On the flyer there is an example of a support letter to send to administrators about this issue. It is reprinted below for your convenience.
Dear Warden Lewis,
I am writing this letter to you to express my concern for the prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison’s short-corridor Group D. It is my understanding that these people have no disciplinary charges, but are being held in extreme isolation, unable to send photographs to their families or speak to them on the phone.
I am concerned that these prisoners, who are under your responsibility, are being denied their Constitutional right to due process. Not only do these prisoners not have any disciplinary charges, but IGI is intimidating and harassing them into fabricating information to avoid false gang validations. This is illegal and upsetting. As a citizen of the state of California, I fund your paycheck, and I expect more from a state employee than to allow these gross violations of the Constitution to happen right under your nose.
Studies prove time and time again that prisoners who have contact with their family are able to rehabilitate much better than those who are isolated. They are better able to adjust to society when they are released, and avoid being sent back to prison. It is completely irresponsible that you would permit IGI to cause this potential damage in a person’s life, when they are supposed to be allowed these privileges.
Since you are the Warden of Pelican Bay State Prison, I am asking that you intervene in these illegal and irresponsible practices going on in short-corridor Group D. Please allow the prisoners held there their full privileges according to CDCR policies, and end the harassment and intimidation of prisoners, especially ones who have no information, and no disciplinary actions.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I also thank you for your future efforts to resolve this problem.
Allow me to first salute and extend my comradely blessings to those who have evolved in realization that unification and commonality is the one and only true efficient vehicle for our struggle towards liberation. However, being that this is my first entry this article will be contributed to the topic of unity and peace.
As I reside in the Maryland prison system, I can only speak on the assessment of this region, and a lack of unity and peace amongst the prison class has established a stronghold throughout the many institutions. We have an environment littered with opposing groups which historically have common origins that share the same vision and cause. Somewhere along the timeline they have gotten away from a political platform geared towards revamping the conditions of the lower and lumpen classes of society. They have swayed away from the real opposition, which as a result has plagued the prison community by creating these mentalities and groups of mass destruction. That is why I support and believe that the collective conscious minds need to manufacture a united front to combat the fatuous and self-destructive mind-state which has been a detriment for too long.
Nevertheless, from what I've evaluated, I believe before we can consolidate to one unit we need to focus on peace. Without peace amongst the many power structures there can't be unity. In order to establish peace there must be a certain height of maturity amongst the leadership in these regimes to conceive the significance and dire need to unify and stand for a common purpose. Personal growth and development must be acquired for one to widen their lens to envision the benefits of this objective. Only once this level of growth is reached between the leadership can they exert their influence and pass down the educational curriculum necessary to manifest/cultivate a paradigm shift emulating a united mission. Only then can we extirpate (root out) the infantile foolishness, the individualistic agendas, and breed a sound social atmosphere. Of course I've given thought that there may be renegade members within the groups who refuse to adhere to the cause, but I'm a firm believer of operating with an iron fist, and we need to weed out those who neglect to contribute and continue to destroy. Some may associate this statement with radical theory. But I believe considering the words can't produce the same results as action.
Moreover, once we build on this foundation of peace we can then move in the direction of unity. It is imperative that we have unification, because without the strength of unity we dis-empower ourselves. Every movement which has gained its liberation derived from uniting the people for a common cause. We injure our purpose by our ignorance and succumbing to the psychological tactics of divide and conquer. While our ignorance continues to serve as strength and energy to this system which governs us all, we will continue to wallow in this cycle of repression. So, yes I do believe peace and unity are the essence of true liberation, and probably the last remaining alternative for improvement. I admire this attempt for international unity, this alarming call for a united front, and as a member of The New Man Corp, you have my support.
Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles Kersplebedeb and Spear & Shield Publications 2010
Available for $20 + shipping/handling from: Kersplebedeb CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne Montreal, Quebec Canada H3W 3H8
"THE BOOK IS ABOUT HOW THE "WRETCHED" can transform themselves into the ENLIGHTENED and the SELF-GOVERNING!! If you don't take anything else away with your reading of [The Wretched of the Earth], you must take this."(p.381)
Like many of the books reviewed in Under Lock & Key, Meditations On Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth is written by someone who spent most of his adult life in a U.$. prison. That there are so many such books these days speaks to the growing plague of the mass incarceration experiment that is the U.$. injustice system. The content of many of these books speaks to the development of the consciousness of this growing class of people in the belly of the beast. While of the lumpen class, they differ from the subjects of Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth in both their incarceration and their First World status. And while great thinkers are among them, their ideas are reflected in the general prison population superficially at best. The need for the development of mass consciousness (one based in revolutionary nationalism, and an understanding of how to think, not what to think) and the project of oppressed people taking their destinies in their own hands make up the main theme of this book.
Wretched has greatly influenced many in our circles, and is itself a book highly recommended by MIM(Prisons). It is of particular interest in being perhaps the most complete and accurate discussion of the lumpen-proletariat that we've read to date. While not completely applicable to conditions in the United $tates, it is even more relevant to the growing numbers of displaced Third World people living in slums and refugee camps than when it was first written. For the most part, Yaki discusses Wretched as it applies to the oppressed nations of the United $tates, in particular New Afrika.
The four-part meditations on Wretched make up the bulk of the book. The introduction to this section is an attempt to break down The Wretched of the Earth for a modern young audience. In it the author stresses the importance of rereading theoretical books to fully grasp them. He also stresses that the process of studying and then understanding the original and complex form of such works (as opposed to a summary or cheat sheet) is itself transformative in developing one's confidence and abilities. At no stage of revolutionary transformation are there shortcuts. The only way to defend the struggle from counter-revolutionaries is to thoroughly raise the consciousness of the masses as a whole. "Get away from the idea that only certain people or groups can be 'intellectual,' and think about everyone as 'intellectual.'"(p.192) And as he concludes in part two of the Meditations, We often forget that our whole job here is to transform humyn beings.
The National Question
As part four of the meditations trails off into unfinished notes due to Yaki's untimely death, he is discussing the need for national culture and history. He echoes Fanon's assertion that national culture must be living and evolving, and not what the Panthers criticized as "pork chop nationalism." He discusses the relevance of pre-colonial histories, as well as the struggles of oppressed nations during the early years of colonization, to counter the Euro-Amerikan story that starts with them rescuing the oppressed nation from barbarity. These histories are important, but they are history. Sitting around dressed in Egyptian clothing or speaking Nahuatl aren't helping the nation. It is idealism to skip over more recent history of struggles for self-reliance and self-determination in defiance of imperialism.
We don't even need to go back to ancient times to identify histories that have been lost and hidden; many of us don't even know our recent past. Recording the little-known history of the "wretched" of the richest country in the world is the first step to understanding how we got here and how we can move forward. We are working on this with a number of comrades as an important step to developing national (and class) consciousness.(1)
Yaki agrees with the MIM line that nation is the most important contradiction today, while presenting a good understanding of the class contradictions that underlay and overlap with nation. Recently, debates in another prison-based journal, 4StruggleMag, have questioned the relevance of nationalism as the basis of revolutionary organizing; taking an essentially Trotskyist view, but justifying it via "new" conditions of globalization.(2) Really the theory of globalization is just one aspect of Lenin's theory of imperialism. The author, critiquing nationalism, discusses that nations themselves were a modern concept that united many groups that were once separated by culture and land. This was true for the nation-states of europe that united internally and the nations of the colonial world that were united by their common oppression under european domination. It was in this colonial relationship, and specifically with the demands of imperialism, that nations solidified in dialectical relationship to each other: oppressor vs. oppressed.
Yaki disagrees with the reading of history that sees nations as a modern construct. He stresses the importance of recognizing that oppressed nations existed as people with rich cultures before europeans drew up national boundaries based on colonial land claims (ie. Egypt, China, Maya). While true, talking about "nations" that predate capitalism is similar to talking about the "imperialism" of the Roman empire. For followers of Lenin, empire does not equal imperialism. Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism; an economic system forced by the extreme accumulation of capital that requires its export to other people (nations) to maintain profit rates, without which capitalism will not continue to produce (one of its inherent contradictions and flaws).
