Salutations and respect to all the progressives working on behalf of the people there.
I'd like to find out of anyone has heard of and/or successfully challenged CDCR's new policy concerning controlled flushes on the toilets this institution (SVSP) is now in the process of installing them here and I've heard they've been placed in other institutions across the state as well.
It goes without saying with the California overpopulation and lockdown crisis as well as the inadequate and broken health care system, this new diabolical scheme by CDCR will surely cause a lot more prisoner suffering, if not properly challenged.
Any and all information on this subject matter will be greatly appreciated.
Comrades have recently brought up the axiom that fear leads to ignorance and that vanguard leadership is a matter of applying science with guts. It is the science in command that is primary here. Whether it is fear, love or rage, emotion cannot be the basis of our strategy and practice. Similarly, emotive rallying cries and hype cannot be the primary recruiting method of a vanguard organization.
The problem of fear often comes up in relation to those who have privilege that they are afraid of losing (the classic carrot and the stick). It is also used widely among the most oppressed and exploited when it is instilled as a fear of death and torture of friends and families. Among the lumpen who have little privilege to speak of, whose family structure has been destroyed by oppression and who has already faced torture as an individual, the basis for fear is very limited.
An arguable strength of the imperialist country communist movement is our ability to produce scientific analysis with complete independence. This is because our wealth and privilege can actually diminish both fear and class consciousness in a minority of cases. Some of the most dedicated activists in the oppressor nations often have a sense of fearlessness. This is probably necessary to make it over the long haul without turning back to the comfort of one's class privilege.
In both cases of fearlessness we have seen the outcome where people don't take security seriously. Most even scoff at the security practices put forth by the Maoist movement. Others act as if they have too much "important" work to be dealing with to take time worrying about security measures. Translate this to "I'm too lazy to deal with things that are going to make my work harder or take a little longer. I'd rather focus my time on the things that give me glory or that I somehow find some persynal pleasure in." This is subjectivism.
When we work with people who don't even spend one minute a week thinking about security we are potentially sacrificing our own security, and more importantly, the security and integrity of the whole movement. Such people have no role to play in a Leninist cadre organization. Security is not something we study in addition to theory, it stems directly from it.
Contrary to the bourgeois theory of history, bravado and individualism do not decide the course of events. Envisioning oneself standing strong and alone against the great oppressor may be a powerful subjective motivator. But to build ones political practice around such a fantasy is not going to win many battles.
Being serious about ending oppression means being serious about studying the world around us and learning from history. It means developing a strategic understanding of how the oppressed are rising and will succeed and therefore having confidence in the fact that we are acting with the tide of humyn history. If we have this understanding, then it is very obvious to us that we are more effective in contributing to this tide when we are not locked in an isolation cell or buried six feet deep.
Anyone who doesn't believe death or imprisonment are real threats needs to read some history. We may be better revolutionaries without fear, but not without prudence. For those who know the risks but don't care, you need to study history even harder as well as dialectical materialism until you can understand your own power.
There is a related point to make here in regard to the "security" concerns of correctional officers and prison administrators. The most common reason for censorship of our literature in u$ prisons is that MIM(Prisons) is somehow a threat to security. As long as we can agree that "security" for the CO's means less violence and fighting with guards and between prisoners, then our point here can be applied by them as well. While it may be true that our literature tends to attract some of the most defiant prisoners who are likely to physically defend themselves against a guard, our literature literally teaches people not to attack guards, or even violate any rules that would just bring down more repression, even when we are not explicitly stating that.
Overall, we don't expect this line of argument to convince a system that is set up to oppress specific segments of society. But, certainly some individual prison administrators are honestly interested in maintaining the peace without any ulterior political or racial motivations. The rest just keep oinking for more control units and more hazard pay.
Rashid has taken prison officials to task on this with his "The Don't Shank the Guards" handbook (1), which has been censored in a number of states despite a stated purpose that COs should agree with. This handbook provides a similar strategic orientation as MIM(Prisons) does for prisoners who desire to improve their situation. Where this pamphlet fails is in its pandering to the economic interests of amerikans and its call to unite with the "masses" of the united $tates. This line leads to a strategy of putting amerikans first, which oppressed nation prisoners have a slim chance of ever being accepted into. If they succeed then they have only betrayed the oppressed people of the world. MIM(Prisons) puts forth a line that neither promotes shanking the oppressor, nor standing side-by-side with him in political struggle.
But Rashid agrees with us in having strategic confidence and a group approach to struggle: "Having been raised as we are with the idea of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," getting even is deeply ingrained in us, but in a society based upon inequality, getting even carries a high price and is, in fact, impossible: At least it is impossible by individualistic retaliation."
It is exactly such individualism that we need to combat on this side of the fear question in relation to security. Remember, it is also the FBI infiltrators who will have no fear in going up against the state with a few guns, because they know when the bullets start flying you're gonna die and they're gonna be rescued. So fearlessness does not mean going toe-to-toe with an army you cannot defeat. Sun Tzu taught us the idiocy of that centuries ago. And that is exactly what comrades are doing by throwing security out the window. They think they're invincible, they think they're hard, or they're just too lazy to deal with security questions.
