Prisoners Report on Conditions in

New York Prisons

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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.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Censorship] [Abuse] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 11]
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Kkklinton Censors Article then Cracks More Skulls

Under Lock & Key No. 10 page 11 has been found unacceptable for the following reason:

"page 11 violate guideline IIE of Directive 4572 as they allege that an inmate at a New York State Correctional Facility was being mistreated by New York State Department of Correction Staff. It is the opinion of the Media Review Committee that this article, if introduced into a correctional setting, could incite disobedience toward correctional personnel."

There is no way that an article could incite disobedience toward correctional personnel in this facility. Since my arrival at this very racist, corrupt, biased, gang-oriented facility, security personnel here have been on a war path brutalizing numerous convicts unchallenged. Three guys remain here on SHU who were allegedly engaged in fights with other prisoners who were brutalized by security staff. One of them was not only beaten in general population by security staff, but when he went on an escort call out of the SHU one of the officers who was involved in the first assault against him orchestrated an ambush while the prisoner was being escorted through the hall returning from this call out. The officer busted the man's head open while he was in a waist chain and hand cuffs.

Most of the prisoners assaulted by gang staff members are alleged affiliates of prison organizations, yet none of their cronies raised up to the occasion. So how in the hell could an article incite disobedience?

MIM(Prisons): The article in question was one of a series of reports from prisoners at Clinton documenting the abuse there. As laid out in Johnson v. Raemisch, it is illegal for prisons to censor publications because they are critical of staff. Lesson from Clinton staff: if you utilize legal grievance procedures, you'll have your rights and your persyn violated. But use of violence and abuse on the oppressed will get you a well-paid job with the state of New York!

This article referenced in:
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[Organizing] [Censorship] [New York]
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Building Peace is Political

Yesterday the study course materials from MIM(Prisons) were withheld by the facility Media Review Committee, who once again stated that study materials promote and incite violence. So I naturally appealed it, because I know for a fact those claims are false and absurd! Last time they did the same thing and I appealed it and won due to those frivolous claims. How many times do we have to show these sadistic pigs that we are not reactionaries, nor do we promote senseless violence or disobedience towards prison staff? I understand they don't want to see growth and development and for one to do progressive things in prison, but I'm a revolutionary with a righteous cause and I will prevail by all means.

I just read an article written by the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project in the Bayview newspaper that dealt with a riot that exploded in Chino concentration camp by Mexicanos and Afrikans once again. The article stated that this violence went on for 11 hours with slashings, stabbing, cuttings and over 200 were hurt and several critically injured! I get highly frustrated when I read Black and Brown people's violence towards each other, this is counterproductive and reactionary to the fullest. This inter- or self-oppression we commit towards each other empowers the pigs and their capitalist-imperialist system. This old "divide and conquer" strategy is really in full effect and as long as the lumpen are at each others throat and can't make an analysis between who are our real enemies and who are our comrades in struggle, then we will never be liberated!

I suggest we do another ULK on Peace, Unity and Solidarity because this is needed in order for us to make revolutionary change! Brothers who are studying with MIM in Cali Concentration Camps need to really put theory into practice and stop this ignorance and senseless violence amongst Black and Brown peoples.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As we have stated before, we see the principal contradiction within U.$. prisons to be that between the different groups of oppressed people. So yes, we will continue to work on this issue of peace, and hope to put out a ULK dedicated to this work again in the next year. We want to be able to make progress in promoting peace agreements and protocols, but as this comrade stated, it is up to those involved to step forward and put the theory into practice. MIM(Prisons) cannot create peace from the outside.

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[Abuse] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 10]
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Kkklinton Continues Persecution of New Afrikans

Dear Brothers and Sisters at MIM,

Despite today's harsh realities, my warmest. I have not received the latest MIM newsletter and I know the reason why: Clinton.

Today is the 28th of July and the population here just got off lock-down. The reason is simple, "annual tribalism". In fact I wrote to the brothers and sisters at MIM about our last incident around the same time last year.

This year marks the second gang "nonsense" which these CO'S (corruption overseers) love because they get to reap the real benefits of "sectarianism". While we as a people continue to run around with this "thug of the year bops" and claim a "G'd up status or mentality" these sick pigs enjoy the following: punching you and anyone that looks like you and I in the face, kicking out teeth in which the pig who did the most damage (more than 2 or 3 teeth kicked out in one kick) receives kudos from his co-workers, throwing you and anyone that looks like you and I down the stairs while in "full facility shackles". Not to mention 2 - 3 "justified Murders" a year and I can not forget the overtime hours, plus the compensation pay.

