www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.
Yesterday, National Public Radio (NPR) aired an interview with a former prisoner in Iran to discuss the recent release of 5 Amerikan citizens from an Iranian prison. The focus was on the horrible effects of solitary confinement and how to adapt to being back in society.
In our 2008 survey of long-term solitary confinement in the United $tates, we found that there were over 90,000 people suffering in those conditions. It is strange for the NPR story to not have mentioned this problem at home as well, or how the oppressed people in this country fair after years in torture cells. The NPR report spoke of “death chambers” in the Iranian prison, yet the United $tates has electric and now injection chairs with viewing areas and what they call “death row” in prisons across this country (though only about a dozen states are actively murdering prisoners in recent years).
The United $tates has long had the highest imprisonment rate across the world. They even boasted a higher imprisonment rate of Black people than the internationally condemned apartheid regime in South Africa.
The one-sided depiction of prisons and solitary confinement in Iran on NPR revealed a strong bias in their reporting. Yet what was most shocking to learn was that these people coming out of Iranian prisons were being offered what sounded like a fully immersive program through the U.$. military for dealing with the mental anguish of being in long-term solitary confinement.
Really? Yet every year we have comrades who are released from the same conditions in this country with nothing but a parole officer watching over them, often sabotaging their efforts to maintain a job and build a new life. Tens of thousands of people every year are released from long-term solitary in the United $tates, either into general population prisons or to the streets, with no concern for their mental well-being from the state. Who the U.$. imperialists offer mental health services to is a political decision, and it is our politics that guide us to offer help to those the imperialists will not.
As of last week, the California Mandela Act (AB 280) passed a supermajority in the state house and senate, heading next to the desk of Governor Newsom. Newsom vetoed the Mandela Act just one year ago. An aspiring presidential candidate, Newsom is likely to reject the calls from the state legislator to stop this torture again. This is over a decade after the historic California hunger strikes that called for an end to long-term solitary confinement, leading to the 2015 Ashker vs. CDCR settlement where those sacrifices led only to individuals being released from the SHU, leaving the institution in place.
For comrades currently suffering in torture cells in U.$. prisons, you can write to us for back issues of Under Lock & Key on solitary and materials from the American Friends Service Committee on dealing with isolation. For comrades who are getting out, who have spent long periods in solitary, our Re-Lease on Life Program attempts to offer mentoring, guidance and political engagement to ease the transition back into society. Meanwhile, we encourage everyone to get involved in the struggle to abolish long-term solitary confinement in this country completely.
Because over 100,000 people face torture in solitary in the United $tates every year with no imperialist Army programs for rehabilitation offered afterwards, we must develop independent institutions of the oppressed to address this material need among the oppressed masses in this country.
It’s uncanny how books fall into your hands at times. Recently my circle has been discussing the subject of prisoners of war (POW’s) in the United $nakes and, what do you know, a comrade slides me this book on a POW who died imprisoned, the Chiricahua Apache Chief Geronimo.
Going into the book I treaded lightly as biography type books are quite biased. Many of the tomes written on leaders of the oppressed within the empire tend to be heavily biased slander that amounts to imperialist propaganda. This book was written as an “Interview” by Barret while Geronimo was a POW at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I went into the book bracing myself for a book that would attempt to tell Geronimo’s story while promoting Amerikkkan ideals if even unconsciously. I was not wrong.
The subtitle of the book itself is an error: “The True Story of America’s Most Ferocious Warrior.” Geronimo was a First Nations warrior. America is the name of the white nation who stole the land it now occupies. The subtitle thus describes Geronimo as a member of this white settler nation which is ridiculous, as he fought against Amerikkka.
The first part of the book focuses on general Apache life with an emphasis on the mythology of the Apache creation story of origin. Steeped in the metaphysical ideas of a “God” and how a talking dragon would visit early ancestors. Sadly many of the world’s societies have such creation myths that are passed down. It highlights the need for a materialist approach to all we do and gives a glimpse of how the world would think if we were without dialectical materialism.
Part two, “The Mexicans”, answered a lot of questions I had. Here it describes how at one point Geronimo and his tribe traveled into “old Mexico” – as he calls it – and while the warrior went to trade in the town they returned to a massacre where it was reported that Mexican troops had killed everyone including Geronimo’s aging mother, wife, and three children.