"O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands." - Sun Tzu
With the New York State legislator passing a law that forbids "seriously mentally ill" prisoners from being put in SHU (yet to be signed by Governor Spitzer), we can see a clear example of what Rashid is talking about when he writes, "[Riots, flooding cells, setting fires and shanking guards] have only provided prisoncrats with ammunition to demonize us and turn public opinion against us and concern away from prison reform issues and the way we are treated." Some editorials and discussions online among COs and other amerikans indicate the limited scope of this legislation. It is being used to highlight the abuse of CO's instead of prisoners. It is being used to bolster support for the need for SHUs and the need for more high-security mental institutions. And it is creating justification by saying that "we are taking out the prisoners who can't handle the SHU mentally, but everyone else deserves to be there, just look how they are acting out." We had previously criticized the limited scope of this legislation, and passed on campaigning in support of it. Now we are seeing it's use by the state to not just rally support to its side but also to divide the movement against control units.
While amerikans are crying in outrage about all the prisoners who are going to "fake" mental illness to get out of the SHU now, MIM(Prisons) is still saying that the SHU is torture that creates the mental states that exist within it. The humyn mind is but a reflection of material reality. And decades of experience tell us that people who have been in long term isolation often end up throwing excrement at guards as one of the only forms of action they can take on behalf of themselves. Call it mental illness if you want. But we know the cause and we know the cure. If prison officials aren't willing to eliminate the cause, perhaps they will at least let SHU prisoners communicate with MIM(Prisons) so that we can help them understand the futility and even counterproductivity of such actions.
Notes: (1) Contact Rashid c/o Art Attack, PO Box 208, Herndon, VA 20172
Revolutionary greetings! First I want to say I just received your ULK number 1 and I read it front to back and I must commend you comrades on an outstanding job. I really enjoyed it and will continue to enjoy it until my next issue! It has been a while since I last received word from you comrades or received any of your literature so it was very well received.
Here at Tehachapi SHU we are not being given our MIM Theory or MIM Notes. I have 602ed (appealed) this issue on 4 different occasions because a common practice here at Tehachapi SHU is for 602s to get "lost" so what I have done is send my 602 straight to the appeals director in Sacramento, letting him know the issue of appeal and how this prison don't answer or even return appeals on serious issues. What the director will do is send my 602 back telling me to "exhaust all levels of appeal" before sending it to him, but it often times will come with a "log number' and this will force this prisons appeal coordinator to act on it. Once I get it back I will send you a copy.
You comrades did an excellent job in getting Under Lock and Key behind the walls but I do miss MIM Notes and Theories. I wanted to comment on the comrade's letter on wanting to be called "captive". The word captive conjures up the slave master holding his captives (slaves) so on the one hand, I think captive is a good portrayal of the people chained to this capitalist system. Yet on a higher conscious level I think when we recognize the inner workings of this system and what causes slavery in the first place is capitalism, so we need to get to the heart of the issues, capitalism caused slavery, racism, injustice, patriarchy, control units, prison abuse, police abuse, etc, etc. The list goes on but capitalism is at the heart of the issues, thus our imprisonment becomes political because of the system that imprisons us. So I feel the proper name for us locked up in these modern day plantations is "political prisoners." With that said, I will await the next ULK issue.
I got your letter. No thanks are needed for pushing this paperwork. I'm only doing what I think is right for a very worthwhile cause [fighting censorship of MIM literature].
I haven't got into the library since the last time I was there which was about three weeks or more ago. The current librarian hasn't called me or two other people from this building and I don't think it’s a coincidence that these other two people have active lawsuits in the court right now. These other guys are the same ones who agreed to help me file and see this thing through. The library has been running consistently for the past three weeks, so there's no excuse or reason for the workers to not call us in, other than to halt our progress and our work. I'm giving her one more day before I file a grievance against her, if only to get the ball rolling again. As it stands right now, I will no longer be able to file suit in February as I planned.
I still haven't heard back from the Department of Justice, but it shouldn't be too much longer.
As you will see form the attached Personal Property Request Form, I have now been granted permission by the prison admin to receive your newsletters for one year. Therefore, they shouldn't send it back to you, as they did on 12/19/07 due to "no approval."
I also received a copy of the notice your legal council sent to W.D. Jennings on 12/10/07. You and your council should know that Major K. Chris and the admin at ROSP have not limited those nefarious and racist acts to just your newsletter (per DOP 803.2 #13 [MIM(Prisons): This policy reads, " Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang signs, language, clothing, jewelry, codes or paraphernalia, gang participation, or other gang-related activity or association"]), but also to magazines such as Vibe, XXL, King, Smooth and others. They have also gone so far as to use this all encompassing rule in disapproving personal pictures sent to inmates by family and friends.
What's odd is the fact that none of the prison staff has had any formal training in "gang-related activities" by or with any law-enforcement agencies, and they all reside in southwest Virginia where gang activity is non-existant?!
