A couple weeks ago National Public Radio (NPR) aired a series called "guilty and charged" that talked about the way states are charging defendants and even criminalizing them for not paying court fees.
The series followed and interviewed different people who were caught in this cycle of repetitive imprisonment. A couple of facts are worth mentioning, particularly that in New Jersey 4,000 people surrendered themselves to pay for fines. That is, they got arrested for a misdemeanor and can't pay court fees so they get issued a warrant for their arrest. These charges can be settled with a reduced payment or a couple months in jail.
In essence the poor are being not only criminalized and imprisoned for being poor but punished by an injustice system that is not blind! Forty-one states now charge room and board for people in county jails, forty-three states charge a defendant for a public defender. In a supposed democracy where everyone is equal before the law, this is not only a complete farce but a system put in place to check oppressed nations, and more so poor people of oppressed nations. Although mention was given how in 40 years the prison population has boomed 400% and the rise can be attributed to Richard Nixon in the 70s for his "war on drugs," there was not much content on how there is a political context to this high incarceration of oppressed nations.
It's no secret that the poor and marginalized will have a harder time paying court fees, and as mentioned earlier, oppressed Blacks and Latinos are most likely to end up incarcerated, furthering a system of criminalization.
Most oppressed nations know first hand the injustice system in the United $tates. As there is no profit from imprisonment to U.$. imperialism, the rise of imprisonment is not for profits but for political reasons. The high cost of imprisonment is taking its toll on the department of justice, county jails and tax payers. It's likely that defendants will be charged more and penalized even more for not being able to pay these charges.
While agitation, protest and attention should be given to combat this issue along with a long list of other "wrongs," a reformist attitude wil only go so far. People should get into a movement to overthrow this imperialist system and install a more just society in a socialist manner.
In May 2014 I arrived at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility - Corcoran State Prison. When I arrived they were about to serve dinner so I told them I eat Kosher. I'm Jewish. I didn't get any food. I was housed in G-yard where I got no Kosher meals. I have proof that I was approved for Kosher meals at a previous prison, but have been denied here because I won't let the Rabbi in Sacramento call my mother.
Keep in mind that there are Muslims and Skinheads that get the Kosher meal. I have names and numbers of those prisoners. I have been assaulted twice so far by officers and a lieutenant. Lt. Akin slapped me in the back of my head, officer Ruiz and another officer grabbed me and knocked me down. I was refused medical attention and told by medical, "oh you're a hunger strike patient, go back to unit." I've lost 17 or more pounds in a little over a month, but still have been given no Kosher meal. They keep searching my locker and taking all my food. I have a hell of a paper trail proving this.
The Pastor Alvarez here put me on the Jewish service list on 4 June 2014, but I have still been denied access to go to Jewish services as of 18 June. The Jewish prisoners (only 7 of us) send me food and the police take it.
One doctor sent me to a crisis bed. Others sent me back an hour later saying it's not a mental health issue, it's a religious issue. The doctor has tried to trick me into signing a paper to volunteer to go to a hospital. I said no, I'm being abused and starved.
Lt. Akin and Sgt. Ibarro threatened to have inmates rape me if I don't eat their food. Yet, other prisoners actually took a CDCR 602 group grievance and over 50 prisoners signed it verifying the abuse. I never asked anyone to do this, making this a great show of prisoner solidarity against the abusive officers.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a clear example of prisoner abuse and the power of solidarity fighting this abuse. If prisoners can step up to demonstrate unity without solicitation and organizing, imagine the power of a unified prisoner movement led by conscious brothers and sisters spreading education and drawing connections between these individual cases of abuse and the broader anti-imperialist struggle. We call on United Struggle from Within leaders to take these opportunities to build the movement.
You ever heard that saying "crime doesn't pay"? I'm gonna keep it real with you: that's a bold face lie, or at the very least a misrepresentation of the truth. I guess it can be argued that crime doesn't pay for the person who does the crime, gets caught, and has to serve a lengthy sentence.
I don't necessarily accept that premise because for one, a person can go undetected for a long time, all the while blowing through millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains; ask Bernie Madoff. Is it reasonable to conclude that crime didn't pay ol' Bernie-Bern? And the U.$. government is running a Madoff-like ponzi scheme with some of its entitlement programs; Uncle Sam knows that crime pays.
