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Under Lock & Key

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[Prison Labor] [California]
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Making $10 a Month Not Enough with Commissary Inflation

Thanks for sending the Power to New Afrika booklet. I am still studying and understanding the knowledge within it. Before I pass it along, I would like to speak about some stuff I read today in ULK 81. It’s about inflation and commissary prices.

I have been incarcerated for 15 years for seeing people get killed and refusing to give information to detectives. Anyhow, prices for the basic things a human being needs I have seen skyrocket over these 15 years. #1 I am in solitary confinement, which means I do not have a job and I can only spend $60 at the prison’s canteen [in California]. This 60 bucks can’t go too far when generic brand or no name toothpaste is 5 bucks, one top ramen noodle is 50 cents, a deodorant is 4 bucks and some change, purchasing bags of chips for 3 bucks and half the bags are empty. The items that the prison sell we can purchase at the 99 cent store for a $1.07. It is simply robbery. Prior to me being sent to solitary confinement, back in 2019, Top Ramen soups were 20 cents and a Dial roll of deodorant was a dollar.

I have been a cook in the kitchen, yard crew, building and education porter. I worked for free in each job I had except as a cook in the kitchen I was paid 11 cents an hour. I work from 12 noon until 8pm five days a week. I had to prepare food for over 600 inmates in four buildings. We were getting payed once a month and my checks after 55 % was deducted for restitution was only between 10 to 13 bucks each month. If I still had this job, all I will be able to get from the prison canteen is a deodorant, toothpaste, and maybe a bag of chips. Ridiculous. Most jobs in California prison are not paying jobs. I shoveled snow at 5AM at High Desert State Prison. I cleaned building at North Kern and cleaned bathroom and police offices at Salinas Valley, I cleaned showers and Corcoran State Prison and couldn’t even receive an extra dinner tray. I was payed 0 dollars.

When we refuse to work for free, cops, they take our privileges; no phone, no yard, no packages we receive a write up which also messes up our board hearings. What some in society do not understand is just because I am in prison doesn’t mean I should be degraded, humiliated, and worked to death for free labor. These are all extra punishments. When the punishment is being incarcerated away from our family. This is the actual punishment.

Due to inflation and being in solitary for 4 years, even though I spend my $60 at commissary once a month, that $60 truly doesn’t amount to anything due to the high prices for items that are not truly worth it. Being in here we still are forced to spend because the prisons do not give hygiene products and we are not allowed packages as if we were on the yard. In the SHU you get 1 bar of soap a week, 5 sheets of paper, 1 toilet paper roll, and some tooth powder. So as you see we truly need to purchase items from the prison and I know that they are truly aware of what they are doing. And in order to even spend 60 bucks my family has to send me $120 and I still owe restitution. I’ve been in prison on different plantations for 15 years and still have not paid off all this restitution. I am not rich.

This is why they need to pay more for every prison job. This prison industry can afford to pay us minimum wage. Before my incarceration, I was receiving $6.25 an hour working retail. And a prison can never run without prisoners who are incarcerated. But this is how we are treated. Prisoners cook, clean, do construction, pain, tutor, clerks, grounds keepers, and so much more.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Texas] [ULK Issue 82]
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An Update on the Juneteenth Freedom Initative

Since Our last update regarding the J.F.I., and its three phase plan to magnify the genocidal practices, policies and procedures ever present within the Amerikan criminal justice system, there has been slight progress in our phase two, or the national phase of this campaign.

Namely, the U.$. DOJ has begun to respond to the hundreds of grievance petitions and testimonials sent to them last year. U.$. DOJ has shown interest in further investigating incidents of excessive use of force, and lack of staff. This is only what has been reported from Texas comrades, and We hope to hear more from others around the country as responses pour in.

Along these same lines, We have recently begun corresponding with a legal aid organization who has reached out to us, interested in representing prisoner’s litigation efforts which are socio-politically motivated in nature. They’ve expressed interest in assisting us in the J.F.I. campaign going forward, as this partnership develops We’ll keep you all informed.

An Update on Legislation Efforts in Texas

Through the last 180 days a lot of time and energy has been refocused in support efforts regarding legislation beneficial to the Texas prisoner class.

We have been focused on the following bills and resolutions:

  1. HB 2834, relating to minimum wage for inmates in certain work programs.
  2. HB 782, gives authority to trial court to modify a defendants sentence.
  3. HB 812, regarding limitation on use of Administrative segregation.
  4. HB 1362, relating to the use of the death penalty and life without parole in capital crimes for people younger than 21 years old.
  5. HB 1736, relating to conspiracy and law of parties and criminal responsibility in capital cases.
  6. House Joint Resolution 63, regarding the explicit outlawing of slavery and servitude.

In Our efforts to abolish Ad-Seg, there was a book released and passed around to current legislators at the beginning of the session in January. The book, Texas Letters Volume 1, is an anthology consisting of prisoners first hand accounts of their experiences in long term solitary confinement in Texas. Despite these and other efforts it seems as though HB 812 will not pass this session.

In Our efforts to magnify HB 1362 and HB 1736, there is a current publication in the works specifically dedicated to telling the stories of those affected by the Law of Parties and the death penalty and life w/o parole at the ages below 21. Surprisingly, this is a bi-partisan effort. Despite this it has not yet been passed. People on the ground are developing different ways to get the information about this issue disseminated more widely to the public.

On Other Efforts in Texas

Seeing that Our efforts in the legislation campaign have not been fruitful, We’ve channeled Our energy toward more cadre building through establishing Authentic In Manhood, Masculinity and Maturity (A.I.M) and its sub section Political Education 101, a series of seminars giving insight into the basic essentials of revolutionary political and social theory. We hope these efforts bear more fruit in the near future.

