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[Elections] [Puerto Rico] [ULK Issue 29]
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Voting is a Pro-Imperialism Strategy

obama demon clown
In the shadow of the recent presidential election, MIM(Prisons) takes this opportunity to explain some of the many reasons we don't participate in elections under capitalism. We reiterate the MIM slogan: Don't Vote, Organize!

Granted, communists might participate in local elections when they find an opportunity to make change that will better facilitate their organizing work and goals, but these instances are few and far between. Consider someone running for City Council proposing to facilitate the distribution of free literature and posters in a city, while their opponent wants to outlaw the distribution of communist literature. We might join this battle on the side of the free speech advocate because it is very important that we have the opportunity to organize and educate people. Because the legal power of a City Council is pretty limited, these battles tend to be clear cut and we can support one candidate without jumping on the imperialist bandwagon.

In contrast, Congress and the President are fundamentally reactionary just by nature of their role in the capitalist system. It is their job to support and promote imperialist policies of global aggression.

Sure, there may be surface differences between imperialist candidates. One might deny the existence of global warming while the other offers platitudes about how we need to help the environment, but neither can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions because doing so threatens the profit system. Or one might advocate shipping all migrants back home, while the other wants to grant green cards to people already in the United $tates. That's something with a real immediate impact on the lives of the oppressed. But the U.$. has a long history of bringing in migrant labor and the kicking them out, particularly from Mexico. And ultimately, both of these candidates will have to support enforcing the imperialist borders, and exploiting cheap Mexican labor.

Even if we try to explain that we are only picking a candidate based on their position on one question, how do we justify giving support to someone who backs the existence of the prison system that locks up the most people per capita in the world? Or someone who supports invading Third World countries to ensure their puppet regimes are friendly to Amerikan capitalist interests?

There is no real choice under imperialism. The majority of the world's people suffer under the rule of Amerikan imperialism, but they don't get a vote in the elections. Amerika has streamlined the elections to just two parties, with very minimal differences between them. And the majority of the Amerikan people, bought off with imperialist superprofits given to them as a birthright, are perfectly fine with these "choices." Both candidates represent the material interests of Amerikan citizens. It is the imperialist system that ensures sufficient superprofits from exploitation of Third World people to keep the First World citizens so well off.

The election of President Obama four years ago should have been the best possible lesson for "anti-war" Amerikans. Many so-called progressives got behind the Obama campaign, excited to finally have a Black man in power, and believing the minimally progressive rhetoric they heard from Obama. But putting a Black face on imperialism didn't change imperialism. Before Obama was elected we wrote about his campaign as a good representative of imperialism in ULK 3. Under Obama, Amerika has continued its role as global oppressor, invading Third World countries to install or support U.$.-friendly governments, enforcing strict imperialist borders at home to keep out the oppressed, and maintaining the largest per capita prison population in the world.

The State of Puerto Rico

While we didn't campaign around any electoral politics this year, nor vote, the results can be interesting to us as the largest scale polling of the Amerikan population and its internal semi-colonies. While the exploited people of the world did not get to vote for the President of the Empire, historically oppressed nations with U.$. citizenship did. As we work to expand our analysis of the internal semi-colonies' relationships to imperialism, we can look at elections as a relative, if not absolute, measure of assimilation. The most explicit example of this came in the 2012 plebiscite on the status of Puerto Rico among Boricua voters.

While inconsistencies in the format of previous plebiscites make it hard to decipher trends with a cursory assessment, it does appear that a majority rejected the current commonwealth status of Puerto Rico for the first time. The government is counting the statehood option as the victor with a 61% majority of those choosing an alternative to the commonwealth status. But really, only 48% of those who voted chose statehood, with 26% of voters choosing sovereign free association and 4% choosing independence.(1) About 22% didn't select a new status. Since 46% voted to remain a commonwealth, it seems that many of them chose a new status as their second choice. Originally the two votes were to occur separately, which would make interpretation of the results easier.

The option of "sovereign free association" was new in this plebiscite, and seems to reflect the more bourgeois nationalist among the neo-colonialists. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want more freedom to act independent of the U.$. while keeping the financial benefits of U.$. social services that they receive today as a commonwealth.

The 2012 plebiscite did have the largest turnout yet, with 79% participation.(2) This adds a little more weight to the small shift from a plurality favoring commonwealth to a plurality (at least) favoring statehood. At the time of the last plebiscite, in 1998, MIM reported strong assimilationism among the Boricua population due to economic interests tied to accessing the superprofits obtained by the U.$. from the Third World.(3) While MIM never believed that the meager 2-5% vote for independence was genuinely representative of the Boricua people, neither is true self-determination on the immediate horizon despite nationalist rhetoric from many political parties. A survey of the desires of Boricuas for self-determination is not valid until real self-determination is actually an option on the table. Unfortunately real self-determination won't be possible until Boricuas are organized against Amerika and its lackey leadership in their homeland.

Some have hypothesized that the economic downturn helped increase the statehood vote as Boricuas felt the crunch and wanted closer economic integration into the United $tates. This makes economic sense. So it'll take much more extreme crisis before economic demands become revolutionary for the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates.

