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Under Lock & Key

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[Latin America] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 32]
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No Peace in Central America Under U.$. Imperialism

El Salvador has one of the world's highest homicide rates, and marginalization runs deep causing orphaned children from disintegrated households, and extreme poverty. The Salvadorian government has brought gang members to the table to negotiate and find temporary solutions for ending the violence, and eventually a "definitive pacification." A peace treaty between Mara Salvatrucha-13 and Barrio 18 has dropped the homicide rate, in a country with a population of 6 million, to 5 down from 14 daily. "Our conclusion is that the crime is only an expression of a much deeper social problem," says Raul Mijango, who is an ex-guerrilla who fought against the government in El Salvador's Civil War, and is also a former legislative deputy of the government established after the Civil War, he's helping broker the deal.(1) Among the gangs' primary demands was a transfer of ranking leaders from max to low security prisons, where family visits are permitted and limited rehabilitation programs offered. He says gang members are subject to worse-than-usual treatment in El Salvador prisons. Jeannette Aguilar, director of the University Institute of Public Opinion in San Salvador says, "...it's a golden opportunity for the country to advance." Some say they need to treat the roots of the problem: marginalization, education, and a lack of economic opportunity.

While El Salvador is working with the gangs on a "peace process," the United Snakes slithers in the mix and designates the Mara a transnational criminal organization and imposes financial sanctions on the gang. El Salvador's president called this label "exaggerated." In reference to the "gangs" in question, Mijango says "...you don't come across a gangster with five bulletproof trucks and armed men — you just don't see it. You see a bunch of kids trying to figure out how to make it. It's a different reality..." Some analysts argue by doing such, the United $nakes could sabotage the peace process. Economic opportunity is crucial to a sustainable peace process, yet it is almost impossible for gang members there to get jobs.

Comrades, why would they put financial sanctions on them at the exact time that El Salvador is pushing for peace in their country? Could it be the United $nakes is purposely trying to compromise this "peace treaty" in order to keep the country in chaos? If these gang members get educated, get jobs, and contribute to their country's development, maybe, just maybe, they would start taking over the jobs, and undermining investments that U.$. imperialism has its tentacles wrapped around. In my personal opinion, the United $nakes is looking after its interest and long-term investments in the region for capital accumulation and political hegemony, by purposely trying to compromise the peace treaty between Salvadorian "gangs!"


MIM(Prisons) adds:We agree with the conclusion this comrade makes. As we pointed out in our article marking the one-year anniversary of the peace treaty in El Salvador, the United $tates has its bloody finger prints all over the state of affairs in Central America. The "civil war" that led to mass migration to Los Angeles and the formation of the lumpen organizations engaged in the peace treaty was financed by U.$. imperialism to eliminate people who were not a part of the imperialist system.

Just this week, Efraín Ríos Montt, former dictator of Guatemala, became the first head of state in the Americas to face trial for genocide. This U.$.-trained-and-financed puppet was part of a parallel war against communist guerrillas and the masses of indigenous people in Guatemala in the same time period, the 1980s. While there was armed resistance to the imperialists, 93% of those killed by the state's repression were civilians. The trial this week came to a halt when information about current president Otto Pérez Molina's role in ordering mass executions came to light, signaling that the the power structure in that country has not left U.$. hands.(2) In both El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, tens of thousands of mostly indigenous people, mostly Mayans, were slaughtered by the U.$. imperialists to prevent them from achieving their goals of land reform and economic socialization.

Amerikans try to demonize MS-13 and Barrio 18 and other lumpen organizations (LOs) as killers. In reality, the Amerikans literally trained the genocidal killers of Central American in their "School of the Americas" in Fort Benning, Georgia. They then spent millions of dollars to provide them with military equipment to murder tens of thousands of people. After creating war in the region for decades, it is no surprise that the Amerikans are now intervening to interrupt this peace effort.


Another prisoner in Tejaztlán writes:
To me the most relevant question this article raises for the U.$. Lumpen prison population is the "peace treaty." These two LOs have had a bloody feud that has racked the violent death toll to the thousands. If peace is possible for them, there is no excuse wut so ever why the petty-penitentary-plex and tribal warfare going on here amongst ourselves cannot be stopped.

Chiefly, i'm referring to the plex going on in the Texas prison colonies. To everybody "puttin on for they city," i'm barking at the families, yall know who yall are. Sum gotta give, we ain't getting nowhere with this petty-plex. We've allowed hate and violence towards each other to be the basis of our unity in relation to one another. So long as we allow this petty-plex for who has the most dominance and influence on these ranchos, and so long as we allow that hate and violence against each other to dictate our relations to one another, our identity, and our collective consciousness, we'll never truly understand the base of our plex and our common condition. Wut material forces have given birth to and will facilitate the intensification of this plex i'm speaking against? Can anybody explain to me wut it is, the base of it? For all those engaged and involved, yall know who yall are and who this slug is addressed to, and yall know exactly wut plex i'm referring to.