An Update on the Forever Protecting Our Community Organization

Since the introductory article presenting FPC to the ULK audience, i would like to inform you that the FPC organization has established a local community garden, promoting food sovereignty, and has begun to launch a program designed to combat open air sex and human trafficking in the local area. FPC has also taken part with other organizations in a memorial for people who’ve lost their lives to police terrorism and gang violence, members of the FPC have been active in mentoring youth in anti-drug and anti-gang counseling providing school supplies, and feeding the people. The organization’s political line continues to mature, and we continue to observe this movement closely.

Dare to Invent the Future

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[Racism] [National Liberation] [ULK Issue 82]
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'Power To New Afrika' Ignores Racism?

A USW comrade in New York sent a critique of the claim in Power to New Afrika that Malcolm X was not killed by racism:

“Is it then a coincidence that Blacks who seek Black power are killed/imprisoned by said”corrupt power structure" at a disproportionate rate than any other race… If white people kill/imprison Black people who seek Black power for themselves in order to maintain white power for themselves, what could this pattern be symbolic to other than anything but racism?"

Malcolm X Ballet or the Bullet portrait

Triumphant of United Struggle from Within responds:

No, it is not a coincidence, but neither is “racism” an exact description of the actual social, political, and economic components of Our national oppression. The State/power is going to kill/imprison, disproportionately, any and all threats or perceived threats, or perceived disposable populations. This is to preserve power, self-preservation of the status quote. In the period you’re speaking on when a large amount of Blacks who were imprisoned were politically active or politicized, the Black colony was the most actively radical populace in the empire. Therefore, its numbers in prison reflected such. In more recent times, and without the guidance of mass social-political movements, this would-be active elements have largely succumbed to criminality and gangsterism, a common thread in colonized population groups around the world. So to answer the second half of your above question, the other thing that the pattern could symbolize is common and routine government oppression, the wielding of power. It is what empire does to any historically oppressed and dynamic social force.

History shows that New Afrikans have been the key to opening social, economic, and political doors that have been shut in various times of Amerikan history. By being suppressed at the bottom of the social ladder, Our advancement, in its various forms, has always led to the advancement of the society as a whole, and due to the law of contradictions those advances that we often take for granted these days, have and will always come at a severe price. It will always come at a sacrifice, of mass struggle, and each time we’ve advanced despite it. It is the power structure’s role to maintain as much power and resources in its hands as possible, only conceding when forced or coerced to do so. That is another explanation of the phenomena you’ve mentioned.

Should oppressive exploitative power be evenly distributed against all and not disproportionately to one group? The power, again, represses those who resist, or threaten its power. This is irregardless of color. Case in point, during the high tide of revolutionary struggle, what made it a high tide? The same thing that has made recent years noteworthy, because all colors have been involved in struggle, one way or another. In the 1960s-70s era, there were a more or less proportionate number of PP/POW to the rate of participation by nationality. There were fewer Amerikan comrades, because Amerikans are the oppressor nation and not oppressed. However, all the groups that were active in the ways that most advanced Black revolutionaries were active were attacked and repressed the same. Many of them were co-defendants of each other.

I’m talking about: Marilyn Buck, Susan Rosenberg, Tim Blunk, Barbara and Jaan Laaman, David Gilbert, Richard Williams, Silvia Baraldini, Carol and Tom Manning, Oscar Lopez-Rivera, Alan Berkman, Jaime Delgado, Raymond Levasseur, Linda Evans, Laura Whitehorn, and many others.

We hurt ourselves by not sharing the full stories of those times. The BPP, BLA, RNA, SNCC, RAM, and others were not attacked and repressed because they were Black organizations. It wasn’t because they were Black political organizations. They were attacked because of the type of Black politics they organized around. The proof of this statement lies in the fact of people they worked with (Black, white, brown, male, female, heterosexual, non-heterosexual). These weren’t racial movements in the strict sense, and their actions show that for those who have eyes to see. Take an incident that gets a lot of hype, like Assata Shakur’s escape. The BLA did not liberate alone. In fact, those alleged to have been involved with it were majority non-Black. And they and their organizations were attacked, imprisoned, along with the Black revolutionaries they were in solidarity with.

My point? When people choose the revolutionary path and act it out, they become targets for repression and extinction, irregardless of color.

…Your notion that “white people imprison/kill Black people at disproportionate rates” is flawed and not in accordance with reality. Why? Because it is not white people who imprison/kill. In most cases it is representatives of the system (police, prosecutors, judges, jurors, C.O.s, etc) and in other cases it isn’t system reps at all. In fact, studies show we lose more Black lives to self-destruction than anything else. And since the early 1970s, colonialism has transitioned into neo-colonialism (mass integration into the social, political,economic and cultural apparatus of USA). So now when we talk about the system, or power structure, and other politicians are helping to invest in police forces in places like New York, Chicago, Houston, and elsewhere. Therefore the old notion of a simplistic black/white; white power/Black power worldview is overly simplistic and keeps us missing the mark in our analysis and in our subsequent practice in our organizing.

