Prisons, for the last 100 years at least, have been consumed with some type of dope. We know that vice of all flavors has found prisons to be hot houses. Slangin' dope has been institutionalized in U.S. prisons; everyone from the 18 year-old fish to the ranking guard has been caught slangin'.
Some may see it as a means to survive. It is surviving, in a parasitic kind of way. For the prison movement, to engage in the dope trade is to poison the very well you and the people drink from. It's suicide.
The Drug Trade and LOs
It's no secret that in prison the drug trade translates to power, in a bourgeois kinda way for the lumpen organization (LO). The LO that controls the drug trade in a particular prison wields power in that prison. Of course the drug trade brings currency to the LO which in turn brings weapons, material goods, investments and respect. But more importantly than 12-packs of soda, LOs use dope as a manipulation tool. The LO which has the dope has all the other prisoners kissing its ass.
LOs are able to "feed the troops" but at what cost? This is where the contradictions arise between the prison movement and prisoners who are more counter-revolutionary.
The dope trade simply feeds the bourgeois-minded sector of the prison population. It allows this sector to expand its parasitic grip on the prison population. The wannabe capitalist sector drools at the idea of getting in more dope to sell to fellow prisoners; to poison the sisters and brothers for profit, for blood money.
Is Slangin' Revolutionary?
I have spoken to some who have raised the idea that slangin' can raise funds quick for revolutionary programs. Someone even pointed to the FARC [a self-described Marxist group in Colombia] as "proof" of this. The fact that FARC has recently disarmed shows that their judgment on a lot of things is flawed.
My question is, how could poisoning the very population you are trying to win over to revolution be a good thing? There are too many other ways to raise money than to poison our people with imperialist dope.
Being revolutionary is about transforming yourself and others, not inflicting harm on oneself or others. Being in prison is hard enough, we shouldn't create burdens like addictions or debts which will prevent our fellow prisoners from becoming new people and contributing. Slangin' dope is anti-revolutionary.
Slangin' in the prison movement?
If I were to hear that those within the prison movement were employing a tactic to slang dope I would say the movement had committed suicide. The prison movement is unable to mobilize the people partly because of the interference of dope. Dope impedes our progress. It creates the
conditions where the state stays in power without a challenge to its seat.
The fact that often it's the state agents themselves who flood the prisons with dope is proof enough that the dope trade is actually a weapon of the state. Just as the state floods the ghettos and barrios with dope. The dope dealers are simply pawns used by the imperialists. The flooding of ghettos with crack cocaine is the biggest, starkest example of this.
Overcoming the oppressive nature of U.S. prisons is hard enough. The slim pool of prison writers and intellectuals reflects this fact. It is difficult to survive prison and be able to raise your consciousness at the same time. Those few who do wake up have a hard time waking others, insert dope and your chances are zero.
The only thing the dope trade does to LOs is pull them more to the right. It feeds their bourgeois ideology as a log feeds a roaring fire. Our goal is to have the LOs rebuild the house of the prison movement, not burn it down.
What can be done?
This is a difficult chore for the revolutionaries. LOs have become accustomed to having their luxuries squeezed out of the drug trade so to stop that would of course disturb them. But the drug trade is poison.
The Black Panthers at one point sought to actively eradicate all dope dealers from their communities. In prisons we do not promote violence, rather education will have to do. Start by educating the user, start with your cell mate then move on to your neighbor and folks on the tier. Change the culture so that drug usage is frowned upon. If folks can stop using dope on the street they can stop in prisons. Re-education should be used by the more conscious people.
The prison movement will be destroyed by the dope trade, just as the movement outside prison walls was hurt by some influential people taking up dope. The state was able to relax and sit back while dope wore people down and prevented any real mobilization. The same applies to prison. It would not matter if the prison gates flew open if the dragon was high or if it had sacks of dope in its claws.
Revolutionary greetings, and salutations my brothers in struggle. I received ULK 58 about 2 weeks ago here in Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). I also received the CA USW Primer 1st Edition, January 2017. Read it cover to cover, and it had some very good, as well as informative topics and info. I'd like to respond on the article about, "The Biggest Divide - Not Race or Gang". I am an Special Needs Yard (SNY) prisoner.
I seriously doubt the two sides will ever be able to come together, as far as programming together on the same yards. Personally I have no problem with General Population (G.P.), and there are a lot of things I miss about being there. Things have changed a lot on the G.P. side since they have let validated L.O.s out though. As you say: "Not to fan the flames I'll leave that alone." I will say this on a personal level. I do have great respect for every soldier over there who are pushing the MIM theory and line. So I send mine to you comrades. Stay up, stay strong, and keep that "can't stop, won't stop attitude."
MIM, I do understand what our cause is pushing for as far as coming together goes. The only chance I see of that happening is if the G.P. side reverted to the old way of about 2 or 3 decades ago. That is to say letting those of us back on the yard who retired, laid down, stopped reporting, but never debriefed, and our paperwork is clean of sex offenses. Not only that but through the different L.O.s' contact with guards that are in some of their pockets, letting them know of those of us who have conducted ourselves in a convict's code of conduct on this side as well. Meaning we haven't become the C.O.s' rat bitches. Comrades — if they did allow us back — would only be a small amount of us. Maybe a handful on every yard.
Ultimately I would go as far as to say that I am a real small minority that would be willing to take that chance to unite under the above aforementioned standards. There is definitely a very long way to go on that issue. As you say, it's also a trust issue. Yes the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) is what I want. But if the comrade that wrote that article has ever been in prison, you understand the issues that keep the divide, and there are many of them. Personally I have no issues with my brothers of the past. None. They haven't given me reason to be hostile, or have any grudge against them, but there are others on SNY that don't feel the same way for whatever reasons they have.
I have something to say now about the reason I'm in ASU. When I was 6 months to release, I got fed up with the K-9 searching 2-4 times a week, so I refused to come out. I got soaked with O.C. spray. Of course whenever C.O.s either assault us, or spray us, or shoot us with block gun, or bullets, unjustifiably, their go-to "off the books" thing is, "the inmate assaulted or battered me." I - comrades - did not assault that coward. I'm the one who was assaulted by O.C. spray.
The day this took place, I.S.U. didn't even go talk to him, or take pictures, because there was nothing to photograph. He lied, and broke protocol by crossing the threshold of my cell, with no supervisor present. What makes me mad is him putting his damned boot on my back. He hit me with his metal baton like a lil girl. Excuse my expression, wimmin comrades, I mean no disrespect. Anyway I filed an excessive force 602 appeal — staff complaint — on him. Some inmate told me, "Oh man you're asking for it now." Ha! It's because of those kind of inmates that are afraid to file on them is why they get away with what they do. I have that right. Brothers died so that we can file paperwork. I remember that, when I feel lazy, 'cause I hate doing paperwork, 'cause it's frustrating and tedious. Anyway comrades that is my spill. Keep the positive work you do going forward. I'll sign off with a revolutionary salute to all of you comrades at MIM and USW. One day brothers. One day in the distant future you will see, if not you, yours, and our kids will see our world as we struggle for it, to be under one dictatorship, united. Trust and believe. It's destined to come to fruition. Believe that!
