I am a POW in the state of Tennessee and in these narratives I am providing exposure about this wicked prison system and Derrick Shofield, who came from Georgia. This dude is constantly applying new rules, with the latest being called tier management – something straight outta Georgia prison system. Of late all of Tennessee prisons are run like Georgia. This is the same Shofield who was instrumental in causing the largest sit down in the state of Georgia. On an I-team investigation on channel 4, Nashville, TN, it was reported that Shofield ordered two former wardens in West Tennessee to alter incident reports on assaults on staff.
As I write they are building security threat group management units at Riverbend Maximum security plantation in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the big sister of tier management. Both are part of the larger policy agenda regarding U.$. prisons. One of the standards that the federal government sets in order for the state to receive construction subsidies is to mandate the building of supermax units, security threat group units, such as the ones at Riverbend: steel and stone sensory deprivation cells.
In Georgia they have this tier 2 program of gang control for long-term lockdown. This same situation is being played out in Tennessee. The prisoners in Tennessee should take a page from Georgia, sit down and do nothing in a silent protest. It's some wicked shit going on in Tennessee, it has to be said that for all the men and women trapped in the wretched crime and punishment morass, especially in the Tennessee system, we have to determine our fate. We got the power.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade gets at the truth of prison control units, and in fact the broader prison system in general: it is a system built for social control. Prisons in general house the oppressed nation lumpen in disproportionate numbers, and for those who speak out, organize or otherwise challenge the system from behind bars, there are long-term isolation cells for even further control. These control units are torture and we must demand they be shut down. Part of this battle is documenting their existence, a project that we need help with from anyone who can complete our control unit survey about prisons in their state.
We offer the example of prisons in China while it was still Communist-led and Mao was alive, in stark contrast to the Amerikan criminal injustice system. In China prisoners participated in education classes with others where they studied politics and discussed the nature of their crimes and why their actions were harmful to the people. Prisoners were allowed to participate in productive activities of work and learned cooperative practices. Many who went into prison for actions like theft or even spying, came out dedicated to serving the people and grateful for a second chance. The example of Adelle and Allyn Rickett, two Amerikans who worked as spies for the United $tates until their imprisonment, wrote an inspiring book Prisoners of Liberation detailing these progressive practices and what they learned from years in prison in China.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was signed into law in 2003.(1) National prison and jail standards were enacted in 2012, nearly a decade after passage of PREA, and inexplicably late for the U.S. prison system which is long plagued by a sexual violence crisis.(2) PREA national standards carve a benchmark for prison administrators to prevent, detect and respond to prison sexual violence (PSV). Most significant are sweeping changes affecting documentation, accountability, confidentiality, post-sexual-assault medical care, testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and mental health counseling for PSV survivors.(3)
The PREA audits began in August 2013, and are supposed to occur at every youth and adult, state and private prison, jail, and holding facility every three years, with punitive forfeiture of federal funding at stake for lack of compliance. With 50% of documented PSV perpetrated by staff, prison administrators face greater liability through the transparency now mandated by PREA.(4)
One in ten prisoners are sexually abused, which is more than 200,000 youth and adults in prisons, jails and juvenile detention each year.(5, 6) Many are left to march the road to recovery, while coping with HIV, other STIs, mental trauma — the morbid souvenirs of rape.(7)
With PREA, the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) started promoting "zero tolerance" propaganda. I felt (foolishly) that we were on the same side for once. I formed and launched a non-profit project with the goal to support, educate and advocate for PSV survivors, and those at risk. I especially focused on LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Queer, Intersex) prisoners who are at 10-13 times higher risk to be victim of PSV, according to Department of Justice statistics. Not thinking I was doing anything "disallowed," I conducted this openly with no attempts to hide my activities.
However, DOCS took a radically different view, and launched an Inspector General Office investigation, forcing me (under duress) to cease and desist further activity with the project. But unable or unwilling to issue writeups on this issue, they instead launched a salvo of "unrelated" administrative charges, resulting in 18 months of keeplock (isolation). They also transferred me multiple times. I'm now serving 5 months keeplock time, which I'd already served at the last jail.