Most of their true reasons for the disapprovals is actually based on racial bias and ignorance. The racial bias comes as no surprise, as it is a daily practice to see/hear various C/O's spew racial epithets at inmates, with impunity. The ignorance comes from the fact that if they can't understand it, then it must be gang-related.
That is why W.D. Jennings will never give a detailed explanation for these blatant violations of our First Amendment rights, because he would have to expose himself and his agents lack of intellect and the laws of this land! The only language they would overstand is a civil action brought against them by an organization like yours or possibly just a threat of such an action.
Your newsletter provides inmates with the type of information the VA DOC would rather we didn't know. For us to be aware of our rights means they wouldn't be able to continue to violate those rights. They probably aren't even (or weren't) disapproving your newsletters at all VA DOC prisons until it became an issue addressed by your organization, as is the case with our magazines.
I'm now preparing to file a civil suit regarding our magazines, because even though they've disapproved a number of my Vibe and Smooth mags based on "gang-related tattoos and jewelry"(?), I just received a GQ (Jan. '08) with an article specifically on the "CRIPS" in LA. (with full page pics of gang members dressed in blue attire flashing gang signs), which should never have made it to my cell. But, because GQ is viewed as a "mainstream white publication" with a white man on the cover, I'm positive not one person opened it up to "review" its contents!
So, I hope and pray your org will do what it takes to end these racist and draconian practices of the VA DOC, as it is negatively affecting all of us incarcerated in these gulags. At any rate, I hope to be reading your newsletter soon, and I pray you can help bring some resolution to our plight.
MIM(Prisons): This report supports others coming from Virginia that any literature deemed to be “Black” is being censored at Red Onion State Prison. Comrades in Virginia state prisons should take note of the apparent need to get pre-approval for subscriptions. Comrades should go through the required steps to submit a Personal Property Request Form, so that the pigs cannot justify censorship for bureaucratic reasons.
However, it is clear that every piece of literature we send to Virginia is now being censored, including many of our letters, which are being treated as “publications” contrary to the departments own 803.2 procedure. The only mail that is being confirmed received is legal mail related to this censorship battle, which is being received up to 2 months late (a violation Sizemore v. Williford, 829 F.2d 608, 610 (7th Cir. 1999)).
We must agree with this comrade's assessment of the administration in Virginia. Our legal council has put in a commendable effort to get to the bottom of the problems we are facing in Virginia, but W.D. Jennings has yet to give us one meaningful response to our council’s requests that they follow the law.
We are currently actively searching lawyers who can help us bring a civil action against Jennings and the Virginia DOC. We are also requesting that others who are being censored get in touch with us and send us documentation of your own censorship, which we will document on our website and use as evidence in building our case.
El Departamento de Correciónes y Rehabilitación de Califonria (CDCR) ha instituido una prohibición en material educativo dentro de prisiones, categoricamente censurando toda la literatura mandada por MIM su programa "Educacion de prisionero." Esta prohibición fue ordenada por Scott Kernan, Director de la Division de las Instituciones Adultas por California, en un memoranda publicado en Diciembre 13, 2006 "dirijiendo una prohibición inmediata en el recibimiento, poseción, o distribución de literatura/publicaciones de MIM hacia o de prisioneros en la custodia del CDCR." Esta prohibición ha sido interpretado por prisiones que incluye dicionarios y libros históricos e incluso hasta MIM su propia revista y periódicos. En algunas prisones la prohibición ha sido interpretada que también incluye todas las cartas escritas por MIM.
Esta censura es en violación directa del precedente legal el qual requiere ser revisado por contenido que viola reglas de prisión. Sistematico rechaso de todo correo por una organización basado en desacuerdo con el remitente y su política no es legal, hasta dentro del sistema de prisión y sus propias reglas y regulaciones.
Ni Kernan tampoco la administración de prisión applicando la prohibición nunca han proveido ni una evidencia que literatura del MIM, muchos menos, cartas, diccionarios y otros libros MIM manda a los prisioneros, presenta alguna amenaza a la institución. La carta de Kernan contiene una revisión de la linea politica del MIM como evidencia suponiendo que MIM representa algo de peligro a las prisiones de California. El codigo de regulación de California (CCR) Titulo 15, sec: 3135(b) dice: "Descuerdos con el remitente o el recivicor y aparentes valores morales, actitudes verazes, o preferencia de palabras no será usada por el personal correccional como una razón para rechazar o detener el correo. Personal correccional no debe desafiar o confrontar el remitente o al recividor con tal valor de juicia, tampoco debe tal valor de critica ser considerado en ninguna acción afectando el correspondiente." Además, en Procunier v. Martinez, la Corte Sumprema sostuvo el derecho de prisioneros de recibir correo, sin importar la opinión del oficial de prisión en el contenido del correo, mientras no ahiga restricciones legitimas de la prisión relacionado con propositos correcionales.