I had often heard of Geronimo’s anti-Mexican sentiment, now I know why. Contradictions among the people continue today where oppressed nations fight for crumbs and leave devastation on either side. It’s disappointing to hear, knowing Geronimo’s passion for fighting Amerika it would have been beneficial for the oppressed to join forces and fight Amerika as this was in 1858, ten years after the U.$. war on Mexico and the birth of the Chican@ nation. Surely there was much resistance sparking and embers of resistance still burning.
I can’t stop to wonder had a united front of oppressed nations come together and resisted the U.$. how it would have resulted, add Black folks in the mix and it would be even better.
The first half of the book seemed to exalt Geronimo’s raids and murder of Mexican people. The first half has almost no mention of his war on the white nation, on which much of his reputation is built on.
Part three titled “The White Men” depicts various attacks and treachery when U.$. troops would call “peace” only to meet up and murder the Apache forces. At one point the Apache Chief Manigus-Colorado was called by the U.$. military for peace talks and assassinated. Geronimo seemed to be the only one who did not trust the U.$. troops or “white men” and thus never attended peace talks during that time period and lived through the treachery.
Chapter 16 titled “In Prison And On The War Path” was chilling to read. Here Geronimo contemplates war on Amerikkka and death. This portion of the book struck me more than any other of the passages. I feel his words and taste them internally. To me it’s as raw as it gets for those of us who are prisoners of war.
"In the summer of 1883 a rumor was current that the officers were again planning to imprison our leaders. This rumor served to revive the memory of all our past wrongs, the massacre in the tent at Apache Pass the fate of Mangus-Colorado, and my own unjust imprisonment, which might easily have been death to me.
“We thought it more manly to die on the war path than to be killed in prison.”
So much to unpack here. The mention of the leaders being imprisoned brought back memories of Pelican Bay SHU. The SHU was where leaders of the imprisoned oppressed nations in Califas were kidnapped and “imprisoned”. Taking leaders is a common practice of the oppressor nation. For Geronimo it triggered the Apache when they heard that their leaders would be kidnapped again. That’s a very traumatizing experience. I feel it. For those who have never been captured, tortured or kidnapped I can only say that the closest example I can give of Geronimo’s words here is that of a child who was kidnapped by a stranger, taken from their family and returned as an adult and then one day this persyn was either snatched again or told that another person would be kidnapped. Imagine the trauma this persyn would feel: the memories of being taken. The trauma likely became unbearable to the point that resistance, even resulting in death, must have seemed welcoming.
It seemed that every few pages Geronimo or his tribe would sign another treaty with Amerikkka. A lack of political investigation resulted in decisions based on subjectivity. As materialists we know that the oppressor will not relinquish power willingly, hystory has taught us that. Had Geronimo been a dialectical materialist he would have come to that realization much sooner.
Reading how the U.$. Army General Miles told Geronimo he would build Geronimo a house and give him access to cattle and provisions if he would simply stay in his place on the reservation was really revealing. Geronimo was a prisoner of war and knew it. Today many Chican@s and other oppressed don’t even know that we too are prisoners of war, for the U.$. war on Aztlan continues. We too are in a reservation called the United Snakes.
A low intensity war continues on the Chican@ nation. The U.$. government has always maintained an offensive on the colonies since the invasion was first launched, the offensive simply changes names, vehicle, and nationality, but its vision and operation remains fully intact. On April 20th, 1886 U.$. troops stationed in Arizona and New Mexico were issued this order by the U.$. War Department:
“The Chief object of the troops will be to capture or destroy any band of hostile Apache Indians found in this section of country and to this end the most vigorous and persistent efforts will be required of all officers and soldiers until the object is accomplished.”
If one were to substitute the word “Chican@s” instead of “Apache Indians” this statement could have been written last night. Insert the dreaded “gang member” which the colonizers love to use to vilify oppressed nations youth survival groups and the statement may be even more authentic to today’s mission. The pigs are tasked with accomplishing this mission in their war on the poor. Political groups or parties claiming to work in the interest of the oppressed here in the Snakes who do not move in ways that acknowledge this program of protracted soft war on the oppressed while conducting their work in the field in the so called interest of the colonized reduce their efforts to crass concerns of proletarian morality.