Another dimension to this is the guy who does the crime, gets caught, gets the court punishment, but has friends in high places who sees that he gets a pardon. Such as the case with "Scooter" Libby or that California state politician's son who Arnold Schwarzenegger granted partial clemency to. Arnold basically admitted that he did it as a favor for his politician friend. Ask "Scooter" if crime pays.
Then there's the people who commit crimes, yet due to their status and position in U.S. society, never get prosecuted. Anybody remember the Iran-Contra affair? Plenty of evidence has surfaced that implicates the CIA with drug smuggling and trafficking during this era. There were reports from agents with un-compromised integrity filed within the CIA during this time and bringing this criminal activity to light within the Agency. Ironically George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and the upper level intelligence/justice officials, claiming ignorance of the crimes, avoided legal accountability for this criminal activity. Ask the Bush politicians if their crimes pay.
The government of Columbia sued the Phillip Morris tobacco company for smuggling Marlboro cigarettes in to that country, readily accepting large amounts of cash from traffickers, then smuggling the cash back into the U.S.(1)
Ironically this criminality didn't receive much focus in the United States, nor did the Phillip Morris decision-makers have to defend their criminal conduct in the U.S. criminal court system. Also RJ Reynolds (Nabisco) has been sued by the entire European Union for large scale smuggling and money laundering.(1) Ask the elite Wall Street collective if crime pays.
We see politicians and government bureaucrats on TV all the time speaking of their commitment to eliminating crime and their sincere desire "to see a crime-free America." I say that they're the grossest liars and flatterers, devoid of integrity and a healthy sense of shame for intentional deception. At best they tell half truths on the issue. Consider this brief excerpt from Crossing the Rubicon:
"Allegations that the CIA and Department of Justice were complicit in the flow of cocaine into South Central LA; that the Clintons were partnered with George H.W. Bush and Oliver North through the offices of the National Security Council in a little Iran-Contra arms and cocaine trafficking operation in Mena, Arkansas; and that Hillary Clinton's law firm was helping launder the local share of the profits through state housing agency securities and investments were never addressed, objectively by the corporate media."
Notice that this flow of cocaine wasn't into Beverly Hills or Orange County. Nevertheless people can speak any number of untrue things with conviction but the proof is always in the pudding, the pudding being the person's actions. The Clintons surely know that their pudding in crime makes for part of a financially filling pie.
Think of crime and how it relates to your local, state, and national economies. And of course in a capitalistic nation, one of the main obligations of a politician is to facilitate the maintenance of a strong and growing economy. I mean there's city, county, state, and federal police; jail and prison staff (guards, probation and parole agents, medical workers, education workers, maintenance workers, food service workers, etc.); court staff (judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, professional witnesses, investigators, clerks, transcribers, bailiffs, legal analysts, etc.); and surely some peripheral elements that I haven't mentioned, such as the various telephone companies who grossly overcharge prisoners for collect calls.
To eliminate crime and create this "crime-free America" would be to eliminate all of these (and more) jobs/money that crime creates. That would be catastrophic to the U.S. economy. In this crime-free environment a very slim minority of the displaced workers could be absorbed into other professions but the vast majority would remain jobless.
That many jobless citizens is unsustainable in this nation, which has a consumption based economy. Also the absence of their tax dollars would certainly diminish, very drastically, government consumption. Which in turn would cause job and service cuts in other areas, and that trend would continue on throughout the entire economy. Now, do you think these politicians really want to eliminate crime, synonymous with destroying the economy? Of course not! And I can assure you that even if everyone stopped committing acts that are currently established as criminal, then acts which are not currently crimes would suddenly be deemed as criminal. The politicians know, probably better than anyone else, that crime pays.
As for the bureaucrats, the lie is much closer to the surface with them. Many of them are employed directly in the criminal justice sector, so basically their livelihoods is directly dependent on the existence of crime. So for us to believe their professing that they want to see crime cease; we are to believe that they want to lose their hundred-thousand-dollar-plus (in many instances) annual salaries, their Cadillac benefit packages, and other job-related perks. This absurdity is almost laughable to any rational being. Even the ones who aren't employed in the criminal justice sector are well aware of the negative effects that an absence of crime would place on the economy. Like politicians, the bureaucrats know the deal: crime pays.
