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.
First I would like to thank the comrades willing to study and struggle with Abolitionists From Within (AFW) here on C yard for having the heart to step out and shake hands with the different ethinc groups and put an end to the hosttiliites with peace on their tongue during Black August. Our study group has been growing throughout the cells here at High Desert C yard, despite many setbacks of harassment from the pigs here and there. As I continue to share literature with the comrades and this year's study group, I introduce them to MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). I remind every comrade that everyone's struggles are different (state of mind). If you know what the problem is our job as comrades is to help come up with solutions to combat the problem for our comrades. But in order to do anything to advance the struggle we must be organized in order to help one another, we must set triablism to the side! And set aside all of our differences as well as our past beef and come together collectively in an effort to accomplish our goals: Peace, Unity and Growth among the oppressed masses.
Wake up young Afrikan! Put an end to this madness. September 9th Day of Solidarity is just around the corner. Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move for the second year here at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica (1971) by coming together in solidarity. This year we put the issues of today on the table:
Who is your neighbor? Always remember racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. And AFW, USW and MIM(Prisons) are all in agreement with anti-imperialism!
What will help us improve our material condition? First we must start off with our neighbor, each one teach one no matter the color.
Understand the prison system. The system operates through criminal justice institutions, but functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control.
Comrades, wake up! Understand the racial caste system; they don't require racial hostility or overt biogtry to thrive, they need only racial indifference. Wake up young Afrikan! Mass incarceration in the U.S. is a comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social system. Cormades, help me help us organize and advance our struggle forward for peace throughout C yard.
Comrades, Peace and Solidarity
(i will also be following up with our report of September 9th activities)
For our Agreement to End Hostilities we reach out to all colors, all genders, all ethnicities. In this struggle, if we can satisfy the interests of the other parties while meeting our own, that is best. Yet a blind following of fixed views of one's identity can undermine any assurance that either party will honor an agreement. It's hard, but we must learn to understand how to see our thoughts with thinking. Identity can prove more a liability than an asset if we drive with our eyes closed.
Internationalism is Needed to End Hostility
We must liberate the oppressed from identity politics first. We may be unaware of the political landscape, which leaves us vulnerable to being exploited. A leader may impose a narrative on us, and create feelings of division between us and others. Second we may cling to a negative identity, defining who we are as against the other side and rejecting anything they propose. In an extreme situation, we lose all semblance of our own identity, identifying ourselves only in terms of opposition to the other side. Third, we may feel excluded from the decision-making process, further dividing us from others. Finally, we may feel like a pawn trapped within an unfair political system.
Currently at New Folsom, staff are creating divisions leading to dangerous situations. When they read letters agreeing to help us, they may withhold this mail, or give it to another prisoner whom they believe will help them carry out their own personal perverted agenda. These inmates are called snitches, liars or PSU/SHU collaborators who speak against human rights. These inmates are encouraged to write to our families, women and supporters with the intent to disconnect them from us. These actions create very dangerous situations, creating the desire to punish these men for working with the administration. These games are being played throughout the state of California, targeting prisoners who have taken conscious steps to resist being casualties of this low intensity psychological warfare. Warfare that is rarely seen or recognized by the everyday citizen. We must find ways to monitor our incoming and outgoing mail. If we ever want to truly stand for the UFPP principle of Independence, we must have resources independent of the enemy.
by a California prisoner July 2016 permalinkDear Friends,
I am a prisoner at Mule Creek State Prison, Ione, Cali. I've been here over 2 years. The medical here sucks. There was another prisoner in plain view on the yard having a really bad seizure. All the medical staff just walk very slow. But when a CCI fell out they ran here in the quickness. So I know that the R.N.s and CNA can run. But cause I am at the most shittiest prison we get the shittiest medical treatment. 10% came here as SNY, like me, cause we got tired of the politics and just want to program.
I have a pending lawsuit against the law librarian Arno Nappi, who is only allowing me access to the law library once a month. I'm not Ad-Seg, SHU, etc. I'm confined to my cell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for non-disciplinary reasons.
I'm not the only one. There are five of us and we are medical patients in a medical unit.
I am an EOP (Enhanced Outpatient Program) prisoner, I live in a pod/building with all types of other inmates, levels I, II, III, IV. I leave the building and go to groups to learn how to cope with my mental health symptoms every day.