Chicanos and New Afrikans Vote

Trends in Black voter participation in the last two presidential elections indicate that the neo-colonial effect is real as Blacks have come out at higher rates, with Black youth being the most active voter participants. While Latinos were also brought out by Obama in the last two elections, Latino youth voting and "civic engagement" has lagged behind Black and white youth, yet they were twice as likely to participate in a protest than their counterparts of other nations according to a 2008 report.(4) In 2008, Black voters closed the gap with white voter participation, which averaged around 10% in the previous five presidential elections. This year, Obama brought similar rates of Blacks to the polls. In the same period, Latinos and Asians have diverged from Blacks in their voter participation, who they have historically lagged behind already.(5) For Latinos this divergence corresponds to an increase in the percentage of people who are not citizens, and therefore can't vote. We do not have data showing whether the same is true for Asians. While the non-participation may be enforced, rather than by choice, the Pew Hispanic Center also found in a recent survey that most Latinos identify with their family's country of origin and not as Amerikans.(6) There is little doubt that the vast majority of Blacks identify as Amerikan. The connections that Latinos and Asians have to the Third World are a significant factor in their political consciousness and how they perceive the United $tates, their relationship to it, and their participation in it.

Prison Reform?

Similar to supporting someone for City Council, discussed above, propositions are another relatively clear-cut realm of elections where we may organize around a particular issue. To look at more concrete examples of how this usually plays out, we turn to two propositions this year that addressed California's prison population: Propositions 34 and 36. Proposition 34 was presented to abolish the death penalty, which sounds great at first. But in this case, death row prisoners actually recognized that the law was opposed to their interests in that it would prevent them from proving their innocence in court. They launched an active campaign to oppose Prop. 34 and it did fail. The weakness of the proposition was inherent to the limitations in the system to address justice in a real way.

Proposition 36 is a reform to the Three Strikes law, and it passed. MIM(Prisons) welcomes the prospect of less people going to prison in California, and supposedly even current prisoners being released earlier. Yet, Three Strikes itself still exists. The reform will right a few egregious wrongs, but leaves Three Strikes, not to mention the whole criminal injustice system, in place. Even abolishing Three Strikes altogether would be merely a quantitative change in the oppression meted out by the injustice system, without changing the substance of it at all. Prop. 36 was promoted by those who want to reduce state spending on prisons, and clearly promoted the use of Three Strikes for the majority of prisoners it has been applied to. To campaign for Prop. 36 was to promote this position or to say that this is the best we can hope for. It did not serve the interests of the prisoner class as a whole, but threw some carrots to a few.

Since there are only so many hours in the day, to spend them on organizing around these small changes means slightly less suffering in the short term, and much more suffering in the long term as imperialism marches on unchallenged. Reforms do play an important role while organizing in our current conditions, but we choose which reforms to support very carefully, weighing how they impact our organizing efforts against imperialism, what class interests they serve, and how they relate to real conditions on the ground.

Electoral Politics and Strategy

Our line is that imperialism cannot be reformed. Our strategy is to build institutions of the oppressed which are separate from imperialism in order to build up our own power, while agitating around issues that highlight the horrors of the imperialist system that exists. At times campaigning around an electoral campaign could be a useful tactic in that strategy. But strategically we are not trying to get elected in a popularity contest, or be on the winning team. We are struggling for liberation and an end to all oppression!

As M-1 of dead prez put it on Block Report Radio the morning after the recent "presidential selection": "I'm not thinking about today. And I'm not thinking about four years from now. And I'm not thinking about smoking marijuana. I'm thinking about 50 years from now being able to be the self-determining people who are raising a nation that's based in stability." Spoken like a true revolutionary, this is the type of thinking that we promote to develop an anti-imperialist political pole within the belly of the beast.

Telling people to vote for one imperialist candidate over another is suggesting that we can make significant change by working within the system. As we already explained, the scale of the election and the scale of the change is key: for a local city election the impact is much lower and our opportunity to actually explain to people why a particular local law is important to communist goals is much greater. But in a national election, telling people to support a candidate who is fundamentally pro-imperialist, both in words and deeds, is misleading.

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[Abuse] [North Carolina]
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Grievance System Protects Abuses by PERT Team in North Carolina

In May of 2012, when I was at my previous prison, the "Prison Emergency Response Team" (PERT team) did a full facility shake down. These are regular corrections officers who have been certified to be a member of this "special" group. They wear black t-shirts with "PERT" spelled on the front breast and upper back, with camouflage pants that are tucked into black military boots. They have no name tags, so there is absolutely no way of identifying any officer.

They make you strip naked, squat and cough. Then, in nothing but your white boxers, they handcuff you, and escort you through a metal detector, while other officer tears your cell apart looking for any form of "contraband." If you return to your cell before the search is complete they make you stand facing your cell door. You cannot watch them search your cell! If you try to watch, your get verbally assaulted and/or sometimes physically man handled to the position they want you in.

