The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Migrants] [ULK Issue 54]
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Acknowledging DOJ Report on Private Prisons

There has been a lot of buzz recently about a report on private prisons released by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.$. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the subsequent memo from the Attorney General announcing they will phase out the use of private prisons for federal detention.(1)

The petty-bourgeois anti-corporate capitalists who have been campaigning against private prisons for a long time are seeing this announcement as a result of their organizing work. And it's possible that on some level the announcements are an effort by the DOJ to quell the slew of recent bad publicity.(2) Yet we disagree with these campaigners' idea that capitalism is okay so long as the petty-bourgeoisie is allowed to compete. We disagree with their stance that prisons under capitalism function for the common good so long as the private corporations get out the way. We see more similarities between state-run and privately-operated facilities than we see differences.

The facilities that the DOJ is talking about closing house mostly non-citizens,(3) which raises questions for us as to what is the real intention or cause of this change, and what's coming down the line for the enforcement of U.$. borders. We have no reason to believe this shift from the BOP has anything to do with more freedom or better treatment for non-citizens.

Capitalists follow money. In the 1980s, there was increased imprisonment rates and a need for more housing for prisoners, which state bureaucracy couldn't build fast enough. So capitalists built prison facilities in order to get money from the state. They kept costs as low as possible and tried to keep capacity as full as possible. The cause and effect is basic math. Obviously when putting profits over people there are many inherent problems that will come up. Eventually, as the capitalists are accustomed to, their venture would need to change shape. It appears the time to change shape is imminent.

We don't know what back-room deals broke down or were made that led to the report and memo. Did the DOJ just strike a better deal with a private busing company, to expedite the deportation of these migrants?(4) Was the pressure to change significantly more influential from the corrections officers unions, who are excluded from employment in private facilities?(5) Is it more closely related to a reduction in the federal prison population overall, and private prisons are just being used as a convenient scapegoat? "Increased prosecution of unlawful entry and re-entry" has been touted as a "hallmark of President Obama's enforcement policies," is the Democratic Party just trying to save face leading up to the next presidential election?(6) Is there something else that has yet to be uncovered, that helped expedite the decision? And as we imply above, maybe the capitalists have simply found a more profitable use for their facilities and are welcoming this change.(7) We seriously doubt the DOJ decided to phase out the use of private prisons on moral grounds.

There is something to be said about the difficulties in operating a prison with extremely bad conditions, whether private or publicly run. Oppression breeds resistance. Where we see riots in private prisons literally burn them to the ground and make them uninhabitable, we haven't seen the same level of resistance in public facilities in a long time.(8) Commentators have cited common nationality as helpful in non-citizen prisoners organizing themselves (in contrast to the divided populations of most multi-national prisons in the United $tates). Also, being a migrant with more to gain than lose in resisting, responding to extreme oppression is natural and necessary.

The state has a long-term interest in balancing their ongoing oppression with some rewards for those who play along. We see this constantly in our organizing work: there are many abuses, and grievances are denied without grounds, but if the prisoners have TVs and nudie mags many are happy to go with the flow and not stir up any trouble. The private prison companies either haven't mastered this delicate balance, or don't care because their interests for profit are so short-term and immediate. When the cost-benefit analysis is no longer in their favor, they'll just move on to a different industry where the profit margin is higher. The state's long-term interest of social control of oppressed internal semi-colonies, however, can't afford the same luxury.

Notes:
(1). Announcement from Attorney General that BOP will phase out private prisons: https://www.justice.gov/opa/blog/phasing-out-our-use-private-prisons. Report from OIG on privately-operated federal prisons: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/e1606.pdf. Memo from Attorney General to Bureau of Prisons ordering nonrenewal of private contracts: https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/886311/download.
(2). MIM(Prisons), "Private Prisons Exposed, and Same as Public," ULK 51, July 2016.
(3). OIG DOJ, Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Monitoring of Contract Prisons, p. i. "low security,criminal alien adult males with 90 months or less remaining to serve on their sentences."
(4). Private prison busing companies have recently been in the news for their mistreatment of detainees. See: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/07/06/inside-the-deadly-world-of-private-prisoner-transport#.TbPYIHGeb and http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/the-little-known-world-of-private-prison-transport-escapes-rapes-and-death-141006?news=854448. Yet Freddie Gray's death at the hand of the Baltimore Police Department was not caused by a private company. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Freddie_Gray
(5). American Federation of Government Employees, "Federal Correctional Officers Praise DOJ Decision to End Use of Private Prisons," 18 August 2016.
(6). Zoe Carpenter, "A 2-Day Revolt at a Texas Private Prison Reveals Everything That's Wrong with Criminalizing Immigration," The Nation, 24 February 2016.
(7). Joshua Holland, "Private Prison Companies are Embracing Alternatives to Incarceration," The Nation, 23 August 2016. Additionally, vacant prisons have been turning into marijuana growing facilities in Nevada and California. With the change in legality of recreational and medicinal marijuana across the country, profitable options are opening up for these soon-to-be-uncontracted facilities. See: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/city-704094-adelanto-cultivation.html and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3686519/Coalinga-California-prison-marijuana-farm.html
(8). Report, p. i, "In recent years, disturbances in several federal contract prisons resulted in extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer." See also: https://www.thenation.com/article/2-day-revolt-texas-private-prison-reveals-everything-thats-wrong-criminalizing-immigrati/ and http://www.cbs5az.com/story/29485786/arizona-governor-calls-for-probe-of-private-prison-unrest.
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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Southern Ohio Correctional Facility] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 53]
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Update on Lucasville Hunger Strike

