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Under Lock & Key

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[Economics] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 22]
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Georgia Probationers Are No Third World Workers

smash the border pinata

A popular story in the bourgeois press this week gave an interesting side-by-side comparison of the lumpen in the United $tates to the Third World proletariat. The story came on the heels of new repressive practices targeting Latinos in the state of Georgia with immigration laws beginning July 1 of this year. For fear of deportation and imprisonment, both of which restrict their ability to work, migrant labor crews made up of Mexicans and Guatemalans are steering clear of Georgia. As a result fruit is rotting in the fields.(1) The story exposes the extreme parasitism of this country that cannot even harvest its own food. Amerikans are so rich and spoiled that the labor market cannot fill jobs paying above minimum wage if the work is too hard. If the labor market were free and open the jobs would fill up instantly, but Amerikans oppose this vehemently as they cannot maintain exploiter-level incomes without closed borders. In these times of economic crisis many of these parasites would have you believe that they are "struggling to put food on the table." As they let food literally rot in the fields, we see that just is not true.

To solve the relative labor shortage, the governor of Georgia turned to the population that sits somewhere between the foreign-born and the Amerikan in terms of citizenship rights — prisoners and the formerly incarcerated. Generally defined as the permanently unemployed, excluded from what Marxism calls the "relations of production," the lumpen class includes most prisoners by definition. There is a degree of continuity between the lumpen on the street and the imprisoned lumpen, but many get out of prison to join the petty bourgeois class that dominates this country.

One article cites the Georgia Department of Corrections as claiming that unemployment for all probationers in the state is only 15%, but the Governor's office reports that it is 25%.(2) While much higher than the overall rate of 10% in Georgia, this is still lower than most estimates for young Black male unemployment, and therefore suspiciously low considering that most job applications in the United $tates require you to declare whether you have been imprisoned or convicted of a felony, and this information is used against the applicant. Just looking at the 25% number might suggest that 75% of Georgia probationers have a greater continuity with the (employed) petty bourgeoisie than with a lumpen underclass. Yet recidivism rates in this country over 50% indicate that many of the alleged 75% with jobs will not be staying in the workforce for long. The majority of parolees will not remain in the workforce, but will cycle in and out of jail, prison, rehab, hustling and short-term employment.

While many former prisoners of the United $tates will never live the Amerikan dream, their ideology reflects that culture more than that of the working people of the world. One farmer in Georgia did a side-by-side comparison with a crew of probationers and a crew of migrant laborers and the migrants picked almost 6 times as many cucumbers.(1) Apparently the probationers didn't even bring gloves, and we assume most had no experience with this type of work, so there was certainly room for improvement. But the whole crew didn't even last a full day before quitting. The reports are vague about how many probationers actually lasted more than one day of work, but it was evidently a minority in this small sample.

In response to recruitment efforts for these jobs among U.$. citizens, one Black womyn in Georgia was reported to say, “The only people that would even think about doing that are people who have nothing else left... An educated black person does not have time for that. They didn’t go to school to work on a farm, and they’re not going to do it.”(3) We call those "who have nothing else left" the proletariat, and those who "[don't] have time [for hard work]" a parasitic class living off the labor of the proletariat. By virtue of living in the United $tates alone, even the lumpen have access to many resources through the highly developed infrastructure in this country: welfare programs, religious and charity organizations, and just living off of the excess and waste of the general population. Overall they are not driven to take the hardest jobs, and U.$. capitalists must look to the Third World for labor, even for production that is tied to U.$. soil and therefore pays exploiter-level wages. (Legally the jobs start at the minimum wage of $7.25, while piecework incentives allow the fastest pickers to make $20 an hour at one cucumber farm.(1) Of course, when only migrants without papers are working and the press isn't around it is common for agricultural work to pay well below the legal minimum wage.)

During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR), in a country where a professor or shop owner was far poorer than the unemployed Amerikan, the Chinese had to actively combat the type of thinking epitomized in the petty-bourgeois womyn quoted above. Millions of petty-bourgeois Chinese went to the countryside to work and be re-educated. Many youth went happily, excited about building a new China, while many cried the whole time and went on to write books about it to explain to Amerikans why the GPCR was so horrible.