When we talk about nations, we are talking about imperialist class relations; the relations of production and distribution under the economic system of imperialism (which is not more than a couple hundred years old). More specifically, we are talking about a system where whole nations oppress and exploit other nations. While different classes exist within each nation, these questions are secondary to the global class analysis in the period of imperialism. To answer the anti-nationalist author in 4StruggleMag who claims nationalism never led to liberation, or to internationalism, we refer to socialist China, the most advanced movement for the liberation of people from capitalism to date in humyn history. Even within the confines of this imperialist country, the most advanced movement took nationalist form in the Black Panther Party.
Any theoretical questioning of the relevance of the nation to revolutionary anti-capitalism must address the nature of imperialism. Within the United $tates the lines between oppressor and oppressed nation have weakened, particularly on the question of exploitation. This provides a material basis for questioning the relevance of nationalism within our movements here. As Yaki wrote, "here, in the seat of empire, even the 'slaves' are 'petty-bourgeois,' and our poverty is not what it would be if We didn't in a thousand ways also benefit from the spoils of the exploitation of peoples throughout the world. Our passivity wouldn't be what it is if not for our thinking that We have something to lose..."(p.188) But globally, the contradictions between nations continue to heighten, and there is no basis for debate over whether nation remains the principal contradiction.
As we said, nations, like all things in the world, are dialectical in nature. That means they constantly change. There is nothing to say that nations will not expand as implied by the globalization argument, but this will not eliminate the distinction between exploiter and exploited nations.
While we won't try to address the relevance of revolutionary nationalism within the United $tates definitively here, Yaki is very adamant about the need for an understanding of the internal class structure of the internal semi-colonies. And as different as conditions were in revolutionary Algeria, many of the concepts from Wretched apply here as Yaki demonstrates. "[D]on't We evidence a positive negation of common sense as We, too, try to persuade ourselves that colonialism and capitalist exploitation and alienation don't exist? Don't We, too, grab hold of a belief in fatality (very common among young people these days)? And, what about OUR myths, spirits and magical/metaphysical superstructure? In our context, We employ conspiracy theories, the zodiac and numerology, Kente cloth and phrases from ancient languages; We invoke the power of a diet and the taboo of certain animals as food products."
Those studying the class structure within the oppressed nations, New Afrikan or not, within the United $tates will find much value in Yaki's writings. Even in the introduction, the editors remind us that, at the very least, revolutionary nationalism was a powerful force in our recent history. For example, in 1969 Newsweek found that 27% of northern Black youth under 30 "would like a separate Black nation."(p.19) And in the 1960s communist teens from the Black Disciples organized comrades from various gangs to defend Black homes in other parts of Illinois from drive-by shootings by the White Citizens Council and their backers in local police departments.(p.16) In the same period, when Malcolm X was alive and pushing a no-compromise revolutionary nationalist line on its behalf, the Nation of Islam had reached over 200,000 members.(p.18) Shortly thereafter, a majority of Blacks in the United $tates felt that the Black Panther Party represented their interests. When we look around today and ask whether New Afrikan nationalism has any revolutionary basis, we cannot ignore these recent memories.
Class, then Back to Nation
In his essay, On Transforming the Colonial and "Criminal" Mentality, Yaki addresses George Jackson's discussion of the potential in the lumpen versus their actual consciousness, which parallel's Marx's point about humyns consciously determining their own conditions and Lenin's definition of the masses as the conscious minority of the larger proletariat, which as a class is a potentially revolutionary force.(3) He quotes a critique of Eldridge Cleaver's line on the lumpen, which glorified organized crime. The critique argues that organized crime has its interests in the current system, and it is a carrot provided to the internal semi-colonies by imperialism. MIM(Prisons) looks to organized crime to find an independent national bourgeoisie (such as Larry Hoover, whose targeting by the state is mentioned in the book's introduction), but many are compradors as well, working with the imperialists to control the oppressed for them. This is even more true where the state has more influence (i.e. prison colonies).
