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.
Your last three mailings were denied by the mail room. The Last one, received on 5/25/22 stated “Denied: one letter. Content inciting a disturbance. DRC – non appealable list (offender cannot appeal).” The next two denials arrived on the same day (6/6/22): “One newsletter and one packet. Contains content inciting a disturbance.” I did appeal these last two decisions.
Apparently, when a prisoner attempts to assert his rights, the mail room calls it “inciting a disturbance!?” These are the same racist dogs who can get away with denying me a photograph of my ten-year old nephew who was innocently posing while making some silly hand signs, calling that “gang related.” The kids are being kids and their hand signs have absolutely nothing to do with gangs! Had it been white kids posing in similar fashion, instead of calling it “gang-related,” these racist mail room employees would’ve called the photograph “cute.”
These are the same racist muthafuckers who loved it – and applauded – when that comic figure (D. Trump) was separating all the kids from their parents at the border, you know, that as long as it is not their kids who are being treated so inhumanely, they obviously do not care about our kids, right!? And what’s so fucked up is that when the white ‘lady’ who delivers the denial papers arrives to our cell, she pretends like she’s really upset that I would even want to receive these MIM publications. She practically turns her back on me as if I were being so un-American, or something!
But I have news for her, and anyone else of her ilk. I don’t want part of anysystem that snatches babies out of their arms of their mothers, or a system that allows their police forces to murder people of color with impunity, while these same fuckin’ cowards refuse to enter a school where kids are being massacred! And while the trigger-happy cowards are quick to murder unarmed civilians, none of the recent sick and deranged school shooters (or other mass murderers) have been killed by police! Why not? Because the cowardly police officers were “too scared” and chickenshit to engage the “active shooters.” Plain and simple. And each time these police officers take the stand at someone’s trial, where they will lie and perjure themselves (as they are wont to do), they will recite their “highly trained” credentials, but where are all these “highly trained” credentials when the little kids in a school are being massacred and need help?
And their “exceptional training,” without fail, goes out the window when these same police officers take the stand, not only do they (conveniently) “forget” vital details during vital parts of their trial testimony, they lie about who handled what piece of evidence, whether or not they used gloves to handle the evidence un-dated and un-sworn “supplemental reports” appear out of nowhere to “assist” these liars and “refreshen their memories” etc. And as the famous attorney Gerry Spence once remarked (an attorney who has practiced law for over 50 years), he has never been involved in a case where police did not lie or plant evidence, or engage in some other illegalities, in other words, like me, he has never met an honest cop! And like me, he’s not saying they’re not out there, I just haven’t ever met one.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Outside supporters, please join our campaign to protest censorship in Allred RHU. This censorship has ramped up in response to prisoner organizing. This is politically-motivated repression and it is illegal. You can call, write a letter, or better yet print out our postcards and get others to sign them to let them know what’s going on in Texas prisons!
Recently a comrade in Allred reported not receiving the book [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Ey filed a grievance and the grievance just disappeared as if no book was ever sent or censored. MIM Distributors did not receive notification of this censorship either.
In an effort to establish what was going on, MIM Distributors sent a list of mail sent to this comrade on 10 February 2022. It took a month for the letter to arrive. The comrade mailed eir response on 9 March 2022. The letter was received in late May, stamped 23 May 2022! It took TDCJ 2.5 months to mail this comrade’s letter to us. And all it contained was a short note about what mail ey had received.
The Florida mailroom staff who seized the pamphlet checked two reasons for impounding it:
“(15)(i)is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, rebellion, organized prison protest, disruption of the institution, or the violation of the federal law, state law or Department Rules”
“(15)(p)otherwise presents a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives of the correctional system or the safety of any person.”
Since the pamphlet is actively preventing harm to the safety of any person and actively training people to stop breaking the law or engaging in destructive behavior, we must wonder what are the “rehabilitative objectives” of the Florida Department of Corrections.
MIM(Prisons) appealed this.
Texas on the other hand did not give MIM(Prisons) the opportunity to appeal, as required by Federal law, and only notified us of the censorship after the review committee’s final decision, which, like Florida, cited the “Entire publication contain security concerns.”
The reason they cited:
“Publication contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve a breakdown of prisons through offender disruption such as strikes, riots or security threat group activity.”
It’s also no secret that the oppressor prefers us to be drunk and high, rather than thinking clearly and doing good for ourselves and our people.
Prisoners can help by getting our Censorship Guide and appealing any censorship as the comrade in Texas did. People on the outside can help by volunteering to help us appeal and hold these state agencies accountable. Legal expertise with these issues is also something you can contribute.
I just received ULK Spring 2022, No. 77 and how ironic is the material discussed. A source I regularly use is called Community Legal Information Center and they are stationed in Chico, CA. I have recently requested the TDCJ Grievance Operation Manual and it was denied by the mail room. I put in a well-worded I-60 today asking the mailroom to explain themselves. The PLRA makes our grievances legal proceedings (Access to Courts) and Texas Law and TDCJ Policy both state that TDCJ officials cannot impede or intervene in an inmates legal proceedings. And of course this manual is a public record and government entities cannot operate in secrecy. All government is required to operate with full transparency because We the people create and elect government. Texas Government Code 552.001
In our current situation it is important to exhaust our appeals and legal routes to justice as the comrade above is doing. Yet this whole situation demonstrates that the imperialist legal system is not meant to work for the oppressed. So we cannot rely on the courts to solve our problems.
Download and print this flyer to hang or hand out.
We are also asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and activists in Allred to freely communicate. There has been a rise in mail censorship as organizing has progressed.
download PDF below
print 2-sided on cardstock
cut into 4
add $0.40 stamp (or more)
go to event or public space and ask people to sign their name, city and state
explain the Junteenth Freedom Initiative to them
hand them a flyer (above) or Under Lock & Key
ask for a donation to pay for postage & printing
drop postcards in mail box (don’t mail them all at once we want a consistent stream of cards coming in)
With just a month remaining before the first series of actions around the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, we have received reports of repression of activists by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ).