Hay una fuerte correlación entre educación y aprisionamiento. De acuerdo con el Buro de Estatísticas de Justicia (el Departamento de Justicia de Estados Unidos y su propia organización) el más reciente estudio de 1997 de información de población, 41% de prisiones de estado y federales no han completado preparatoria. Esto comparado con 18% de la población general 18 y mayores. (1) Las cosas se miran aun peor entre prisioneros edad 29 hasta 39 demostrando que la inclinación es hacia mas prisoneros sín una educación de preparatoria como prisoneros más jovenes están aun menos educados que las prisioneros mayores. Otros estudios más recientes han enseñado que esta inclinación continúa. La probabilidad de terminar en una prisión es tremendamente más alto para jóvenes de raza negra quienes paran de atender la escuela antes de obtener un diploma de preparatoria. Y un titulo coleguial es más protección contra el aprisionamiento.
En el otro lado de la educación, programas de educación dentro de prisión han repetidamente estado enseñando que reduce el reofendimiento ayudando los prisioneros a encontrar trabajos y oportunidades cuando ellos son puestos en libertad. Estudios individuales y metalicos repetidamente concluyeron lo mismo.
Desde 1990, la literature ha mostrado que prisioneros quienes atienden programas educacionales mientras ellos están encarcelados son menos probable de retornar a prisión después de su salida. Estudios en varios estados ha indicado que en promedio 24% ha desminuido donde han recibido una educación apropiada. Además, la clase correcta de programs educacionales lleva hacia menos violencia por los presos envueltos en los programas y un ambiente prisionero más positivo. (2)
California ya tiene uno de los más altos porcentaje de reofensa en el país, con un inmenso 70% de prisioneros en libertad terminando para atras en prisión dentro de tres años. Y en años recientes nosotros hemos visto que programas de educación, visitación, y hasta correo recortado, asi los prisioneros son dejados con muy poco que hacer detrás de las barras y virtualmente un imposible trabajo de ir derecho de prisión hacia las calles sin una educación o servicios transicional.
Implementando una prohibición por todo el estado de material educativo del MIM es una manera más de mantener los prisioneros encarcelados. Prisioneros quienes leen nuestra literatura frequentamente nos dicen que ellos aprenden a canalizar su tiempo dentro de actividades productivos en vez de participar en violencia detrás de las barras. Y la educación ayuda ellos a tener una mejor oportunidad de estarse en las calles una vez ellos son puestos en libertad. Nosotros recibimos cartas preguntando por material que leer como esta todo el tiempo: "Soy un prisionero del estado en el Valle Salinas y estoy en una yarda que ha estado en encierro constantemente por aproximadamente cuatro años. Por eso me encuentro sin poder llegar a la librería aquí. He leido cada panfleta. Estaría muy agradecido por cualquier clase de libro cuberita suave que puedan mandar. Cualquier cosa que tu mandes sera leido y releido por bastantes prisioneros." Seguramente el CDC"R" sabe que allá hay una demanda de material para leer en la prisión, pero ellos ni siquiera se molestan en llenar este vacio con novelas de pelusa. Ellos prefieron gastar su gran paquete en salarios más altos para sus brutales guardias y defensa legal de sus actividades ilegales tal como crear pleitos como deporte.
Claro, el CDCR tiene razones en prohibir el MIM a los prisioneros. Educar los prisioneros es contrario a sus metas. Con la educación viene la conciencia, y mientras los prisoneros trabajan con MIM reporta que evitan enfrentasiones violentas (con los dos, sus semejantes y los guardias), también ellos son más probables a tomar apelaciones legales y administrativas, y de educar y organizar sus propios compañeros prisioneros para levantarse por sus derechos legales. Como un prisionero de California nos escribió en octubre del año pasado:
Extendiendo mis respetos hacia todos, me gustaría tambien expresar de todo corazón mi agradecimiento a todo aquel que trabaja, trabajando con y/o afiliado con el Movimiento Internacional Maoista por todo lo que ustedes hacen y el servicio que proveen. Especialmente, con respeto a las prisioneros. Hablando de experiencia personal yo puedo decir que recibiendo y leyendo tus boletines, es las dos cosas, una mayor motiviación y fomentación. Decir que tus Notas MIM me ha servido bien no cubre nada en especifico, pero puedo decir que tus notas han sido un potente ingrediente hacia mi transformación: y tu programa de libros gratis para prisioneros me ha criado y alimentado como un pequeño en los pechos de su madre. Los libros que tu me has mandato tan generosamente, me han enseñando a respetar y valorar la importancia de una educación... una educación que me ha enseñado que con el conocimiento viene enorme responsibilidad. La responsibilidad que surgue de no solo saber la diferiencia entre lo que se dice ser bien, o mal, probando y deseifrando, verdades y mentiras, pero sabiendo y actuando en acuerdo con lo que es consistente y progresivo en el ejercicio de determinación personal y defensa personal.
Nosotros continuarámos persiguiendo el pleito contra esta prohibición en California, trabajando sercamente con nuestras compañeros detras de las barras para disputar esta acción en corte si es necesario. Nosotros animamos el CDCR liderazgo y los politicos del estado de California a levantarse hacia adelante y derrocar esta prohibición ilegal antes de ellas ser forzados a desperdiciar dinero sin necesidad en una batalla legal que solamente expondrá sus despreocupaciones para la reabilitación, el bienestar de prisioneros, y los propias leyes ellos afirman sostener.
