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.
It is not uncommon knowledge; given you have internet access; that the South-Eastern Correctional Center (herein after referred to as ‘South-Eastern’ Plantation or SECC) is by far a reflection of the “Survival of the Fittest”, mentality; (distorted interpretation of Charles Darwin’s theory dubbed ‘Social Darwinism’) that the fascist pigs who run this country maintain, and it’s core beliefs was founded upon. Theodore Roosevelt in the preface to Vernon Kellogs; a German intellectual; book “Headquarters Night”, stated that “The man who reads Kellog’s sketch and yet fails to see why we are at war, and why we must accept no peace save that of overwhelming victory; is neither a good American nor a true lover of mankind”. Remind you, this is a book where Vernon Kellog states “The creed of the Allmacht of a natural selection based on violent and fatal competition is the gospel of the German intellectuals; all else is illusion and anathema”. Scary to think that our President at the time shared the same core beliefs that kindled the Holocaust!! Individual self-seeking in hopes to promote the good of society only breeds contempt and enmity amongst social-classes by separating that which is “We the people” into “they the people”, “We a people”, “There’s some more people”.
Staff-on-Inmate to Inmate-on-Staff ratio for assaults is mind-boggling. In a last minute attempt; due to a 5 min riot in February where 3-7 C/Os were hospitalized, one in critical condition and one in a coma; SECC and Plantation Master Bill Stange issued sham pretext investigations on over 67% of the facility to target, arbitrarily and artfully punish offenders who the administration has a certain disliking for. Individuals who were in no way shape or form involved in said riot; in order to obtain order and security of the facility, more commonly known and acknowledged as oppression and submission of the offender population. On top of violating Constitutional rights, protected liberty interests, and adhering to corporal punishments, the South-Eastern Plantation in retaliatory effort has minimized the camp population by over 50% and have re-administered long-term Administrative Segregation confinement(Ad-Seg). Two individuals have killed themselves this year, and 5 different hunger strikes have been done, in an attempt to obtain that which is our Constitutional right(s). The struggle against Ad-Seg isolation here continues.
The inhumane conditions, injustice, and complete disregard for policy and federal law here at the South-Eastern Plantation is amongst the worst in the ‘STATE’. The artificially empowered agents/employees/officials of the artificial state entity “Misery”(MO). Particularly those who work lope at the South-Eastern Plantation; with the blatant approval or blind-eye of Jeff Norman, Anne Precythe, Alana Boyles (Directors of MDOC); have taken to various different modes of divide and conquer tactics as a stratagem to warfare. One particular incident occurred on November 2nd, 2021 when COI PIG Ms. Reed rolled an offenders door without cuffing him upon request, and stepped aside so in the Ad-Seg. Unit he could stab a cuffed offender exiting from the shower. PIG Ms. Reed then directly thereafter allowed retaliation of another offender who too was handcuffed and shackled to the door. She is now on investigation along with the COI PIG Hood who before payed for an LGBTQIA+ trans male to female to be assaulted by another offender.
Minimized food rations, one state bar of soap a week in Seg, rec once a week, mice infested houses, free cases and beatings, SECC is in need of some serious outside attention. Us comrades here continue to fight Capitalism-Imperialism with our dying breath. We will not stop until we bring conscious awareness of the proletarian state and the science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. We seek a world without chains, slavery, and oppression.
Enclosed is the initial info on a grievance I filed on DOC for violating quarantine guidelines. I’ve since been transferred to a different prison. Only once I got here I realized that Chillicothe Correctional Center has the highest level of positive COVID-19 cases in the whole state. (285 infected) That was the last number as of 14 August 2020. We don’t get bleach to clean with, and I’ve only seen the N95 masks on a couple cops. I’m currently working on a chronological log to file on this institution as well.
On another topic. All over the state of Misery the Department of Corruption is manipulating our brothers and sisters to participate in a behavior modification program that to the best of my knowledge has a >90% recidivism rate. In our state it is called Gateway, yet it sounds like the program mentioned by an Arkansas prisoner on page 11 of ULK 70.
