Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas 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.

Allred Unit (Iowa Park)

Beto I Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Bexar County Jail (San Antonio)

Bill Clements Unit (Amarillo)

Billy Moore Correctional Center (Overton)

Bowie County Correctional Center (Texarkana)

Boyd Unit (Teague)

Cameron County Detention Center (Olmito)

Choice Moore Unit (Bonham)

Clemens Unit (Brazoria)

Coffield Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Connally Unit (Kenedy)

Cotulla Unit (Cotulla)

Dalhart Unit (Dalhart)

Daniel Unit (Snyder)

Darrington Unit (Rosharon)

Dominguez State Jail (San Antonio)

Eastham Unit (Lovelady)

Ellis Unit (Huntsville)

Estelle 2 (Huntsville)

Estelle High Security Unit (Huntsville)

Ferguson Unit (Midway)

Formby Unit (Plainview)

Garza East Unit (Beeville)

Gib Lewis Unit (Woodville)

Hamilton Unit (Bryan)

Harris County Jail Facility (Houston)

Hightower Unit (Dayton)

Hobby Unit (Marlin)

Hughes Unit (Gatesville)

Huntsville (Huntsville)

Jester III Unit (Richmond)

John R Lindsey State Jail (Jacksboro)

Jordan Unit (Pampa)

Lane Murray Unit (Gatesville)

Larry Gist State Jail (Beaumont)

LeBlanc Unit (Beaumont)

Lopez State Jail (Edinburg)

Luther Unit (Navasota)

Lychner Unit (Humble)

Lynaugh Unit (Ft Stockton)

McConnell Unit (Beeville)

Michael Unit (Tennessee Colony)

Middleton Unit (Abilene)

Montford Unit (Lubbock)

Mountain View Unit (Gatesville)

Neal Unit (Amarillo)

Pack Unit (Novasota)

Polunsky Unit (Livingston)

Powledge Unit (Palestine)

Ramsey I Unit (Rosharon)

Ramsey III Unit (Rosharon)

Robertson Unit (Abilene)

Rufus Duncan TF (Diboll)

Sanders Estes CCA (Venus)

Smith County Jail (Tyler)

Smith Unit (Lamesa)

Stevenson Unit (Cuero)

Stiles Unit (Beaumont)

Stringfellow Unit (Rosharon)

Telford Unit (New Boston)

Terrell Unit (Rosharon)

Torres Unit (Hondo)

Travis State Jail (Austin)

Vance Unit (Richmond)

Victoria County Jail (Victoria)

Wallace Unit (Colorado City)

Wayne Scott Unit (Angleton)

Wynne Unit (Huntsville)

Young Medical Facility Complex (Dickinson)

[Censorship] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Repression in Texas

I would like our community of revolutionaries to know what is going on in the confines of Preston Smith Unit. The gang intelligence officer took all of my property, saying that I was trying to recruit a feline pen pal into the ALKQN. When my property was returned to me I was missing people's birthday dates, the names of people getting married, and all my addresses and phone numbers.

The reason that was given was "dangerous contraband." I don't know when such things became "dangerous," none of the people have tried to break me out of prison or smuggle in contraband. I have been incarcerated for a little over eleven years, I have had the gang intelligence take my property several times. At no time have they tried to take my addresses, they have taken pictures, names and numbers of inmates and even raps. At no time have they gone this far.

I have no way to contact anyone that I know and it is infuriating. The gang intelligence has cut me off form society and I still have a little over seven years before I see parole.

The grievance system is a joke, here are people who are chummy with those who we "write up." Do we actually think that we will get results? Of course not. That is a fallacy that only novice prisoners might believe in. The truth of the matter is, the injustice system gets away with so much due to those who are outside of it, not doing anything to assist those who are inside.

This [Under Lock and Key] is a forum, sort of a think thank. We know far more collectively than we do individually. All that needs to be done is to set the stage for a movement. That's why they really took all my addresses, they fear my mind and power to build.

It is time to unify into one, we must set objectives that we reach on a deadline. How beautiful it would be to have 7,000 people call and write letters about one issue at a time.