We sent you a Certified letter stating that the Lucasville hunger strike began 5 July 2016. Here's an update on the Lucasville hunger strike. I was the last comrade to terminate the strike, out of 20 comrades. There were 7 who were successful. These comrades have been sent back to general population. The issue of the practice of excessive solitary confinement is still an issue at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

Brothers who spend lots of time in solitary confinement are subjected to the worst form of psychological abuse which can affect a person long after he or she has been released into society. The Warden claims that changes in Lucasville are in progress. My strike ended on 25 August 2016. If the Warden doesn't work to end the torture and abuse at Lucasville, we will start the hunger strike again. Thanks for printing this. We need your support.

Comrade, SOCF hunger strike 7-5-16 to 8-25-16


MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this comrade for keeping us informed on the status of the hunger strike and the immediate results. It will take a long concerted effort to end abuses in prisons, and we believe it will also take changing the economic system we live under. We commend these comrades for their resolve to go on strike again if needed. We also encourage them to educate others on the history of this struggle and how it fits into the struggle against injustices worldwide, and try to get them involved. Only through long-term organizing, building and fighting, will we be able to take down the system of imperialism and replace it with a system that serves the majority of the world's people. At that point we will have the power to eliminate oppressive structures that reinforce capitalism, like the criminal injustice system and its many tools of social control.

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[Education] [Texas] [ULK Issue 52]
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The Echo is a Voice for the Injustice System

I would like to bring to the attention of all comrades one of the more subtle ways the Texas department of criminal injustice subjugates its slaves. Yes we are slaves. The Texas prison system has a little tool it uses to affect the minds of the slaves. It's called The Echo. This is a monthly publication put out by TDCinJ (Texas Department of Criminal inJustice). It has about as much journalistic integrity as a house of cards has stability. TDCJ is forever finding ways to save a nickel, such as starving the slaves on the weekend. So it is a wonder that something like The Echo should not be cut from the budget. But it remains as it is: an insidious but very effective weapon for keeping the slaves compliant.

All comrades, understand The Echo is a propaganda publication funded by TDCinJ for the sole purpose of aiding in your continued submission. I would like to point out a particular feature that is popular among the slaves and that is a section called "DARBY," wherein slaves send complaints and the like. The response from Darby is always the same. He warns the slaves to stop sniveling and whining. He warns us that we are in prison and should expect to just accept every indignity and injustice that we are subjected to. He preys upon the slaves' masculinity, as if to file a grievance is for girls and lesser men. Even in the middle of the columns will appear a little baby in diapers with tears falling from his eyes as if to imply that if you make a complaint or speak a word about an issue you are a sniveling baby. That is just one of the subtle ways The Echo manipulates the minds of the slaves.

Another point is what you will not find in The Echo and that is anything that actually benefits or improves your quality of life on the plantation, such as, about 18 months ago in the Midland paper on the front page was an article about the heat issue in TDCinJ. Recent federal court cases have been won regarding people dying in custody, and TDCinJ has been ordered to address the issue. The article showed Holiday Unit being equipped with some portable swamp coolers for trial testing. For the last 18 months I have been waiting for The Echo to report on this issue and not a peep, zip zero zilch nada.