I recently withdrew my allegience to one of these LOs comprising the biggest in Texas, because talk of peace is considered weak, and nobody seems to understand wut's at stake, or the genocide we're committing against each other. I now stand alone in an environment where lack of affiliation renders you amongst the weakest, with no say so for even the most trivial of things such as wut channel the pacifier goes on and sometimes with no place to sit even to be pacified. I feel like Che in his farewell note to the Cubanos, criticizing myself for not being a better soldado, leader, and spokesman. But as i lay down the banner of tribalism, i will lift the flame of revolutionary nationalism, striving to better my understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and applying the dialectic science to the material world around me, challenging the old to build new perceptions, which shape our relations, and define our reality. For those of us lumped together in these ranchos, it starts with you and me individually as biological men assuming responsibility. Let's get it right. For those engaged in the peace initiatives between Centro Americano LOs, from the comandante to the soldado, our efforts at nation building do not go unnoticed. Don't allow the prospects of reintegration and cohesion to be sabotaged due to foreign interests. Too much is at stake. To Sanchez of Homies Unidos en Los Angeles who recently had federal RICO charges dismissed... stay stiff homie!

Lucha y Libre
Patria o Muerte


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[Theory] [Economics] [International Communist Movement] [ULK Issue 32]
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An Open Letter to Maoist and Revolutionary Organizations

communist unity through struggle
The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (MIM(Prisons)), a communist organization in the United $tates which formed out of the legacy of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), announces support for and echoes the urgency of the main ideas in the below statement from the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM). In particular, we recognize the importance of fighting First Worldism, which incorrectly identifies the petty bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries as a part of the international proletariat. First Worldism has played an important role in undermining the building of socialism worldwide. A correct class analysis is critical to all successful revolutionary movements.

MIM(Prisons) refrains from being an outright signatory of this statement because of what it leaves out. In this dialogue within the International Communist Movement (ICM), we would add that we do not see the legacy of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) as a positive one. As the original MIM pointed out over the many years since the formation of the RIM, it was always a force for revisionism rather than a force for revolution. Revolutionary parties seeking to re-establish the RIM should take heed of the mistakes that were inherent in the RIM design and political line from the start. There is no value in resurrecting a revisionist organization.

Further, we challenge our comrades in Maoist organizations around the world to examine closely what Mao wrote back in 1943 on the question of dissolving the International. We do not believe that conditions have changed since that time so that a new International will be a positive development. Instead we uphold the original MIM position that "The world's communist parties should compare notes and sign joint declarations, but there are no situations where a party should submit to international discipline through a world party. Where various Maoist parties from different nationalities have the same goal, they will then coordinate their actions in joint struggle. This will occur in the case of the united states when several nationalities come to exert joint dictatorship over it. Of course there will be some form of temporary organizational discipline at international conferences, but such discipline should not extend to what gets done in the various countries by the various Maoist parties."("Resolutions on Vanguard Organizing." 1995 MIM Congress.)


From the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement
[This letter has been co-signed by the Turkish group, İştirakî, and the pan-Indigenous web-project, Onkwehón:we Rising. To co-sign this important international document, email [email protected]]

A Letter to Maoist and Revolutionary Organizations

Recently the Communist Party of Italy (Maoist) called for the convening of an international meeting of Maoist organizations. This call comes some years after the RIM collapsed following the development of evident revisionism within two of its leading organizations, the RCP-USA and the UCPN.

Comrades! Let us carry out and celebrate the firm break with the revisionism emanating from the leadership of the RCP-USA and the UCPN. In doing so, let us reaffirm our defining points of unity based on the experience of class struggle and distilled into Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

These include:

  1. All of history is the result of the development of the means of production and the struggle between classes over their ownership and use.
  2. Under capitalism, labor is utilized for the sake of profit. Capital is accumulated surplus labor turned against the masses of workers.
  3. That capitalist-imperialism entails the indirect and direct exploitation of the majority of people by dominant monopoly capital and reveals widening contradictions inherent in capitalism.
  4. The only alternative to the continued barbarism of imperialism is the struggle for socialism and communism. Broadly speaking, people's wars and united fronts are the most immediate, reliable means to struggle for communism.
  5. Socialism entails the forceful seizure of power by the proletariat. However, socialism is not the end of the struggle. Under socialism, the conditions exist for the development of a 'new bourgeoisie' which will seek to establish itself as a new ruling class. In order to counter this tendency, class struggle must be waged relentlessly under socialism through the development of communism.