…You correctly say, “political power in all societal cases will always be the most efficient first step on a pathway to freedom for any race or people,” and because the power structure knows and agrees with this is why Malcolm and others were killed and/or jailed. And as far as you saying the power structure, despite their intentions “effected racism, by oppressing, exploiting and killing the futures and politics of the predominantly Black supporters he represented.” Now here is why we must really deconstruct “race” as a useful social construct in our spaces, because it confuses us as a people. What we’ve been bred to refer to as races are in actuality nations and nationalities of people who’ve developed organically and historically within the social realities of 400 years in North America. The assassination wasn’t merely to win the war for ideologies as you said, but to win, before it even began in earnest, the full scale actual war (of national liberation). These weren’t acts of racism, but much more! These were acts of national oppression, acts of warfare designed to do as you said, oppress, exploit, and kill the future of our politics. What is that then? Genocide? Colonial suppression/domination? National oppression designed to keep an oppressed and colonized social group in its place. This isn’t racism and calling it that limits our actions in correcting it. This is Warfare, the same war that began Black August 1619. It has always, despite intentions on either side, had the effect of national oppression. They implement the continued political, economic, social, and cultural inability to develop independently, or without being dictated to by the empire. Therefore, national liberation, is to enforce the opposite relationship, to dictate our own affairs. In other words, it isn’t a white/black thing, it’s a power struggle, hence the title, Power to New Afrika.

Re-Build

^Power to New Afrika is available for $3 to prisoners, or work trade through our Free Political Books Program, and free on our website.^

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[Drugs] [Deaths in Custody] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 82]
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Chemical Suicide in Michigan Prisons

chemical suicide

During a documentary interview with a citizen from Mexico regarding the flow of illegal drugs across the border into the united states, the Mexican said, rather matter-of-factly:

“We don’t have a drug problem in Mexico. The united states have a drug problem so Mexico have a problem trafficking drugs into the united states. For the united states to be the greatest country in the world, it seems everybody has to be high in order to live there.”

As social beings, the environments that we inhabit are essential for both our survival and human development. And social environments influence our behaviors and informs the mechanisms we use to survive the social stressors that push us towards drug usage and addiction as a means of coping. Otherwise, one may literally commit suicide.

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), as a micro-societal reflection of what’s occurring in the macro-society, is wrestling with imprisoned men addicted to drugs on a scale rivaling the crack-era (epidemic). And in some respects, actually surpassing that horrible 1980s into the 2000s phenomenon. And the elements that catapults the present epidemic to rival the crack epidemic is the cocktail of mental illness and severe emotional instability, with a dosage of western social liberalism mixed in. The result is a generation, both younger and older, socialized into a neo-Nigga mentality born out of social backwardness or retardation, a strong sense of love abandonment, while simultaneously carrying the epigenetic traumas from this country’s imposition of myriad forms of violence on us in perpetuity. Out of this is produced The Nigga Creed: “Fuck it! Deal with us!”

In the MDOC, brothers are high strung on K2 in a liquid form that is free-based (or vaped, as it is euphemized) from paper. The phenomenon is akin to crack in that tiny pieces of K2 laced papers sell for $3 to $5, meaning the high is cheap like crack. And because the K2 high doesn’t last long, it is chased after just like crack addicts chased crack. Also like crack, brothers sell all of their possessions to acquire K2 (nicknamed Twochi; or duece). But it’s worse than crack in that (1) guys don’t know nor seem to care what they are smoking; and (2) duece makes them hallucinate or have episodes of passing out, tripping, paralysis. violent possessions and overdose.

During a phone conversation with a comrade imprisoned in the Florida prison system, he shared that K2 had ravaged the Florida system years previously. That K2 had gotten so bad, the groups on the yard had to come together and ban K2. Unfortunately, at the present juncture in Michigan prisons, this is not possible because the groups that have the yard (NOI, MSTA, Sunni, Melanics, other lumpen organizations) are betraying the people and what they say they stand on as it is these very groups dealing in and using K2 – quite literally without consequence.

K2 is not detectable so one cannot drop a dirty urine for it, unless, which is frequently the case, it is laced with Fentanyl or PCP. And sadly, in addition to K2. somehow, brothers have found themselves hooked on meth (ice).

The ramifications of this reality has been staggering. There is an absence of activist personality, the so-called pro-Black prison vanguard groups have become apolitical and anti-radicalism. At the facility where I’m housed, I am absolutely the only prisoner advancing political education through our study group, the Sankofa Commune, which has existed since COVID lockdowns.

Brothers in the MDOC are struggling and we find ourselves in terrible shape. The conditions born out local poverty and state institutionalization as a result of poverty, is traumatizing culminating in degrees of mental and emotional instability. Requests for mental health therapy sessions go unanswered and drugs are the only outlet, aside from violence, that mends, however temporarily, the pain experienced by the broken men. Four murders have occurred on this prison within a year. Chemical warfare and chemical suicide are hard at work. Live from the MDOC!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is the latest article on the scourge of K2 that’s been hitting the prison population hard, dating back at least 10 years.(1) That is very inspiring to hear the report from Florida of groups coming together to ban it. We’d love to hear more about this and try to promote this model elsewhere. For those who don’t know, we released our Revolutionary 12 Step Program last year, so those who are interested in organizing alternatives where they are can get a copy of the pamphlet from our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program or on our website. Unless of course you’re in Texas or Florida where it’s considered a security threat.(2) Where the pigs don’t even pretend to not be trafficking drugs.(3)

We would also advise comrades that in moments like these when the traditional leadership roles of the oppressed nations in prisons (such as the NOI) are partaking in anti-people behavior as described to use dialectical materialism to try and see how to solve this problem. What is our analysis of mass imprisonment? What is our analysis of groups such as the Nation of Islam? In a given situation, is the contradiction between these organizations and the anti-imperialist forces of USW antagonistic or non-antagonistic? Should they be antagonistic? If they are antagonistic and we decide that it shouldn’t be, how can we turn it non-antagonistic? Given our political line, and our strategy of USW in mind, what should be done?