Today the state is resuming its offensive to “capture or destroy” hostile indigenous people (Chican@s, not First Nations in this context) and as the statement says they are obligated to do so “until the object is accomplished.”Their vigorous and persistent" efforts today amount to the KKKourts, three strikes, “gang” enhancements, hyper-policing, and of course murder and assassination to none but a few.
It is not that Chican@ people are dimwitted and without comprehension to grasp we are being attacked and targeted. What muddies the water is to see Chican@ or Black pigs carry out this program of “capture or destroy” which works in the state’s interest to disguise the ONGOING onslaught on our people, that have stopped since 1848 and before, as one long chain of oppression the state may employ Chican@ Toms and Black Toms as actors, but it is a state operation, that is: a program of white supremacy to maintain white power.
At the end of this book it’s a shame to read about Geronimo converting to Christianity to which he describes associating with Christians will “improve my character”. A warrior reduced to surrendering to the oppressor. Metaphysical thought like Christianity has not “improved” the character of the oppressed, rather, it has worked to subdue and pacify even one of the “ferocious” warriors like Geronimo. There’s even a picture of Geronimo in his Sunday best with the caption “ready for church” at the end of this book.
This was an interesting book that teaches one of the injustices committed by Amerikkka against indigenous peoples; but there are also lessons of how a warrior can (through the brute heel of the oppressor) become broken and surrender, and in doing so lead much of ey’s people into the abyss of plantation-minded Amerikan apologia. I needed to read this book at a time of extreme repression in my own life to re-energize and I think you need to read it as well. To die on the war-path for liberation . . .
On Sunday, 28 May 2023, Santa Clara County Main Jail went on full facility lockdown shortly after pill call when evening program (out of cell time) began.
This is not all that unusual by itself, as Main Jail goes on lockdown on average 10 times a month, often more, as it is facility policy to lockdown the entire complex for ANY disturbance, almost as if they fear a replay of the Attica uprising in September 1971 or the Lucasville uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in April 1993 (which I could see being a distinct possibility).
Yet what was different about this lockdown was the guard taking off at a sprint out of our unit after screaming “lockdown!”, before making sure we all were in our cells locked down (which is against operations protocol). We could see out our unit door to the 7th floor control booth where the guards rushed by into the elevator to get to wherever the incident occurred (our Main Jail is a tower complex).
After getting back to my cell, the guards who came by to do their hourly checks were extremely close-lipped and stone-faced which they usually aren’t after their usual “reindeer games” of hosing down with O.C. spray and prying apart lumpen-on-lumpen conflicts (they’re usually giddy after getting their adrenaline fix).
The next day we knew something “big” (at least in the pig administration’s eyes) had occurred when all GTL tablets were confiscated from prisoners without a word as to why or when they would return.
Persynally, this was only a minor inconvienance, as the only thing I really use my tablet for is to use the phone app in the privacy and quiet of my cell, as the “edutainment” platform “Edovo” on them is full of bullshit and bourgeois drivel aside from several collected works of Marx and Engels though even those are contained within a course with video lectures from the bourgeois perspective of a Yale professor.
It wasn’t until after reading an article in Wednesday, 31 May 2023’s San Jose Mercury News(1) and hearing whispers gleaned from the looser lipped pigs that the full picture started to come together.
A prisoner in one of the protective custody units on the 6th floor had taken his tablet, busted it down, and out of the smashed wreckage was able to make a “crudely made knife” as the article called it, and with said knife assault two pigs with it.
Of course the bourgeois media reported the usual drivel from the sheriff’s office, that it was a “shocking and unprovoked attack”. Knowing the hystory of Main Jail in recent years, from the 3 pigs who beat mentally ill prisoner Michael Tyree to death in his cell, to the recent report of the mistreatment of another mentally ill prisoner Juan Martin Nunez at the hands of pigs and medical staff in the psychiatric unit on the 8th floor of the jail which in the aftermath left the prisoner paralyzed, this seems highly unlikely.(2) Oh and don’t forget their usual closing line, “Our correction deputies (sic) play a critical role in maintaining law and order within the correctional facilities and this attack serves as a stark reminder of the risks our deputies (sic) face daily.” The lumpen can see these for the fearmongering lies they are.
In the aftermath many crafted grievances to attempt to get eir tablets back, which I decided finally against as the assaulting of 2 pig guards along with the problems comrades across the California gulag archipelago (as well as across occupied Turtle Island) are having with their facilities’ worthless grievance systems made a win highly unlikely.