These are points all Maoists can agree on. Yet these do not capture all significant features of today's world.

Comrades! A discourse and struggle over the nature of class under imperialism is sorely needed.

The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement puts forward a line that includes the understanding that a majority section of the populations of imperialist countries are embourgeoisfied.

This embourgeoification often contours around national oppression cast in the history of colonialism and settler-colonialism. It is most wholly construed, however, as an ongoing global distinction between parasitic workers in imperialist core economies and exploited workers in the vast Third World periphery.

Though understandings of this split in the working class was popularized as the 'labor-aristocracy' by Lenin, the phenomenon itself was first noted by Friedrich Engels in a letter to Karl Marx:

"[T]he English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent."

With some exceptions, Marxists have focused and debated primarily on the ideological effects of the controversial 'theory of the labor aristocracy.' Unfortunately, less attention has been paid to the economic dimensions of the 'labor aristocracy.'

Within the imperialist world-economy, First World workers (a minority of workers in the world) receive compensation which exceeds the monetary rate of the full value of labor. In effect, First World workers are a section of the petty-bourgeoisie due to the fact that they consume a greater portion of social labor than they concretely expend. This difference is made up with the super-exploitation of Third World workers. Because prices (including those of labor power) deviate from values, this allows First World firms to obtain profits at equivalent rates while still paying 'their' workers a wage above the full monetary rate of labor value. The First World workers' compensation above the monetary rate of the full labor value is also an investment, i.e., a structural means of by which surplus value is saturated and concentrated in the core at the expense of the periphery.

The structural elevation of First World workers also has strong implications for the struggle for communism.

One of the most dangerous and devastatingly popular misconceptions is that social and political reforms can raise the material standard of living for Third World workers up to the level enjoyed by First World workers.

The illusion that Third World peoples can 'catch up' with imperialist countries through various reforms is objectively aided by the common yet false First Worldist belief that First World workers are exploited as a class.

If, as the First Worldist line states, First Worlder workers have attained high wages through reformist class struggle and advanced technology, then Third World workers should be able to follow a similar route towards a capitalism modeled after 'advanced capitalist countries.' By claiming that a majority of First Worlders are exploited proletarians, First Worldism creates the illusion that all workers could create a similar deal for themselves without overturning capitalism. By obscuring the fundamental relationship between imperialist exploitation of Third World workers and embourgeoisfication of First World workers, First Worldism actually serves to hinder the tide of proletarian revolution internationally.

Another long-term implication of the global division of workers is the ecological consequences of the inflated petty-bourgeois lifestyles enjoyed by the world's richest 15-20%. First World workers currently consume and generate waste at a far greater rate than is ecologically sustainable. The First Worldist line, which effectively states First World workers should have even greater capacity to consume under a future socialism (that is, First Worldists believe First Worlders are entitled to an even greater share of social product than they currently receive), has obvious utopian qualities which can only misguide the proletariat over the long term.

It is safe to say that First Worldism is the root cause of the problems associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party-USA (RCP-USA) and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN).

The RCP-USA, desiring some positive significance to offset its terminal failure to organize what it sees as a U.S. proletariat, chose to intervene in various international issues. This typically occurred to the disservice of the proletarian struggle. Now the RCP-USA heavily promotes Bob Avakian and his 'New Synthesis.' This 'New Synthesis' is better described as an old bag of revisionisms. Today, the RCP-USA, Bob Avakian, and his revisionist 'New Synthesis' is a distraction from many of the important issues facing the international proletariat.

The UCPN has given up the path of global socialism and communism. It has instead sought to conciliate and collude with imperialism in hopes of achieving conditions for class-neutral development. It foolishly assumes monopoly capital will allow it [to] be anything but 'red' compradors or that Nepal will become anything other than a source of super-exploited labor. The UCPN has abrogated the task of constructing an independent economic base and socialist foreign policy. It has instead embarked hand-in-hand with monopoly capital on a path they wrongly believe will lead to progressive capitalist development.

Through the examples set forth by both the RCP-USA and the UCPN, it is evident how First Worldism corrupts even nominal Maoists into becoming promulgators of the most backwards revisionisms. The RCP-USA is deceptive and wrong in its claim that it is organizing a U.S. proletariat. In reality it wrecks the international communist movement for the sake of the U.S. petty-bourgeois masses. The UCPN, whose leadership falsely believes capitalist development will bring positive material effects for the masses of Nepal, has abandoned the struggle for socialism and communism. The RCP-USA claims to represent what it wrongly describes as an exploited U.S. proletariat. The UCPN takes great inspiration in the level of material wealth attained by what it wrongly assumes to be an exploited First World proletariat.