Notes:
1. A Texas Prisoner, November 2017, Epidemic of K2 Overdoses at Estelle, Throughout Texas, Under Lock & Key No. 59.
2. MIM(Prisons), June 2022, FL, TX Censor Revolutionary 12 Steps Program, Under Lock & Key No. 78.
3. A Texas Prisoner, March 2021, TDCJ: Your Staff are Bringing in the Drugs, and it Must Stop, Under Lock & Key No. 73.

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[Elections] [Independent Institutions] [ULK Issue 82]
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The Three-Party Trap Amounts to Petty Bourgeois Vacillation

three party trap

Revolutionary Greetings Comaradas! We must address parliamentarism within the empire in general, and reformism in particular. As our nation develops it compels us to deal with the new challenges and obstacles hurled our way by the oppressor nation and its lackeys.

In the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, the Chicano nation mostly dealt with the two-party trap, that is the Republican Party and its counterpart the Democratic Party. These two wings of the Amerikkkan bird have hystorically bamboozled Chican@s and other colonized peoples into supporting its charade of bourgeois elections. The Chican@ Movement of 50 years past did a good job of alerting the nation of the “Two-Party Trap”, which simply entangles our gente in models of bourgeois politics that in the end uphold U.$. imperialism while preventing the oppressed nations from ever obtaining true liberation.

Today we are faced with the Three-Party Trap. Parties “outside” of the traditional Democrat and Republican camps have begun to lure some of our gente into the swamp of dead-end bourgeois politics in the guise of a “Third Party” option. This Three-Party Trap simply results in imperialism maintaining Amerikkkan hegemony over bourgeois politics.

Muddying the Waters of Revisionism

Some may point to Lenin’s stance on parliamentarism and specifically how in his time it was encouraged for communists to participate in the ballot box as millions of proletarians partook in such ventures. This may have been true of Lenin’s time and for the proletariat of 1917 Russia. This debate also highlights the crucial necessity of studying correct political line as it is easy to take quotes from over 100 years ago and convince some of the masses why it applies today. Yet, without analyzing today’s social reality here in the imperialist center the dogmatists and revisionists will have revolutionaries voting for the best imperialist while raising a clenched fist.

Imperialist U.$.A. is not 1917 Russia, and the millions of proletariat of that time were a vehicle for revolution, meanwhile there is relatively little proletariat within the United Snakes, and most are found in the fields and food production; the migrants. This rote learning of the revisionists and vendidos (sell-outs) who study quotes and dogmatically pass on these weak arguments to the masses attempting to justify why they support U.S. imperialism via its bourgeois politics is what separates the bourgeois or cultural nationalist Parties from the Communist Party of Aztlán (CPA).

Our struggle for self-determination means we must delink from imperialism not uphold it by participating in its politics. As dialectical materialists we move by analyzing objective reality as we believe Marx, Lenin and Mao did. And although a newby to political theory may read something from the classics, a quote that speaks in favor of parliamentarism or trade union organizing, those quotes derive from another country with different social forces and economy, etc. over 100 years ago! Had these revolutionary leaders been alive today in 2023 United $tates, they would have likely had different views and plans of action for the internal colonies today.

The revisionists and vendidos (sell-outs) love to make assumptions on how Marx, Lenin and Mao would feel about the Three-Party Trap and how because of a quote they made over 100 years ago in another country under different economic circumstances with very different social forces that in imperialist U.$.A. today they would support a Green Party, Chican@ Party or any other party outside of the Dems or Republicans, which participates in the ballot box of bourgeois politics. This is absurd at best. Since the revisionists love to make assumptions, we will do so as well and assume that Marx, Lenin and Mao would be against participating in the U.$. bourgeois elections via the Three-Party Trap or through any other vehicle. There’s why, a deep study of the U.$. and its social forces uncovers where the revolutionary vehicle lies.

As communists we study dialectics, the contradictions that exist. Looking to the social forces within these false U.$. borders reveals that the principal contradiction today is that between the white oppressor nation vs. the oppressed nations. Likewise, the small sector of proletariat mostly resides in the fields. The migrants who mostly do not partake in bourgeois elections and many being “undocumented” means they do not even have access to many of the options that paper citizenship brings!

The “work force” for the most part consists of labor aristocrats who most U.S. citizens derive from. These elite workers benefit off the spoils of Third World plunder. The paid sick days and pensions that even many retail workers receive would have the Trotskyites scream exploitation and slave wages, while the proletariat of the Third World roll their eyes from the underground mines and maquiladores where they make pennies a day.

To date, there is no Three-Party line that identifies the concept of the labor aristocracy within so-called “workers” in the U.S. As historical materialism teaches, we look to history on what the ballot box approach has done. The strategy of a peaceful transition that the Three-Party line holds would only lead us down the road to neo-colonialism. We know this to be true through scientific study, because not a single nation has ever been liberated and completely independent from imperialism through a peaceful transition from the ballot box. This is our scientific proof without assumption and without a dogmatic view of historical quotes. Looking at quotes from 100 years ago is good, to learn from hystory is good, but applying Maoism to today’s social reality and environment in order to create change is even better. This is what separates our political line from those upholding the Three-Party Trap and participating in bourgeois politics that uphold imperialism. The trojan horse approach of joining enemy politics in order to change them is a tired dream that has never been successful. And this voting in U.S. elections is not a revolutionary act, it is legitimizing imperialism in the eyes of raza.

Imperialism is Incorrigible

It is necessary to address the left hand of U.$. bourgeois politics and that is reformism. Those of the Three-Party camp commit a political error in lofty ideals of reformism. Although reforms are nice and make existence more comfortable for the oppressed and down-trodden, reforms do not make fundamental changes in imperialism nor put a dent in the colonization of Aztlán or any other of the internal semi-colonies for that matter. In fact, within these false U.$. borders, reforms have pushed people further away from revolution while bald repression has always invited revolution i.e. the Great Pueblo Revolt, The Taos Revolt, and more recently the Watts rebellion, the L.A. Rebellion of 1992, the San Quentin Six, Attica, the Pelican Bay hunger strikes, etc. When has reforming imperialism sparked resistance?