[MIM(Prisons) prints the following as background info on a group that has been engaging with us and with the United Front for Peace in Prisons and Agreement to End Hostilities in California prisons. The purpose is for our readers to have more information on what this group is about. We like their focus on the state as the enemy, while serving to defend transgender prisoners from all reactionary elements. Though we disagree that the state exploits prison labor. We hope to continue to build with 36 Movement to promote integration and inclusion of transgender prisoners into the evolving progressive and revolutionary prison movements.]
Peace and Greetings,
The 36 Movement is an in-prison transgender political resistance with a column of militia (Red Roses). We fall with the broader category of the revolutionary movement and including the prison movement. Our origin is in the prisons: by their oppression of us, we acquired a revolutionary political consciousness, tempered mind and resolute endurance, cadre tested in the fire.
Our first principal agenda is the accurate analysis of the concrete conditions in which we live in society and in prison, which guides us in our second principal agenda, that of confrontation with the oppressor. Towards the first, political study is key. Adamant discipline fortifies us and facilitates success in our endeavors. These culminate in initiative. Our current political initiative is that of resistance against our oppression and to educate transgender people in the moral right and obligation to oppose our oppression and to do so proactively and within a revolutionary framework.
Our condition of being oppressed and persecuted in prison by the pigs and the reactionary element must be effectively challenged for our survival and peace of mind, a united and organized effort with learned and experienced leadership. Where pigs are concerned, we employ the tactical political weapons of knowledge of the rules and the laws to counter their maltreatment of us and hold them accountable, filing administrative complaints and lawsuits about our needs in prison in retaliation to our transgender status and discrimination against us, and outreach for public support and to educate of our conditions and our resistance. Where the reactionary element is concerned, we function as needs be. Although we are not on a military offensive, a military wing under the control of the political wing is indispensable within a revolutionary party formation. For one, it serves as deterrent. Establishment of a citizens' militia is not against the law; in fact, it is a constitutional right. Many exist.
We are a multiethnic formation. We discourage drug and alcohol use among our cadre as a matter of political discipline and to foster good health and a clear mind towards our objectives, and discourage criminal thought and behavior. We respect on a mutual basis. We practice genuine unity among ourselves by sticking close together, trusting and sharing. Each of us is accountable for our individual and collective responsibilities.
Having first educated ourselves as to the best way to live our lives under a prison and political system tyrannical and genocidal towards us because of our transgender disposition and prisoner status and lack of political power, we likewise educate other transgender people and organize them to struggle together in a united offensive for our freedom from oppression and for our livelihood and to have political power.
We hold that as a people oppressed from multiple quarters, the principal enemy is the State. The State is always the first enemy. We acknowledge other enemies in the form of the reactionary element within and without. Whatever our engagement with these, we are not diverted from political confrontation with the State.
By the State is meant the economic and political system of capitalism that has resulted in millions of economically oppressed people, and both the domestic law enforcement apparatus that protects its interests and the military complex that ensures its foreign resources and dominance of nations otherwise known as imperialism, capitalism's most advanced stage: the bourgeois strata that dominates the means of production and access to them and thus the flow of the domestic economy and that includes economic and financial blocs, the bureaucratic political apparatus that allows for and is corrupted by the bourgeoisie; the militarism that forces itself upon and exploits nations for their natural resources and cheap labor and as strategic geopolitical location for capitalist control of the world economy and warmongering, briefly. Prison is government, a State enterprise, and represents and upholds all of this, is a part of it, itself exploits the cheap or free labor of prisoners for capital gain. Who fights against prisons, fights against capitalism and imperialism.
Our prison experience has been one of heightened consciousness: we perceive prisons as camps of systematic indoctrination and training for a revolutionary outcome, prison-spawned revolutionary consciousness and organization along a political matrix, restructuring criminal mentality into revolutionary political consciousness, the revolutionary weaponization of prison, turning the State's prisons against the State. Our experience is one of becoming and creating revolutionary cadre out of one of the most degrading features of the State, its prisons, filled to over capacity with wretched souls; how to see and economize on the concrete reality of our misery to forge a new type of human being, an upgrade of the species, a more worthwhile person, one to construct and partake in a more worthwhile and humane socio-economic-political reality.
This is our theory and practice within the revolutionary theater at this time. We have politicized our minds, indoctrinated and trained, which enables us to discern and analyze our circumstances concretely and so live our lives. This is the space our formation occupies and is putting into practice, the accurate development of revolutionary cadre in prison, and tactical political engagement with the oppressor.
Trans prisoners in all prisons are encouraged to become politically aware and politically active against our mistreatment in prison and to join the 36 Movement. Our power lies in our organized unity. 36 cadre must be vetted through the leadership at this location. Refer: Natalie Alvarez / 3102 E Highland Ave #25 / Patton, CA 92369. All power to the people.
On 15 September 2017 I heard of an execution performed on the streets of San Jose, California. A young Chicano named Jacob Dominguez was gunned down by the "pitzo." (Nahuatl for pig)
What we need to realize is that la gente Xicana have been fighting this war for 500 years in various stages via our ancestors. From the Spanish colonialists to today's imperialist, first line of defense (the pitzo). The war on Aztlán has been ongoing. The murder of Jacob Dominguez reminds us of this.
This media is the propaganda arm of the state. It's their public relations outfit, the "ministry of propaganda," they just don't call it that. This is why we never hear the corporate media scream revolution or for gente to rise up after pigs execute someone on camera in cold sangre. They can't call for their own demise, even when it's warranted.
What occurred to Jacob Dominguez screams COINTELPRO. When COINTELPRO was launched against groups in the 60s and 70s like the Brown Berets, Crusade for Justice (of which 5 martyrs were assassinated via bombs), the Panthers, and other groups, the feds initiated a death squad tactic where if they couldn't arrest the person in the crosshairs they would kill 'em.
The fact that Jacob Dominguez fit the rebel profile according to the media, long rap sheet, violent past, alleged "gang member", tattoos on face, pigs, feds or other state agents actively hunting him. They could have easily been describing Pancho Villa 100 years ago or any other revolutionaries from the 21st century. The oppressor nation makes war on those it fears. On the people's leaders.
