I'm a voice for the people of struggle and oppression and victim to society's pollution: the Arkansas Department of Corrections. A place they proclaim is for rehabilitation, but where does rehabilitation create racial discrimination, falsified disciplinary reports and staff misconduct, because of your skin tone or affiliation?
Two months ago a riot broke out in the barracks where I resided. I was not an active participant of the unstructured event of ignorance, but I, along with several other minorities of the Hispanic and African descent, were targeted and effected by the criminal injustice of the institution and its staff. We received the administering of non-lethal weapons and chemical agents with some excessive force, placed on an emergency transfer to a maximum security facility, only to be wrongfully convicted by the introduction of fabricated lies and reports by the pigs' so-called integrity.
The DOC has policies that are supposed to protect our rights against injustice, but how is it equal or efficient, when grievances and disciplinary appeals come up missing, unanswered or rejected for a variety of reasons and excuses, making it hard to embrace freedom because you're victimized by the bricks of corruption? There has to be a better way to serve the people in creating unity against all aspects of discrimination and false accusations, enslaving us to the institution due to a lack of knowledge, legal and politically. I'm seeking advice from ULK and also any available study materials and books you can offer to advance my knowledge into political organizing and structured movements against the oppressor.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer asks for help but also offers a very good answer to this request. Building unity should be the main focus, and studying political organizing and history to learn from the past is an excellent way to get started. Prisoners initiating unorganized and perhaps poorly-planned demos shows that there is much discontent. That anger needs to be channeled against the criminal injustice system, and by building unity behind bars we can start this process. We invite this comrade, and anyone else interested, to join our correspondence study group. Just write to us and let us know you're interested.
Drugs in prison is a sensitive topic in the convict world. Being that I live in it and that I am STG'd out here in Arizona, I will refrain from speaking/writing about the illegal kind as here in solitary they are not as prevalent as they are out there on the yards. I will not lie though, and say that they are non-existent here, as all convicts know "where there is a will, there is a way." But what I mean is that there is no one all strung out or in debt and so forth.
The number one drug here is the pills that the contract medical provider, Corizon Health, Inc., is giving to everyone, i.e. the legal kind. These prescription drugs that come in the guise of treatment are what reigns supreme here in SMU. You don't even have to wait for visit on the weekends like on the yard. No way not here, here they are passed out on the daily, twice a day, even three times a day to some. These drugs are prescribed by so called "clinicians who use an evidence based approach to treat conditions such as yours which includes maximizing formulary medication use while providing safe and effective treatment," to quote Corizon staff verbatim. This is actually impossible as you cannot eyeball someone and use that as your evidence. That is just a guess, and not an educated one.
Now that they have taken actual pain medication, which is only gabapentin, a pill to treat nerve damage, Corizon staff have been directed to prescribe psych drugs in replacement. So instead of further treatment that include MRIs, EMG treatment, physical therapy, or a range of other options, they are taking away a drug that works, to prescribe you an anti-depressant for pain management as if the depression from you being here was causing you pain and not the stenosis in your neck, AC joint separation, nerve damage, etc. This psych med is like the commercials that you see on TV where the side effect is diarrhea, headache, etc.
The system gives you these legal drugs instead of approving further treatment because MRIs cost money, and outside care visits cost money. So they want you on psych meds to have you walking around like a zombie or not so depressed from being STG'd and housed in solitary. Even the law firms and organizations representing us in Parsons v. Ryan are aware, yet choose to do nothing. Corizon staff and Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) staff actually tell you to seek outside legal representation, like a dare! But while all we want is to be treated for our injuries and not drugs, ADC will not step in nor will our so-called legal team. Instead, our drugs at this unit are more habit-forming and more highly accessible than the illegal kind, and will continue to be supplied by our very own med provider Corizon, and all legally.