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[Medical Care] [Texas] [ULK Issue 5]
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Medical neglect in Texas is killing prisoners

I wanted to write and tell you about some of the things that we deal with in this plantation. One of the most serious and blatant violations we deal with is with basic medical services. I have witnessed a prisoner who had an aneurysm that led to a massive stroke. The man went to the person on duty and told him what was going on, first they told him they were busy. When they finally did see him they told him it was gas and go back to his cell. On the way back he had a seizure and they finally got him to the hospital. In less than one week they sent him back and now he is not coherent and the whole left side of his body, including his face, is paralyzed. He can't even walk by himself or feed himself and they put him right back in population.

I've seen 3 people die here because of lack of medical treatment. There was a guy in the same dorm with me who had a history of heart problems. He went to the desk and told the officer on duty what was wrong, that he was having bad chest pains, and the office got medical to give him some pepto and tell him to go back. He came back a while later and told the officer he was still having chest pain so they sent him to the sergeant who told him "I don't care if you die, get out of my face and go to your bunk before I lock you up," The next count time he was found in his bunk dead from a massive heart attack. What makes me so sick is the fact that nothing was done to the officer. What kind of world is this that people charged with authority have such blatant disregard for human life?

This is just a very small part of what goes on in this country where people can invade a country and kill thousands of people and say "oh sorry, we thought you had some bombs" and the public just blindly follows along and it all boils down to this money and greed and people are so wrapped up in their own self-interest. People just accept anything as long as it doesn't affect them. The mentality of this government is they don't care who gets killed or who suffers as long as they get what they want. So how much money is enough? How much oil is enough? How many people need to die before people say screw this, we are tired of being pawns in your game, and stand up and fight?

MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's analysis that the Amerikan public is wrapped up in their own self-interest. This economic interest is served by foreign invasions and the criminal injustice system. Because of this, we would not call these people "pawns" in the game of imperialism, as that implies they are being duped when in fact they are just lining up with their economic interests. Even as the Amerikan economy suffers one of the inevitable crises of capitalism that will cost the public millions of dollars and many people's homes, Amerikans sit at home content to pick between one imperialist president or another. This is why it is so important to focus on the principal contradiction between the imperialists and oppressed nations, both within u.s. borders and around the world. We need to ally with those who truly have an interest in this fight and not sit around hoping that the white Amerikan citizens are going to wake up and fight the system that makes them rich.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Unlock the Box - Ad-Seg in Texas

Our control units here in Texas were called High Security Buildings, now they're being called (at least on this unit) ECB. There are only five units that have these buildings:

  • Allred Unit, 2101 FM 369 N, Iowa Park, TX 76367
  • Bill Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo, TX 79107
  • Estelle Unit, 264 FM 3478, Huntsville, TX 77320
  • McConnell Unit, 3001 S Emily Dr, Beeville, TX 78102
  • Smith Unit, 1313 CR 19, Lamesa, TX 79331

I've been in the High Security Building here on the Clements Unit. There are ten pods on the building with about 800 to 1000 housed on the building. With the exception of the Smith Unit, the other four units above have at least 2000 prisoners. The Clements Unit where I am has close to 500 prisoners alone.

This high security building here houses a majority of Black and Latino prisoners, most white prisoners are at the highest level in Ad-Seg. Out of the ten pods, three are close custody and the rest are for Ad-Seg prisoners.

From the prisoner's grapevine that's why they changed the name of High Security to ECB, because prisoners were put in there for getting bullshit disciplinary cases. And it hasn't changed.

The Bill Clements prison opened in 1990, the High Sec bldg opened in June 2000 and I was a prisoner who was put there then. The building hasn't expanded because taxpayers won't foot the bill to build new prisons here in Texas.

What I would like to add lastly about this HSB is the way classification houses offenders. You have three levels in Ad-Seg, three being the lowest and one the highest. Now guess what prisoners compromise these levels...yeah the level 1 Ad-Seg is filled with white prisoners at a 80% rate on the five level 1 pods and it flips to 80% of Blacks at level 3.