Instead, I spent the time trying (actually with some success!) to get my collection of revolutionary literature (by comrades George, Mumia, Maroon, etc and all my MIM literature) out to the masses of New Afrikan, Chican@, white, and Asian/Pacific Islander comrades who suddenly had nothing to occupy their in cell time. Many finished books/zines from my collection, some only read an article or two from ULK, but it was all-in-all a positive outcome.
On 21 June 2023, the tablets were returned, with the pigs now lording over them and having to fill out a checklist every morning and night to make sure all tablets given out are returned to the charger carts at night. Yes, it took them almost a month to come to this “brilliant” idea.
While many have gone back to eir program of zoning out on their tablets all day, I am happy that at least a few have had eir interests piqued and luckily just before another organizing opportunity, Black August.
Notes: 1) Austin Turner, 31 May 2023, “Sheriff says inmate attacked 2 deputies”, San Jose Mercury News. 2) Robert Salonga, 12 May 2023, “Jail report angers county leaders”, San Jose Mercury News.
Thanks for sending the Power to New Afrika booklet. I am still studying and understanding the knowledge within it. Before I pass it along, I would like to speak about some stuff I read today in ULK 81. It’s about inflation and commissary prices.
I have been incarcerated for 15 years for seeing people get killed and refusing to give information to detectives. Anyhow, prices for the basic things a human being needs I have seen skyrocket over these 15 years. #1 I am in solitary confinement, which means I do not have a job and I can only spend $60 at the prison’s canteen [in California]. This 60 bucks can’t go too far when generic brand or no name toothpaste is 5 bucks, one top ramen noodle is 50 cents, a deodorant is 4 bucks and some change, purchasing bags of chips for 3 bucks and half the bags are empty. The items that the prison sell we can purchase at the 99 cent store for a $1.07. It is simply robbery. Prior to me being sent to solitary confinement, back in 2019, Top Ramen soups were 20 cents and a Dial roll of deodorant was a dollar.
I have been a cook in the kitchen, yard crew, building and education porter. I worked for free in each job I had except as a cook in the kitchen I was paid 11 cents an hour. I work from 12 noon until 8pm five days a week. I had to prepare food for over 600 inmates in four buildings. We were getting payed once a month and my checks after 55 % was deducted for restitution was only between 10 to 13 bucks each month. If I still had this job, all I will be able to get from the prison canteen is a deodorant, toothpaste, and maybe a bag of chips. Ridiculous. Most jobs in California prison are not paying jobs. I shoveled snow at 5AM at High Desert State Prison. I cleaned building at North Kern and cleaned bathroom and police offices at Salinas Valley, I cleaned showers and Corcoran State Prison and couldn’t even receive an extra dinner tray. I was payed 0 dollars.
When we refuse to work for free, cops, they take our privileges; no phone, no yard, no packages we receive a write up which also messes up our board hearings. What some in society do not understand is just because I am in prison doesn’t mean I should be degraded, humiliated, and worked to death for free labor. These are all extra punishments. When the punishment is being incarcerated away from our family. This is the actual punishment.
Due to inflation and being in solitary for 4 years, even though I spend my $60 at commissary once a month, that $60 truly doesn’t amount to anything due to the high prices for items that are not truly worth it. Being in here we still are forced to spend because the prisons do not give hygiene products and we are not allowed packages as if we were on the yard. In the SHU you get 1 bar of soap a week, 5 sheets of paper, 1 toilet paper roll, and some tooth powder. So as you see we truly need to purchase items from the prison and I know that they are truly aware of what they are doing. And in order to even spend 60 bucks my family has to send me $120 and I still owe restitution. I’ve been in prison on different plantations for 15 years and still have not paid off all this restitution. I am not rich.
This is why they need to pay more for every prison job. This prison industry can afford to pay us minimum wage. Before my incarceration, I was receiving $6.25 an hour working retail. And a prison can never run without prisoners who are incarcerated. But this is how we are treated. Prisoners cook, clean, do construction, pain, tutor, clerks, grounds keepers, and so much more.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has historically separated General Population (GP) prisoners from Sensitive/Special Needs Yards (SNY) for safety and security. Traditionally those who were convicted of high notoriety crimes, or who suffered “past victimization” or those who were informants or former Security Threat Group affiliates were housed on SNY. Yet, over time, the SNY population skyrocketed to the point of overcrowding. SNY facilities became increasingly violent, stigmatizing those “sensitive needs” designations.
