The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Legal] [Organizing] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 63]
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Broader Impact of prisoners' legal work

Revolutionary greetings of love, dedication and resiliency to all freedom fighters and fearless front line generals, soldiers and warriors who dare to struggle and sacrifice for liberty, freedom and equality from behind the walls, fences and cages of genocide and oppression. As we continue to raise awareness and lift up our voices so that we may be heard on the issues of systematic racism and economic exploitation in the criminal justice system, as well as prison slavery, police killings and brutality. We continue to see an evil and determined enemy dig in its heels in the name of white supremacy.

I am a Missouri prisoner who has been imprisoned for 32 years. I am educated with a paralegal degree. With my credentials, I have a legal clinic of 10 comrades. We have taken it upon ourselves to do separate booklets of individual civil complaints such as: censorship, religion, cruel and unusual punishment (prison conditions) etc. We will be sending those to MIM(Prisons) upon their completion. We have made censorship our first priority, and already sent this one in to MIM(Prisons).

However, we only have an ex-amount of time in the law library, so we have to copy case-law (hundreds of them) and take them back to our cells and work on our booklets. Our resources are limited and we need help! So if any of my comrades know of places that will send "unlimited" printed caselaw to us, please contact MIM to pass the message on.


MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are setting an example of how to make your work impact more than just one persyn. Many can benefit from concise information on how to fight specific legal battles. The first guide created by this group, fighting censorship, is a good example of this as it ties directly into a problem that the revolutionary movement behind bars faces regularly — the censorship of our literature. Under Lock & Key and other lit that we send in is often rejected and our only recourse is grievances and legal challenges. Because of the critical role that revolutionary education plays in our organizing work, we prioritize this legal battle. And we distribute a censorship guide to all who have our lit rejected.

We have a few cautionary notes to those working on this legal project and others who are interested in taking up similar legal work. First, there are many guides already out there for prisoners, so anyone putting time into this type of project needs to start by making sure you're not duplicating work.

Second, as with our anti-censorship work, it's important that we tie our legal work to our revolutionary organizing. There are many legal battles that prisoners are fighting, but these can be a distraction from the larger struggle if we don't tie them to the reality that the legal system isn't going to make real or substantive change for us. We might win a few censorship battles, but we'll never effectively stop censorship through the imperialist courts. We use the censorship struggle to highlight the hypocrisy of imperialism and underscore their fear of revolutionary education, while making some room for us to reach people with politics.

We need to be organizing people to use legal battles as a part of the larger campaigns that the movement prioritizes. We can attempt to use the courts to our advantage, but our goal in the long run is to dismantle the imperialist courts and replace them with a system of people's justice.

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[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 63]
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Lead the Youngsters by Example

This letter is about how we need to encourage and educate each other while we are all in here. I am in my late 30s and this is my first arrest ever in my life. So the first couple of weeks was rough, until one of the guards made a threat against me and I did a greivance. The other prisoners laughed and said it would do no good. At first I felt they were right. The CO I wrote up was given the grievance and ripped it up in front of me and started to tell the others I was a snitch. I felt helpless.

Then I realized every other prisoner is between 17 and 23 — youngsters. So I decided to educate myself and others. So I got a copy of the grievance policy and exhausted it. Then a copy of the state commission policies and filed with them.

Finally I got a copy of your newsletter and passed it around and — bam! — the fire was lit in 2 people on my rung. They wanted to know how to file grievances so I showed them, walked them thru, and gave the support and explained that it all takes time to get any kind of legal paperwork done. After 2 and a half months, 2 suspensions and termination, I was moved to population. After about 2 hours of talking with the 20 inmates I was going to be housed with, we handed in 19 grievances. So now i am back in seg. The basic message is this: we need to teach these youngsters, educate them. As a common voice we can be heard and make a difference.

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[New Afrika] [United Front] [ULK Issue 63]
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Black August International Tenets