Until a few years ago the parole board didn't allow prisoners who were in Ad-Seg to make parole. This changed when classification found that level 1 housed so many eligible white prisoners. The administration allows white prisoners to stay and live in segregation so they can make parole because most are in some Aryan family. Certain Mexican prisoners have this same privilege but Black prisoners who haven't received disciplinary cases in a long while must go back to general population.

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[Censorship] [Texas]
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Censorship at Texas Estelle Unit

This brief letter is not a complaint but only to raise my voice against the injustice I'm experiencing here at the Estelle High Security Unit.

I understand the implications pursuant to Correspondence Rules BP-03.91, of which each out-going and in-coming letter to and from offenders are indeed subject to inspection and if such letter is denied then the offender and the sender will be provided a Correspondence Denial Form within seventy-two hours of rejection. This is designed to go into detail informing the offender of the appropriate cause and the evidence relied upon for this denial, and whether he intends to appeal. If he does not wish to appeal, then he has the choice either to have the letter destroyed or sent back to the sender at the offender's expense. This rule, policy or procedure is not being followed.

As stated, there is no question a uniform procedure for denying out-going and in-coming mail is needed. I don't have a problem with the policy. I have a problem with the process. The BP-03.91 policy is a complete method of procedures, which establish a way of doing things and each procedure shall be related in accordance to policy.

What the mailroom staff (Office of Intelligence) are doing is shifting/switching procedure from one day to the next to cover whatever actions they've taken. In a very plain term, its unfair and totally inappropriate to shift or switch procedures in midstream without giving prior warning to offenders. How can any offender follow rules which constantly change without any notice? Rules, policies and procedures that change without notice confuse me as well as other offenders.

This policy is vague and ambiguous, leaving major openings for misinterpretation and giving unreasonable discretionary power to unit Gang Intelligence Officers that TDCJ-ID has left largely unchecked and unquestioned and untrained in key areas of the policy which, in return, causes animosity towards myself and other offenders. They use these misinterpretations to vastly exaggerate accounts of supposed gang-related information, and to justify denial of out-going mail. When mail is denied it often takes weeks before an offender is notified or if the correspondence is not denied it is sent out weeks later. All this is under the guise of security.

If the G.I. (reader) decides my letter contains dangerous content the letter will automatically be denied. How these readers define such content, and who plays a role in making that determination are questions without clear answers. And while such denials require written notification, in practice that rarely happens.

A review of the process exposes a policy in which sections of the policy either contradict each other or are shifted from one day to the next so that no one is responsible. The mailroom, the G.I. and/or Wing officer or even other offenders have access to our mail. The policy isn't even uniformly applied. These type of standard procedures will continue to exist because the mailroom staff insists on denying out-going mail without providing a written notice and without returning back offender's stamped envelopes.

For over two years on this unit, when out-going mail was denied the offender was informed and his stamped envelopes were confiscated. Only after the mailroom staff became so sloppy that they no longer even passed out any denial forms were there enough questions raised that it was discovered that the offender was supposed to receive his stamped envelope back, how nice! However, if questioned about where the thousands of stolen or wrongly confiscated stamps when to the past two years, there is no answer. In fact, any offender ho dares to ask will be retaliated against. Even when caught, the mailroom staff will deny that their conduct was unlawful in any respect.

Enclosed in this letter are grievance step one and two proof of my effort to remedied the problem but as you can see their response is always the same "...The Estelle Unit mailroom is processing all incoming and outgoing correspondence in accordance to BP-03.91. No further action is warranted..." I have other grievances that consist of the same issues but were handled with the same answer.

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[Medical Care] [Texas]
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Medical malpractice in Texas

The U.S. Justice Department says there are 33% of disabled people in prison. Texas closed mental health hospitals and a lot of disabled people are now housed in prison.

A disabled person makes $9,000 a year to live on the streets, but TDC makes $32,000 a year to house the same person. In TDC there is no protection for disabled people and most can’t write or think properly to protect themselves from rape, extortion, beatings and mistreatment from staff and medical care.