One of the hearts of this campaign comes out of the brutal Allred Restrictive Housing Unit(RHU) where people have spent decades in isolation. We’ve recently learned that one organizer at Allred hasn’t received half a dozen letters we’ve sent em over the last few months. Eir outgoing mail is also delayed or gone missing. This mail tampering is illegal. We wrote the warden of Allred to stop this censorship.. If he doesn’t stop it, we know this political repression is intentional from the top of the TDCJ to suppress our boycotting of Juneteenth.
We are asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and these activists in Allred to freely communicate. The pdf below can be downloaded, printed on card stock and cut into four postcards. Then you can ask people to sign them, put a postcard stamp ($0.40) on them, and drop them in a mail box. Over the next couple months we want to show TDCJ that people outside are paying attention and supporting the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. This is one way to do that. You can also call Warden Jimmy Smith @ (940) 855-7477 (**069).
“Page(s) 4 contains information advocating prison disruption.”
Prisoners are very limited in what they can do when their grievances are ignored. Most actions will lead to repression. A boycott is the most passive action. There are no calls to violence nor do the plans threaten security in any way. Just a peaceful demonstration of solidarity, demanding some basic humyn rights be applied in Texas prisons. Yet this is being outlawed by the state.
Even worse, in eir most recent update, one comrade in Stevenson reported that:
“last night I was placed in handcuffs and marched off to solitary confinement, the place from where I currently write. I woke this morning to find I’m being charged with 2 new rules violations: 1) Attempt/threat to assault a correctional officer and 2) Assault of a correctional officer.”
There was no assault. In fact this comrade is not even supposed to be housed on the second floor because of eir health conditions. Ey believes this is retaliation for the appeals ey filed against the censorship of literature sent by MIM Distributors. Meanwhile, MIM Distributors was not given the opportunity to appeal, and only received the final decision from TDCJ.
As our comrade in Stevenson Unit so eloquently concluded,
“They will never succeed in snuffing out my flame and their attempts to silence the truth only causes it to roar even louder! They cloak themselves in legitimacy and the trappings of power because deep down they know they are weak and the system is crumbling – to be swept aside along with all the silly liberal reformers and we build a better world over their ruins, a new society based on equality and respect and compassion and truth and justice and”love" – a human society fit for fully involved and determined human beings at peace with themselves, each other, and the world around us."
A comrade in Stevenson Unit wrote to say that there are only 12 restrictive housing cells there and they are only used very short-term. But ey is sharing the motion and other campaign materials with contacts inside and outside to support those in RHU fighting for their humyn rights.
Shutting down long-term solitary confinement is one of the key campaign demands of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, calling for a boycott of Juneteenth until real freedom is attained in this country. The lawsuit points to the irreparable harm on mental health caused by long-term solitary.
Anyone who is in a Restricted Housing Unit in Texas can use the linked example motion to join this lawsuit. The motion should be sent to all three addresses listed at the end of the attached PDF. Please download and distribute to those you know in Texas torture chambers!
28 May 2022 UPDATE from Tx TEAM ONE member - Telford Unit: I have submitted my interest in becoming a co-plaintiff to all inhumane conditions in all Ad-Seg/RHU buildings, especially on this unit, and the inhumane/treatment and living conditions endured by all alleged STG prisoners. Because for almost forty (40) years, those of Us that are considered STG’s have been in these living conditions.
I have already written to the Eastern and Northern Districts, United States District Courts. And I have also written to the United States Department of Justice…
Within the prison movement there is much talk about ‘political education’ and ‘raising consciousness’. Truthfully, even when We reflect on recent and distant episodes in Our collective struggles against the bourgeoisie, many of us often lament upon the fact that a key ingredient that has always been lacking from Our movements, parties, organizations, and the unorganized masses, is the lack of a systemic and organized framework to political education. Assata Shakur expressed her criticism of the Black Panther Party for the same reason. Veterans of the [email protected] movement i’ve spoke with have expressed the same criticisms, stating that had more deliberate, organized approaches been given back in the days it may have progressively altered the cultural nationalist tendencies of the movement towards a revolutionary nationalist praxis. Yet and still, today We’re still stressing, and rightly so, the paramount importance of political education. However, the question has become, must become, what is political education, how do we apply it, and why is it so important?
Political education takes many forms, and phases, and the correct application of it, or what is paramount for a persyn to know is dependent upon the conditions one finds themselves in. Thus i begin with Fanon,
“It is commonly thought with criminal flippancy that to politicize the masses means from time to time haranguing them with a major political speech…But political education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world…To politicize the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands and their hands alone.” (1)
Now as i was saying conditions will determine quite alot. So it is the line of USW, and many others, that amerika is a settler-neo colonial imperialist empire, and as such holds actual nations of people subjugated, meaning their/our self-development is thwarted, within its borders as well as in the Third World.
Hystory indicated that this line is right and exact. When We recall the process of how amerika was established we understand that it (nation of euro amerikan settlers) settled upon this land, removed, and committed genocide against the native nations of people, some of which are still among us today. So those (the indigenous) are just one group of nations within the borders of amerika, which We call the First Nations. Of course We all know about the forced migration of millions of Africans, and We know they underwent slavery at the hands of those same settlers, as did some Natives. What We often fail to analyze is that slavery, is only an economic system, it is a mode of producing social value, however, to describe the plight of the African people in amerika by mere economic lingo alone is highly insufficient. What is the term that would encapsulate the experience of the economic exploitation, social and political repression that the African people in amerika eventually triumphed over? Slavery? No, servitude? No. That one word which encapsulates that struggle is COLONIALISM.
Well, what the heck is colonialism? Quoting from the Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary;
Colonialism - foreign domination of a country or a people, where the economic, political and military structure is controlled and run by the occupying force. (2)
So African people residing in the United $tates are not merely the offspring of enslaved people, but a colonized people, and because of that diametrically opposed nature of a colonized people to its colonizer, the African people residing in amerika developed organically into a nation, that is a people distinct from the settler by its culture, its language, its land, and thus We call this nation today New Afrika, but others call it Black Amerika, or Black nation, or a host of other titles. No matter the title New Afrikan people are deep down aware that they’re distinct and separate, but the reality of a nation within an empire doesn’t register to some, to most, after a substantial time frame of this reality being obscured from the public consciousness.
