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[Control Units] [New York]
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Understanding Solitary Confinement

UPDATE: On 9/17/2009 the comrade who wrote this letter was killed in Attica Correctional Facility

True solitary confinement - it's general concept, ultimate purpose, and all of its myriad applications - must be exposed to as many concerned citizens as is possible. Media, cinema, and corrections spokespeople have all contributed to distorting our society's perception of this shameful and torturous practice that has been a facet of this country's history since it's earliest years.

Amnesty International has defined solitary confinement as "all forms of incarceration that totally remove a prisoner from inmate society", elucidating further that "the prisoner is visually and acoustically isolated from all other prisoners as well as having no personal contact with them." But even this definition can forfeit the consideration of other variations of confinement that similarly and adversely affect the prisoners who are imprisoned in them. Professors Craig Haney and Mona Lynch concluded and supported with irrefutable evidence from the study they conducted that solitary confinement refers to a broad set of conditions, including single-celled control units where even some semblance of communication between prisoners is somehow feasible, double-celled control units that produce conditions of both isolation and overcrowding simultaneously, control units where prisoners are subjected to sensory overload as well as sensory deprivation, and control units that impose "small group isolation." The effects of solitary confinement in all of its manifestations within this country's prison system have been recognized by numerous authoritative analysts, as well as their impact upon society as a whole. Studies of this phenomenon, empirical and with scientific experimentation, have been conducted and recorded as early as 1790.

With this in mind, terms such as "punitive segregation", "restrictive housing", "segregated housing", "special housing", "administrative segregation", "disciplinary confinement" and "control units" have all been used to designate constructed environments that employ what are essentially conditions- whether in part or whole - of solitary confinement. Despite their differences, all of them serve similar ends in that all of them employ torturous conditions as punishment rather than rehabilitation.

I have been a prisoner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services prison system for approximately fifteen years to date. I have spent at least two-thirds of those years confined to the system's special housing units (SHU) for lengthy and continuous periods at a time. Recently, former New York State Governor Eliott Spitzer signed a bill into law that provides for mentally ill prisoners who have been sanctioned with disciplinary confinement penalties exceeding thirty days to be removed from conventional SHU's and placed in newly constructed "therapeutic units." The majority of these "therapeutic units" are actually conventional SHU's amended with rooms designated for therapeutic group programming and individual therapy sessions. The rooms are fitted with "cubicles" that amount to small single-occupancy cages, to restrict prisoners contact with program instructors and each other during "therapy." Whether this arrangement is a genuine and sufficient departure form conventional SHU to ward off mental deterioration fostered by the conditions of the various forms of solitary confinement seems to have escaped adequate forum for public debate.

One of the worst SHU's I have been confined to, by my estimation, is the notorious F-Block at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. I remained there for just over a year.

In their State of the Prisons report on conditions of confinement in 25 New York correctional facilities, published in 2002, the Prison Visiting Committee of the Correctional Association of New York described the SHU at Great Meadow CF as "... one of the most unsettling we have experienced. Many of the inmates were mentally ill and confined in cells behind thick metal doors or bars covered with Plexiglas to protect staff from "throwers." Most striking was the pervading sense of chaos and the way in which inmates with mental illness are isolated, cut off from human contact and caged in barren, concrete walls. Animals in zoos are kept in more humane conditions... the more stable inmates spoke of the constant yelling and noise on the unit, the stench of feces and sweat, and the lack of ventilation." Although the SHU capacity had been reduced since the time of that report, the conditions aforementioned were certainly prevalent even during my confinement there in 2004 and 2005.

With the draconian measures put in place by the Bush administration as a device of its purported "war on terror," and a look to the conditions under which prisoners designated as enemy combatants are being held in at the detention complex in Guantanamo Bay by the U.S. government, I do not see that the use of solitary confinement is being diminished at all. Rather, I foresee that it will expand and morph into forms less conspicuous but more insidious, cultivated with and nurtured by the incitement of mass hysteria and the greed of profiteers.