All this has only served to strengthen my commitment and resolve. Our efforts, in concert with NY ACLU, have yielded a settlement with DOCS to reduce the use of SHU/long-term isolation, with caps on sentences and exempting non-violent/safety-related offenses. It's a start but I'd have preferred a court ruling to this "voluntary" settlement, which the state can renege on.
PREA mandates the first round of audits as of August 2014, with statistics to be published online. This increased transparency is progress. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are little more than an ideal or paper unless we facilitate their power through litigation, demanding compliance with these standards. PREA can be just a stack of papers and "feel good" hot wind, signifying nothing. Or it can be a keen sword to excise the cancers of prison sexual violence and prison staff corruption and negligence. The burden falls to us to proactively safeguard our interests, and our futures. Fight to Win!
MIM(Prisons) adds: We regularly receive reports of sexual assault from prisoners across the country. In September 2013, one year after the PREA standards were finalized, Prison Legal News published an article detailing incidents of PSV all across the country. This article underscores the futility of federal laws to actually protect people in custody of an oppressive state.
The 2013-2014 PREA Resource Center (PRC) report was just released this week. It contains no statistics on the efficacy of the project, but does contain a lot of fluff about the trainings and webinars that the PRC has been hosting.
It is a step in the right direction that this comrade, with the help of NY ACLU, was able to place some restriction on the use of isolation to protect prisoners from rape. The use of isolation has been reported by the American Friends Service Committee to have an even worse affect on the victims of prison rape, causing negative psychological effects due to isolation, and making the prisoner even more vulnerable to abuse by prison staff.(8)
While we can and should make use of laws to stop prison staff sexual violence when possible, we call on prisoners to step up and put an end to sexual violence among themselves using their own inherent power as humyn beings. The issue of prison rape is one that activists must tackle head on, as it impacts our ability to build unity behind prison walls, and is indicative of a wrongheaded line on gender oppression overall. Take an example from Men Against Sexism (MAS), an organization in Washington State Prison in the 1970s. MAS pushed men to treat each other with respect, opposed all prison rape even of very unpopular prisoners, and defended weaker prisoners against attacks by stronger ones.(9)
Gender oppression is a product of our patriarchal society, and neither federal laws nor prison organizations will put an end to all gender oppression in prison on their own. This gender oppression is another tool used to control oppressed nationalities, and won't be done away with until we overthrow the systems that require the oppression of entire groups of people — imperialism and capitalism. Only through revolution can we start to build a society where gender oppression, like class and national oppression, are torn down in our culture, economics, and all levels of social relations. For a basic study of gender under imperialism, we recommend the magazine MIM Theory 2/3, which we distribute for $5 or equivalent work trade. And see the 1998 MIM Congress resolution "Clarity on what gender is" for a more theoretical discussion on the origins of patriarchy and its structure today.
Warmongering propaganda is at high levels in the United $tates, as it seems no positive lessons were taken from September 11, 2001. It took about a decade for Amerikans to lose interest in the U.$. occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This contributed to almost two-thirds of Amerikans opposing Obama's push to invade Syria less than a year ago. Yet already, about two-thirds of the population now agrees with Obama that they would rather control the government in Syria than keep Amerikan journalists' heads attached to their bodies.
Militarism is driven by an economic system that is built around arms production and requires war to keep up demand. Arms shipments have increased recently to I$rael, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq where the U.$. has resumed bombing campaigns that are destroying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment now in the hands of the Islamic State. Every strike made by either side in that war is a boon to Amerikan business.
Meanwhile, Russia has been clear that they will not let Ukraine join NATO. The United $tates and Russia are the two biggest nuclear powers in the world. Yet Obama is pushing to have Ukraine join NATO, and Amerikan anti-Russian sentiment is on the rise in support of him. Open conflict with Russia would greatly increase the already unacceptable risk of nuclear catostrophe due to militarism.
