Much hype and media attention has been brought by the murder of the runner up of the Miss Universe, Miss Venezuela. News pundits like to point out that Venezuela had over 25,000 murders last year and is the world's murder capital. The killing of any person through murder and greed is sad and tragic, but what the media fails to talk about is Amerika's own murder rate.
Statistics for 2010-2011 from the FBI's Crime in the U.S. report has murder and negligent manslaughter at 14,612. This is below the 24,000 murders in Venezuela, but it doesn't account for murders committed by the U.$. armed forces around the globe. In the United States the number of forcible rapes for 2010-2011 was 85,593. This does not account for non-reported rapes as well as rapes in the military.
The government-mouthpiece media in the U.$. viciously portrays other country's problems and flaws in order to keep the prying eyes of the world off the United $tates.
People the world over should strive to end crime in their communities. But most importantly people should understand that the grandfather of all criminals is the imperialist system here in Amerika.
by a North Carolina prisoner January 2014 permalink
They say "America is the land of the free" But what about the millions of people who are just like me Locked in a cage for petty crimes Don't you see in this so called land of the free a dead president's face on a piece of paper is worth more than you or me And they say the U.S.A. is home of the brave What's so brave about locking a man in a cage with nothing other than time to bottle up his rage There is some who are addicts others who are mentally ill And the answer to the problem when society no longer wants us around send us to a court so a judge can lay us down But that judge is no better than you or me He's just as crooked as any other politician you see If you have the money he'll let you go free But if you're indigent the outcome is the millions of people who are just like me
On 21 May 2013 I filed a Section 1983 Civil Suit against Illinois Department of Corrections employees S. Rhone-Plaskett (Counselor), A. Winemiller (Correctional Officer), Jackie Miller (Administrative Review Board Representative), and Grievance Officer (John Doe) for the unconstitutional banning of the November/December 2012 No. 29 issue of Under Lock & Key (ULK).
This lawsuit is the second one that I have filed concerning the bogus banning of ULK and I expect to file many more in the future. This lawsuit is based on the grounds that the Defendants cannot substantiate the banning of ULK and that the banning of ULK violates my Constitutional Rights to:
Receive and own reading material;
Have freedom of speech; and
Have freedom of political expression.
Any material or support you can offer that would aid me in my battle against censorship in Illinois would be greatly appreciated. Specifically, I would count it a blessing if you would comb through your archives and send me anything you have regarding censorship of ULK in Illinois, especially the November/December 2012 No. 29 issue of ULK.
Filing lawsuits does work! Because of the pressure I have been applying by filing Section 1983s, I was allowed to have the March/April 2013 No. 31 issue of ULK, the first issue of ULK that I have received since November 2011. So keep your heads high and your hearts strong as we continue to fight the phenomenon of censorship. It is just another contradiction facilitated by the proletariat/bourgeois contradiction.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Some comrades in Illinois have been permitted to receive ULK without censorship, after much work on their end to defend their rights. In other facilities, it is still banned. Specifically, at Sheridan, Menard, Stateville, and Lawrence Correctional Centers, ULK is being censorsed for any reason from "banned in facility" (Stateville) to "promotes unauthorized organization activity" (Menard). Still, we are being banned without notice to publisher or prisoner (Lawrence) and mailroom employees at Sheridan inconsistently enforce a policy that labels are not permitted on mail pieces; we have yet to see this policy in writing in any official format.
Several prisoners in Illinois have stepped up to help out with the censorship battle in their state. We recently began engaging with these volunteers on an organized basis to help push this battle to a head. We need prisoners who are facing censorship to fight out their persynal censorship battles, like the author of this article has done. MIM(Prisons) and the Prisoners' Legal Clinic volunteers can assist, but we can't fight the battle for you.