After clarifying the general concept, myriad applications and ultimate purpose of solitary confinement, this information must be conveyed to the concerned active citizenry. The concept, applications and purpose of solitary confinement serve to control and inflict suffering upon a segment of the population through isolation and deprivation. It does not nor has it ever served to rehabilitate or improve the condition of society.

sources: "Regulating Prisons of the Future", by Craig Haney & Mona Lynch, 23 NYU Rev. L. Soc. Change 447 (1997).
"State of the Prisons" Report, June 2002, by the Correctional Association of New York.
"Enemy Combatant" by Moazzam Begg (the New Press, 2006).

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[Prison Labor] [Connecticut]
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Prisoner innovation stolen and sold back to them

Prisoners make all the clothing and uniforms as well as envelopes and greeting cards here in MacDougall-Walker CI in Connecticut, and then they sell them back to us. They even sell jail pillows now. Not real pillows, jail pillows, the ones the prisoners used to make back in the day and they confiscated them (we use to make 'em out of old mattresses, the ones that were ripped up and no longer useful). Now the state confiscated all those pillows and are now manufacturing our idea in the prisoners workshop. Same kind of pillow we use to make with the old mattresses the state is making and selling back to us for $15. They stole our idea and sell it back to us.

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[Control Units] [New York]
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Problems with new BHU for mentally ill

The BHU program originated from a lawsuit settlement in April of 2007 (see Disability Advocates, Inc. v. New York State Office of Mental Health).

Disability Advocates, Inc., Prisoners' Legal Services of New York, the Prisoner's Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society, and Davis Polk & Wardwell brought the lawsuit against the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH). DOCS runs the New York State prisons. OMH is in charge of mental health treatment and services within New York State Prisons.

The main purpose of the settlement is to improve mental health treatment and services for all prisoners with serious mental health needs in DOCS- operated prisons.

In hood slang this program is about changing how the pigz has constantly violating prisoners with mental health issues throughout these years.

The program is taking mental health prisoners out of SHU (Special Housing Unit), basically the box, who are confined to their cells 23 hours a day, 7 days a week and admitting these prisoners to programs that will be very beneficial in helping us transition our bad ways to more positive ways.

For example, there are prisoners with serious mental health issues who tries to commit suicide & the DOCS pigz will discipline these prisoners instead of giving these prisoners treatment for their illnesses.

The problem at the BHU program at Sullivan Correctional FAcility is that the OMH BHU Director Ms. Harris is not stepping up to the DOCS Deputy Superintendent of Security Griffin, who truly runs the program.

The thing is this, the DOCS don't want these programs to exist because of the fact that they feel like the SHU prisoners are getting over by being released from the box and being sent to these program, so DOCS goals is to try and sabotage these programs any way they can.

The BHU pigz are constantly violating us by issuing fabricated tickets, deading us on supplies, cosmetics, showers, food, sending us back to the box (SHU) for alleged security reasons, forcing us to work unassigned porter jobs, that we don't even get paid for.

We have prisoners who are not medically cleared and approved to work in the food pantry and if prisoners refuse to work, they are being sent to the box for demonstration! The pigz have deaded me on food and the OMH staff are aware of this, but still don't do anything about it.

There's so many things I need to explain to you in details, but the fact is it's too much, therefore on behalf of all the BHU prisoners, we are requesting any type of assistance that you may provide because we've been submitting all types of complaints, grievances and we are not getting any results, but plain old more bullshit and corruption within these prison systems.

In closing, me and my fellow comrades wanna say thank you for remembering us behind these walls, and the struggles existing every where in every hood!


notes: Disability Advocates, Inc. v. New York State Office of Mental Health Private Settlement Agreement. summary from The Legal Aid Society.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We have received a number of reports regarding the BHU over the last year, many of them hopeful of the possibilities of the new program. Others describe it as no different from the SHU, and even this supporter points out the great inadequacies in eliminating abuse so far. Anything that gets people out of SHU will likely have progressive characteristics and we support BHU prisoners in their struggle to stay out of SHU and hold the state to the promises made in the Disability Advocates, Inc. settlement.

However, we do not put forth the BHU or other psychological approaches as solutions to the mental health problems faced by prisoners. The writer mentions the extreme case of suicide which requires "treatment." In MIM Theory 9: Psychology & Revolution, MIM discusses mental institutions as the flip side of the same coin as prisons, both of them being tools of social control. MIM even addresses a revolutionary approach to suicide that recognizes our relationship to the world around us and our ability to transform it, rather than focusing on getting us to accept an oppressive world that we should be sad and upset about.