ADC will just allow this to continue to take place and protect their mule, Corizon, just like the drug cartels in the motherland. This is ADC's "plaza" and Corizon will continue to funnel drugs all over the state of Arizona, not through tunnels, planes, boats, or on foot but right through the front gate with a badge and a greeting, service with a smile!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer brings up an important point about drugs in prison. The problem isn't just illegal drugs numbing minds and harming bodies, it's also legal drugs being prescribed by the prison medical teams to keep the population pacified. This pacification happens through the action of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, which can dull all emotions, and also through addictive drugs like pain meds. Instead of treating the real problems, both physical and emotional, that are caused by years of living in the harmful conditions of Amerikan prisons, prison medical staff just treat the symptoms, if they offer any treatment at all.
From the capitalist perspective, in the short term providing inadequate health care and getting people addicted to pacifying drugs is an effective way to control costs and control the prison population. But in
the long term this makes no sense, even for the capitalists. Health problems left untreated will only get worse as people age, and become more expensive to deal with. Further, releasing prisoners addicted to
pain killers or other drugs does not lead to productive life on the streets.
This only makes sense in the context of a criminal injustice system that wants to maintain a revolving door of an expanding prison population. One that doesn't care if prisoners live or die, as long as they stay
passive. While it may be true that cost is part of the reason good treatment isn't provided, Amerikans are happy to spend lots of money on prisons in general. Spending all that money is justified because the prisons provide an effective tool of social control, targeting oppressed nations and all who resist the capitalist system. The drugs given to prisoners behind bars are just one part of that control.
When it comes to organizing people in society from within a prison, we find ourselves confronted with many obstacles. Seeing as no major struggle is won without wide mass support, it becomes imperative that we (prisoners) overcome the obstacles placed in our path to cripple our efforts to reach the masses about the prison struggle. In order to gain the masses' support from behind bars we must first reach them and grab their attention. The first obstacle we face as prisoners is censorship.
Unfortunately, censorship is a reality for prisoners more than it is for anybody in society. Authorities can frustrate our efforts in so many ways that you have to admire their ingenuity. Mail can be "lost", thrown away, never delivered or delivered to the wrong person, held under investigation for weeks and so much more. With so many ploys at their disposal it seems a daunting task for us to confront. Luckily for us appearances aren't everything. True, once the letter leaves your hands there is almost nothing you can do to ensure it makes it to its destination. What you can do, though, is maintain detailed records. It's simple, and takes minimal effort, and is an effective way of holding the authorities accountable. Once you have a record established of who, what, where, why and when you mailed something, you can make a case for mail tampering.
What should your mail log have at minimum? First, who you wrote. Second, what you sent them. Third, where you sent your mail (office, school, home address, etc.). Fourth, your general (no need to go into details here) reason for contacting them. Finally, when you placed it in your facility's mail here, you want full date and time if at all possible. On my mail logs I have an additional space or two for which shift and which officer I turned my mail in to. Of course, you may decide to add more details, the above is only a basic formula. Censorship may still happen but you'll be better positioned to confront it. Don't forget, make duplicates of your records, at least two.
Following censorship, the next greatest obstacle is communication. Not just communicating our struggle, but effectively communicating it. Anybody can write a letter full of expletives, angry words and denunciations of cruelties and deprivations. Angry letters will normally push someone away from your cause, where a sensible, well-composed and measure-toned letter will at the very least garner a polite decline. Angry letters rarely garner any response. Sometime before you start reaching out to organizing the streets, you'll need to organize behind bars. My advice is to form a committee or council.
Here in Colorado, we have a small committee (just 3 members) in which we discuss, formulate, criticize and launch our ideas and efforts. Most progress in the prison struggle began with organizing behind bars, reaching out to the streets, effective communication, creating solidarity and achieving a goal together. A formula for success: A.E.H. (Agreement to End Hostilities), movements to end long-term solitary confinement, more humane treatment and so much more.
For us organizing the streets, mobilizing the masses isn't a very difficult task. Censorship and effectively communicating our plight, vision and end goal is the most difficult. Censorship is the authorities' go-to obstruction tactic and besides maintaining records, lodging complaints or lawsuits, there is not much in your control to discourage them. On the other hand, effective communication is wholly in your control. What's the point in overcoming censors if you can't present your case when the opportunity arrives? You already know the answer, but I'll still confirm it – there's no point. Organize yourself first. Mail logs, duplicates of all letters, documents, essays and such. Communicate in an intelligible manner with personality, and don't get disheartened at rejection. Often times it's only a question of pitching the right pitch to the right person.