To address this, CDCR developed Non-Designated Program Facilities (NDPFs) – an inclusive housing model created supposedly to mitigate stigma and allegedly help promote and advance CDCR’s rehabilitative objectives. One brave brother filed a “writ of mandate” with the California Supreme Court for Sacramento County on 30 September 2022 ordering the CDCR to immediately cease and halt reintegrating “sensitive needs” prisoners into general population, and from transferring GP prisoners to Non-Designated Program Facilities.
I am one of many prisoners housed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), solitary confinement and have been written up and now face receiving additional time and will risk being transferred to a higher security level hundreds of miles from my family. My RVR (write up) reads that i am an immediate threat to the safety of self and others and that I “endanger institution security.” Since me refusing to house on a NDPF isn’t sufficient enough to retain me in Ad-Seg lock up, now the officers are claiming that i told them that i would assault their child molesters on NDPF yard.
The court found CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison’s enforcement of the NDPF policy in violation of the APA (the Administrative Procedures Act). Therefore the policy is an “underground regulation” that is void, entitling Villarreal to relief. The court granted his requested writ and prohibited Allison and CDCR from furthering and implementing the policy until “properly” adopted by the APA. see: Villarreal v. Allison, Cal. Super (City of Sacramento) Case NO. 34-2021-80003779.
So Allison has a non-discretionary duty to refrain from implementing the uncodified NDPF Policy, the APA mandates that “the rulemaking agency must comply with the law’s provisions” or the rule is void.
So here we have a victory. Thank you brother Israel Villarreal! Without struggle and sacrifice there can be no progress nor advancement. Allison is specifically required to examine and study prisoners before classifying them, the court said, but the NDPF Policy is analogous to the classification scheme in Stoneham v. Rushen (1982) 137 Cal. App. 3d pg 729. where prisoners successfully challenged an uncodified classification system as an invalid underground regulation.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has officially converted the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF) into the Department of Crime, Corruption, and Racketeering (DCCR) where newly appointed Warden James Hills is at the helm.
On 27 March 2023, the RJDCF DCCR head wrote:
“Effective March 27, 2023, due to increase in levels of violence (2 attempted murders) with significant contraband finds (37 weapons, 27 on person and 10 uncontrolled). There have been 3 deaths on Facility C inmates due to illicit drug activity and 37 documented administrations of narcan. Institutional program shall be modified pending completion of essential searches”
This was used to implement an institutional lockdown masked behind modified program.
Behind this arbitrary contention, however, is an attempt to protect the overall image of CDCR and to continue to hide facts from the public that, the illicit drug activity in question is, and has been for many years now, actually an illicit drug operation orchestrated and maintained by those employed to work here inside RJDCF.
Despite clearly identifying inmates imposing violence, possessing weapons, and requiring the administration of narcan due to repeated drug overdose, no effective methods have been able to control or even minimize the illicit drug usage and operation because it is all by careful design. The extent of such design is now so widespread that it directly impacts those like me who don’t use, sell, or otherwise have no interest in such. It gives the illicit drug trade here, and it’s many members, direct control over not just me, but more so, my access to mental health and rehabilitative programs, services, and treatments.
To divert attention away from the fact that CDCR headquarter’s officials have put those like me at risk by willful blindness, in allowing employees they hired to work inside RJDCF, to infiltrate the institution, flooding all five of its facilities with an array of fentanyl-laced drugs, prisoners and our families who sacrifice to maintain visiting with us, are the patsies.
We are locked down for search by some of the very employees responsible for this illicit drug operation, restricted in movement to suffer the harmful effects from prolonged confinement in isolated, vexed and annoyed from constant exploitation, and hindered in our mental, emotional, and rehabilitative prosperity because of a debauch penal institution which causes more harm than help.