This is one case out of many that I am trying to bring to light. I was being overdosed at the pill window [where they dispense medicine in the prison]. The pill window staff would give me an odd number of pills repeatedly and when asked why, the reply would be “Take your meds or receive a disciplinary case.” Over the course of this three and a half years, my blood work has come back toxic three times. While this was going on I had over 30 seizures and I started having blackouts. I did not receive treatment for years.

When I first learned that I was being overdosed I told the nurse. The reply was “we don’t do that” so I wrote emergency grievances but they were all kicked out. I requested help from the doctor and he said “he’s crazy” and sent me to the mental health department. Then TDC put me to work while I was still unstable from seizures. I had three seizures at work and they said it was a security issue and put me back to work in the hot kitchen where I had 4 more seizures.

Eventually I talked to a nurse who stopped the overdose of one of my drugs. But the medical department continued to cover up the overdose while the overdose of another drug was still going on. I told the nurse manager that I needed my medical records to show the doctor to stop the seizures and blackouts. She said “we don’t keep those records” then added “some of your records are not for you to see.” Then she told me “get a lawyer.” When my lawyer finally was able to get my medical records, I found that the overdose was deleted from my records. The lawyer asked the nurse manager about this and was told this was a mistake and sent the records again. But the records were not corrected. After repeated appeals and requests for my full records, on the fifth try I got a set of records that show them overdosing me 11 times, but the rest of the dates were changed.

After 2 years I wrote to Senator John Whitmire and to the Texas Medical Board. The Senator faxed a medical release to get my medical records and within two weeks the doctor called me in and asked me what was wrong. I told him “seizures, blackouts, confusion, and I could not eat.” He asked how long and I told him I had been reporting all this for the past two years. He said he would send me to a neurologist.

Then my letter from the Texas Medical Board came and the response said “the doctor is now under investigation for what he has done and now his case is in the director of enforcement.”

My last seizure was August 2007 and I was sent to the emergency room. There I weighed 148 pounds, that is a loss of 52 pounds from this treatment. My appointment with a neurologist showed neurological problems. So I filed a case in federal court and was denied counsel. Now I must represent myself.

This is going on in prison. There was a man who died August 9, 2007 from seizures from the same treatment I was getting. If they have the ability to change my records, then they will change anyone's and get away with it.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Unlock the Box - Control Units in Texas

I'm an Ad-Seg prisoner here in the Texas Department of Corruptions, death valley of dry bones. I'm housed in what was originally called Super Seg due to the fact that no one ever has to leave the cell for things such as going to chow and showering. It's all done in the cell, along with the restroom. We too are deprived of virtually all human contact and mental stimuli. We are housed alone and remain in our cells 23 hours a day 3 days a week, and 24 hours a day the other 4. The only access to seeing day light is when we go to rec, because there's no windows. We have no access to educational, vocational, or other rehabilitative programs and provided with only limited access to legal material and to the general library.

This Control Unit was first called Super Seg because it was first designed to house Ad-Seg prisoners who fell under the maximum security status. There's only about 7 or 8 of these types of units in the system. After the oppressors saw how effective the controlled units were they decided to house Close Custody prisoners back here as well, since this would keep the oppressors from having to deal with the undesirable prisoners, plus it would keep them locked down. But in order to house close custody prisoners two to a cell that was designed to house segregated prisoners, they had to change the name, thus the name High Security (Expansion Cell Blocks). While the seg populations racial makeup is about 40% white, 40% Latino and 20% Black, the close custody population is about 60% Black, 30% Latino and 10% white.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Unlock the Box survey

Concerning the Control Units, the designated cells are called Administrative Segregation. Depending on who the Warden, Major, and other low ranking supervisors are, all or different types of abuses take place within these housing areas. Ranging from unlawful denial of special privileges and rights, to physical abuse and food tampering. You are confined to these cells 22 or more hours a day and eat inside the cell, limited recreation, and virtually no programs for prisoners. It can be a very depressing and non-rehabilitative atmosphere. Over half of Texas Prisons house inmates in Administrative Segregation. And the mistreatment varies, so I will only speak on what unites I know of from experience.