Comrades! Our analysis must start with the questions, "Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?" These questions must be answered foremost in the structural sense (i.e., how do groups fundamentally relate to the process of capital accumulation), secondly in the historical sense (i.e., what can history tell us about such class divisions and their implications for today), and lastly in a political sense, (i.e., given what we know about the complex nature of class structures of modern imperialism, how can we best organize class alliances so as to advance the revolutionary interests of the proletariat at large).

First Worldism is a fatal flaw. It is both a hegemonic narrative within the 'left' and a trademark of reformism, revisionism, and chauvinism. Unfortunately, First Worldism is all-too-common within international Maoism.

Comrades! The consistent struggle against First Worldism is an extension of the communist struggle against both social chauvinism and the theory of the productive forces. As such, it is the duty of all genuine Communists to struggle against First Worldism.

Comrades! First Worldism has already done enough damage to our forces internationally. Now is the time to struggle against First Worldism and decisively break with the errors of the past.

The importance of knowing "who are our enemies" and "who are our friends" never goes away. Instead, those who fail in these understandings are prone to wider deviations. Gone unchecked, First Worldism sets back the struggle for communism.

Comrades! We hope the topics of class under imperialism and the necessity of the struggle against First Worldism come up as specific points of future discussion within and between Maoist organizations. The raising of these questions and the firm refutation of First Worldism will mark a qualitative advance for international communism.

Death to imperialism!

Long live the victories of people's wars!

Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement

(Available in other languages)

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[Campaigns] [Wynne Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 32]
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50 Texas Prisoners Sign Grievance Petition

I'm writing to let you know that I used the petition that you sent me. I sent it to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Board, on a Grievance Step I, and attached 50 signatures to it. About 80 to 100 prisoners wanted to sign, but due to the fear of retaliation and abusive and frivolous disciplinary cases they did not all sign. But these 50 prisoners signed voluntarily and have all had problems with the grievance department for lack of responses by the grievance investigator. If I am put in lockup for retaliation I am going to be happy because I tried.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Inspired by the California petition for the proper handling of grievances, comrades in Texas made a petition specific to their state. Our ability to fairly have our grievances handled is directly related to preventing arbitrary repression for people who stand up for their rights or attempt to do something positive. To get a copy of the Texas petition, or one for your state, write to MIM(Prisons). If we do not yet have a petition for your state, we will send you a generic one and you can do the legal research to customize it.

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[Abuse] [California State Prison, Solano] [California]
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California Government Evade Legal Orders; Prisoner Unity is our Answer

Here at California State Prison-Solano, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has started a campaign to rush prisoners out to other states to be housed. As of last month, Inmate Classification has been rubber stamping the illegal move to out of state. The prisoner has no say in the matter whatsoever.

A few years ago Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, called for a state of emergency. Prisoners were shipped off to be housed in other states because California prisons were bursting at the seams due to over crowding, and no more prisons are being built here in California. However, last year the state of emergency was lifted and the prisoners who had been out of state were ordered to be sent back.

Governor Jerry Brown is under tremendous pressure by the three judge panel to relieve and reduce the prison population. He hasn't done anything yet. Governor Jerry Brown and his cronies will lie, cheat and even kidnap prisoners and ship them to other prisons out of state illegally. He doesn't want to release the terminally ill and sick lifer inmates, who cost the state millions of dollars. In this capitalistic country prisons are very big business, so this oppressive government doesn't want to let anyone out of prison. The situation is ripe for the oppressed nations to protest the harsh injustices that exist in these prisons.

Governor Jerry Brown and his cronies refuse to follow their own laws. This only tells me who the real criminals are. This is why it's important for the oppressed prisoners to unite under one common cause. We must apply the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in order to defeat the criminal injustice system. We can do better if all races unite, because united we stand, divided we fall.

Comrade George L. Jackson remarked: "settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here."

Hence, MIM(Prisons) can truly assist us in this noble effort. Giving us the pertinent tools of knowledge (books) to combat the Amerikan imperialist.

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[Campaigns] [Jordan Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Prisoners Win Victory by Filing Mass Grievances

I have some encouraging news to report concerning the grievance process here on the Jordan Unit in Texas. I am a medium custody G-4 prisoner and per the Texas Dept of Criminal Justice "Offender Orientation Handbook" (I-202) pg 32 which outlines the out-of-cell time requirements, we G-4 prisoners were being shorted our 4 hours daily requirement. We tried many different ways to rectify the problem. First we wrote the Major and then the Warden about this with no response. A group of us tried to "jack the dayroom," meaning not racking up in our cell when told, while others protested by kicking cell doors, forcefully making our requests and issues known to the pigs. This didn't work either, it just earned us a 24-hour lockdown.