Necesitamos ayuda de prisioneros en este batalla, y el suporto de la gente afuera para parar esta prohibición. Manda cartas de protesta a: James Tilton, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S. Street, Sacramento, CA 95184.
Notas: 1. Buro Estatistico de Justicia de Reporte Especial: Educacion y Poblacion Correccional, Enero 2003. 2. Boletin Correccional de educacion, v55 n4, p.297-305, December 2004. Tambien mira "La Nacion" Marzo 4, 2005. Estudios han demostrado que participantes en educación de prisión, vocación y programas de trabajo tienen una tendencia en promedio de 20-60 porciento mas bajos que esos sin participar. Otro reciente estudio mayor de prisioneros encontro que los participantes en programs de educación fueron 29 porciento menos probable de terminar para atras en la carcel, y que los participantes ganaraon salarios mas altos despues de su salida.
These capitalist lapdogs in California had my native ass locked away in the gulag within the gulag for inciting and when that didn't work they got "kites" detailing my supposed involvement in a plot to assault the spiritual adviser. How utterly ridiculous! #1. We (my spiritual advisor and I) had no such animosity between us. #2. Said actions on my part, should they reflect anything based in reality, would get me banned in Indian country (the native community). #3 Said materials only came on the heals of their failed attempt to ship me out of the joint in response to paperwork filed against them for failure to adhere to federal mandates in regard to native american spiritual services. The contemptible bastards!
Anyway, as you may notice, they finally succeeded in transferring me to San Diego. Ha! They have inadvertently done a great service, for in so doing, they have placed me in an environment ripe for political agitation. A healthy population of natives and the imperialist lackeys here are in compliance with J. vs. Martinez and other such censorship cases.
I have, however, during my fight, lost my revolutionary literature. All the books I had received or acquired through other comrades, all MIM Notes, the manifesto of the Communist Part, MIM Theory #9, and my What is MIM pamphlet. Anything you comrades can aid me with would be very appreciated. I'll be in a position to blast some stamps your way for some books rather soon. I'm really missing the dialectical materialism book as I'd just got a hold of it and hadn't really been able to get into it.
What's good? Check it out. I just had my review for the publication violations for MIM Notes that I sent you last month and the violation stands. They're reasoning is that due to the fact that my comrades are reporting the very real abuses that are occurring Under Lock & Key in the California institutions of incorrection and throughout the U$ in general, that this information has the 'potential' to threaten the safety and security of the institution and therefore, to alleviate this concern, they will not allow those particular copies of MIM Notes into the institution. I don't think I need to tell you what kind of precedent this will set, especially since the Under Lock & Key section is specifically set up to allow us incarcerated to express our concerns regarding the reality of our existence in these gulags. With that being the case, the institution now has a ready made excuse to violate not only MIM Notes but any other political literature you comrades send. Again, all these prisonkrats are doing is verifying everything that's said about them in your literature [MIM(Prisons) adds: In their own efforts to protect their political interests the oppressors dig their own political grave. That is what the censors have mostly failed to understand.]. Still, I'm getting real tired of this bullshit.
I am enclosing 3 articles from the local metro section of the Oregonian, which is a 'newspaper' that is allowed in this institution everyday. Given the fact that rapists, child molesters and your general so-called "weirdos" are targets of all types of abuse ranging from extortion to murder within this prison environment, I would think that the information in the Oregonian has the potential to threaten the safety and security of the institution, unlike MIM Notes which these authorities cannot point to a single incident instigated by anything written in that paper. In fact, MIM teaches that all prisoners are political prisoners under the present system of imperialism. So one who'd adhere to what he learned in MIM Notes in all actuality would not be riled up by the Oregonian articles, whereas your average prisoner who does not receive MIM Notes but reads the Oregonian would find the 3 enclosed articles inflammatory indeed. But oh! I forgot. Under Lock & Key deals with police and CO misconduct. We must protect the unnamed COs and police who abuse their authority, while the so-called "scum" named in the Oregonian who will more than likely (potentially) end up in one of this state's institutions will have to fend for themselves. Of course, that poses no threat to the safety and security of the institution. What a crock of shit.
Yo, check it out, comrades. I just received your letter dated 12/8/07. Most peace on following up on the review process. I was finally able to gain access to ODOC Mail Policy. Under OAR 291-131-0010(9), Inflammatory Material is defined as:
"Material whose presence in the facility is deemed by the department to constitute a direct and immediate threat to the security, safety, health, good order, or discipline of the facility because it incites or advocates physical violence against others."
As I mentioned earlier, none of the rejected/violated Under Lock & Key articles can be shown to have actually incited or advocate such action.
The rule continues:
"No publication shall be considered inflammatory solely on the basis of its appeal to a particular ethnic, racial, or religious audience. No material shall be considered inflammatory solely because it criticizes the operation, programs or personel of the Department of Corrections, the State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, or any other government agency."