Instead of pumping millions of tax dollars into RJDCF to continue to enable this illicit drug ring, consider efforts to close down this cesspool. Or infiltrate the infiltration with federal undercover agents in disguise as CDCR employees, or even inmates for that matter. Otherwise these illicit drug operators will continue to be allowed by CDCR to profit from criminal enterprise while holding us all under siege, while hide behind the color of state law, and prove to all the world that crime does pay, but only if you’re a CDCR employee.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We must build independent institutions of the oppressed to meet the oppressed masses needs of rehabilitation. Programs like our political correspondence study program, Revolutionary 12 Steps program and Re-Lease on Life program are some examples of such institutions that we need your help to build. This comrade is correct that more action is needed to counter the state-sponsored drug trade plaguing prison systems across the United $tates as well.
The Bay Area is the latest site of Our all out legal war against digital-mail prison profiteer Smart Communications. San Mateo County, located on the peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose, instituted the MailGuard system used by Florida-based Smart Communications in late 2021 in its county jail. The county had the second lawsuit to date brought against it for its use of the system. The first was filed last fall, which alleged (validly I’m sure) exposure of private communications between attorneys and their clients to correctional guards.
The new lawsuit filed last week by an extremely influential legal coalition including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Social Justice Legal Foundation and Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute aims to get a judge to declare the mail system has violated its subjects’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. Ultimately the aim is to order the county to stop using it and purge all retained electronic mail records. Record requests by San Jose-based civil rights group Silicon Valley De-Bug have shown scanned mail is retained and able to be accessed by jail staff for seven years according to the contract, even after a persyn has been released from jail.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an exciting addition to the legal team involved in the assault on this totalitarian surveillance system. Formed in 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor, this international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, CA got its original financial backing from Mitch Kapor and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The EFF has handled (and won) many high profile cases against companies like Google and Facebook, but its most famous case (its first, that also led to its creation) preserved forever in historical hacker lore, happened in early 1990 against the U.$. Secret Service for its illegal raid/search and seizure operation of Steve Jackson Games. This was one case of many happening at the time across the United $tates against alleged hackers spurred along by a state and federal task force code-named Operation Sundevil.
Steve Jackson Games was raided due to complete incompetence by Secret Service personnel who thought a handbook for a role-playing game by Steve Jackson Games called “GURPS Cyberpunk” was actually a handbook for computer crime, sort of a hacker’s version of the Anarchist’s Cookbook. The winning of this case started EFF’s promotion and defense of computer and Internet-related civil liberties.
While the case against San Mateo County’s use of Smart Communications mail system has not been decided yet, We the imprisoned lumpen can only hope that the plaintiffs which number 5 prisoners at San Mateo County Jail, several family members, and Oakland-based artists collective ABO Comix, pass up on any instantly gratifying concessions offered in settlement like what happened in the Ashker settlement in the aftermath of the California Hunger Strikes and see this lawsuit through to its glorious conclusion.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We have published a series of articles in recent years addressing this new trend in complicated digital mail systems that just make communications with the outside world more difficult and more censored. Across the board the main reason given for these systems is to prevent drugs from entering prisons. A recent report from a comrade in Hughes Unit in Texas on the continued rise in fentanyl deaths from K-2 brought in by staff reiterates the hypocrisy of this claim. Meanwhile Hughes Unit remains one of the biggest censors of mail from MIM Distributors in the state of Texas.
We appreciate the focus of these organizations on the importance of connection to family and community and welcome them in the battle against Smart Communications, JPay and other digital mail vendors profiting off of prisoners and their families while imposing a surveillance state on all of us.
The Governor of California has decided to rename San Quentin “Prison” to “Rehabilitation Center.” This is just one more appeasement given to the millions of Californians who have suffered the injustice of incarceration. Politics has no more place in the justice system than religion has in government. However, the injustice system remains more political than the legislative branch.
Governor Newsom’s play at “restorative justice,” AKA rehabilitation for “some of the less dangerous criminals,” is as false as his smile. For instance, the old lady that was hypnotized as a child by Manson to commit a murder of someone famous has been granted parole (found suitable for release from prison) no less than 15 times by a board of experts in evaluating that kind of thing (Parole Board). However, Governor Newsom, who is not an expert, has taken it upon himself to deny (veto the Parole Board’s decision) each and every time!
That is only one instance where this two-faced politician has denied parole to people. This makes clear that Newsom’s notion of rehabilitation is purely symbolic. Nothing more than the smile; handshake of Satan himself.