Note: Prisoners may request Constitutional Rights of Prisoners from their facility's law library as loan material. Related information as well as litigation guidance related to disciplinary matters may be purchased from Prison Legal News, PO Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 83460: "The Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual," by Dan Manville, 2nd Edition, for $49.95 + $6 s&h.
One way to accomplish the task of organizing the streets from behind bars is to show the importance of organizing. We on the inside of the razor wire slave plantations have transformed our minds from criminals serving the interest of the oppressor, into revolutionaries who educate our oppressed nation by way of the Afrikan struggles that happened before us in our history. These true revolutionary nationalists challenged the conditions of slavery with rebellions, and within the system that continues to treat us as second class citizens, in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and still to this day.
Within the prison system we've resisted these practices by our solidarity demonstrations, with 3 mass hunger strikes and our Agreement to End Hostilities, and now we have organized the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington DC on 19 August 2017. With this demonstration we are attempting to show that the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to treat us as modern-day slaves. The Millions for Prisoners March is led by men and women on the inside and organized by men and women on the outside.
This is a show of solidarity with the understanding of knowledge about the injustices being done to us economically, politically, socially, culturally, and militarily by the capitalist system. A system of exploitation dependent on the stratification of society into opposing economic classes who compete within and against one another for upward mobility in the class system, and especially in the prison system across this country. In order to beat this monster we have set up education classes within the prison system, entitled schools of liberation.
With liberation schools you teach the new generation about struggle and what the New Afrikans accomplished by their resistance, which was an example on how to challenge your conditions, like the elders, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party, just to name a few trail blazers. In every form of resistance, be it armed conflict, heroic methods with bravery, educating the masses, leading demonstrations, or getting the word out in newspapers, building schools of liberation will help strengthen you in character and bring about a revolutionary new man & woman, which will give you a world view of scientific socialism, and the desire to end oppression, long-term solitary confinement, and to see people thrive throughout the inner cities of the United $tates. We will never give up or give in.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives some excellent examples of organizing behind bars, both to educate prisoners and to build the movement on the streets. And liberation schools behind bars can accomplish both tasks, by building solid revolutionaries who will continue their activism when they hit the streets. For people looking to get your own schools together, we offer study groups through the mail along with materials to support your prison-based study group. Get in touch to get involved.
I am reporting an act of solidarity. First we must remember what the word solidarity means. Solidarity is defined as: A feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc. (Merriam Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary).
I am currently in the Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU). It's similar to the SHU. The COs think since we're diagnosed with bi-polar, antisocial, major depression and whatever that they can just oppress us. Well, they learned on 4 September 2017 that we're not just a bunch of crazies.
It's hard to get 10 comrades to stand together as a whole so when a member from the LGBTQ community got jumped on and 30 comrades refused to leave the classrooms I was shocked! I asked a few of them "why did you stand up for one of mine?" Some of them said they were tired of the COs putting their hands on us, and some of them said the COs went too far. I thanked these comrades for standing with me and my LGBTQ family.
So, I'm sharing this because in the July/August ULK (No. 57) a Nevada prisoner weighed in on "Fighting Gender Abuse." As comrades we need to stand together in this way more. You shouldn't care who or what the person is, who cares? If s/he is in the same struggle as you then you need to help him/her. In the long run by you helping them you'll be helping yourself.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a great example of people coming together behind bars. And the writer highlights the important point that we need unity across different groups and individuals. This imperialist system has created some major divisions between groups of people: based on class, nation and gender. And these divisions are found in prisons as well.
In prison, class tends to be less relevant as prisoners are forced together as lumpen, at least while behind bars. But the national oppression that is so fundamental to imperialism's power and wealth creates national divisions. Within the United $tates (and around the world) oppressed nations are encouraged to fight one another and even to form sets within a nation to fight, so that they won't come together against the oppressor nation.