Now comes the fun part (notice my sarcasm because I'm laying it down pretty thick.) There was a 8 man rumble in the yard on the east side, which we on the west side had nothing to do with, yet we still suffered 5 days with no showers, small portions of our already inadequate food, groping by some pigs who had no gloves on, and the list goes on and on. I just know that I'm going to hear some disturbing news about brothers receiving their "annual torture" for something that did not involve them. See while some of the so-called "gangsters" bang on each other the "pigs" bang on us all!

I really hope brothers can work it out because as I see it, for the past 15 years it just keeps getting worse. As a brother I try to talk with the vanguards, O.G's, etc. of these gangs in a way that our brother Fred Hampton, Sr. Did with the rainbow coalition. (May his benevolent soul rest in solidarity) We as a people need to bring about a tangible change! We need solidarity instead of hostility. Towards one another, unification is the grassroot for upward social mobility.... Lets Unite!

PEACE AND SOLIDARITY FROM ONE OF YOUR COMRADES AT THE CLINTON PLANTATION

MIM(Prisons) Adds: In our recent censorship report we mentioned Attica Correctional Facility as being notorious for not allowing mail correspondence to prisoners, creating a virtual blackout on news from within. Clinton Correctional Facility isn't so bad, but is perhaps the second most notorious facility in the New York State system. While generally very bureaucratically accountable, the NYSDOCS allows these facilities to continue as they do, proving that their willingness to play by the rules is conditional. Clinton has been particularly repressive towards New Afrikan Maoists and their literature. MIM(Prisons) has also had little success getting literature to comrades in Clinton, as this comrade attests to. We haven't confirmed anyone receiving ULK in Clinton in 4 months. Historically, Clinton has been the destination for many high profile and overtly political prisoners.

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[Spanish] [New York] [ULK Issue 9]
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Líder en Prisión Toma Acción

Actualmente soy un teniente de los Hoover CRIPs en las prisiones estatales de Carolina del Norte. He estado trabajando hacia el establecer mejores relaciones con facciones rivales de los CRIPs en prisión, con las esperanzas de traer solidaridad entre mi nación. Estoy trabajando hacia un nuevo concepto y he ganado mis seguidores. Me gustaría vencer los estereotipos y propaganda para que nosotros, como una organización con publicidad, podrámos usar nuestra imagen para enseñar que la liberación se obtiene atraves de la educación. La busqueda por la verdad es a veces desanimante y si el adquirir sabiduría fuera facil todos la tendríamos.

Me gustaría ver que me organización ayudará con acabar con el racismo, classismo, sexismo y la oppresión. En ves de perjudicar nuestra estanza como un grupo de minorias, nosotros debemos comprometernos a nunca mas servirle a un sistema contento con explotarnos como una comodidad. Me gustaría vernos en la lucha por los derechos civiles y el humanitarismo. No es trabajo fácil el traer estabilidad del caos, pero he ganado segudores con mucha inspiración del movimiento y sobre entendemos que la lucha es más grande que mis problemas personales - más grande que una raza, creo o genero.

MIM(Prison) Añada: Nosotros applaudimos el trabajo de este comarada en traer juntos a grupos de rivales y lo animamos a el y a otros a trabajar hacia la unión, entre cualquier y toda organización dispuesta a trabajar hacia paz verdadera para nuestra gente. Esto significa no solo grupos o facciones de CRIPs rivales, sino que a todas las naciones o organizaciones oprimidas. Cualquier gente oprimida peleando en contra de otra gente oprimida es una perdida de energía y essencialmente es trabajar para el imperialista. Como este comarada señala, la pelea es más grande que asuntos personales.

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[Prison Labor] [New York] [ULK Issue 8]
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New York Prisoners' Report on Labor and Economics

"Neither Slavery nor Involuntary Servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States..."
—Thirteenth Amendment, United States Constitution

History of Legalized Slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified by Congress by the required three-fourths of the States (27 of 36) on January 31, 1865, and declared an amendment December 18, 1865. To understand it in a prison setting, it is important to look at the history after it was ratified until today.