It's too early to know why Jacob Dominguez was assassinated. Perhaps a later investigation will find he had an FBI file. Those deriving from lumpen organizations (LO) usually do if it's an LO that is bout it because it would threaten the state. We are more powerful than we realize because we organize outside the state's influence and set up forms of dual power in the pintas and the barrios. If we injected political ideology we would be ready to fight for state power setting up our own government; fuck a street corner! We are almost there Raza.
Those of us who ride or die, who have given our lives to the people understand the seriousness. We know that because of our influence amongst the lumpen and our political education and heightened consciousness that we do challenge the state. Because of that we may very well be targets of COINTELPRO. We should do all in our power to avoid this. But it is a reality. One I have come to understand. I know the state is hunting again but I will continue to resist until I cannot do so anymore. Like the brotha Fred Hampton said, "you can kill the revolutionary but you can't kill the revolution."
We need a people's army. The Black Liberation Army showed how to repel the state. I'm not suggesting armed struggle now, but at some point when a people continue to get assassinated they will respond to meet force with force. This is where history must be tapped. We need to learn from the past so that each generation is more prepared and organized than the previous generation. Prepare the people! The war has continued on Aztlán since the colonizer first arrived!
MIM(Prisons) responds: While certainly faced with most difficult conditions here in the belly of the beast, we do not think the BLA demonstrated an effective strategy of repelling the state. In their attempts to deal with the over-bearing pressure of COINTELPRO they were unable to form a real people's army. We must learn from their heroic efforts and their mistakes as we search for a viable path.
Seven out of every ten parolees will be arrested sometime after their release. Nearly half will return to prison someday. The plague of recidivism hangs over every releasee's future like the scythe of the grim reaper coming to cut short their potential beyond the concrete walls, iron bars, and razor-wire of the perpetually proliferating injustice system. The very dehumanizing experience of imprisonment itself plays a significant role in criminal conditioning. For many, it is the influencing factor of imprisonment that detrimentally affects them the greatest. Many learn from those mistakes of their past and some don't. For those with the ability to endure the physical and psychological terrors of "doing time," the lack of skills acquired leaves them with few options other than crime for economic survival after release and leaves the parole board wondering whether or not it made the right decision in granting parole in the first place.
More often than not, it is overlooked as to what may have led to someone's imprisonment and what may be done to help them overcome the struggles or obstacles in their path and in order for them to have a successful reintegration into society. The feeling of defeat is often a temporary condition, but there is never a better measure of what a person is than when they're absolutely free to choose. Removing the individual's choice leads to a lack of inspiration and motivation to overcome one's struggles, and they eventually give up hope. Giving up is what makes the temporary condition of defeat permanent. Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.
In prisons the use of manual labor is considered by several states to be rehabilitative for those given the duty of performing labor that could be done by an advancement in technology through farming equipment. In all actuality, this manual labor is of no use to the prisoner and further hinders true rehabilitation. More money is put into prisons, county jails, and other state penal institutions than there is put into the actual rehabilitation of the prisoners. The addition of more educational programs throughout the state penal institutions would serve a greater good and present people with more opportunities for a successful reintegration into society. "Hoe squad" and "regional maintenance" are a hindrance to the efforts to rehabilitate criminal behavior and thinking modification efforts of the individual prisoners.
Forcing a prisoner to perform such tasks of manual farming and regional clean-up to replace that of existing farm equipment and jobs that are the responsibility of our city labor forces, and without an incentive for possible job placement upon release, serves no greater purpose to the individual prisoner and proves to be more dehumanizing than rehabilitative. It has been declared by many that we can change our circumstances by a mere change of our attitudes, but when placed under duress with no choice in the matter there becomes no room for progress. In regards to rehabilitation, it should and must be the objective of our state government and legislature to seek out better avenues by which to lower our states' recidivism rates, and use education as an avenue by which to rehabilitate our states' prisoners. The person everyone wants returning to their community is an educated, empowered taxpayer who has the skills to help make our society safe and healthy.
As an ex-convict, I understand the limitations placed on our states' prison populations by the use of "hoe squad" and "regional maintenance" as a form of rehabilitation. The value of post-secondary correctional education programs prove to be very beneficial. As this article is written, I am in progress of putting together business plans for an outreach program entitled "A New Leaf Outreach Program" aka "My Brothers' Place" that will serve as an avenue by which convicts / ex-convicts and parolees / probationers, as well as the community, may come together and organize our knowledge — not denying one another the opportunity to teach what we know and learn what we may not know — and bring about a solution to our society's problems.
One may choose to be a part of the problem or choose to be a part of the solution. Regardless of one's past mistakes, one always chooses to be a part of the solution. Once you are challenged, you find something in yourself. Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records. Success is based upon how one rises above his defeats.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer explains well the importance of education for prisoners and the uselessness of many of the "jobs" programs that currently exist. This failure of the work programs is specific to the criminal injustice system that seeks to control populations rather than educate and rehabilitate.
In communist China under Mao we have examples of prisons where people were sent for genuine rehabilitation and education. These prisons integrated work programs for the prisoners, to help them contribute productive labor to society and learn skills they might use on the outside. When prisoners were released in China it was after undergoing intensive education, which included reading many books and discussing these books with others. This process of study and criticism/self-criticism helped them see why their actions that harmed other people were wrong, and giving them a sense of purpose to their lives that did not involve harming others.
All of this occurred within the greater context of a society where everyone was given a role, and expected to participate in transforming society. We can't expect the imperialists to implement such a progressive system because it would be counter to their use of prisons for social control and impossible in a capitalist dog-eat-dog society. But we can, as this writer says, build together to be part of the solution. We can build our own educational programs, study groups, and organizations independent of the oppressor. This is our job right now, as we build to ultimately take down this corrupt and unjust system.
On 15 September 2017 my neighbor died smoking K2 and after the pigs saw I was the last person to speak with him they locked me up under investigation. The first interrogation was conducted by the Arkansas state pig and it seemed as if all was well. The next week another death, same cause. Then my neighbor's mom appeared on the news saying she was gonna get to the bottom of his death (apparently they told her he had a heart attack), and bring a lawsuit before the court.
So when the internal affairs came and conduct their interrogation the pressure had been put on ADC (Arkansas Department of Corrections) and the woman resorts to some dirty ass tactics as soon as I walk in. She starts by telling me she's been doing her thorough investigation and listening to my phone calls, and that she knows about my girlfriend that I tell that I love her and then call my wife and turn around and tell her the same. I ask her if it was some type of threat she was implying because what she was talking about had nothing to do with my neighbor's death. She then starts her backpedaling and starts questioning me about $ I had moved in the "free." That's where I decided to end our conversation.
Right before the time period for investigation ran out I received a disciplinary for possession of contraband even though I was never in possession of anything and it was at this point I realized ADC had their scapegoat in the form of myself. That week topped off with another death, same cause. That's 4 deaths from K2 in this prison within 90 days (there was one about a month before my neighbor).