During the search of my cell a personal property item of mine (electric shaver with trimmers) was broken into 3 pieces. When I asked for the names of the officers involved in the cell search, I was told it was "none of you fucking business." So, I filed a grievance. The first response was that I did not list the names of the officers involved, and there was no proof of the condition of my shaver. (Though they had current paperwork of the personal property that I had and what condition it was in.)

I appealed this response. The second response said that the first response answered my grievance. I had no names of officers, and no proof of the condition of my property before the search. "No further action is needed." I once again appealed the response. The last and final response I received was: "This examiner has reviewed this grievance and the response given by staff in the DC-410A response. My review of this grievance reveals no violation of applicable division of prisons policy nor does it show any evidence of disrespect or abuse of authority by staff. Therefore, this grievance is dismissed for lack of supporting evidence." So my grievance was turned down because I had no names of the officials that changed my property. But there is no way that I could have gotten their names in the first place!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is yet another example of the failure of the prison grievance system to address abuses and legal violations by prison staff. Grievances are little more than a formality where the very people violating policies and laws are the same ones reviewing the complaints. They back each other up and dismiss grievances based on criteria that they know are impossible for prisoners to meet. This is why the grievance campaign is spreading across the country. North Carolina has a grievance petition customized for that state, as do many others. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state, or for a generic petition that you can customize if we don't have one already.

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[Elections]
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Organize Against Imperialist Elections


Every four years Amerikans are given an opportunity to vote for a new representative to lead the country as president or re-elect the one who already holds office. This year Amerikans have two options on who to elect, either Obama or Mitt Romney. Weighing the options, who is it that will more likely bring change for the oppressed? In this case it's neither, both Obama and Romney are imperialist representatives and both share the primary concern of how to better serve the interests of capitalism/imperialism. So why should U.$. citizens vote for one oppressor over another? The answer is simple, they shouldn't!

The oppressor class will always sell high dreams and prospective futures to the oppressed to gain their vote. For instance Obama and the Democratic Party only recently proposed "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA). DACA pretends to offer non-citizens who arrived in the U.$. as children the opportunity for legal residence. But lets look at it for what it is. DACA is not actually a law but an executive order that can be revoked at any time by whoever is president. The qualifications for DACA are narrow and for those qualified they will only receive a temporary work permit. What about the others who applied and were rejected for one reason or another? Well they willingly gave up their information along with that of their families and will now be in the "ICE database" and could be rounded up and deported. It is a re-election tactic the Obama administration utilized as a ploy to get the Latino vote. But this is not in the interests of the undocumented.

deferred action for childhood arrivals

"People always were and always will be the foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling class and there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, and to enlighten and organize for the struggle the forces which can - and owing to their social positions must - constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new." - VI Lenin On the Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism

The electoral system is not nor will it ever be the means to bringing real change, as long as there is an imperialist as president there will be no progress for the oppressed. There are those who say Obama is a better choice than Romney because Romney is a racist Mormon and his extreme conservative policies will bring further devastation to Amerika or wage more wars. But weren't these the sentiments towards the end of the Bush administration? People got fed up with Bush's deportation of immigrants and warmongering agenda. They had hope in the first Black president. But we have seen Obama has gone farther than Bush in violating people's fundamental rights in "the war on terrorism." His 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) law gives the president full authority to detain anyone who the government deems a terrorist indefinitely, without charges or a trial, and the terrorist label can be vague and will more than likely be thrown around like candy.

Obama has deported more immigrants than Bush, he also ordered more drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan than Bush. Obama's warmongering resulted in 284 drone strikes on Pakistan alone. And under Obama's leadership the United $tates., along with Israel, threatens imminent war on Iran. Let's face reality, Obama and Romney will only serve the interests of the big bourgeoisie and maintain the status quo.

As prisoners we need to consciously participate in politics that serve our interests. In ULK 28 someone mentioned the penal system in Nevada; a prisoner anticipated reprisals by fellow prisoners for exposing the warden for culinary and laundry violations to the health department. These prisoners acting on behalf of the prison administration to attack this prisoner is counter and reactionary to what he was trying to do by bettering the quality of food and laundry for the prison population. This goes to show what Mao Zedong once said about lumpen: "brave fighters but apt to be destructive. They can become a revolutionary force if given proper guidance." We all know doing favors for the pigs like that mentioned above is going a little too far and would merit a negative reaction from the prison population.

Looking at it from a bigger picture, under Obama/Romney mass incarcerations will continue. The U.$. has the highest incarceration rate in the world today and let's not forget the police brutality that has swelled across the country since Obama's been in the office.

Our action of not voting for one oppressor over another should be consciously voiced. When I explained this to a fellow prisoner he responded: "well who else is going to be your representative nationally?" My answer to that was simple: "we can represent ourselves, we don't need yankee representatives!" The oppressed nationalities need their own independent representatives who will serve their interests, not sell them out, and institutions that help them rather than strip them of their identity and culture. Reforms or amendments will never bring about genuine change for the oppressed nations, only communism will.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The author above originally quoted Karl Marx as saying:

"Every few years the oppressed are authorized to decide which members of the oppressor class will represent and crush them in parliament."