Gender oppression is a bit different behind bars than on the streets, with prisons segregated by designated biological sex. One of the most common manifestations of gender oppression we see is against non-heterosexual prisoners (or those perceived as so). Uniting against this abuse starts with people, like those described above, recognizing that this abuse is wrong, no matter who is targetted. We can take it to the next level by proactively combatting gender oppression among prisoners as well as by the guards. We need to defend our comrades against abuse, and educate our allies about why gender oppression is wrong.
This is in response to an article from ULK 55 titled "Maintain the Trust in the United Front" by a Delaware prisoner. Legion is United Struggle from Within (USW). Legion used to be ranking general in a Damu organization here in California. Then life happened and Legion began to question the line. After consulting his peoples, Legion decided to become once again a NGE 5%er. In doing so, Legion wound up on a Special Needs Yard (SNY). Never ever snitching on any former comrade from the lumpen organization (LO) he was representing.
Legion first began re-educating deaf, dumb and blind members of the Black Nation by giving them the knowledge of themselves, then using United Front for Peace in Prison (UFPP) via ULK and other publications to show and prove to these young Gods the reality of the material conditions we are living in.
In the article mentioned above, a Delaware prisoner is worried about a rapist or a snitch when this comrade is compromised. This comrade is using the state-issued labels to disenfranchise potential comrades. This comrade must not know how to turn base metal into gold. Every persyn we built with has become a valuable asset to the movement.
You can't have a united front without having every class of inmate represented because in California, SNY is a reality not a myth [having grown to one third of the prison population - ULK Editor]. And some counties are requiring gang members to PC up in county jail to get plea bargains without snitching. There are entire Aztlán hoods SNY because they refuse to pay taxes to the mob.
As for the "snitch," I know known snitches who are walking on GP yards and are protected by policy put in place in the 90s by these pigs to "keep the peace on yards." And I know some real revolutionaries, who, because of a Delaware prisoner's line of thinking, had to tap out because of unrealistic politics.
Legion is fed up with PC politics on both sides of the fence. There are so-called leaders who are further dehumanizing victims of U.$. imperialism by not letting people prove why they should be in good standing on the line. Being GP don't make you active! If you were put in a cross this is for you. If you kept quiet and wound up SNY this is for you.
Legion demands a recall of all "leaders" of New Afrikan movements who adopted white supremacist politics instead of self-determination. Hugo "Yogi" Pinell (Rest in Paradise) demanded his right to walk the line head held high because he was innocent of his controlling charge. There are a number of revolutionaries who caught cases and were accused of rape/molestation/murder/trafficking/domestic violence, etc. Yet, some woke up because of such maneuvers and became stalwarts of the movement. It is part of the setup!
Comrades can be re-educated and most take up revolutionary politics because they become aware of the injustice system that pits self against self, fast against slow, wealth against poverty, and male against female. We have to take a real scientific look at the reality of one's incarceration before we discard a 'rad as no good. Let the measuring stick be his/her/its actions now vs. what a greenwall/pig say. We can't limit our resources because a few feel superior over a group of misguided revolutionaries; that's class warfare within the prisoner class, which represents a contradiction in need of resolution.
What if a person was witness to some foul shit and the DA/Judge/PD and public pretender tried to coerce a solid kat to testify on his brother at arms but he stayed silent? Took a deal that even though evidence suggested otherwise, he had to take a deal to secure his release because a jury of 12 would have killed him off. When told on, he stayed solid. When framed — solid. When forced to be SNY — solid. How does that make sense?
California Department of Corrections (CDC) is rolling back archaic policy that says you foul for XYZ. Why? Because real revolutionaries who have been isolated for years are now running the show again. I hope every Afrikan dig deep to figure out if he/she/it/they are active or just want to go home. In the 5 we are told your square is where you live and where you die. So I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. What I speak is the principal contradiction of convict vs. the system. Class warfare under the most unfavorable conditions.