It was during the time of the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment that "slaves", or better yet, the offspring of slaves had heightened their resistance to this torture and inhumane treatment that they inherited by bad luck. Slave leaders like Fredrick Douglas and Harriet Tubman started to educate themselves, assist in the escape of other slaves, and lobby for the rights that they felt they were due. Former slaves, escaped slaves, and others sympathetic to them led negotiations of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Once enacted, what was to be a victory for slaves, the Thirteenth Amendment later became nothing more than a smoke screen. When southern slave owners figured out that the second part to the amendment gave exception "as a punishment for crime" crafty southern lawmakers substituted various equivalents. One of these was "peonage." Peonage is a labor system in which the worker, who owes money to his or her employer, must "work off the debt." The term also can be defined, however, as virtual slavery or serfdom. Southern states enacted a series of laws that required, as punishment, high fines. Poor, now-"free" slaves were forced to borrow money to pay the fines and "work off" the debt, often times never paying off the interest. Some "crimes" included breaking curfews, and vagrancy.

The Freedman's Bureau, a government agency established to help former slaves assume responsibility as free citizens, attempted to replace "Peonage" with contracts. However, southern " Black Codes" prevented much progress. Vagrancy laws were abundant, and slavery was still existent, just under an alias.

In 1867, Congress enacted the Peonage Act in New Mexico, applying it to all of America. Now it was a felony to hold a person in Peonage or to seize or arrest a person to enforce Peonage. This same act outlawed any state law designed to enforce Peonage. In the 1900's the Peonage Act was accepted in full.

As we'll see below, modern laws and policies continue this legacy with many of the same oppressor nation motivations as in the 19th century.

Control those who can't be exploited

Every year, hundreds of thousands of mostly Black and Latino men from the 5 boroughs of NYC go thru the biggest county jail in the united $tates: Rikers Island in New York. After being convicted (which happens 70% of the time), private contractors bus them to state prisons upstate, more than 2/3rds of which are in rural areas with almost all white populations. Most of the officers, nurses, vocational instructors, etc. are from farming populations that lost their traditional economies largely to imperialist expansion into foreign markets in the Third World where they can exploit the people and buy food for excessively cheap prices.

Prisons are now the epicenter around which many towns have sprung up, reviving the dying rural communities. The local populations compete for these jobs, which are unique in their high wages and pension plans, while requiring minimal thinking ability.

No one can deny the stark increase in incarceration of Blacks within the past three decades. This increase is largely due to policies and harsh laws which are racially motivated. One notorious example is the federal guideline that sentences people to 10 years for possession of 5 grams of crack or 500 grams of cocaine, when whites are much more likely to be caught with cocaine. No study has ever proven that crack - cocaine in its coagulated form - is more harmful than its powder form. And though this law was modified recently, its purpose has already been served.

Since the end of slavery's role as a profitable enterprise by the u$ farming industry, the principal question for law officials has been, 'What is to be done about the fast growing population of restless young Black men?' - Prison has become the solution to this never ending problem. A population that is no longer a significant source of labor to be exploited, nor allowed to be junior partners to the imperialists, has no role to play in the modern imperialist economy. Hence, we have seen the growing lumpen class behind u$ prison walls.

Prison serves three valuable solutions, or better yet, prison has been the solution which can be explained in three forms.

  1. Prison is used as a social contraceptive to reduce and control population growth.
  2. Prison is a way to ebb the radical political consciousness of the people. To separate those radical elements among oppressed nations from influencing others to seek change rather than reform.
  3. Prison has been used as a way to deal with rising unemployment and stem entry into the already declining job market. (This is true despite the fact that after years of incarceration, most Blacks and Latinos are released to their communities with little hopes for employment, regardless of any participation in vocational programs.)

As we can see, the prison system is much more than an economic force exploiting labor. This is not to deny economic benefit that is reaped by the corporate elites and the amerikan so-called "worker" stooges. Prison, as a part of the capitalist system, has a further implication beyond jobs; it is also a way to repress other nations of people: the Black, Latino and indigenous nations, as well as migrants from the Third World.