Hughes Unit, Route 2 Box 4400, Gatesville, TX 76597. I was housed in Ad Seg from 10/2003 until 03/2008. There are approximately 500 beds in these buildings. One prisoner per cell/bed. The whole unit does not fall under the definition, only "12 Bldg" is where Ad Seg prisoners are confined, controlled and monitored daily. The racial makeup of the population is majority Hispanic, then Black, then white. Most prisoners are placed in Ad Seg for being part of a Security Threat Group, or assault towards staff and prisoners. Most situations aren't as serious as the administration makes it seem. These Control Units began opening in the late 80s and early 90s, and four of them were expanded and opened in 1999, adding 660 cells labeled as "High Security." I have no knowledge whether the state plans to open any others. Here are the addresses to the other three units that have been expanded:
Allred Unit, 2101 FM 369 North, Iowa Park, TX 76367
Lewis Unit, PO Box 9000, Woodville, TX 75990
Smith Unit, HCR7, Box 187A, Lamesa, TX 79331

Prior to being transfered from the Huges Unit in March 2008, there were several prisoners complaining about food tampering in 12 Bldg. The tampering didn't start until 2006. The substance being used attacked the immune system, causing severe headaches and drowsiness, heart trouble, high blood pressure, loss of energy, etc. I noticed the difference in my body and energy level once I got transferred and the food got out of my system.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Administrative Segregation in Texas

I have been in administrative segregation on two different types of units. On the Ferguson Unit, 12120 Savage Dr, and the Connally Unit I am presently housed in at 899 FM 632. On the Ferguson, it is three tiers with 24 cells on each row in one straight line, with a shower at the front of each row. Recreation areas are cages fit for one person with a pull up bar and a basketball goal and basketball. We got one hour recreation a day or two hours every other day.

The feeding practices are such that food carts are brought to the block and the trays are prepared right there on the run in front of the cells. Only the prisoners right in front of the cart can see their trays being made. All food trays are prepared by the same adseg prison guards who work the blocks for that day. The mail is also gathered up and distributed by the security adseg correctional officers so there is no way for a prisoner to know if his mail was actually sent to the mail room to be mailed or thrown away, nor is there any way of knowing whether the incoming mail was actually given to the prisoner.

I had difficulties on the Ferguson Unit adseg because the prison guards were harassing a lot of different people and claimed that I was snitching on them. They also put chemicals and infected blood in my food from prisoners who thought I was snitching on them. They conned these dudes into believing I'm an informant then give them my food tray and allow them to do whatever they wanted to it. Then the prison guard would bring me the trays to eat. Before I found out what was happening, my eyes and skin turned yellow and I started vomiting up blood and getting real sick. I have permanent liver damage right now and I think I have hepatitis but the medical department have been told not to diagnose me with any type of disorder or disease so I haven't received any treatment.

Here on Connally Unit there are only two rows with a picket in the middle and the cells arranged to form a U around the picket to allow the prison guards to see any one of the cells at any given moment. The recreation consists of only two cages fit for one person with a basketball goal and ball, a set of weights, a water fountain and urinal. We are allowed to recreate one hour a day on the rec yard or day rooms which consist of a table and pull up bar.

Just like in Ferguson, all our mail is gathered up and passed out by the security correctional officers. The feeding practices are a little different even though we are still fed individually in our cells. All of the food trays are prepared in another section of the unit and placed in a hot box and brought to the pods. Once there, trays are put on tray carries and brought to each prisoner. No one is able to see their trays being prepared. Whenever prisoners get into confrontations with the adseg guards, they regularly taint food trays with an array of unknown substances because we have to rely upon security to feed u. As a result, thousands of prisoners in adseg suffer just as I do from liver/kidney damage.

Most prisoners are aware of what is happening and refuse to file any type of complaint or grievance against prison guards for fear of being retaliated against as I have. And a number of prisoners have virtually lost their sanity and committed suicide because it is virtually impossible to prove that these practices are happening.