Recently I talked to my clinician/psychologist about bringing up in some of our groups the simple, but powerful subject of name-calling.
I see people every week leave my building (B-3) with suicidal ideations, cut wrists, head wounds from banging on the wall, because other inmates (EOP/Not-EOP) in the height of these peoples' distress, will yell, whoop and promote that person's self-harm, loudly onto the tier thus driving these guys insane, sometimes bleeding, and taken out in handcuffs.
Currently, I am the one being picked on daily. It is unbearable, yet I easily find peace in knowing that the people doing it, spend their time very unwisely, whereas I am writing to colleges, Buddhist Sanghas, and political organizations, educating myself and standing up for the rights of those of us that are locked down.
It is not right, to continually torment people, especially the mentally ill, from morning until night or at any time of the day.
And it is absolutely sickening because these little cliques of inmates all say "god bless you" to each other join the prayer circles, then come back and treat sick people unkindly, and antagonistically.
Right now, because of this I am getting together a letter to send to major bible publishers, urging them to save a section preferably in the front pages, addressing the type of conduct a person should have when dealing with and encountering all types of people daily in life. I know it explains this in the bible, but people be getting lost in the scriptures and stories, thinking they're doing righteous tasks when in actuality the way of life they lead is neither noble, nor righteous.
MIM(prisons) thank you for being my positive outlet.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for taking a righteous and positive approach to these negative conditions. It is by leaders like em standing up to make a change that we can put an end to oppression in all its forms.
A couple weeks ago I had an incident at work with an "Uncle Tom", and some of it was due to his "kiss ass" attitude at work. Although I had this issue, I had to check myself from further incident with him by remembering MIM's position that we do not promote violence, and in fact are a peaceful movement. To do what I had in mind would have contradicted that. Reading many responses on our study group discussion, including mine, helped me stop and check myself.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We like to highlight examples like this because, while anecdotal, they indicate that our work does reduce violence between prisoners of the United $tates. We note this as our recent issue of Under Lock & Key was rejected for everyone in Fresno County Jail for "tending to incite or promote racism, violence or any other prohibited conduct." And a comrade in California State Prison - Sacramento just had eir study group material censored for the second time ey tried to enroll; even though ey receives all other mail from us without incident. It's just some essays on the economics of the U.$. prison system, yet many prisoncrats fear it, while they promote ignorance and infighting.
I just received your 50th issue of Under Lock & Key, and I can tell you that I haven't seen an issue like yours. An issue that isn't afraid to speak its mind about the real issues in our Chicano and Black communities.
There was a section from a prisoner in California talking about a book called Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán where he brought up a good point about prisoners on the SNY yards. I have been on this side for about a year and I came over here on my own, not for security reasons, but simply because the "leaders" of the struggle I believed in weren't leaders. They were selfish and one mistake and they would turn on you. We are not only oppressed by the system, sadly we are also oppressed by our own Raza.
Now to the Agreement to End Hostilities. In my point of view it contradicts every aspect that they preach. Now everybody who died, who caught a life sentence for the struggle they believed in was all for nothing. Take a second and think about that. There are people who are in prison serving a life sentence for killing an individual who opposed his views and beliefs. Now they expect him to be the best of friends with these same people? How does that make sense?
Now you guys reading this might say "He is only saying that because he's SNY." Well, for 4 years I was active and I have seen both sides of the fence. Not everybody over here is a snitch. There is more unity here than there is on the mainline. You see raza from North and South united where it doesn't matter what part of the state you're from.
If you want to end oppression it needs to start in the streets and not in prison. It needs to start by teaching our youngsters about our culture. Educating them so they can move beyond the ghettos. If you can prevent one from getting into a gang that's one less individual in prison. I think that is the only way to unite and fight against the oppression that exists in this country.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Saying that the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) is hypocritcal based on the past goes against the United Front for Peace Principle (UFPP) of Growth. We must allow for growth and evolution of individuals and organizations if we want to see unity among the oppressed, because the old way didn't work. There are major contradictions between LOs still, and between different housing units in California. But we see these as contradictions among the people. Which is why we stand behind the AEH, and think those old wounds can heal. It's been four years, and there's still a long way to go. But people are putting in the work, and in some locations we've seen real progress.