If you want revolution it's all or none. It takes time, effort and resources to build a revolutionary advocate. Real snitches are free men. Think about that.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Here, Legion echoes what we have been arguing for years about not writing off whole sections of the prison population, such as Special Needs Yards (SNY) in California, which still have a stigma among some comrades. That's not to say that there are not prisoners who have snitched or raped. Both are serious crimes against the people. Snitches, have given us a very good reason not to trust them. But we need to guard against snitch-jacketing, which the enemy will use to divide good comrades. Those who have committed rape and other serious crimes against the people also need to earn our trust and demonstrate an understanding that what they did was wrong. But again we can’t just take the injustice system's labels and convictions at face value.
Society is quick to condemn the oppressed nation lumpen. But being a hot target for the criminal injustice system can lead to making compromises that most Amerikans would never imagine having to make. Organizing the imprisoned lumpen inherently means organizing people who have committed anti-people activities, many very serious. As we say in every issue of ULK, we don't propose letting all prisoners automatically free. Under a future dictatorship of the proletariat all people will be given the opportunity to become productive members of society. We should all see ourselves as reforming criminals in this country. Whether we've been convicted by the imperialists or not, reforming ourselves requires a deep commitment to fighting patriarchy and imperialism.
There is one thing that occurred, that I feel the need to address, because it made a huge impact beyond what I even intended. It deals with my class "Commitment to Change." This is one of those "it's all your fault" classes.
On day one, sitting there with a headache from my desire to stop drinking coffee. I heard an individual in the class ask a question about choice as it relates to culture. I do not remember the exact question.
But the teacher, who is a psychologist, responded by saying that the "ghetto culture, for example is a negative culture, and individuals within the ghetto have a choice to stay and get caught up in this
culture or to leave and better themselves."
Hearing this I attacked his reasoning, showing that his position was not only racist, but extremely inaccurate. I told him that his argument in fact proves to be the exact opposite of reality. I do not remember the whole debate, but he finally stated that he had to stop and end class.
After class a large number of people from this class, and many more who were not in the class, approached me to thank me and to inquire about the USW and MIM(Prisons). For the past week all my old copies of ULK have been passed around through so many people it's not funny.
Most of these people I had attempted to open a discussion with before but they had no interest. I mention this because I think it is a good idea to have an open discussion either via USW, or ULK, where examples like this are shown. Why? Because honestly, I was extremely surprised at the response due simply to me challenging the facilitator of a class. I would love to know in what other ways comrades have instigated mass discussion because we need it bad here at this pivotal point, and if I can follow these comrades' footsteps I will.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an excellent example of using everyday activities and discussions to inspire political thought and interest. While some folks will be inspired immediately by a generic political speech or a book or newspaper, many others will need to see the political ideas put into practice. This could be in the course of a debate with a teacher or other authority figure, or it could be in a campaign to fight for some basic rights. As this comrade points out, we should think creatively about how to interject politics into everyday prison life to capture the attention and imagination of those who otherwise might show no interest.
We echo this writer's call for other examples and ideas on how to elicit interest in politics. Send us your yard-tested tips and stories.
My main issue right now is that I cannot get grievance forms to complain and grieve my issues. The 30 days are over on some, and on others I'll still have a chance to grieve my issues "if" I get some grievances! The counselor for my cell house, Ms. Hill, says to ask the gallery officer, but when I do ask the gallery officer I'm told there is none and/or it's due to the no budget in the state! Grievances are like gold and inmates hoard them and sell them 1 grievance for $1! What can I do, do you have some guidance for me on this issue? I'm attaching the response from the warden and I still haven't heard back from the Acting Director for IDOC.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade created a grievance petition for Illinois, which prisoners can use to demand grievances be addressed in that state. So when ey asks "what can I do," ey is already leading by example, building a campaign to address this problem. We would suggest that the Illinois petition should be updated to include this problem of the prison not providing grievance forms. This is a most basic issue that of course needs to be addressed before grievances can even be answered.
And this is also a very good example of the completely unjust nature of the criminal injustice system. Setting up rules that can't be followed (like submitting grievance forms that are impossible to obtain), so that the prisons never have to abide by their own regulations. This is an example of why we don't expect to put an end to the injustice system by working within the system. They will continue to make it impossible for us to win using their process. But we can use the grievance petition to expose these problems and build a united movement demanding our rights. This movement will build the basis of the unity necessary to ultimately overthrow this unjust system.