The conditions in any given time will define our path forward. One of the arguments used by those who promote participating in imperialism’s electoral politics is that they believe doing so will somehow bring Raza closer to our goals of a liberated Aztlán. At the same time they scream Chican@ Power! at the street rallies with a raised fist. One with even the least amount of political study must see through this and identify what such behavior really benefits, revolution and independence for Aztlán or upholding capitalism-imperialism?

A correct understanding of this and the so-called Three-Party promoters would be to call this behavior for what it is – petty bourgeois vacillation. Even so-called “independent” parties or Chican@ parties promoting the idea of voting for colonizer in chief or openly flirting with bourgeois politics amounts to crass flattery, to do so is a great disservice to Aztlán and oppressed in the periphery.

One of our long-term goals as communists is in the abolition of class society. How can comrades contribute to this goal by voting another imperialist into the White people’s House, to do so would be acting as compradors, herding the masses into the corral of the enemy politics. A system that cannot be reformed, one that needs to simply be abolished and overthrown. How does voting – even in an “independent” or Chican@ bourgeois party, get us closer to this realization? How does it garner us international support? These are the questions that the Three-Party Trap cannot answer.

As revolutionaries we must be firm and clear on our stance as anti-imperialists. The Trots would have us spending our lives organizing white “workers” in the unions, reformists would have us voting for the next colonizer in chief as our way forward. As Chican@ Communists we see us contributing the most to the International Communist Movement by raising consciousness and providing an ideological center for Aztlán while training cadre who can begin to build base areas within the barrios where forms of dual power may be realized. We see that building a brown labor movement spanning both sides of these false U.$. borders is also an honorable way a Party of Communists should spend their lives building and supporting. For these questions on needs and goals of the Party we must put politics in command.

Mass line is key in a Party determining the needs of the raza. The barrios have the answer to where we need to focus. The ballot box is out, and encouraging party members to knock on doors to vote a colonizer in chief for imperialism is not only a crime against the people, it’s treason to the nation.

The state encourages, and in some cases funds, many of the Three-Party Traps that claim to be independent or even Chican@ in nature. It does so because corralling oppressed people who have a bone to pick with imperialism, in some cases having ancestral rights to the land going back before the white settler nation arrived, is beneficial to the state. Surely a landless field worker or an oppressed lumpen persyn would be less threatening to the state if they took their anger out in the ballot box than if they did so at the gates of the White House. Bourgeois politics provides a release valve while at the same time supporting the absurd notion that we live in a society of civil liberties rather than a prison house of nations. The Three-Party Trap thus ultimately upholds U.$. imperialism and declaws any struggle for national liberation.

The leadership of parties who promote the notion of partaking in bourgeois politics, voting in a new imperialist president, have in many ways become class enemies to the oppressed nations. Partaking in the bourgeois elections in the U.$. is perpetuating a system that has exploited and genocided peoples around the world. U.$. imperialism is the enemy of the global majority, its politics is an ideology that is contrary to Aztlán and the Third World and which supports fascism.

Conclusion

The Three-Party Trap is one we will battle and raise consciousness on, as our predecessors did decades ago with the Two-Party Trap. Today’s trap is probably even more dangerous as these parties are mostly comprised of Chican@s and New Afrikan peoples. To the Chican@ nation We say organize outside of the influence of the oppressed nation. Siempre!

  • Communist Party of Aztlán (MLM)
Communist Party of Aztlan logo
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[Abuse] [Chester County Prison] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 82]
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Chester County Prisoners Petition Against Abuse

ATTN: Governor’s Office Joshua Shapiro, May 10th 2023

From R-Block, Chester County Prison, Westchester

Our Government, has set a Law under Commonwealth Code, 37 PA Code § 95.223 (4), governing Local and State corrections facilities here in Pennsylvania! You now as the elected Governor, “Joshua Shapiro” have duties to enforce these Laws, or correct these customs, used to violate our First Amendment Rights, freedom of speech, use of a protected conduct without retaliation! We have been abused, threatened, sexually harassed, injured and oppressed to a damaging element, involving injury both physical, emotional, mental and sexual in nature by correctional officers, Administration, and the County of Chester’s elected Commissioners! I request your office to fact check this, as I’ve reported along with a copy of herein letter, to Pennsylvania Prison Society, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, PILP, Daily Local News, Fox 29, CBS, NBC 10! This prison population pleads for help of those elected to protect them!

[Signed by 9 prisoners at Chester County Prison]

ATTN: Chester County Commissioners Office, Pennsylvania Prison Society, May 10th 2023

From Chester County Prison, Westchester R-2 Petition

Our Grievance system is broken here in Chester County Prison, and we are all being affected dramatically! Our grievance procedure requires inmates to request a Grievance via Inmate Request Slip, this Inmate Request Slip then in turn is returned to the block correctional officer, who may or may not be involved, but then proceeds to view, and read the request to use our protected conduct. Are we allowed to have our First Amendment rights so openly violated? We become subject to a Campaign of Harassment by attempting to use our protected conducts! Yet our in-house administrative remedies become non-existent! We need help! We have become subject to attack, abuse, retaliation and more!