I was found guilty in kangaroo court, given 30 days punitive and 60 days restriction on phone, visits, commissary. A few days later, the Arkansas state pig comes back. The only reason I could see was to fish for some more circumstantial evidence and bring some type of formal charges to cover ADC's ass. I've been in the hole for about 40 days now and as far as that situation, that's where things stand.
Aprendiendo la diferencia entre nuestros amigos y enemigos significa que nosotros sabemos que otros prisioneros comparten más en común con nosotros que lo contrario. Esto también significa que dentro de la nación de uno, las formaciones dentro tienen aun más en común que lo contrario.
Para el Aztlán encarcelado, las divisiones fueron últimamente
inspiradas en el imperio. El ala avanzada del Aztlán encarcelado
entiende que es tiempo de re-unificar a Aztlán.
En Califaztlan, norteño, sureño, EME, NF han sido paredes que separaban. A veces cada formación era necesaria por seguridad, y algunas formaciones pueden ser más progresivas que otras. Pero estas formaciones todavía separan al Aztlán encarcelado. La separación de una nación no es buena bajo ninguna circunstancia. Yo creo que la meta de todas estas organizaciones Lumpen (LO) es la unificación en algún punto, pero ¿cómo puede esto ser posible?
Un Vistazo futuro a un Aztlán Unificado
Es una realidad que se ha desarrollado mucha animosidad y/o orgullo por una LO o la otra. Al mismo tiempo nosotros vemos que el acuerdo para Terminar Hostilidades nos ha permitido a todos el conocernos y apoyarnos los unos a los otros. Ahora está bien el asistir y estar ahí el uno por el otro, lo cual es grandioso. Nosotros hemos regresado a antes de que empezara la enemistad entre el Norte y el Sur, sin embargo lo que se necesita ahora es el salto hacia adelante.
La verdad es que mientras los LO (ej. NF, EME) todavía tengan formaciones norteñas y sureñas, no habrá reunificación entre el Aztlán encarcelado. Esto va a tomar pasos. La implementación de programas autorizados en los niveles más altos. Un programa inicial seria el formalmente desmantelar las formaciones del Sur/Norte. Al hacer esto la raza será simplemente Raza de nuevo.
Tatuajes de Norte/Sur serian prohibidos en el futuro. Esto ayudaría a
aliviar conflictos y tensiones.
Un periodo de transición relajaría a la raza y luego la siguiente fase de la unificación de EME/NF sería necesaria aún si ellos mantienen comités separados con una nueva organización política. Pero, una nueva organización con un nuevo nombre es necesaria para proveer un vistazo al nuevo futuro de un Aztlán unificado. En algún punto, el Aztlán encarcelado debe de moverse y crear un nombre en el que todos estén de acuerdo, de otra manera ni un lado ganara nunca al otro lado.
I am a transsexual female who has been in these trenches 37 years, have walked close to 30 yards and several SHUs, EOP, DMH. I want to add to Legion's presentation regarding SNYs (ULK 58, p. 19) and how they came to proliferate in Cali, and with regard to the people who walk SNY.
When I first came to CDC in the early 1980s, there were four formations that governed all the maximum security yards: Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood. Notwithstanding the wars among them, there was order and discipline within each, and the tone of the yards was one of respect and honor, an old or original tradition. There was a lot of fighting and killing at San Quentin, where I did four years in the Adjustment Center (AC) SHU. Extreme warfare proliferated as the formations fought each other, especially in AC, where Comrade George executed pigs and reactionary enemies and was martyred in 1971. It was the same AC I stepped into in summer 1982 — nothing had changed: extreme warfare through the bars (there were no solid doors, though there are now) and tiger cages instead of AC yards. In 1985, a white sergeant was speared in the heart through bars and died on the tier, which was attributed to BGF. That's when CDC went bonkers and conceived the Pelican Bay SHU monster to deal with everything (opened in 1989). It was also because of the killing of this sergeant that all SHU pigs had to wear protective vests, beginning in 1986. (Years later, alias Crips did a mass stabbing attack on yard pigs at Calipatria, and now ALL pigs have to wear vests.)
CDC's idea of an extreme control environment was a strategic mistake. First, because it could not and did not break the spirit of those who count, but reinforced their endurance. Second, it created a massive vacuum on the yards as all the OG formations were swept up and stuck in Pelican Bay SHU; soon, independent factions popped up on the untended yards, and compared to previous, the yards went haywire, like kids at a carnival. There was no discipline, no respect, no honor; SNY yards opened and grew as many stepped back from that mess. Now, wherever there is a General Population (G.P.), there is an SNY or two. Third, all of this cost CDC millions of more dollars than average, with nothing gained. Fourth, under the extreme oppression of Pelican Bay SHU, the consciousness of the formations heightened and they united against CDC. And fifth, the courts eventually let the formations out again.
A lot of the people who went from G.P. to SNY in the heydays of chaos were not bad apples but were just more serious about doing time, that the G.P. was so ruined it would've been futile to try to get it back on track.
As much as the G.P. has progressed, however, it still has some backward baggage to sort out. Trans prisoners cannot be on the G.P. because of threats of death, BECAUSE they are trans; only that. There are some progressive prisoners on G.P., the Kata, who do not persecute us. In fact they politically educated me in Pelican Bay SHU in the early 1990s. (A kata is a martial arts stance that Comrade G. practiced in his cell and disliked the pigs to see him in. Here, it connotes a revolutionary position and cadre.) But the general practice on the G.P. towards trans prisoners is transmisogyny and gender oppression; reactionary. To promote a prisoner's human rights platform, that platform must include the vested interests of all oppressed prisoners and have representation of all interests, including trans, and must extend into SNY and women's prisons. The G.P. has yet to address its position towards trans prisoners publicly.
I am with the Red Roses Transsexual Political Party (alias 36 Movement), which I founded. We are a political resistance movement, with critically vetted members. We do political work to challenge CDC's genocidal treatment of us as trans women with administrative complaints, lawsuits, and educate trans prisoners for unity and resistance. We consider ourselves a part of the Prisoners Human Rights Movement (PHRM) founded by the united G.P. at Pelican Bay SHU. Our voice needs to be heard, our situation on the G.P. hashed out. PHRM needs to extend into the women's prisons, where contradictions have peaked, with a series of suicides at the California Institution for Women.
There is no question that we are in a new era of doing time, across the whole landscape. The biggest difference is the new collective consciousness of who is the real enemy in terms of our fundamental vested interests, produced by the overbearing of the state on the oppressed. The current unity of the OG formations — and especially the Kata, as BGF and other New Afrikan unity — illustrates this.
Unfortunately, SNY is beset with wars among factions, and there have been some killings. I would advocate the PHRM shoutout to SNY factions to call a cease fire and work out a Peace Accord, to acknowledge a higher need for unity against their conditions, such as, they can't get into any self-help rehabilitation groups unless they debrief. PHRM's voice will resonate with those who count on SNY.
