What I did as a communist and on probation: 2006-2015
I emphasize greatly that I do not intend to romanticize my experiences while keeping true to my communism and being on probation. It was not a romantic existence being in sort of an involuntary political vacuum and underground. During this time, my political work was severely limited. I did not partake in rallies, forums, strikes, etc. Unfortunately I had to eventually internalize that the best way to fight against the system was to survive probation. Every day for nine years was excruciating hell for me, my comrades, and my family.
My letters from jail, prison, and the "outs" are full of such depression, melancholy, outright anger, and all sorts of ambivalent emotions. Obviously a lot of more people have it worse than me, but for those nine years I could only do my time. Even during probation, jail, and prison; at the best of my circumstances (almost at the cost of my life, friends, and family) I was very devoted and very biased in favor of supporting struggles of working-people, People of Color, the poor and the lumpenproletariat.
My only contribution and commitment to the movement came to only keeping notes on the Prison-Industrial Complex, keeping up with contemporary news, and reading up on Marxist Theory, and History.
For better or worse, my socialist credo kept me clear of reoffending. I have been a communist since 2004 when I joined a revolutionary youth group and later its parent group. I, with another comrade, was elected to represent our respective departments in the student senate. I was also in other activist groups on and off campus. At the age of 24 I plea bargained to guilty without a jury trial to using the computer to facilitate a child sex crime.
Right away after being charged, my face was all over the news. I voluntarily left the party and discontinued as a student senator. Amongst radicals and communists, it is not easy to be convincing that it was a sting operation and there was no victim. Some feminists would argue I was being reactionary, misogynistic, and anti-communist due to my actions.
I served a total of nine years probation. I was originally given three years and 90-days on an ankle monitor. Because I made some minor infractions of probation rules, I was incarcerated from 2008-2010. I did not offend, but served time in jail off and on for minor probation occurrences.
In Wisconsin, when a sex offender is on probation, every move one makes, mental and physical is under a microscope by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WIDOC). I had to see my probation officer once a week. I had to respond to questions such as "If I have been around minors", "If I have taken drugs or alcohol", "If I was around parks, schools, or where minors typically frequent", "If I had sex with a member of my peer group." etc. She did not ask these questions every week, but it was disciplined into me that I would have to automatically bring anything up that the WIDOC needed to hear. They would even make me keep a masturbation log and record what I fantasized to. I was also polygraphed 8 times to see if I was telling the truth. For most of my probation, I could not use a computer, cellphone, or internet. This made it hard to finish my history degree without a use of computer.
I had a fine network of friends and family to help me through it. Dating, networking, keeping up with news, was very hard without a 21st century device. For one instance, I had to finish my senior thesis on Sri Lankan communism on a typewriter and have a colleague type it up on a computer! I was not the model probationer. Due to my arrogance, naiveté, belief that I was wronged, I was revoked once and jailed many times. I was put on a probation hold for a number of occasions. Being revoked does not mean I reoffended with another crime. Revoked means I did not follow probation rules and I had to be incarcerated. This means losing one's "street time" and doing probation all over again. I was revoked for two years and had to do five years of probation.
One cannot have sex, a sexual relationship, however defined, without DOC approval. The chances of finding someone, being okay with my crime, and willing to meet with the probation officer is very slim. I defined this as a "state-issued girlfriend." I did not have this luxury during probation. Many sex-deviants do not want to date due to the extremely strenuous circumstances with the WIDOC.
But within the duration of my nine years, I did a lot of reading up on deviance, sexuality, the bourgeois notion of family, and Marxism. I hope my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors give one a clue on how ridiculous Americans overact towards sex offenders. I realize how such a sensitive topic sex offenders is dealt with in academia and so reactionary it is dealt with in the mainstream press. I only know that a better way is needed to treat sex-deviants and non-sex deviants alike need be done with facts and figures rather than sex-steria. I kept to my socialist ideas, no matter how one thinks I compromised them, destroyed them, or foolishly kept them. My exuberant sense of humor, zealous optimism (challenged at many degrees), stubbornness, knowing the system, kept me going. It takes a lot through treatment, conversations with PO, in jail, probation, prison, to keep true to my politics.