Former Governor Spitzer signed more recent legislation aimed at getting people with serious mental health problems out of the SHU on January 28, 2008. "Governor Spitzer’s action formalizes the state’s decision to ban the use of solitary confinement for inmates with a serious mental illness who violate prison rules. Instead, these inmates will be placed in a residential mental health treatment unit where they will receive intensive psychiatric and behavioral treatment in a therapeutic setting." (1) As MIM has been saying for decades, and the state has openly admitted, the purpose of the SHU is to repress certain political ideas and social groups. And as MIM describes in MIM Theory 9, "intensive psychiatric and behavioral treatment" has the same goals.

The other problem with this legislation is the focus on the split between the mentally ill and not. Those who fall apart under the torture of being in the SHU have been successfully treated in the eyes of the state who is trying to break revolutionary and rebellious spirits. Therefore, the state is fine with letting those who have been broken out of the SHU while holding those who are able to stand strong in resistance. So while we may have decreased the amount of torture being committed by the state (that is still not clear), we have not done anything to address the problem that prisons and mental health institutions serve to repress elements of society that would otherwise be forces for progressive change for all of society.

Historically, experimentation with isolation, drugs and invasive brain surgery have all occurred hand-in-hand. Letting the state play one strategy of control off against the other, as if one is more humane or beneficial to the people is nothing but a good-cop/bad-cop sham. All prisoners need re-integration into society that includes education on how it is structured and operates in order to become sane productive members of this society.


notes:
(1) Mental Health Association in New York State. http://www.mhanys.org/publications/mhupdate/update080201.htm
(2) MIM Theory 9: Psychology & Revolution
(3) An Alternative to the SHU

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[Prison Labor] [Control Units] [New York]
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Slavery and Racism justify SHU time in NY

2/22/08

This facility has banned ALL MIM materials and they refuse to allow me duplications of the Media Review Notices- the only copy I have was sent back for appeal purposes because it is not "legal" materials!

These fascist pigs have also taken 8 months and 8 days of good time from me because I reported their employee who was using me as a slave, and have started a civil suite over it. (see enclosed)

[excerpt from claim]The complaint/grievance was the result of the claimant's having been enslaved by Mr. Snye, the horticulture instructor of Riverview. The claimant was forced to choose between completing a web-site for one of Mr. Snye's personal business ventures or punitive physical measures (being forced to shift enormous stones and to engage in other extremely demanding physical labor) and, if the claimant contineud to refuse, expulsion from the program. Threats of bogus charges and accompanying disciplinary measures were consatntly looming, along with vague, yet clear indications that there would by SHU time, if anyone found out.

Safety concerns led the Inspector [General] to place the claimant in another facility immediately. Within 24 hours of the claimant's arrival there, threats toward the claimant required that he be placed in involuntary protective custody, and be housed with inmates who are in trouble.

Current conditions have arrested the claimant's ability to progress in rehabilitation.

Removal from ASAT (Alcohol Substance Abuse Treatment) hinders the claimant's potential time allowance.

Could someone put some pressure on these pigs, particularly Officers Bartsch, Peters (who is the absolute worst pig I've ever encountered), and Program Assistant Jeff Portersnok, who arbitrarily, with Bartsch as assistant, removed me form the brainwashing program, effectively diminishing my good time chances to zero - because he took it upon himself to investigate the slave labor at Riverview!

Officer Peters arbitrarily writes disciplinary reports and calls me a "Commie Bastard" regularly, as well as disrespects my family, my person, and my property.

If some pressure could be applied that won't result in retaliation it would help not just me, but the entire compound.

In Struggle,
a New York Prisoner

2/24/2008

I am writing regarding Mr. B. Peters, an officer at Cayuga Correctional Facility who works the 7-3AM shift in B2 Dorm. I have only been in this dorm for 30 days and it's been the worst 30 days of my life. Mr. B. Peters harasses me constantly as well as many other inmates at this facility.