Red Roses urges all trans prisoners to acquire political consciousness and join the 36 Movement to resist CDC oppression as a united force. We are political, not criminal, politically educate ourselves and do for self and support each other for our collective good. Stop squabbling. We are being killed on the yards, as Carmen Guerro, who was killed on this very yard, and others (rest in peace). The 36 Movement is one for all and all for one. Let that be your motto.
Is China an Imperialist Country? considerations and evidence
by N.B. Turner, et al.
Available for $17 + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne Montreal, Quebec Canada H3W 3H8
This article began as a book review of Is China an Imperialist Country?. However, I was spurred to complete this review after witnessing a surge in pro-China posts and sentiment on the /r/communism subreddit, an online forum that MIM(Prisons) participates in. It is strange to us that this question is gaining traction in a communist forum. How could anyone be confused between such opposite economic systems? Yet, this is not the first time that this question has been asked about a capitalist country; the Soviet Union being the first.
Mao Zedong warned that China would likely become a social fascist state if the revisionists seized power in their country as they had in the Soviet Union after Stalin's death. While the question of whether the revisionists have seized power in China was settled for Maoists decades ago, other self-proclaimed "communists" still refer to China as socialist, or a "deformed workers' state," even as the imperialists have largely recognized that China has taken up capitalism.
In this book, N.B. Turner does address the revisionists who believe China is still a socialist country in a footnote.(1) Ey notes that most of them base their position on the strength of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in China. This is a common argument we've seen as well. And the obvious refutation is: socialism is not defined as a state-run economy, at least not by Marxists. SOEs in China operate based on a profit motive. China now boasts 319 billionaires, second only to the United $tates, while beggars walk the streets clinging to passerbys. How could it be that a country that had kicked the imperialists out, removed the capitalists and landlords from power, and enacted full employment came to this? And how could these conditions still be on the socialist road to communism?
Recent conditions did not come out of nowhere. By the 1980s, Beijing Review was boasting about the existence of millionaires in China, promoting the concept of wage differentials.(2) There are two bourgeois rights that allow for exploitation: the right to private property and the right to pay according to work. While the defenders of Deng Xiaoping argue that private property does not exist in China today, thus "proving" its socialist nature, they give a nod to Deng's policies on wage differentials; something struggled against strongly during the Mao era.
Turner quotes Lenin from Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism: "If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism."(3) And what are most SOEs but monopolies?
Is China a Socialist Country?
The question of Chinese socialism is a question our movement came to terms with in its very beginning. MIM took up the anti-revisionist line, as stated in the first cardinal
"MIM holds that after the proletariat seizes power in socialist revolution, the potential exists for capitalist restoration under the leadership of a new bourgeoisie within the communist party itself. In the case of the USSR, the bourgeoisie seized power after the death of Stalin in 1953; in China, it was after Mao's death and the overthrow of the 'Gang of Four' in 1976."
We'll get more into why we believe this below. For now we must stress that this is the point where we split from those claiming to be communists who say China is a socialist country. It is also a point
where we have great unity with Turner's book.
Who Thinks China is Socialist?
Those who believe China is socialist allude to a conspiracy to paint China as a capitalist country by the Western media and by white people. This is an odd claim, as we have spent most of our time struggling over Chinese history explaining that China is no longer communist, and that what happened during the socialist period of 1949 - 1976 is what we uphold. We see some racist undertones in the condemnations of what happened in that period in China. It seems those holding the above position are taking a valid critique for one period in China and just mechanically applying it to Western commentators who point out the obvious. We think it is instructive that "by 1978, when Deng Xiaoping
changed course, the whole Western establishment lined up in support. The experts quickly concluded, over Chinese protests, that the new course represented reform 'capitalist style.'"(4) The imperialists do not support socialism and pretend that it is capitalism, rather they saw Deng's "reforms" for what they were.
TeleSur is one party that takes a position today upholding China as an ally of the oppressed nations. TeleSur is a TV station based in Venezuela, and funded by Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Uruguay and Nicaragua. Venezuela is another state capitalist country that presents itself as "socialist", so it has a self-interest in stroking China's image in this regard. One recent opinion piece described China as "committed to socialism and Marxism." It acknowledges problems of inequality in Chinese society are a product of the "economic reforms." Yet the author relies on citations on economic success and profitability as indications that China is still on the socialist road.(5)
As students of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, we recognize that socialism is defined by class struggle. In fairness, the TeleSur opinion piece acknowledges this and claims that class struggle continues in China today. But the reality that the state sometimes imprisons its billionaires does not change the fact that this once socialist society, which guaranteed basic needs to all, now has billionaires. Billionaires can only exist by exploiting people; a lot! Fifty years ago China had eliminated the influence of open capitalists on the economy, while allowing those who allied with the national interest to continue to earn income from their investments. In other words they were being phased out. Some major changes had to take place to get to where China is today with 319 billionaires.
Fidel Castro is cited as upholding today's President of China, Xi Jinping, as one of the "most capable revolutionary leaders." Castro also alluded to China as a counterbalance to U.$. imperialism for the Third World. China being a counter-balance to the United $tates does not make it socialist or even non-imperialist. China has been upholding its non-interventionist line for decades to gain the trust of the world. But it is outgrowing its ability to do that, as it admits in its own military white papers described by Turner.(6) This is one indication that it is in fact an imperialist country, with a need to export finance capital and dump overproduced commodities in foreign markets.
"The Myth of Chinese Capitalism"
Another oft-cited article by proponents of a socialist China in 2017 is "The Myth of Chinese Capitalism" by Jeff Brown.(7) Curiously, Brown volunteers the information that China's Gini coefficient, a measure of a country's internal inequality between rich and poor, went from 0.16 in 1978 to 0.37 in 2015 (similar to the United $tates' 0.41). Brown offers no explanation as to how this stark increase in inequality could occur in what ey calls a socialist country. In fact, Brown offers little analysis of the political economy of China, preferring to quote Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese Constitution as proof of China's socialist character, followed by stats on the success of Chinese corporations in making profits in the capitalist economic system.
Brown claims that Deng's policies were just re-branded policies of the Mao era. A mere months after the counter-revolutionary coup in China in 1976, the China Study Group wrote,
"The line put forward by the Chinese Communist Party and the Peking Review before the purge and that put forward by the CCP and the Peking Review after the purge are completely different and opposite lines. Superficially they may appear similar because the new leaders use many of the same words and slogans that were used before in order to facilitate the changeover. But they have torn the heart out of the slogans, made them into hollow words and are exposing more clearly with every new issue the true nature of their line."(8)
Yet, 40 years later, fans of China would have us believe that empty rhetoric about "Marxism applied to Chinese conditions" are a reason to take interest in the economic policies of Xi Jinping.
