The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Release] [ULK Issue 23]
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MIM(Prisons)'s Re-Lease on Life Program

Helping Prison Activists Stay Active on the Streets

MIM(Prisons) has spent years trying to build the Re-Lease on Life program for prisoners coming back to the streets. Our goal is to help prisoner activists stay politically active when they are no longer incarcerated. An important component of this is helping our comrades to set up stable life situations that won't lead them back to prison. As most of our readers know, this is very challenging, demonstrated by the recidivism rate of 43% within the first 3 years post-release in Amerika.(1)

While in prison, people have a unique opportunity of having much time on their hands to study and engage in political organizing. While prison oppression certainly interferes with daily life, the structure of prison and this same oppression enables and in fact encourages political activism. When prisoners are released they face the difficulties of meeting their basic necessities, and dealing with people in random and complex settings, often after years of isolation. And with discrimination against people with a prison record, things like housing and a job can be very difficult to find. Consumed with day to day life issues, it becomes much more difficult for former prisoners to stay active on the streets.

As hard as those challenges are, the primary barrier to reaching our goal is preparing people mentally to deal with these challenges and prioritize serving the people. Even those with a stable home and support on the streets struggle to stay politically active. They are often pulled back into street life with their LO. Other times, their free time is taken up by friends and family who have an expectation of consuming free time with destructive behavior like alcohol, drugs, or just wasted time watching TV.

Part of MIM(Prisons)'s Re-Lease Program involves reaching out to prisoners well before they are expected to hit the streets, and working with them to build a study program and a release plan. If you hope to stay out of prison and support the struggle after you get released, having a strong political education is a vital piece for staying on track.

It is never too early to start preparing for continued activism outside the walls. We've seen too many solid politically active comrades disappear once they get out and are faced with the realities of getting by on the streets.

MIM(Prisons) has very limited resources and we cannot offer the kind of release support that is needed in the United $tates. Instead, we focus on working with our comrades who are active behind bars and who show a commitment to stay politically active when they hit the streets. This means we want to work with you now, both to satisfy some general study requirements, and put together a release plan that will help ease the transition to the streets. If you want our support, we need yours.

Requirements for participating in MIM(Prisons)'s Re-Lease on Life Program include:

  1. Creating a realistic post-release plan for both practical living needs and political involvement
  2. Participating in required study programs behind bars
  3. Undertaking political work while in prison
  4. Planning for both contact and political work once on the streets

Prisoners who do these things are offered our resources and support to help stay politically active and focused on the streets. Keep in mind that we can't offer housing or a job, but we can provide support, help finding resources, and most importantly a strong tie to maintain political sanity and activism.

We work with our comrades to develop a plan for what sorts of political work can be done after release. On the outside there is a lot more freedom to do political organizing, but it's also harder in some ways. There is no longer all the free time there was in prison, and there is not the same level of political interest among the people on the streets. And we know it's hard to walk away from the temptations or difficulties of street life.

This program needs help to expand. We need people who are expecting release in the next few years to get in touch with us to work on a release plan. And we are collecting stories from our comrades who have been out and back in about the challenges they faced trying to stay politically active on the streets. This will be the focus of an upcoming issue of Under Lock & Key, so send us your submissions soon!


Notes:
1. State of Recidivism, The Revolving Door of America's Prisons, Pew Center on the States, April 2011 Report on recidivism for prisoners release in 2004.

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[Censorship] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 25]
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Fighting Censorship Through Litigation Works

Back in 2008, I was denied a lot of reading material and did not file grievances about any of the instances. During that time, I was stubbornly relying on just physical action to challenge these oppressors. That certainly was not conducive to making my situation better.

Fortunately, I've grown wiser over the years. I now litigate against these tyrants and use the grievance system regularly. Since I began utilizing the pen against them, I am yet to have any material from MIM(Prisons) rejected. Should that change in the future, I will file grievances and subsequent appeals. I will also keep MIM(Prisons) abreast of the results and be willing to take action in the court if there is strong probability of success.

This prison recently rejected some issues of a Turning the Tide newsletter. I will send you a copy of the grievance I filed, the appeals, and responses.

I know they would like to prohibit us from receiving and reading literature that teaches us correct ideology and ways to thwart their oppressive establishment. I will no longer allow them to get away with trying to control my mind by putting unreasonable limits on what I can read.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We don't want to mislead our readers to think that filing grievances will guarantee your rights are respected, as other articles in ULK will quickly disprove. But as materialists we should be struggling to learn and utilize the most effective means towards progress. And this correspondent's change from physically challenging COs to utilizing the administrative process is a very common transition for readers of Under Lock & Key in this learning process. Progress is not just about using the legal system, it's about organizing for our own needs and building independent institutions of the oppressed.

