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Under Lock & Key

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[Spanish] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 11]
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El Agua Contaminada es Buena por CDCR

Hoy recibí la respuesta a mi Apelación de la Administración (602) del Director de las Correcionales de California en relación al agua contaminada de aquí, y ellos sin duda alguna la negaron, diciendo que los niveles de arsénico en el agua no son lo suficientemente altos como para poner en peligro y en riesgo nuestra (los prisioneros) salud y como para proveernos (prisioneros) de agua limpia para consumo humano. Yo digo que eso es una tontería!

La primera vez que me di cuenta de los altos niveles de arsénico en el agua de la prisión de Kern Valley fué a travِés de la Red Institucional de Televisión. Ellos habían publicado un memorándum de CDC diciendo que el agua de las prisiones estaba contaminada con arsénico por sobre los niveles límites y legales del EPA's, y que las personas que beben agua de este tipo podrían ponerse en riesgo de contraer cáncer. [Los prisioneros en Kern Valley han estado peleando ésta batalla más de un año.]

[En otras noticias]...Al principio de ésta semana los cerdos se enojaron conmigo porque estoy ayudando a un amigo para que pueda recibir su pago. Los cerdos se equivocaron y pusieron a un prisionero de nivel cuatro dentro de una celda de nivel tres, el prisionero de nivel cuatro terminó atacando al del nivel tres, entonces yo decidí ponerlo al tanto de como obtener dinero de estos cerdos.

Ellos intentaron jugar conmigo y con mi compañero de celda tratando de ponernos en contra de nosotros mismos. Dañaron sus artículos personales, dejando mis cosas intactas tal como estaban. Pero nosotros sólo gozamos de esa mierda. Nosotros sólo miramos lo que ellos hacen desde lejos, y la lucha continúa. Ellos no pueden detener nuestra moción de avance ni nuestro desarrollo.

MIM(Prisiónes) añade: Una vez más, empleados estatales están tratando de promover la violencia en las prisiones del estado y los camaradas de MIM(Prisiones) están evitando conflictos, mientras luchan por justicia. La CDCR dice que censurará a MIM(Prisiones) porque somos una amenaza a la seguridad. Si los prisioneros ya no pueden ser manipulados por el Cuerpo de la Administración para que peleen en contra de ellos mismos la seguridad de la Institución está en peligro según la lógica de la CDCR.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 9]
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FBI Arrests Peacemaker

Alex Sanchez Homies Unidos
Two issues ago Under Lock & Key released the Peace Issue. Now we are working on an issue on migrants and non-citizens in u$ prisons. The kidnapping of Homies Unidos director Alex Sanchez by the FBI yesterday demonstrates the close relationship between prisons, immigration, repression and peace.

Homies Unidos was started in El Salvador by 20 people who were deported from the united $tates due to Clinton-era immigration legislation after serving prison terms. Alex Sanchez played a key role in founding the Los Angeles chapter 2 years later, building an important link to the source of gang problems here in the belly of the beast.

The targeting and arrest of Alex by the FBI is just one more example to support our argument in issue 7 that the state does not want peace. There are few who can claim to have done more to bring peace to some of the worst affected gang areas in the world, yet the state sees him as a threat.

In the 1980s people across Central America united for a new economic system that served people's needs. The united $tates responded by arming and training death squads to combat these movements. They used terrorism, killing local families in mass genocide, and carrying out similar brutality against supporters from other countries to discourage internationalism. Like most who Homies Unidos works with, Alex himself was a victim of the mass displacement of people across Central America caused by a decade of amerikan intervention. This period of brutality was followed by economic policies that offered one job option for the children of war: running product for the multi-billion dollar amerikan drug economy.

While most travelled to the united $tates looking for jobs, others were brought here via their jobs in the black market drug trade. Either way, these new arrivers are targeted for imprisonment by the u$ injustice system, which helped to consolidate and reinforce the criminal gang life as the only option for mostly male youth. Just like those who came before them, Salvadorans on the streets and in prisons formed groups to defend themselves from a society who feared and attacked new comers.

