up in this letter is the emergence of "anti-gang" organizations, which is not an uncommon thing. The writer asks how we can stop repeating the same errors and getting fooled into following false leaders. Well, the answer is by studying and establishing principles based on your studies that you always follow. One key principle of the anti-imperialist, or anyone hoping to serve the oppressed, is not to collaborate with the oppressor's state. That principle would prevent anyone with genuine intentions from joining a snitch group like the one discussed here.
Traditionally, Marxism considers the lumpen to be a fickle ally. They are often at the forefront of conflict, but have served many different class interests. Their lifestyle and conditions promote an individualism that is easily translated to snitch behavior. Note that the unnamed group discussed here is reportedly large and diverse and this story does not necessarily represent all groups going by that name, which is indicative of this individualist, fickle nature. As this comrade also points out though, among the oppressed, the snitches are the minority. So with good organization and correct principles, the interests of the oppressed will win out.