Economics of NY Prisons

New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), has approximately 60,000 inmates. In this system, "programs" are mandatory. Programs range from industry work, to maintenance, to pseudo-rehabilitative or educational programs. Most people work to keep the facility up and running. The five pay grades are as follows:

Grade 116¢ per hour
Grade 225¢ per hour
Grade 332¢ per hour
Grade 438¢ per hour
Grade 542¢ per hour

Each facility is limited to a small number of people being paid grade five, so in all actuality Grade 4 is top pay. Grade 4 is reserved for foremen, who are a special class within themselves where the old rule of divide and conquer prevails. They have proven their loyalty to the system through years of hard work and often report other prisoners if something goes wrong - many of these positions are given to white prisoners.

There are "industries" in several facilities: Attica specializes in making lockers that you find in state office buildings; Great Meadow specializes in manufacturing various chemicals such as liquid soap to clean public transportation and soap that is given to inmates; Coxsackie manufactures bed sheets, pillow cases, clothing worn by doctors and nurses, as well as money bags used by banks. All of these items are manufactured under the name "CorCraft." CorCraft made over $40 million in 2005, while prisoners were paid pennies. CorCraft is a government industry so the $40 million all goes back into the state General Fund, essentially offsetting some of the cost of running prisons or other public "services."

A "bonus" is given based on the individual productivity of every prison. For example, at grade 2 my base pay for a 40 hour work week is $10.00 (all programs other than Industry work 25 hour work weeks). With a 50% bonus I would make $15.00. Unlike all other prison programs, Industry workers punch a time clock and are forced to punch out whenever they leave their shops, even for meals which are in most cases mandatory.

An inmate in DOCS, comes in with a substantial debt to pay automatically: $40.00 Gate Fees, $150.00 Surcharge, $50.00 DNA fee, $20.00 Victims Fee. Additional debts may include restitution, child support, appeals fees, legal fees, processing fees, disciplinary sanctions (if incurred), etc. Oftentimes these amounts run into the thousands of dollars, and higher.

The cost of Commissary staple items, hygiene supplies, stamps, etc., have increased so dramatically that, in proportion, the payment DOCS pays in exchange for hard work becomes virtually worthless. For example, at $0.13 an hour, after a three hour work day mowing lawns in 90-degree weather, an inmate still cannot afford even one $0.42 stamp. The pay deteriorates even more if a percentage of the inmate's earnings must go toward fees, surcharges, fines, or other obligations.

Where it leaves us

Previous challenges to DOCS Peonage system of pay have been unsuccessful because DOCS maintains that they are not "paying" but rather "compensating" inmates for their "program" participation. International Law, such as the Geneva Convention, is pretty clear that prisoners of war cannot be "forced to work" without compensation. However, it does not state what compensation is. The Japanese, for example, compensate their prisoners with food.

In fact, food is one of the greatest incentives for New York inmates to work inside of prison. The Mess Hall is one of prison's more unpredictable locations. While the Mess Hall is mandatory for all meals in some prisons, here in DOCS, attendance is elective. In order to avoid potential conflicts, when possible, many inmates choose to skip the Mess Hall meal and eat a quick sandwich with Commissary items. A positive account balance is required in order to purchase food from the Commissary.

Another great incentive for prisoners to do work is postage. Years of study have proven that inmates who work to maintain family ties strive to do well in general prison populations. Inmates who receive visits do even better, and those who do not maintain family ties are statistically more vulnerable to problems. The ability to correspond with family is usually essential to maintaining family ties. If a person cannot afford a stamp after three hours of hard labor, the incentive for that person to be positive for the remainder of the day greatly diminishes.

DOCS originally established a system to pay inmates, in order to prevent theft and encourage inmates to work. However, by not paying a meaningful wage, what DOCS actually creates is a mirror of the Peonage System. An inmate in prison for ten years, without the assistance of family, may leave prison, not only still in debt, but convinced that hard work is useless and that society is inherently unfair. This is one of the results of a system based on punishing individuals, rather than changing the system that created their bad behaviors. In contrast, a socialist prison system serves to turn those who commit crimes against the people into productive contributors to society.

If the DOCS simply raised the "compensation" from pennies to even just $1.50/hour, this financial outlay surely would pay for itself. An inmate who has no hope of meeting his needs through legitimate earnings is likely to attempt to get what he wants, i.e. stamps, food, cigarettes, etc., by illegitimate means: thievery, violence, extortion, gambling, etc. Such activity increases the likelihood of claims for property, of altercations and of injuries, which lead to civil actions brought against the State.