[Signed by 9 prisoners at Chester County Prison]

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[Prison Labor] [Abuse] [Beto I Unit] [Ellis Unit] [Coffield Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 82]
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Rewinding Time: The State Of Texas Prisons

Observing the day-to-day operations within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), it’s as if someone hit the rewind button on the worst movie ever made. A half century ago David Ruiz, then a TDC captive, filed a civil lawsuit against the state agency while suffering in one of TDC’s many solitary torture chambers (cells). That humble complaint, after being joined with others’ suits, became the widely known Ruiz v. Estelle litigation, which initiated over 25 years of litigation, scrutiny, federal oversight, and reform in prison policies.

One of the many aims of the Ruiz litigation was the destruction of the internal, neo-colonial structure, known then as the Building Tender System (BTS). In summary, the BTS was a mechanism designed by the state to handpick certain inmates, then utilize them to maintain order and control among the masses of prisoners. Compensation of these hand-picked inmates services came in the form of ultimate power and authority in the prison, as well as extra work time and goods, in a time when these things meant something. This allowed them to go home faster. Furthermore, BT’s, with the complicity of the state, were allowed to make slaves (male sex slaves referred to as ‘punks’) of other inmates on a whim.

The BT’s were an essential part of the prison economy because their presence and services allowed the agency to cut costs and limit its budget by not having to pay as many guards as other states. As such, Texas had the lowest budget for any state prison system throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s.

Today the state does not boast the lowest budget. Despite this and multiple pay raises, TDCJ can not maintain a necessary number of staff members to adequately run and operate its institutions. This reality is currently creating the foundation of conditions similar to the Ruiz days BT system.

Case in point, reports from Coffield, Ellis, and Beto Units narrate how prisoners have complete control of the unit. Prisoners conduct counts, feed, clothe, discipline, and even act as suicide watch for other inmates. Some prisoners reading this may say ‘that doesn’t sound bad’, and on the surface that may even be correct. However, the sad truth is that most prisoners are still operating with corrupt intentions. As such, when corrupt people are placed in positions of authority and responsibility it is the most marginalized and oppressed people who suffer at the hands of a corrupt power structure. This was true in the days of Ruiz, and it is true today, as it is also true in neo-colonies around the globe.

Under pressure from inmate litigation, over fifty years ago, Texas legislatures, enacted the following law:

Tex.Gov.Code Paragraph 500.001

Supervisory or Disciplinary Authority of Inmates

"(a) An inmate housed in a facility operated by the department or under contact with the department may not act in a supervisory or administrative capacity over another inmate.

  1. An inmate housed in a facility operated by the department or under contract with the department may not administer disciplinary action over another inmate."

Despite enacting this law, state officials didn’t initially, and still don’t, abide by it. Only the most recent example is the wide-spread use of life coaches as suicide watch sentry. Despite their best intentions, life coaches aren’t equipped to deal with a serious suicide attempt, and neither are correctional staff, if we’re being honest. Instead of channeling their budget towards more and better medical and psychiatric personnel, or releasing more people, TDCJ’s executive director Brian Collier has begun to implement a portion of his so-called 2030 plan. The portion important to this topic is his professed desire to initiate ‘new positions’ for inmates, so that they can allow this institution to function smoothly, ‘with less dependency on correctional staff’.

Since I’ve been released from solitary, and been housed on Ellis Unit’s CTIP, I’ve witnessed and experienced the new wave BT system up close and personal. Here inmates operate in-and-outs, feed, and other duties reserved for paid officers. As you can imagine, this situation causes tensions among the hand-picked, and the masses of prisoners. These tensions have their fall-outs and all this is instigated by the illegal policies and practices of the state. In 2023, we’re still being (neo)colonized and enslaved in Texas.

All too often, horrific incidents have to occur, lives have to be lost and tarnished before the public and people in positions to alter things begin take notice. If the incidents of 50 years ago are any indication we cannot afford to lose so many lives, for any more people to be physically violated, before we begin to bring these conditions to the attention of the public, and simultaneously organize liberation armies behind the walls to combat what will ultimately become a battle of control and influence between reactionary and revolutionary power.

DARE TO INVENT THE FUTURE


MIM(Prisons) adds:This comrade notes the very relevant history of the BTS in Texas and how those conditions are being repeated today. But there is other history to look at, like the 1973 takeover of Walpole prison in Massachusetts. Guards went on strike and the prisoner union took over running things smoothly and peacefully. This was only possible however because prisoners had spent years organizing into a union. As staff shortages seem widespread in prison systems across the country, opportunities for organizing can arise. But it will take preparation, education and organization to properly seize such opportunities.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [New Afrika]
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Forced

Forced to face a foreign decision,
Forced to embrace a foreign religion
Black and white begets a foreign collision
That’s unprecedented destroying our vision

Forced to pledge allegiance
While praising the dead,
Ignoring the living and only free
In the head,
Independent thinking is the
thing that they dread,
Death or freedom is the
Reason they fled.

North Atlantic ocean created
The distance,
Accompanied by an ideology
That made us defenseless,
Proving them wrong
And making the difference
Ancestral pain created resistance.

For removal of chains
Charge them a fee,
Shackle their minds
Convince them they’re free,
Felony conviction
Is slavery for lease,
As the murder of kins
Was the removal of peace.

New rap songs
Spiritual potion
Internal revolution is the only resolution,
Read the constitution and it’s void of a solution,
No black inclusion, so freedom’s a delusion
No black inclusion, so freedom’s a delusion
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[Special Needs Yard] [Legal] [California] [ULK Issue 82]
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Legal Ruling Against Non-Designated Program Facilities (NDPFs)

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has historically separated General Population (GP) prisoners from Sensitive/Special Needs Yards (SNY) for safety and security. Traditionally those who were convicted of high notoriety crimes, or who suffered “past victimization” or those who were informants or former Security Threat Group affiliates were housed on SNY. Yet, over time, the SNY population skyrocketed to the point of overcrowding. SNY facilities became increasingly violent, stigmatizing those “sensitive needs” designations.