So this is what we have. MIM Notes, which is a political news source protected under the Constitution, contained commentary concerning the operation of department of correction facilities in the state of California and the very extreme unprofessional behavior of its personnel, of which these commentaries were critical, and of course that is the duty and responsibility of any citizen, to express criticism of injustices and illegal acts, especially when done by those who are entrusted in positions of authority by our government. After all, how else do we begin to address and correct problems if those problems and the source of the problems are not criticized and exposed?
In addition, the criticisms leveled did not advocate physical violence against anyone, nor did it incite such action. The commentaries, according to the designee who performed the administrative review, upheld the publication violation based upon his finding/opinion that the commentaries were inflammatory and hence a threat to the safety and security of the institution based upon the "potential" for the alleged inflammatory material to incite violence against DOC personnel. However, this decision is in violation of OAR 291-131-0010(9). So I have appealed the designee's decision to the functional unit manager. If he/she does not overturn the decision, I will appeal to:
Mail Administrator Randy Greer Central Administration 2575 Center St. NE Salem, OR 97301-4667
where it is already on file that this mailroom here at SRCI and its officials go out of their way it seems, to clearly find excuses to prevent MIM's publications from being received by prisoners here.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisonkrats across the country are claiming that our literature is a threat to security because of our articles about censorship and other repression within prisons. But if prisoners are going to commit acts of violence due to censorship and repression, wouldn't the prudent thing be to get the prison employees to follow their own rules to prevent such outrage? As this comrade writes, our literature gives prisoners the ideological understanding that allows them to put such frustration into more productive outlets and actually reduce violent interactions. But rather than do their job and improve safety, the prisonkrats shoot the messenger and encourage the reading of literature that will divide prisoners thru violence and abuse.
Critics of amerika's unprecedentedly high incarceration rates have stressed that increased imprisonment does not correspond to less crime. And despite decreasing crime rates, imprisonment continues to rise. How is this possible?
A recent report from the JFA Institute describes how the increase in prison populations is a result of a change in laws and policies in enforcement. (1) We have been in the era of "tough on crime" politics for decades, but most amerikans will still hide the fact that this translates into increased control and repression of the internal semi-colonies. At the same time, millions of amerikkkans are supporting these laws as a means of securing the jobs and livelihood of themselves and their families. While white people like to look at slavery and genocide as things in the past, the amerikkkan nation has probably never been so deeply entrenched and invested as a nation of oppressors as they are today with millions serving as cops, spies and military personnel.
And while the white media would have you believe that "tough on crime" policies are protecting amerikans from murderers and sexual predators, about two-thirds of the 650,000 prison admissions each year are people who have violated their probation or parole. And half of these violations are technical, in other words, they're going to prison for things most people could not be put in prison for. (1) The demand for more incarceration is putting hundreds of thousands of people in prison each year for doing things not generally considered crimes under u$ law.
The progressive groups opposing the prison industrial complex like to condemn so-called "prisons-for-profit." But it isn't primarily corporate profits behind the three decades long prison boom and the so-called "tough on crime" legislation. It is amerikan cops and bureaucrats maneuvering for government funds (money that comes from taxing amerikans whose wealth comes from the exploitation of labor and resources from the Third World). And it is career politicians catering to a white nationalist vote. "Tough on crime" stances aren't tolerated in amerikan politics, rather, they are demanded by the voting public. Politicians who have attempted to go against the tide can attest to this.
Other than "prisons are big business" the other popular argument explaining the surge in incarceration is that it is "modern day slavery." As an economic force behind imprisonment, this too is largely a myth. If the motivation for being the number one imprisonment country in all of history was exploiting labor then you would see the majority of prisoners engaged in productive labor. While some sources claim half of all prisoners work, one study from 1994 found less than 10% are involved in work other than maintenance and housekeeping. (2) More recent statistics by state indicate industrial employment at similar low rates. (3) The estimate of half of prisoners working seems reasonable if we acknowledge that most of those prisoners have part-time jobs doing upkeep of the prison. While also dated, MIM cited statistics from 1995 showing that only 6.4% of sales stemming from prison labor in the united $tates was private in MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial.
Generally, if prisoners work for an outside corporation and produce goods for interstate commerce, then they are legally required to receive amerikkkan exploiter level wages. The benefit to the companies is that they can skimp on benefits and don't need to give raises. Small business owners have fought to limit the benefits of those who use prison labor, since they lack the capital to take advantage of such competitive advantages. The petty bourgeois interests here keep those of the imperialists in check. (4)
Therefore, most prison labor is done for the state, who can pay whatever they want, and increasingly garnish most of the wages to pay for the prisoners' own imprisonment. These prisoners are either working to run the prison and therefore allowing the amerikkkans in charge of the prison to work as well-payed bureaucrats and not have to worry about cooking and cleaning, or they are working for government industries that supply state agencies and therefore subsidize the tax money of the state as a whole by reducing state expenses. The National Correctional Industries Association says state industries contributed $25 million by garnishing inmates wages, not a very large contribution to the cost of the u$ prison system. However, one estimate done by MIM 10 years ago indicates the savings in wages overall (not including benefits) could be on the order of 10% or more of current overall state expenditures on corrections (5), which have risen sharply (see graph).