Comrades, The Echo is a dangerous rag that should be avoided at all times. A journalistic publication that purports to publish information of importance to inmates should do that and The Echo is nothing more than a tool of oppression. Do not read The Echo. It is only for the advantage of the prisoncrats and not us slaves. Use your grievances and fuck Darby.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have seen a few issues of The Echo, and we echo this writer's criticism that it is just intended for distraction and to cultivate an attitude of complacency among its readers. All media outlets reflect the interests of the group that funds and edits it. If we want to hear news and information that will build up the oppressed peoples of the world, including U.$. prisoners, we need media outlets that reflect those interests. For example, this newsletter is written mostly by oppressed nation prisoners of the United $tates, and is specifically intended to reflect the interests of the most oppressed people in the world.

MIM(Prisons) not only publishes Under Lock & Key, it also compiles and distributes the exact information that the author of this article is talking about: how to file grievances, how to get your needs and rights addressed within TDCinJ. At about $2.50 a pop, we send in hundreds of these Texas Activist Packs each year. While our projects address a dire need, which is created by TDCinJ itself, we are not funded by the bourgeoisie and so have very limited financial support. If you want to see this newsletter continue, you need to support it with your political and financial contributions.

We also want to address this writer's framing of prisoners as slaves. MIM(Prisons) disagrees with the use of the economic classification of "slavery" for U.$. prisoners, which we've addressed at length elsewhere. We also question the intent of organizing around the line that prisoners are slaves. Many people who push this line are pushing for economic integration of prisoners into the U.$. economic sphere. They advocate for an exploiter-level minimum wage for prisoners, ignoring the fact that this wage is earned by U.$. military aggression abroad. This amounts to demanding privilege for prisoners at the expense of the international proletariat. We have to always be cautious about how we frame demands to ensure they are in the interests of the world's oppressed, and not just favoring one group over another.

Instead MIM(Prisons) sees prisons as a tool of social control, much like The Echo itself, to keep the oppressed internal semi-colonies under the boot of U.$. imperialism. Instead of asking for more integration into Amerikkka, we push prisoners to take up their respective nation's liberation struggle for self-determination, with the goal of a future without imperialism, slavery or any form of oppression.

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[Theory] [China]
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Book review: In the People's Republic

In the People's Republic:
An American's First Hand View of Living and Working in China
by Orville Schell
1977


The author's trip was arranged in the 1970s by the Hinton's, an Amerikan family. The group was composed of men and womyn between the ages of 18 and 60. As I read 'In the Peoples Republic' I came to see each subchapter as a beautiful blueprint of Maoism in practice It was very informative on how people can transform all their daily habits to better the people as a whole. For instance, Mao's China seemed what some today would call "green" friendly, Schell explains how hotels in the city that obviously generate much trash, separated the trash for organic garbage, which was sent to pig farms and used for slop. This was done nationwide. Even human waste was collected in what they called "honey trucks" and taken to special ponds where thy would turn to fertilizer. This recycling and notion of wasting nothing is an advancement that even 30+ years later has not reached the U$ on a nationwide level. The Chinese people's ability to use all material was remarkable, wasting nothing was common practice.

On the passing of Chiang Kai Shek Schell notes that hardly a mention was given in the People's Daily publication, and there was no rejoycing or anger shown in the streets or otherwise and that the people hated what he stood for, but not him as a person. This shows the difference under socialism and the behavior the people developed even to disliked enemies, unlike here in Amerika as we witnessed the gleefullness and cheer in the U$ media when Saddam Hussein was executed. It is clear that under capitalism humyns mean shit.

Shell included Mao's essay "the twenty manifestations of bureaucracy" in its entirety. This document showed Mao's passionate disagreement with different bureaucracy. It was real good to see Mao fervently denouncing ever becoming disconnected from the people. During the Cultural Revolution many plays and dance troupes even addressed this issue with one of the performers wearing oversized glasses, dressed in a suit with much face makeup appearing very pale from staying in an office and carrying a briefcase. This performer played the arrogant bureaucracy.

What I enjoyed about 'In the Peoples Republic' was it gave a brief description of all levels of society in a Maoist country. Even the artists and performers only created artforms that had a correct line and benefited the people, and what was amazing is even the best performers or dancers were never singled out and praised. This is a deep contrast to what is seen here in Amerika where it is totally opposite and performers or dancers and especially actors and actresses are praised for their individuality. Individualism is not only praised here but expected.

This book spoke a lot of Mao's emphasis on including the peasants in all spheres of society, Schell described how dance troupes would take their andmade props and travel by foot to mountainous areas off the beaten path where they would perform their politically charged dance performances and songs to peasants and when Shell asked one of the performers "where do you live on such trips?" the performer stated "we live with the peasants" and he went on to describe how they have the "three togethers": eat together, live together and work together.