Here's another relevant excerpt from Crossing the Rubicon
"A certain percentage of the prisons in this country are run by private corporations which trade their stock based on how many human beings they 'house.' In pure economic terms, inmates have become inventory. The two largest of these corporations are Wackenhut and Corrections Corporation of America. Both of these corporations, through their boards of directors and executive management have direct ties to U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA.
"All of this means that the corrupt economy makes money by first selling drugs to people and then putting them in prison for using drugs."
The parallels between private, for profit prisons and slave plantations are numerous. Big business are in on the secret, crime pays. So whether we like to admit it or not, this nation generally realizes a benefit from crime. It's always about the dollar here in the United States and crime-related professions combined makes up a substantial portion of the Gross Domestic Economy, largely aiding the efforts to maintain a strong dollar. You can believe those who chant "crime doesn't pay" if you want to. As for me, I know crime may not pay for those who are ground to dust in its machinations (prisoners, parolees, probationers, and drug addicts) but for many others, crime does in fact pay.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This author makes a good point about the economic value of the criminal injustice system to capitalists as a way to employ many labor aristocrats. As we expanded on in our review of the book The New Jim Crow, the system serves primarily as a tool of social control. While there would be economic consequences to dismantling or significantly reducing the reach of the criminal injustice system in Amerika, we can look around the world and see examples of capitalist countries with much smaller injustice systems which manage to keep their population employed and living happily off the super-exploitation of Third World peoples. While in the United $tates a change of this magnitude is unlikely given how entrenched the injustice system is in the economic and social fabric of society, it is the social control aspect that we see as the dominant driving force behind the growth and maintenance of this system.
Since my last correspondence I've experienced the greatest oppression in my entire 8-year sentence. This past week or so also presented me with revelation into the power of positive energy and the adverse effects of negative energy, which can affect your mental and physical health.
At Sussex II State Prison, a pig ran in and dribbled my head 3 times between his knee and the ground, when I was cuffed and already grounded. Then, that same pig tossed me in the box and stuck his knee in my neck with intensive force. At this same time, my arm was being bent so far back that breaking it was highly anticipated. Furthermore, my ankles and thumb were in the hands of the pigs. My thumb had nerve damage for 2 or 3 months.
At Red Onion State Prison I was sprayed for a false claim of assault by a super redneck. The pig first grabbed the shackles as if he was going to strike me with them, he looked around, and then had his partner use the can. They rinsed me fully clothed, returned me to storage and then I tried to refuse to give up the leg irons. They then took me out on the block and tackled me to the ground. During this they twisted me, bent my fingers and yelled "stop resisting." Afterwards I was stripped naked and 8-10 pigs placed a turtle suit on me - chained me - and left me for about 15 hours. This happened because the officer refused to correct my negative meal, and I stuck my arm out of the slot because of it.
Those are just two of the oppressive events I experienced in kaptivity.
This week though, it was oppression from kaptive residents. The oppression came by high energy/high volume gossip, to spread wildfire word of myself being homosexual. The fire starter(s) knows nothing about me, knows no one within or outside the block who knows me, and has no evidence of such activity. Fifteen to twenty people whispered this around. The way this happened in a rapid and collective manner, you would've thought I was of great status and/or a part of a group that calls for questioning and violation. I got into a 30-second-or-so bullshit fight and received rejection from workout crews. The fight was with a comrade who was supposed to be a good friend and solid individual, but he needed to protect himself and reputation, so he got defensive and helped the spread.
My point in presenting this is: I'm not gay and this event is coming my way at a time when my sentence is over. I've never seen or heard of this shit before. It was so collective and everyone possible was engaged. Yet, never is this type of bullshit/energy applied to the fight against the true enemy of imperialist oppression. We have to acknowledge that in order to get others to move within/for the struggle, the key influencing factor(s) have to be identified.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This report of abuse by the guards is nothing new to the pages of ULK, though it is important to remind our readers on the streets of the brutality of prison guards and document it for our records. But this report of prisoner-on-prisoner attacks in the form of gossip and attempts at character assassination is particularly important for us to discuss.