These monsters are pulling productive prisoners with no behavioral issues. Prisoners whose out dates are sometimes a year or more away. The machine is hungry, and we are the food. Yes we have a right to sign out. Only with the hefty cost of: they keep you just long enough to get your name on the “client” log. That log must stay at a certain number so that the grant money keeps rolling in from Big Brother. Of course, after that, this is where you may choose to stay; because the Department of Probation and Parole dangle our release dates in our faces!
If we “sign out” we receive a warm embrace from our paternalistic keepers by them giving us extra time on our sentence! My heart aches and my soul shakes for each and every day our brothers and sisters spend feeding the machine.
Here in Missouri we have a dependency problem. Drugs are so frequent and available. We have junkies so-to-say running the yards. Top members and others answer to the drugs. Not to the cause. As recently they tried to organize a strike against them fucking pigs. And again more hit and that’s all anyone really cares for. Especially in here. As this facility has a dark cloud over it. How can you not blame them for trying methods of looking for that utopia and bliss that drugs provide?
Even these people provide drugs, prescriptions to $ profit and experiment. But they provide mood altering drugs to keep us calm and pliable till we gain that true independence from them and that drug. We won’t be able to move on with the cause. And this new drug has got everyone. Even ones who used to have a clear head aren’t anymore. Could it be the man's way of keeping us docile. Hell the CIA did it, why not the DOC. The old saying: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. So I ask every comrade put it down for month on call. If you can't you might be a junkie! Be strong comrades, day by day our cause will prevail.
Today a lieutenant pig walked to the cell next door and the prisoner explained to the pig that ey was in Ad-Seg for assaulting another prisoner. The high ranking pig said "as long as you don't assault staff we're cool." And then ey walked away. I had to use much mental discipline to overcome emotion; understanding that this same misguided emotion has kept me and my comrades in these Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) Ad-Seg torture chambers for years.
Our kites are ignored, we have practically no access to grievances and it is only those strong in self-discipline who abstain from physical retaliation. Tactics I have often used to no avail.
There is a strong revolutionary presence in this Jefferson City Correctional Center Koncentration Kamp. Young comrades who, like myself, are gang affiliated yet well-studied and ready to stand up for a change. All we lack is an effective strategy that can truly unite us all. All I lack is the knowledge to properly form a United Struggle Within.
I am open to corrections, ideas and strategies from comrades and political prisoners more experienced and advanced than myself.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is providing an example for all, by contributing regular work writing and producing revolutionary art. We have sent em lots of letters and other material, but it appears to be largely censored. So, much respect for staying active in spite of this censorship. We print this letter to encourage others to speak on this topic. By sending in regular reports on your organizing you can contribute to United Struggle from Within's knowledge of conditions on the ground and strategizing efforts. There is much to learn through practice in action.
On our side of the bars, MIM(Prisons) offers revolutionary education classes (study groups), political literature, and resources to help form study groups behind bars, and other organizing guides. But this support isn't that helpful if we can't get it past the censors. This underscores the importance of our battles against censorship.
I read the article titled "Whites Can be Lumpen Too". I do not doubt that. But let me give you some insight on the race relations in Missouri's prisons.
The Caucasians are given job positions that allow them access to more resources, more mobility, more food and more canteen. While they turn around and make a profit off of New Afrikans and others who need what they have.
There is in particular one major racist "white" gang that functions in the Missouri Department of Correcions (MODOC) and this gang works directly with the C.O.s all the way up to the captains and case mangaers. This is not exaggeration, there is a couple pigz who have this gang's tattoo on their forearms! Yet the administration turns a blind eye to this.
So when it comes to unity how can you unite the population against the oppressors when half the population works for the oppressor and identifies with the shade of their skin over their prisoner status? They enjoy privileges like drugs, cell phones, food etc. that makes them feel closer to the staff than to the rest of the prison population.
Just last night me and six other comrades in the wing were having a discussion about Amerika, Russia and China's military bases spread throughout the Caribbean when we were constantly interrupted by a Caucasian prisoner banging on eir door. I am open to the idea of unity amongst all prisoners but the MODOC has done a thorough job of segregating us prisoners and forming a caste system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Our response to the comrade who wrote "Whites Can be Lumpen Too" agrees with this writer. It's no coincidence that white guards have racist tattoos or that white prisoners enjoy special privileges from these guards.