Brown seems to think the debate is whether China is economically successful or not according to bourgeois standards. As such ey offers the following tidbits:
"A number of [SOEs] are selling a portion of their ownership to the public, by listing shares on Chinese stock markets, keeping the vast majority of ownership in government hands, usually up to a 70% government-30% stock split. This sort of shareholder accountability has improved the performance of China's SOEs,
which is Baba Beijing's goal."
"[O]ther SOEs are being consolidated to become planet conquering giants"
"How profitable are China's government owned corporations? Last year, China's 12 biggest SOEs on the Global 500 list made a combined total profit of US$201 billion."
So selling stocks, massive profits and giant corporations conquering the world are the "socialist" principles being celebrated by Brown, and those who cite em.
The Coup of 1976
What all these apologists for Chinese capitalism ignore is the fact that there was a coup in China in 1976 that involved a seizure of state apparati, a seizure of the media (as alluded to above) and the imprisonment of high officials in the Maoist camp (the so-called "Gang of Four").(9) People in the resistance were executed for organizing and distributing literature.(10) There were arrests and executions across the country, in seemingly large numbers. Throughout 1977 a mass purge of the party may have removed as many as a third of its members.(11) The armed struggle and repression in 1976 seems to have involved more violence than the Cultural Revolution, but this is swept under the rug by pro-capitalists. In addition, the violence in both cases was largely committed by the capitalist-roaders. While a violent counterrevolution was not necessary to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union, it did
occur in China following Mao Zedong's death.
At the time of Mao's death, Deng was the primary target of criticism for not recognizing the bourgeoisie in the Party. Hua Guofeng, who jailed the Gang of Four and seized chairmanship after Mao's death, continued this criticism of Deng at first, only to restore all his powers less
than sixteen months after they were removed by the Maoist government.(12)
The Western media regularly demonizes China for its records on humyn rights and free speech. Yet, this is not without reason. By the 1978 Constitution, the so-called CCP had removed the four measures of democracy guaranteed to the people in the 1975 Constitution: "Speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates and writing big character posters are new forms of carrying on socialist revolution created by the masses of the people. The state shall ensure to the masses the right to use these forms."(13)
This anti-democratic trend has continued over the last forty years, from jail sentences for big character posters in the 1980s and the Tianamen Square massacre in 1989 to the imprisonment of bloggers in the 2010s. While supporters of Xi Jinping have celebrated his recent call for more Marxism in schools, The Wall Street Journal reports that this is not in the spirit of Mao:
"Students at Sun Yat-sen University in southern China arrived this year to find new instructions affixed to classroom walls telling them not to criticize party leadership; their professors were advised to do the same... An associate professor at an elite Beijing university said he was told he was rejected for promotion because of social-media posts that were critical of China's political system. 'Now I don't speak much online,' he said."(14)
Scramble for Africa
What about abroad? Is China a friend of the oppressed? Turner points out that China's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa is significant, though a tiny piece of China's overall FDI. First we must ask, why is China engaged in FDI in the first place? Lenin's third of five points defining imperialism is, "The export of capital, which has become extremely important, as distinguished from the export of commodities."(15) A couple chapters before talking about Africa, Turner shows that China has the fastest growing FDI of any imperialist or "sub-imperialist" country starting around 2005.(16) Even the SOEs are involved in this investment, accounting for 87% of China's FDI in Latin America.(17) This drive to export capital, which repatriates profits to China, is a key characteristic of an imperialist country.
In 2010, China invited South Africa to join the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and now South Africa) of imperialist/aspiring imperialist countries. This was a strategic decision by China, as South Africa was chosen over many larger economies. "In 2007... the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (now the world's largest company) bought a multi-billion-dollar stake in the South African Standard Bank, which has an extensive branch network across the continent." Shoprite is another South African corporation that spans the continent, which China has invested in. In Zambia, almost all the products in Shoprite are Chinese or South African.(18)
The other side of this equation indicating the role of China in Africa is the resistance. "Chinese nationals have become the number one kidnapping target for terrorist and rebel groups in Africa, and Chinese facilities are valuable targets of sabotage." China is also working with the likes of Amerikan mercenary Erik Prince to avoid direct military intervention abroad. "In 2006, a Zambian minister wept when she saw the environment in which workers toiled at the Chinese-owned Collum Coal Mine. Four years later, eleven employees were shot at the site while protesting working conditions."(19) While China's influence is seen as positive by a majority of people in many African countries,(20) this is largely due to historical support given to African nations struggling for self-determination. The examples above demonstrate the irreconcilable contradiction developing within Chinese imperialism with its client nations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks often of the importance of "Marxism" to China, of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" and of "market socialism." Xi's defenders in communist subreddits cite Lenin and the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the Soviet Union to peg our position as anti-Lenin. There's a reason we call ourselves Maoists, and not Leninists. The battle against the theory of the productive forces, and the form it took in the mass mobilization of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is core to how we define Maoism as a higher stage of revolutionary science than Leninism. The Bolsheviks tended toward upholding the theory of the productive forces, though you can find plenty in Lenin's to oppose it as well. Regardless, Lenin believed in learning from history. We'd say Maoists are the real Leninists.
Lenin's NEP came in the post-war years, a few years after the proletariat seized power in Russia. The argument was that capitalist markets and investment were needed to get the economic ball rolling
again. But China in 1978 was in no such situation. It was rising on a quarter century of economic growth and radical reorganization of the economy that unleashed productive forces that were the envy of the rest of the underdeveloped nations. Imposing capitalist market economics on China's socialist economy in 1978 was moving backwards. And while economic growth continued and arguably increased, social indicators like unemployment, the condition of wimmin, mental health and crime all
The line of the theory of the productive forces is openly embraced by some Dengists
defending "market socialism." One of the most in-depth defenses of China as communist appearing on /r/communism reads:
"Deng Xiaoping and his faction had to address the deeper Marxist problem: that the transition from a rural/peasant political economy to modern industrial socialism was difficult, if not impossible, without the intervening stage of industrial capitalism... First, Chinese market socialism is a method of resolving the primary contradiction facing socialist construction in China: backwards
So, our self-described communist detractors openly embrace the lines of Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi, thereby rejecting the Maoist line and the Cultural Revolution.