A scenario was posed that would be incomprehensible here in the U.$. While touring Schell's guide in China gathered some workers off the street, a factory worker and other store workers, and conducted a political discussion and the workers explained how politics apply to their jobs. Schell wrote how in the U.$. during a foreign tour if one would gather a Kentucky Fried Chicken worker, a Safeway worker, etc and the same discussion was held, how different that discussion would be. I believe this is because in this country it would not be beneficial to U.$. interests for the masses to take up politics because should the people become aware of how things work, capitalism would suffer, so the average person is kept in the dark about politics. I thought this was a good scenario that showed the big contradiction in socialist versus capitalist societies, and the average person living in these societies.

Having experienced the imperialist prisons and its most suppressive states, i.e. control units/security housing units, I was particularly interested in the subchapter on prisons. There was a short description of the prisons in Mao's China that I enjoyed, I saw the real difference in treatment in a socialist prison and in a Maoist prison specifically. Here in imperialist Amerika most prisons will often pass out Christian bibles, prison officials will leave a vast amount of bibles and other religious literature in the dayroom where it is all conveniently accessible to prisoners. Prison officials often send religious pastors cell to cell asking if prisoners would like to discuss/learn about religion. I often tell these pastors I would rather discuss communism and this usually sparks a long debate between me and the pastor, ending with the pastor walking off angry because I point out religion's long history of atrocity and oppression.

According to Schell, when he and his group visited a prison in China, all cells had Marx, Lenin and Maist books in each cell. They also worked and partook in criticism/self-criticism, there were not reports of prison riots, suicide or guards abusing prisoners, unlike here inthe U.$. where there are many of suicides and guards are always caught abusing prisoners. Here even rape is a common occurance, depression is high with guards feeling a sense of hopelessness as well as prisoners. In contrast, in Mao's Chian prison guards felt it a great honor to work as prison guards as it was seen as a great contribution in rebuilding these people and socialist reconstruction as a whole.

This book was good and gave a good study of Maoism in practice. I would liked it to be more in depth on things or to show more on China's economics or its military, nonetheless it was a good look into everyday life in a Maoist society.

MIM(Prisons) adds: The author is a Harvard graduate who travelled with a group of other U.$. citizens to China in the last few months of Mao's life. They worked in a factory for a few weeks, worked in a field for a few weeks, and toured many facilities such as clinics and schools. In the People's Republic is written exclusively through the subjective filter of a typical Amerikkkan with a bourgeois perspective. The main take-home lesson of this book seems to be "Socialism works for the Chinese because they are so odd and different from Amerikans. Socialism is against so many cultural values we have as Amerikans, and it is bad for us for these reasons."

It gives a favorable view of China in this period, but summarizes it as the Chinese are "just different" from Amerikans. The author writes off much of the Chinese hospitality as awkward and boring, and has a near obsession with connecting with the Chinese on an individual level, and telling anecdotes with a sense of irony. While having an apparent ignorance of Mao Tse-Tung Thought, the author does not hesitate to interpret the Chinese's body language and conversation through an Amerikan cultural lens.

If you already have an understanding of Maoism and Chinese society under socialism, it can be interesting to read about such an important project from a bourgeois perspective. While the author's subjective interpretation of events is "off", ey at least doesn't lie about how successful the Chinese were in raising the living standards of even the most destitute people in the country in incredible ways. There is much first-hand favorable reflection on the cultural revolution as well.

There is one point that we disagree with in this review, and apparently also with the author of In the People's Republic. Both Schell and the author of the review seem to think that Amerikan's are not given information about politics because it is in the interests of Amerikan capitalism to keep them in the dark. The reviewer wrote: "I believe this is because in this country it would not be beneficial to U.$. interests for the masses to take up politics because should the people become aware of how things work, capitalism would suffer, so the average person is kept in the dark about politics."

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Jefferson City Correctional Center] [Missouri]
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Missouri Long-Term Solitary Confinement Frameups and Torture

I am a Missouri Prisoner in Jefferson City. I have been in the SHU for over a year and the COs here, staff, caseworkers, nurses, etc are illegally keeping inmates in the SHU longer than necessary, refusing inmates medical attention, refusing inmates meals, harassing and assaulting inmates. I could list about a hundred more ways these capitalists are breaking the law.

I came to the hole for an alleged "guard assault." I got charged with 1st degree assault on law enforcement and convicted with 20 years ran in with my current sentence.