[
[The following were submitted to us by a group of New Afrikans in California working with the United K.A.G.E. Brothers. K.A.G.E. stand for Kings Against Genocidal Environments. The United K.A.G.E. Brothers have been pushing this line of peace and unity alongside the United Front for Peace in Prisons for some years now. We stand in solidarity with United K.A.G.E. Brothers in promoting the tenets of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism for Black August as a way to build for peace and ending hostilities. This can tie into further struggle for peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence this September 9th. - MIM(Prisons)]
  • We aim to fast as a show of self-discipline and resistance. From the sunrise until evening meal we will abstain from eating.
  • We aim to abstain from consuming any type of opioids, or other smokable or liquid intoxicants during the month of August.
  • We aim to combat liberalism even by limiting our selection of non-frivolous TV shows and educational programs i.e., radio, historic documentaries, journal writings and other creative art exhibits.
  • During Black August, we emphasize political and cultural evolution studies for those participants who care to assemble with other brothers and sisters rather by way of social media internationally and/or via facilitation within the institution forum.
  • As an external display, the delegates of Black August will wear a black arm band. Other ways to express our solidarity include: we wear either a black ring (made of thread) or a wrist band in eulogy to all those New Afrikan/Blacks who strove none futily and made an ultimate sacrifice for what they believed in to Live or Die in Black Liberation.
  • The New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist recognize Black August as a "revolutionary salute," in formation those nationalist and others who share or stand in arms with our ideology or are serious and consistently moving forward to end in voluntary servitude and other colors of repression, ossifyism, neo-colonialism should participate in solidarity with our aim to cultivate the youth in pinpointing the wrong, acknowledging the wrong, confession of the individual's fault, honest redemption, even understanding the aims of atonement, love for the people — eradicating self-hate via self-realized forgiveness, implicit reconciliation and explicit communal restoration while evolving with a sea of change toward a perfect Brother and Sisters International Union.
  • From prison to the street we aim to parallel a live concert and other forms of Afro drum struct-entertainment.
  • Black August bracelets and t-shirts will display our Red, Black and Green to promote our ceremonies and to raise economic support for both institutional establishment and to donate funds to the San Francisco Bay View prisoners' subscription fund.

NOTE: There will be no surprise in seeing a multicultural community, among the New Afrikan/Black youth event; even some rival ex-gang or active members may be seen. We are placing O.G.'s, reputables and other delegates whom are branches of our inside and outside executive body who would be responsible for preparing and sharing the proper attitude and conduct for attending all events correlated to our Black August Inclusive Ceremonies. We aim to attend these events peacefully and to actively engage with deliberative and mature dialogue again to even overstand the importance of atonement.

Reconciliation Periods: During the month of August these "reconciliation periods" will be devoted to events and other inside and out activities, conferences, seminars, summits and community service, which will create solid relations between New Afrikan/Black communities, make our communal a safe haven and develop positive interaction within the community.

[Original statement describes these proposed events and community services.]
"If you are about peace then you are about revolution. You can't be about peace and not be for revolution!" — Fred Hampton

Conclusion and Ratification

In light of the collective prisoner activism seen over the past several years; however, it can similarly be fairly said that we have been making strides to abolish the walls upheld by self hate. As a collective, we believe if we build our foundation on divisiveness and brotherly and sisterly love, our united front will resonate with more results and gain true freedom under the guise of internationalism. "WE" struggle for the liberation and unity of all oppressed people. A prominent empirical indication of this "WEISM" is the historical and life affirming "Agreement to End Hostilities" (AEH), crafted in 2012 by the brave and forward thinking men held in California's solitary confinement units.

These trailblazers' agreement marks a turning point. California prisoners have transcended long-standing racial, geographical and ideological differences to provide a new model of prison to society coexistence, one fundamentally premised on the multilateral accord to end all group hostilities.

Because it is the new cool and it's our time as Kings and Queens of Peace we must fight to build self!! NO MORE GENOCIDE.

Also see: I Contribute to Peace.

Inside Delegates: [signed]
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[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [Michigan]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Michigan

MIpetition.pdf
Click here to download a PDF of the Michigan grievance petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Legislative Corrections Ombudsman Office
PO Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
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[Gender] [ULK Issue 65]
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Response to MIM critique of Soledad Brother

I don't agree with the idea of Jackson being a homophobe by stating that unmarried white women are left to become prostitutes, nuns, and/or lesbians; I don't find it derogatory either. I don't agree or disagree with his statement. I actually have no judgement on that idea. I don't understand why MIM says it's homophobic and derogatory.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The MIM review of Soledad Brother we sent this comrade with a copy of the book includes this critique:

"The first part of the book, mostly letters to his mother and father, is not very political. Jackson uses many sexist stereotypes in this section, often to criticize his mother for failing in his brother's and his own education. He says, for example, that unmarried white women are left to become prostitutes, nuns and lesbians (p. 45). While it is true that economic forces put more pressure on unmarried women (the fastest growing population in poverty are women and children), Jackson's stereotype is homophobic and derogatory.