This is an example of the lack of unity in prisons across the United $tates, where, as this comrade points out, more energy is put into attacking other prisoners than into fighting the true enemy of imperialism. But just as important, we want to address the use of gender in this particular attack. Claiming someone is gay as an insult or character attack is a more fundamental problem than just disunity. This is no different than accusing someone of being Chicano as if that would be an insult. We can not allow the oppressors to divide us along lines of gender or nation. Sexual orientation and identity are not a measure of a persyn's character. We should look to people's work fighting oppression, the way they treat others, and their political outlook. Lowering ourselves to considering labels and gender/sexual orientation/identity as decisive is putting ourselves on the level of the pigs who lock up and beat up people for the very same reasons.
We must build a United Front of all prisoners, coming together against the common enemy of imperialism. Reject the guards' attempts to pit prisoners against each other.
Over the past few weeks many of us locked up within Amerikkka's prisons have watched, read and heard about the genocidal war crimes currently being committed against the oppressed nation of Palestine by the white settler state of I$rael. What these events show us is not only the carnage and slaughter of a one-sided war, but that the oppressed will never be free to forge their own destinies so long as the monster of imperialism remains intact.
With forked tongues like the pit of vipers that they are, the United Nations (UN) sits idly by and does virtually nothing to help the people of Palestine as the Zionist regime attempts to bomb them out of existence. The so-called "international community" does nothing for Palestine other than speak hypocritically about the need for a cease fire on both ends and the continued need for a two-state solution, as if the mounting deaths (1,432 deaths as of today)(1) and the balance of war was even! Even as the world watches complacent and content through their pacifist, non-interventionist actions, and some begin to complain about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths, the United $tates continues to arm I$rael. The worthless UN has thus shown its true color: yellow! The international community is guilty of complicity thru complacency, thus Palestinian blood is also on the hands of the United Nations.
As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of Israel to exterminate the Palestinian nation.
Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of Israel and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."
Furthermore, with this declaration we express our concern, condolences, solidarity and humynity with the people of Palestine. We grieve your loss. I$rael must pay! Just as Palestinian prisoners of war showed their support and solidarity with the California hunger strikers by issuing a statement of solidarity to end solitary confinement in the United $tates, we must now do the same. We must recognize and acknowledge that their struggle is our struggle and we must say no to I$rael and no to the genocide of Palestine.
Long live the people of Palestine! Down with I$rael! Charge and convict the war criminals! Free Palestine!
"Everyone should know by now that prison is politics, it is part of the imperialistic policy of exploitation, oppression and domination over the internal colonies." From "Who are the Political Prisoners?," MIM Theory 11: Amerikkan Prisons On Trial
The pigs at Ironwood State Prison are at it again. Bored with the apparent lack of excitement and disturbances at this relatively peaceful and quiet yard, they have decided to manufacture their own entertainment to the detriment of the imprisoned. Within the span of two short days the pigs here have decided to raid people's houses without any kind of factual proof but only unfounded allegations from "anonymous" sources and supposed "snitches." To understand the actions of the past week however I must first recount the actions of a couple months ago.
It all began when pigs from Ironwood's Special Investigative Unit raided the cell of a born-again Christian in the early hours before breakfast because they'd supposedly received an anonymous kite stating that the Christian was going to stab a Corrections Officer. The Christian was taken to the hole pending investigation and everyone here was left somewhat surprised at this news, as everyone who knew this guy knew that he'd long since left the lumpen lifestyle behind and was only concerned with helping people out. Anyways, after finally getting out of the hole because the investigation turned up nothing, he confided in a couple people that on the day he went to the hole the pigs showed him a picture of another prisoner and asked him if he knew who this persyn was. He lied and told them he didn't, to which they responded, "that's the person who told on you."
Fast-forward to last week when two pigs unexpectedly ran to a cell and ordered the two cellmates to step out. When they asked the pigs what for, they were told not to worry about it and just step out. When the prisoners refused, the pigs immediately pulled out their batons and ordered them a third time to step out. Feeling threatened the prisoners complied. Once in restraints and out of their cell the prisoners were taken to the pigs' local command post on the yard, A-Facility program office. Once there the prisoners were stripped naked and put into holding cages where they were accused of making wine and subsequently treated to verbal assaults. Both prisoners denied the allegations, which proved to be false as the pigs searched and tossed up their cell and found nothing.