When I first got thrown in the hole for this I was placed in a highly air conditioned cell in nothing but my boxers and shirt. No mattress, blanket or anything; save my toilet. I was like this for a month. Correctional Officers (COs) repeatedly maced me. When maced I was given nothing but a rag to clean it up with. COs refused me my meals and constantly made threats to "get rid of" me. When I finally got a mattress it was covered in piss from its previous user. The same day I got pulled out and my mattress taken. The pigs said I tore it up and wrote me up for destruction of state property charging me $68. My mail from my family was constantly coming up missing and the mail I sent out wasn't getting to my family/friends. I was on a box called SSO (Safety Security Observation) for 5 months where I couldn't get haircuts, use nail clippers, or get visits.

When I finally got written up for this so-called "incident" I was written up for 1.1 murder. The only thing is at the very bottom of the violation "attempt" was in parenthesis. This was done to keep me in solitary for as long as they want. According to their 1.1 policy, it says nowhere in policy that there is an attempt. It's either 1.1 Murder or 2.1 Serious damage to an offender or correctional officer. I challenged this and was denied. I have been over their "90 day" violation free bullshit, yet they will not promote me to Phase 1. They have a Step up Program: Phase 0-3. 0 is solitary, 1-2 is double man if you're not "single cell mandate" (get to that in a minute) and 2 you get food (nothing but fatty junk food) and 3 is double man with all your canteen, you can walk to chow, and go to gym.

I am thankfully not on single cell mandate, yet they continue to hold me illegally in solitary depriving me of contact visits.

Single cell mandate is where inmates cannot have a celly and either have to rot in Jefferson City hole or do a program in Potosi where you sit in solitary 5-10 years and get harassed by police and assaulted sometimes ending in death.

Since being in solitary here I have looked out my window and seen stretchers carrying inmates dead or extremely injured off the yard. Mainly coming from medical. The pigs here fuck with inmates so bad here (no joke) inmates are cutting their nutsacks out and nothing is done to help these mental health inmates, but a big help of maze.

I've been to quite a few Missouri penitentiaries, but I have never seen anything like I've seen here. Torture, harassment, and completely sadistic brutality, like 5 pigs running in a prisoner's cell with helmets and riot shields beating the shit out of inmates breaking their bones. The phase system is a SHU trap. I'll probably get fucked up for this letter if you receive it. Please spread the news of this so-called respectable prison.

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[Economics]
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Response to Lumpen Class calculations

[Need to insert url below. for some reason prisoncensorship.info wasn't loading for me so couldn't pull it up.

I'm not sure this adequately addresses the writer's complaints but re-reading the lumpen class article I don't really get what they are criticizing because we never say that we defined the lumpen using the poverty line. Mostly they seem upset that we don't recognize that some full time workers who earn around $10k really have it hard and that's not enough to pay for their basic necessities. i.e. not exploited, but also life in amerika is so expensive they can't really afford it. I think this is a reasonable premise: there may be a small percentage of these folks in the U.S. who don't spend money on luxuries, work full time, and really can't pay for the basics. They aren't prol, but they also aren't lumpen.

Wia: Yes we do, we say: "Summing up the income data for defining the lumpen population, we can conservatively use the cut off of $10k/year for family income to say that 16% of New Afrikan families are lumpen and 10% of [email protected] families are lumpen or migrant proletarian." But maybe they're missing that we are using it to estimate the people not working full time or working below minimum wage, and not to measure their living conditions.

It seems this would be best written as a letter response to get clarity than an article. I started pulling some (possibly) relevant stuff on incomes, and just tacked it at the end when it seemed this was not really worth publishing. ]

In ULK51 in the article Defining and Measuring the Lumpen Class in the U.$, I found the part of "Lumpen Defined by Income" a bit archaic, and may need to be re-analyzed to give a clearer perspective of the income to standard of living ratio.

Even though unskilled and semi-skilled labor, paid at minimum wage, would seem to be overvalued in comparison to the pay of oppressed nations, from the perspective that minimum wage could buy more and go further within those countries, from the perspective of receiving such pay within the United $nakes it is still not enough to pay for all the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, medical and education for one humyn, let alone a further humyn.

In 1990 the U.$. tax government declared that under $12,000 a year to be living "At poverty level." In the base pay values of $3 to $5 an hour at 40 hours a week. $5 seems to meet your criteria of the $10,000 cut off point, by being at $10,400 for a 52 week year (no vacations) but would still be considered living under the "poverty line" in 1990, over twenty years ago. I am not sure what the U.$. tax government considers the "poverty level" now, and even though it would be "luxurious" compared to third world standards, at this level within the U.$., to make ends meet, these poverty level humyns would still be considered living parasitically off the wasted excess of the First World, in such commodities as food, shelter, and water that they often obtained in ways other than the trade of government currency.