Resilience to Crisis
During the revolution, China was no stranger to economic crisis. From the time the war against Japan began in 1937 to victory in 1949, goods that cost 1 yuan had risen to the price of 8,500,000,000,000 yuan!(22) Controlling inflation was an immediate task of the Chinese Communist
Party after seizing state power. "On June 10, 1949 the Stock Exchange — that centre of crime located in downtown Shanghai — was ordered to close down and 238 leading speculators were arrested and indicted."(23) Shanghai Stock Exchange was re-established again in 1990. It is currently the 5th largest exchange, but was 2nd for a brief frenzy prior to the 2008 global crash.(24)
The eclectic U.$.-based Troskyite organization Workers
World Party (WW) used the 2008 crisis to argue that China was more socialist than capitalist.(25) The export-dependent economy of China took a strong blow in 2008. WW points to the subsequent investment in construction as being a major offset to unemployment. They conclude that, "The socialist component of the economic foundation is dominant at the present." Yet they see the leadership of Xi Jinping as further opening up China to imperialist manipulation, unlike other groups discussed above.
Turner addresses the "ghost cities" built in recent years in China as examples of the anarchy of production under capitalism. Sure they were state planned, but they were not planned to meet humyn need, hence they remain largely empty years after construction. To call this socialism, one must call The New Deal in the United $tates socialism.
Marx explained why crisis was inevitable under capitalism, and why it would only get worse with time as accumulation grew, distribution became more uneven, and overproduction occurred more quickly. Socialism eliminates these contradictions, with time. It does so by eliminating the anarchy of production as well as speculation. After closing the Stock Exchange the communists eliminated all other currencies, replacing them with one state-controlled currency, the Renminbi, or the people's
currency. Prices for goods as well as foreign currencies were set by the state. They focused on developing and regulating production to keep the balance of goods and money, rather than producing more currency, as the capitalist countries do.(26)
When the value of your stock market triples and then gets cut back to its original price in the span of a few years, you do not have a socialist-run economy.(27) To go further, when you have a stock market,
you do not have a socialist economy.
Turner addresses the recent crisis and China's resiliency, pointing out that it recently started from a point of zero debt, internally and externally, thanks to financial policy during the socialist era.(28)
China paid off all external debt by 1964.(29) This has allowed China to expand its credit/debt load in recent decades to degrees that the other imperialist countries no longer have the capacity to do. This includes investing in building whole cities that sit empty.(30)
What is Socialism?
So, if socialism isn't increasing profits and growing GDP with state-owned enterprises, what the heck is it? The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) was the pinnacle of socialist achievement; that is another one of MIM's three main points. No one has argued that the Cultural Revolution has continued or was revived post-1976. In fact, the Dengists consistently deny that there are any capitalists in the party to criticize, as they claim "market socialism" denies the capitalists any power over the economy. This is the exact line that got Deng kicked out of the CCP before Mao died. Without class struggle, we do not have socialism, until all classes have been abolished in humyn society. Class struggle is about the transformation of society into new forms of organization that can someday lead us to a communist future.
"A fundamental axiom of Maoist thought is that public ownership is only a technical condition for solving the problems of Chinese society. In a deeper sense, the goal of Chinese socialism involves vast changes in human nature, in the way people relate to each other, to their work, and to society. The struggle to change material conditions, even in the most immediate sense, requires the struggle to change people, just as the struggle to change people depends on the ability to change the conditions under which men live and work. Mao differs from the Russians, and Liu Shao-chi's group, in believing that these changes are simultaneous, not sequential. Concrete goals and human goals are separable only on paper — in practice they are the same. Once the basic essentials of food, clothing, and shelter for all have been achieved, it is not necessary to wait for higher productivity levels to be reached before attempting socialist ways of life." (31)
Yet the Dengists defend the "economic reforms" (read: counter-revolution) after Mao's death as necessary for expanding production, as a prerequisite to building socialism.
"The fact that China is a socialist society makes it necessary to isolate and discuss carefully the processes at work in the three different forms of ownership: state, communal, and cooperative."(32)
The Dengists talk much of state ownership, but what of communes and cooperatives? Well, they were dismantled in the privatization of the 1980s. Dengists cry that there is no private land ownership in China, and that is a sign that the people own the land. It was. In the 1950s land was redistributed to peasants, which they later pooled into cooperatives, unleashing the productive forces of the peasantry. Over time this collective ownership was accepted as public ownership, and with Deng's "reforms" each peasant got a renewable right to use small plots for a limited number of years. The commune was broken up and the immediate effects on agriculture and the environment were negative.(33)
Overall Turner does a good job upholding the line on what is socialism and what is not. This book serves as a very accessible report on why China is an imperialist country based in Leninist theory. The one place we take issue with Turner is in a discussion of some of the strategic implications of this in the introduction. Ey makes an argument against those who would support forces fighting U.$. imperialism, even when they are backed by other imperialist powers. One immediately thinks of Russia's support for Syria, which foiled the Amerikan plans for regime change against the Assad government. Turner writes, "Lenin and the Bolshevik Party... argued for 'revolutionary defeatism' toward all imperialist and reactionary powers as the only stance for revolutionaries."(34) But what is this "and reactionary powers" that Turner throws in? In the article, "The Defeat of One's Own Government in the Imperialist War," by "imperialist war" Lenin meant inter-imperialist war, not an imperialist invasion of a country in the periphery.
In that article Lenin praised the line that "During a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government." He writes, "that in all imperialist countries the proletariat must now desire the defeat of its own government." While Lenin emphasizes all here, in response to Turner, we'd emphasize imperialist. Elsewhere Lenin specifies "belligerent countries" as the target of this line. So while it is clear that Lenin was not
referring to Syria being invaded by the United $tates as a time that the proletariat must call for defeat of the government of their country, it seems that Turner is saying this.
We agree with other strategic conclusions of this book. China seems to be moving towards consolidating its sphere of influence, which could lead to consolidation of the world into two blocks once again. While this is a dangerous situation, with the threat of nuclear war, it is also a situation that has proven to create opportunities for the proletariat. Overall, the development and change of the current system works in the favor of the proletariat of the oppressed nations; time is on our side. As China tries to maintain its image as a "socialist" benefactor, the United $tates will feel more pressure to make concessions to the oppressed and hold back its own imperialist arrogance.
In 1986, Henry Park hoped that the CCP would repudiate Marxism soon, writing, "It
is far better for the CCP to denounce Marx (and Mao) as a dead dog than for the CCP to discredit socialism with the double-talk required to defend its capitalist social revolution."(35) Still hasn't happened, and it's not just the ignorant Amerikan who is fooled. Those buying into the 40-year Chinese charade contribute to the continued discrediting of socialism, especially as this "socialist" country becomes more aggressive in international affairs.
[We recommend Is China an Imperialist Country? as the best resource we know on this topic. As for the question of Chinese socialism being overthrown, please refer to the references below. We highly recommend The Chinese Road to Socialism for an explanation of what socialism looks like and why the GPCR was the furthest advancement of socialism so far.]
U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revoluion in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in Amerika free speech is reserved for those with money and power.
In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targetting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.
Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.
We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.
