We here at Wayne in Goldsboro, NC just received the invite to join the solidarity demonstration, and certain individuals will partake. Not all persons are willingly sacrificial, through lack of guidance and direction. For this reason I am asking for educational material to study and distribute through these dismal crypts.
We as politically conscious soldiers in this great struggle have a large task of making aware the fuckery that the great imperialists are doing through disenfranchisement and psychological warfare known as censorship.
Based on a suggestion from a USW comrade in California, we have reformatted all the petitions for the grievance petition campaign. The new format makes it easy for prisoners to persynalize each petition, and to provide clear examples of the experiences they've had with the broken grievance system in their state. These are details some prison administrators have asked for in their responses to the petitions they've received.
We also incorporated all addresses for who should receive copies of the petition right onto the petition itself. This way people don't have to worry about keeping track of two pieces of paper (one with the address, and one with their signature).
The petitions can be downloaded and printed by people on the outside by clicking on each state's name above. You should send the petition to your prisoner contacts (with extra copies if you can!) who are having their voices and complaints quashed by prison authorities. The ability to have grievances addressed has a direct impact on the day-to-day living conditions of prisoners, can help to hold prison authorities accountable for their actions, and even affects one's ability to take an issue to court if necessary.
I don't want to sound rude or suspicious about MIM but I have to be straight up with you about how I feel pertaining to your activism. I am concerned you have been already infiltrated or you're a CIA front organization claiming revolutionary organizing. I hope I'm just assuming things, because I have been corresponding and studying with you for several years. A lot of strange suspicious things happened to me like the prison guards and other staff trying to cross me out or set me up, or maybe the COINTELPRO is trying to discourage me. How come every time somebody gets involved with MIM it seems like that person gets either killed or in big trouble? Seems to me someone infiltrated your movement.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It's important that everyone approach security and organizing as carefully as this comrade does. We know that revolutionary movements are infiltrated all the time, from Lenin's COMINTERN to the Black Panther Party to MIM and beyond. The best we can do is force our comrades to demonstrate their correct line in practice, and never take people's word for their revolutionary commitment. If someone claims to be a comrade but puts forth a dangerous line (i.e. pushing people into armed struggle that will get them killed and set back the movement), or talks a lot but never does any work, we should view them with suspicion.
Similarly, it's good to question why repression comes down on you after association with an individual or organization. In prison, unfortunately this could just mean you are working with a genuinely progressive outside group, as the authorities can read all your mail and will punish you for working with such groups. We have countless examples of progressive organizations being labeled "security threat groups."
One of the reasons we encourage organizing in a cell structure is to limit comrades' exposure to others. You can do good work with people at arm's length, forming cells with those you know and trust. But in most cases, we recommend comrades in prison stay in touch with MIM(Prisons) (and others), despite the risks, because of the need to access both theoretical and practical information to help you organize.
The danger of infiltration wherever we are is why we disagree with many who say we should only work with prisoners in general population and we should isolate SNY prisoners. In our article on "Security in the Prison Movement" we argued, "We see this as a line struggle. Anyone can pretend to be USW inside, just like anyone can pretend to represent MIM(Prisons) or Maoism. If they uphold the line set forth by the vanguard organization and/or movement, then they're out there working to advance the struggle."
Everyone should approach working with groups claiming revolutionary politics with caution. It is possible the CIA is producing Under Lock & Key or other publications like it, just to identify the "trouble maker" prisoners. But if you read the pages of ULK you should be able to determine if the line and actions of our members and supporters are correct. In the end, if the CIA really was behind this good publication and its good work, we might be getting more out of that infiltration than they are.
As we convene our third congress, we approach our five year anniversary as an organization. While members of MIM(Prisons) — and even more so USW — have been in the prison movement for longer, we find this an opportune milestone to reflect back on where the prison movement is at and how it has developed.
In 2011 a series of hunger strikes in California made a great impact countrywide. Many activists, from crypto-trots to anarchists to reformists, rallied around this movement and continue to focus on prison work as a result. While our predecessors in MIM saw the importance of the prison movement decades ago, their foresight is proving more true today as we begin to reach a critical mass of activity. It is now a hot issue within the left wing of white nationalism, which is significant because whites are not affected by the system extensively enough to call it a true material interest.
This gradual development has been the result of two things: agitation around the facts of the U.$. injustice system on the outside, and prisoner organizing on the inside, both of which MIM and USW have been diligently working on for decades. In the last year and a half, prisoner organizing came to a head with the Georgia strike and the California hunger strikes, which were both coordinated on a statewide level. While getting some mainstream and international attention, these events rang particularly loud among the imprisoned, with a series of similar actions still developing across the country (recently in Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, the federal supermax ADX, Limon in Colorado and a follow-up hunger strike in Georgia).