The last 15 years have proven that U.$. militarism cannot be stopped by the Amerikan anti-war movement. Rather, revolutionaries in the United $tates must focus on pushing the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies in solidarity with the Third World. Campaigns like the one in support of Palestine by California prisoners are good for building anti-militarism in the United $tates.
Currently the media and Western politicians are promoting the line that the Islamic State is the biggest threat to peace globally. They are way off the mark. That role has long remained in the hands of the United $tates and its military industrial complex.
MIM(Prisons) gets a number of requests from male prisoners to hook them up with female comrades. They are looking for romance or just "female companionship." Sometimes this request comes from an activist behind bars, looking to build a romantic relationship with someone who is also an activist.
MIM(Prisons) focuses all of our energy and funds on revolutionary education and organizing, but we understand that people have social needs and desires. Here we will address why we don't offer dating or pen pal services and why activists should think carefully about what they are really looking for.
We believe that humyns are social beings who need interactions with other humyns in order to be mentally healthy. That is why we say control units are torture. And in our culture, gendered relations can make it difficult for men to provide emotional support to each other, especially in the hyper-masculine prison environment. So seeking out female companionship is one way to deal with alienation of imprisonment and especially isolation.
Many people find their motivation in such relationships. All you have to do is turn on the radio to know that, even if today's culture has essentialized it to down to body parts and sex acts. But it may be helpful to separate those two things out. There is the patriarchal culture that has trained us to desire certain things, and to be validated by certain things. Then there is some genuine aspect of the humyn brain that craves social interaction.
There is a contradiction with being both distracted and inspired when you are in a relationship. Often when they are in it people can justify it in all sorts of ways, because it becomes the most important thing. Yet, we've also seen people who experience some difficulty that turns them off to romance and as a result they put their nose to the grindstone and pick up their work load. In fact, there are studies in the pop science news claiming that being in a depressed state is better for creativity and concentration. So consider how you can turn your state of loneliness to your advantage and not end up wallowing in it.
We don't hook up our subscribers with conscious sisters for political and security reasons. But even if we wanted to, how would we? Dating is hard. Finding people to date is hard. Doing so from prison has to be a hundred times harder. As cadre, when we look at our political lives and our bourgeois lives, we take a budgeting approach. Everything that isn't political is taking time away from the political. And so you need to parse out what it is you NEED to do to sustain yourself so that you can continue to do political work. Anything else is taking time away from the struggle, away from the people. And that's on you.
When people get into relationships they often disappear. Not just from politics, but from life in general, friends, etc. For the petty bourgeoisie it's probably the top thing to take people away from politics. For the lumpen it's big as well. If we tell people to just give it up and get over it, they'll say we're crazy and don't understand humyns. But for cadre level people this should be something we can evaluate. We should be able to look at our own lives, look at the society that shapes our lives, see what we've been taught and what we know we need, and work towards a lifestyle that best supports our work.
I'm enclosing a pamphlet recently circulated here titled "Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse in Prison." The official policies in New York are actually pretty good and some staff are supportive. Sing Sing has openly gay and lesbian corrections officers (COs), a high percentage of young and/or female officers, and at least one transgender officer. Far from ideal, but good enough to suggest there's hope for the rest of the country and struggles in this area will be successful!
Please note the #77 speed dial feature described in the pamphlet [a speed dial to the Rape Crisis Program that does not need to be on the approved telephone list and calls are not monitored.] This is an innovative idea that could well be advocated elsewhere. I've heard one positive comment from a user, and the speed dial does work well on a technical level. But why not a #66 to report beat downs, or #55 for corruption, or #1 to report injustice or ask for legal help?