I just think that the section should be re-evaluated.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In the Defining and Measuring the Lumpen Class article we addressed a few important points. First, we need to understand what the term lumpen means. By definition, those engaged in full time work for pay are not part of the lumpen. The lumpen are unemployed or underemployed. Even people working full time and hustling on the side for extra cash are not part of the lumpen, though they may be more likely sympathetic to lumpen ideas and sentiments. Whether or not someone lives below the poverty line is irrelevant to defining the lumpen. There are some lumpen who earn more than full time working people. We just used income calculations to try to determine what percentage of the population is outside of the traditional workforce.

We're not sure what this comrade would propose for a re-evaluation of that section of defining lumpen by income since we didn't use poverty as a metric for lumpen class status, but rather for full time workers we need to look at income as a metric for proletarian vs. labor aristocracy status (based on whether or not someone earns more than the value of their labor).

We did address this question of the "poverty line" in the lead up to our analysis of lumpen defined by income in that same article: "Yet, even in the recent recession, government-defined poverty rates have not yet reached the levels they were at prior to 1965 when they were around 20%, give or take. In 2011 the poverty rate was recorded as 15%. Even this rate is inflated since assistance in the form of tax credits and food stamps is not counted as taxable income. If this income was included in their calculations it would pull 9.6 million people above the poverty line and bring the percent below the poverty rate to less than 12%. So it is only a small group at the margins that may be seeing a shift in their material conditions such that they could arguably be seen as not largely benefiting from imperialism."

It is true that many full time workers in the U.$. fall below the government-defined poverty line. As this writer says, we can see that many of these folks are living parasitically off of the excess stolen from the Third World. The most interesting point here is that some full time workers need to hustle on the side to survive. That might reasonably expand the group who, while not technically lumpen, is sympathetic to the lumpen and potentially revolutionary.

The Poverty Guideline for 2016 for the 48 contiguous states was $11,880 for an individual, increasing at increments of $4,160 for each additional family member. Many people claim that the cost of living is higher in the United $tates so we deserve to get paid more. This critique is why "purchasing power parity" (PPP) was developed as a way to measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. What purchasing power parity measures is not how many dollars the average persyn earns, but the average amount of value in real goods they can purchase with their income. The United $tates ranks #10 in this measurement, with most places ranking higher than it being industrial cities in Asia and small oil-producing entities. (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD?year_high_desc=true) The U.$. GDP(PPP) is $55,836 per persyn in 2015, approaching 6 times that of the global average of $15,470. In other words, the "high cost of living" does not justify the high income levels in the United $tates.

Of course, those GDP per capita figures are averages and tell us nothing about the lowest rungs of those populations.

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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Columbia Correctional Institution] [Waupun Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 52]
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Wisconsin Hunger Strikers August Update

[Wisconsin prisoners have been on hunger strike since June 10 protesting long-term solitary confinement practices. Read previous updates from July and April and learn how you can support this struggle.- Editor]

Update on the food strike in Wisconsin Department of Corrections: We are still on it and still receiving support across the country from outside parts. Us at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) are eating just enough to prevent them from force feeding until I can get a supervisory writ filed in WI Court of Appeals (WI. Ct. App.) The circuit court in collusion with DOC did not address and/or acknowledge filings. Those at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) last I heard were still being force fed and the court made the order permanent fluid.

One WCI striker had to go to the hospital as result of abuse, got an infection and could have died. Broke his nose too.

United States East District court refused class classification. Comrade previously vowed to appeal that but it's supposed to be new 7th Circuit precedent, stating prisoners gotta have a layer for class certification for class action (I'm not sure of this legality. I have yet to see the order and new case).

Both republican and democrat state officials are supposed to be "interested" in new solitary confinement legislation. One official met with a comrade at WCI. They only let two people visit. The official was the second. While that visit occurred, other officials walked through the oppressive confines.

This struggle is not over. The DOC is still making oppressive plays. On August 8 they continued my AC (Administrative Confinement) going on 19 years. The reasons are simple and concise: my release to GP will be a danger because I'll influence the younger prisoners based on my conduct history. And they noted, my lack of participation (code for kiss ass) showing my disinterest in AC process. (AC process: letting them degrade me, demonize me and sit there begging them and demeaning myself, saying I'm not all that bad mas'er.)