It is time for the State to increase "compensation" for inmates - compensation that will assist inmates in maintaining hope and in maintaining family ties while inside of prison, and compensation that will convince inmates that there truly is benefit in working hard to earn one's way toward productive life, once they get outside.

MIM(Prisons) supports the application of a global minimum wage under capitalism. Although it would have to be taken into consideration that prisoners are provided with most basic needs before being paid - as poor as they may be.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [New York]
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Time is Valuable

Time will tell,
As we go through hell,
prisons known as modern day slavery.
Taking young lives every hour endlessly,
Why should kids starve and look at us as the enemy,
When their father, mother, sister, brothers
have been stripped of their liberty.
And still, at this moment you say 'you can't tell,'
just listen closely and you'll hear their wails.
And you're wasting time watching every day go by,
As the real criminals are right in front of your eye.

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[Prison Labor] [National Oppression] [New York] [ULK Issue 8]
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Slavery Without Capitalist Exploitation

UPDATE: On 9/17/2009 the comrade who wrote this letter was killed in Attica Correctional Facility

I received the January 2009 issue #6 of Under Lock & Key, for which I was most grateful. I salute the Mexican comrade for his excellent and exemplary contribution to that issue ("Misplaced rejoicing in prisons over Obama victory"). I am a Black man, the son of an Eritrean emigrant and a descendant of First Nation peoples and Africans enslaved and transported to the Amerikas. The comrade was right on target, especially when he wrote: "... How can there be real change if the system is never changed, only its leaders? For those of us who are convinced that we are 'soldiers' ask yourself, who's soldier are you? Are you some common criminal's soldier? Do you fight and work for greed, power and lust of recognition? Or will you be the People's soldier?..." Yes. I salute the comrade for his courage and determination. Palante, siempre, hermano!

I am responding as well to your request for feedback on your assessment of the prison labor/economics situation. I have been aware of the reality of MIM's findings for some time, and am in agreement with you wholeheartedly. I perceive that prisoners' disagreement with MIM's assessment is not rooted in an analysis of the facts on the ground but rather is due to their misunderstanding and confusion regarding the nature of our enslavement.

It seems that prisoners who disagree with your findings do so actually because they fear that such assessments will confound the acknowledgment of U$ imprisonment as slavery and a capitalist enterprise. U$ imprisonment is certainly slavery and it is certainly a capitalist enterprise whether prison labor is a source of great profits or not. Forced or coerced labor is not the most defining characteristic of slavery and such labor within U$ imprisonment is hardly the source of the real lucrative profiteering that stems from U$ imprisonment in general. The depraved creatures who crafted the language of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution understood this all too well.

slave n. one owned by another: one completely subject to another or to some habit or influence;
slavery n. the holding of persons as property;
(The New International Webster's Pocket Dictionary of the English Language, New Revised edition. Trident Press International 2002)

And it is enough for the state and government to "own" us to profit from us, whether we are sweating away in their industries or not. Much of the elaboration that follows is adapted from "Prison Town", by "The Real Cost of Prisons" project:

During the 1980's and 90's many jobs and sources of income evaporated in the rural and farm areas of this country. Federal, state and local officials were then tasked with discovering a new type of "growth" industry that would revive and sustain the dying economies of the municipalities, districts and sectors they were elected or appointed to serve. Prisons were touted as a viable growth industry with significant potential. Perhaps it was for this reason that former New York State legislator Daniel Feldman stated, "When legislators cry 'lock 'em up!', they often mean 'lock 'em up in my district!'" Certainly it was for this reason that Texas judge Jimmy Galindo said:

"We live in a part of the country where it's very difficult to create and sustain jobs in a global market. [Prisons] become a very clean industry for us to provide employment to citizens. I look at it as a community development project."

Some private developers build prisons in states like Wisconsin without legislative edict from officials and then "sell" the prisons, prompting people like former Wisconsin state corrections chief Walter Dickey to declare,

"... It flatly introduces money and the desire for profit into the imprisonment policy debate, because you've got an entity in Wisconsin, a private entity, with a strong financial interest in keeping people in prison and having them sentenced to prison."

Investment banks, construction companies, private developers, real estate agencies and many others stand to profit immeasurably from prisons in innumerable ways. Federal, state and local officials are then lauded for bringing financial security and economic prosperity to their respective regions and lobbyists.