Some state industries export products to other countries, but interstate commerce has largely been restricted by the efforts of small business interests and amerikan labor unions. Since the 1980s, the federal government has tried to embrace the model of "factories with fences." But the free market for slave labor continues to be hampered by state laws. This year, Alaska passed a law that allows the Department of Labor and Workforce Development can enter into contracts with private companies or individuals to sell them prison labor,
provided that the commissioner consults with local union organizations beforehand in order to ensure that the contract will not result in the displacement of employed workers, will not be applied in skills, crafts, or trades in which there is a surplus of available gainful labor in the locality, and will not impair existing contracts for services. A contract with an individual or a private organization must require that the commissioner be paid the minimum wage for each hour worked by a prisoner." (10)
Clearly this has nothing to do with prisoners' rights, but it is crafted for the protection of labor aristocracy jobs and small businesses. And as many states do, Alaska allows for the wages to be garnished before disbursing them to the prisoner. So there is no law that the prisoner must be paid a certain wage.
What about the one industry that does have unfettered access to prison labor? Theoretically, private prisons could collect fat contracts from the state and let prisoners do much of the work to run the facility. But after 3 decades of prison boom, still less than 5% of prisons are privately owned, at least partially due to an inability to remain profitable. (4) It is often pointed out that it costs more to keep a persyn in prison for a year than send them to college. (The difference for sending youth to a correctional facility compared to grade school can be differences in order of magnitude). This is a price that largely tax-averse amerikkkans are willing to pay.
State Bureaucrats and National Oppression
Strictly speaking, prisons are a net loss financially for the amerikkkan nation. And the boom cannot be blamed on any major corporate interests. What a beefed up injustice system does offer economically is a means of employing millions of people at cushy exploiter wages. It is a means of shuffling the super-profits around the pigsty and maintaining a consumer population. These millions of people provide a self-perpetuating demand for more prisoners, and more funding for various law enforcement projects.
One example of this self-perpetuating bureaucracy dates back to 1983 when James Gonzalez became Deputy Director of the California Department of Corrections. He immediately expanded the department's planning staff from 3 to 118 and began focusing on modeling that would forecast increasing needs for expansion into the future (it's not just COs getting the jobs). (6) Since then California has built 23 major new prisons, expanded other prisons and increased its prison population 500%. (7) With more prisons, come more prison guards, creating the 31,000 strong California Correctional Peace Officers Association with yearly dues totaling $21.9 million. (8) This is the same union that earned itself a raise following the exposure of gladiator fights staged by guards at Corcoran State Prison, where many prisoners were murdered. The very same that was behind the 3 strikes laws to put people away for 25 to life for petty crimes, and that has campaigned repeatedly to eliminate educational programs for prisoners.
The CO's are partners with the private industry that has boomed off of an economy based on war and repression. A visit to the American Corrections Association conference will tell you it's not just a few imperialist suits in a smoke-filled room. It is a getaway for a large mix of salesmen, cops and CO's; just regular amerikkkans. (9)
In the united $tates there are laws that prevent the military from lobbying the government as a safeguard against war being carried out in the interests of the warmakers. There are no such limits on the police and correctional officers (COs), allowing the war on gangs to go on perpetuating itself both politically and economically. The NYPD and LAPD have arsenals and capabilities that rival many nations' armed forces, and they are allowed to influence politics on the local, state and even federal level both directly and indirectly.
On the local level police departments have undermined trends toward so-called "community policing." Where youth in the community have been effective at reducing violence through dialogue and organizing, the police have rejected these programs in favor of community representatives who will rubber stamp their continued strategies of suppression and harassment of oppressed nation youth. When street organizations came together to form peace treaties in Los Angeles and Chicago in the 1990s, the police responded immediately through the white media saying it was a hoax and it would never last. Let there be no confusion, the police created these wars and the police will not let them stop.
In the late 1990s, the New York Times reported that most white residents of New York City were comfortable with police behavior, while 9 out of 10 Blacks believed brutality against Blacks to be frequent. The regular "stop and frisking" by police that was then practiced under Mayor Giuliani, was found to be directed at Blacks and Latinos 90% of the time. (11)
Politically, the rest of the oppressor nation is willing to go along with the job security plans of the police and correctional officers as a means of protecting their collective privilege. One of the few things amerikkkans can agree to spend state money on. With that, the injustice system becomes an important part of the national culture in rallying the people in material support of the imperialist system that they benefit from.
Who's being locked up?
While the question of who is profiting from the prison industrial complex is a bit cloudy and controversial, everyone knows who is being locked up. In a half century, amerikan prisons have gone from white dominated to Black dominated in a period where the Black population has increased less than 2 percentage points to its current level of about 12%. And yet amerikkkans are not outraged.