As a result the pigs had no choice but to let them go, but not before showing them the pictures of a couple other prisoners. The pigs then asked them if they knew who those two people were, and they said they didn't and were then cut loose. However, after returning to their building they started telling everyone what had happened and that the two prisoners who were in their building had snitched. Tension began to rise and it looked as if people were beginning to take sides preparing for the worst. In the end however, cooler heads prevailed and crisis was averted between the New Afrikan and [email protected] population, as these were the two nations being pitted against each other by the pigs' actions. And even though I started out this story by saying that this is something of a peaceful yard, at the end of the day it's still a prison and things happen.
The very next day almost the same scenario played out when ten or fifteen pigs rushed another person's cell and forced him out the same way they done to those other prisoners the night before. Again, just as the previous night the pigs said they were looking for wine, and just like the night before they found nothing. As the pigs were exiting this person's cell however they told him to thank the prisoners who'd gotten their cell searched the night before for their visit, thereby implying that those prisoners were somehow responsible.
These events from last week caused me to think deeper about the pigs' actions, as well as the prisoners' response to them and I'd like to discuss it here. Now, before jumping to conclusions because you took a pig at his/her word like most who are confronted with this scenario often do, why don't we first stop and actually think about what's really going on? The real issue in the examples given above aren't about who supposedly snitched on who, but about the motivation that the pigs have in exposing their supposed informants to us. Let us hypothesize that in all the examples given above the pigs were actually telling the truth and the people identified by them in their pictures were really snitching, what then? Should we handle our business in keeping with prison etiquette or do we conduct our own investigation in an effort to get to the truth?
Instead of just smashing on the alleged rat because a pig told us to, why not at least confront this person with the information given to us by the pigs and ask him if it's true before smutting him up? As a matter of fact, since when is a pig's word even worth anything?
You can even go further than this and tell this person exactly what the pigs told you and if he denies it then we can offer to file some kind of paperwork together against that very same pig. Whether it be thru your local grievance procedure or thru the courts, put it on paper and put the pigs on blast. This way there will be documentation which shows how these pigs are putting the lives of prisoners at risk; either because you mistakenly assaulted another prisoner due to a pig manipulating you or because the person in question was really a snitch - it doesn't matter!
Stop blindly taking the pigs at their word and doing their bidding, otherwise you're just a sucker who'll believe anything, as well as a tool of the establishment. We should strive to create unity out of the pigs' attempts to divide us. Turn their divide-and-conquer tactics against them and UNITE! These actions on our part could potentially have a two-fold outcome beneficial to us. First, if the pigs see that we're no longer biting into their little games they might stop baiting us, and secondly, if the rats know the pigs are giving them up and you're gonna confront them then they might think twice about telling, thereby reducing any additional oppression of all prisoners concerned. This way bad things can be turned into good.
I know that many reading this are probably laughing and thinking it's a joke, and yes to a certain degree what I'm proposing is somewhat ideal, but the harm we keep inflicting on each other is not. The possibility of creating a United Front becomes less viable without finding ways to settle contradictions amongst ourselves without resorting to violence, and we must begin somewhere.
As such, within the prison realm there are generally two different types of social contradictions: those between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves. The two are totally different in nature, and since they are different in nature the contradictions between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves should be resolved thru different methods. In order to resolve the very many contradictions that inevitably arise among ourselves we should look to the methods of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not the methods of coercion or repression, i.e. violence. This way we can arrive at a new unity with these unstable prison elements on a new basis and against the real enemy.
Now, for those of you still reading this and still wondering if the people pointed out by the pigs were really snitches, that I don't know. What I do know however is that one of the supposed "rats" is constantly pushing paperwork against the pigs on a variety of issues which concern the prisoner population. While one of the other prisoners involved recently go this life sentence commuted to a lesser term after serving almost twenty years; the pigs knew this and didn't like it.