The author of this article is correct that occasionally we will make gains, and expand space, for revolutionary organizing. We can use the legal system to make small reforms that make our job easier; for example, defending the right to receive revolutionary newsletters. But we don't expect to be free of all censorship, as it is a manifestation of the battle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; it is a manifestation of the battle between the Amerikan oppressor nation, and the oppressed internal semi-colonies. We use the administrative procedures and courts when we can, but ultimately we know we can't rid ourselves of censorship, or any other social ill, unless we resolve the root problem: oppression of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie, and oppression of the internal semi-colonies by the Amerikan nation. We can only make this sweeping change by throwing out the entire capitalist imperialist system itself.
by a North Carolina prisoner January 2014 permalink
I would like to update my article in ULK 33. Our lawsuit against guard assaults on prisoners has gained attention and helped us win some protections. The pigs in Raleigh were ordered to install eleven new cameras and extra equipment to double storage capacity, set up a new policy to investigate assaults, and the court hired an expert to go into the prison to inspect it to see if blind spots are covered and other areas have been corrected. They have also replaced the entire unit staff.
We are now in discovery since the judge refused to throw out the prisoner beatings lawsuit. This case is getting some press, and the Herald Sun reported: "The judge made a not so veiled reference to the practice of punishing inmates by locking them up in dim solitary units." The judge said "your case is about sunlight where you claim there were systematic violations" to the lawyers for the prisoners. "What we need to do with this lawsuit is not bury it in a deep, dark hole and proceed with discovery."(1)
So one damn thing for sure we got a judge on our side. The same way they have taken from us (a little at a time) we all can do the same to them. It's just a matter of team work.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of a winnable court battle that will result in some improvements in safety for prisoners. But it will not stop the inhumane abuse that continues throughout prisons in North Carolina. This is an ongoing contradiction of our fight against the criminal injustice system at this stage: we take on reformist battles to try to improve the conditions under which our comrades suffer, but we know that these reforms offer no more than minor adjustments to a system that is based on the oppression and suffering of those locked within.
It is ironic that the prisoners in North Carolina have to go to court to fight for their own safety within prison, while the state's justification for every repressive act is "safety" (including North Carolina's excuse for censoring Under Lock & Key for over three years straight). This exposes the reality of the criminal injustice system: a brutal tool of social control that endangers the safety of all who are captured in its broad nets. We need to take advantage of reform battles like this one, both to gain some breathing room for our comrades and to educate others and build unity. We can't end the abuse until we eliminate the criminal injustice system, but these reformist battles are important steps along the way in our ultimate fight against imperialism as a whole.
by a South Carolina prisoner January 2014 permalink
It's cold outside, yesterday we had ice on the ground, and lots of rain, and for a month now I have been without shoes. We are given clogs, which you know are not made for inclement weather. They have holes in the bottoms. I wear compression hose due to edema in my legs. The cement sidewalk eats a hole in them and medical won't replace them for a month, the clogs I'm told have to be worn one year before they can be exchanged. The service life is one year, which does not take into account the weight of a person or his walking habits.
The medical department at Evans Correctional Institution is dysfunctional. South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) hired a racist physician's assistant as a necessary component to reduce prison medical expenditures. Finally after letters to the medical board, Senators, filing grievances, talking to other prisoners who experienced problems with this same physician's assistant, prompting them to engage this fight against intolerance, he finally moved on. SCDC only hires those with less than perfect records, the last doctor was barred from practice in 3 states (Dr. Paul Drago #9700531). Now the nurses are taking up where they left off, we've had three deaths that I know of and it's not getting any better.
The food is mostly a mystery meat that is supposed to be turkey, which used to come in a box that read "not for human consumption." Now we have the same meat, in a different box. More often than not the food is cold (not serving temperature), prisoners are given the wrong size portions, some more, others less. Food supervisors just come for the pay check, and we get 6 minutes to eat. Some prisoners say they are going to bed hungry. The others that can afford it go to the canteen where most of the food is high in price and salt.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We looked up Dr. Drago and found that he was a plastic surgeon before working at the prison, not exactly the specialty needed there. But after having his license revoked in multiple states, this was likely the only job he could get. This is how little we value the health of prisoners: subjecting them to the "care" of doctors who are deemed unfit to practice medicine outside of prison.