While Yaki's focus on consciousness is consistent with Maoism, we have some differences with his application. Yaki, and his ideological camp, disagree with George Jackson and the MIM line that all prisoners are political. The state is a political organization, serving a certain class interest. We say all prisoners are political to break the common misperception people have that they are in prison because they did something wrong. Yaki's point about the lumpen is that if they don't turn around, understand the conditions that brought them there and then work to transform those conditions, then they are no use to the liberation struggle, and they are therefore not worthy of the term "political prisoner." He argues that to allow those with bourgeois ideas to call themselves a "political prisoner" dilutes the term. His camp uses "captive colonial" to refer to the New Afrikan imprisoned by Amerika regardless of one's ideology. That is a fine term, but by redefining the commonly used "political prisoner" from its narrow petty bourgeois definition, we push the ideological struggle forward by reclaiming popular language. In our view, "political prisoner" does not represent a group with a coherent ideology, just as "proletariat" does not.
Yaki puts a lot of weight on ideology when he defines nation as a "new unity" as well by saying, "[t]o me, being a 'New Afrikan' is not about the color of one's skin, but about one's thought and practice."(p.275) While skin color is an unscientific way to categorize people, we would caution that there are in fact material factors that define a nation; it's not just how we identify as individuals. Saying it is only about thought and practice leaves open the possibility of forming nations along lines of sexual preference, colors, favorite sports teams - lines that divide neighbors in the same community facing the same conditions. On the flip side, it creates space for the white-washing of national liberation movements by denying the group level oppression that the oppressor nation practices against the oppressed. To say that nations are fluid, ever-changing things is not to say that we can define them based purely on ideas in our heads and have them be meaningful.
Yaki Offers Much Knowledge
The use of the term "meditations" in the title is indicative of Yaki's approach, which clearly promotes a deep study of the material as well as making connections that lead to applying concepts to current situations. It is not a study guide in the traditional style of review questions and summaries. It does provide a critical analysis of the race-based interpretations of Fanon, such as that in Fanon for Beginners, which make it a valuable counter-measure to such bourgeois work.
His stress on hard work to build a solid foundation leads him to an agreeable line on armed struggle in contrast to others we have studied from the same ideological camp. On the back of the book, Sanyika Shakur quotes the author as saying, "i'd rather have one cadre free than 100 ak-47's" after Shakur was imprisoned again, related to possession of an assault rifle. Shakur writes, "t took me years to overstand & appreciate that one sentence." Discipline is something the revolutionary lumpen must develop, and taking a serious, meditative approach to study can help do just that.
In his essay, Malcolm X: Model of Personal Transformation, Yaki concludes, "We can go through the motions of changing our lives... but the test of the truth comes when the prison doors are opened, or, when otherwise We're confronted with situations which test our characters." (p.118)
Yaki was a New Afrikan revolutionary and a Prisoner of War. As part of the post-Panther era, Yaki reflects realistically on security questions, pointing out that it's too late to start instituting security measures after Martial Law has been enacted. From reading this book, everything you can gather about Yaki builds an impression of seriousness and commitment to our cause. In this way, this book is more than just a useful study guide for understanding and applying Fanon's ideas; it is an exemplary model for revolutionaries to help develop their own practice.
While reading the latest issue of ULK I noticed the topic on Peace and Unity. As a member of the New Man Corp., it's my obligation to want to contribute to productive activity and liberation from what ignorance has bound me to. This is why I encourage all my comrades to work towards true freedom, and also to work against this diabolical establishment. I believe we as men should study our heritage and culture and protect each other from this open enemy. I understand the need to study George, Malcolm, and Huey to become well versed with the people of the struggle and develop a sense of camaraderie. It has come time for all of us to stand together as one united front, so we can fight against prison injustice.
I reside in Maryland Correctional Institution, where peace and unity is imperative. It's become increasingly clear that our continued genocidal tendencies are at our peril. We complain about the injustice we are forced to deal with inside this slave plantation known as prison, but it pales in comparison to the pain and sorrow we have inflicted upon each other.
Just think of the power that is in our writing against the elements that thrive successfully because of our difficulties and divided strata. It is time for all of the warriors of the prison tribes to realize that together we are unstoppable. It is time for those of us with political minds, influence, rank, and respect to start believing in and advocating peace and unity. We must revolutionize ourselves, become new men, and liberate ourselves mentally. This will redirect our energy towards the interests of our people. This is why I stress education of the lumpen to understand why we are where we are, while building strong ties to change our reality. Those who benefit from the oppression and exploitation of others do not want such change to take place. So lets come together to overthrow this oppressive imperialist system. This is the only thing that will truly bring peace and unity to us in prison.