These pigs don't care about us and it doesn't matter to them what inmates are "snitches" and what inmates are "solid". To them we're all just prisoners and the same. Perhaps we should take that as a lesson and start looking at each other as one.
To all those people who are really snitching, start showing some self-respect and stop harming the people you should be working with to unite against the pigs. If you can't stop telling them, at least tell on a pig and not another prisoner. For everyone else, stop being a pawn to these pigs and at least conduct your own investigation before erroneously labeling someone a snitch, smutting him up and getting him or yourself hurt. You never know, next time the pigs might flash your picture to someone and call YOU the snitch.
I recently came across something that may be of interest to you. I was doing some research into this reactionary pro-prison propagandist organization known as the National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC). It's run by an adamant apologist for this pernicious system named Dr. George W. Knox. Dr. Knox and the swine that work for NGCRC routinely conduct surveys for the gulag system to help them identify and neutralize any potential "threats." I was able to get my hands on one of these surveys and preliminary finding reports that was conducted within 148 gulags in the U$A, representing 48 states, and nearly 150,000 prisoners. Now, the part of the survey that I thought may be of some interest to MIM(Prisons) is the following:
Low Level of Contamination from the MIM
Some types of political extremist groups try to recruit inmates and prisoners in America, they can do this through the U.S. Postal Service. These groups often have sophisticated websites as well. The Maoist International Movement (MIM) exists to spread communist ideology among inmates incarcerated in American jails and prisons. It seeks to radicalize prison inmates and give them a platform for organizing resistance against the American government. If your inmates are corresponding with MIM, you might have a problem brewing.
The survey included the question "have any of the inmates in your facility corresponded with the Maoist International Movement (MIM)"? Only 4.6 percent of the respondents indicated that their inmates have been in contact with MIM. Thus, it would appear that MIM is not effectively reaching out to the vast majority of American inmates. Not yet at least. Alternatively, maybe such contact with MIM is going under the radar of prison and jail officials.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This report on "Gangs and Security Threat Groups" does not include mention of any other communist groups, so we could see our inclusion as an indication of MIM(Prisons)'s success in reaching oppressed nation activists and the correctness of our political line in threatening imperialism and Amerikkkan rule. Communism is our goal: a society where no group has power over another group. This threatens the imperialist criminal injustice system for sure. In reality, as the study admits, they cannot really judge our reach based on survey of prison administrators alone. We would love to reach the vast majority of prisoners, but in practice we are focused on those who are interested in anti-imperialist politics and/or open-minded and looking to learn. Nonetheless, we take this as a call to action for Under Lock & Key readers: we need to increase the percentage of people in contact with MIM(Prisons)!
A few years ago, former Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) Director Jeffrey Beard relocated to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Director Beard was known for his tyrannical style of utilizing confinement and isolation for more sadistic than safety purposes, by increasing constantly the number of prisoners placed on the restricted release list (RRL). Once on this list, the only persyn who can finalize your release back to general population is the Governor of Pennsylvania. Beard, after seeing the practice of the California STG program, informed current PA DOC Director, John Wetzel, of these tactics of oppression, suppression and repression. In the summer of 2012 the Pennsylvania security threat group (STG) unit was started.
In Pennsylvania, a security threat group is any group of persyns who continuously ignore the department's administrative rules, i.e. any unauthorized group activity. The word "group" is the concealing factor of the oppressive practices in place in the PA DOC. Members of religious "groups" such as Muslims, Jews, Moors, Nation of Islam, Nation of Gods & Earths, etc., are placed on the list of documented STGs violating the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and freedom of association. Members of political "groups" such as the New Afrikan Communists, New Afrikan Independence Movement, Black Liberation Army, etc. are placed on the list of documented STGs, violating the first amendment right to freedom of political identification and freedom of association.
Of approximately 175 captives brought to the Pennsylvania STG program, 95% (166) are of oppressed nation heritage. Out of this percentage, about 20 were actually told why they were abducted for the program, i.e. why they were labeled STG members, although the reasons were mostly untruthful and unjustifiable. There is no appeal process in place to combat placement in the program. There is no validation/assessment hearing or procedure in place to present your side of the alleged claims or bring forth any evidence or witnesses on your behalf. Those who do attempt to refuse this assignment are placed on RRL. In order to be released from there you have to agree to do the STG program (the same program you refused in the first place!).