As we recently reported, Blacks are imprisoned at rates 10 times those of whites for drug charges and the increase in drug-related prison sentences was 77% for Blacks compared to 28% for whites. (12) So, the increase in sentences that is behind the current prison boom is targeting certain populations.
The JFA Institute report references research indicating that incarceration often encourages crime. In their summary of literature, they point to evidence that people will leave criminal lifestyles when given opportunities. No shit? Stopping crime isn't exactly rocket science. While communists know how to put an end to crime, the pigs and their fans have demonstrated that they aren't really interested in that. That would involve destroying their own privilege. In it's advanced stage of parasitism, the amerikkkan nation has a well-entrenched sector of pigs who get job security and pay raises from perpetuating crime and imprisonment.
Interestingly, the report also points to a number of studies indicating that government run programs have very marginal effects on reducing recidivism. This conclusion is supported by reports we get from comrades criticizing government programs. (13) Apparently, the literature also supports the need for programs like MIM(Prisons) Prisoner Re-Lease on Life program, because the only programs that seem to be effective in treatment and rehabilitation are independent from the government. (1) The people aren't stupid, they know what the state is there to do.
Large population counties across the United $tates continue to imprison Blacks for drug offenses at a much higher rate than whites, in spite of similar rates of drug use, according to a report released December 4 by The Justice Policy Institute. The report underscores the fact that "Whites and African Americans report using and selling drugs at similar rates, but African Americans go to prison for drug offenses at higher rates than whites."
The study used data from the National Corrections Reporting Program and other census and government sources, focusing on 2002 because that is the most recently year of NCRP data available. In 2002 there were approximately 19.5 million drug users and 1.5 million drug arrests (1 in 13 drug users). These arrests resulted in 175,000 admissions to prisons; 51% of these new prisoners were Black.
The 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that rates of drug use were similar between whites and blacks: 8.5% of whites compared to 9.7% of Blacks. Given the economic disparities and national oppression within Amerika, it is not a surprise that there is a slightly higher rate of drug use among Blacks.
These rates of drug use translate into about 14 million white drug users in 2002 compared to 2.6 million Black drug users (in the month prior to the survey). This means there are roughly 5 times as many white drug users as Black drug users. But Blacks were locked up in prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites: 262 per 100,000 for Blacks and 25 per 100,000 for whites.
Underscoring the fact that these lock up rates are not a result of Blacks using more potent or dangerous drugs, the Drug Use survey found that 24% of crack cocaine users were Black while 72% were white or "Hispanic," but over 80% of people locked up for crack use in 2002 were Black.
The JPI report focused on 198 counties with populations over 250,000. They found that "Despite similar rates of drug use across counties, drug admission rates vary substantially." The correlation is not between drug use and imprisonment but rather JPI found that drug imprisonment was directly correlated to the per capita policing and judicial budgets in each county. The JPI explains that the bottom line is resource-driven discretion by local police:
To further substantiate these results, JPI conducted a multiple variable analysis that controlled for the crime rate, region of the country, the poverty and unemployment rates, and the percent of each county’s population that is African American. The results strongly suggest that the resource-driven discretion that local police forces have is the engine driving the wide variation in local drug imprisonment rates. This relationship is evident in this study’s finding that policing budgets are positively associated with the drug imprisonment rate—even after controlling for the crime rate.
The JPI report looked at likely causes for this disparity in imprisonment rates. They cite mandatory minimum laws as contributing to a growing disparity because Blacks are already more likely to be locked up for drug use, and they are now also more likely to be incarcerated under a mandatory minimum sentence - increasing the length of time they spend in prison. Between 1994 and 2003, the average time Blacks spent in prison for drug offenses rose 77% compared to a 28% increase for whites. They also noted disparate policing, disparate treatment before the courts, differences in availability of drug treatment, and punitive social spending patterns.
These are all important factors but they are not the whole picture. All of these discrepancies in treatment between Blacks and whites are symptoms of an underlying system of national oppression in the United $tates. Studies have repeatedly shown that imprisonment rates are not correlated with crime rates. The fact is that prisons are used as a tool of social control and disparate arrests, sentencing, imprisonment, access to education, health care, financial loans, job opportunities, and more are part of this system of social control that maintains the supremacy of whites in a society that pretends to offer equality to all.
The JPI report concludes with the recommendation of a "more evidence-based approach to drug enforcement." They want to hold the criminal injustice system to standards enforced by statistical analysis of arrest and imprisonment rates. This is probably the best that we can hope for from an institute like the JPI. The fact that there is currently no science behind the actions of the criminal injustice system is a striking indictment of Amerikan society overall. But the problem is not just in the police and the judicial system. Both of these systems are part of a larger political infrastructure that props up a massive imperialist state. We can not expect one aspect of this state to change and grant equality to oppressed nations while all other aspects remain the same.
Locking up more whites would be progress - if the whites in question were those in the government who are responsible for more death and destruction than all the 2 million people in U.$. prisons combined. In the end, progress of this sort, or progress towards a more equitable justice system will only come through revolutionary struggle.