Having roots in, but eventually developing distinct from the First Nations, there is the [email protected], and Puerto Rican nations/colonies. Overtime all these domestic colonies subjugated by the settler amerikan empire have developed thru struggle, and have reached a new and different phase of colonialism, called neo-colonialism, which can be characterized by the power structure now formally allowing representatives of these oppressed peoples to integrate into the economic, political and military structures, and in many ways act as a buffer between the ruling class and the masses of neo-colonized people.
This brings me back to Our discussion on organizing, and political education. See, depending on what We organizing for, one will require different political understanding. Fanon says,
“A political informed [person in a colonial situation] is someone who knows that a local dispute is not a crucial confrontation between [them] and [the system]”
“It is the repeated demonstrations for their rights and the repeated labor disputes that politicize the masses.” (3)
So basically what Frantz Fanon is saying here is that first one must understand they are indeed colonized, and this understanding disallows them from settling for any ol’ concession that can come from a ‘local dispute’. And here when he says local, We can put it in Our immediate context and understand it to mean, ‘prison struggles’.
What does this mean? It essentially means that We utilize, and in fact manufacture these ‘repeated demonstrations for their/our rights’ as a means to politicize the masses. However, if We are organizing the masses utilizing such demonstration alone We run into a few pitfalls. The one which i’ll deal with here can be understood by the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for you just might get it.” So in Our context, in the prison movement, what happens to the momentum of the masses, of the people as a whole if We as organizers manufacture a or a few demonstrations and the administration actually concedes? If the masses don’t understand the complexity of Our situation, that We’re colonized, dehumanized, an alienated sub-class, the dregs of the society, and that not only must these realities change, We must change within Ourselves, and We must take part in changing these realities, then the masses the people will quit the struggle after what they’ve perceived to be success, and they’ll resume their normal ways of existence. This pattern is counter-productive to the cause of revolution. We must at all times possible keep the masses active, and that activity pertaining to the struggle. Fanon said, “The colonized subject is at constant risk of being disarmed by any sort of concession.”(4)
So an understanding of what Our issues are, colonialism, neo-colonialism or racism, or individual wrong decision making, will determine the strategies and tactics We take moving forward. If We begin Our study of literature proceeding from the perspective that We’re colonized nations of people, We study how anti-colonial struggles have developed, failed and triumphed around the world. Furthermore We realize that unless an action fundamentally eradicates Our colonial existence than it is only a reform and does not solve Our fundamental problem(s) which stem from Our thwarted development under neo-colonialism. Thus We don’t even seek certain reforms, or concessions, and the ones We do are to advance Our strategic goal.
The question now becomes again HOW to maintain the masses attention before, during, and after demonstrations? The answer leads us to ORGANIZATION. Those who have a study level of political vision must take the initiative in forming real organized organizations. Within these organizations leaders should allow for activities to be carried out by the rank & file and must be sure that activities assigned to a comrade are in alignment with the talents, interests, and abilities of said comrade. In this way one keeps the masses involved and engaged. If able weekly or bi-weekly meetings should be established. Minutes should be kept of the meetings, meaning, write down what you’re doing, what you’re talking about, what are the plans going forward, etc. At said meetings each comrade should have a progress report, which entails what they’ve been doing since the previous meeting.
If a comrade can draw, they should be assigned something to draw. If a comrade can write, they should be assigned something to write. If a comrade has a typewrite they should be tasked with typing up the documents of the group. In fact it is good to take up one project that the entire collective can attribute to. Say a pamphlet, of course you need writers, We need art work, and We’ll need a typist, We’ll need some donations of stamps to circulate it to publishers, and in this way every one not only feels involved, but more importantly feels that immeasurable feeling of accomplishment. In understanding the complexities of Our class (lumpen) We must understand a lot of us have not accomplished much of anything in the way of real world accomplishments. A lot of us have been caged, stagnated in a state of arrested development, since Our pre-teen and teen years, and thus are persynally under-developed in many ways. This feeling of accomplishment motivates and inspires one to continue to chase that good feeling, and particularly when the feeling is derived from doing something productive, it overtime alters a persyn internally, and this is what We, as revolutionaries especially within the lumpen class want most.
Organizations in their many varieties are the vehicles of the people and their struggle. Vanguard elements must seek to organize all aspects of the people’s struggle, all aspects of the people’s lives under their leadership and influence. This doesn’t mean everyone has to or will be a member of a particular leading organizational body. What it means is that organization must make itself seen & heard & felt in each aspect of the people’s lives. The musician they listen to should be expressing some theme derived from the organization. The farmer should have the organization’s line on collectivizing agriculture and land. The prisoner and their family should know that the prisoner, if deemed capable can/will have a place of refuge, work, and re-humanization with the organization. The womyn must know she has a group trustworthy and capable to care for her kids collectively, and ensure her access to safe abortion if necessary. Those in the LGBTQ community must feel at one with the organization, enabled and empowered.
In a nutshell the proper organization will galvanize the popular masses of the people, educating and organizing the most capable from every and all sectors, and from there synthesize the aspirations, and ambitions of the people’s struggle with practical and concrete measures to realize these objectives.
With the formation of Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., the Texas USW re-branded, We have formed the vehicle for the Texas prisoner’s struggle. We have thus far established multiple wings which can/will be used to activate the stored away genius of the masses. We have the legal wing for those writ-writing jailhouse lawyers, a space for like minded cats to put their heads together to attack certain aspects of the system that can help us better build the movement. We have established, in its early stages, a wimmins & LGBTQ wing, which is again an avenue for certain people to step up and utilize what they already know how to do, in concert with the rest of the organized body to get what We want. We’ve established the Worker’s wing a lane where people around the state can collectively struggle for worker’s rights, and incorporate those struggles with the others and in combination gain bigger gains…We’ve established and/or influenced the establishment of numerous committees with the members therein playing roles in the ‘wings’ mentioned above. In all this We’ve done well in applying lessons learned from MIM(Prisons), and some of Our own experiences, thus synthesizing theory & practice.