We understand the lack of trust that some have for those calling for the AEH in California. But we say to those people, the ones who truly want to end oppression as this comrade does, isn't the AEH a step towards what you want? Even if you don't trust certain individuals, the more we do to promote the spirit of the AEH, as well as the principles of the UFPP, the closer we get to replacing the old order with a new order based on unity of the oppressed.
I'm writing your office regarding the problems I and other inmates are experiencing here at California State Prison - Los Angeles County (CSP-LAC) with this Corrections Officer (C/O) named T. Hasley. This C/O is the type of C/O Brother George Jackson was talking about. The one who walks around the prison with a little rules book in his ass pocket. This MF just come out my cell, he search my cell like everyday in retaliation and conspiring. I have written to the warden, the administration regarding this C/O and the problem I'm experiencing with this C/O. This issue continues to escalate.
Friday I was at a 602 hearing about this C/O lying about my (6) cubic ft of property and the 1 extra cubic ft allowed for legal paper work. This C/O came in my cell five minutes after the legal search to retaliation, so I got at his supervisor about the problem. His supervisor became very agitated once he was faced with several issues causec by C/O T. Hasley's intentional stupidity. Sgt M Fernardo had refused to address the matter and deliberately condones it. By stating I'm not getting in the middle of T. Hasley issue, I have better things to do.
From approximately 7:45 A.M. on 6/1/2016 to 10:10 A.M. no correctional lieutenants were summoned by unit staff. No report was made to the supervisor about failure to let me out for recreation. He also try to get me to snitch for him. That's what started the problem, I would not snitch for him. I have filed numerous complaints. Unfortunately I have been incarcerated within this department for several years. What the problem seems to be from my viewpoint is that due to my SNY status, I'm not afforded the same respect or dignity one would experience if housed within general population. I won't bore you with the number of incidents in which I personally have been disrespected by staff due to my current placement. There is no doubt that this same attitude prevails outside the ranks of custody, retaliation seems to be the norm for standing up and asking only for what we are guaranteed by due process and following the rules and regulations. I strongly believe that without some sort of intervention, I believe this C/O will keep up his wrongful acts. You know CDC convenient tactic. Like we all know they have been using it for years and it will not change at all.
Well comrades, I must stop and apologize to all. I fell back into the street life, I had no place to live, I could not get a job, so I went back to the old habits. I have no family support. I came back with 12 years to do. These things are very important in the post release: a place to live, there's a lot of people that come back because of this. We also need to help find comrades jobs already lined up so they can touch down running. Also if there's anyone like me, x-gang members, felon, tattooed up, it's very hard.
Please put me back on the list for ULK. I'm no longer an active Crip, I'm going to college in prison. I am now on the SNY yard because of dropping out. It's hard to have a political life. It's easy in here because we have a place to stay, but when comrades touch the streets, life moves very fast and I was too slow to keep pace. So I'm starting over. I want to get right. One thing I do know is the imperialists must not win.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade echoes the theme of most submissions to this issue of the Re-lease on Life newsletter: life on the streets is hard after prison! We agree with this writer that we need to set up serve the people programs to help our comrades hitting the streets. Jobs and housing are a priority. We don't have the resources to do this right now, but these programs are part of our longer term goals for the MIM(Prisons) Re-lease on Life program. And this is a way that people on the outside can get involved. Help us seek out existing resources that new releasees can tap into, and build the groundwork for programs we can set up independently. As a first step, if you know about resources in your area, send us information so we can share that information with others. Anything that you find useful will probably be useful to others: how to get food stamps, where to find temporary housing, places that help finding jobs, etc. Until we are able to build our own resources we can at least offer our newly released comrades some help with finding some of the existing services that might help them get along on the streets.
This is a question which all communists must ask themselves at one point or another of their revolutionary careers. Furthermore, it is a question which has essentially dominated the International Communist Movement (ICM) ever since that movement became a real contender on the world stage. Suffice to say that there has never in essence been a more important question to ask and correctly answer within the ICM itself other than patriotism or internationalism? That said, the concepts of patriotism and internationalism are not mutually exclusive phenomena forever separated by the same great impassable divide of ideological difference, rather, patriotism and internationalism as properly understood by communists are dialectically interconnected concepts that we must struggle to unite.