However, this does not accurately represent the conditions in the United $tates where the oppressor nation has the majority say in who represents the government that oppresses and kills more people worldwide than any other country [UPDATE: white Amerikans ended up being 72% of the voters in the 2012 national election]. The people most oppressed by U.$. imperialism have no say in these elections that affect them very deeply.

Rather than encouraging prisoners to organize in their own interests, we challenge them to think more broadly, in the interests of the oppressed people of the world. This is important because the imperialist system has stolen tremendous wealth and brought it home to Amerika where all the citizens share in the spoils. While prisoners are clearly oppressed, they share in the Amerikan mentality of looking out for their own wealth at the expense of the world's people.

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[Control Units] [ULK Issue 29]
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The Updated Survivors Manual

afsc survivor's manual
This summer, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) released the fifth printing of their pamphlet "Survivors Manual: A manual written by and for people living in control units." There were some good additions to the pamphlet, such as an excerpt from Bonnie Kerness's presentation from the STOPMAX Conference, some of which is featured in the documentary "Unlock the Box"; and a summary written by Bonnie of her years of experience working with and witnessing prisoners in isolation.

Because MIM(Prisons) stands for justice and equality for all humyn-kind, in direct opposition to the capitalist-imperialist power structure, many of our comrades are targeted for placement in control units. This greatly minimizes their ability to organize others, communicate with comrades on the outside, and maintain a healthy mind and body. Others are targeted for isolation simply for attempting to learn the history of their people or help others with their legal work. So clearly, much of the information contained in this pamphlet is invaluable to our readership who are constantly threatened with, or are currently facing, time in the hole.

The AFSC is a liberal progressive group, and there is some information in this pamphlet that we think is quite bad advice for our readers. At least one article says to avoid the prisoncrats if at all possible. The authors' purported goal is to get to general population or released, and to maintain some form of happiness. If the goal were to get to general population or released in order to be a more effective revolutionary organizer, of course we would agree.

We don't advocate people go out looking for trouble, and we need to choose our battles wisely. But for prisoner activists, filing grievances on staff misconduct and unhealthy conditions is a primary method we use to defend ourselves and our fellow prisoners. Unfortunately, oftentimes these grievances lead to repression from the pigs. But we would not advocate that people shy away from this important work for the sole individualistic reason of self-preservation and happiness. The individualist approach is the bourgeois approach; in other words it's the approach that allows the bourgeoisie to win. Only by coming together can we protect each other and ourselves with real certainty.

We are going to add this manual to our list of literature we distribute, but will only distribute a portion of it. We chose to not include the individualistic content above, and other content suffering from liberalism in one form or another: defeatist poetry; dating tips; and strategical advice that is in conflict with our lines on security. We left out other pieces due to redundancy. Of the content we did leave in, much of it we think is great advice that we would recommend everyone in isolation pick up for their own self-care. But do not take inclusion in this modified pamphlet as a 100% endorsement of each article; we did leave some content that we hold minor disagreement with.

We greatly appreciate Prison Watch Project of the American Friends Service Committee for compiling and distributing this guide to the wider prisoner audience. But in order to make it relevant to our work as revolutionary activists, we have selected the portions that we find useful. To contact the AFSC or Bonnie Kerness for the full version and other resources, write to:

Bonnie Kerness
Coordinator, Prison Watch Project
American Friends Service Committee
89 Market Street, 6th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
[email protected]

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[Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Exposing the Clique of Oppressors at Estelle

Because of my activism and revolutionary actions I have become a target. My mail is being delayed, and recently these prisoncrats have been denying recreation, not just to me but our entire block - E-wing High Security (Estelle).

Two days ago I watched a white male sergeant named Curtis Jordan pull a Mexican male out of his cell violently and slam his head against a wall, and continue to smash his head against the wall and he looked up at my cell where I was watching and said "Tell that, Bitch!" I wrote a detailed affidavit to Senior Warden Cody Ginsel of Estelle Unit requesting that he review the video. This was an unprovoked use of force! Believe it or not, major David M. Forrest ordered the brutality against this innocent Mexican prisoner, who has some mental health issues. These racists target the weak, elderly, and mentally ill prisoners who can't fight back.

Comrades, I need your help in exposing these swine. Here is a list of the "Clique." My goal is to break this "good ole boy" clique up and possibly improve the living conditions in this slave pen of oppression for all.