Alex's arrest is a blatant attack that is part of the same system that has attacked millions coming from the same place he came from. But his targeting has been very specific and ongoing because of his efforts to organize for peace by building alternatives to violent crime as a means of survival. He posed too great of a threat to the system of control of Brown and Black youth in this country through drugs and low intensity warfare, while simultaneously threatening the flow of drugs into the richest market in the world.

Previously, Alex was targeted by the Ramparts CRASH unit leading up to the infamous scandal within the Los Angeles Police Department, where cops worked with the INS to deport drug dealers who wouldn't work with the LAPD. At that time he was threatened with deportation. He responded by attempting to get asylum because of his social position in El Salvador, where members of the main lumpen organization there are targeted for imprisonment and assassination with more impunity than they are in the united $tates. This would have provided a way out for millions of youth stuck in the violent cycle. But the amerikan courts would not go for this argument, and granted him asylum on the basis of his political beliefs instead.

Alex has continuously put himself on the line for the interests of the lumpen class, who on the whole have yet to return the favor. Part of developing the consciousness of the lumpen is organizing the defense (and support) of those who are doing the most to serve the lumpen.

Lesson for the Criminal Minded

There are two possible lessons that members of the unpoliticized lumpen organizations can take from this. There is the message of the FBI, that it is hopeless to work against the u$ imperialists, so you're better off working with government operations to drug and pacify oppressed communities and hope you don't get hit by the violence or addiction yourself. This is the short-term, individualist view.

Then there is the lesson that MIM(Prisons) takes from this. Yes it is true, anyone who does real work to help lumpen youth improve their lives will be targeted by the u$ government. But rather than turning to despair and capitulation we promote a message that encourages people to look at the big picture and drop their fears as individuals. This lesson leads one to recognize the necessity of a number of strategies. One such strategy is shifting the focus of existing lumpen organizations to provide real support for independent organizations that are really helping lumpen youth. But with that comes risks, so another lesson is that the criminality of the lumpen makes it harder for leaders to help the lumpen as a class. In other words, cleaning up your act makes it easier for us to work together.

In response to the recent arrests, many amerikans have already convicted Alex of the accused crimes, because according to bourgeois idealism people are born bad and cannot change. It just so happens that people who are born bad usually have darker skin. Such idealism is only consistent with an ideology of racism.

Like MIM(Prisons), Homies Unidos stressed education of the lumpen to understand why they are where they are, while working to build leaders to change that reality. Those who benefit from the oppression and exploitation of others do not want such change to take place. They will promote individuals who escape criminal life as examples that anyone can succeed in this system (if they try). The lumpen know this is bullshit, but the lumpen need to study to see what real solutions are.

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[Abuse] [Polk Youth Institution] [North Carolina]
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Mice, Ants and Mold in Polk Kitchen

Two prisoners wrote to MIM(Prisons) with concern about the conditions of Polk Correctional Institution's kitchen. This disregard for the health and safety of prisoners is typical of Amerikan prisons.

The first prisoner writes:

I am a prisoner working in the kitchen at Polk Correctional Institution and I'm a little worried about the rat infestation, ants and mildew problem. The rat infestation is so bad that they food they pass out sometimes has rats or mice in the food. And the ants are all over the place, unless staff hears of an inspection and then they have the prisoners clean the coolers out where most of the mice and rats get food. The mildew is so bad that it has upset my asthma.

The second prisoner goes into more detail:

This letter is to inform you of the conditions of Polk's kitchen. I am a first shift kitchen worker. I have worked in numerous kitchens in North Carolina such as Bob Evans, Red Lobster and others. So I accepted the job here at Polk figuring everything should be rudimentary. What I learned on the job about the preparation of the food has led me to barely eat due to sanitation issues.