While MIM(Prisons) continues to discourage violence against COs, and we see this play out in prisoners' behavior, the prison administrators regularly censor ULK as a "threat to security." It is clear that they are not concerned about the physical safety of prisoners or staff, but rather the security of their jobs, hazard pay and white power.

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[Censorship] [Education] [Civil Liberties] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Expanded Censorship from Hunger Strike

The recent strike has unleashed a new round of censorship here in Pelican Bay. It's crazy that the very issue that CDCR claims to be "working on changing," that is 'Group Punishment,' is the very thing they are still doing by punishing everyone for the strike. Administrators from Sacramento came in their suits to beg prisoners they label falsely as 'worst of the worst' to stop striking and told them that if they stop there will be no retaliation, and yet here we are getting our political literature censored because of participation in the strike!

The state is so sick that it is not enough to keep prisoners locked in solitary confinement for years. It shows the cruelty, the depravity of what we are up against, and so when I think of so called 'constitutional rights' I know in my heart that these so called rights don't apply to me or any other prisoner in Amerika. When I'm denied even the ability to think, this is when I know the intention is to destroy me mentally and psychologically.

This is what the Security Housing Units (SHU) is used for - destruction cut and dried, there is no other reason for the modern day control unit, it's used to break you down by all means necessary. Whatever it is you enjoy is taken. If you like the fresh air we will have lock down, loss of yard privileges, etc. If you like to watch TV the power will go out throughout the week or COs can simply take your TV for 90 days. If you like to read, your books and newspapers will be denied and censored. If you like to write certain people they will stop your mail, return to sender and claim this address is a mail drop, etc. The list goes on and on. This is all done to get people to collaborate with the state in order to get out of SHU.

So as people go about living their life, or even for people incarcerated who have no idea of the active repression many face, I say it's real and be ready for the same repression. I have gone years having my literature from MIM and ULK censored and I have learned not to rely solely on ULK or MIM Distributors but to study on my own or with others. And when I do receive some political science literature, some revolutionary history, I read it over and over and discuss it with others so that I remember it and expand my understanding of it.

What we are experiencing now in the SHU with the new censorship will become common as prisoners in Amerika become more progressive and revolutionary. It is for this reason that people should prepare for this repression just as urgently as one would prepare for a hurricane or earthquake or any other disaster. To disregard this will leave one with nothing, no lifeline to truth, no theoretical nourishment, and most of all no guidance.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises an important point about the value of political literature and the need to prepare for censorship. We face censorship across the country in so many prisons it is hard to keep track. But it is never sustained forever, sometimes we can get past the censors after a few months of appeals, sometimes it takes years and a court case, sometimes there is nothing obvious that changes but suddenly literature is allowed back into a prison. Regardless of the reasons for the censorship or the victories against it, it's clear that we need to get as many people as possible on the ULK mailing list to maximize the distribution, and those receiving it and other literature need to share it, create study groups, discuss what they are reading, and spread the word.

With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows indefinite detention without charges or trial, the U.$. population is becoming more aware of the emptiness of "constitutional rights." There are no rights, only power struggles, as this comrade explains.

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[Censorship] [McCormick Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
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Fighting Prison Officials' Belief that Prisoner's Have no Rights

Comrades, I received the copies of letters that were sent to Director Gary Boyd and McCormick Correctional Institution Warden L. Cartledge concerning censoring of mail from MIM Distributors. I sent Warden Cartledge a detailed request form concerning that issue also.

I think I'll wait until I receive mail from CRC and then file a grievance claiming discrimination and harassment against this mailroom. From my understanding two prisoners here have filed lawsuits against the mailroom already.

South Carolina Department of Corections (SCDC) officials are quick to tell you that they don't care about lawsuits. All SCDC officials have qualified immunity. If a lawsuit is successful the state has to pay a monetary settlement.

What makes these matters worse is higher institutional officials tell staff that as prisoners, we don't have any rights. And that the harder they make it on us the less likely we'll be to return to prison.

To them our being sent to prison was not punishment. The punishment is to come from them once we get to prison. Imbeciles masquerading as psychologists. To become a warden in SCDC all you've got to do is take a prison management class, which is provided by SCDC.