Health and health care are generally available in direct proportion to people's wealth and status under imperialism. Those at the bottom are lucky to have access to any medical care, and live in conditions that lead to greatly reduced life expectancy. The life expectancy in many African countries is less than 60, and those doing well are in their 60s, while imperialist countries of the world enjoy a life expectancy in the 80s. This discrepancy is killing people, lives that could be saved with a more equitable distribution of resources and education. Prisoners in the United $tates share the interests of the oppressed in the Third World in the fight for access to health care and safe and sanitary living conditions.
As of 27 December 2013 we have received reader surveys back from 7.6% of our subscribers over the last 11 months. We began running the survey in Under Lock & Key requesting some basic persynal information and feedback on the content of ULK. Our goal was to assess who is reading ULK and what we can do to improve the content. The survey respondents overall represent a distribution of prisoners in line with the general prison population, with a few exceptions consistent with the focus of our work. In particular, we have significant over-representation from Texas, California and Pennsylvania among our readers. This means prisoners in those states are getting more input into the content of ULK. While we are no longer collecting survey responses, we welcome readers to send us your feedback on what you like and what you think could be improved as we are constantly looking to improve ULK.
Assuming that respondants to our reader survey represent the general readership of ULK, we evaluated the information on their demographics to see how this compares to the prison population overall in the United $tates. Below we discuss some differences between ULK readers and the general prison population.
Our average surveyed age is 40, but in 2011 only 40% of the prison population was over 40. This is not a surprising fact: people who are older and more educated behind the bars are turning to revolutionary politics. We could conclude that a longer time in prison leads people to become more politically advanced.
Relative to the U.$. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on "race" of prisoners, our survey respondents include a slight over-representation of New Afrikans and a significant underrepresentation of Latinos (16% compared to a 23% "Hispanic" population in 2011 overall). We are not surprised to have an undercount of Spanish-speaking folks responding to an english language survey, especially as Spanish-only migrants have been the fastest growing segment of the U.$. prison population in recent years. In addition, there was a significant percentage (8.3%) of people who identify as indigenous in our survey (including those who identified as half indigenous and half white). The BJS does not collect statistics on First Nations, so we must assume they are included in the remaining 5% that they do not class as Black, white or Hispanic. This indicates 8.3% is a relatively high percentage compared to the general prison population. As an organization fighting for the national liberation of oppressed nations, both internationally and within U.$. borders, we are not surprised that our readership in prison is even more skewed away from whites than the general prison population which is already only 34% white.
The latest study we found (2006) reports that 52% of prisoners are re-incarcerated. 61% of our respondents were incarcerated at least once before. This may be because those with a prison record get longer sentences and so are more likely to come into contact with ULK. They are also more likely to be older and active in prison, if our theory about age of prisoners is correct.
A very high percent (48%) of survey respondents are locked up in some form of solitary confinement (RHU, SHU, Control Units, Administrative Segregation, etc.). This is consistent with our experience that politically aware and active prisoners are targeted for isolation as punishment for their activism, and to try to isolate them from other prisoners to reduce their influence. Our research on control units indicates that less than 5% of prisoners are in long-term isolation in the United $tates.
In response to our question about what people like best about ULK, the most popular response (22%) was "all of it!" We appreciate the enthusiasm of our readers. More specific responses that were popular included a lot of support for the unity demonstrated by ULK articles (11%) and the stories about other prisoner's work and organizing (20%). There was also a lot of appreciation for state-specific and legal reporting (6%). Five percent of survey respondents liked best the core mission of ULK (which people described as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, internationalism, reporting the truth, or just "the mission"). In addition, we saw responses in support of book reviews, culture, Spanish, country-wide and world news reporting, and general education.
In response to the question about what our readers would like to see more of in ULK, aside from the third of the respondents who thought it was just perfect as is or just requested more of ULK, one of the popular responses (9.5%) was a request for more theory, including information on the history of revolutionary movements and revolutionary heroes, quotes from communists, Maoist theory in general, and more in depth analysis from MIM(Prisons). Related to the request for theory, because strategy is developed from theory, and tactics come from strategic direction, we also had a lot of people asking for strategic direction in general (5.5%), and many asking for more campaigns and tactical campaign work they can do in their prisons (5%). This is a good reminder for our USW leaders as well as our ULK writers and editors that we should tie general prison news to campaign work when possible, and we should be looking for opportunities to initiate new campaigns that will be both educational and lead to potential tactical victories for the revolutionary movement.