  1. Assistant Warden Steven T. Miller, in charge of the High Security Unit at Estelle — extremely vindictive, and promotes inhumane treatment of prisoners.
  2. Major David M. Forrest — Eight years ago was a Senior Warden, was demoted to Lieutenant after being involved in the murder of a prisoner. This is our Chief KKK grand wizard! We must destroy him!
  3. Lieutenant James H. Kent — His father is a Deputy Directory. In the past six months the prison watchdog service, con-care service, received 16 prisoner complaints from prisoners housed at this High Security Unit. Kent was a main actor in five of the 16 complaints. He is cocky, arrogant and believes he is invincible.
  4. Lieutenant Deward Demoss — Big racist. Made a death threat against me in May 2012. I filed a complaint with DOJ.
  5. Sergeant Curtis Jordan — An unapologetic racist. He will tell you to your face "I hate niggers and wetbacks. I'm a redneck." Too many wrongs to list.
  6. We have two house negroes on the payroll. They are flunkies and dupes:
    A. Sergeant Terell Beverly — A sado-masochist with a history of abuse aimed at prisoners.
    B. Sergeant Brooks ("the snake") — A young Black man who is so wicked and brainwashed it sickens me.

I know that there is no specific race or ethnicity associated with oppressors, and it is a huge mistake to think if we traded all these white men in for "brothers" all problems would cease. That is idealistic bullshit.

Unit Grievance Investigator Allen Hartley is the Senior Grievance Investigator. He is super corrupt and in league with these racists. The grievance system is so broken. The main problem is the grievance staff do not practice objectivity or operate with any integrity. There just isn't any incentive for them to mete out justice and render fair decisions. People have been killed because they fail to do their job properly. Hartley's modus operandi is cronyism, nepotism, misplaced comradery, and obstruction of justice.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Exposing structural relationships like this highlights the continuing importance and need for national liberation of the internal semi-colonies. As this comrade points out, replacing all the white men with Black men (integrationism) would not change anything. Similarly, replacing them with more progressive-minded people in general would not lead to significant change because the fundamental problem is the criminal injustice system. It is set up so that police, courts, and prisons serve as tools of social control, and the individuals working within the system can do little to change that.

This is why we must put our battles against individual oppressors and policies in the context of the fight against imperialism as a system. Without liberating the oppressed nations from imperialist oppression we will never make fundamental change to the criminal injustice system that attacks us. So we must take up these smaller battles as agitational tools to mobilize the oppressed and as battles to exert the will of the oppressed in small ways that benefit our ability to educate and organize together.

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[Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Grievance Investigators Must Be Fired

For the past 6 months I have been attempting to shed light on injustices perpetrated by Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional officers and administrators against prisoners housed at the high security unit on Estelle Unit located in Huntsville, TX. I have written numerous Step 1 grievances, however, the same Unit Grievance Investigator (UGI) continues to impede, obstruct, and sabotage my quest for justice.

Estelle Unit UGI Mr. Allen Hartley has operated from the stance of nepotism, cronyism, and misplaced comradery. Instead of establishing an objective stance in his handling of my grievances, he has actually entered into a collusive and conspiratorial relationship with prison staff and administration in order to minimize, marginalize, and downplay my claims of injustice.

This is nothing new, comrades in Texas and California have been reporting on this type of behavior for years. MIM(prisons), USW, and some extremely dedicated comrades have come up with a weapon and strategy to combat these corrupt individuals. The grievance petition crafted by a USW comrade in California has been also adopted and utilized by Texas prisoners. I personally have sent a copy of the petition to the Texas state legislature.

The legislative session starts the 2nd week of January 2013. I encourage all comrades in Texas to write the legislature and request that all UGIs in the Texas prison system are fired and that a new streamlined, efficient, and fair grievance department be created. This new system should be managed by the Office of the Inspector General and oversight should be provided by the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP).

The point of the matter is this: the grievance procedure in Texas prisons is a farce and a sham. Unit Grievance Investigators are stealing tax payer dollars and violating the public's trust. Comrades are being degraded, humiliated, and abused in Texas every day and no-one is being held accountable for their actions except prisoners! Time and time again I have watched as TDCJ employees commit every crime against humanity you can think of, including murder, and nothing is done. This is bullshit! Please join USW and help get rid of these authors of obstruction.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is proposing an interesting change to the grievance system in Texas, with oversight from independent organizations (ACLU and TCRP). Leaving the grievance process in the hands of the government means it will never truly serve the needs of prisoners, while establishing independent oversight would certainly lead to more accountability and less ease at outright fraud and lies serving the prison employees.

Although fighting for grievances to be addressed is only a reform to gain more livable conditions and organizing space for comrades in prison, it is a campaign that can demonstrate to others our ability to come together to fight for the rights of prisoners. No reform of the grievance system will end the injustice of the prison system in Amerika. These are just the early steps in building a movement for humyn rights in U.$. prisons.

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[Abuse] [Censorship]
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Gang Officer Blackmails to Create Intelligence

I was taken out of my cell one day and brought to the Security Threat Group (STG) Officer (AKA the gang officer). He tried everything to get me to give him some gang information, and when I would not he got mad and told me he was going to validate me as a STG member for a gang tattoo I was written up for in 2008. Since I would not give this man some gang information and put my life on the line for him, he is going to STG me. I have not had a gang charge in over three years, and as I said the charge for the tattoo was four years ago. This is crazy and it needs to stop now!

Comrades, keep your heads up and don't stop fighting these pigs and this oppression. One day it will end! MIM(Prisons), thanks for all you do!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is just one example of a common occurrence that exposes the emptiness of the term "Security Threat." The "STG" label is a tool of national oppression, nothing more.