Due to a staffing shortage they're hiring new recruits who're in their 50s and 60s. They're the worst pigs to have as guards, they think they have everything about life figured out and they're really doing society a favor by working here.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We need our comrades behind bars to follow this prisoner's example and fight censorship of mail. We have to follow the legal procedures even when we know the officials are not worried about lawsuits if we want to win these battles. If you learn about censorship of mail from MIM(Prisons), let us know and work with us to fight back.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 23]
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Throw Your Fist in the Air!

Let us return to the acquiescent essence
Where our people were taught life's lessons
Now let us fast forward, from Gabriel Prosser
And Nat Turner to when Marcus Garvey stood on the
Corners, calling for UNIA, National Consciousness,
And for our people to be returned to our own land
Elijah said we must have a place to be ourselves.
While Malik moved our peoples' learning towards social innerstanding
Within the context of this capitalist white man's nation
Their words would help give shape for our struggle today
Give us, us free like Cinque!
This thought was given motion by Malik Shabazz who preached
Arm yourselves with AKs for each
His ideology was studied, because his ideology he would teach
To comrade Huey, and the rest of the Panthers that roamed the streets
Protecting the Black man from the white man's feet
Power to the people, I recall their feats
Socialism and political education were the things that
They would teach
As K9 dogs jumped out of their seats
To attack our people who were trying to meet
And protest the injustice of capitalism calling
For communism throughout the streets!
I see it so clear...
Yet, to this day it's still not fair
Some gave up, some murdered, some overwhelmed and some
Placed here (the new Jim Crow), prisons
And the Amerikkkans just don't care
But I still hear that Panther roaring in my ear
And there is nothing I won't do, to get this message
Once again through to you
I will fight without fear
Until this message again becomes completely clear
Power to the motherfuckin people!
Throw your fist in the air!

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[Censorship] [Legal] [California] [ULK Issue 25]
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Sending a Donation is Contraband

I wish to apprise you of the recent censored mail to and from your area. As you can probably recall, I promised to send you $20 off my books in exchange for reading material back in August. Well that month has long been left in our background.

I have attempted to get it processed from the start, yet finally it was blocked for the so-called reason that MIM is banned. I find that hard to believe because when you sent magazines and they were returned, the Sergeant who spoke to me checked into it and specifically told me MIM was not on the banned list. Still, in the documentation they refer to a memo from 2006.

Furthermore, the Trust Officer told me that anything over $50 has to be approved by Squad in advance. My donation was way below the $50 mark to go to Squad, yet before responding back to my request, my Counselor forwarded it to Squad. So yes, the Trust Office was just deflecting my question.

In the recent events of hunger strikes I think these pigs are getting petty and they are bringin up their repression tactics by stripping out all property from those who participated. Sending you money from my account seems to be out of the question for the time being.

The policies regarding donations is actually simple. As it states in Title 15 Section 3240.1 Donations, "Inmates may with permission of the institution head make voluntary donations from their trust account funds for any approved reason or cause. Permission shall be denied if any of the following exist: (a) There is evidence of coercion. (b) The inmate's trust account balance is less than the amount of the proposed donation. (c) The inmate is mentally incompetent. (d) The proposed amount of the donation is less than one dollar. (e) The reason or cause advocated could jeopardize facility security or the safety of persons."

None of the above pertain to the case at hand. It is an illegal stretch of the policy for this donation to be denied.


MIM(Prisons) Legal Coordinator adds: Recently, there has been much discussion and some legal challenges to the law stating that corporations are people with the rights to free speech in the form of unlimited spending on political causes. Incidents like this beg the question, are prisoners people? Do they have the rights promised to people in U.$. law? The stories printed in ULK tend to support the answer as "no."

Regarding the alleged ban on MIM, on July 12, 2011, Appeals Examiner K. J. Allen, an employee who investigates Director's Level Appeals, stated in an appeal decision to a prisoner,

“While Maoist International [sic] Movement publications were previously disallowed based upon the direction of CDCR administration staff, the publications are currently not listed on the Centralized List of Disapproved Publications. Thus, a blanket denial on all such publications is inappropriate, and the institution must process the appellant's mail in accordance with applicable departmental rules/regulations.

“As with all publications, the appellant's mailing must be reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with all departmental regulations. Unless this specific Maoist International Movement publication is considered contraband, as noted within the CCR 3006, the publication shall be issued to the appellant and/or allowed to be ordered and received.” (When citing this Director's Level Appeal Decision, it may be helpful to use IAB Case No. 1020001.)