If you want to work on this campaign in Illinois, send us a stamped envelope for a copy of the Illinois grievance petition.
[These guidelines were compiled by the USW Coordinator of MIM(Prisons) incorporating points made by members of the Countrywide Council of USW.]
The Countrywide Council of USW, or Double C, has been working on a concerted effort to reach out to other organizations as a way to expand organizing with people on the outside, and to build a united front in general. The Double C decided to publish their letter to CURE in ULK as an example of these efforts, and to provide a guide to others. We invite all USW comrades to participate in this outreach campaign, and this article is to provide some guidelines in doing so.
First, many readers may ask, am I a member of United Struggle from Within (USW)? Can I write to other organizations as a member of USW?
Good question. Anyone could send out a letter and sign it "USW", we have no control over that. But we certainly hope you would not do that unless you are pushing USW campaigns and politics accurately. USW has two levels of membership: supporter and leader. Supporters are defined as:
"A USW supporter helps build USW in eir prison/area. This persyn might not initiate projects by eirself, but will readily implement requests from USW leaders and MIM(Prisons). Supporters may contribute in many different areas of work including: writing articles for ULK, producing revolutionary art, translating, sending in donations, running a study group or otherwise educating people and building reading skills, working on a campaign such as the grievance petition, referring new subscribers to ULK, and conducting MIM(Prisons)-directed surveys. This persyn writes to MIM(Prisons) less regularly [than a USW leader] but is responsive to letters and completes work assigned within a reasonable timeframe."
A leader is someone who launches campaigns and efforts to expand USW independent of MIM(Prisons), and/or organizes others under that leadership. Once you've developed a practice of leadership that we can verify over a period of time, you are considered a leader and you become eligible to join the Countrywide Council of USW.
As a mass organization, USW does allow for its members to also be members in other local, lumpen or nation-specific organizations at the same time. Comrades in the Double C should not identify themselves as such. Statements representing the Double C, and USW as a whole, must go through the Double C for approval first. Therefore publicly identifying oneself as a Double C representative gives a false sense of authority, while risking the security of the individual member.
The Double C is currently developing its protocol for conducting official correspondence with other organizations. If you feel comfortable representing USW work and positions, then you can write a letter from "[Your Name], a member of United Struggle from Within." However, since you might not accurately represent certain aspects of USW’s positions because you are new, the Double C will serve to provide official responses from USW to other organizations. You can even mention this in your own letters.
With this guideline, you do not need to be a USW leader to write other organizations about USW campaigns. In fact, if you’ve been reading ULK for a while, perhaps writing such a letter could be your first action taken as a USW supporter. But before you do so, you might ask: What should I write to these organizations about?
The focus should be on USW campaigns, projects and positions, and how they might overlap (and differ) from those of the other organization. A good way to structure your letter is "unity-struggle-unity." Start off talking about some aspect of USW work and how it connects to the work of that organization. If you can identify disagreements with this organization then you might bring those up as a form of struggle next. Or the struggle may just be something like, "hey, I haven’t seen you working on this issue, you should do more on it." Then close with more forward looking unity – try to lay out some practical steps for how they might work together with USW.
You may also write to other publications in response to a specific article or topic to point out a disagreement, or something that they missed. We often print such struggles with readers in ULK. Again, "unity-struggle-unity" is a good approach, and circling back to USW's practical work and analysis is helpful.
Regarding the letter to CURE from the Double C below, we should point out that CURE is a very different organization from ours. CURE believes imperialism can be reformed and it does not stand for the liberation of oppressed nations in this country. But the letter focuses on where we have unity and where we can work together, while pushing CURE to work with us in those areas. That is a good example of building toward a united front, where organizations with different beliefs and missions can find commonality.
We encourage comrades to reach out to other organizations as a USW representative on your own, and in many cases we will have multiple USW members writing the same organization. This will build up USW’s reputation among other organizations, and allow our membership to grow by engaging in these dialogues.