There are righteous reasons why a population of unemployed Blacks would be resistant to working at hard, lower-paying jobs while Amerikans around them are making much more for sitting around in air conditioning pushing paper, and we don't expect that to change under capitalism. That is why all U.$ citizens will require re-education to become productive members of society, from the poorest lumpen who despises working for the white man to the richest CEO whose income could support a large village.

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[Abuse] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Letter to Warden Supporting Hunger Strike Demands

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, which clearly is in violation of the First Amendment. You must meet the "important" and "necessary" test before you can restrict or censor inmates' outgoing mail. ( Bressman v. Farrier, 825 F. Supp. 231(N.D. Iowa 1993); Altizer v. Deeds, 191 F. 3d 540 (4th Cir. 1999); Stow v. Grimaldi, 993 F. 2d 1002 (1st Cir. 1993). For telephones see: McMaster v. Pung, 984 F.2d 948, 953 (8th Cir. 1993) ).

I am concerned that these prisoners, who are under your responsibility, are being denied their Constitutional right to due process, equal protection rights, and cruel and unusual punishment. Not only do these inmates 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, and meets the "significant and atypical" standard. See: Ayers v. Ryan, 152 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 1998); Taylor v. Rodriguez, 238 F.3d 188 (2d Cir. 2001); and Hatch v. District of Columbia, 184 F.3d 846 (D.C. Circ. 1999). This is a violation of legal ethics, and as a citizen of the state of California, I expect fair treatment of prisoners from a state employee rather than allowing 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 psychological damage to a person, 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.

Sincerely,
a California prisoner

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[Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Using ULK to Help Organize and Fight Oppressive Conditions

The ULK will be a great help to me and others to promote education, unity, and legitimate struggle among prisoners in my area. This is an ongoing and continuous task/duty that I, and a few others, have accepted. We need informational and motivational materials such as ULK to help enlighten and recruit others.

One recent example of success: the administration at this facility recently turned off all electricity to the wing I'm housed on - a disciplinary type wing - in violation of state policy, and took all personal fans. I managed to get 3 prisoners to file grievances and 6 to sign an affidavit, which I sent to outside agencies. It took 2 months, but last week the electricity was turned back on and fans were returned.

But, of course, my fan wasn't returned because I was moved to a lower level of housing where there isn't even an outlet. This is my next task, getting outlets in all cells. Additionally, these cells now have padlocks on the doors, in violation of state fire safety codes. I'm in the process of recruiting others to act on that issue as well.

Regarding the petitions against corrupt grievance processes noted on page 12 of the ULK, would you please send me several of them? I've been trying to work on that issue - I have documentation that clearly shows the inadequacy of the process - and the petition might be a great help. I will recruit others to send them.

Thanks so much for the ULK and the motivation.


MIM(Prisons) adds: 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.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Prisoner in CSP-Sacramento Calls on Warden to Address Hunger Striker Demands

Dear Warden Lewis,

I'm writing to express my concerns for the inhuman treatment being inflicted on these disciplinary-free prisoners housed at Pelican Bay State Prison's short-corridor Group D. The conditions there must change because of the nature of the situation. Please allow these people room to have phone calls, send pictures to their loved ones, etc. If we have no respect for the U.S. Constitution how shall I, as a free man one day, respect or honor the rights of others, after witnessing these wrong doings? I'm facing a real challenge when I return to society in September 2011. If we continue to strive to solve problems we must begin in our community and this is one of the largest communities I've ever been a part of and I believe that the strike on July 1, 2011 will begin the process for a collective change as one unity.

I have faith you will resolve the problem.

Sincerely,
[a prisoner in California State Prison - Sacramento]

I will strike with these men in unity.

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[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Isolation Already Loosening at Pelican Bay

MIM Distributors,

It is always my pleasure to reach out and re-establish lines of communication. I hope that you all are in the best of God's care. One can never be too sure in this line of work. I'm well, as i get ready for this July 1 2011 hunger strike for the cruel & unusual treatment we prisoners held in solitary confinement have endured. All the same it is an enduring struggle that we must fight in order to change our reality.

I am writing because i need you all to forward me that issue dated in the month of June 2011 called Under Lock & Key, because I did not receive it. So if it's possible that I can get a back issue I would sincerely appreciate it.

Now, I look forward to re-opening the lines of communications because although it's not been my thought that they were cut off we are beginning to track it better, so it's all good sometimes.