It must be said however that We have made many mistakes. We began organizing as Fanon said, around demonstrations. We learned in practice, some of us without ever having read Fanon, that the masses, and Ourselves could easily get complacent after concessions are made. The mistake came by not initially focusing on ideo-theoretical questions. We had to learn that the truth of the matter that prior to any organization the people in question must sit down and individually intake information, after a certain amount of information has been accumulated they must come together and discuss their findings and thoughts, establish their points of unity, modes of organization, and other such matters. Of course this isn’t to say that all organizations come together like this. Many take on a more spontaneous approach to development and this approach is observed in their style of work.
The re-occurring theme will always be political education, the need for it will never cease, and the need to bring all the people to an active level of consciousness, that is a level where they can be/are active in the struggle.
In Our campaign to end RHU, it was selectively chosen for a multitude of reasons. One of which is to show & prove We can shut it down if & when We organize Ourselves and the people correctly. Because of conditions that prevail in long-term isolation, many of the most radical and politically astute people are in or have been in long-term isolation, if We could multiply those types of elements, and then get them out on the pop city We can make conditions more conductive to politicizing more and more prisoners sending more and more of these to the outside. To illustrate the contradiction that despite the various levels of illegality present within the solitary confinement apparatus, it still continues, and yet We’re the so-called criminals. There is of course the fact that if We can eliminate the punitive answer for dissent then We leave the enemy with little recourse once Our collective resistance picks up. In this way We take a tool out of their tool kit. However, the underlying goal is simply to shut seg down, what if they just capitulated and gave us what We wanted? What becomes of the struggle then? IF that was Our actual GOAL and not a MEANS TO AN END, then Our entire struggle would have been defeated, at least temporarily, not by bullets, or bombs, but by sugar-coated bullets, by concessions, by reforms, which weaken the intensity of contradictions rather than increase them. Mastering this delicate balance will determine the successes and failures of Our organizing methods.
“At first disconcerted, they then realize the need to explain and ensure the colonized’s consciousness does not get bogged down. In the meantime the war goes on, the enemy organizes itself, gathers strength and preempts the strategy of the colonized. The struggle for national liberation is not a question of bridging the gap in one giant stride. The epic is played out on a difficult, day-to-day basis and the suffering endured far exceeds that of the colonial period. Down in the towns the colonists have apparently changed. Our people are happier. They are respected. A daily routine sets in, and the colonized engaged in struggle, the people who must continue to give it their support, cannot afford to give in. They must not think the objective has already been achieved. When the actual objectives of the struggle are described, they must not think they are impossible. Once again, clarification is needed and the people have to realize where they are going and how to get there. The war is not one battle but a succession of local struggles, none of which, in fact, is decisive.” (5)
An Ongoing Discussion
We’ve picked this discussion back up, as some of us felt that somethings were still left unsaid or unclear.
We’ve articulated previously that one’s method to organization is logically dependent upon one’s goals, and also one’s circumstances or conditions. It is Our view that the conditions and circumstances being what they currently are in North amerika, the lumpen-prisoner class is a highly dynamic entity. This class, Our class is also a vacillating class, meaning its members can be like see-saws, moving from one side (revolutionary) to another (reactionary) as their emotions and whims take them. However, We assert that the other classes of North amerika have become so bourgeoisified that the social vehicles for social revolution are so slim to none that the last objectively repressed class in amerika, the class that still has little to no stake in the bourgeois democracy, is the lumpen.
We’ve reached this conclusion by analyzing the social forces and classes within North amerikan society. Observing their material benefits of being cozied up to their bourgeoisie. We’ve observed how and why social movements only advance so far, being largely unwilling, or sometimes unable to carry the struggle to higher levels, due to a certain level of comfort in the status quo. And We logically look to Our own class and see that these factors, though still present are vastly diminished. Therefore, arriving at this class analysis We say that it is most conductive to Our goal of social revolution to invest time and resources into the lumpen in order to politicize them, and that investment should be in proportion to the classes potential to lean towards a revolutionary line and practice.
Now We reach the basic question, how do we maximize the dynamic potential of this vacillating lumpen class? How do We ensure that the majority of lumpen are progressive, neutral, or all the way revolutionary and not objective enemies of the people? The answer again points to ORGANIZATION. The only way to maximize the people’s initiative in general and the lumpen in particular is to formulate them into tightly organized units/groups. The lumpen struggle is a class struggle, and thus We must organize the First World Lumpen on a class basis.
What does this mean, what does this look like? What is a class? There is often mention of the prisoner class, or a particular class of prisoners. However, very rarely do comrades utilize class in a Communist framework.
A ‘Class’ 1) shares a common position in their relation to the means of production; common economic conditions, relative to their labor and appropriation of the social surplus; 2) that they must share a separate way of life and cultural existence; 3) that they must share a set of interests which are antagonistic to other classes; 4) that they must share a set of social relations,;i.e. a sense of unity which extends beyond local boundaries, and constitutes a national bond; 5) that they must share a corresponding collective consciousness of themselves as a ‘class’, and; 6) they must create their own political organizations, and pursue their interests as a ‘class’ (6)
We must also clarify that Marx differentiated between a ‘class in itself’ and a ‘class for itself’. The difference between the two can be summarized by saying that a class in itself simply shares a common economic position but lacks the other listed criteria. Whereas a class for itself is an entity fully organized and meeting all listed criteria.
Therefore, what We are saying here is that We must organize in a manner that will bring the lumpen from the level of class in itself, to the elevated level of a class for itself. Our organization should be modeled in a way to obtain the collective mobility, ingenuity, and potential of the lumpen as a whole. We must ‘nationalize’ these structures, meaning expand them state-to-state, with each one developing its own relative strength locally.
