Education system lacking but still fighting
I was studying Comrade George L. Jackson's "Blood in my Eyes" when I first came to know of your organization and movement. After inquiring I was given a little more information and agreed completely with everything that you expressed and stood for.
I'm currently serving a life sentence, though I strive each day to relieve myself of this oppressive prison system, having gone through this experience has been fundamental in the development of my revolutionary consciousness. When I was running the streets the same conditions that exist in prison where I'm at existed out there as well. It took the compounding of these conditions that prisons create to lead me to open my eyes. More than that, being housed and living with, and in many cases fighting along side with, BGF, Crips, Bloods, former Black Panthers, and others, gave me the strength and realization that there is still much work to be done.
George Jackson has become a role model of sorts for me. His strength, intelligence and desire for positive and meaningful change are aspects I see within myself. Through this process of self and environmental reflection I've come into my own ideas of how to affect change, and have begun working with a couple of other comrades towards this end. But one many can only do so much by himself, or even with a few determined comrades.
I read about the USW (United Struggle from Within) and I want to become a part of this. Because this prison is quick to suppress any efforts to organize prisoners around anything that isn't conformatory, I haven't heard of any others involved with the USW. But that's not to say there are not any. I will work from my end to affect the goals and objectives of the USW.
The conditions of my prison are as follows: the overcrowding here is out of control and has lead to the placing of prisoners on bunks in the middle of the day room floors and gym, two places that were never intended to house prisoners.
The conditions I find to be most objectionable however are those you can't see. Not having the access to exact numbers I can only describe the following situation from a first hand perspective. Though I'm a convicted murderer, at the moment I'm a level 3 prisoner, and many of my comrades here will be heading back to the streets within the next 5 years. The education system here is worthless. A man who is given the chance to work toward his GED isn't given any help in the way of actually understanding the information he's asked to memorize off the packet of work he's given. The man is asked to sit in a classroom for 6 hours where he receives no instruction, and the teacher, like most of the so-called students, is goofing off, doing everything except the work intended. These men are fed through a worthless system where their only requirement is that they show up.
From what I have read, education is the biggest factor in the reasons people come to prison in the first place, and return in the second. And yet, when money "needs" to be cut, it's education that is the first place they turn to. The system in my eyes hides this fact by compensating the lack of education with an abundance of yard time. My prison does offer a college correspondence course, one must first have his GED and with a majority of the prisoners being unable to read through an entire newspaper their ambitions remain as such, alone and to themselves. So with the illusion of GED and college classes, the fact that many of the prisoners will never participate or complete them is hidden from those too distracted walking laps around the prison yard. Thankfully I came in with a GED, and I am taking college classes. But the basis of this educational system is to be laughed at.
The conditions of today's prison system are not, in my eyes, as physical as they once were in the 50s, 60, 70s, and 80s. Though I'm only 25 years old, I tend to view the developing prison system as I do the development of the New African Nation here in America. Some think that because the physical restraints have come off and we have been given fists full of "rights" that we've come along in the way of freedom. I take nothing away from those who lived and died to achieve these rights, but the United States is a flexible entity that has existed as long as it has because it is able to mold itself with developing and commanding situations. I ask myself, did slavery end because they finally work up and realized their abuses, or did it become just too difficult to maintain any longer? I like to believe it's the former. The abuses of this country or of its prison system have only receded from the front lines where it's most easily attacked, to the rear, where those of less than open eyes cannot see its source.