This country has a long history of national oppression. It started with the European settler nation, which has always been mostly petty bourgeois, bringing in oppressed-nation slaves to build the infrastructure of this country. The history of this national oppression continues today in a slightly more subtle format. The result for whites as a group is greater wealth, better education, better housing opportunities, better jobs, and on and on. And so even poor whites who aren't currently enjoying these privileges can look around and see that their peers, people who look like them, are doing well. And they identify with these folks, aspire to their wealth, and have a realistic shot at getting there. This is in contrast with the lumpen from oppressed nations who look around and see lots of folks just like themselves in the same shitty conditions.
Whites can be revolutionaries if they choose to go against their national interests. And it makes it easier for prison staff to set up white prisoners as the privileged group, helping keep the rest of the population in check by getting in the way of organizing and unifying. Organizers need to recognize these conditions and unite those who can be united; in this case the oppressed nations.
Love & Prosperity from behind enemy lines. It's been over thirteen months that I have been locked in the Segregation Housing Unit (SHU). I've recently been separated from all my brothers of war, and transferred to a new concentration kamp. And I tell you, this new plantation has these prisoners (slaves) domesticated. But I observed the same thing at my last concentration kamp, and look what happen to that plantation (it closed).
Re-education, and re-activating that radical recalcitrant is our duty, to those who have not yet awaken from out of the matrix. I believe that it is a necessity to constantly educate myself if I intend to re-generate The People.
As I'm currently committed to this mission, I also happen to find myself engaged in a battle with this new plantation staff. Whereas I have been at Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) for nearly a month, and these pigs are denying all policies and procedures.
First, I have been in the SHU my entire stay at JCCC. Since being here I have been denied my right to access the court afforded to all prisoners by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
I have been deprived from obtaining any case laws because the librarians are asserting that I do not have Qualified Legal Claim (QLC) on file. How can this be when I have a court date scheduled in two weeks?
Wherefore I've followed Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) and wrote the classification staff requesting to be approved for QLC, but you have a better chance of hearing a bird speak English than receiving a response back from a case-manager working in the SHU.
Jefferson City Correctional Center SOP 8-1.4 Access to Law Library Material
1. Offenders in a special unit may not be afforded direct access to the law library; however, limited access shall be provided as follows:
A. offenders in a special unit must show proof they are working on a qualified legal claim:
(1) Classification staff will verify this utilizing the Qualified Legal Claims Verification Form.
(2) Qualified legal claims will be reviewed at least once a year to ensure they have not expired.
It is highly unlikely that I'll receive any case law to further prepare myself before my court date. But to make things worse, I'm being denied my right to the grievance process. I requested an Informal Resolution Request form, to file on the deprivation that has been occurring. I have yet to receive a response or IRR, and this was three weeks ago.
Second, (Yes, there's more) Upon arriving at JCCC I have been furnished none of the necessities I require to stay in communication with the outside world. (pertaining to my address book)
Whereas we are not allowed phone calls while assigned to the SHU, at JCCC. Whereas, our First Amendment right guarantees us communication with the free-world. Me and my comrades are being denied this right by being unable to obtain our address books.
SOP 21-1.2 Administrative Segregation: Assures the we allowed to possess address books and sacred writing. In which me and my comrade were never provided ours from out of our personal property upon arriving at JCCC.
SOP 21-1.2 Administrative Segregation: Also provides that offenders may request property that is allowed in the SHU by submitting a request to classification staff.
I've already done this multiple times and have yet to receive a response.
Third, offenders are afforded Library reading material. This reading material is supposed to be circulated around by second shift pigs. I have been here a month and I have yet to see officers passing out books.
SOP 21-1.2 Administrative Segregation: (1) Library reading material should be provided in the unit in accordance with standard operating procedures.
Library books should be distributed weekly.
1. The Librarian will ensure the books for distribution are available in the unit, updating the selection on a monthly basis.
Fourth, SOP 21-1.2 Administrative Segregation provides that offenders should be permitted to retain prescribed general educational development workbooks or correspondence courses as in accordance with institutional services procedures regarding correspondence courses.