The next question is how do We get there? How do we reach this point of mass participation and organization? We’ll quote Fanon here:
“The duty of a leadership is to have the masses on their side. Any commitment, however, presupposes awareness and understanding of the mission to be accomplished, in short a rational analysis, no matter how embryonic.” (7)
Here he stresses the basic conscious political education of the people. We continue:
“The people should not be mesmerized, swayed by emotion or confusion. Only [under-developed people] led by a revolutionary elite emanating from the people can today empower the masses to step out onto the stage of history.” (8)
I’ve put the above in bold to illuminate certain mistakes We often make. We often capitulate to the weaknesses of the masses in Our good intended desire to win them over. One of the weaknesses of this sort is the masses never-ending desire to be entertained. This desire almost always precedes from a desire to escape reality, and when done too much establishes a state of complacency with oppression and exploitation and undermines revolutionary or productive/progressive activity. When We reach out to the masses We often make the mistake of trying to move them into immediate action with a fiery speech, with the showing of the video of the latest police killing, or whatever We believe may move them. Although We have good intentions this method has hystorically proven inadequate for carrying out revolution. Instead, because it relies on emotions, which fluctuate, the activity it renders, if it renders activity at all, is necessarily fluctuating, and vacillating.
We can see this in real time if We observe the ebbs and flows of social movements in North amerika. George Floyd’s taped murder shook people emotionally. It awakened pent up anger and frustration from many sectors. People took that, and nothing else, no political education, no political organization, no political vision, only anger and frustration into their protests, and rebellions, and uprisings. Soon, the only people left in the streets were politicized people. Anarchists, Socialists, Abolitionists, and this sort. The masses however, had long since retreated back into the comforts of their amerikan life of escape, and leisure, isolating what was then allowed to be percieved as extremist/terrorist elements.
This what Fanon calls the ‘weakness of spontaneity’ showed its face. We must learn from this. In the quote above the ‘under-developed people’ are those masses of North amerikans. They reside in the land of excess, material excess, but the land of political sleep-walkers. These are the people Fanon says must be led by a REVOLUTIONARY elite. Now what does he mean by this? Because of the under-developed state of the people’s sociopolitical consciousness, those cadre elements who’ve struggled to grasp the complex concepts of political-economy, and revolutionary theory, although not desiring to be perceived as an elite, meaning above the rest, they actually do represent a higher stage of development, and in that context ONLY are they ‘elite’. The key phrase of the quote is the necessity that these ‘elite’ emanate from the people, meaning they must be one of their own, or perceived as such. The cadre-organizer must take care to balance its level of understanding with the level of the masses. There will be a contradiction between these masses and the politicized persyn, there should be, but this should not be an antagonistic contradiction. The people should be able to look to you for example, not look at you in disdain. As one might do to someone who thinks their shit don’t stink. Now we move to exactly HOW does these cadres, EMPOWER THE MASSES,
“…On the condition that We vigorously and decisively reject the formation of a national bourgeoisie, a caste of privileged individuals. To politicize the masses is to make the nation (or class) in its totality a reality for every citizen. To make the experience of the nation (or class) the experience of every citizen.” (9)
“Only the massive commitment by men and wimmin to judicious and productive tasks gives form and substance to this consciousness.” (10)
“No leader, whatever their worth, can replace the will of the people, and the national government, before concerning itself with international prestige, must first restore dignity to all citizens, furnish their minds, fill their eyes with human things and develop a human landscape for the sake of its enlightened and sovereign inhabitants.” (11)
It is Our intention as USW leaders in Texas, as Tx T.E.A.M.O.N.E. cadre, to have Our organization act as a vehicle to organize and mobilize and educate the masses of lumpen in North amerika. We hope you will be inspired to join us.
1) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.138, chapt.3
2) Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary, pg.4
3) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.63 chapt.2
4) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
5) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
6) see; Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire; also Karl Marx, The Holy Family;also, Meditations On Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, James Yaki Sayles, pg. 286
7) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.140, chapt.3
Following up on some recent warnings and reports from comrades on Subxone(buprenorphine), we conducted an updated survey on drugs in U.$. prisons this past winter.(1) We received survey responses from NC, PA, VA, WV, MI, CA and TX.(2) While we heard from Michigan in ULK 75 all of the other states were represented in our original survey, which was distributed more widely and received more responses.
So has anything changed in the last 5 years? In 2017, Suboxone use was reported to be common in many states in the northeast and midwest United $tates. Specifically comrades in NY, KS, WV, TN, CT, WI, and especially PA reported Suboxone use being popular. We do not have info on whether the Suboxone was obtained from the prison or not in that data set. In 2022, we can add California, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan to the list of states where Suboxone is abused in prisons. Of those four, only Michigan was not represented in our 2017 survey, meaning Suboxone seems to have become popular in the other 3 in the last five years. Texas is the only state we got responses from this year that reported Suboxone still not being available at all.
Our comrade in Michigan reported this new drug appeared on the scene in 2012, and had become the most common drug abused in the MDOC, with perhaps 5 in 10 prisoners using it. (until recently when K2 took over)
We have updated info from Pennsylvania affirming that it is prescribed there and that people can stay on it for as long as they are held in prison. About 1 in 7 people are using Suboxone at SCI-Dallas.
In North Carolina, Suboxone is very popular, though less popular than K2, which has been increasing in use. Suboxone may be more popular with white prisoners there.
Our Virginia respondent is in a “big mental health/drug rehab” unit, where ey says “we can’t order self-help programs nor books.” Imagine that! Yet you can get a Suboxone subscription with no indication that there are any classes to go along with it. Some are continuing their Suboxone subs from the streets.
Michigan and West Virginia do not prescribe Suboxone according to our survey respondents. Yet it still gets into the prisons there and is quite popular.
California the big mover
The biggest shift we learned from our second round of surveys was the new introduction of Suboxone, which Ehecatl already reported in ULK 76 started in 2020. A recent study reported a sharp increase in buprenorphine consumption in prisons from 2020-2021. The number of incarcerated people consuming it rose an estimated 250,000 from January 2015 to May 2021. With only 115,000 prisoners total, CDCR may have been a good chunk of that growth, but clearly was only part of it.