A lot of people (9%) want to see more state-specific information (every prisoner wants more information on their own state). We can only increase the content about your state if you take action and write about what's going on there. We rely on our readers for all of the state-specific reporting in ULK. And to really make good news, people need to be organizing so that we have campaigns, successes and failures to report on. So this is a response we hope comes from comrades who are sitting down now to write about their organizing efforts for the next issue.
There were also a lot of requests for resource lists (14.5%) or connections to other resources, and requests for legal information (12%). This is not part of our core mission for Under Lock & Key. We do run the Prisoners' Legal Clinic to help fight key legal battles, such as the censorship of political material. But MIM(Prisons)'s core mission is to build the anti-imperialist prison movement, and so we prioritize communist political organizing. We do not have the labor or funding to provide general resource lists and legal assistance in addition to our core work. We know there are not many groups out there doing this, but resource lists and legal assistance will ultimately only provide band-aids to a fundamentally broken system of imperialism. And anti-imperialist organizing is even more scarce in prisons than legal and resource work.
Additional suggestions from readers for specific areas of expansion included: art, control units, current events, international news, poetry, security, Spanish, U.$. government reporting, and issues faced by the elderly, wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners. There were a wide range of topics suggested and the ULK staff will be discussing all of them as we strive to improve Under Lock & Key.
A few prisoners responded to some of the survey questions requesting that ULK be "less racial", and "stop generalizing whites as oppressors" while one respondent liked "your hate against white people." These responses represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the MIM(Prisons) political line around nation. We do not hate white people; we hate the imperialist system which kills, tortures and oppresses the majority of the world's people for the wealth and enjoyment of the minority. We are scientists and we see clearly that in the United $tates the white nation is part of the minority of imperialist allies leading global oppression. But we also can see that the majority of the people in Russia before the revolution in 1917 who were oppressed were "white." It is not skin color that determines people's status as oppressor or oppressed. However, because of national oppression in the world today, we do see whole nations of people oppressed as a group by other nations. The white nation in the United $tates is an oppressor group, and there are many oppressed nations in the Third World. From an economic perspective, the other nations within U.$. borders are also part of the oppressors (New Afrikans, [email protected], etc.), but these groups also face national oppression and so have some interest in anti-imperialism. It's a complex system, that requires careful analysis and cannot be boiled down to race or hate against white people. We hope these readers will engage with us further for study to understand our position.
In this issue of Under Lock & Key we are featuring an extra four pages of content, which we hope our readers find to be educational and helpful in their organizing work. These four pages were funded by donators and the ULK Sustainers group, a group of United Struggle from Within members and supporters in prison who send in donations to expand ULK. To help fulfill the requests for more that was loud and clear in the survey results, join the ULK Sustainers group today.
No. I do not believe in your government never have never will No. I do not support your wars for your greed i will not kill No. I will not sit back and shut up nor play deaf, dumb and blind No. I will not hear what you say you can't corrupt my mind No. I will not teach my children your hate nor will i teach them your lies I can see your true colors through your red, white, and blue disguise No. I will not go to your church nor will i read your bible No. I will not worship your god fake prophets, a book or an idol
At this time; in this place; I genuinely know why the caged bird sings other than being falsely imprisoned, he’s being called N.I.G.G.E.R. of all things... As I give perfect praise to “the most high,” I can only wonder how many more bullets have to fly? How many more of my precious Black and Latino prisoners must die? Before those of us who still dare to be free can remove the blood filled tearz from our eyez. We’ve all been shackled by the same chainz, victimized by the same pain, so... in whose name doez death blossom? I can vividly recall being racially profiled as a juvenile, because as a child I refused to pledge my allegiance to a flag that forced so many of my B.L.A.C.K. Panthers into exile... This beautiful black revolutionary love of mine is God’s design, bottom line... I speak from the perspective of a S.O.U.L.J.A with an objective. Cause being Black in this "white man's worls," justice is often selective. On behalf of the collective, I stand on the front lines. My message to the b.l.a.c.k. man is to fight the power, nourish the seeds and restore our flowers... This form of revolutionary love will never be televized, nor will it be glamorized, because the very essence of this love affair depicts us finally being unified!! Let’z reflect back to the bird in the cage, back to the dehumanization that we endured while naked on the auction blocks and stage... Or picture the 25-50 million Africans that died during the passage that never made it to the grave because it is only through these degrees of pain, horror and terror, can one truly understand the life of a slave... On the strength of those whose lives were gave, that divine sacrifice in turn allowed countless other B.L.A.C.K. lives to be saved!!