"Much of what could be criticized as sexist in Jackson's writing is left as ambiguous. He says that 'The white theory of 'the emancipated woman' is a false idea' (p. 46), which is an economic reality of Amerikan capitalism, but no context is given. To his credit he does explain that Black women are the backbone of the family (p. 74)."

The George Jackson reference is as follows:

"In the society of our fathers and in the civilized world today, women feel it their obligation to be ever yielding and obedient to their men. Life is purposely made simple for them because of their nature, and they are happy. When the women outnumber the men in the black societies, the men take as many wives as they can afford, and care for them all equally. In the white for some nebulous reason the men can take only one... the rest are left to become prostitutes, nuns, or lesbians."

The beginning of the quote is perhaps the more damning part, positing that wimmin have a simpler nature than men and therefore are happy serving them. We hope you don't agree with that part. The homophobia is perhaps more subtle, but Jackson is clearly pointing to these three options as being not good, and praising Black men for saving Black wimmin from such fates — having sex in exchange for money/things, not being able to have sex, or having to have sex with wimmin instead.

The grain of righteous truth in the Jackson quote is that white society had more fully succumbed to capitalist individualism, so that wimmin are more often left to fend for themselves in situations that are not conducive to meeting their needs. But Jackson contrasts this with the paternalist assumption that wimmin need to be taken care of by husbands in order to survive, suggesting that polagamy is a selfless sacrifice by men. The unique struggle of wimmin under capitalism is a result of the intersection of the patriarchy and capitalism, not about wimmin needing husbands to survive.

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[Special Needs Yard] [United Front] [Non-Designated Programming Facilities] [Centinela State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 63]
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Programming Facilities in CA to Decrease SNY Population

Dear ULK,

I'm writing to ask for more info on the California prison system putting SNY (Special Needs Yard) and mainline together in order to show that nothing has changed and the prisons are still very dangerous.

What I do know is that it started a few weeks ago here at Centinela State Prison and we are hearing of widespread violence at every yard they are doing this on — the so-called 50/50 yards or Programming Facilities (P.F.S.). We have only heard rumors at this point. Of course the staff would never tell us outright, but they do give hints. Any help in this matter will be appreciated. A lot of us here at Centinela SNY yard are endorsed to San Quentin PFS yard. We would love to help stop the violence, but it's really mainline shot callers that will decide.

Most of us here on the SNY side want to do our time in peace. That's why we are put on this side. Anyway, thanks for any help on this matter.


A USW comrade reports: Here at Corcoran they're integrating yards. Now SNY/GP STG I & II are on the same yards, and being forced to program or be labeled program failures.


Legion of USW comments: June 2018 — As predicted the CDCR is doing away with the SNY/GP mainlines in favor of undesignated program yards. Legion did the math on this problem years ago and was made a mad scientist preaching that Black God stuff.

This provides USW a unique opportunity to be at the vanguard of the battle field building bridges instead of barriers. The prols have an opportunity to become the change they want to see. We have to revise and revisit certain debates about what solid looks like. The future is now and we need to adapt our struggle to the new landscape.

Legion is calling all God Bodies into formation! There's no such thing as SNY or GP on the streets. You have factors and non-factors. We are factors; socially, politically and mentally. USW is where it's at. Let's crash the system!


Power to the People!

MIM(Prisons) adds: Early in 2018, the CDCR began transforming Level I, Level II, and, now, some Level III prisons into "non-designated yards", eliminating the divide between SNY and General Population. This began with the healthcare facilities and fire camps. According to CDCR, SNY was created 20 years ago, and now accounts for one third of the California state prison population.(1)

In a video message on the subject, CDCR Director Scott Kernan calls on California prisoners to focus on themselves. He calls for them to disregard "prison politics." While tapping into a real mass sentiment that is sick of some of the "prison politics" that leads to unnecessary beef and violence, this appeal to Amerikan individualism is misleading. The new Programming Facilities require prisoners to participate in the CDCR program. This is not really focusing on self, this is joining a group with strict guidelines. This path is a choice. And CDCR wants to make it the most appealing choice.

All humyns live in society. We cannot focus on self without also being part of a society and playing a role in it. For the oppressed, the support of the group is even more important. So prisoners must ask themselves if the CDCR program is the group that best serves their interests. We await reports from comrades inside as to the full implications of this reorganization. But we can look back to the "Step Down Program" implemented for SHU prisoners in response to the historic hunger strikes in 2012 and 2013, which coerced prisoners into accepting the oppressor's definitions of criminal.(2) The PFS have a similar focus on "programming," promising a more productive and quicker release in return.