The tactics employed here are quite surely the same as any other STG unit. Obstruction of correspondence (incoming and outgoing), no visits (unless earned through advancing in the program), no phone privileges (unless earned through advancing in the program), inadequate legal services and materials (unless earned through advancing in the program), thought police/Orwellian indoctrination and debriefing systems disguised as cognitive restructuring. Those who hold firm the belief this is an injustice are labeled as "in denial and unwilling to give up participation in group activity." Those who express their opinions are titled as "thinking criminally" or using a "gang mentality." The guidelines, procedures and policies governing the programs are restricted to the public. Instead a prisoner supplement handbook is issued to each captive which quite surely differentiates from the restricted policy.
Exercise, food, commissary and restraints are used as an enticement method as well as punishment. For example, you may hear a pig say "if you program, you won't have to wear handcuffs." Or "if you don't complete the assignments you won't be able to order commissary." To increase the allure of these "privileges" they make contrasting practices as hard and uncomfortable as possible. They feed you next to nothing to increase hunger and craving for commissary. They make all movements restrained to add to the uncomfortability. This is all done in hopes of breaking your spirit or to make you "give in to the inevitable," to quote a pig.
These are only a few of the ever-changing, ever-occurring issues here for myself and the komrades. There is a resistance to struggle not only for our liberties but for those who would come after us as an example of unity, komradery and solidarity in struggle.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We are seeing this STG classification used to target activists in Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, Michigan, as well as California and no doubt many more states. While the development of STG programs is a sign of the strength of the oppressed nation organizations and political activists, it is also a dangerous tool of repression that we must expose and fight. Targetting prisoners for "group" or "gang" activity has long been an excuse to bring down oppression on those with the greatest interest and organization in fighting the criminal injustice system.
"The mission of the Institutional Division is to provide safe and appropriate confinement, supervision, rehabilitation, and reintegration of adult felons, and to effectively manage or administer correctional facilities based on constitutional and statutory standards" - Texas Government Code 494.001
For those of us housed within the prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) we know this statement is nothing more than well-worded lies!
Recently the University of Texas - Human Rights Clinic came out with a report "Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons." The report pretty much proves what many of the lumpen already know: conditions inside Texas prisons in the summer violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. TDCJ keeps telling the public they have policies in place to combat the heat. However, Brian McGiverin, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said during a news conference on the topic, "Fourteen inmate deaths are strong evidence the prison agency's measures don't do enough to beat the heat's health risks." He continued, "The response that their policies are adequate today is ridiculous."
Senator John Whitmire, the chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, had this to say on the topic: "But I can tell you, the people of Texas don't want air-conditioned prisons, and there's a lot of other things on my list above the heat." The "other things" were education, health care, and rehabilitation programs, but never has this racist pontificator said he was committed to ceasing the senseless murder of Texas prisoners by TDCJ employees! Whitmire, who has been in the Texas senate over 30 years, continues to turn a blind eye to the systemic abuse and discrimination of prisoners housed in TDCJ facilities. We suffer from racial discrimination, religious discrimination, sexual assaults, vicious beatings and abuse, and Whitmire continues to play good ol' boy politics.
For complaints on specific prison issues I found a strategy that's been working. I've been having family members file Ombudsman complaints via email. They can file formal public complaints on a wide range of issues and these complaints must be placed online for the public to view. We have been experiencing a lot of success! All that PO Box 99 shit to Huntsville is a waste of paper and time. Do it online and put these assholes on Front Street.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just one example of the rampant abuse of prisoners in Texas and across the country, that is well documented and exposed in ULK and on our prisoncensorship.org website. But we aim to do more than just expose the brutality of the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Our goal is to organize and educate to make meaningful change. In the short term we fight battles like the campaign to have prisoners' grievances addressed so that we can create better conditions for our comrades behind bars. But in the long term we know that no Amerikan politician is ever going to fundamentally change the system of injustice. It will take the oppressed joining together to demand change to put an end to imperialism before we can hope to end the criminal injustice system. Get involved in this long-term fight today!