North Carolina fears ULK promotes insurrection
Doug Pardue, Chair of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's (NCDPS) Publication Review Committee (PRC) censored ULK 55, for the article "Regarding Daily Body Searches", stating that it "promotes insurrection." After appealing this censorship, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services upheld the decision citing these lines:
"Persynally I believe that we should shut down all movement but still go to Yard, programs and accept our food. Just make the pigs do all the work... the only way we know how to deal with an opposition is thru the motion of our resistance."
Ms. Sullivan writes, "These statements could possibly lead to insurrection which is a violation of our policy on publications." Apparently insurrection is a passive activity, and peaceful protest is a threat to institutional safety. Kind of ironic from a state that has a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. inscribed with the following words:
..."AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND FAIR MINDED PEOPLE OF ALL RACES, ENGAGED IN MASSIVE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE SERVED NOTICE ON THE NATION AND THE WORLD THAT THEY WOULD NO LONGER TOLERATE THE ABUSES OF AMERICAN RACISM. THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HERALDED A NEW ERA IN OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLVE TO ADHERE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF 'LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL'...
Still can't stay true to MLK's message in 2017.
Last year, NCPDS censored ULK 53 for the control unit survey. This was even more surprising. Upon our appeal, Nicole E. Sullivan, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services upheld the decision, writing:
"[T]he issue lies in the first sentence of the article which describes Control Units in inflammatory language equating them with political repression and torture. Control Units are not used in that manner in our facilities. Such language can encourage insurrection and disorder. Therefore the original decision is to withhold delivery is affirmed."
Ms. Sullivan ruled no free speech for MIM(Prisons) because any critique of eir agency's practices might cause an insurrection.
Just recently, one comrade who had ULK 55 censored and received our appeal letter responded:
"The NCPDS is quick to make any kind of negative judgment against prisoners. A man can say 'boo' and they feel threatened. I would like to know how they can even mention this material being against the prisoners' rehabilitation, where there is no such thing as rehabilitation in the department of NCPDS anymore. If a prisoner gets any rehabilitation, he gets it on his own.
"All the classes that might have been helpful with getting prisoners any rehabilitation have been closed down. More than that, most of the time after completing the class, proof of graduation completion certificates aren't worth the paper they are written on.
"I totally agree with the analysis of the appeal letter."
Missouri bans ULK
A subscriber at Jefferson City Correctional Center forwarded a copy of eir censorship notification for ULK 56. This comrade believes the state has banned all ULK although no formal notification has been given to either recipients or MIM(Prisons). The case manager for the prison refused to give this prisoner a grievance to file so ey could not even fight the ruling.
"The Censorship Committee has reviewed materials sent to you. Pursuant to our review of this material, we conclude that the security of this institution will be at risk if the material is delivered to you within this institution because the material:
1. constitutes a threat to the security, good order or discipline of the institution;
2. may facilitate or encourage criminal activity; or
3. may interfere with the rehabilitation of an offender
"Additional comments: contains articles that could constitute a safety and security risk."
Virginia DOC denies ULK 55 for lots of reasons but nothing specific
The Virginia DOC at least followed their rules in informing MIM(Prisons) that our publication was denied. Although the letter was sent months after this issue of ULK was mailed to subscribers. And still they claim we get only 15 days to appeal!
"You are hereby advised that the following issue(s) of publication(s) sent to an offender of the Virginia Department of Corrections have been disapproved for delivery to offenders of the Department:
Under Lock & Key March/April 2017 No. 55 page 5, front cover
for the following reasons:
D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.
F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."
Hamilton CI in Florida censors guide to fighting censorship
In clear proof that Florida isn't reading the mail they censor, on July 20 we got a censorship notification from the Florida DOC along with the letter back that they had denied. This letter is our guide to fighting censorship in prisons. It contains information about regulations and laws, and how to appeal censorship. It's quite a stretch to consider any of the below reasons applicable to this document. More likely the mailroom is now just censoring all of our mail for these reasons.
"Your correspondence is being returned for the following reason(s):
"Otherwise presents a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives of the Correctional System, or to the safety of any person.
"Depicts, describes or encourages activities which may lead to the use of physical violence or group disruption.
"Encourages or instructs in the commission of criminal activity."
ULK 57 banned from Pennsylvania prisons for "advocating solidarity"
Apparently Pennsylvania considers any unity among prisoners to be dangerous. And so they banned all Pennsylvania prisoners from receiving ULK 57 because it "advocates solidarity." The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines solidarity as "unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards." Perhaps Pennsylvania hopes to keep prisoners distracted fighting one another rather than united against the abuse of the injustice system.
"Please be advised that the following publication has been denied to all inmates housed in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections:
"Under Lock & Key, #57, July/August 2017.
"The publication was denied for the following reasons:
"Information on page 11 advocates solidarity."
Pennsylvania denies ULK for article about PA prisons
"The following publication addressed to you has been reviewed and found unacceptable for the reason(s), indicated below, based on the criteria set forth in the DC-ADM 803 'Inmate Mail and Incoming Publications' policy Section 3.E.3.
Name of publication: Under Lock & Key – July/August 2017
b. security issues
"(4) Racially inflammatory material or material that could cause a threat to the inmate, staff, or facility security;
page number(s) 21, 24.
Brief description: States that 'the strip searches in the PA DOC are only for harassment purposes and we the people need to learn to fight and take a stand against the "pigs" in the prisons' referring to the correctional officers."
Illinois claims ULK is on Disapproved Publication List
Denying ULK 56 , the Illinois DOC offered only this justification to the prisoner's appeal: "Based upon this review, the following action is recommended: Denial – The publication is listed on the Disapproved Publication List."
Georgia censors ULK for being "reading material"
ULK 56 was sent back to us with a rejection form. The reason for rejection: "Other: reading Material (denied by legal in Atlanta)".
Washington rejects ULK 57 for article by prisoners
Washington DOC sent us individual rejection slips for at least ten prisoners, all claiming that ULK 57 violates law, policy, code or rules. Rather than give specifics, they offered several rather vague reasons as justification including info on STGs, overthrowing the government, and articles by other prisoners in other facilities. It's pretty hard to fight such general claims. And in fact most of ULK is written by prisoners, but that's not a legal justification for censorship.
"Reason 8. Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy, and/or local facility rules.
"Comments/other reasons: 8. contains security threat group information and threat to penological object on overthrowing the government page 3, 11, and 13. A lot of articles that other offenders from other facilities."
Illinois returns study group lesson unopened
A letter sent to an Illinois prisoner was returned to us, unopened with the reason "unapproved correspondence." The envelope contained a 4 page intro to MIM(Prisons) and an invitation to our mail-based study group with the first reading and questions attached. How could Illinois know this was not approved if they didn't bother to open the letter to look at the contents?