Several of us wrote grievances periodically over the course of two months with each response being "no policy violation noted." Finally we decided to send in "a mass grievance." We submitted approximately fifty five to sixty grievances concerning "out of cell time" at one time. The response by the Warden was the same "no policy violations noted." The very next day after we all received our grievances back the pigs gave us our 4 hours out of cell time.

It took us over 6 months in trying different tactics, but we finally won. Crazy to think all we won was what we were supposed to have per the rules set forth by these pigs. I would suggest to every prisoner across the state of Texas following our winning process and submit "mass grievances," the more the better at one time. Persistence paid off in this case.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an encouraging report among many defeats in the grievance battle. And it is important that this comrade wrote up the tactics used so that others can learn from this. We also will stress what the comrade wrote: that all that was won is what was already set out in the rules created by the prison in the first place. We use the grievance system to try to win some improvements in conditions within the criminal injustice system. But we need to understand the limitations of this strategy and continue to educate people about the importance of dismantling the entire criminal injustice system. We can only win that battle as a part of the larger anti-imperialist fight.

(read more on the grievance victory at Jordan Unit)

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California] [ULK Issue 32]
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Taking Grievance Petitions to Next Level

I send my greetings to the reader of this letter. Thank y'all for sending me ULK 30. As always, it was easy, mind-broadening reading. Although I understand and accept the realities presented by your info, it is discouraging to see that we of this line of thought are the minority. As obvious as all of the societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies are, the majority of people still hold on to the lie that Amerikkka is a fair, just, and free society. It's absurd and obscene.

I had filed a state court petition challenging the staff's abuse of the inmate appeal process here at California State Prison - Los Angeles County. The judge has issued an order for the prison officials to informally respond, and they in turn were granted an extension of time on responding. The good thing is that the petition was not summarily dismissed as is routine in the California state courts. Nevertheless, the facts, law, and evidence are strong in my claim. If given a fair shake in litigating I absolutely expect victory in the case.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade filed a state court petition in the same vein as the campaign for the proper addressing of grievances which is now three years strong. Many participants in this campaign are still circulating petitions in their facilities and mailing them to their respective wardens, prisoner support groups, etc. But others, like this comrade, have applied their knowledge of the legal system to push the campaign even further.

We hope the state court petition this comrade filed does have its fair shot at success in the courts, as these victories can contribute to the larger struggle of the oppressed in this country. Sadly, we know this is unlikely, and it is for the same reasons why Amerikans choose to ignore the "societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies" we report on in Under Lock & Key. Even though all Amerikans have at least some general idea of the terrible things this country does across the world and within its own borders, they receive so many great things from being Amerikan that they are willing to accept and even back those actions. We are in the minority in this country. Rather than stay discouraged, we should do as this comrade does and take that as a cue that we need to work that much harder and with more creativity in order to pave the way for revolution. And always keep in mind that we are in the majority globally.

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[Abuse] [Censorship] [Illinois]
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Fabricated Protests and Repression

29 April 2012 — Greetings with love and peace. I hope you're all well and peaceful when you receive this scroll. My six month date to check in has arrived so here it is.

I have received the November/December 2011 ULK issues. I received the January/February 2012 issue as well. There was an article in there about some alleged protest at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois. Also, an article about the cruel and unusual conditions of confinement at Menard Correctional Center.

I was sent here to Pontiac Correctional Center because Stateville I.A.[?] members — in retaliation for me filing grievances and a 1983 on them — framed me as a ringleader in that alleged protest. I have since come to find out (as I suspected all along) that no protest occurred. Yet, I was punished with a year segregation for the false ticket I.A. issued against me.

I wrote an 11-page letter for ULK to publish in which I addressed this, the issues at Menard Correctional Center, and how I filed a suit on the I.A. for issuing me two false tickets in retaliation for me exercising my First Amendment rights.

The I.A. here intercepted that letter and wrote me up for Dangerous Communications, and attempting Dangerous Disturbance. I was found guilty and given six months segregation amongst other things. I filed a grievance and for the second time in my 12 years within Illinois Department of Corrections the ticket was expunged. The Grievance Officer called the Director and the Director told him to expunge the ticket and Final Summary Report.

Hopefully, this letter reaches you. Did the February 2012 letter of mine reach you? Just wondering if it went out since the ticket was expunged.

I had to refile my suit and did so last week. I think the judge may have appointed me counsel (as she should) because I filed another 1983 in the same envelope against Correctional Officer Christopher M. Medin from Stateville and already received a form to serve on him via the U.S. Marshal.

It is imperative that this letter be published as other prisoners were set up as well. My suit is in the Northern District under the title Mejia v. Harrington, et al., No. 12 C 2824.