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for a hotline to report other abuses within prisons. Any opportunity for prisoners to report abuse outside of the prison structure is a welcome addition to the criminal injustice system that denies prisoners a voice to speak out against abuse. But we do not yet have any evidence that prisoners speed dialing a rape crisis program will result in any help or attention to the problem beyond supportive counseling after the attack happens. If this is just offering the prisoner an anonymous opportunity to talk after a rape, the problem will continue. In a system that has demonstrated its ability to dismiss or sweep under the rug any complaints or accusations by prisoners, we doubt this new hotline will be any different.
As for the existence of gay, lesbian and transgender COs, we see this the same as having New Afrikan COs. Those who have joined the criminal injustice system will be forced to conform to the rules or they will be out of a job. And so we can now expect to see these new COs abusing prisoners just like their straight counterparts. There are many male COs who do not identify as gay, but who are part of the rape of male prisoners. In all situations, the COs are in a position of power in a system that is set up to denigrate and abuse the men and women it holds. Rather than fight for COs of a different sexual orientation, gender identity, or nationality we need to fight for an end to a system of brutality that condones rape.
En meses recientes se ha vuelto más común leer cuentos noticieros sobre el hundimiento irreversible de glaciares en Antártica y en otras partes alrededor del mundo, como resultado de temperaturas crecientes en la Tierra. Este degradación de nuestro medioambiente global es accionado por emisiones humanas de gases invernaderos. Mientras la realidad de destrucción humana de sistemas naturales de la Tierra se hace más claro a diario, y científicos proporcionan más claras y alarmantes evidencias que estamos a punto donde los efectos no se podrán anular, vemos un argumento convincente para el comunismo como el único sistema económico que tiene la posibilidad de proveer la supervivencia a largo plazo de humanos.
Maoístas enfocan en combatir la represión y brutalidad de humanos contra humanos, cual es un elemento inherente de capitalismo. Cuando llega la pelea por la supervivencia de los humanos más oprimidos en el mundo, pelear por la vida del planeta en cual todos vivimos llega a ser inextricablemente entrelazado con nuestro humanismo. Sin un medioambiente que puede sustentar vida humana, la pelea contra opresión de grupos de pueblos se vuelve irrelevante. Vemos una fuerte razón para que comunistas apoyen ambientalismo revolucionario, y para unidad entre activistas ambientales y aquellos que pelean la opresión de pueblos. Pero no ganaremos la batalla por el medioambiente sin primero liberar los pueblos oprimidos del mundo y derribar el imperialismo.
Alla en 1997 MIM publicó la revista MIM Teoria titulado "Medioambiente, Sociedad, Revolución." En el escribió, "Nuestra meta fundamental es erradicar la opresión de pueblo sobre pueblo, y esta meta también es la manera más efectivo para liberar el medioambiente de agresión humana. No creemos que socialismo necesariamente lleve a cabo salvación ambiental, pero si argumentamos que solamente por el socialismo tendremos la posibilidad a si."
Históricamente la peor devastación ha sido causado sobre el medioambiente como resultado de opresión entre pueblos: guerras, fabricación usando trabajo explotado, y incautación de tierras por corporativos. En guerra, herbicidas y agentes químicos son usados para deforestar tierra y destruir producción de cosecha, que tiene severas, duraderos impactos no solo sobre la plantas, pero sobre la gente y fauna también. Agente Naranjo, uranio agotado, napalm, y fósforo blanco son ejemplos de este tipo de guerra. Una bomba que pone en blanco un "enemigo" también destruye el medioambiente en la área circundante. Producción capitalista permite prácticamente no regular el tiro de basuras en nuestros ríos y océanos, incluyendo derrames de petróleo. Cuando mercancía no puede ser vendido es literalmente tirada al océano o incinerado, impactando la vida oceánica y contaminación del aire.