Funny, this morning on the mainstream news, Mike Pence is accusing the Manhattan District Attorney of politicizing the law for charging a former President Trump. Funny, politics in the law? How can a prosecutor have so much power to arrest a former President of the United $tates? Funny because these same rich assholes gave that enormous power to prosecutors and police and judges when it was used to arrest the poor man. But now that it is used to arrest the rich man, it is politics?! Did these rich people really think that if they built a monster that the monster could be controlled? Did they really think that the injustice system would only be applied to hurt and kill poor people?
Pence and Trump should not be surprised now. Politics have always been part of the law for the poor man. Despite the image of a blindfold on Lady Justice, the proletariat knows all too well that the law is political. Now the injustice system monster will show its ugly belly to anyone and everyone because that is how much power the pigs have been given.
Perhaps now we can see what California Governor Newsom’s motivations are in pretending to abolish prison. Is he afraid of the monster he created? We all heard him say on T.V. that he is tired of paying the trillions of dollars his prison industrial complex eats up.
His notions of restorative justice are a little misplaced though. Rather than educate prisoners he should be defunding his prison system monster and putting the trillions back into the community – after all he can’t have his cake and eat it too. But that seems too much to ask of the Devil. He already said his rehabilitation is only for some and “not the more dangerous criminals.”
Anyone with half a brain knows that the real cause of crime is poverty. Poverty caused by the trillions of dollars going to the police and prisons and not to the community.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree that all prisoners are political. The state paints itself as being an arbiter of blind justice as this comrade states, when in reality it is the tool of one class to use against others. That is why real change requires changing the state from the hands of the bourgeoisie to that of the proletariat, not just shifting tax money around from prisons to more social services.
In my research of Chican@ novelists and storytellers I stumbled upon this book by California Chican@ author Art Rodriguez.
What grabbed my attention initially was that the Author was also an ex-prisoner, as a youth he spent time in Juvenile Hall and the California Youth Authority (CYA) and specifically in Preston School of Industry where I also did a stint in as a rebellious youth.
The cover art was interesting, it was done in the genre of “Aztlán-realism” which is a style developed and coined by California prisoners which focuses on the social reality of the Chican@ nation rather than bourgeois vomit art. Aztlán realism displays our reality while raising consciousness. Rordiquez really delivers in his cover art by showing a one time landmark of San Jose, Califas which is the Jose Theater. The Jose Theater was a theater in downtown San Jose frequented by Chican@ lumpen youth. In the 1960’s the author states movie tickets were 50 cents and that up until the 1990’s tickets stood at a buck or two. Poor barrio youth had an alternative to the streets at an affordable price.
The author also shows an incarcerated Chican@ on the book cover, again, a true depiction of Aztlán: colonized and imprisoned. Although the story “East Side Dreams” is a childhood story of the authors’ life in San Jose, Califaztlan and Rodriquez could have chosen to depict bikini-ied wimmin on a local sports team to warm up to the local Chican@ petty-bourgeoisie who would rather pretend that captivity is not part of Aztlan’s social reality. Rodriquez brings Chican@ mass incarceration front and center which is refreshing.
Reading East Side Dreams brought back so much memories of my own childhood. Cruising around and hanging out with the homies, picking up and just being a Chican@ youth is all there. It’s very clear that Rodriquez didn’t concoct his stories from being raised in some ivy league prep school. He could have been one of my childhood homies, especially when he writes:
“Driving during 1966, sometimes the guys borrowed a car from someone or would take a car without permission. That’s what I would do occasionally.”
The lumpen continue in this tradition of “taking” without permission on a small scale. The lumpen may “take” from other lumpen, especially here in the $nakes where lumpen are not the lumpen of the third world and thus have more material items at hand. But this sentence reveals some truth – the lumpen will not ask permission. It is a “ballsy” lot who are most likely not to ask for permission, we will witness this during a future civil war I’m sure.
The author reveals he is the product of a Mexican migrant father and a white mother who met at a dance hall in the Barrio in East San Jose. As a result he hints at the national oppression that came with this union. For example, his mother’s white father (who was ironically raised himself by his white mother’s Mexican migrant boyfriend) who would tell Rodriguez’ white mother Mildred not to go to the dances because he didn’t want her to interact with the “bad people” (these were Chican@-Mex dances). Sadly though, Rodriguez does not analyze this and unpack why this national chauvinism (“racism”) exists or how it affected him and his homies growing up amidst it. This reveals that Rodriguez’s choice of either not wanting to “take his book there” (political courage), or not having the political consciousness to crack that open for us all to see.