We do not have the info to fully answer the comrade's question about what is happening in these non-designated yards right now. But we echo the call from ULK 62 for USW comrades in California, especially those in the 50/50 yards, to work to build unity across different groups in these dynamic conditions.(3) As Legion alludes to above, change is in favor of the oppressed, it is only up to us to seize the opportunities that each change offers. For this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity, California USW will focus on this issue of the "non-designated yards", and building peace and unity among these new conglomerates of people. For the next issue of ULK we want to hear about the successes and failures of this organizing, of September 9th, of the 50/50 yards and what it all means for organizing to end oppression on a systemic level.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Censorship] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 63]
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Colorado Fears [email protected] Activism

I'm reaching out to bring awareness to Colorado's state prison system's "off record" policy to keep Chicano inmates in fractional warfare/oppression. Colorado has been plagued with the same brown-on-brown violence and ideology as California's systems for the past 30 years. Only recently has an awakening transformed the "gang banger" mentality of the masses into a revolutionary mental state in the liberation and struggle for Aztlán. This has been met with all levels of repression such as out of state transfers to secret locations, MCC (Colorado’s new politically correct name for SHU/Ad-Seg STG lockdown where inmates can only come out of cell every 72 hours to shower, etc.)

On June 14, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán was denied by the publication committee for the following reason: "material which poses a potential threat to the safety and security of the offender population or DOC employees, contract workers, and volunteers by advocating facility disruption or non-compliance with prison rules or regulations." The truth of the matter is it was denied because it was coming to me at the specific time period when the Chicano masses in Colorado have decided to stop being the puppets for capitalistic racist oppression of a system which actively has aided and facilitated the destruction of our people by putting our lives in danger in numerous ways. The following are small examples of these conditions.

Putting rival members in pods where they are sure to be assaulted so severely that death or attempted murder are likely scenarios. Opening cell doors of rival STGs while inmates are cuffed and shackled to tables, so that they may be assaulted etc. This has been the norm for years. Now that we have risen above the tribal mentality in an effort to educate and raise awareness to the racist genocide of our people that the system has manipulated us into doing with our own hands we are being slammed in cells, censored, and oppressed even harder. I'll be surprised if you ever receive this letter.

Currently I am in grievance procedures over books. Any material that may help or contacts to further our struggle would be greatly appreciated. Once I finish the grievance process I will send copies of all material on the issue. Thank you for your time. In solidarity with the struggle to end oppression and liberate Aztlán.

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[Economics] [Florida] [ULK Issue 62]
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Robbery by the FLDOC Canteen System

While reading a comrade's April 2017 SF Bay View, National Black Newspaper, I cam across an ad regarding the Texas prisoners' boycott of the prison commissary injustice.

This ad helped me realize that the unarmed robbery of the loved-ones of prisoners is not only a Florida atrocity, but a national occurrence. Prisoners in Texas and other states are being used as a means of robbing not only tax payers, but loved-ones of prisoners, who are constantly being punished for supporting prisoners financially and emotionally. The imperialist monopolizers are making hundreds of millions annually through the commissary system. I can't help but confirm and echo the main points of the Texas prisoners' ad:

  1. Sub-par and poor quality food items.
  2. Faulty electronics that regularly break (after short use).
  3. Tennis shoes which tear up after a week of use.
  4. Inflated prices and price gouging tactics.
  5. Abuse and disrespect from employees of commissaries.

All of the above mentioned is nothing but the truth to which I would love to add more. In Florida, specifically Charlotte Correctional Institution, there exists a staff canteen menu and a prisoner canteen menu. The double standard and financial discrimination can't help but be realized once both menus are compared. Prisoners are paying twice as much as staff for the same food items. Some of the most popular food items are listed below for your own concluding.

Charlotte CI staff canteen menu prices and Prisoner Canteen menu prices:

ItemStaff pricePrisoner price
sodas.56.99
honey buns .70 1.35
chips .5 .99-1.49
candy bars .75 1.39
water .5 .99
oatmeal .23 .53
poptarts .56 1.18
soups .56 .70
ice cream .93 2.19
danishes .7 1.28
nutty bars .47 1.00
saltines .7 .88 per sleeve
trail mix .47 1.00-1.28
BBQ sandwich 1.64 3.49
Pizzas 1.64 2.98
Tuna 1.87 2.47

The above list does not mention hygiene items. However, prisoners are paying exorbitantly for hygiene items that are clearly not worth their price. For example, the $4 deodorant from prescription care and Oraline-Seccure (meant for indigent prisoners) leaves prisoners musty in just a matter of hours. The $2.85 prescription care lotion is so generic it dries the skin quick as it moistens it. And it's definitely not meant for Black people. The $1.12 prescription care shampoo does not lather up and causes more dried scalp and itching than the state soap. There is 99-cent soap claiming to be anti-bacterial and 50-cent soap, both made by Silk. Neither of these soaps are worth even being given away for free.