Ademas, los imperialistas ponen en blanco al Tercer Mundo con residuos de países imperialistas, colocando industrias sucias ahí y vertiendo desechos tóxicos en patios de otra gente.(1) Y esta claro que los países que contribuyen lo menos a cambios de clima serán impactado lo máximo por el. Tifones golpeando el sureste de Asia y India, sequías en Africa, e islas que pronto desaparecerán a crecientes niveles del mar son todos consecuencias que ya han tomado las vidas de muchas personas y amenazan a destruir todavía más. Donde los países imperialistas podrán reconstruir infraestructura y defender contra los impactos de cambios de clima más fácilmente debido a su riqueza robado, residentes en el Tercer Mundo no tendrán este privilegio. Al mismo tiempo, contaminación y otros efectos de actividad humana han llegado a una escala donde es mas difícil para las naciones opresoras aislarse de estos problemas. Por esta razón, ambientalismo puede probar hacer la mas fuerte fuerza material para construir internacionalismo verdadero.
En los E$tados Unidos los capitalistas están intentando reformas pequeñas para tratar el creciente problema ambiental, pero estos intentos nos enseñan claramente porque capitalismo va fallar en salvar la raza humana. La Organización de Protección del Medio Ambiente recientemente propuso regulación de emisiones de plantas de poder, enfocandose en plantas de carbon existentes. En movimiento lento de capitalismo, la Organización de Protección del Medio Ambiente ultimará su propuesta algún día en 2015, dará un año a estados para descifrar como implementar los nuevos reglamentos, pelear los juicios que estados amenazan, y tal vez ver unos pocos cambios muchos años en el futuro. La Organización de Protección del Medio Ambiente optimistamente predice el propuesto podría reducir emisiones de bióxido de carbon de estas plantas hasta un 30% para 2030.(2) Los medios corporativos ya están quejandose de normas de emisiones siendo "mal para negocios," que bajo capitalismo es mas importante que vidas humanas. Y fiel a la moda capitalista, hay platica de sobornar a las compañías de carbon y compensar a personas quienes tienen buenos trabajos de sindicato con sueldo-alto que serán afectados.(3) Entonces por los capitalistas ricos y los pudientes trabajadores del Primer Mundo, habrá años de dispúta para la posibilidad de hacer algunos pequeños cambios, mientras gente en el Tercer Mundo están muriendo hoy de efectos de cambio de clima que ya están sucediendo.
Mucha gente bienintencionada piensa que pueden tratar problemas ambientales con soluciones individuos. Sugieren que todas necesitamos reciclar y manejar autos eléctricos, o quizás no comer carne. Es cierto que dietas Americanas, cultura de auto y producción despilfarrador tienen que ser cambiados dramáticamente en una sistema ecológico sostenible. Pero tal estilo de vida política están moviendo mas lenta que reformas capitalistas en términos de actualmente reducir los indices de contaminación, agotacion de recursos y destrozos de sistemas naturales. Movimiento social tiene que ser apoyado con organización, cambios estructurales y poder verdadero. Los capitalistas tienen todas estas cosas, pero les falta la motivación para el cambio. Estableciendo instituciones independientes que actualmente cambian nuestros sistemas de producción y consumo para estar en linea con lo demás del mundo natural tiene que ocurrir. Si esto puede ser antes de la toma de poder estatal, es algo que ecologistas revolucionarios tienen que explorar. Si sabemos que la dictadura conjunto del proletariado de las naciones oprimidas será necesario para finalmente hacer cumplir los cambios necesitados a la escala global. Esto es necesario porque una porción considerable de las naciones opresoras no reducirán su consumo por voluntad propia, y mientras haya la potencia para aprovechar por via de practicas ecológicas miopes, habrán personas que tratarán hacerlo. Hoy en los E$tados Unidos los fuerzas que mantienen el status quo son mas organizados que las fuerzas para imponer practicas ecológicas sanas.