Death and destruction, killing and anarchy Your nightmares and fears have become reality Open your eyes, you're all going to die Bodies will burn, women will cry Children will perish, cities will crumble Striking you down, making you humble Death everywhere, violence fills the air The warnings were clear, you just didn't care Now your lungs turn to black with the smoke they've consumed Untimely demise, nothing to prove For your church and your country you fought with great pride For your god and your government You fought and you died.
Aun usando el PPP para ajustar salarios mínimos, todos los países en esta gráfica excepto México tienen salarios mínimos que están por lo menos un orden de magnitud más alto que esos en los países más pobres.
Recientemente la pequeña ciudad de SeaTac, Washington, pasó un voto de medida para aumentar el salario mínimo a $15 por hora. A lo ancho de Estados Unidos la Union de Trabajadores SEIU ha encabezado un esfuerzo para exigir $15 por hora para todos los trabajadores en restaurantes de comida rápida. En la huelga del 28 de Noviembre, 2013, organizadores dijeron que hubo demostraciones en más de 100 ciudades.(1)
En 2014 el salario mínimo aumentará en muchos estados. El liderato en el camino lo lleva Washington ($9.32) y Oregon ($9.10), con Nueva York dando el brinco más alto a $8.00 por hora. La ciudad de Nueva York fue el centro de los recientes protestantes que trabajan en comida rápida. Mientras tanto, los Demócratas en el Congreso tienen planes para un proyecto de ley este año que aumentará el salario mínimo federal de $7.25 a $10.10 por hora.(2)
Otro lugar donde luchas por un salario mínimo hicieron mucho ruido en 2013 fue la industria de prendas en Bangladesh. Como lo mencionamos en el último numero de Under Lock & Key, esos trabajadores tenían una victoria reciente en el salario mínimo que elevado de $38 a $68 por mes. En Camboya (Cambodia) a trabajadores de prendas se les ha prometido un aumento en el salario mínimo de $80 a $95 por mes. Insatisfechos, los trabajadores se han unido a recientes protestas en contra del régimen actual para exigir $160 por mes.(3)
Con semanas de 48 horas de trabajo, los trabajadores de prendas están ganando alrededor de $0.35 por hora en Bangladesh, y $0.42 en Camboya. Aun que no lo crea, estos son los trabajadores privilegiados quienes tienen protecciones especiales por trabajan para industrias exportadoras importantes. El Bangladesí común tiene un salario mínimo de $19 mensuales, lo cual es menos de 10 centavos por hora.
El propuesto salario mínimo de $10 por hora en Estados Unidos pondría a los amerikanos de paga mínima CIEN VECES más alto al ingreso de los trabajadores de paga mínima en Bangladesh. Por esto es que en el día de Mayo hicimos el llamado al movimiento de trabajadores blancos chauvinistas por evadir el asunto de un salario mínimo global.
Ahora, el primer chillido de nuestros críticos chauvinistas será "el costo de vivienda, se les olvido el costo de vivienda." Nuestra propuesta para un salario mínimo global altaría este salario a una canasta de mercadería. Significa que trabajadores en Estados Unidos y Bangladesh tendrían los recursos para estilos de vida comparables con su paga. Tal vez el amerikano agarra trigo donde el Bangladesí agarra arroz, por ejemplo. Pero el amerikano no agarra una SUV con gasolina ilimitada mientras que el Bangladesí agarra el autobús al y del trabajo. Para mantener este tipo de desigualdad el Bangladesí estaría subsidiando un nivel más alto de vida para el amerikano.