So I came to the conclusion that everything that is supposed to be entitled to JCCC prisoners, as asserted in SOP policies and procedures, is not being provided. This is just an aberration, for those who reside in the free-world and wish to know how the system is supposedly rehabilitating the so-called demented offenders. Because they are not following any of the policies and procedures laid out in their Standard Operation Procedures.
Furthermore, they're even denying me my right to file a grievance on their violations of policy. I wrote my beautiful Black Queens to have them call up here and tear them a new asshole, also I requested of them to call the central office to inform them of what has been occurring at their plantation (prison). I also wrote the central office to inform them of the deprivation prisoners have been experiencing in the SHU at JCCC.
Just another day on the battlefield: push-ups and pepper-spray. We hold the advantage. Due to the enemy's underestimation of the people. They characterize us as illiterate animals who'd rather be at each other's throats instead of detaching the leg from the body that presses down on all of the prisoners and proletarians' throats. We out-class the enemy on every level. Mass, fitness, age, experience (in guerrilla fighting), and even intellectual. But for some reason the vanguard is few in numbers. Unity among the oppressed has been dis-jointed. We have been deceived by propaganda propagated through the media and taught to us inside authoritarian schools. Consolidate with us Guerrilla Fighters (Young Radicals) and assist in helping dismantle the enemy that has been repressing the Blacks, Browns, Indians, and even the Poor Whites. Monopolizing capitalist economic growth off of prisoners.
To my young warriors, understand, just because we choose to engage the enemy in peaceful manner, does not make us peaceful.
"Attaining one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the pinnacle of excellence. Subjugating the enemy's army without fighting is the true pinnacle of excellence. Warfare should not be undertaken unless the state is threatened. Haste, fear of being labeled a coward, and personal emotions such as anger and hatred should never be permitted to adversely influence state and command decision-making. The army must not be rashly thrown into an engagement, thrust into war, or unnecessarily mobilized.
“If it is not advantageous, do not move. If the objective can be attained, do not employ the army. Unless endangered, do not engage warfare. A ruler cannot mobilize the army out of personal anger. The general cannot engage in battle because of personal frustration. When it is advantageous, move; when not advantageous, stop. Anger can revert to happiness, annoyance can revert to joy, but a vanquished army cannot be revived, the dead cannot be brought back to life."-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
As I require assistance from comrades in the realm of the free-world, please call up here if possible and demand action for the issues asserted earlier in this scribe.
- That prisoners in the administrative segregation housing unit be provided reading material from the Library; as afforded by SOP 21-1.2
- That prisoner in administrative segregation be provided educational material, when requested; as afforded by SOP 21-1.2
- Also, that prisoners in administrative segregation be afforded the opportunity to file grievances.
I respectfully request that you call up here at Jefferson City Correctional Center at (573) 751-3224 and Request to speak with Warden Ramey. Also call the Central Office (573) 751-2381
This is the first article I have written for ULK. I was especially interested in writing about the topic above because, all too often, I have witnessed how the 'gangster' type are eager to dictate to others how their mission is to bring unity, yet their actions and attitudes are completely misplaced. For instance, if we are to fight oppression within the prison system, how is extorting other prisoners, assaulting others, et cetera, a means to that end?
I am not, nor would I ever become, gang-affiliated. In my opinion, if a person joins a gang, it is because they are too weak to stand up for themselves. Prison has become a daycare. Whites sell out whites, blacks team up with whites and babies have babies. What the hell? I've met pedophiles who are ranking gang officials, and snitches are free to roam as they please. Nothing makes any sense anymore and, just for the record, any gang which encourages a prisoner to extend their sentences or which demand that parents of children perform acts which result in them not being able to see them, that crap is no better than the lowest of the lowly.
The things gangs in Missouri do and continue to do are stupid and their actions bring upon us all the oppression. Gang members in Missouri, though they continuously spout the B.S. about solidarity, unity and integrity are, in turn, the cause and continuing justification for our being oppressed.