DOC and CCI are still making oppressive moves. Our food portions get smaller every week. And they are cutting movement/activities while telling the public they are studying ways to provide the same in more form.

They are frustrating my access to court, not letting me go to law library, or access the computer to type up my motions. Forcing me to send nerve-damage-penned documents into the court. Knowing courts look down on and don't read chicken scratch. We need you all out there reading this to continue the letter writing campaign that was printed in ULK 51. Write Gov. Walker, State officials, wardens at WCI, CCI and DOC secretary.

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[United Front] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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Abolitionists from Within Prepare for 2nd September 9th Day of Solidarity

First I would like to thank the comrades willing to study and struggle with Abolitionists From Within (AFW) here on C yard for having the heart to step out and shake hands with the different ethinc groups and put an end to the hosttiliites with peace on their tongue during Black August. Our study group has been growing throughout the cells here at High Desert C yard, despite many setbacks of harassment from the pigs here and there. As I continue to share literature with the comrades and this year's study group, I introduce them to MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). I remind every comrade that everyone's struggles are different (state of mind). If you know what the problem is our job as comrades is to help come up with solutions to combat the problem for our comrades. But in order to do anything to advance the struggle we must be organized in order to help one another, we must set triablism to the side! And set aside all of our differences as well as our past beef and come together collectively in an effort to accomplish our goals: Peace, Unity and Growth among the oppressed masses.

Wake up young Afrikan! Put an end to this madness. September 9th Day of Solidarity is just around the corner. Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move for the second year here at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica (1971) by coming together in solidarity. This year we put the issues of today on the table:

  1. Who is your neighbor? Always remember racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. And AFW, USW and MIM(Prisons) are all in agreement with anti-imperialism!
  2. What will help us improve our material condition? First we must start off with our neighbor, each one teach one no matter the color.
  3. Understand the prison system. The system operates through criminal justice institutions, but functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control.

Comrades, wake up! Understand the racial caste system; they don't require racial hostility or overt biogtry to thrive, they need only racial indifference. Wake up young Afrikan! Mass incarceration in the U.S. is a comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social system. Cormades, help me help us organize and advance our struggle forward for peace throughout C yard.

Comrades, Peace and Solidarity
(i will also be following up with our report of September 9th activities)
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[Organizing] [Congress Resolutions] [ULK Issue 52]
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Our Readers Have Spoken: Prisoncensorship.info Must Live

TogetherBreakChains

This article is to announce the short-term success of our recent campaign to keep our website alive. After proposing that our limited comrade time might be better spent on pushing forward our prisoner support work, we launched a campaign to engage our online readers. With minimal effort, we have received a substantive response indicating that we were incorrect to hypothesize that we could not mobilize our online readers to contribute to this project as our prison-based readers have from the beginning.

In just five months we've seen our volunteer base and collaborative work grow enough to convince us that web development is a good use of our limited comrade time. But as we pointed out in that article, regular contributions are much more useful than sporadic ones, so we must keep up this trend. We have gained at least one regular financial contributor, which more than covers the cost of keeping our website online. We encourage our other volunteers to stick to it.

A note to potential financial contributors, we had been soliciting postage stamps, however we are approaching our limits on how many we can use, especially since this is the main way that prisoners send donations. So new contributors should consider sending cash, blank money orders or bitcoin.

Those watching our website may have noticed us taking down some requests for help as volunteers have stepped up. While not all have proven themselves yet, we have received responses to diverse needs. By offering up more specific tasks, we've inspired our readers into action, proving they are more than just web traffic statistics. This also proved that lack of focused leadership on our part was part of the problem.

It was not just online readers who responded to our call. One United Struggle from Within leader put forth a proposal to our annual congress to up the enrollment fees for our correspondence study groups and to only provide hard-to-find books to those who pay for them. Another USW comrade proposed that we remove people from the ULK mailing list faster to cut costs. We adopted new policies incorporating both proposals, which should help on the postage side of things. One comrade even spoke of the impact the website had on em from prison, demonstrating that the website directly contributes to our prison-based work.

In addition to the new contributors we've gained in recent months, we've seen an increase in comradely projects putting out good material. This can help us directly by providing material for our newsletter and study groups. But it also helps the movement in general. Supporting MIM(Prisons) is a great way to contribute as we have a proven track record. But we need more projects than the Prison Ministry. So don't let the scope of our work limit you if you can contribute in bigger and better ways.