The Director's level is the top of the top within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). A decision made at the Director's level would generally apply to all facilities and all prisoners in the CDCR system. When the author of this article cited the above Director's Level Appeal Decision in defense of h donation to MIM(Prisons), s/he was told to omit it from h grievance because it "belongs to another inmate." How a Director's Level Decision simply re-explaining and re-correcting a CDCR practice can "belong" to only one prisoner is beyond reason.

In ULK 24 we put a call out for donations to keep Under Lock & Key functioning at its current capacity. When a prisoner is unable to send a donation to MIM(Prisons), the prison administrators are limiting our ability to publish and send out literature, thereby illegally limiting our (and the donating prisoner's) First Amendment right to free speech. When they cite a defunct memorandum to limit donations, it is even more egregious.

At least one persyn in the CDCR's Director's office made at least one correct decision, at least once. We encourage our comrades to continue grieving and re-grieving the defunct 2006 ban of MIM Distributors up to the top, and take it to court if necessary. To help in this process, we've put together a history of the ban with quotations for specific facilities. We are sending out this Censorship Guide Supplement for California to help prisoners hold administrators to their word. Write in to get it.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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My People

Six by twelve food cell feeling like
A freshly dug six foot hole
It's the sixth suicide since December
And it's only six twenty-four
I sit and try to forget
When all that's possible is remember
To bleed with no trace of blood
It's like a death with no hug
Dying a death minus the roses
Is like living a life with no one
I called your name at midnight
Took an hour for the echo
I saw your face in my sleep crying
Whispering, whispering alone, whispering to no one
I'll turn twenty-five in two months
But look sixty in the mirror
I'll never forget the smell of vanilla
Us stoned sweetly contented together
I can do a whole year in only a month
I've eaten the same meal five years
The same bologna for dinner, breakfast and lunch
Same curls, shrugs and decline pushups
I can maintain because I know one thing
My life is tied to something larger
I will survive for only one purpose and that's to see my people suffer
No longer

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Uncomfortable Colanders

A solid square where one must breathe only so much
You see
We are given oxygen but only so much
Being fed just enough to feed one's hunger
Four paces back, four paces forth
Four cinderblock walls and a rusty steel door
If you think too much you will lose your mind
Not think enough and you will lose your mind
If you cry you'll not be able to stop
Laughing for days
Why
You forgot
Our voices revert to childlike tones
Faces pale as sundried bones
Listening to nothing
Yet hearing everything
Talking to no one
But the faces in the ceiling
Belonging to no one but the struggle against this diseased capitalist state
Silently millions sit sitting
Uneasily, unceasingly — squirming in
Society's hate

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 23]
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Strategic Confidence

Forty years today Attica rose up
Since then 600 million children starved to death
Pelican Bay comrades we've had enough
A revolution sparked by refusing pig lunch
Cover this one up, oppressor
We've had enough
Supermax solitary choke-holding Attica's sons
Gray-faced and pale captives dying alone
Bricks and steel sucking the life out of everyone
Clench-fisted against imperialism we die as one
Bring in your army and mow us down
Manufacture a coverup you plutocrat clowns
Each one of our body bags more heavy
And sacred
Than a billion of your cracker small towns
Red flags draped over true soldiers' coffins
Reminiscent of those buried beneath Kremlin gates
Red darns rising like earth under stampeding buffalo
Another empire crushed poetically
Like the Greek goddess of fates
Forty years today Attica rose up
And for the first time ever today
One captive voice echoed the world over
As one
One lung
We've had enough

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Understanding the Weak

My father came to prison and got a tattoo
Heart with an arrow through Mom's name
Hepatitis he's sick with swollen liver disease
Mama left him because he drinks to ease the pain
An ex-pig-farmer being farmed now by pigs
An ex-junkie who's made peace within
All the lingering psychotic delusions
An ex-hillbilly progressed into anti-Amerikkkan
Anti-imperialist in an imperialist's skin
I am hated by my family for hating them
Hated by my fellow white Nazi prisoners
For understanding the weaknesses inside of them
I live to sweat and sweat to live
With a swollen liver like my father
And ex-girls like my mother
Not letting me see my kids
Losing everything I was once taught to love
Loving everything I was once taught to hate
I've lost everyone I once thought I loved
In inciting a reactionary's hate
I'm dying though I've just barely begun to live
Hating a family that chooses not to have me
Being destroyed by a country that swears it's correcting me
Sanity's mostly solitary in the land of the crazy
"If what you say is right, you need fear no criticism"(1)
"Democracy for the rich — that is the democracy of capitalist society"(2)
If what you are is a revolutionary, say "Fuck Amerikkkanism!"
Democracy for everyone, i.e. death to imperialism

1. Mao
2. Lenin

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