Meanwhile, the agitational side of things came to a bit of a head with the release of the book The New Jim Crow last year. This book has continued to get lots of play from many different sectors of the political spectrum. And while in most cases those promoting the book are amenable to the lackluster conclusions, the organization of these facts into a book stand for themselves. It requires a very biased viewpoint to read this book and then turn around and deny the national oppression faced by the internal semi-colonies through the U.$. injustice system. Therefore we think the overall effect of this book will be both progressive and significant, despite its limitations.
It is for these reasons that we see this as a moment to seize. When we started five years ago we had the great fortune of building on the legacy and existing prisoner support programs of MIM. The ideological foundation that MIM gave us allowed us to focus our energies on more practical questions of launching a new prison publication, building support programs for comrades that are released, developing correspondence political study programs, and launching a new website that features the most comprehensive information on censorship, mail rules, and abuses in prisons across this country.
With our infrastructure built and steadily running, we need to look at ways to take advantage of the relative consciousness of prisoners right now and the relative attention the U.$. population has on the prison system. We have always said that without prisoners organized there is no prison movement, so we see that as the principal prong of attack. Thus, we are taking steps to improve the structure of United Struggle from Within (USW), the mass organization for prisoners that was founded by MIM and is now led by MIM(Prisons). Building on suggestions from some leaders in USW, we have enacted a plan to form councils in states where there are multiple active USW cells. Below we further explain an organizational structure for our movement, so comrades know where they fit in and how they should be relating to others.
As we saw during the California strikes, censorship increases, as do other repressive measures, when organization expands. So as we step up our efforts, we can expect the state to step up theirs. We will need more support than ever from volunteers on the outside to do legal and agitational work to keep the state faithful to their own laws and regulations.
As big as those challenges are, the internal challenges will be even greater hurdles for us to jump in the coming years. The recent large mobilizations have begun to reveal what these challenges will be. And there is much work to be done to identify, analyze and work to resolve the contradictions within the prisoner population that allows for the current conditions where the state dictates how these vast populations of oppressed people interact with each other and live out their lives.
The prison movement that arose before the great prison boom that began in the 1980s was a product of the national liberation struggles occurring at the time. Today, the prison population is ten times as big, while the political leadership on the outside is scarce. The prison masses must guard against the great number of misleaders out there opportunistically grabbing on to the issue of the day to promote political goals that do not serve the oppressed people of the world. Prisoners may need to step up to play the leading role this time around, which will require looking inward. We must not only learn from the past, but also build independent education programs to develop the skills of comrades today to conduct their own analysis of the conditions that they face. On top of that we must promote and develop an internationalist worldview, to find answers and alliances in the oppressed nations around the world, and remove the blinders that keep us only focused on Amerika. There is no liberation to be found in Amerikanism. That Amerikans have created a prison system that dwarfs all others in humyn history is just one example of why.
So it is with cautious optimism that we approved the resolution below at our recent congress. We think this plan addresses proposals submitted by some USW leaders, and hope you all will work with us to make this an effective structure.
Congress Resolution on USW Structure
MIM(Prisons) is initiating the creation of statewide councils within United Struggle from Within (USW), the anti-imperialist mass organization for prisoners. A council will be sanctioned when two or more cells exist within a state that are recognized as active and abiding by the standards of USW. MIM(Prisons) will facilitate these councils, where the focus is on practical organizing around the needs of the imprisoned lumpen in that state. As the U.$. prison system is primarily organized by state, the councils will serve to develop and address the specific needs and conditions within each state.
In the case where cells have identities other than "USW" we do not require them to use that name. For example, the Black Order Revolutionary Organization, which self-identifies as a "New Afrikan revolutionary movement," may be invited to participate in a USW statewide council. While USW itself does not favor the struggles of any oppressed nation over another, as a movement we recognize the usefulness and importance of nation-specific organizing. In the prison environment there may be lines that cannot be crossed in current conditions which limit the membership of a group. As long as these cells exhibit true internationalism and anti-imperialism they may possess dual membership in USW by joining a statewide council.
With this proposal we are expanding the structure of our movement. We recognize two main pillars to the ideological leadership of our movement at this time. One being the MIM(Prisons) cell, and the other being the Under Lock & Key writers group, which is made up of USW members and led by and facilitated by MIM(Prisons). The statewide councils should look to these two groups for ideological guidance in their organizing work, mainly through the pages of Under Lock & Key. In contrast, the councils' main function will be in practical work directly serving the interests of the imprisoned lumpen. They will serve to coordinate the organizing work of scattered USW cells in a more unified way across the state.
MIM(Prisons) will be initiating the California Council immediately, with others to follow as conditions allow.
I write in solidarity with those involved with the censorship campaign. Power to those who down to struggle, and up to win. Today while on the kennel cage rec yard I was approached by a California State Prison Corcoran (CSPC) employee representing a flawed mail room, carrying an envelope addressed to the young cadre sent from MIM Distributors containing MIM Theory 7 in one hand and a CDCR 602 appeal in the other.