Sincerely,
a California prisoner


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer hadn't heard from us in over two years due to censorship in California. But as the hunger strike approached, the staff at Pelican Bay State Prison were on their best behavior. While the strike organizers were already having sit-downs with the Warden's office before the strike began, censorship has eased for the many organizations that struggle to get their mail to those being held there. A month ago, staff claimed to not even know their own policies in attempts to censor our mail. But the prisoners' struggle has already had an impact of loosening their attempts to isolate us from each other.

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[Organizing]
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I am We! Kill Me for My People

Kill Me for My People
Engulfed in the day to day war of oppressed against oppressor, sometimes the pressures can be overwhelming, especially in these concentration camps of the united $nakes (prisons). If you're not blind you can clearly see on the faces of our brothers the lack of dignity and the lack of hope. You can hear when they speak, that their spirits have been crushed and ambition has been washed away along with the privilege and rights entitled to them as men at birth.

But why? We have accepted these oppressive conditions, almost embracing them as if they belong to us. We've grown accustomed to the establishment's evil ways and put it off as if nothing can be done about them. In a way we have sold our souls and hope is in constant suffering because of this. Where are the elders? Where is the hope? Did the hope die along with the revolutionaries of the past who were brave enough to protest and take a stand against the establishment, later being assassinated because they did? If so, then the future of the people is in question.

The future of the people is of no success without the hope and bravery of the people now! The future of the people is determined by the immediate actions of the people. There is honestly no more time to waste. Wasted time means wasted lives and enough of our peoples lives have already been taken not just by the hands of the oppressor but by reactionary suicide which of course is because of the oppressor.

Many of us, just like Huey P. Newton in the earlier stages of his life, have been searching. Searching for meaning. The meaning of life. Huey recognized, there is no meaning to life unless there is something to die for. To die for the people is what he later discovered as being his role in life. The people being his meaning for life.

He, along with many others influenced by him, put their lives on the line, for the lives of their people. He knew long after his death, that the conditions of the oppressed will continue unless there was social change. Change in which he set out to make. Not fearing death but accepting it as his fate by the hands of the oppressor, for a new life for his people.

So you may ask, what is your role? If you are a brother like myself, oppressed, exploited, victim of racism, victim of Amerikanism, which we all are, then I say our role is the same as brother Huey's was. Why wouldn't it be? Knowing that these conditions will not change unless we the people oppose the oppressive forces, then what more could our role be in life? What has more meaning to life than pursuing liberty and happiness? If not for thy people then at least for thyself, which would ultimately catapult amongst the people. I see no other role adequate.

But this is where the problem occurs. Many brothers are aware of the oppressive conditions. But yet grown so used to them that they are "normal" within our communities. I assure you that it is not normal. If it was then there wouldn't be classes of society, in which we are in fact the lowest class.

As humans, we are mistreated and unrecognized (along with our social needs). We are underprivileged, we are undereducated, we are underpaid, we are poorly housed and we are under attack by the hands of the government, through forces of oppression caused by capitalism and racism. Yet some feel it is unnecessary to take a stand. I beg to differ, I feel it is a necessity. With no stand, there's no future. We must liberate ourselves.

To die for the people, literally means to be suicidal. This is how Huey came up with the name of his book, Revolutionary Suicide. It is almost impossible to remain alive living as a revolutionary, because revolutionaries are objects of sacrifice for their people.

A revolutionary may not be fortunate to see the revolution since it is not an action but a process. But during their lives they advance the people towards a revolution, probably dying in the process.

Do not mistake revolutionary suicide with reactionary suicide, which is ultimately taking your own life due to the overwhelmingness of oppression or engaging in action caused by your reaction that will also ultimately lead you to death.

History shows us that revolutionaries are often assassinated at the hands of the oppressors they oppose for having influence over the masses, therefore preventing a revolution and or revolutionary advancement (raising people's conscience) etc. I think it is cowardly to see brothers who have been murdered as the sacrifice of my liberty to ignore their cause because of the dangers. We will die, but we will die for our people and that alone gives meaning to our life. Some are born just to die. These people have no meaning of life. Revolutionaries are awoken to die for the cause of bringing meaning to life.

We see that they assassinated MLK. We see that they assassinated Malcolm X. We see that they assassinated Mark Clark, Fred Hampton, Bobby Hutton, attempts on Huey and all because of the brave roles that were necessary for the liberation of the people. I accept my role as a young revolutionary which is why I coined this very phrase "kill me for my people."