Sometimes general, sometimes particular, but always of universal importance, the concepts of patriotism and internationalism represent different aspects of the subjective forces whose task it is to carry out revolution both at home and abroad. Focus too much on one and you run the danger of making an ultra-left mistake. Focus too much on the other and you will not only be committing a tactical mistake, but will be guilty of committing a right opportunist error. What comrades must understand however is that pushing the revolutionary vehicle towards a bright communist future isn't necessarily about making the decision of patriotism or internationalism. It's about both. This is the topic which the following essay will attempt to explain. Thus in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism — but are there other ways for us to apply internationalism within nation-specific projects?
Contrary to how this quote has been narrowed down by some comrades, applied internationalism isn't only about each nation fighting their own battles and hoping that anti-imperialists from other nations will be astute enough to recognize the tactical opportunities of our fight and hence get in where they fit in. Internationalism is about extending our hands and providing assistance to our comrades whenever we can and offering lesser but equally important means of support when other avenues of help have been closed off to us.
Point in fact, MIM(Prisons) can't physically and persynally reach out to every prisoner on a one-on-one level. But it has a bi-monthly newsletter that goes out to the prison masses as well as a Free Books to Prisoner Program, a website created in part to help facilitate the needs of prisoners across the United $tates and document abuse. It runs study groups and most recently help put out Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, a book that will help to build public opinion for revolution in North America by agitating in favor of the Chican@ masses. Not to mention the other nation-specific and internationalist projects which it has been responsible for spawning.
Another excellent but largely forgotten and ignored example of applied internationalism being practiced outside of a nation's own borders is how the Cuban masses under the leadership of Fidel Castro volunteered to cross the Atlantic to fight alongside the Angolan people in their struggle of national liberation against Portuguese and Amerikan imperialism. This act took place for a variety of reasons, but perhaps none more important than the sheer anger, disgust and solidarity which Cubans felt at the sight of imperialist bombs falling on Angolan heads. It could then be said that this sacrifice on behalf of the Cuban people marked a development as well as a leap in the revolutionary consciousness of the Cuban nation, both because they were willing to give up their lives in the service of another oppressed nation and because with their sacrifice they helped land such a strong and decisive blow against colonialism, while simultaneously helping to detach Angola from the imperialist framework. It could therefore be said that this action on behalf of the Cuban masses was equally, if not more significant than the Cuban revolution itself. This is just another reason why Cuba holds such a special place in the revolutionary hearts of oppressed people everywhere.
This now brings us to a recent debate initiated within the California Council concerning USW's potential contribution to a certain nationalist project, and a certain comrade's apprehensions/objections about the role of USW vis-a-vis the national liberation struggles of the oppressed internal nations, as well as the exertion of influence on USW by revolutionary nationalists operating within that organization. In eir argument the comrade in question took the position that no one nation should be forced to take part in another nation's struggles, citing that this would be tantamount to one nation co-opting others to do its job for them. That said, no nation should be allowed to control another nation's destiny or make decisions for other nations that are integral to the liberation of the latter as this would in effect mark the beginnings of a neo-colonial relation on a certain level. Furthermore, the comrade also made the statement that "USW is not one nation united, it's multi-national." Now this may be true, but the correct definition for USW is the following:
"USW is explicitly anti-imperialist in leading campaigns on behalf of prisoners in alliance with national liberation struggles in the United $tates and around the world. USW won't champion struggles which are not in the interests of the international proletariat. USW will also not choose one nation's struggles over other oppressed nations struggles."
And from the pamphlet The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons:
"Rebuilding the anti-imperialist prison movement means uniting all who can be united around the common interests of the U.$. prison population in solidarity with the oppressed people of the Third World..."
So while we should definitely be in agreement that no nation should be forced to participate in another nation's struggles and that no one nation should be allowed to come up at the expense of another, this does not in any way mean that USW, or the California Council in particular, should be disallowed from initiating proposals and passing resolutions that will support and lend assistance to nations or nation-specific organizations represented within or outside of USW. The nation in question can either accept the assistance or not. This method of action and participation will ensure that USW retains its United Front mass organization character by preserving the unity and independence of all USW comrades and affiliated organizations. Indeed, USW, like all other organizations, has a dual character. Unlike most other organizations however USW's duality is complementary and it is not an antagonistic contradiction. While it is true that USW is a mass organization created to represent and fight for the common interests of all prisoners as a distinct social group, it is also a launch pad for the national liberation struggles of the oppressed internal nations in which comrades can cut their teeth thru revolutionary organizing, and from where they can then go on to initiate and lead national liberation struggles on behalf of their own respective nations.