Prisoners do not want these canteen items. They complain amongst each other but are too cowardly to write grievances or stop buying from canteen. We all know that it is our loved ones who are being attacked by the state. We all know our families who support us are being extorted, but the needle is just too deep in our veins. Florida only has one canteen vendor (Trinity) leaving us without options or other places to shop. We are simply victims of a monopoly and we are contributing to our own victimization.

It is quite clear that the canteen profits only benefit Trinity and high-ranking members of the state prison system. It is clear that the profits are being used against prisoners rather than for their welfare and genuine rehabilitation programs.

Even in the visiting park, freeworld citizens visiting their loved-ones are forced to pay prisoner canteen prices. This price-gouging is a war against the innocent citizens who support prisoners. It also results in the isolation of prisoners from the outside world and leaves prisoners dependent and vulnerable against the state.

One is left with no choice but the question: where is all the profit from the unarmed robbery of prisoners' loved ones? What is being done with these millions of dollars in profit? This matter must be investigated and objectively challenged. We prisoners surely need to stop perpetuating our own victimization by the state of Florida DOC.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer exposes one of the many ways that companies and individuals are making money from the prison system in this country. While overall the prisons are run at a financial loss, subsidized for most of their costs by state and federal funds (i.e. taxpayer money), lots of people are still making money off the operation of prisons.

Obviously the prisons' employees (COs, administrators, etc.) are earning a good salary and have an interest in keeping the system going. In some prisons medical is contracted out, and then there are the many companies that sell prisons all the stuff they need to run: from clothing to food to furniture to security equipment. Most of this is funded by a subsidy from the government.

But canteen is a case of the costs falling on prisoners' families. And this is just one of many costs borne by families of prisoners. As we exposed in an article in ULK 60 "MIM(Prisons) on U.$. Prison Economy - 2018 Update," mass incarceration costs families and the community $400 billion per year.

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[Censorship] [ULK Issue 62]
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Censors in Their Own Words - May 2018

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 life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books available that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda. Here, free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targeting 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 of our subscribers spend 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 facilities (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in our newsletter, or study materials, or even 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 instances.

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 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.

Florida State Prison

On March 30, censored an invitation to the MIM(Prisons) mail-based study group because it "Contains prominent or prevalent advertising for three-way calling services, pen pal services, or the purchase of products or services with postage stamps." This is most definitely not true.

Michigan — Macomb Correctional Facility

ULK 61 was censored because it is "mail with stamps, stickers, labels, or anything affixed to the paper with an adhesive".

Wisconsin - New Lisbon Correctional Facility

Censored ULK 61 because "item contains contraband".

Pennsylvania DOC

The PA DOC sent MIM(Prisons) a letter regarding ULK 61 that read: "This is to notify you that the publicaiton in issue advocates and encourages prison solidarity. As such, it violates Department policy for the reason previously stated."

Pennsylvania - SCI Benner

We heard from a prisoner at SCI Benner "My Under lock & Key No.61 March/April 2018 was banned/taken stating DC-ADM 803 Incoming Mail and Incoming Publications. My Jan/Feb issue got to me no problem. Studying the Inmate Handbook it's unclear as to the specific penological interest this publication violates?

Pennsylvania - SCI Pine Grove

A prisoner forwarded us a copy of the Notice of Incoming Publication Denial for ULK 60. The reason given was "Bondage of little girl, Depicts female officers in negative manner." Clearly the PA DOC didn't like our article criticizing an advertisement using an image of a little girl in bondage (not shown), or our criticism of gender oppression in prison.

Virginia - Middle River Regional Jail

ULK 60 and 61 were both denied with the reason given "DOC disapproved Under Lock & Key".

Illinois - Stateville Correctional Center

A prisoner wrote: "I have received notice from the repressors here, on more than one occasion that you sent me a copy of your pub Under Lock & Key, and each time that you did, i was told that this pub is on the 'censored' list and any other literature from 'MIM Distributors' because it promotes: leadership and organizing of inmates against the prison staff - administration, and that this is a threat to the safety and security of the prison, therefore inmates are not allowed to have any of your pubs."