I, like every human on the planet, am a product and by-product of my societal surroundings. This is where we get social cues, clues, habits, thought processes, and where we get our class from. I read up on different countries (primarily Stalinist countries) and how they have dealt with the concept of deviance. I primarily read up on the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), popular justice in the People's Republic of China (pre-1980), the Soviet Union, and Cuba. I kept up on theory with Merton, Quinney, and other ex-convict criminologist mentors. I continued to read up on contemporary and historic happenings and sent for radical bookstores for socialist newspapers. I took notes and worked on writings on a contemporary communist position of the revolutionary role of the lumpen. I put together some notes for a manifesto of "Dragon Battalions" made out of class-conscious criminals and social-deviants.
I also had to participate in Sex Offender Treatment (SOT) run by a so-called "law and order conservative." To me, it is part self-criticism session and part Catholic confessions. I did not disclose myself in SOT or in probation as a communist. I would not be on the outs if I did. At one point, since treatment did not know why I was failing polygraphs, they called me the "most dangerous man in [XX] County." I had to attend several different SOT groups due to my unequivocal nature of probation.
I also tried to start up a socialist prisoner group called "Samizdat: Socialist Prisoners Project." The SSPP was designed to send radical literature to prisoners and be a more direct movement. Because of my arrogance I snuck through a couple months without the WIDOC knowing of the SSPP. I ended it as soon as I was banned from computer use. Upon the closing of SSPP, the WIDOC still did not know of it. Due to a bit of arrogance and indifference, I listened to Radio Havana Cuba (RHC) on a shortwave radio. I even wrote to the radio station, heard my letter read on the air and received parcels from RHC. I also wrote the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (north Korea) and received some books. Who knows if the WIDOC found out, what state of affairs I would be in?
The boogeyman of the sex offender is a product of the contradiction of the ultra-sexualized, ultra-puritan, police state standard-operating-procedure of the USA. I do believe sexual abuse is harmful; I am against rape, as well as the societal cannons of chauvinism, sexism, racism, bigotry, misogyny — all stemming from capitalism.
I am still serving a life sentence due to be stigmatization and even registered for another ten years. The WIDOC knows my email, where I live, my phone number, my Facebook accounts, and the car I drive. I have to disclose my crime to possible future employers. I have to disclose my past to future relationships. While on probation I made a small service to the revolutionary cause. I wrote hundreds of poems, and published four books.
Without the use of a computer, I finished my degree in History and Sociology. I co-authored a paper about the life of a sex offender partaking in college. I was inspired to be a convict criminologist researching and observing so-called criminal deviant acts from the view of the incarcerated and recently incarcerated persons.
I am currently writing a political memoir of my experiences of treatment, jail, prison, and probation. I am now in many leftist organizations including SSPP and my past socialist group. I am working towards a Masters in Criminology and for workings of a formation of the freedom armies of tomorrow. I am currently occupied in the solidarity front of the Wisconsin Dying to Live hunger strikes. Mentally, I am left paranoid, colder, distressed, with social-effective disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, anxiety, depression, scared, and insecure of forming close relationships and doing some political work.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade does a good job describing the difficulties that face former-prisoners on the streets. In the case of someone labeled a sexual deviant there are even more challenges. These difficulties face all parolees and require a strength of persynal conviction as well as social support to overcome. This is why we are building our release support program preparing our comrades years before they get out. And why we emphasize setting up structures on the outside that will lead to a sustainable life. This will make it much more likely that folks can stay politically active on the streets.
We want to clarify that we agree with this writer's implication that it is society that conditions people to be "sexual deviants," and in fact creates a hyper-sexualized culture and then condemns people who respond to it with arousal. We recognize the power differential between adults and youth, just like that between wealthy and poor, or male and female, as something that creates an inherent inequality in a relationship and a power dynamic that makes full consent to sex impossible. Because of this we agree with the line that says all sex is rape. There is no perfect sex as long as the system of patriarchy exists. Because of this we don't put sex offenders in some special group more condemned than those who steal from the people, deal drugs to the people, or kill people. Instead we are clear that any action that harms other people by using power over them is unacceptable. But we do not recognize the Amerikan criminal injustice system as an authority to judge people's crimes. The people running this system are the biggest murderers, thieves, rapists and drug dealers in the world. Only when we have eliminated imperialism and established a dictatorship of the proletariat will we be able to mete out justice for the people by the people, and help those who really did commit crimes against the people reform to become productive members of society.