As soon as you enter the kitchen you smell an odor of mildew and once you reach the pots and pans and segregation line stations the smell is so unbearable that you get cold chills, goosebumps, etc. They tell us to use dish soap on it or scrub it, but the problem never gets solved.

I remember a time when the potatoes were dropped on the floor and we were told to pick it up and put the lids back on and proceed to delivering them to prisoners. The most dangerous thing in the kitchen besides the mold is the mice. There is a serious infestation in the kitchen that needs to be taken care of.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Abuse and Neglect in Texas Prisons

I have been imprisoned for 12 years. Believe me when I tell you that Texas prisons are not paying prisoners for the hard labor, and this is just one of the many problems they have. Two of the biggest problems are poor medical care and lack of control over the correctional officers.

Let's start with medical. Most of the staff are poorly trained, only here for the pay and benefits. I have personally witnessed RNs and doctors do things that would start a malpractice law suit in the free world. I have seen prisoners have heart attacks, and it took medical 10 minutes to get to them. All the while staff stood over them doing nothing. A co-workers in the kitchen had a hernia, medical department scheduled him for surgery 9 months down the road when he was discharging his sentence in 6 months. He walked around constantly in pain and couldn't sleep. One of my cellies was a seizure patient. Because the medical department could not get his medicine balanced he had more seizures than normal. Doctors prescribe the wrong medicine and prisoners get really sick. I could go on and on.

Because there's no outside oversight these types of things keep happening. Now to the correctional officers. They have the mentality that the uniform gives them the right to talk, treat and do as they will to prisoners. they do just that on a daily basis at all the units in the system. Some will cuss at you, even when you give them respect, because they know nothing is going to happen to them. On two different units I've seen prisoners get gassed, handcuffed, beat until they are bleeding and can't walk, all over a piece of contraband, or because the CO didn't like how the prisoner responded to a question.

Female COs tell supervisors a prisoner said or threw something at them, just so they could see the prisoner eat up, and then stand there laughing. I saw a prisoner in handcuffs, when he initially went to seg he was fine, when they brought him back out 10 minutes later he was bleeding from the nose, eyes were bruised, and limping. Found out later that night that he was beat with a walkie-talkie and pushed down the stairs. Medical was told he fell. This came from a CO. Two weeks later that supervisor was fired.

You constantly see bogus disciplinary cases because an officer doesn't like a prisoner, and wants to see them receive some type of punishment. Most of the time it's recreation, cell or commissary restriction, loss of good time, and loss of class depending on the case. These bogus cases create a lot of problems especially when it's time for a parole review.

There has got to be something that can be done to bring some type of constant oversight from the outside to make sure the state is held responsible for what the staff does. Until this happens the prisoners are basically sitting ducks for abuse. We were sentenced by a judge to do time, and to rehabilitate ourselves, so we can return to society as a free and productive citizen. That can't be done when you have out-of-control correctional officers constantly causing you trouble.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer that the prisons only pay lip service to rehabilitation while actually making it very difficult for people to return to society as productive members. The criminal injustice system is not about rehabilitation or even punishment, it is a system of social control.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 10]
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Save Hip Hop

I just finished reading the latest Under Lock & Key issue 8 and, comparatively speaking, the articles and overall issues seem much more focused than the days when ULK was only a sub-section of MIM Notes. As to the topic of ULK 8 [prison labor and economics], I find myself agreeing with the line drawn by the ministry. In addition, though I can never stress enough that the progress to be made among the prison population, especially among the prison population (whether in regards to labor, health services, or any other abuse of inalienable rights) lies in the political unity and education of the existent Lumpen-Proletariat Organizations within the prison system itself.

As a 32 year old, young Hispanic male, having been raised in the inner city and having spent nearly half my life in the system, hip hop has been a reflection of my (and mines) existence for as long as I can remember. It has been blasted by everyone, from the working moms and pops to the bourgeois conglomerates; from the so-called community leaders to the bona fide revolutionaries of old. It was an expression of struggle and strength, and a message of perseverance and preparation. It was a passing fad that was eventually manacled, manipulated, and monopolized by the evil designs of capitalists who not only see the promise of a dollar, but the perpetuation of our demise.