After months of going back and forth between the Appeal Coordinator and the mail room, utilizing a combination of the institutional informal correspondence system and the appeals procedures, CSPC finally figured out that I was building a paper trail capable of exposing their mail censorship practices against those they deem paper-terrorists.
The staff gave me the MT 7 journal, after previously saying that the journal was a violation against California Correctional Regulations for supposedly inciting riots and so on. They instructed me to either withdraw the complaint or settle it if I wanted the MT 7. Of course I settled it to preserve the right of the appeal for the breach of settlement agreement. Because of their COINTEL B.$. they've delayed my study group participation, and I've got a lot to do to catch up. But with hard work comes hard results.
Comrades should note that this incident of CSPC issuing me MIM Theory 7: Revolutionary Nationalism is proof that not only are they profiling MIM Distributors with bogus censorships claiming safety and security, but also their claims hold no weight in the people's court.
Upon deep review/research, I've been completely unable to find any Oregon Law (ORS) to justify and allow the prisons in this state to charge prisoners fines. There is no law allowing it. But there is a law saying only a judge can change/impose fines of any kind. "The Oregon Property Protection Act of 2000" prohibits the forfeitures of property and funds, without a criminal conviction involving that property: article 15 section 10(2)(b), section(3), section 10(7)(b) of the Oregon constitution. Also, "the property of a person should not be forfeited in a forfeiture proceeding by the government unless and until that person is convicted of a crime involving that property."(10)(3) The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) is a political subdivision of the state.
Well, ODOC has taken it upon themselves to impose fines of hundreds of dollars and automatically withdraw the money from an inmates account. Normally, to withdraw money from our account we need to sign/and authorize them to do it by signing a CD28 giving permission. So what they are doing amounts to theft! And is part of their money making racketeering illegal bullshit. Yet they'll never get charged with racketeering because it's okay when pigs break the laws.
Also, there is a new tool the imperial swine have up here for ensuring their prison population grows. It's called Measure 57. In the past 10 years the female prison population has grown by 86% because of the lengthening of prison sentences for drug offenses and property crimes. And this measure will more than likely affect females more than men. (Source: Justice Matters Spring 2012 issue)
The grievance process is a joke here. I've filled my allotted six a month every month on every single rule violation that happens and none of them have gotten anything other than "we find no evidence in your claim."
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for researching how the Oregon prisons are violating the State's own laws. It's important that we fight these battles because there are so many laws allowing oppression, those few that we can use to defend the rights of the oppressed must be publicized. It is very common for the pigs to ignore the law, and it's true that they are rarely punished for this.
But we can use these laws to our advantage. The grievance process is just a start. The campaign to demand our grievances be addressed is another tactic in this fight. We have petitions for many states that can be used to fight against the systematic denial of grievances by building support among the prisoner masses. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the one for your state, or if we don't have one help us customize the petition to your state. Legal research and writing like this comrade is doing is essential to our struggle against the imperialist system as a whole.
Many people are caught up in the line that millions are enslaved in this country, and that the main motivating factor behind the prison boom of recent decades is to put prisoners to work to make money for corporations or the government. MIM(Prisons) has clearly shown that U.S. prisons are not primarily (or even significantly) used to exploit labor, and that they are a great cost financially to the imperialists, not a source of profit.(1)
"Indeed, at peak use around 2002, fewer than 5,000 inmates were employed by private firms, amounting to one-quarter of one per cent of the carceral population. As for the roughly 8% of convicts who toil for state and federal industries under lock, they are 'employed' at a loss to correctional authorities in spite of massive subsidies, guaranteed sales to a captive market of public administrations, and exceedingly low wages (averaging well under a dollar an hour)."(2)
Instead, we argue that there is a system of population control (including all the elements of the international definition of genocide) that utilizes methods of torture on mostly New Afrikan and Latino men, with a hugely disproportionate representation of First Nation men as well, across this country on a daily basis. As the new prison movement grows and gains attention in the mainstream, it is of utmost importance that we maintain the focus on this truth and not let the white nationalists define what is ultimately a struggle of the oppressed nations.
To analyze why the term "prison industrial complex" ("PIC") is inaccurate and misleading, let's look at some common slogans of the social democrats, who dominate the white nationalist left. First let's address the slogan "Welfare not Warfare." This slogan is a false dichotomy, where the sloganeer lacks an understanding of imperialism and militarism. It is no coincidence that the biggest "welfare states" in the world today are imperialist countries. Imperialism brings home more profits by going to war to steal resources, discipline labor, and force economic policies and business contracts on other nations. And militarism is the cultural and political product of that fact. The "military industrial complex" was created when private industry teamed up with the U.$. government to meet their mutual interests as imperialists. Industry got the contracts from the government, with guaranteed profits built in, and the government got the weapons they needed to keep money flowing into the United $tates by oppressing other nations. This concentration of wealth produces the high wages and advanced infrastructure that the Amerikan people benefit from, not to mention the tax money that is made available for welfare programs. So it is ignorant for activists to claim that they are being impoverished by the imperialists' wars as is implied by the false dichotomy of welfare vs. warfare.