This comrade also wrote us about the censorship of MIM Theory 13: Revolutionary Culture and Under Lock & Key 27, which he appealed to no avail. The administration justified it by saying the literature encouraged "disruption of operations." We wonder if that can be construed as a bad thing given how they operate.

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[Abuse] [Download and Print] [ULK Issue 29]
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Campaign for Adequate Food in Nevada

Petition for Adequate Food
Click on the pdf to download and print the petition

Enclosed is a document which has been generated for circulation within the Nevada DOC. The purpose of this correspondence is to raise awareness and begin a resistance campaign which transcends all lines drawn. It is to respond to the Nevada Department of Corrections's increasing inhumanity, malevolence and brutality being forced upon prisoners.

They are starving and abusing us on a record scale. There have been more than 11 prisoners shot since January 2012 in Protective Segregation alone. I know of several more in surrounding units with at least one fatal. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence is rising due to forced housing even amongst enemies. We also suffer from sexual assaults by pigs on prisoners, and coordinated retaliation and attacks on prisoners at the behest of the hats. Is this what we will allow ourselves to be reduced to?

This petition addresses the inadequate, contaminated and sometimes nonexistent food we are being served in Nevada. It is already in circulation where I am. Originally the petitions were sent to the facility Warden and Director. A few of us sent copies to the Department of Justice and Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC referred me to the Nevada Health Division. The Warden, to create an illusion of propriety, referred the matter to the Nevada Department of Corrections Inspector General. I contacted the Health Division who apparently also contacted the Inspector General within two weeks of notice of referral. An investigation was begun and is ongoing. In addition to these above noted, a copy was also sent to Nevada CURE and the United States Inspector General.

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[Abuse] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Unprovoked Beatings of Prisoners in Texas Must be Stopped

I would like to bring your attention to something that's going on here in Texas. There are repeated staff attacks of prisoners in Ad-Seg, and prison staff seem to always get away with this.

On October 16 I was on the rec yard where you can see inside to section 4 day room. A prisoner with a mental illness for which he takes meds was inside the day room. He was sitting at the table and two officers walked inside. He didn't get up from the table, and the officers walked on both sides of the table where the prisoner was sitting down and both of them rushed the prisoner and took him to the floor of the day room beating him, punching him with handcuffs, and using the food slot bar to hit him in the head. They ended up with blood on them from the beating of this prisoner. He lay on the floor and they dragged him from the dayroom in handcuffs and called on the radio that they just had a use of force on a prisoner.

There are many cells that saw this incident in addition to people in the rec yard; a total of 18 people witnessed the beating. But only two people wrote a witness statement. When I asked the two officers why they did this, they told me that this has nothing to do with me, and that the prisoner had this coming.

I write grievances to stand up to staff who hurt people, but the grievances just go right to the ranking officers and they call the officer to invite a statement and the staff just deny it. So the grievance comes back with the staff denying any misconduct and that's the end of it. I talked with other prisoners and told them that the only way to stop this is coming together as one and standing up.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is ironic that this prison claims that MIM(Prisons) and our USW comrades behind bars are a threat to the safety and security of the institution while violence is carried out by those supposedly ensuring this safety and security. We know that the entire criminal injustice system is set up to defend the actions of guards like those described by this comrade, and it will never be easy to take them down through grievances or lawsuits. Even if we win, it is only to replace one oppressor with another. But we cannot stop fighting the oppression because battles like this one are a good opportunity to educate and organize against systematic brutality. Mass consciousness and mass organizing is the only way to win against oppression. United Struggle from Within comrades across the country fearlessly take on these battles even while knowing that they may face brutal retaliation themselves for standing up for their fellow prisoners. This is truly fighting for peace. As the first principal of the United Front for Peace in Prisons states: We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression.

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[Spanish] [ULK Issue 32]
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Playaz Unidos Crean Paz en las Calles

En la edición ULK 24, hemos destacado Playaz Unidos de San Francisco, California, para darle a nuestros camaradas adentro una idea de lo que alguna gente que estuvo encarcelada ha estado haciendo luego de alcanzar su libertad para contribuir al movimiento de paz. Muchos miembras y voluntarios de Playaz Unidos (UP por sus siglas en Inglés, N.T.), han pasado tiempo en el sistema de prisiones. MIM(Prisiones) tuvo la oportunidad de entrevistar a Rico, uno de los miembros del personal, quien estuvo 25 años en la prisión de California. Rico era pandillero pero se convirtió en abogado de paz, un cambio de vida con el que muchos lectores de Under Lock & Key se pueden identificar.