It was nice to read about his mom opposing her father and siding with Rodriguez’s migrant father, eventually marrying him, having children, and even learning Spanish to communicate and to nurture Spanish in her children. As appealing as this biography was to me in depicting barrio life, I must say the parts describing being in the concentration kamp was more interesting to me.
Rodriguez describes a scene where he’s being taken out of Juvenile Hall by a “Chican@ guard” who reveals information to him whereas the white guards were menacing to him. It was interesting that Rodriguez objectively identifies the pig as a Chican@. Most would not, our mistreatment and oppression likely would have many identify the pig as many things but not Chican@. It is true that people identify as they please; a person can assimilate but without knowing what they identify as we can also identify what we perceive them to be (i.e. a blond hair, blue eyes white man or a New Afrikan womyn, etc.). We may not be right, but it’s our initial perception. A pig can be a Chican@ or a Chican@ traitor; but a Chican@ nonetheless.
It would have been nice to read a more political take on this book, but it was enjoyable to read a Chican@ novelist who does not bend to subjectivity in his novel and I look forward to review his other books available.
I am writing you today in response to an article you published in your Winter 2023 edition of Under Lock & Key No. 80. It’s true grievances don’t work, but it’s not just in Nevada where this is the case – it’s also here in the California Department of Corrections (CDCR). They have become callous and adept in covering up their wrongs; or find some minor significance in order to deny or just throw out our grievance and hold their green line even when they know that it’s a heinous act, which one of their own is committing.
Such is the case here at California Medical Facility (CMF) where C.O. Clark has been subjecting god awful pain and suffering on an aging population by running a gulag with temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s throughout the night. Pouring rain and broken windows are in every dorm. C.O. Clark insists on turning off the heater and running the swamp cooler full-blast all night long which has had a detrimental and highly damaging effect on my sciatica. I have spoken to him on numerous occasions but all my talking, explaining, and pleading falls upon deaf ears. What he is in fact doing is operating a gulag here at the California Medical Facility and freezing out the senior/aging population.
This man is a sadomasochist who finds pleasure in inflicting physical and mental pain on the prisoner/patient population simply because he can. I assert that it’s all in retaliation for grievances made last year against Sgt. Perez and Sgt. Huston which I used in support of my thesis of abuse by CDCR under the Color of Law here at CMF in a paper to Solano C.C. in my ENGLISH004 class with Professor Therriault which earned me an A in this course.
All this has resulted in causing me horrific amounts of pain. It’s a tragedy that a man like this should be allowed to wear a badge and be given so much power and authority to torture human beings and unleash such sadistic punishments on a graying population of prisoners/patients such as those of us here at the California Medical Facility. The true guilt and culpability lies with his superiors who are fully aware of his actions and legitimize his narcissism/tyranny. I say this because he has been 602ed for his cruelty of freezing-out the population but staff either cover it up or condone his actions through never acting on said 602 (i.e. Grievance Log #349915/filed 1/9/2023). Both him and his superiors need to be held accountable for their disgraceful actions.
I write this in solidarity with my brothers in Nevada: you are not alone in this struggle. And we also have been dealing with oppression and marginalization by Euro-Amerikan subjugation being subjected to through the so-called self-help groups such as RISE run by LSA (Life Support Alliance). It’s all the same oppressive conditions which are a result of the constitutional based involuntary servitude issue (all which is used with bias) that the legislature and repressive justice system refuses to address. This is negatively effecting the lives of ALL incarcerated people.
MIM(Prisons adds): We received a series of grievances and responses from multiple comrades at CMF regarding this issue of the swamp cooler being used to freeze out prisoners. The response from Reviewing Authority D. Hurley was that this never happened. The comrades then submitted grievance petitions to the department documenting staff “reporting deliberate false information (DOM §31140.6.1).”
The USW campaign to “Demand Our Grievances are Addressed” began in California and continues in California and in many states across the country. The question is can the imperialist United $tates ever provide a functioning grievance system to the people it holds in captivity? The majority of the people being of the oppressed nations occupied by imperialism means the ability to abuse with impunity is part of the ongoing repression of those who have fought for freedom from U.$. imperialism for hundreds of years. The fight for grievances to be heard, as is the fight for national liberation, is a fight to end these oppressive conditions.