There is too much to be said of hip hop (its history, present state, and future) than can justly be compiled into one issue of ULK alone. For far too long it has, in my opinion, been neglected by the revolutionary community as a whole. As Frantz Fanon said in regard to the lumpen, the same applies to the culture of hip hop and rap - the revolution neglected, the reactionaries didn't, and so where hip hop should (and could!) be serving as a spearhead of revolutionary spirit, it has been fashioned into one of the greatest bulwarks against revolutionary progress.

Hip hop is an art, it is music, and just as any art it is most relevant to the mind. It is a culture, and as such it is even more directly relevant to the minds of those who embrace it, not just as a form of entertainment, but as a painting of their own reality - the reality of the ghettos and slums the world over. Hip hop is international, and in most Third World countries it can still be experienced in its most free and pure form. And hip hop is a weapon, a weapon of the people, that has been turned against us.

From the days of "get free or die trying" to today's mantra of "get rich or die trying," it is apparent how deep the federal government has affected the core of our production. The government's counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO), under any other name, is still very much involved in countering the produce of intelligence harvested by the oppressed. The east coast - west coast drama that brought the murders of Biggie and Pac (not to mention the nameless bodies laid down in-between) did not occur by chance. The rise of the South and overall materialism and sexploitation permeated throughout today's industry did not occur because it was the "natural" course of hip hop. These things manifested because before hip hop was ever projected to the masses through the mainstream, it was mass inflected through its very own blood stream.

Nas - hip hop's Street Disciple - said hip hop is dead. The ALKN says that the rising of the dead is the spiritual awakening of those who have been sleeping in the graveyard of ignorance. Therefore hip hop can be resurrected and it must be. As the fans continue to bob their heads in a trance and the artists continue to be used, as the record labels continue to sell out the vibe, the revolution and hip hop must re-unite, or die trying!

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[Prison Labor] [Colorado]
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Poor and Tired in Colorado

I got your latest ULK #8. I think they couldn't find a reason to deny this issue. In this issue you had a section on prison labor. Colorado pays 60 cents per day. After taking DOC's 20% cut we get 48 cents for slaving for Governor Ritter all day. This is just another way the state of Colorado keeps us poor and unable to call our families. Poor and tired the Governor Ritter way in Colorado.

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[Organizing] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 9]
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Inspired to join the struggle in Maryland

I just received my first issue of Under Lock & Key (May 2009, #8). Wow, I'm sold. I'd love to be a comrade in the struggle.

The article titled "Remove the Profit Motive" by the comrade out in California has me sending my money out to my family. I'm becoming indigent as my first step to join the movement. Now I see why they keep building prisons. Thank you for opening my eyes.

I'm going to spread the word here and educate as many as I can while you educate me. This imperialist country spends billions on lost causes while millions are starving and homeless. Please send me literature that will help me to better understand the movement. I'm ready to do whatever I can for the revolution.

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[Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Build Unity and Non-violence

This is your fellow brother in the struggle for equal rights. I am sitting here reading your latest ULK 8 about state by state labor data, and I would love to commend you for another exceptional publication. I never knew so much kickbacks, and in house cooperation was going on from state to state. I completely agree with all the brothers who help to inform unenlightened brothers such as myself. I try desperately to inform a lot of the other brothers. The harsh treatment and neglectful respect for one another continues to tear unity apart.

It has gotten so bad that I hardly stand by a fellow brother because all they do is talk about sex, drugs, violence and gang banging. I left that lifestyle alone almost 3 years ago and I try to keep myself away from that environment. I try to talk and show your publication off but not too many want to read it.

I took a stand of non-violent protest against all injustice becaues what you say is right. I believe violence will not solve these problems that are going on. Here on my plantation in Texas, within the last 8 months these officers killed 2 prisoners and fractured, or cracked one African-American frontal lobe of his skull. I was threatened by a Sgt saying "your grievances don't work so stay out of the way."