To address this, CDCR developed Non-Designated Program Facilities (NDPFs) – an inclusive housing model created supposedly to mitigate stigma and allegedly help promote and advance CDCR’s rehabilitative objectives. One brave brother filed a “writ of mandate” with the California Supreme Court for Sacramento County on 30 September 2022 ordering the CDCR to immediately cease and halt reintegrating “sensitive needs” prisoners into general population, and from transferring GP prisoners to Non-Designated Program Facilities.

I am one of many prisoners housed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), solitary confinement and have been written up and now face receiving additional time and will risk being transferred to a higher security level hundreds of miles from my family. My RVR (write up) reads that i am an immediate threat to the safety of self and others and that I “endanger institution security.” Since me refusing to house on a NDPF isn’t sufficient enough to retain me in Ad-Seg lock up, now the officers are claiming that i told them that i would assault their child molesters on NDPF yard.

The court found CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison’s enforcement of the NDPF policy in violation of the APA (the Administrative Procedures Act). Therefore the policy is an “underground regulation” that is void, entitling Villarreal to relief. The court granted his requested writ and prohibited Allison and CDCR from furthering and implementing the policy until “properly” adopted by the APA. see: Villarreal v. Allison, Cal. Super (City of Sacramento) Case NO. 34-2021-80003779.

So Allison has a non-discretionary duty to refrain from implementing the uncodified NDPF Policy, the APA mandates that “the rulemaking agency must comply with the law’s provisions” or the rule is void.

So here we have a victory. Thank you brother Israel Villarreal! Without struggle and sacrifice there can be no progress nor advancement. Allison is specifically required to examine and study prisoners before classifying them, the court said, but the NDPF Policy is analogous to the classification scheme in Stoneham v. Rushen (1982) 137 Cal. App. 3d pg 729. where prisoners successfully challenged an uncodified classification system as an invalid underground regulation.

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[Legal] [Release] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 82]
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Proven Strategies for Waging an Effective Campaign for Clemency in Virginia

[originally written for the Incarcerated Women’s Clemency & Support Project (IWCSP)]

I filed about five clemency petitions during the course of my 28 years of incarceration before finally being granted a pardon in 2022, by former Governor Ralph Northam. The first three petitions were filed “pro se,” meaning on my own. The last two petitions were filed with the assistance of counsel and with the support of state legislators. The last successful push for clemency was also aided by the Justice for Uhuru Coordinating Committee – a group of friends, abolitionists and student organizers from the College of William & Mary.

Borrowing from knowledge and practical experience gained from navigating the clemency process over two decades, what follows is a brief outline of what I believe is the most effective strategy in helping an incarcerated person and their loved ones to wage a successful campaign for clemency in Virginia.

The Law

Neither the Virginia Parole Board nor any court in Virginia has the authority to grant a petition for clemency.

Pursuant to Virginia (VA) Code section 53.1-229 and Article V, Section 12 of the Virginia Constitution, only the Governor has the absolute power and authority to grant clemency.

However, pursuant to VA Code section 53.1-231,

“the Virginia Parole Board shall, at the request of the Governor, investigate and report to the Governor on cases in which executive clemency is sought. In any other case in which it believes action on the part of the Governor is proper or in the best interest of the Commonwealth, the Board may investigate and report to the Governor with its recommendations.”

There’s a common belief that the Governor of Virginia has the power to grant mass clemency to a group of incarcerated people at one time. However, the Virginia Supreme Court in the case of Howell v. McAuliffe, 292 Va. 320, 788 SE 2d 706 (2016) ruled the Governor has no authority to issue group pardons because Article V, Section 12 of the VA Constitution requires the Governor to give a particular (specific) reason for granting each pardon which is something the Governor cannot do when issuing mass (blanket) clemency.

The Process

There are two types of clemency in VA: restoration of rights and pardons.

A petition for restoration of rights restores the rights one forfeits as a result of having been convicted of a felony and can only be sought by people who are not currently in prison. People with nonviolent felonies must wait three years after completion of their sentence before applying for restoration of their rights and people with violent felonies must wait five years. The restoration of rights does not restore the right to purchase or possess a firearm which can only be done by petitioning the appropriate Circuit Court pursuant to VA Code section 18.2-308.2. You can learn more about the restoration of rights process at https://www.restore.virginia.gov/

There are four types of pardons in VA:

  1. simple pardon
  2. absolute pardon
  3. partial pardon
  4. conditional pardon

A simple pardon, sought after a person’s rights have been restored, is an act by the Governor granting forgiveness for a crime for which one has been convicted. A simple pardon does not expunge the conviction from a person’s criminal record or restore the right to purchase or possess firearms.

An absolute pardon is granted when the Governor is convinced that a person is innocent of the charge(s) for which they have been convicted and freely and unconditionally absolves the person from all direct and collateral consequences of the crime. A person can petition for an absolute pardon only if they plead not guilty during trial proceedings and exhausted all appellate and other post-conviction remedies, including a Writ of Actual Innocence pursuant to VA Code sections 19.2-327 through 19.2-327.13.

A partial pardon can be conditional or unconditional and remits only a portion of the sentence and leaves the rest of the sentence intact. This is the pardon I received.

A conditional pardon is an act by the Governor which modifies or ends the entire sentence imposed by the court when there is “substantial evidence of extraordinary circumstances to warrant it” and does not become operative until the grantee satisfies a prerequisite and can be revoked if that prerequisite is not met.