I fully support the United Front and the five principles, because these five principles should be lived out within lumpen organizations. What the United Front means to me is this is one form that we can use to better ourselves as a whole, as well as liberate our minds to become better people so that we can help better others. I also feel that the principles are important because within U.S. prisons the prisoner-on-prisoner oppression is at an all-time high and I feel that I must do all I can to help put a stop to this madness.
I am an Alaska prisoner at a Cornell company, Cornell Corrections, a private for profit facility in Hudson, Colorado. This facility is not to be confused with a state or federal operated prison. It has private investors and is contracted to the state of Alaska to house prisoners because of the so-called overcrowding.
This facility as with all private for profit facilities is extremely corrupt. Cornell Corrections has a long history of corruption and illegal actions. I, along with a large percentage of the prisoners at this corrupt facility, should not be here because we are maximum security and maximum custody. The Alaska DOC/Cornell company's contract and the state of Colorado statutes both state that no maximum security, or maximum custody prisoners are to be housed in private, for-profit prisons in the state of Colorado.
The employees at this corrupt facility are not sworn to oath correctional officers. They are untrained or extremely poorly trained private citizens. Cornell employees are not empowered in any official capacity. If indeed they employ a law enforcement or correctional officer, these COs may not exercise their official authority while employed by a private party or contractor. This is a conflict of interest and allows for lawsuits to be filed on them for this illegal action.
I am at present in the SHU, Special Housing Unit, due to a fight instigated by a Cornell employee, Joe Hammock, employee number 17454. Joe Hammock had harassed and humiliated me numerous times prior to this incident which took place in May, 2010. A Black female employee, Larnette Mingo, employee number 17432, joined Joe Hammock in this fight. I had filed several complaints and grievances over harassment, humiliation, and discrimination actions by Mingo towards me and other non-Black prisoners. These two employees were then joined by two more employees, Stephen Mannan, employee #17273 and Paul Price, employee #17219, with Price being the senior employee in charge. I at this point had approximately 900 to 1000 pounds jumping on top of me. Stephen Mannan put handcuffs on me squeezing them down until they cut into my wrist and then stood and kicked me in the lower rib cage. I was then basically dragged through the G-A Mod by pulling and jerking on the handcuffs by Price and Mannan, through two sets of doors and then Mannan and Price threw me in a corner with Mannan then slamming my head into the wall cutting my right eye, while yelling, "I never liked you anyway, I'll make you sorry for what you did you scumbag. I'll make life a living hell for you."
I was then escorted to the SHU unit (the Hole) where I have been since. I ask for law enforcement to be summoned in accordance to law, and they were not. When I ask for law enforcement to be called I was told by a female employee, good luck, as she walked away laughing. Law enforcement was supposed to be called due to this being an assault issue at a private, for-profit prison. I ask at least three times for police to be summoned. A medical employee then came to the cell I was in. I asked to see credentials as to who and what part of the medical profession she was, which she stated she did not have to produce. I then refused to speak to her due to the fact that medical issues are to be confidential, and not to be shared with non-medical employees.
They claimed that I am charged with assault on staff members. I have not received any paperwork from the Colorado court system or law enforcement that any charges were filed on me. I have been hauled to the Weld county courts two times and was appointed a public defender, whose name I do not know.
In June 2010 a disciplinary hearing officer from Cornell Corrections, J. Becker, came to the cell I was in and stated that the District Attorney of Weld county, Greely Colorady had dismissed all charges and that I was not charged by DOC Alaska for assault of a staff member. A disciplinary hearing was held by J. Becker after the charges were dismissed and I was sentenced to 30 days of punitive segregation which I served and was completed. The state of Colorado is now re-charging me for violations I have been sentenced and served my punishment for ending. I find this action to be extremely corrupt and illegal. The public defender appointed to me has done nothing in my defense. I am just one of an extremely large number of Alaska DOC prisoners to be corruptly and illegally treated at this Cornell companies facility. All of the corrupt and illegal actions mentioned prior are promoted by, condoned and endorsed by very corrupt Cornell company and facility heads, superintendent Rick Veach and his cronies, Trevor Williams, and Scott Vineyard.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner gives some good documentation about the private prisons in Colorado along with details about the employees who are perpetuating a system of corruption and abuse. As we explained in our article on the U.$. Prison Economy, private prisons are a small portion of the criminal injustice system, at least partially due to their inability to remain profitable. But we know from reports from other prisoners and our own research, private prisons cut costs in ways that lead to even more atrocious conditions and danger for prisoners. We print this article as further documentation of the conditions in private prisons.