On February 14, 2008, Mr. B. Peters searched my cube with me present and during the search he said that he doesn't like me. I have never done nothing wrong to this cop and he continues to make slick remarks, call me names like little shit and spick. He also told me that he can't wait to pack me up. I am honestly in fear for my safety and I am nervous that he might throw something in my cubby while I'm in program or something. I am also scared that he might retaliate because I'm writing you this letter.

On February 22, 2008 he gave me a ticket for disobeying a direct order. This officer tells me to put my personal sheets into a plastic bag without any explanation as to why he wants my sheets. Then when I asked him why I have to put my sheets in a bag and bring it to him he said that he doesn't have to explain anything to me because I'm in prison. He also mentioned that if I don't comply with his demand, he will send my ass to the box. And since he was so rude and disrespectful I chose not to give him my sheets... Due to the ticket he wrote me I'm looking toward 30 days in the box.

In Struggle,
a second New York Prisoner

4/7/2008

Today, despite tremendous opposition by my captors, I have successfully defeated the censors here at this Cayuga Correctional Pig Pen (see enclosed).

Now, the bad news, today was supposed to be my release date. I have sent copies of numerous document to the party bolstering my position, and even the state of New York admitted their errors in respect to the employee who enslaved me, and yet they still won't let me go free.

Another comrade here, who has a sexual assault investigation pending against Sgt. Hoadley, the grievance sergeant, is being held past his date now 2 or 3 months.

Please let me know what is happening as I am certainly becoming less and less able to proceed. My body is locked up, and I feel my mind is going too.

a New York Prisoner

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Censorship] [New York] [ULK Issue 3]
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NY Anti-Censorship Battle Wages

In 2006, a NY prisoner filed a §1983 civil rights lawsuit in the NY Western District Federal Court challenging the constitutionality of Prison Rule 105.12 and its application. Mitchell v. Goord, et al., 06-CV-6197. Prison Rule 105.12 is the so-called “gang rule” of DOCS, which is used more as a tool to punish prisoners for possessing written materials than to prevent organizational activities within an institution. The plaintiff had been placed in SHU three times for possessing written materials related to New Afrikan organizations on the outside he openly affiiliates with and deals with. He consistently argued he has a First Amendment right to correspond and associate with, be a member of, write for and about, and possess the literature of any outside organization he so chooses, so long as he doesn't organize or attempt to organize a prison chapter of any such organization within a facility without approval.

Upon learning other NY prisoners were being punished for possessing written materials related to the New Afrikan organizations he's a member of, namely the New Afrikan Maoist Party and its affiliates, and upon learning NY prisons were withholding, rejecting or trashing letters and literature form NAMP and its affiliates to NY prisoners, the plaintiff moved to have his lawsuit certified into a class action to protect the rights of those other prisoners and help them seek redress. The district court judge appointed counsel to investigate whether class action certification is appropriate.

It has been reported that NY prisons, like Southport, Auburn, Clinton and Great Meadow are withholding, trashing and rejecting letters and literature from NAMP and its affiliates to stifle their growing influence and support among NY prisoners. So, NY Prisoners who may have stopped corresponding and receiving literature from NAMP and its affiliates because of being punished for doing so, or because of fear of being punished, or who suddenly stopped hearing from NAMP and its affiliates; it's asked that you complain about this directly to the attorneys appointed in the aforementioned case. Also send a copy to the Collective Legal Services and the district judge - all addresses are listed below. Make sure you state that you support the class action certification of Mitchell v. Goord, et al. And if you hope to recover a monetary reward for any punishment or mail tampering you need to file a grievance now.

Contact:
William G. Bauer, Esq. - Lead Attorney
Erin W. Smith, Esq. - Second
Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP
Two State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Hon. Charles J. Siragusa - Presiding Judge
K.S. District Judge
100 State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Collective Legal Services
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [New York]
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Surrounded by Indoctrination

by State Baby

Why must I act
A certain way?

Why must I speak
your vocabulary?

I refuse to follow
your made up unjust
Laws!

Meanwhile, my people
lay in project cubicles
called Public Housing -
infested with roaches
and rats.

As the blocks become
land mines with strong
weapons of Genocide
such as guns, drugs, and
misdirected Anger -
that speaks out loud,
danger.

But don't worry
crime is down!