That said, one comrade in California reported that they now “give anyone and everyone Suboxone. I know a bunch of people who never have used drugs and went to see the doctor and got put on Suboxone.” The price of Suboxone on the black market has decrease from $100 to only $2-4 as a result. This comrade continued,
“I’ve been in solitary confinement for over 4 years so I signed up to get put on Suboxone and I got put on it a week after seeing the doctor. I’ve been a drug addict my whole life, but was still surprised how easy it is and was to get put on Subxone.”
We’ve always held that solitary confinement is used as a tool of social control in the U.$. injustice system. We also see Suboxone being used in the same way. Here they are being used in conjunction as a way to help people adjust to the torture of solitary confinement. When used outside solitary, most prisoners reported its use leading to people retreating from socializing and not engaging in any kind of group organizing.
Another CA comrade had put in a request in December 2019 after the CDCR publicized a new drug to help with addiction. By March or April 2020 ey was approved for Suboxone. Doses there range from 8mg to 20mg. As for counseling, this comrade did report that, “while I was receiving it we were seeing a C.O. Healy and ex-drug user facilitator bringing us 5 days of work on Monday and coming back on Monday to pick up the homework.” It is not clear why ey stopped receiving Suboxone.
“Buprenorphine use in jails and prisons increased by 224-fold, from a daily mean of 44 individuals in June 2016 to 9841 individuals in May 2021 (Figure). Most of this increase occurred from 2020 to 2021. Nationwide, across all retail and nonretail settings, buprenorphine use increased by 53.9% from a daily mean of 466,781 individuals in January 2015 to 718,591 individuals in May 2021. By May 2021, correctional settings accounted for approximately 1.5% of all buprenorphine use nationwide. An estimated 3.6% of the 270,000 incarcerated individuals with [Opioid Use Disorder] in the US received buprenorphine.”(3)
These numbers are likely underestimated as they are based on retail sales numbers from one source. But the sharp increase in prescribed Suboxone starting in late 2019 is certainly something of note.
K2 Still King in TX
We received the most responses to our second survey from Texas, and things seem to have not changed much there. Everyone agreed that Suboxone was not available in Texas. K2 appeared there around 2013 or 2014 according to our respondents, and has been on the increase ever since. Many people report tiers filled with the smoke being a common occurrence in the TDCJ. K2 use rates reported in TX this time around estimated 10%, 20%, 30% and in the RHU up to 75% of people.
Our correspondent from Allred’s RHU reports that back in 2013-2016 “drugs were virtually non-existent… 1/2 that time there were no cameras, yet there still was no drugs, no cell phones, no contraband at all really. Since i’ve been back here there has been at least a 70% increase in contraband” (2017 to present). This comrade points to a huge cultural shift among staff leading to the change.
Ey goes on to explain the social effects of this influx of drugs and how it serves as a tool of social control:
“We had a good thing going here after working to bring all New Afrikan lumpen groups and people together, but clashes over drug debts have undermined the unity… We were able to organize 1/3 of the RHU population against their confinement. With the drugs one year later, barely 50 people!”
As far as effective efforts to combat drugs, we once again got a resounding “no” answer to that question form all states. One TX comrade reported, “the Christians and Muslims are the only social groups openly condemning drug use, simultaneously, some of their”coordinators" are getting officially charged with possessing it!"
Another comrade who struggled with prescription psych meds as well as illicit drugs explained, “One of the worst parts of my own ‘addiction’ was the shame and guilt that came from using these ‘illegal drugs.’” This is just one reason why the approach to drug addiction in this country is ineffective. We encourage comrades to try our new Revolutionary 12 Step Program, which will walk you through addressing these feelings of shame.
A couple of respondents reiterated a preference for “natural” drugs rather than ones that are synthesized by multi-national corporations. But we’d point out the reason we can’t trust modern technology is because of capitalism. It is not the fact that humyns made it that makes it unsafe, but rather the profit motives that cause humyns to hide and overlook any safety issues that come up. There are lots of things that grow naturally that can kill you. In a system that operates in the interests of the people, we wouldn’t be making things to add to that list like the capitalists do.
Texas has been overtly operating a slave trade for decades. You may be surprised to know that people still wrestle with distinguishing the difference between being incarcerated and being enslaved. This is why after the countrywide prison demonstrations of 9 September 2016, Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun of the FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT said that he noticed a dragnet pattern after 15 to 20 interviews where they kept asking why we refer to incarceration as slavery. From that point on he required media to read the 13th Amendment before he would allow an interview.
Incarcerated, Imprisoned or Enslaved?
To be clear, incarceration is the act or process of confining someone; imprisonment. To imprison simply means to confine (a person) in prison. So far, we haven’t delved into treatment that would call for the loss of the right to vote, bear arms, live in certain communities, adopt a child or be forced to provide free labor.
Both incarceration and imprisonment utilize confinement as a form of punishment. Slavery, on the other hand, is 1) A situation in which one person has absolute power over life, fortune and liberty of another; and 2) The practice of keeping individuals in such a state of bondage or servitude.
Here, the word servitude comes into play and involuntary servitude is: The condition of one forced into labor – for pay or not – for another by coercion or imprisonment. This is where you see that the imprisonment is a means to the labor.
Under the first definition of slavery provided above was the usage of a word that most only know to refer to a human being. However, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, an entity (such as a corporation) that is recognized by law as having the rights and duties of a human being is the second definition of person.
We now know that slavery can be a scenario in which one corporation has absolute power over life, fortune and liberty of a human.
The word corporation would usually bring to mind Amazon or Walmart but those are small fish in a bigger pond. A corporation is sort of a person and a government is a sort of corporation. The city/county you are from was incorporated into your state which was incorporated into the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA through its Articles Of Incorporation. This is why the corporation, which is the U.S. of A. has an office for the president, vice president, secretaries and staff members etc., who are members of the EXECUTIVE branch of our governments which are corporations that have absolute power over life, fortune and liberty of others via their institutions of slavery.
Felons Are The New Niggers
As the author and educator Claud Anderson, Ed. D. stated on page 66 of his book Black Labor, White Wealth:
"Black enslavement must be a constant reminder of the ramifications of a lack of collective unity, strength and self-determination.