I am we is an old saying that our ancestors used when asked "who are you?" "I am we" they would respond. "I, we, all of us are then and the multitude." This is revolutionary suicide.


MIM(Prisons) adds: For more on the Black Panther Party and Huey Newton, check out the Newspaper Archives.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 22]
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Debating the Violent Nature of the Lumpen

After having the pleasure of reading ULK 20, I would like to opine concerning some of its contents. While I found numerous articles to be informative and inspiring. I really want to focus on the letter entitled SMU Used to Prevent Activism and the subsequent response from MIM(Prisons).

The letter was written by a federal prisoner, and, among other things, he expressed discontent with the fact that many gang members in the BOP who have been subjected to the SMU program have been broken by it and failed to carry out strategies to thwart the oppressive system. Furthermore, most of these gang members are quick to engage one another in physical combat; however, reluctant to attack the real enemy with similar ferociousness. The prisoner then gave a call for "hard-core, guerilla, strategic revolutionary action" aimed at the "pigs."

MIM(Prisons) responded by expressing a disapprobation of the call for "hard-core, guerilla, strategic revolutionary action," saying that, at this time in imperialist countries the conditions are not ripe for armed struggle. This opinion was based on an analysis of history and current conditions.

Though I concede that overall the masses in america may not be ready for armed struggle, I don't believe the class of people that the prisoner pointed out (i.e. gang members in prison) should be discouraged from physically assailing those holding them in captivity. In prison, the oppression that one experiences is a lot more cruel than what people in society endure. And many of the gang members have the potential to formulate the vanguard needed to lead to coup. They already know how to unite, possess warrior spirits, and have displayed defiance toward the government, even if just through criminal behavior.

Keep in mind, we're not talking about the Boy Scouts here. We're talking about some of the most murderous and gladiatorial individuals america has ever created. One way or another, these gang members are going to fight violently. Not only because of their natures, but because the harsh conditions of prison life will cause them to. And I think it best that, rather than continue exterminating each other, they federate and become america's Frankenstein.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We disagree with this writer's assumption that members of lumpen organizations are violent by "nature." It is the imperialist system that forces the oppressed into organizations for self-defense and preservation. People's "nature" is not innate, it is created by their environment. And even imperialists can sometimes be retrained and become useful servants of the revolution. So we should not assume that members of lumpen organizations will always have to be violent and must channel this violence somewhere. We should give these comrades more credit and instead help them learn how to channel violent inclinations into productive avenues to fight their real enemies in the criminal injustice system and the imperialist government.

Even in a country where there is no proletariat, we should uphold the principles of People's War. Spurts of anger leading to violence against the pigs does nothing more to liberate humynity than killing another thug. We need to build understanding and support for proletarian struggle in the broadest ways that we can. If we do not win the hearts and minds of these "gladiators" then they will just as quickly be used by the state against us.

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[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Self-help Advocacy Group Supports Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers

Below is an excerpt of a letter that was sent along with a resource packet to the Pelican Bay Warden and Pelican Bay Institutional Gang Investigations.

Greetings from The Yard. I am a prisoner that is providing a service to my incarcerated peers. I provide resources for self-help programs, rehab, housing and career info. It is my understanding that inmates in the SHU corridor are going to strike due to certain demands that they are asking for.

One demand that interested me was the opportunity to receive self-help and religious materials. I feel that The Yard can meet that demand. I have put together a self-help and religious resource packet that can be given to an inmate requesting self-help, religious or parole resources. All of these programs can be utilized by an inmate through the mail without any type of facilitator or supervision... The resource packet includes an application for parole resources. SHU inmates most likely do not have access to these resources. They can send these applications to The Yard and dedicated peers involved themselves in self-help programs will fill them out and send them back. The Yard has an ever-growing data bank of up to date resources for all of California...

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[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Tehachapi SHU Prisoner Supports PBSP Hunger Strike

This letter is in response to the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike. First I'd like to say thank you for not only your ongoing support for us prisoners but also your truthfulness of viewing the facts of the matter. I have passed on the info you mailed me. I have spread the word of actions being taken by prisoners at PBSP-SHU. I can not say for sure how many will join this protest. However I can speak for myself and I find one must be willing to lead and/or follow with common sense to ensure change. For only by us prisoners making a stand - not allowing this injustice to pass - can we stop it.

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