All of the ULKs I received were confiscated by the I.A. here (Paul Blackwell) and I have grievances pending on those matters. Now all of a sudden I cannot have the March/April 2012 ULK. I have a grievance pending on that. Well, it's that hour for me to withdraw but open your minds and not your porno mags and state property boxes.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We are publishing this letter almost one year after it was sent to us because of the recent campaign being initiated in Illinois to expose and fight the censorship of Under Lock & Key and other mail from MIM(Prisons).

As is demonstrated here, we have limited access to information coming from behind the walls, and rely on the reports of our correspondents on the ground to tell us about how the prison movement is developing. The article from ULK 24 reported a unified uprising against conditions of confinement in the same spirit as the California action in July 2011. The more correspondents who write in on the political movement in their prison, the more sound information we will have to report on in ULK, particularly where we can cross-reference different reports to get an overall picture of what is going on. Get in touch if you'd like more direction on how to become a ULK Field Correspondent.

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[Gang Validation] [California]
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New "Expectations" Strengthen Repression of CA Prisoners

CDCR March 14, 2013 Advisement of Expectations
Click to download PDF of the CDCR's March 14, 2013 memo to prisoners about what constitutes Security Threat Group rule violations.

14 March 2013 - Prisoners in California received a memo advising them of the expectations placed on them by the state in regards to the new expanded "Security Threat Group" policies. When thousands of prisoners across California went on hunger strike to protest torturous conditions in the Security Housing Units, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) asserted that they were already working on the issue. This was what they were working on. Previously they offered "gang validation" to prisoners deemed to be affiliated with one of a handful of "prison gangs" within the system. This new policy expands the gang validation, and therefore long-term isolation torture, to all sorts of organizations that are deemed "criminal" or even just "disruptive." Keep in mind that if prisoners stand up against staff abuses, this is considered "disruptive" behavior and such prisoners face regular retaliation. While none of this is new, it is now official policy.

This new policy marks the continued decline of First Amendment rights for prisoners in this country. The state wants it to be illegal for prisoners to affiliate with each other for any reason. They want to keep them isolated in little cages with no contact with each other or the outside world. While many in this country still defend Amerika as promoting freedom, prisoners and the oppressed nations in general know that this "freedom" does not apply to everyone.

MIM(Prisons) joins in United Front with all prisoners in California who are now actively building resistance to these policies through the courts and through peaceful organizing and actions.


[Memo Passed out to prisoners 3/14/2013]


STATE OF CALIFONRIA(sic)
CDCR 2260 (10/12) Attachment E

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION
Advisement of Expectations

It is the mission of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (CDCR) to preserve public safety and provide offenders with
opportunities to take responsibility for their lives and improve their chances of
becoming productive members of the community.

The CDCR maintains a zero tolerance for gang and security threat group
activities and behavior. Within the CDCR, prison gangs, street gangs, and
disruptive groups are referred to as Security Threat Groups (STG). CDCR
maintains a pro-active approach to STG management.

Offenders found guilty of violating criminal or administrative statutes shall be
dealt with 'in a manner consistent with department policy. This shall include,
but not be limited to, loss of privileges, increase in custody level, loss of work
credits, segregation from the general population, and/or referral for criminal
prosecution.

It is your responsibility to abstain from activities that assist, promote, or
endorse any STG within or outside this facility/institution. Your
responsibility includes familiarizing yourself with laws and regulations that
govern STG activity including the Security Threat Group Instructional
Memorandum, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Division 3,
Sections 3000, 3023, 3314, 3315, 3323, 33,41.5, and 3378, and Department
Operations Manual Chapter 5, Article 22. Some of which are outlined below.

CCR (Pilot), Section 3314, Administrative Rule Violations, states in part:
(a)(3) Administrative rule violations include but are not limited to;
(a)(3)(L) Security Threat Group Contraband: Possessing or
displaying any distinctive materials, symbols, clothing, signs, colors,
artwork, photographs, or other
paraphernalia associated with any Security Threat Group;
(a) (3) (M) Security Threat Group Behavior: Demonstrating or
exhibiting any unique behaviors clearly associated with a STG that promotes,
furthers or assists any Security Threat Group.

Examples of this behavior or activities include:
*Active Participation in STG Roll Call;
*Participating in STG Group Exercise;
*Using hand signs, gestures, handshakes, slogans, distinctive
clothing, graffiti which specifically relate to an STG;
*In Possession of Artwork (other than self created and not
original) clearly depicting recognized STG symbols;
*In Possession of Photographs that depict STG Association.
Must include STG connotations such as insignia, symbols, or other
validated STG affiliates;