This phenomenon was complemented by another phenomenon, namely the "mandatory sentencing", "three-strikes-you're-out" and "rockerfeller-type drug" laws introduced by legislators during the same aforementioned period of rural economic decline. It is no secret nor is it debated that such legislation contributed to a 370% prison population growth since 1970. Small wonder, then, that there are more prisons in America than there are Wal-Mart stores.

Thus it matters little whether the imperialist slaveowners can glean profits from our work on their institutional plantations. Their ownership of us prisoners ensures a diverse profit source, whether by accommodating the labor aristocracy or enriching corporate entities.

Thanks to MIM(Prisons) for providing a venue where revolutionary-minded prisoners can connect and exchange ideas. Among other things, Under Lock & Key certainly accomplishes that. I hope that the information in this letter will be useful towards compiling the upcoming issue on prison labor/economics.

MIM(Prisons) adds: As we explain in the introduction to this issue of ULK, we prefer Marx's definition of slavery to the one found in Websters and so conclude that imprisonment is a system of oppression distinct from slavery. We agree with this prisoner's discussion of the ways that corporations, labor aristocrats, and Amerikan imperialism benefit from imprisonment. In addition to the points discussed by this comrade, the lockup of oppressed nations by the U.$. prison system also prevents the self-determination of those nations through their own labor. So, while capitalist profits are not generally extracted from the 2.3 million locked up, that is a huge chunk of labor that is being denied to the oppressed that otherwise could utilize their people locked up to further the development of meeting the needs of their respective nations, and the oppressed people of the world in general.

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[Organizing] [New York] [ULK Issue 7]
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An Interview with Mfalme Sikivu, Executive Minister of UFD

Ujamaa Field Dyansty Emblem
UFD stands for the Ujamaa Field Dynasty. This article describes more of what it's all about. MIM(Prisons) solicited contributions for this Peace Issue of ULK from many comrades both in prison and out. We are aware of many efforts to make peace and take on the real correctional tasks that none of the capitalist run "DOC"s seem capable of or interested in. UFD stands out among these projects as it is explicitly part of the anti-imperialist United Front. This is so important, because ultimately we know there can be no peace without an end to oppression and injustice. We also know that capitalism only benefits the worlds minority, most of whom live in the imperialist countries. All the job training programs in the world can't change the fact that capitalism requires a concentration of capital that sucks every resource it can from the majority of the world.

Q. How would you describe UFD, what is its purpose?

A. I describe UFD as it states in our code, “…a counter-gang of ex-gangbangers, ex-hustlers, ex-prisoners and prisoners, and youth committed to collectively raising up each other to become conscious and prosperous New Afrikans.” Our purpose is stated in our mission, “[t]o serve as a positive and constructive alternative to gangs street and prison life, especially for our youth, who we focus on bringing into our movement through UFD, and to build a brotherhood and sisterhood through which our ndugu can improve themselves and their circumstances while making a better life for themselves and their families.”

Q. How does UFD relate to lumpen organizations (LOs), commonly known as gangs, and how do these LOs relate to UFD considering that UFD’s purpose seems to seek to undermine them?

A. Look, UFD isn’t in competition with any LO. Unlike some of them who fall victim to the divide and conquer tactics of the Establishment, we don’t view other oppressed people as enemies just because they rock different colors. Plus, we have a law that states, “Avoid conflicts with others and dead beef: before they get physical…” For the most part, the LOs our ndugu are around have been cool toward us. We don’t actively try to recruit their members, but nor do we hide our purpose. Those who choose us, we accept them. Those who don’t, we work to teach and help them.

Q. But part of your code says “UFD is devoted to leading others away from gang …life…” Don’t you think certain elements within an LO may take that as meaning you’re after their members?

A. Maybe, if they don’t understand our meaning. To lead one away from gang life doesn’t have to mean we seek to coax them out of their affiliation. By UFD doing right, we set an example for the LOs to follow as a whole. If our only means to lead one away from gang life is to get them to leave their affiliation, then we’re ignoring our greater purpose – to serve the people. As much as we disagree with some of the bullshit LOs get caught up in, they’re still oppressed like us.

Q. What efforts can UFD make to bring peace between LOs?

A. Once we’ve established ourselves as a positive and constructive force here to stay, and ourselves avoid the trap of warring with LOs, we’ll garner a certain respect in the prisons and on the streets. At that time we can counsel LOs to consider the damage they do to themselves by warring among themselves. Through UFD’s success, we get to show them their potential strength in doing better.