Instead of fighting for our right to not be abused by 'the system,' Missouri gangs are the tinder with which the fire under oppression is fueled. For every instance of stupidity by Missouri gang members, we, as a whole, lose an integral part of the overall voice with which we need to be able to defend ourselves from the wrongs of the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This author asserts that "if a person joins a gang, it is because they are too weak to stand up for themselves." We ask in return: why is it wrong to seek out others to help you defend yourself? Lumpen organizations arose, on the streets and in prisons, in response to very real threats to the safety of oppressed nation people. It is not realistic to think that, in the face of institutional violence and attacks, or organized violence from other groups of people, one should stand alone. And seeking this help and unity is not a sign of weakness.
However, we do agree with this writer that organizations that require their members to engage in anti-people activity, or which engage in actions that harm the general prisoner population, are not friends of the fight against the criminal injustice system. There are many different types of lumpen organizations and conditions vary in different areas. In some situations staying away from L.O.s might be the best practice for anti-imperialists. But at this stage, to organize the lumpen masses, we need to be building unity between lumpen organizations where possible, not perpetuating the fighting that the prison administration encourages. We regularly print articles in ULK from comrades in lumpen orgs doing just this sort of building behind bars. This is the leadership we need to highlight and learn from as most of our readers in prison are in or have been in lumpen organizations..
I am a prisoner at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri. I'm currently being held in solitary confinement for our May 12 uprising against the oppression and abuse inflicted on us by the administration and guards.
For months, the administration had been keeping us locked in our cells for 23 hours a day, in population! Using excuses of "short on staff," we are only allowed to either shower or call our loved ones for one 30-minute session per day. Our one-hour recs are cut to 45 and 30 minutes consistently. The inmate barber shop is closed. Visits are canceled. Guards are verbally and physically abusive.
Until, on May 12th at dinner chow (2 hours late) at 7:30 pm, 288 prisoners participated in a mass sit-in, in peaceful protest to all of the injustices. Instead of answering requests for talks with white-shirts, all officers fled both chow halls and kitchen, leaving us locked in, and grouped outside the windows and taunted us. The sit-in quickly escalated into the largest "riot" in Missouri history, consisting of a reported $4 million in damages, with the complex being taken over and held for over 7 hours. Inside, only 2 people were attacked before leadership and unity were established.
Countless abuses and injustices followed our return to custody, including: remaining zip-tied for 7-9.5 hours, forced to urinate ourselves, beatings, double-celling prisoners in single-man cells for a week with no mattress or bedding, less than 1000-calorie daily diet instituted for the entire camp for over 70 days, etc.
Through all this, the administration kept up its tricks of sowing hate and dissension amongst prisoners in population by blaming the 3-month lockdown on us by actually naming us to other prisoners in hopes of retaliation). Visits were canceled, no canteen, etc.
However, those of us in confinement know the truth: in 2017, we had a mass race-riot of Browns & Whites vs Blacks, and less than 12 months later those same races, true those same prisoners, come together to fight in unity against oppression! Me and about 20 other comrades came together again in September 2018.
It is coming up on 6 months since our placement in seg and we are likely to receive another 90 days just for good measure, but we are still standing. There are 78 of us from the uprising in seg, and many of us belong to one organization or another. When we are released we will continue to spread and build on this unity that was formed under great oppression. We will carry this momentum to bring all prisoners together to face the true enemy!
We have seen and heard praise for our battle and victory in the struggle throughout other max securities in Missouri. There have been other uprisings that have followed ours at a couple mediums, (one was a race-riot, but with guidance and support those aggressions can be properly re-directed), and the administration is taking notice. The five principles of the United Front are taking hold in Missouri. We will do our part to learn, share, teach and uphold them as we struggle together in our war against oppression. I will do my part in not only spreading the message to mi raza, but others as well. Unity is the key! Viva la gente!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed some good discussion about these Missouri protests in ULK 65. This writer highlights what is most important about these sorts of actions: the learning by participants and observers about what prisoners can accomplish with unity. By building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, comrades in Missouri are building strength and unity, setting up the conditions for stronger actions in the future.
Vita Wa Watu! This is one essay on my tactics to recruit Brothas and Sistas for certain movements. Take the Day of Peace and Solidarity for instance. I sent out letters to those that have a Genuine Love for me and the Struggle and kept it real with them. I informed them that I would be fasting for the 9th day of September because it was a day that meant more to Oppressed and Lumpen than the Sabbath does to the Jews. I told them that that day is a day of Peace in the Prisons around the country and that it commemorated one of the biggest prison uprisings in the states, and also that it was the last day of the now annual prison strike.