This is what USW, as an anti-imperialist prisoner organization, should be about: the internationalism of prisoners breeding revolutionary nationalism, and revolutionary nationalist projects breeding internationalism amongst the prison masses. This requires more than each nation blindly going its own separate way. It requires unity of action and unity of discipline. As such, it would seem then that what we have here with the comrade in question may be a problem of perspective. What some might see as internationalism others might perceive as a contradiction. What some regard as mutual assistance others will call co-optation. For those of us having this problem of "perception" however, we would be wise to be cautious not to let our own love for our nations blind us to the plight of others, as sometimes what this fear of "co-optation" really translates to is our own fear or refusal to participate in another nation's struggles. Thus, we should be aware of how our own nation's struggles, as well as our failure to act on behalf of other nations, can affect the ICM, lest we degenerate to the level of narrow nationalism.
Since this question of whether or not USW should participate in a variety of nation-specific struggles seems to be one rooted in perception, let us take a closer look at the supposed pimping of nations that would take place if USW were to decide to work in the interests of a distinct national project. As has been the current practice thus far, nowhere at all has this resulted in one nation's struggle being taken up to the detriment of another. But let's just suppose that this is the case, then maybe ULK should just stop featuring articles that promote the struggle of one nation or another so that we may ensure that no comrades from any nation feel as if they're being pushed into the background, or that their nation-specific article is forced to share space on the pages of an internationalist forum that also represents one nation or another, lest these comrades begin to feel "co-opted."
Just because Mao Zedong said that in wars of national liberation the nationalism of the oppressed nations is applied internationalism, it does not justify our lack of adherence to other internationalist principles. This is a guiding line of real communism and should likewise be seen as a line of demarcation for all revolutionary nationalists claiming the mantles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Applied internationalism is about more than just fighting your own nation's struggles and we should never forget that. To give an additional hystorical example, when Amerikan imperialism attacked Vietnam the People's Republic of China aided the Vietnamese by providing all types of supplies including food, money and intelligence. Most activists of the time believed this was not enough and that the Chinese should've provided troops as well. We wonder what the previously mentioned comrade would think about this? Perhaps ey would say it was too much and that the Chinese were already guilty of co-opting Vietnam's national liberation struggle and how dare anyone suggest that the Chinese become more involved? Of course, in a possible revolutionary future we can even envision a myriad of situations in which the internal semi-colonies will be forced to coordinate and work shoulder-to-shoulder to oust Amerikan imperialism from their territories. Or would this too be a case of one semi-colony co-opting the struggle of another?
The Palestinian campaign initiated by USW last year is yet another internationalist project that is now shadowed by question marks, at least according to that one comrade's perspective. Perhaps this was simply incorrect practice and "a waste of USW's time"? As previously stated, while we agree that no nation should be forced to contribute to another nation's struggles, we also believe that no comrade should feel as if they're being "forced" to participate in another nation's struggles. As such, maybe these type of people aren't so much for internationalism as they sometimes claim to be? Because Mao accomplished and wrote so much on the national liberation struggle of China many have erroneously come to believe that ey was a nationalist first and a Marxist-Leninist second; but this view is wrong. Mao loved eir nation but ey was a Marxist-Leninist first and foremost who recognized the liberation of China as only a small component in the global struggle for communism.
Choosing and deciding what internationalist struggles one can participate in besides those that are explicitly national liberationist exclusive to one's own is both a tactical and strategical question that is dictated by the struggles and conditions of the time. Lacking a clear and coherent reason why not to participate is indicative of a national chauvinist political line in command. The USW Palestine campaign was a fairly easy campaign to initiate due to the current stage of the struggle and most USW comrades' material conditions. Other struggles will take more time and consideration to implement, while some might be outright out of the question. Excluding the labor aristocracy, there is a reason why revolutionaries from Marx to Mao championed the slogan: "workers of all countries unite!"
We struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people or we don't struggle at all.