There is also something called Executive Medical Clemency where the Governor grants conditional release to an incarcerated person who is terminally ill with three months or less left to live.

Preparing and Filing the Petition

It took me, my lawyer and supporters working together as a team about a year researching and collecting all the pieces for my pardon petition. And by pieces, I mean certificates and diplomas earned since I’ve been in prison, supplemental online petitions, and support letters from family, friends and state legislators who recognized the injustice in my sentence and sympathized with my plight enough to be willing to support me. It is important to collect all these pieces and attach them to the petition as supplements and exhibits at the time of filing because they may not be accepted or considered if they are sent in separately at a later time.

Whether the incarcerated person is applying for a pardon on their own or if someone on the outside is applying for it on behalf of the incarcerated person, it is important (and mandatory) for the incarcerated person to first complete the “Virginia Pardon Petition Questionnaire” and mail it to the VA Secretary of the Commonwealth (SOC). This form can be obtained from the prison’s law library or requested from the SOC Office. Unaware of this requirement, my attorney filed my pardon petition, and the SOC rejected it because I had not completed this questionnaire. So, the pardon process does not and will not begin until this questionnaire is completed.

The Organizing

Organizing here refers to any action (before and after a petition is filed) that will raise awareness about a person’s case and gain community support for their pardon request.

Two of the most important things that should be done before a pardon request is filed are 1) creating a social media presence and 2) creating an online petition on http://www.change.org.

With organizing, gone are the days when news of a planned event had to be promoted via word of mouth and crudely handcrafted flyers. In this day and time, social media is king and one post about an injustice that has occurred can quickly go viral resulting in hundreds and thousands of people showing up at a planned protest in opposition to that injustice. We have seen how vital social media has been for the birth and sustainability of the #MeToo, #SayHerName and #BlackLivesMatter movements. It can be just as effective for a campaign to free someone from prison just as it did for mine.

I would add that social media is more critical to freeing someone from prison than the pardon application itself. Why? Because to be incarcerated for 20 to 30 years is to be erased and rendered invisible to the masses, especially to people born after a person was incarcerated. Case in point, many of the people on the Justice for Uhuru Coordinating Committee (JUCC) were students from the College of William & Mary and were born a decade after I came to prison. So, social media can help bring incarcerated people and their freedom campaigns out from the obscurity of the prison industrial complex and connect them and their campaigns to young abolitionists who are doing most of the on-the-ground agitation and organizing.

Like mine, a change.org petition can function as an abbreviated version of and supplement to the actual pardon petition that will be filed with the SOC Office. With the help of social media, my online petition garnered over 2600 signatures from people all over the county. Others have gone viral (with the help of influencers and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian) racking up tens of millions of signatures like in the case of criminalized survivors Chrystul Kizer and Cyntoia Brown. These signatures, in addition to character letters from family, friends and state legislators, can show proof that the community at-large supports a person’s pardon request and are not opposed to a person’s early release from prison either because they believe the person was sentenced unjustly or (to use carceral language) has been rehabilitated and will not pose threat to public safety.

Another thing that should be organized are public rallies. My team organized a rally both before and after my petition was filed.

The first one, organized by my attorney before she filed my pardon application, was held at the state capital. Though it received a low turnout, word of it spread to staff in the Governor and SOC offices and members of the General Assembly resulting in a veteran state senator showing up, listening and speaking to those in attendance. This is why it is strategically important to hold a rally at the state capital even if only a small amount of people show up. The second rally, organized by the JUCC after my petition was filed, was held near the Virginia Commonwealth University and managed to draw about 80 people. Posts on social media helped the second rally to achieve a greater turnout and connected the JUCC to other community groups and organizers who decided to sign my petition and support my campaign. It is important to note that all rallies at the state capitol, however small, must be pre-approved by the Department of General Services. The number to call for this department is 804-786-3311.

Another thing that should be organized are carefully timed emails and phone calls directed at the SOC, the pardon staff, and the Chief of Staff for the Governor after a pardon petition has been filed. There is a common belief that contacting the SOC and pardon staff will have an adverse impact on a person’s pardon request and will even result in a pardon application being prematurely denied. This may be the case if the calls/emails come across as demanding or pressuring officials to grant a pardon request. Those are not the kind of calls/emails I am recommending here. Based on my own experience and insight gained from someone working in former Governor Northam’s administration, it is helpful to have a person to make a follow-up email to the pardon staff about six months after a petition is filed to inquire about the status of the petition. [The email to the pardon staff is par[email protected]]. Most importantly, all supporters of the incarcerated person (including any political supporters) should make calls to the SOC and the Governor’s Chief of Staff a week before a Governor’s term is set to expire to (politely) reiterate their support for a person’s pardon request and state the reasons the incarcerated person would be a good candidate for clemency. [The phone number to the SOC is 804-786-2441, and the phone number to the Governor’s Chief of Staff is 804-786-2211].

Keep in mind that on any given day, the SOC, pardon staff, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, and the Virginia Parole Board’s Special Investigations Unit tasked with investigating pardon requests and making recommendations to the Governor, are handling thousands of pardon applications, often with limited staff. Making these calls will help make a person’s pardon application stand out, prevent it from being given a rubber stamp denial for reasons other than the merits of the case, or left in a stack of papers on top the Governor’s desk when their term expires which, unbeknownst to many, happens more often than not.

One last note I want to make is that parole and pardon requests are often denied on the basis that early release of the incarcerated person will pose a serious threat to public safety.

Ultimately what needs to happen in order for a clemency campaign to be successful is that the incarcerated person and his/her/their team must garner as many supporters as possible so that the voices of the people who want the person out of prison are louder (and more powerful) than the voices of the people who want to keep the person in prison.

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