Then I informed them that this Glorious Day meant that there would be no beatings, rapes, stabbings, or any violence of the Oppressed against the Oppressor and that it mean a lot to me if they would fast with me. I got a few confirmations and still awaiting others.
Also, I let the Brothers here in Ad-Seg know the meaning of this day. However, only one Soulja fasted with me. Nevertheless, the day was a success here at Northeastern Correctional Center. Stay strong, Comrades. I will join you again next year.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In ULK 64 we printed some early reports of actions on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity. We're happy to hear about this work going on in Florida.
And this is a good example of sharing your tactics for organizing and recruiting. The next issue of Under Lock & Key is devoted to this topic and we're seeking moreinput from readers about what's worked for you, and also what hasn't worked. We can all learn a lot from our practice and from the practice of others. Sum up your organizing experiences and send them in for ULK. See ULK 63 for our prior deep dive into this topic.
13 May 2018 — 208 prisoners of every race, background, group, organization, etc. said enough is enough! We came together and sat down in a peaceful protest. During dinner (chow hall) as usual the pigs not only violated our constitutional rights (First Amendment freedom of speech) but they also attempted to bully us by flex'n and threatening us. That's when our peaceful protest turned uprising. I wish y'all could have seen the way all the guards (C.O.s, Sergeants, Lieutenants, etc.) ran out the kitchen and chow halls. You would have thought they ran track! Who the cowards now?
For the first time in Missouri history we united. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity. In a matter of seconds we gained control of the kitchen, both dining halls, property room, canteen storage, the factory, forklifts, weapons, keys, phones, computers, etc. Well after a few hours the phones start to ring. Guess who's calling? The warden and highway patrol. For the first time they listened to our demands. They respected us. They feared our unity. They was at our mercy.
On our own terms we surrendered 8-9 hours later. After we got our point across.
Note: 90% of guys in our peaceful protest turned uprising have outdates ranging between a few weeks and 15 years. So only imagine if the outcome was the other way around. 90% of us could have been locked to the board (life without?).
Due to us striving so fast and hard we left administration not only confused but also emotionally off balance. Being that this never happened before in Missouri history they acted off impulse and violated every constitutional right you can think of. Which led to KC Freedom Project lawyers starting a class action lawsuit on our behalf against Missouri DOC. The media has been on fire regarding this.
Update? We still on lockdown! We still receiving brown bags (sack lunches). They say it was $3 million worth of damage. They making us do 1 year. We damn near 6 months in.
Administration is still up to their tricky ways. They have attempted to divide and conquer us by destroying all the guys' property that was in the hole and told them we did it. Also telling all the guys in GP it's our fault they are locked down still. So yeah the struggle continues.
By the way, there have been two other uprisings of this kind since we kicked it off. If we can unite here in Missouri where unity has never existed then any state can.
Another Missouri prisoner wrote:
It has been 13 months since the prisoners bonded together, Black, White, Native and brown (Chicano) and kicked off a riot at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, causing over a million dollars in damage. What did it accomplish?
Prison property got damaged that your families who are tax payers (and you too cause you pay taxes on your canteen items) are going to have to pay for the damages.
You injured one another with violent acts and all it accomplished is enemies, and lockdown of the prison.
Supposedly two housing units are to be cleared out for the creation of SHU units. They are supposed to lock up all the gang leaders and violent soldiers.
As of now, this is all just rumor, but every time Missouri prisoners show acts of violence via riots, the prison gets stricter. For example, the 1985 riot in the old Missouri State Penitentiary caused them to build a supermax housing unit.
When are we gonna learn that we are hurting ourselves more ways than one by these acts of violence? When I was advocating peaceful protests with demonstrations of how to shut the prison system down, nobody in Missouri wanted to participate. But you go off on your own and committed this no nonsense act of violence against your brother, your friends, your families, and jeopardized everyone.