What do I do when they respond to my letter? Once that dialogue reaches a point where you are not sure how to respond or proceed, you will want to hand it over to the Countrywide Council of USW or even to MIM(Prisons), depending on the topic of discussion. We will keep you in the loop on the ongoing discussion.
What is the goal of this campaign? There are multiple goals. First, we hope to popularize the work of USW with those on the outside, demonstrating our scientific work on the ground. This will increase the chances of building support for that work in the future. Second, we hope to build working relationships on campaigns and projects with other organizations. We hope to expand the view of these organizations and publications beyond select popular prisoners to the prison masses as a whole. Third, we hope to increase political unity within the prison movement. And where we can't establish unity, we hope to clarify our differences. This will help everyone in the movement better grasp the issues and the different positions that organizations take.
If you think USW is focused on the right campaigns and issues, and you think others should get on board, then this might be a good project for you to get involved in. Let us know who you're struggling with and over what. Or, if it's not too much trouble, even send us a copy of your letters. We can work with you if you want feedback before you send your first letter.
An Open letter to CURE National
from the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 2310
Washington DC 20013
5 September 2017
First and foremost, we would like to give you thanks for the service that you offer to prisoners and the families of prisoners. In these days prisoners find it hard to locate individuals and organizations worthy of praise beyond the worth that most newsletters and papers are printed on. Members of the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within have read the latest few issues of CURE National’s Newsletter back to front and front to back. We must say, it checks out, so thank you.
One of the first CURE National Newsletters that we received included a listing of state chapters alongside the new requirements for state and issue chapters, namely that chapters have to meet, maintain a newsletter, and report the names of their members to their office in Washington. Now, we reviewed the list and see California is listed, but has nothing more than: [an individual's name, email and phone number].
One of our Council representatives wrote Colorado-CURE, Iowa-CURE, Nevada-CURE, New Mexico-CURE and Oregon-CURE of the western branches. Two replied in favor to our inquiry to be involved in local struggles, on account that California has no official branch of its own. Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, Chair at Colorado-CURE, suggested our Council representative write to the national office with comments.
The Countrywide Council is a leading body of a prisoner mass organization under the name United Struggle from Within (USW). USW is the brainchild of members and their students within an organization by the name Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons). Though it is an organization that is political from the vantage point of anti-imperialism and thus is anti-prisons, USW works for any reforms that are scientifically sane with the potential to [contribute to] end[ing] prisons as they stand.
USW has a leadership in prisons across the United $tates and can attest to a strong following in the pages of our bi-monthly newsletter (free to prisoners), published by our mother group, under the title Under Lock & Key. In the state with our strongest source of political activity, California, there isn't even a CURE branch?! We believe CURE is missing out on the greatest opportunity it could have, and this is why the Council is committed to help CURE remedy this.
It is the job of our members to find ways to keep our movement working on issues that have the greatest potential of reducing prison populations and partnering with groups and organizations who share our vision of a world with less to no prisons. We believe that working with CURE National to develop a CURE California, the California Statewide Council of USW can put to use much more of the information and resources available, but only in a more direct way.
Take CURE National’s policy initiative for 2016. USW missed the opportunity to involve itself with the CURE policy initiative for 2016 due to unfamiliarity with CURE and the lack of any direct line of communication with its leadership, which would be needed before we moved for the Council to follow. We commend the democratic process of decision making in regards to what struggles CURE concentrates its resources and power. Particularly, CURE National Policy 924 – prisons. As USW is a group heavily engaged in struggles with nearly every state in the United $tates – addressing "The failure of prison grievance systems", we are sure that we, and our memberships may unite in forces to bring about a uniform grievance system in prisons across the board.
USW, and its supporters, has been working on a national prisoners campaign demanding prison officials address, honor and upkeep prisoners' grievances. Petitions have been developed at prisons in all of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Each state has a petition drawn particularly for its local conditions and regulations. [There is also a more generic petition written for use by prisoners held outside these states.]