Passa que el Banco Mundial se ha llevado una apuñalada a esta calculación con su Poder de Compra Equivalente. Usando esta calculación, el salario mínimo en Bangladesh, el cual aparenta ser de $0.09 por hora es realmente un enorme $0.19 por hora.(4) Así que, debemos disculparnos con nuestros críticos. El propuesto salario mínimo de $10 por hora solo pondría al amerikano de paga mínima a 50 veces más que al de paga mínima en Bangladesh si consideramos el costo de vivienda.
Recientemente el New Afrikan Black Panther Party (prison chapter) (Partido Nuevo Afrikano Pantera Negra (División de la Prisión)), acusó nuestro movimiento de descartar la posibilidad de una organización revolucionaria en los Estados Unidos por que reconocimos los datos de arriba. Solo porque luchas por salarios más altos, y otras demandas económicas, son generalmente pro-imperialistas en este país no significa que no podamos organizarnos aquí. Pero el organizarse revolucionarimente no debe reunir a la burguesía menor por más dinero a expensas del proletariado global. Además, aun en los tempranos días del proletariado Ruso Lenin tuvo críticas de luchas que buscaban salarios más altos.
Mientras que expresamos dudas acerca de la estrategia electoral de Chokwe Lumumba en Jackson, Mississippi (ve ULK 33 en ingles), permanecemos optimista acerca del New Afrikan Liberation Movement (Movimiento de Liberación Nuevo Afrikano) y sus esfuerzos para movilizar a la multitud allí. El organizarse para economías cooperativas y auto-suficiencia es un acercamiento más neutral para movilizar los segmentos bajos de Nueva Afrika que el clamor del SEIU por más salarios por servicio improductivo de trabajo. Mientras que nuestras preocupaciones reposaban en sus habilidades para organizarse de una manera que fuera realmente independiente de los sistemas existentes, creando un poder doble, el SEIU mendigando por más botines de los imperialistas ni siquiera ofrece tal posibilidad. Para realmente dirigir los desigualdades en el mundo entonces, debemos últimamente llegar a entrar en conflicto con el sistema capitalista que crea y requiere esas desigualdades.
Un punto agitacional de los protestas de comida rápida ha sido que 52 por-ciento de las familias de los trabajadores de comida rápida de linea delantera necesitan apoyarse en programas de asistencia publica(1). Una de las razones de que esto es verdad es que la mayoría de los trabajadores de comida rápida no llegan a trabajar 48 o aun que sea 40 horas a la semana. Si le ponemos niños y otros dependientes en la mezcla y tenemos una pequeña, pero significante, clase baja en los Estados Unidos que lucha con cosas como comida, renta y cuentas de utilidad. La mayoría son padres solteros, mayormente madres solteras. Viviendas colectivas y estructuras económicas podrían (y lo hacen) servir a esta clase y pueden ofrecer un medio de movilización política. Los programas sirve a la gente y casas negras (viviendas colectivas) de las Panteras Negras son un modelo para este tipo de organización. Pero programas patrocinados-por-el-estado y el incremento general en riquezas desde los 1960s hace el distinguir este tipo de trabajo y el de trabajar con el imperialismo una tarea mas intimidante.
La campaña para un salario mínimo global tiene poca tracción entre los trabajadores de paga baja en los Estados Unidos, porque ellos no se benefician de esto. Esta es una campaña que tiene que ser liderado por el Tercer Mundo y empujada por medio de cuerpos internacionales como la Organización de Comercio Mundial (World Trade Organization). La apoyamos por razones agitaciones, pero no esperamos un apoyo masivo en este país. Nos permite pintar una linea entre esos que son verdaderos internacionalistas y aquellos que no lo son.(5)
Cualquier campaña que trabaje para los intereses económicos de la gente en los países imperialistas va a ser problemática porque el mejor trato económico será el unirse con los imperialistas, por lo menos en el futuro inmediato.