Q. Do you honestly think it’s possible they’ll hear you?

A. UFD takes political direction from the New Afrikan Maoist Party being that the Party politically leads the New Afrikan Liberation Movement. Our parent organization, the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, is a part of this movement. We tend to agree with the Party’s assessment that, until there is a revolutionary change within urban subculture that is dominated by the colonial/criminal mentality of which George Jackson spoke, LOs will themselves not fundamentally change. But UFD can play a significant role in decreasing the conflict between LOs by first being a good example and second, by educating those who’ll listen to us.

Q. When will that revolutionary change take place?

A. Hard to say, UFD is poised to lend its hand when the time is upon us. For now we’ve focused on doing all we can to help our ndugu change and better themselves and do what they can to uplift their families which in turn empowers our communities.

Q. How can interested youth join up with UFD?

A. Either by hollering at one of our ndugu authorized to bring them home or by contacting our executive assistant Taraji Vuma at New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140.

Q. How does UFD deal with the repression of its incarcerated members?

A. NYSDOCS [New York State Department of Correctional Services] has charged a couple of our ndugu with possessing unauthorized organizational materials. This is bullshit because UFD isn’t an unauthorized inmate group and the ndugu charged weren’t accused of using our literature to recruit other inmates to an unauthorized inmate chapter of UFD. We have a federal lawsuit in against NYSDOCS over this issue. They’ve been repressing members and supporters of the different NALM-affiliated organizations like ours since at least 2004.

Q. If UFD isn’t an unauthorized group, then why does NYSDOCS discipline its members for possessing its literature?

A. Because NYSDOCS is reactionary like any other state bureaucracy. It seeks to protect its existence. UFD represents more of a threat to NYSDOCS not because we advocate violence or disobedience (which we don’t), but because we have the potential to do what NYSDOCS can’t do effectively: correct the behavior of our incarcerated ndugu. Could you imagine the public relations nightmare for them? Some obscure, fraternal group comes along, recruits prisoners in large numbers who actually reform themselves. Hell no! There are other implications involving the exposure of corruption and abuse only an organized group can expose. The less common identity and unity prisoners have, the easier it is to abuse them and cover it up. Just having a growing number of prisoners who join an outside organization not subjected to NYSDOCS control, even if its prison members aren’t organizing among themselves without permission, is a threat to prisoncrats' cover-up abilities. So, prisoncrats will do all in their power to discourage prisoners from joining up.

Q. Would you say this affects the ability to bring peace among LOs?

A. Definitely. NYSDOCS officially doesn’t recognize gangs. Stupid, because they exist. Humans are social beings, we clique up for the bad or good. As steel sharpens steel and people sharpen people, so too groups sharpen groups. In other words, if you suppress positive and constructive groups, you destroy the very thing that can encourage groups on the wrong path to choose a better one. The positive and constructive groups NYSDOCS does approve are kept so isolated and ineffectual that they might as well not exist at all.

Q. What message do you stress to your UFD ndugu?

A. Do better, be better, and know better and push and challenge each other to do the same. The establishment, law enforcement and prison officials in particular, along with even some regular folks, will call us a gang just because some of us are ex-lumpens (that is, used-to-be gang bangers, hustlers, etc.) and some of us are in prison. Many have come before us claiming how positive they were only to fall right into the trap of the colonial/criminal mentality. This always seems to happen. In our case, it CANNOT! Though we must accept the bad with the good and recognize that none of us can be perfect, we need to be more good than bad, suppressing the bad at every turn. We need to break old habits that aren’t productive and learn new habits. If not, we will fail and become just another group hanging onto a banner, doing nothing productive, and deceiving ourselves that we rule or are almighty while under the foot of law enforcement and prisoncrats. This is absurd! And I’m not prone to embracing too much absurdity, though I fall short, too. But this is why we’re together. Each one help one! We have a better chance at succeeding together than alone.

Q. Any final words?

A. Yeah. To my UFDeez, many will doubt you, some will hate you, but we must earn the respect of all by living up to our ideology and laws. To do this we must have faith in ourselves, in each other, and in our leadership. Be strong and resolute. Love the people and they’ll love you. UFDeez, Dynasty Forever!!