CCR (Pilot), Section 3315, Serious Rule Violations, states in part
(a)(3) Serious rule violations include but are not limited to:
(a) (3) (Y) Security Threat Group Directing or Controlling
Behavior. Demonstrating activity, behavior or status as a' recognized member
and/or leader of an STG, which jeopardizes the safety of the public, staff, or other
inmate(s), and/or the security and order of the institution.
(a) (3) (Z) Security Threat Group, Disruptive or Violent Behavior:
Demonstrating involvement in activities or an event associated with a STG, which
jeopardizes the safety of the public, staff, or other inmate(s),
and/or the security and order of the institution,

CCR (Pilot), Section 3323, Disciplinary Credit Forfeiture Schedule, states in
part
(h) Division "F" offenses; credit forfeiture of 0-30 days.
(h)(11) Harassment of another person, group, or entity either
directly or indirectly through the use of the mail, telephone., or other means.
(h) (12) Security Threat Group Behavior or Activity.
(A) Recording/documentation of telephone conversation
evidencing active STG behavior;
(B) Communication between offenders regarding STG
behavior or activities;
(C) Directing Active Participation in STG Roll Call;
(D) Directing Cadence for STG Group Exercise;
(E) Wearing, possessing, using, distributing, displaying,
or selling any clothing, jewelry, emblems, badges, symbols, signs, or other items
with the intent to intimidate, promote membership, or depict affiliation in a STG;
(F) In possession of self-created or original artwork clearly
depicting recognized STG symbols;
(G) In personal possession of STG related written material
including membership or enemy list, constitution, organizational structures, codes,
training material, etc.;
(H) In personal possession of mail, notes, greeting cards,
or other communications including coded messages evidencing active STG
behavior.

The CDCR will review all criminal gangs and disruptive groups and assign a
Security Threat Group level to each.

STG-I will consist of criminal gangs and/or historically based prison gangs
that the CDCR has determined to be the most severe threat to the security of
the institutions and communities based on a history and propensity for
violence and/or influence over other groups. Based upon their individual
threat, clandestine operations, and influence over other STG affiliates,
inmates who are validated as STG-I members will be in segregated housing
based solely upon their validation. Validated STG-I associates will normally
remain housed in general population unless confirmed STG behavior or
activities, some of which are described above, are present. If these behaviors or
activities are present, the STG-I associate will be considered for segregated housing
and placement into a five year step down program.

STG-II will consist of other criminal gangs such as street gangs or disruptive groups
comprised of members and associates who may be determined to be in a subservient
role to the more dominant STG-I type groups. Validated
STG-II members or associates will remain housed in general population
unless two or more confirmed STG behavior or activities are present. If these
behaviors or activities are present, STG-II member or associate will be
considered for segregated housing and placement into a five year step down
program.

I have been provided a copy of this document.


Offender Signature CDCR # Date Signed
__
| | Inmate Refused to Sign


Printed Staff Name Signature Date

Distribution: Original - Central File; Copy - Inmate

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[Campaigns] [Censorship] [Santa Barbara County Jail] [California]
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Loved Ones Fight Santa Barbara Ban on Letters to Prisoners

The fiance of a prisoner in Santa Barbara County Jail is leading the call to oppose a new rule banning all letters to prisoners. The Sheriff has restricted incoming mail to postcards only citing "security" reasons, as they always do. They say this, despite the well-established fact that ties to family and the outside world help prisoners rehabilitate and reduces conflicts. This is why we question how prison authorities define "security."

Nearby Ventura County Jail already has a ban on letters in place, and has recently rolled out an email program that allows them to charge prisoners.(1) One might think that they're cutting out the U.S. Postal Service because they can't get a cut of the money. But as we recently pointed out, another advantage to going digital is easier monitoring of all communications with prisoners.

The rights of prisoners are limited in so many ways, making them a vulnerable population facing increased risks of violence, rape, suicide and many health problems. Even after release prisoners face increased rates of poverty and shorter life spans. Education, communication and integration with the outside world are important parts of any effort to rehabilitate those who are rightfully imprisoned.

MIM(Prisons) supports this campaign to allow prisoners in Santa Barbara County Jail to receive letters, just as we combat censorship in prisons across the country. Those facing censorship from Santa Barbara can provide public records to our online Censorship in Amerika Documentation Project.

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[Economics] [Theory] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 32]
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MIM(Prisons) Responds to Turning the Tide Continuing Misrepresentation

In the April 2013 issue of Turning the Tide (TTT), the editor, MN (who we assume is Michael Novick, the author of the original article in question), responded to a letter that a United Struggle from Within comrade wrote criticizing an article in the previous TTT issue which misrepresented the MIM political line in a critique of MIM(Prisons). The editor claims that they are happy that this article provoked quite a few responses and that they want to promote debate because "this is a contradiction among the people." This is a correct attitude, which unfortunately is not backed up by the TTT editor's response, which is embarrassing in its blatant misrepresentation and misinformation about the MIM line. It is very difficult to carry out debate to resolve contradictions among the people, if the people involved are not serious about political study.