MIM(Prisons) received a notification of censorship of ULK 61 sent to this same persyn in Stateville. The reasons given: "Promotes leadership & organization, instructs offenders to organize. content may be detrimental to the safety & security of the institution."

Indiana - Pendleton Correctional Facility

A prisoner had eir ULK 61 confiscated and the response to eir grievance was "the newspaper is not allowed in the facility due to offender to offender correspondence."

Arizona

We received a notification from the AZ DOC notifying us:

The Arizona Department of Corrections has determined that your publication described below contains unauthorized content as defined in Department Order 914.07 and, as a result, may be released in part or excluded in whole for the specific reason(s) given below.

DO 914.07 - 1.1 Detrimental to the Safe, Secure, and Orderly Operation of the Facility
DO 914.07 - 1.2.12 Methods of Escape and/or Eluding Capture
DO 914.07 - 1.2.20 Safe, Secure, and Orderly Operation of the Institution
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[National Oppression] [Wayne Scott Unit] [Darrington Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
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Forced Prison Labor in Texas: Exposing the Fraudulent Good Time/Work Time Credit Scheme

Reification is a term that refers to using the labor power of the people and in turn using it as a powerful force to keep them under oppression.

The only way Texas can afford to keep 150,000 people imprisoned and continue to give parole "set offs" after they are parole eligible by law is through the use of forced labor to offset operating costs. Theoretically speaking if TDCJ were forced by law to pay prisoner workers through a new supreme court precedent, or if prisoners quit participating in enslaving themselves, parole would be presumptive and automatically granted at first eligibility.

Our freedom is at stake here, friends. That is why this issue is absolutely vital. In Texas, per a 1993 law which was passed in reaction to the 90s crack-cocaine-fueled crime wave, violent or aggravated offenders must serve 1/2 their entire sentence before becoming parole eligible. And often times after decades of dreams, hope, hard labor and good behavior, alas many are given the dreaded "set off." So much time has elapsed that their momma has died, their support structures have crumbled, and they have become old men in terrible health due to poor diet, unable to gain meaningful employment, dreams are dashed. All their efforts seem totally futile.

It reminds me of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and how they treat the work horse, Boxer. They push the old work horse to work harder and harder for the revolution, promising him great comforts and retirement benefits one day in the future. However the day comes when he becomes so old and unable to work they send him off to slaughter at the glue factory. TDCJ's treatment of its prisoners is very analogous to this. When will we wake up?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting take on a theme that we hear about constantly from our subscribers in Texas. This writer is saying that if prisoners didn't help offset the operational costs of their own imprisonment, that TDCJ would be forced to release them because it could no longer afford to keep so many people locked up.

There is a contradiction between the high costs to keep people in prison, and the pressure applied to the criminal injustice system from citizens who want to keep oppressed nations in check. Texas is one of the most racist borderland states and has a very long history of national oppression and white supremacy.(1) The call for harsher sentences coinciding with the crack epidemic is simply a manifestation of this racism. It's not about fear of violence; it's about fear of Black violence.

TDCJ certainly would have a harder time financing its prison operations if it actually had to pay prisoners for their labor. But if it started releasing people because of these financial problems, we'd be hearing it from the citizenry. We aren't sure what lengths the state would go to to appease its white constituency.

In fact, we have also heard countless reports of what TDCJ does when it has "budget problems": it makes conditions worse for the prisoners by skipping rec time, medical call, and other duties it has to prisoners. We have yet to receive a letter from someone saying that TDCJ has started releasing prisoners due to budget problems.

The battle here isn't between the prisoners getting paid for labor, and the TDCJ not paying them. The battle is between the interests of the oppressed nations who are housed in TDCJ prisons, with their entire lives stolen from them, and the Amerikkkan nation which has a strong material, social, and cultural interest in keeping these oppressed nations locked up. If that battle manifests in a struggle for work to be paid for in TDCJ, or for TDCJ to honor good time - work time credits in releasing prisoners, then we are all for it. But we can't lose sight of this bigger contradiction, which is what the entire prisoner labor struggle rests on.

This contradiction has always existed since the beginning of the Amerikan nation, and even prior to that when it was still in development. And it has only been heightened under the Trump presidency. We aim to build our power so that we can overcome the contradiction, in unity with oppressed peoples all over the world. Any struggle for paid prisoner labor should primarily be a struggle to build our internal unity and organizing.

Notes:
1. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, by a MIM(Prisons) study group.
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