The police said on
the news they seized
1,000,000,000 dollars
in cocaine from the
street but, they said
6,000,000,000 was
lost.

Surrounded by
Indoctrinations

Whose gonna stand
up so the kids can
grow up right?

And whose gonna reach
the political captives
behind the wall with the
pen we can fight?

I will, we can,
and MIMs
will not stand any
more to be... Surrounded by Indoctrinations

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[Theory] [Middle East]
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Muslim science gets it right again

Class and nation prevail over self-described ideology

As the people have taught us quite well over the last few years, ones ideology is more than a name. While those claiming the scientific method of dialectical materialism in the name of Marx, Lenin and Mao have made calls welcoming imperialist forces into their countries (whether the United Nations or the united $tates itself), Muslims have drawn the line in the sand and said NO! to u$ imperialism in Africa, Southeast Asia and especially in the Middle East where imperialist occupation is most pronounced.

While so-called Maoists have welcomed the u$ imperialists as partners in building "New Democracy", Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rebuked u$ Defense Secretary Gates' attempts to welcome him into the imperialist-run political process this week. He is quoted as stating:

"I will always remain your enemy because you are occupying Iraq."
...
"I heard the statement of the terrorist amerikan defense minister and I feel compelled to give a decent response to such a terrorist. I have no enemy but you, you are the occupier. You have always been my enemy and you will always be my enemy until the last drop of my blood." (1)

This was in a speech where he defended Iraqis in the imperialist-backed military for not attacking other Iraqis in u$-ordered raids, asking that the state give them their jobs back. In relation to this he stated:

"Don't raise your weapons against Iraqis as long as they don't help the occupier. I also call on the Iraqi government to back its people to rid the land of the occupier." (1)

This is what revolutionary scientists call recognizing the principal contradiction and uniting all who can be united to push that contradiction to its resolution. That is how history is made. These statements by al-Sadr are in the context of an Iraq with many factions poised to fight each other, even willing to side with the imperialists to do so.

Elsewhere in the region, reports of a strengthened and entrenched Hizbolluh in southern Lebanon have stated that they have embraced and successfully recruited communities across religious lines that have often divided the country in the past. (2) Necessity is a great teacher, and u$ and i$raeli occupations have brought the necessity of united defense to the forefront in places like Lebanon and Iraq. Similarly, it is meeting the needs of the revolutionary struggle that offers the fastest road to liberation for wimmin, without whom the resistance will surely fail. As a class system that perpetuates its inherent inequalities, imperialist intervention can not unite the oppressed, liberate wimmin, nor even consistently provide the masses with their material needs as Hizbolluh and the "Sadrists" must do in their regions.

Dating back to Lenin and the beginning of the first socialist experiment in Russia, communists have shown that while religion is the opiate of the masses, the masses are not enemies because they still embrace religion. We can have great confidence that the scientific method will win out as the people struggle for survival and for liberation. Muslims in Iraq and Lebanon have demonstrated this truth in practice.

notes:
(1) Flashpoints. April 14, 2008. http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=25805
(2) Christian Science Monitor. April 15, 2008.

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[National Oppression] [Texas]
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Amerikkkan justice for Blacks means death

Why are we afraid to call it what it is in Texas concerning capital punishment: the death penalty. It's murder, plain and simple. Texas, the state with the highest execution rate in these United Snakes, since the death penalty was put back in effect in 1977. Texas, the republic so bent on killing prisoners that it remains one of two states refusing to place a moratorium on the death penalty from concerns over whether lethal injection is cruel and unnecessary pain on a prisoner before s/he dies. State governor Rick Perry's spokesperson says "executions will continue" unless the supreme court rules otherwise.

This "will continue" mentality of Perry's is the same mentality of the ruling class that has executed a disproportionately large number of Blacks and other oppressed nationalities. How does this matter? When you look at statistics of the Justice Department and see the higher rate of execution of Blacks vs. whites for the same offense, this leads you to draw a long line connecting slavery to the period of reconstruction to the present day, right here in good 'ole amerika.