It is incumbent that you come to discern that those who are economically challenged are subjected to prosecutions at a far higher rate than the upper class, imperative for us to acknowledge that though those subjects are predominantly Black, as a class, they are multi-ethnic and as such, convicted felons of all backgrounds have become the new Blacks; ones relegated to niggerdom.
For example, in Texas in the year 2000, Latinos were nearly twice as likely as whites to be incarcerated,(1) but shocking is the fact that in 2002 Latinos were a larger portion of new prison arrivals than either Blacks or whites (33.9% Latinos, 32.8% Blacks, 32.2% whites)(2) yet sadly, a smaller portion of the releases. They were going in at a higher rate but coming out at a lower one.
These numbers for Latinos are alarming in light of how bad Blacks were treated during the period from 1986 to 2000 where spending only increased 47% for Texas Higher Education but a whopping 346% for Texas Corrections.(3) This maneuver caused Blacks to be sent to prison 7 times more than whites for drug offenses, making Blacks 81% of the whole state’s prison growth for drugs.(4)
Additionally, the number of Black youth imprisoned for drugs during roughly the same period rose by 360%, however, for young whites imprisonment for drug offenses declined by 9%.(5) With that knowledge it becomes apparent that the 360% increase in Black bodies was the Return On Investment for the 346% accretion in correctional spending.
The result was that in 2003, Black Texans were incarcerated 5 times as much as whites.(6) Texas had managed to have 66,300 Black males in prison and only 40,800 in the Texas Higher Education system.(7) This, regardless of the fact that in 2002 whites and Blacks, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported to be dependent on a substance at similar rates. (9.5% of Blacks and 9.3% of whites).
I say that this is a result because the increase in Black bodies to the plantations ensured a decrease in their eligibility to become any part of the legislature that makes laws or police officers, prosecutors, grand jurors, trial jurors, parole or probation officers, judges or justices.
On the flipside of that, and just as significant, is that if the Black man and the law collide, the institution has created a system to where as he interacts within the criminal justice machination there is a lesser likelihood that the police he may come into contact with is Black. Or the prosecutor who decides to charge him or the grand juror who decides to indict him or the judge who calls the shots in the courtroom or the trial jurors who convict him or the appellate justices or the parole/probation officers; the last three who are in the business of ”keeping individuals in a state of bondage or servitude”.
We went from being either a free (white) or enslaved (Black) man in the slave era to being either an upstanding citizen or a convicted felon, ethnicity be damned. The poor white and Latino populations, who are more likely to be convicted than their upper-to-middle-classes, are subjected to the same societal pitfalls and social stratification.
This is what Claud Anderson meant in his warning about not forgetting about the lack of unity and strength during Black enslavement, if we don’t bind together to stop this institution, the system will chain us together to feed it.
Monopoly Money (All Around The Board)
For all the prison stockyards that overpopulated Texas in the 1990’s there were mainly two styles: a maximum security template that holds three to four thousand prisoners and a medium security template that holds around two thousand. So, whereas these prisoners couldn’t vote, they became a part of the hosting county’s population, a sure gerrymandering and census incentive for when the federal government doles out X amount of dollars to districts based on population.
These prisoners are paid nothing though they produce many goods that are sold. They are paid nothing but they spend millions of their families’ dollars on commissary. There is only one place for prisoners to purchase hygiene, food, correspondence materials and a few articles of clothing, all of which are produced by prison labor, like shorts, shirts, thermals, socks and shower shoes and then sold back to them at exorbitant prices.
Prisoners who want to make a phone call are not afforded the luxury of choosing a carrier. They provide free labor and their family spends millions accepting overpriced phone calls contracted with a corporation called Securus.
These prisoners can also receive emails and funds from their families who Spend millions to send both through a company called Jpay who is owned behind the same corporate veil as Securus.
Imagine if Walmart could lock its customers in the store. To hell with a discount, they could price gouge and be certain that those suckers would fight each other to get on the phone to have their families send millions for them to buy every item in the store. They wouldn’t be able to keep anything on the shelves, no matter that most is of poor quality.
There simply isn’t a more loyal consumer base or promising commodity where the institution has created for itself a way to circumvent the free market to monopolize on the misery of the involuntary but free labor force.
We, the Texas Liberation Collective, are not lost on the fact that Texas has the expense of feeding and housing its prisoners because all slave owners have had to do the same. All livestock has to be alive to produce, be sold or traded. we are more focused on the fact that the prison population of Texas exists by design. As stated in Part One of this series, there was not a crime wave in the decade of the state’s prison boom to account for the expansion of the slave state itself.
What we endured was a bull market in the stock exchange and guess who orchestrated it? We could say that politicians and corporations were responsible but it would be saying the same thing as the two are mutually inclusive. State Senator Ted Cruz (R) works to advance the interests of the corporation he works for, it’s called Texas and its enslaved Latino population is of no concern to him.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has a subsidiary of sorts called Texas Correctional Industries (TCI) which the Lone Star State created in 1963 during the Civil Rights era. TCI is governed by the Texas Board Of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) and has nine members who are appointed by the governor, five of whom are currently lawyers.
Based on the legislative language that created the TCI, the board is endowed with the authority to determine prisoners’ pay for their labor, though to date they have opted for NO PAY and involuntary servitude:
“The board may develop by rule and the department may administer an incentive pay scale for work program participants…Prison industries may be financed through contributions donated for this purpose by private businesses contracting with the department. The department shall apportion pay earned by a work program participant in the same manner as is required by rules adopted by the board under section 497.0581.”
If you’ve been told that some prisoners do earn wages if they work for private companies through the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program(PIECP) please be aware that the conversation isn’t held without an exaggerated depiction. Truthfully, in 2017 though TDCJ had over 145,000 prisoners, according to Jason Clark, TDCJ’s Chief of Staff in 2019, there were only about 80 prisoners who were allowed to partake in the PIECP, a number that was well below a waning one percent of the Texas prison population.
The TCI sweatshops are dispersed throughout 37 prison plantations and its free labor force – or free labor by force, shall we say? – manufactures a plethora of goods from wooden state signs, license plates, police utility vests and bedding, steel kitchenware, up-to-date ergonomically designed office furniture, park equipment, security fixtures, food service equipment and they also refurbish school buses and computers, grow crops and tend to over ten thousand head of cattle.