Playaz Unidos provee servicios a la juventud, incluyendo programas extra curriculares y excursiones a las prisiones, en un intento de separarlos de la tubería que conduce de la escuela a la prisión, (y del potencial para) actividades violentas, ayudandolos a enfocarse en su educación. La misión de UP declara:


Playaz Unidos es una organización de prevención de violencia y liderazgo juvenil que trabaja con la juventud mas dificil de alcanzar de San Francisco a travéz de manejo individualizado de casos, intervención en las calles, servicios en las escuelas, actividades recreacionales en centros comunitarios, y apoyo a la juventud encarcelada. Playaz Unidos está comprometida con el mejorar las vidas de jóvenes, que sobreviviendo en ambientes vulnerables, musetran una alta incidencia de vagancia y bajo desempeño academico, o quienes han estado envueltos en el sistema juvenil de justicia a travéz de servicio directo y colaboracion comunitaria. Playas Unidos cree que "Se necesita al barrio para salvar al Barrio."

Rico explica como se involucro inicialmente con Playaz Unidos:

En 1994 estaba encarcelado en la prisión estatal de San Quentin. Y en ese tiempo Rudy [El Director Ejecutivo de UP] estaba trabajando con juventud perturbada y juventud que estaba involucradas en el sistema juvenil, demostrándoles los resultados de tomar malas decisiones. Y ahí conocí a Rudy. Y Rudy me observó trabajando con la juventud, y luego de informarse que yo residía en la zona en que el vivía, me dijo: "Cuando te suelten quiero que conozcas nuestro programa y mires si quieres trabajar con los Playaz Unidas." En el 2005 finalmente salí de la prisión después de 25 años de cárcel y primero me ofrecí de voluntario. Y luego cuando hubo una vacante de trabajo, Rudy me dio empleo de CRN, en la Red Comunitaria de Respuesta. Es un empleo en el cual salimos de noche a hacer asistencia pública y conducimos alrededor de la ciudad platicando con la juventud que está en la calle.

MIM(Prisons) le pregunto a Rico acerca de la importancia de construir un Frente Unida por la Paz en las Prisiones, y por los obstáculos que enfrentaríamos con ese esfuerzo.


En el 1982 formamos una protesta mientras yo estaba en San Quentin: Sabes, los prisioneros tenian derechos. Teniamos el derecho de ver nuestros familiares cuando venían a vernos. Teniamos el derecho a una educación, teníamos muchos derechos. Pero lentamente nos los quitaron, y ahora los prisioneros no tienen derechos. Si quieres una visita, tienes que trabajar. Si no trabajas, no recibes visita.

Los asiáticos, Latinos, los Afro-Americanos, los anglos, nos reunimos y dijimos, "¿sabe que? sentémonos. Que nadie trabaje, nadie estudie, nada." La prisión depende del prisionero. Por que hay trabajos allí, que requieren un empleo de $35,000 al año, pero que el prisionero haca por $18 al mes. Asi que ahorran todo el dinero usando prisioneros para el mantenimiento del sistema de prisiónes, verdad? Asi que cuando nos sentamos, cuando paramos el trabajo, nos entregaron lo que queriamos y luego todo regreso a la normalidad.

Siempre hay incidentes en la prisión, prisioneros lastimandose el uno al otro, pero ese es un buen ejemplo del dicho - juntos nos paramos, divididos nos caemos. ¿Sabes? Si estamos unidos mucha violencia aquí adentro disminuirá, ¿verdad? Por que la gente adentro, predicaran paz allá afuera. Y mucha juventud que hace mal aquí, está influenciada por prisioneros. Pero ahorita no hay paz. No hay paz.

Bueno, si hay [organizacion por paz y unidad en prisión] pero lo tienes que hacer por debajo porque la administración de la prisión no quiere que te organizes y trates de traer paz. En prisión nos quieren divididos. Sabes lo que digo? Asi que hay maneras en las que nos podemos organizar, pero tiene que ser por debajo.

Es ridiculo que prisioneros tengan que mantener ensecreto sus platicas acerca de no matarse, para no disturbar los cheques de pago de la administración de la prisión. Pero este no es el único suceso anti-personal que viene de la evolución del sistema criminal de injusticia, el cual está diseñado para proteger al capitalismo y su amado motivo de ganancia. Rico explica algunas de las consecuencias al decidir quien se queda adentro y quien se queda por fuerza en una sociedad capitalista.


Si tratas a un reo como animal, cuando salga va a actuar como animale. Me explico: una vez yo estaba en una unidad de segregación, en el hoyo. Allí ví un hombre que era tan violento que no podía estar con los demás, verdad? Era tiempo de que lo soltaran. Asi que cuando lo dejaron ir lo esposaron afuera del edificio, al otro lado del patio, en una van, ¿verdad? Y lo dejaron afuera. Cuando lo soltaron le quitaron las esposas, y le dijeron: "estas libre." ¿Como podemos ayudar a alguien así, en su regreso a la libertad? Si es tan violento adentro que necesita que este segregado, ¿como pueden soltar a alguien así? Si comete un crimen acá afuera, se refleja en los otros reos. Así tienen el poder de decir, "¿ven lo que pasa cuando soltamos a estos muchachos?"

Pero hay hombres alla adentro que están mejor que yo - que pueden hacer mejor de lo que yo hago aquí, y aún así todavía están encarcelados, por la política. Hay muchos de ellos, muchos. Conozco varios personalmente que deberían de haber salido y que pueden contribuir acá afuera para lograr la paz. ¿Cómo podemos liberarlos?