"It is up to us to organize the people. As for the reactionaries in China, it is up to us to organize the people to overthrow them. Everything reactionary is the same; if you don't hit it, it won't fall. It is like sweeping the floor; where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish of itself."(1)
In taking on the charge of fighting a national revolutionary struggle and building an anti-imperialist movement, those leading that movement - a vanguard party made up of internationalist proletarian leadership - have the principal task of educating the backwards masses so that they may come to understand the nature of their suffering and oppression.
The Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO) has taken responsibility of being part and parcel of the education and organization of the lumpen and prisoners in the United $nakes, alongside and in fraternity with MIM(Prisons) and the United Struggle from Within (USW), and those lumpen and organizations that work with them.
In our brief history of revolutionary organiz- ing, BORO’s tactical experiences have taught us is that we must struggle vigorously to teach prisoners in a practical way, understanding that a great percentage of U.$. prisoners are victims of mis-education by the colonial school system and practically none have any history of political struggle/activism.
In fact, because of their ignorance of the true laws of hystorical and social development, most prisoners disdain politics and political struggle, and instead have been heavily influenced by idealism, namely religion and metaphysics. There could also be a myriad of other reasons to explain this particular phenomenon, but that is not the purpose of this essay.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss how do we transform the lumpen colonial-criminal mentality into a revolutionary proletarian consciousness. As revolutionaries and aspiring Maoists, we do this by employing the science of revolution — Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, a dialectical and hystorical materialist education.
The first thing we try to teach prisoners is that even though we are in prisyn, we are still defined by our relationship to the means of production, not by our religion or what state or neighborhood we come from. As a comrade demonstrated in ULK 17, "in Marx's theory of 'social relations of production' lies the question of ownership, that is what 'class' owns the tools and what 'class' uses the tools. In this imperialist society the lumpen neither own nor use the tools. We are excluded from production and live under the heel of capitalist relations of production."(2)
The above point is critical to transforming the colonial-criminal mentality into a revolutionary proletarian mentality and is a part of the critical examination of our lives in relation to society in general, and the revolutionary transformation of it, in particular. It's also one of the most difficult steps to take for many prisoners, because it requires that one be critically honest and unreserved in the examination of their lives and critique of one's philosophical understanding of the real world and how it really works. Many of us are afraid to admit our parasitic roles in society. But even these should be critically examined within the context of the society that helped produce us as a class, and not as individuals.
It is idealists who "focus exclusively on conflicts within the individual, which are held to be constant across time and space. However, by not even noticing the presence of class struggle, which is the principal driving force in human action, they are unsuccessful in even explaining, much less changing, human behavior. Contradictions within the individual are reflections of contradictions in society, not autonomous from those contradictions. We define a person's character not in terms of the aspects of the individual as related to each other, but rather in terms of the individual as related to society through the individual's participation in it. An individual's struggle to resolve internal contradictions is dialectically related to other individuals and the struggle of human society as a whole to resolve conflicts in society."(3)
We must continue to provide prisoners with revolutionary educational materials that challenge them to critically study and understand their position in society and how to change it. No effective revolutionary organization can be built in the United $nakes without a powerful base inside of the penal colonies, undocumented workers and ex-prisyners. No effective revolutionary movement in the prisyns can be built without strong ties to a revolutionary movement on the streets. This is the dialectical relationship that exists between those on the inside and those on the outside of U.$. prisons.
If we want to brush away the dust that is capitalist-imperialism, then we must continue to push forward the development of a united front against imperialism. He who does not fear the death of a thousand cuts will dare unseat the emperor!
Just as it is in all of the places that are discussed in Under Lock & Key, the system here in Maryland is a joke. Prisoners in this system who wish to air their grievances have no outlet because the same pigs who were writing them up are the same pigs that handle the administrative remedy process.