It costs $85 million a year to keep the U.S. prisons up and running. The government is not producing this money to keep the prisons going. So where is the money coming from? Let's see now, in Missouri it's coming from Missouri Vocational Enterprise (MVE), the sign shop, the printing shop, the license plate plant (tag plant), the furniture factory, the chemical plant, information technology (IBM program), the braille program, the laundry, the cooled-chill plant (cold food storage), the shoe factory, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDot work release) and the newly implemented paneling factory.
The above-mentioned factories are multi-million-dollar industries per year. They are paying you pennies. So what a couple of these jobs pay between $150 and $300 per month. If you peacefully protest by refusing to go to work in these factories, either they are going to pay you at least minimum wage where you will be making at least $340 a week, or they are gonna bring in civilians to do the work, in which case the factories are going to have to be uprooted and moved because most civilians are not coming inside the prisons to work. So to shut down a beast like the U.S. prison system is to shut down their economy — that is, the very thing that's bringing them money to keep the prisons open is the very thing that can shut it down.
This just doesn't begin and end with the prisoners. The prisoner has to survive. He has to eat. So the people in the free world are going to have to support the prisoner financially. Family, friends, advocate organizations are all going to have to pitch in and support the prisoner financially. That means to stop working we have to buy food to eat. To stop using the phones and tablets, we need stamps, envelopes, paper and pens to write letters that cost money. So the free world must understand that for us to make these sacrifices, then society is going to have to make sacrifices to assist us.
So Missouri prisoners, society (family, friends, organizations, advocates, etc.), stop going about things the wrong way and do them like they should be done in order to get results.
I go home next year on parole, but I do not leave my fight behind. There is a bigger world out there, which means a lot more opportunities to fight. I am going to find resources and seek out that they join me in my quest to do away with this beast. I will need their support mentally, physically, spiritually and above all, financially. With this, Comrades, I hope to see you on the other side, working with me and supporting me from the inside and outside.
In struggle—In solidarity
Arm raised—clenched black fist
MIM(Prisons) responds: A lot of folks talk about how hard it is to get people to unite behind bars. The prison controls everything from day-to-day comfort to release dates. And that's powerful incentive to conform. Then they introduce drugs and other distractions to pacify the population. They pay off snitches to keep an eye on activists. And they lock organizers down in solitary confinement. Still, faced with all these barriers, prisoners can and do come together to protest. Conditions at Crossroads CC were bad enough to inspire this action. And while the outcome wasn't all positive, the class action lawsuit and attention of the public has forced the Missouri DOC to admit that prisoners are suffering significant restrictions due to short staffing.
The comrade criticizing this action for its lack of focus and random acts of violence and destruction is right that often these sorts of actions lead to more repression. Though peaceful protests are also often met with increased repression. This debate over tactics in prison protests is one that should be happening within all prisons across the country. We hope the comrades at Crossroads will learn from this action and move forward in greater unity towards future actions that will be even more effective.
Focusing on the economics of prisons reveals the ridiculous scale of the criminal injustice system. As the writer above notes, it would be a significant financial loss to the state if they were forced to hire non-prisoners for all the jobs prisoners are doing. And this is financial leverage that prisoner workers can use to their advantage.
But to debate the value of this tactic we need to first be clear about the scope of prisoner labor. The state of Missouri 2018 budget allocated the Department of Corrections over $725 million. About the same as the previous year, which was up $50 million from 2016.(1) The state would have to allocate even more money if no prisoner labor could be used to help run the prisons, or produce products that are sold to generate revenue. But that prisoner labor is still a small part of the total cost of running prisons.
As we showed from data collected from prisons across the United $tates, in general, losing prisoner labor would add about 10% to the cost of running prisons. Prisons are mostly subsidized by states' budgets. The labor from prisoners just doesn't come close to covering that cost. So while there is definitely economic power in those jobs, shutting down prison industries won't shut down prisons.
We don't aim to just improve conditions. In the end we know the criminal injustice system keeps taking away rights, doing what it can to make prisons a place of suffering and complacency. But this protest showed the people involved that they have the power to take collective action. As the original writer notes, the prison can see their downfall in the unity of the prisoners. This lesson of the importance and power of unity is what will hopefully fuel ongoing organizing.