Another slogan of the social democrats which speaks to why they are so eager to condemn the "PIC" is "Schools not Jails." This slogan highlights that there is only so much tax money in a state available to fund either schools, jails, or something else. There is a limited amount of money because extracting more taxes would increase class conflict between the state and the labor aristocracy. This battle is real, and it is a battle between different public service unions of the labor aristocracy. The "Schools not Jails" slogan is the rallying cry of one side of that battle among the labor aristocrats.
Unlike militarism, there is not an imperialist profit interest behind favoring jails over schools. This is precisely why the concept of a "PIC" is a fantasy. While the U.$. economy would likely collapse without the spending that goes into weapons-related industries, Loïc Wacquant points out that the soft drink industry in the United $tates is almost twice as big as prison industries, and prison industries are a mere 0.5% of the gross domestic product.(2) Compared to the military industrial complex, which is 10% of U.$. GDP, the prison system is obviously not a "complex" combining state and private interests that cannot be dismantled without dire consequences to imperialism.(3) And of course, even those pushing the "PIC" line must admit that over 95% of prisons in this country are publicly owned and run.(4)
Federal agencies using the prison system to control social elements that they see as a threat to imperialism is the motivating factor for the injustice system, not an imperialist drive for profits. Yet the system is largely decentralized and built on the interests of the majority of Amerikans at the local level, and not just the labor unions and small businesses that benefit directly from spending on prisons. We would likely not have the imprisonment rates that we have today without pressure from the so-called "middle class."
Some in the white nationalist left at times appears to dissent from other Amerikans on the need for more prisons and more cops. At the root of both sides' line is the belief that the majority of Amerikans are exploited by the system, while the greedy corporations benefit. With this line, it is easy to accept that prisons are about profit, just like everything else, and the prison boom can be blamed on the corporations' greed.
In reality the prison boom is directly related to the demands of the Amerikan people for "tough on crime" politicians. Amerikans have forced the criminal injustice system to become the tool of white hysteria. The imperialists have made great strides in integrating the internal semi-colonies financially, yet the white nation demands that these populations be controlled and excluded from their national heritage. There are many examples of the government trying to shut down prisons and other cost-saving measures that would have shrunk the prison system, where labor unions fought them tooth and nail.(1) It is this continued legacy of national oppression, exposed in great detail in the book The New Jim Crow, that is covered up by the term "Prison Industrial Complex." The cover-up continues no matter how much these pseudo-Marxists lament the great injustices suffered by Black and Brown people at the hands of the "PIC."
This unfortunate term has been popularized in the Amerikan left by a number of pseudo-Marxist theorists who are behind some of the popular prison activist groups on the outside. By explicitly rejecting this term, we are drawing a clear line between us and the organizations these activists are behind, many of whom we've worked with in one way or another. For the most part, the organizations themselves do not claim any Marxist influence or even a particular class analysis, but the leaders of these groups are very aware of where they disagree with MIM Thought. It is important that the masses are aware of this disagreement as well.
It is for these reasons that MIM(Prisons) passed the following policy at our 2012 congress:
The term "Prison Industrial Complex (PIC)" will not generally be used in Under Lock & Key because the term conflicts with MIM(Prisons)'s line on the economic and national make up of the U.$. prison system. It will only be printed in a context where the meaning of the term is stated by the author, and either criticized by them or by us.
I received the questions on reformatting the petitions. In my opinion, yes, this should be applied to MIM (Prisons)'s already-written grievance petition. I say this because in my response to the grievance petition I submitted to the NC Director of Division of Prisons, it was mentioned that I had no specific complaint on why I filed the petition - in which I resubmitted the petition and attached my complaint. This helped change the grievance system at Foothills, where I was previously housed at.
Also I noted a problem that would be difficult to resolve. In the response to my petition, which I have sent to MIM(Prisons), they listed all the grievances I had filed while on that unit at Foothills. The grievances which were thrown away or didn't get turned in to unit managers weren't listed. So it was difficult to prove I ever turned it in without reviewing the cameras. It was still difficult to prove that the papers I turned in were truly grievances.
This problem we had at Foothills changed how grievances were processed. Now it has to be signed by the receiving officer in front of you and your copy is returned right there. Also this "new" petition only regards appeals and not actual grievance forms - which is the main problem. We wouldn't have to appeal if the regular grievance process was fixed.