In the spirit of Texas, TCI’s total sales for fiscal year 2014 were valued at $88.9 million, FY 2017 it was $84 million. Outside of the minute headcount of laborers in the PIECP, the state makes these hundreds of millions from the blood, sweat and tears of a forced-into-labor labor force who is subjected to some form of penal castigation should they refuse to relinquish their labor upon demand.
The punishment may be a combination of the following restrictions:
No access to the phones, no access to the recreation yard, commissary restriction, cell restriction, personal property restriction, loss of good time and/or work time credit, loss of visitation privileges, loss of custody level which can result in being removed from general population and placed in 21 or 23 hour lock down housing. Receiving any of this retribution could result in being denied educational programs and most significantly, parole.
Juneteenth and Dale Wainwright
How ironic, yet not surprising, that Texas is shamelessly known as the last state to free the slaves —— a disgraceful fact that spawned the celebration called Juneteenth, its own holiday - yet they still haven’t freed the slaves, thus deeming Juneteenth and its celebrators a farce.
Texas and its misled sympathizers have no justifiable reason in acknowledging Juneteenth today in the same spirit that the slave negroes of the Frederick Doug- lass era had no justifiable reason in acknowledging Independence Day.
Here, we dare raise other ironies but how ironic is it that just as millions of slaves parted Africa from a slave port called Goree Island, many of us enslaved here after inception and diagnostics were shipped to and through a slave port called Goree Unit? But even more.sickening and insane is that just as some Africans sold their own into slavery, the TBCJ at one point was chaired by (Wait! I refuse to call this man Black, but he is definitely…) an African-American!
That’s right, you eased on down the red bricked road to peek behind the corporate veil to see who whitey was that refused to pay the slaves and when you raised the curtain there stood Dale Wainwright celebrating Juneteenth with a fat slave- raised burger. He made Texas history by becoming the first African-American elected to the Texas Supreme Court, but he will go down in history for being the Supreme House Negro of the twenty-first century.
He was managing partner in the Austin office of Bracewell & Giuliani, the firm where former NYC mayor and Trump prop-man Rudy Giuliani is a partner.
Another former member, Eric Gambrell, contributed to the campaign of and was appointed by Governor Rick Perry. He’s a corporate lawyer and partner at Akin Gump, a large lobbying and law firm whose clientele has included big dogs like Amazon, Pfizer and even the slimy privatized prison giant formally-known as Corrections Corporation of America.
Whether you make them or break them, law is big business in the Texas organizational construct and some of the biggest capitalists.are…lawyers.
In Part One of Exposing The Lone Star Chamber (Of Enslavement) we detailed how district attorneys bypass and usurp the authority of Texas grand juries to rubber-stamp what is purported to be an indictment but fails to constitutionally vest a district trial court with subject-matter jurisdiction. Thus, the lives that filled the stockyards were kidnapped under the watchful eyes of congress and company.
Here, we have hopefully assisted in helping you know slavery when you see slavery in the same way that you would know that a pig with lipstick on is still a pig.
In Part Three of this series, we will examine some intricate details of the Texas slave trade and question how in the age of Black Lives Matter, the age of Prison Lives Matter, and with all the professed social and criminal justice warriors and reformists, the Lone Star Chamber continues to broker these bodies shamelessly and unchallenged.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome comrade Ice Immortal Askari to the pages of Under Lock & Key. This well-researched piece touches on some recurring themes in our newsletter. The first is the interplay of class and nation in the U.$. prison context. As our comrade points out the disproportionate targetting of New Afrikans and Raza, as well as First Nations, by the injustice system, ey sees prisoners of all nationalities in the same boat. This is generally our line as well, we must unite the imprisoned lumpen class across boundaries. But we also must recognize the particularities of different nationalities in this country, and recognize the importances of national liberation struggles in the dismantling of U.$. imperialism.
The author defines slavery as:
“1) A situation in which one person has absolute power over life, fortune and liberty of another; and 2) The practice of keeping individuals in such a state of bondage or servitude.”
The author attempts to distinguish slavery from imprisonment. But we find this distinction not useful as the expressed purpose of imprisonment is to impose state control over the lives of individuals deemed to have committed a crime. The American Heritage Dictionary provides one definition of slavery as, “A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force.” This is a simple summation of the Marxist definition. We’ve written extensively on this question of prison slavery in the past. And a new summary of our research on prison labor and economics will be available in the next edition of The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. In short, the motivation for imprisonment is not profiting off of prison labor as was the motivation for slavery in this country or any other country in the world.
The realm of prison labor is a realm where tactical action and organizing can occur. We agree that it is important to the running of these institutions and as such can be used as a means of exerting political pressure.
Telling people they must cook or clean to help maintain the facility they are living in is not an injustice. Having people do productive labor as part of the punishment for a crime against the people is not an injustice. The injustice is who is being put in prison, and for what reasons, and how they are being treated in there.
Amerikans oppose prison labor for the same reason they oppose migration, they don’t want to dilute their inflated wages. So we caution those in the prison movement who try to unite with the labor aristocracy on this issue, when they have consistently stood with the cops and the prison unions throughout history. As we unite along common class interests in prison, we must recognize that our support base on the streets is in the national liberation struggles of the oppressed.
Notes: 1. Coyle, Michael J. Latinos and_the Texas Criminal Justice System: NCLR Research Brief. (2003) Washington, D.C. : National Council of La Raza 2. Findings Of The National Council Of La Raza – (NCLR) 2003: Racial And Ethnic Minorities Over-represented in the Criminal Justice System 3. Cellblocks or Classrooms, The Justice Policy Institute (2002) 4. Findings Of The Justice Policy Institute – Analysis of the National Corrections Reporting Program on Race and Drug Admissions in Texas (2003) 5. Findings of the Steward Research Groups – Commissioned by the NAACP Texas State Conference and NAACP voter Fund 6. Findings of the Justice Policy Institute – Analysis of the National Corrections Reporting Program on Race and Drug Admissions in Texas. 7. ibid