Nuestra respuesta a la pregunta de Rico, es que la única manera de librar a esos reos, del todo, es organizarse por el socialismo y luego el comunismo. Cualquier reforma que le hagamos al sistema de prisiones tal como es hoy podría ocasionar que algunos reos, pero mientras el capitalismo exista personas serán explotadas y oprimidas. Esto conduce a la resistencia, directa y indirecta y la prisión es para la gente que no cumple con las reglas. En el socialismo, todos tienen un papel que ocupar en la sociedad y la opresión de estado solamente se usa contra aquellos que agobian a otros.

Cuando el sistema económico cambie y valore a la gente sobre la utilidad, las prisiones también cambiaran. En la China de Mao, Allyn y Adele Rickett eran dos espías americanos quienes escribieron un libro titulado "Reos de Liberacion" sobre su experiencia como reos del Partido Comunista de China. Su experiencia les enseño que cuando el reo se critica asi mismo y está preparado para contribuir a la sociedad, serán liberados. Por otro lado, cuando reos continúan el daño a la sociedad (como organizandose para re-instituir un sistema económico capitalista) no se les permite la salida simplemente por que su sentencia se les venció. En su lugar se les aconseja que estudien, lean, discutan, y que su critiquen a si mismos hasta que se conviertan en miembros productivos de la sociedad.

Cualquiera con un hueso compasivo en su cuerpo puede decir que lo que paso en la China de Mao es un modo más eficiente de encarcelamiento al que tenemos hoy en día. La diferencia entre los liberales y MIM(Prisiones) es que sabemos que la única manera de llegar ahí, es a travéz de la revolución socialista para que el sistema de prisiones se ponga en las manos de aquellos que son agoviados.

Otro reto de hoy en día que discutimos con UP era su meta de alcanzar autosuficiencia financiera en el futuro. Rico nos explica las limitaciones que trae el recibir fondos del estado.


Si solo depende de nosotros, vamos a trabajar duro, y a luchar realmente por la paz. Pero porque los recursos vienen de DCYF [Departamento de niños Juventud y familia de San Francisco], ellos limitan nuestro movimiento. No podemos participar en demostraciones. Si hubiese una manifestación del movimiento Ocupar Ahora (Occupy Now), no podemos ir, porque se le prohibe a nuestra organización, yo pienso que es importante estar allá afuera con la gente que pelea por el cambio. Cada año hacemos una caminata de Silencia la Violencia con Paz. Podemos hacer caminatas al estilo de Martin Luther King. Pero cuando se trata de presupuesto, crimen, y prisiones, demonstraciones para acabar con esas cosas, no podemos participar.

Lo que ocurre afuera le puede afectar a la juventud en el futuro si las cosas no cambian. ¿Y porqué esperar a que envejezcan para exponerlos a marchas y a que peleen por sus derechos? Tu sabes que me encantaría de llevar a estos jóvenes a un movimiento como ese, por que eso les da sabiduría de la vida, que les enseña hay algo mas que pasar el tiempo en la calle. Pero desafortunadamente no estamos permitidos a participar en movimientos como ese.


Hemos aprendido de la historia que estas limitaciones financieras no exclusivas de UP. Para el sector sinánimo de lucro en los Estados Unidos, la "ayuda" similar brindada a países del tercer mundo. Siempre asegura a los capitalistas que su dinero trabaje a favor de sus intereses. Es por esto que la "independencia" es uno de los puntos de unidad des Frente Unido por la Paz en Prisión. El dinero es demasiado fácil de adquirir en este país, mientras que revolucionarios efectivos son difíciles de encontrar. La liberación siempre ha sido energizada por la gente. Asi que acordamos con Rico en la importancia de luchar por autonomía.

Hasta entonces, ciertamente se pueden tomar pasos positivos dentro de estas limitaciones. Hay muchos niveles en nuestro movimiento y muchos papeles por jugar en la construcción de la paz y unidad entre las masas. Y sin grupos como UP alcanzando a la juventud en las calles, esfuerzos como el de Frente Unido por la Paz en Prisiones seria muy limitado para tener éxito.

Para terminar, Rico comparte estas palabras con camaradas que se preparan para salir.


Lo único que puedo decir es que mientras estés vivo hay esperanza. Y si en verdad quiere ir a casa, haz lo debido, no importa lo que pase; y luchen por sus derechos. Tienen que ayudarse el uno al otro y pensar en la paz, porque ustedes son necesarios acá afuera. La experiencia que tienen de la prisión, pueden salvar muchas vidas acá afuera, con sus hermanitos y hermanitas que buscan guíanza en alguien que haya vivido sus experiencias. Buena suerte, espero que salgan, y estén aquí y ayuden a cambian a nuestro sistema en uno mejor.

Comparado a la vida en prision, como un "ciudadano libre" tienes mas libertad de organizarte, incluso, hasta en libertad condicional. Tu activismo no debería de terminar con tu sentencia de prisión.

United Playaz
1038 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103

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