USW's most difficult task is finding public support to move forward our campaigns in a peaceful and legal way. CURE National’s policy initiatives 2015 1185 hinted at what it thinks is the root of prisoners' problems: "Introducing a Constitutional Amendment into Congress that would repeal the exception clause in the 13th Amendment. This clause provides that slavery is not abolished for those incarcerated. Prisoners are exploited, and for many groups the exploitation raises to the level of slavery." For the purpose of saving time and space, we will not share our science on the subject, but instead guide supporters of the amerikkkan Constitution to the very First Amendment and protecting it. The salvation of the entire Constitution relies on the sound voice of the civilized people. If it is believed that prisoners are slaves and not citizens then it should be understood slaves are property, not human beings. Slaves are objects of labor, tasked as tools and instruments to build or destroy an ideal society. Slaves have no voice to speak of injustice, but instead masters and lords who represent them as Power of Attorney.
Prisoners have not signed off of the grid (U.$. citizenship). So it is extreme to take up struggles to have the state abolish prison slavery, however it would be totally reasonable to educate the public about the need for public oversight and community advocacy for the First Amendment rights of prisoners to be protected. It is with greater grievance power that prisoners and their supporters may address the injustices of prisons.
Prisoners, their organizations and the support groups behind grassroots crews lead in civil rights battles with the state. The problem is that the massive so-called grassroots base is alienated when it comes to discussions regarding the general body of the massive population (or masses). We believe this comes at the expense of a care-free public. People aren't interested enough in the affairs of prisoners or their families. The general consensus is that prisoners did the crime and must face the time.
Organizations like CURE National are in a position to change the public opinion. Its members, who are of the public, may interact with communities in ways that prisoners cannot; whether it be due to high levels of censorship applied by prison guards disrupting our lines of communication, or interference from a higher power (the U.$. intelligence agencies). Prisoner leadership behind these walls requires greater socialization opportunities if the Prison Movement is to impact upon our state of existence the change that rehabilitates. So here you have it, an open letter calling on you to serve.
Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
I just want to thank you for teaching me so much in so short an amount of time. My main studies are case law, criminal law, penal codes, and important stuff like that. But about 6 months ago I ran across your ad in the Inmate Shopper and contacted you. At first I had a hard time seeing the big picture because it was difficult reading your literature being that I'm white (Irish/German/Dutch/Italian) and when you refer to the enemy or the oppressor it's always the white privileged class or the white supremacy who rules over the lower class and enslaves them mentally and physically and financially.
At first I was offended because you're saying that there needs to be a revolution to overthrow this imperialist nation, and I'm thinking "wait a minute, these are my people they're talking about, this is some racist ass bullshit here." But the more I read your newsletters the more I can see your point, and relate to your view. I've always been of the lower class, poor, and disadvantaged. Once I started going to jail and prison it really became evident that I was some kind of slave to the system, and there was a supreme group of people who ultimately called all the shots, ran the government, waged the wars, ran all the major corporations, and the list goes on. I was looked down on by these people; they might be white but they ain't my people, the cops, the sheriff, the judge, the DA, the Illuminati, etc.
Reading your newsletters helps me understand who they are and what they have been doing, where I stand in all of this, where this country came from, who runs it, where it's going, and what's gonna happen to us if we don't band together and do something about it.
Anyways, I'm new in all this and still just soaking it up. Thank you, and keep the newsletters coming, I really appreciate it and I will pass them on to others who are politically motivated, some Black, [email protected], white, and Asian.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We're always happy to hear from folks like this reader who can get past their own white identity to see the oppressive system of imperialism for what it is. When we talk about the predominantly-white nation of Amerikkka as an oppressor nation, that doesn't mean all whites are excluded from the revolutionary movement. Or that we think whites face no oppression. Rather we are discussing a system-wide condition with one nation in power, and that power benefiting all from that nation, including the poorest people. And so even if the benefits don't include being a millionaire, white people as a whole have a material interest in maintaining imperialism. Still, many white folks can take a stand against oppression of all kinds. These folks essentially go against their national interests to join up with the revolutionary movement. And we welcome them!