I have been denied my religious service of Islam multiple times and there is no help in sight by the administrators. There are times when I come in from my work detail "field squad" manual labor and they have pork for chow. I am a muslim and can't eat pork so they give us 2 slices of cheese instead. I was forced to go out and engage in manual hard labor in my boots which were hanging on by a thread. Both of my boots were torn off and barely together when a C/O and Sgt said it will be a case if I don't turn out for work. I was forced to endure twigs and other stuff puncturing the bottom of my feet to comply with regulations.

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[Political Repression] [California]
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Prisoner Punished for Seeing Things Greater than Himself

... All of [my grievances against censorship are] of course used against me. In my annual review report it was written that, "He does display some twisted thinking with moral reasoning... When the topic goes too close to personal issues, [XYZ]'s defense is to move the discussion to grander political issues." The institution that I'm in would have me believe that my being incarcerated had all to do with poor decision making skills. How I wish it was that simple.

When I look at my community I can see that everyone I knew had a family member who was doing or did time. Going away to do time was deemed normal, and I don't say that to minimize my own actions. You do better once you know better, but yet here I am attempting to learn better but they're refusing me that knowledge. Why? Because knowledge turns into wisdom and wisdom is authority.

Well, here I am comrades, inside of one re-education camp of America. A place where they attempt to teach me that my community is fine, the system works, it's me that has the problem. They want me to get out and worry about myself. Get all the nice things that money can buy, so that I can sit in luxury and watch my people suffer inside of poverty. They can keep attempting, because I will not reform. I will fight the battles in my reach to continue our progression, and that will be until victory or death.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of how bourgeois society pushes individualism on people, and how psychology serves that purpose. The so-called "corrections" profession in amerika would have you believe that they are doing the objective work of punishing those who did "bad." But to those in the system, it is much clearer what is really going on. And when people start to develop consciousness of how the system works, the system does all it can to keep people thinking in narrow individualist terms.

Individualism serves the capitalist system where few prosper and many suffer. The system is threatened when the oppressed masses act as a united majority instead of as individuals going up against powerful institutions all alone. The individualist world outlook has repercussions that go much further than the u$ injustice system. It is crucial for all aspects of maintaining a system where a few nations benefit off of the many. That is why we struggle for a socialist society, where re-education camps actually encourage people to look at the systematic level and see things from a perspective much greater than themselves. Only by building on the accumulated knowledge of our whole society can we progress to a more peaceful, harmonious world.

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 9]
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Mao's Combat Liberalism Very Relevent in PA Prisons

I am writing to let you know that I received Under Lock & Key November 2008 (#5). It seems like the prison might have kept the newspaper for a while like they always do. Anyway, it is very enlightening and helpful. The "Combat Liberalism" essay by Mao Zedong really did touch home because here at SCI Camp Hill SMU there are a lot of prisoners that claim to be political prisoners and against oppression and these degrading, diabolical establishments. But when they see plainly a fellow prisoner being harassed or oppressed through their meals, mail, showers, or yard or something, they all just fall back and say "well it's not us, so it's not my business." This is nauseating. I mean it's to the point where they witness the officers here assaulting a fellow prisoner, again these so-called political minded prisoners against oppression to these diabolical establishments do not do a thing but just fall back and submit to this wickedness and repeat their same hypocritical mottos. As long as it is not happening to them they're fine, cool But let it happen to one of them, then they're up screaming "oppression" and "we as a people."

The fifth type and eighth type from Combat Liberalism are totally on point and we see these just about every day here. The fifth: "to indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly." And the eighth type: "To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue." These two types again stood out and touched home.

The officers here keep coming onto the SMU pod here and poisoning people's minds and keeping individuals bickering and fighting amongst themselves, it's insane. There is not much unity here, thanks to the officers divide and conquer tactics. But who am I to say all of this - they've labeled me an irrational delusional psychopath!

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