I've been trying and am presently in the 5th circuit court waiting on a ruling, but I can already predict the outcome. These prison guards developed a form of neo-police brutality that is being upheld by federal courts merely because prisoners are not in position to prove that our food is being tainted. Many prisoners back here, mainly on level 3, throw urine and feces on the guards, spear them with shanks on the tip of poles made of news papers, curse them out regularly, and tension between the prison guards and prisoners is just as natural as the conflict between cats and dogs. Yet in adseg we must rely on these same guards to prepare our foods trays outside our presence, to distribute all our incoming and outgoing mail, and to provide us with grievances to make complaints against them. And sometimes even to investigate those same complaints.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [Texas]
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Turn negative pressure to postive, fight imperialism from behind the bars

MIM, my utmost respects and appreciation for your dedication and publication from Under Lock and Key, 2008 June issue. To all who submit and share time and thought with the masses, my love and respects.

We are all in this struggle together in one form or another, even when one does not know or acknowledge it. This is why I have taken the time today to share with you thoughts, from a prisoners point of view, seen through my eyes. We all have different experiences and pains but one thing we have in common is the struggle.

I would imagine that different situations for a prisoner would make him or her act out against pressure in many different ways. Some positive, some negative. We have positive pressure, meaning the type of pressure that family and friends and comrades give us: encouragement! Then there’s negative pressure, meaning the type we feel from an outside force who makes us or tries to make us submit, against our will: capitalism and imperialism!

See, these pressures one can direct, if only we can identify them. Some people don’t know how and so they turn their anger and confusion on the masses and the people they love. Becoming destructive and careless to the environment and world around them. Fighting fire with fire! But fire is put out with water!

Practicing how to control your emotions and attitude can strengthen your vision and your direction, which in turn will give you patience and a clear view of what is ahead. A lot of us react on the spot towards situations without giving them proper consideration/self-criticism. This will turn destructive!

I hear it all the time how people are proud of being Latino or Black, but then turn right around and cause harm and pain to the same people they say they are proud of being or trying to protect. I mean it the way I am saying it!

I mean, we down other people so much that we can’t even overcome the smallest things which are within us: confusion and anger! In order to establish the kingdom of freedom in the world, it must first be established in the hearts of men. This is the biggest problem we have today in the world, not establishing it within us first. Freedom from self-hate, crime, senseless violence, drugs, prison, poverty etc etc. Identifying the roots of the problem will always give us a more clear view to what and how to liberate the light that is trapped within that negative pressure, or knowing how to proceed with the positive pressure.

There is a theory that I have and I would like feedback on if possible. Negative pressure will always turn into a positive outcome if one knows how to be self-controlling and patient. Example: the people who are under repression know that repression will breed resistance. The type of resistance I am speaking about must be positive thinking. You can’t and must not lower your moral values to that of the oppressors’ because once you do lower your moral values to that of the oppressor, you have then become defeated without even knowing it.

Haven’t we all heard that the one that knows you best is you? If you allow yourself to succumb to defeat, you must learn from that once you have acknowledged it as a learning experience and practice a new method. Fighting fire with fire has shown us that we won’t win in a strong imperialist government. This is why I am inspired by MIM’s theory about fighting them with pen and paper. Through grievances and bringing awareness to the masses inside and outside prison. So let us put it out with water. Being determined comes from wanting to do something that is or may seem doable, and everything is doable once you have found yourself. Finding yourself comes from self-criticism! You must analyze everything and don’t stop trying to find out the facts. Facts about yourself because your worst enemy is you! You betray yourself and allow yourself to be captured (mentally) and conquered, only when you stop fighting the good fight. Through legal and other means.

Self-determination is what stimulates dedication because its through practice that one builds leadership and we are all leaders, its our destiny to lead rather than to be led. How else did Mao, Che, Lenin, etc achieve such success if it were not for their dedication.

They acknowledged what was wrong and chose to dedicate their life to mobilize the masses to go against that force. Apply their spirit and do as learned, the material that we need to have and it’s the facts that surround us every day. The enemy is exposing himself or better said themselves everyday.

One thing that I am trying to convey is that when we are in a stronghold (prison) and don’t have the proper reading material to help illuminate strategies and tactics, per se, we must not be afraid to go to its rawest form which is the reality that we see, perceive and observe everyday. Who else would know prison life better if it were not the prisoner? We live here and we should be encouraging one another to expose that negative pressure and build toward what can help us positively.

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