The first critique the editor makes of the MIM line this time around is "in its staunch defense of the significance of the contradiction between oppressor and oppressed nations, and its doctrinaire reliance on its version of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, it petrifies all other contradictions and the flow of history." The MIM line in question, which MIM(Prisons) upholds, holds that the oppressor vs. oppressed nations contradiction is principal at this point in history, but not that it will always be so. And further, the MIM line puts much work into illuminating the gender and class contradictions. In fact, it has pushed forward the political understanding of class more than any other contemporary revolutionary organization by noting that the changing class nature of the imperialist country population has resulted in a primarily petty bourgeois population. The TTT editor writes about workers: "we have stakes and ties in the very system that oppresses and exploits us" a line s/he claims comes from Lenin, denying that anything might have changed since Lenin's day. On this point it is actually TTT that is dogmatic in its view of contradictions and the flow of history by refusing to study the true nature of the imperialist country working class.

The TTT editor goes on to misrepresent the MIM line writing "...by classifying all working people within the US as 'oppressor nation petty-bourgeois labor aristocrats' [MIM] disarms those who have the capacity to break both their chains and their identification with and links to the Empire." This is such a blatant mistake we have to assume TTT has not bothered to read any of the MIM theory on nation. MIM line is very clear that "oppressor nation petty-bourgeois" are just that: white nation people. There is also a sizable oppressed nation petty-bourgeois population within U.$. borders, and we see their class interest as tied with imperialism, but we identify their national interests as anti-imperialist. And this national contradiction is internal to imperialism.

Finally the TTT editor goes into some convolutions to try to explain how the majority of the U.$. population is exploited but maybe just not super-exploited because "no private employer hires a worker unless they're pretty damn sure the work that worker does will make the boss more money than the boss has to pay for the work." By this definition, we can assume that the top layers of management of huge corporations are exploited in their six figure salaries (or even 7 figure salaries!). TTT doesn't even attempt to make a scientific analysis of where to draw the line on who is exploited, and since MIM(Prisons) and MIM before us has done extensive work on this we will not bother to explain it again here. We refer serious readers to our publications on the labor aristocracy.

In the contortions to justify calling the Amerikan population exploited, the TTT editor asks "If the domestic population is totally bribed and benefiting from Empire to the exclusion of any contradiction" then why are gulags necessary? That's a fine straw-persyn argument, but it's not a line that MIM(Prisons) takes. We have written extensively about the role of prisons in the U.$. population as a tool of social control of the oppressed nations, highlighting internal contradictions that include nation among others. Again, it seems TTT has not bothered to read even the single-page description of MIM(Prisons) that we publish in every issue of Under Lock & Key.

The TTT editor concludes by asking a myriad of very good questions about nations and their inter-relations, all of which the MIM line has addressed in a consistent way, and for the most part a way that it seems the TTT editor would agree with, if s/he had bothered to read up on that line. The supposed rigid and dogmatic line of MIM/MIM(Prisons) is all in the heads of the TTT writers and editors who seem to think our line comes from just a few slogans. We agree that "Revolutionary strategy must be based on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, not arbitrary, fixed categories, to determine friends and enemies." And we challenge TTT to take up this concrete analysis. Read our work on the labor aristocracy and on nations, and tell us specifically where you find our concrete analysis lacking or in error. We welcome such dialogue, but the revolutionary movement doesn't have time for slander and false accusations in the guise of political debate.

The last point we will make here is related to a letter TTT published in this same issue, from a prisoner who goes by "Ruin." Ruin wrote to say that s/he shares the TTT views about MIM(Prisons)'s ideological shortcomings and is upset because s/he was kicked out of our study group. We are happy that Ruin has found an organization with which s/he has unity. In fact in previous letters to h, where we pointed out our theoretical disagreements, we suggested other organizations that might be more closely aligned with h views. We run study groups for prisoners who want to work with MIM(Prisons) in both political study and organizing. We stand by the letter we sent to Ruin (which TTT printed) where we explain that it is not a good use of our time to include people in our advanced study groups who disagree with us on many fundamental issues. Ruin told us the first study group was a waste of h time, and that s/he doesn't agree with us on many things, so we're not even sure why Ruin would take issue with our decision that s/he should not continue into the advanced study group. We did not suggest that we would discontinue Ruin's free subscription to ULK or that we would stop responding to h letters, it was Ruin who chose to sever all ties and discussion with MIM(Prisons) after receiving our letter about the study group.

Criticism is hard to take, but it is something we in the revolutionary movement must handle in a direct manner, without letting persynal feelings get in the way. It is also important to know when two lines have diverged significantly enough that those lines should be in separate organizations. History will tell which political line is correct.

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