In 2008, a memo was put out to prisoners, written by the Prisoners' Rights Information System of Maryland (PRISM). It indicated that a Federal lawsuit had been filed by a prisoner represented by PRISM and that that lawsuit resulted in the division of corrections, revising directives governing the administrative remedy process. One of the changes included the adoption of a two-piece carbon copy complaint form so prisoners can retain a copy of the ARP, thus reducing risk of loss and destruction and providing proof of exhaustion of remedies.
For a while this two-piece carbon copy complaint form was beneficial to prisoners, however, like everything else that has been put into effect to ensure that "justice" for prison inmates is upheld, officers have found a way to undermine the system. At first many officers began to refuse to sign the ARPs, but after prisoners began to complain about this injustice the cowards gave in because they did not want to be written up. Then they created a new system stating that no officers could sign an inmate's ARP, only a Lieutenant (Lt) or a "designated officer" could do so. These Lts and designated officers pick and choose which ARPs they want to sign and which ARPs they want to scrap. We have to give our ARPs to a tier officer to take to the Lt because a Lt will never come get it himself. If the Lt is okay with what you've written it will be signed and the carbon copy will be returned to you. If not, you'll never see it again.
The whole point of the carbon copy is to prevent loss or destruction. It is supposed to be signed and dated in front of you so that the carbon copy can be handed back to you right then and there so that you will have proof that you wrote the ARP if something happens to it.
In the segregation unit of Eastern Correctional Institution, Lt Galligher is one of the leaders of the good ol' boy network. It is he and he alone who is in charge of signing ARPs and he must have worked as a magician before working for the division of corruption because he sure does know how to make a grievance disappear. Not many people write this up because this Lt and the other pigs who put this system into place will not hesitate to retaliate on anyone that attempts to expose them. I, however, am not afraid and plan to attack this joke that they call a grievance procedure from every angle possible.
I agree with the brother from Washington who stated that in ULK 19, "[t]he only way that we as prisoners will be treated fairly and with justice is if a neutral outside company or corporation dealing solely with grievances and our claims is constructed." Otherwise we're just complaining to the same people who are administering the many forms of injustice that we are fighting against. It's a new era, it's time for change, it's time for solidarity. I'm especially speaking to those of you who are in an organization, this is what our energy should be focused on, instead of trying to destroy the many forms of injustice that we are shadowed with on an everyday basis. It's time for change. The time is now. Power to the people!
MIM(Prisons) adds: In response to this sort of injustice around prisoner's grievances, some United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades initiated a grievance campaign. Write us to get a copy of the grievance petition for your state if you reside in California, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, or a generic petition that you can customize for your state if you are anywhere else.
I sit doing ten years for a gram of dope Witnessing Johannes Mehserle get probation for murder I sit watching men starve to death Witnessing guards who can't even alight a flight of stairs Because they're too fucking fat I sit in a country that told me to stay in school and educate yourself In a cell where they won't give me a book I was told in my youth to just say no to drugs And now that I refuse their psychotropics they refuse me parole They told me to love thy neighbor like you love yourself and now I watch my country men shoot Mexicans swimming the border I sit in the land of the free rattling my chains waiting I see the hypocrisy and the bitter twisted lies Do you? I sit alone 7.4 million strong knowing nothing more than to carry on nothing more than my country's wrong knowing nothing - nothing's at all wrong Do you?
Pull the fucking pistol out of your mouth and pick up a book turn off that damn bourgeois television and take a look shit's getting hectic, brother, sure But a bullet in the brain, amigo, isn't the cure It's too late for you, man, but what about your son What about his generation who's been taught to run to stomp and tantrum and tattle-tale suck the plastic flea market and dodge bourgeois "hell" imperialist sons medicated for depression A hybrid oppressor slash enemy nation I'll sell you this for a gallon of that Then starve the world and die of heart attack fat It isn't the way it was meant All these senseless suicides ain't some static event the reasons exists - the "whys" right here Your casket costs thousands - payment plan three years sucking the fucking juice out of life - capitalism then profiting off of your death - straight sadism Rent the church to grieve you in Buy the hole they bury you in Pay the petty priest to say some words Then scribble on some gray marble how much it hurts Picking the pocket of the family that weeps Dying's expensive while living is cheap Business in death and death in business What's the price, father, the price to miss us