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[Gender] [Southport Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 12]
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Gender Oppression and Health Care

I am the author of the article “Psycho-sexual Warfare vs. Political Prisoners” that appeared in Under Lock & Key (September 2008). There are a few issues that I forgot to include in that article that a lot of comrades could learn from. We all know that guards regularly pay for access to prisoners' sexuality in a variety of ways, but there is another “prison game” that goes on behind these walls involving the dehumanizing and exploitation of prisoners by the medical staff. Let me explain.

Here in the Southport Correctional Facility, which is the oldest SHU in the state of New York, the medical staff including nurses, provide medical treatment to prisoners based on non-medical factors like money, looks, favoritism and sexual favors. There is a group of nurses who only provide medical treatment and attention to their so-called “jailhouse husbands” which they select based on how much money the prisoner has, looks, and the willingness of the prisoner to comply with brainwashed behavior by providing sexual favors such as masturbating in front of the nurse, hand jobs and even to a lesser degree blow jobs.

This might sound minor and even funny to some people, but let me explain why this form of psycho-sexual warfare “game” might be the most serious of them all.

There is a group of about 10 nurses here in Southport, including nurse Jil Jilson and nurse Angela Gorg who actually go around this prison picking and choosing which inmates they want to exploit and receive sexual favors from, as if they are picking which slave to own, and whatever prisoner they decide to choose, will be the prisoner that they give top priority to when providing medical attention and treatment.

Now, sit back and think about this for a second. There are 800 prisoners in Southport, each of these 10 nurses have their own “jailhouse husband” who they give top priority to when deciding who to provide medical care to. That means only 10-15 prisoners out of 800 prisoners actually have their medical needs addressed on a daily basis. All of these nurses work closely with guards and top ranking officers to gain access to prisoners who meet the sexual, exploitation and brainwashing objectives.

This also means that over 90% of prisoners will have their serious medical needs go unaddressed for a long period of time because they don’t meet the “criteria” of these gender oppressors which also means that over 90% of these prisoners will have their medical conditions worsen over time and some even suffering permanent injuries due to the deliberate indifference of these nurses which is supported by top ranking prison officials and medical staff.

This is a deadly game that is played in most prisons and is another form of exploitation, manipulation and coercion that these gender oppressors use to further degrade prisoners and reinforce their which supremacist ideas.

I currently have a federal lawsuit pending against top-ranking staff in the Southport medical and dental department, which I hope will fully expose these type of psycho-sexual warfare/gender oppression games.

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[Control Units] [New York]
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Mental Health Programs Just Expanded SHU

UPDATE: On 9/17/2009 the comrade who wrote this letter was killed in Attica Correctional Facility

I commend MIM and Reel Soldier for the successful release of Unlock the Box. You comrades are relentless in the struggle.

For well over a decade now, the NYSDOCS (New York State Department Of Correctional Services) has been developing housing units and programs to confine mentally ill prisoners who are serving penalty terms in the SHU (Special Housing Unit). These programs/units were created and developed to counter a lawsuit (Disability Advocates, Inc. v. OMH) against the NYSDOCS declaring the confinement of mentally ill prisoners in SHUs to be cruel and unusual punishment. The law firms who brought forth the suit have accepted these programs and subsequent legislation as part of an "out-of-court" settlement (take not that the mentally ill prisoners within the NYSDOCS were not given any consideration in the matter of the settlement, as they were never consulted as to whether they agreed to the terms themselves).

Simply put, units such as the GTP (Group Therapy Program), BHU Phase One (Behavioral Health Unit), and the STP (Special Treatment Program) amount to no more than glorified Special Housing Units (SHUs). They are being used arbitrarily as warehouses for prisoners whom they (the NYSDOCS) wish to keep locked down but must "accommodate" due to the settlement agreement and new legislation.

I have been confined to such programs since late May of 2005 (due to diagnosis of PTSD and Antisocial Personality Disorder). These programs have proven generally to be anything but therapeutic, primarily because they are only slightly modified SHUs structurally and are subject to the automatic efforts of security and administrative staff to assert control over prisoners/patients during the therapeutic process. Much of the "programming" (especially Dr. S. Samenow's "Commitment to Change" video series) is blatant brainwashing administered to induce total subservience to prison and state authority.

What is most disheartening is the vanishing of the general political consciousness of prisoners in the NYS prison system, that was given birth during the 1960s & 1970s. How many prisoners are even aware of the history of the Black Panthers, or that ideologically they were Maoists?

This article referenced in:
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