The decision that the Supreme Court must make is how to administer a better method for execution. For public relation purposes. Their intent is to kill any who stand in the way of their hold on power. This is a tactic of social control as well as instilling fear and punishment in those who would disagree with amerikan politics. It should be said the entirety of the justice system is an arm of the state that functions to oppress the people. So the saving of comrade Kenneth Foster's life from execution on August 30th should be applauded just for this comrade's life being spared, but it does not change the mentality of our oppressors or change this justice system. Only revolution will do that.

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[Control Units] [Oregon]
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Survey of Oregon Control Units

There are four Control Units in Oregon Prisons. Two are at Snake River Prison and they hold about 200 prisoners. The other two are at Oregon State Penitentiary and they hold about 250 prisoners.

I have been in the one at the Penitentiary. They are in separate buildings away from the main part of the prison. There's about the same percentage of different races in them. We're put in these control units for fights, stabbings, staff assaults, staff/inmate relationships and protective custody.

All these units opened in the mid-1990s. They started with just a few cells then expanded with the continuing violence. There's talk of opening a new control unit in about 3 years at Two Rivers Prison in Umatilla, OR.

At the Intensive Management Unit in Oregon State Penitentiary we are locked down 24 hours a day on Tuesday and Thursday and 23 hours every other day of the week. The officers treat us like shit by stealing our mail, putting feces in certain people's food, and they rush in our cells to beat us up with shock shields and rubber bullet guns when we get tired of being harassed.

Back in January the officers suited up on one of my friends because he ran one of the biggest gangs in prison. It lasted about 10 minutes, then they pulled him out on a stretcher and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. That goes to show how fucked up these officers really are.

There's been other situations where the officers gave mentally ill prisoners in IMU razor blades so they could commit suicide and then run around wondering how they go the blade.

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[Prison Labor] [Washington] [ULK Issue 3]
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Economic Investigation of Washington State Penitentiary

How many prisoners at your facility?
According to information online, the capacity is 1825, but there are actually 2,240 prisoners being held here.

How many of them work?
An estimate will show that around 250-280 work as correctional industries employees. About 150 of these work on the sewing complex. The sewing complex is making most of the clothes we, the inmates, are provided with. They also produce materials for out of state contracts. The rest work on welding, license plates and perhaps other work. They make all types of stuff, from bunks to tables and everything they need to equip a cell.

Another form of employment that they have for inmates is what they call "Inmate duties." They pay from 35-55 dollars per month, depending on what type of job you get. Basically, this kind of job consists of cooking, cleaning, serving the food, washing the clothes and anything that is needed to run and keep a place like this clean. There are probably another 250-270 inmates working these types of jobs.

Who do they work for?
As far as I know, everything at this place is supposedly run by the state.

What work do they do?
As I mentioned earlier, sewing and welding are the main industrial jobs. The rest are not considered jobs, but "Inmate duties."

How much do they get paid?
The industrial complexes pay up to a dollar ten cents per hour. The rest of the jobs go from $35 to 55 per month.

Now, up to this point it might not seem like a big profit is being taken, but there is. Who is profiting from all this? The working class in this country, which is not exploited as they claim. Considering that those industrial complexes are run by the state, this is how I would explain who is profiting from all this. In this place there are around 280 inmates who are doing correction industries jobs. If we assume that all of these 280 inmates are working 40 hours per week, we would have 582,400 hours per year of work by this group. At $1.10 per hour, 582,400 hours of labor in the industrial complex would cost $640,640. If now, we decide to do this job with the same amount of people, but instead of paying them $1.10, we pay the Washington state minimum wage of $8.07, then the labor alone would cost $4,682,214. They are saving over four million dollars by using inmate labor, just in this place alone, comparing to state minimum wage salary. But most of the state industrial jobs are well-paid jobs in the outside world. So, if you compare these kinds of jobs, we have another loop that I cannot resolve myself, but will likely account for millions of more dollars in cost savings. I would assume anybody would get paid from 13 to 20 some dollars on the outside for welding work. This could mean a savings of over $10 million.

So far, we are talking of the cost of labor assuming that the state will use all of its products, which is a lie because they have sent products overseas. Now, all this profit will get shared down to every single person who works for the government, especially the department of corrections and the state police. How will this be shared? Better medical care than civilians, better salary than civilians, and better retirement plans. Better exemptions in tax collection. They benefit in so many ways, from which regular civilians are excluded. That is the main reason they support more incarceration rather than trying to educate the prison population in making better choices, if you want to call it "making a choice" when you have been culturally bombed to act stupid.