While things will roll out slowly as usual, we will be continuing to improve and add content to our website in coming months. We also want to put a call out there for supporters who want to contribute as part of a cyber promotion campaign. This is something that you can easily do on your own, and there is no limit to how many can help promote our work and MIM line in whatever forums you are active. Or get in touch for ideas of outlets for promotion.

There is no doubt that setting up secure, reliable institutions on the internet is a needed task. While platforms owned by transnational corporations may have tactical use for promotion, with proper precautions in place, they cannot be our base of operations. Prisoncensorship.info has contributed in this regard and with your support we will continue to work to strengthen it as an independent institution of the oppressed.

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[Release] [Mental Health]
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Surviving on the Streets is a Challenge after Abuse Behind Bars

It has been some time since we connected, 7 or 8 years I'd say. I was a regular subscriber and poetry/prose contributor over the years I was a fedz prisoner.

As I'm sure the question looms, "how does one find himself back inside?" Especially after having done 17 years fedz? Well, while one exited within a progressive state of mind; obtaining an AA in 15 months; doing 40 hours a week volunteering at a program benefiting those with felony backgrounds; rebuilding broken ties to my three adult children; getting into Junior University even!

What I did not get enough of was mental health treatment! All of those yard riots, overt violence and isolation took a toll it seems! After an all-out melee while attending a birthday party, i began suffering flashbacks, nightmares, and chronic insomnia. A professional diagnosed me with PTSD and recommended medication for sleep and anxiety. I refused out of ignorance, erroneously thinking it'd tamper with my brain. Shortly thereafter, an infrequent sexual partner spit on me. My response was to hit her repeatedly. An act i am ashamed of and totally out of character. While there were no bodily injuries (serious), i was convicted at a farce of a trial of multiple charges including burglary 1, assault 2, assault 4 x2, etc.

And given what is called "dangerous offender" enhancement "45 years"! More time than a murderer. My attorney deliberately aided state in suppressing my mental health files and permitted my past organizational ties/prison B.S. to be used as fear inciter. Thankfully, they were in such a rush to get the so-called "gang leader" they made a multitude of errors! Any one of which could/should get one a new trial. Picture a trial where three separate jurors have a connection to the DA or testifying witnesses. Or a defendant with documented PTSD being purposely misdiagnosed (via reading past fedz writeups) as having "personality disorder" so as to justify and legitimize the dangerous offender enhancement. The struggle continues.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter because it's a good example of what happens to comrades once they hit the streets. Even those with the best of intentions and solid connections and infrastructure on the outside can struggle to stay out of trouble after years of torture and abuse behind bars. This is something we are interested in hearing more about from released and re-admitted comrades alike: what can be done to address mental health issues, both before release and on the streets, to help people stay out of prison?

We understand this comrade's hesitation in participating with mental health programs even after eir diagnosis of PTSD. There is a long, long history of unethical medical experimentation on oppressed peoples, even those considered U.$. citizens. And the medical and psychology industries in the United $tates are so closely tied up with capitalist ventures, it's difficult to know if you're getting accurate or truthful information about treatment or drugs being prescribed.

This anecdote also paints a portrait of how prisons are used for social control even beyond the prison walls. Violent prison conditions lead to psychological traumas, there's no treatment, and then those psychological traumas carry on post-release and infect interpersynal relationships, ultimately landing people back in jail.

In general, bourgeois psychological treatment focuses on helping people adapt to the fucked up conditions of imperialism. If you are depressed about how unfair and disgusting humyn societies are, that's a valid and natural response. Bourgeois psychology would try to put you on anti-depressants and convince you it's your problem you're depressed — something wrong with your brain. MIM(Prisons) would highlight that this is a social problem, that your brain is in perfect working order, and try to rally you to channel that depression and frustration into working to change these conditions. 9 times out of 10 working on a political project you really believe in will help relieve psychological symptoms caused by the alienation of capitalism.

However, in some cases simply acting doesn't break one out of a mental health crisis. As much as we try to overcome it on our own, sometimes addressing the psychological challenge head-on is an important accompaniment to, or sometimes precursor of, political activism. We're not saying to just go along with whatever treatment plan some quack doctor recommends. But it's important to smartly tap into these resources in order to further one's ability to do political work on an as-needed basis. For example, if this comrade got treatment for their PTSD, ey may have been better able to control eir anger, and thus may have avoided catching another bid.

Eventually we aim to run our own Serve the People medical programs, like the Black Panther Party was doing in their heyday, combining much-needed services with political education against imperialism. Until then we just try to use the few helpful resources available to us to better our ability to do political work, while we build toward that future.

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