So when you stated in your article about prison labor that "corporate America do not benefit or do not benefit as much as people have suggested," I believe you are wrong, especially when you look at the benefits of corporate America not as monetary benefits, but rather ideological. Even though there are monetary benefits. Let me ask the following question: Who opposes socialism and the road to communism? Who is in charge of destroying any community based programs for society? Who is in charge of blocking any type of political analysis that tries to make society aware of the necessity to change? Who is in charge of the bad propaganda about Mao, Stalin or Lenin? It is the same corporate America and allies who created the first and second World Wars. To them, the government is just the legal way to repress rebellion. Government bodies are just structures that are defined by how we use them. When Lenin took power, the philosophical structure of the government remained in place, but the practice changed, that is why I believe that you are wrong on this point.

And why is it that when you try to tell people employed by the government about a conscious analysis of history they most likely will reject you? It may not be as big as exploiting the national resources of Third World countries in monetary measurements, but at home they have no opposition because of the juicy salaries they are able to give to their war machine, which is from the DOC all they way up to the presidency. Everybody gets enough to live a luxurious life, when the rest of the world gets screwed.

And the big help lately has been the "cheap labor," the inmates who willingly and ignorantly help the government oppress the rest. So I do not think it is correct to say that the government and corporate America do not benefit from it. Inmate labor is too important for this system that the prison population will only increase in this country and in any other capitalist country.

MIM(Prisons) responds: After a discussion with the author we uphold that we have less disagreement than they seem to think we do. MIM(Prisons) never stated that corporate amerika does not benefit from the institution of prison labor or prisons in general. And we agree with the author that the bourgeois state serves to benefit the imperialists as a whole. We have only suggested that it is not corporate profit motives behind decades of prison boom, but rather the national and bureaucratic interests of the oppressor nation that the author describes above. We can even agree that prison labor is too important to the system for it to go away. But that is because it would become cost prohibitive to run the prisons that are already becoming too expensive for public tastes. This is in contrast to the super-exploitation of the Third World (in terms of labor, not just natural resources) that the imperialist countries could not exist without.

Other than asking what are the interests behind the u$ prison industrial complex, we are also looking at the question of the existence of a proletariat within u$ borders in our research on prison labor. Competitiveness on the international market for low-tech items such as clothing indicate that Washington's correctional industries pay a wage that is approximately competitive with the Third World, ignoring state subsidies and other trade irregularities that prevent a truly free competition. One such subsidy is the fact that prisoners are provided room, board and limited necessities before they are paid the $1.10 per hour. For this reason these wage rates are not directly comparable to the Third World. Regardless, these figures seem to suggest that there is legitimate exploitation of labor power going on here, and not just the transfer of surplus value between various labor aristocrats as occurs in most of the First World economy. But being a part of this greater social reality, and considering that most will likely be free u$ citizens again someday, we still see a predominately petty bourgeois consciousness among u$ prisoners. More are amerikan dreaming to be the next Jay-Z or Big Pun instead of trying to organize prison labor to seize the means of production for the people.

The calculations done by the comrade above are an excellent example of exposing the economic realities within u$ borders, and we encourage others to follow this example to create reports in their own state or facility to print in Under Lock & Key. Of course, if prisons didn't use prison labor, they would probably import furniture from China, not hire amerikan welders. This cost comparison would be harder to come up with, though certainly the prisons themselves have done it and decided that prison labor is cheaper. However, work that must be done on site would be paid the minimum wage at least, and would account for additional millions of dollars added to the estimate above.

Finally, one of the most important points we can take from this report is that this is all state run, as is most common across the country. As we argued in our article that sparked this discussion, Amerikans: Oppressing for a Living, the cost savings are going to reduce the need for taxes for all u$ citizens, while providing the funds for wages and benefits for those who work for the state and especially the departments of corrections and the police, as stated above. If these industries are also pulling in profits from sales overseas, again this money is presumably going to offset/subsidize state expenditures. It is a form of state capitalism that lays the groundwork for fascism quite nicely integrating the corporation into the state and providing direct monetary benefits to the general population for expanded oppression.

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