Un tercer enfoque común para problemas ambientales es el enfoque de pura tecnología. Mientras la ciencia de ecología ha avanzado en décadas recientes, ha sido limitado por la estructura social forzada por el capitalismo. Primer mundialistas pueden crear carreras alrededor de trabajar con comunidades pequeñas para resolver problemas locales, pero estos curitas no pueden curar la herida cuando la navaja de especuladores capitalistas continua torciendo de un lado a otro. Tales ecologistas académicas pueden contribuir a nuestro conocimiento, pero sus esfuerzos no hacen nada para desafiar el modelo capitalista en si mismo. Es mucho mas eficiente y efectivo hacer cambios necesarios para la supervivencia de la humanidad con un gobierno centralizado actuando con los intereses de la mayoría, a un ONG o sector no lucrativo, o hasta por vía del método de acción directa favorecido por bandas anarquistas. Comunismo suelta la creatividad de todas la masas de una manera que empuja estos proyectos para delante con entusiasmo y anchura sin medida. (Vea nuestro discusión de China: Ciencia Camina Sobre Dos Piernas en nuestra revista de revolutionaryecology.com - only available in English right now). Animamos ecologistas con perspectivas globales ha desarrollar una estrategia que verdaderamente hace uso de su trabajo globalmente, y les recomendamos el comunismo como la mejor manera de cumplir sus metas que valen la pena. Hoy en los E$tados Unidos, tenemos mas estilistas de vida y reformistas en la banda ambientalista. Necesitamos mas revolucionarios.
Socialismo pondrá un fin a métodos "eficientes" capitalistas de hacer ganancias. Y con la tierra en los manos del pueblo, podemos empezar hacer decisiones mas inteligentes sobre uso balanceado para la supervivencia humana sin destrucción ambiental. La mayoría de los pueblos del mundo están interesados en vivir en una planeta saludable, pero los capitalistas con dinero y poder están enfocados en ganancias. Como tienen el poder y armas, ellos no tienen que darle cuentas a la mayoría. Desperdician recursos o hasta los destruyen, si les sirve a sus intereses competitivos. Y no les importa qué o quién muera en el proceso. Bajo el capitalismo vemos como agencias gubernamentales y el gobierno mismo están obligados con los intereses especiales mas ricos, y incapaz de implementar hasta reformas modestas. Solamente derribando a los capitalistas y hacer cumplir pólizas que aseguran la supervivencia de humanos en la tierra tenemos una chanza de hechar atrás la destrucción de el medioambiente.
El bombardeo contra el pueblo Palestino no se puede describir en palabras. Mi forma de ver a Israel a cambiado de un estado asentado a un estado terroristico. Mas de 1,000+ Palestinos han sido asesinados por Israel. La mayoría de las víctimas son civiles. Niños y ancianos descuartizados por bombas Israelíes. Esta atrocidad sigue sin ninguna palabra de los medios de comunicación Americanos crítica de parte de los portavoces contra estos actos casi no existe, pero esto no es ninguna sorpresa.
Yo sigo en lo que puedo, la guerra Israelí contra los Palestinos desde este campo de muerte llamado Pelican Bay SHU. Lo que veo mas que nada es que Israel ataca a niños y hospitales. La gente quedan enterradas en sus hogares y cuando se hace atentos de rescate, los tiradores escondidos disparan contra los rescatadores. Los militares Israelíes convierten los hogares Palestinos en nidos para los tiradores escondidos después de botar a los Palestinos. Están disparandole a mujeres y niños para infligir terror a las vidas de los Palestinos que nunca van a parar su lucha por su liberación.
Yo saco mucha fuerza de los Palestinos y aprendo mucho de sus ejemplos concretos de lo que es luchar contra un ocupador terroristico. Pienso que el mundo entero esta aprendiendo lo que es la resistencia. Los Palestinos de hoy son un ejemplo en que podemos aprender. Están sin asistencia económica pero siempre encuentran la manera de pelear contra los tanques y misiles sufriendo de hambre, descalzos solo con AKs y puños cerrados.
El estado terroristicos Israelí es un ejemplo audaz de colonialismo que tiene que ser eliminado de la humanidad. Los Palestinos son rehenes cuales son bombardeados al gusto de los Israelís. Pero la mayoría de los asesinados son civiles y no se oye ni una palabra de los gusanos Amerikkkanos. No dicen nada porque en muchas maneras el estado terroristico Israeli es como un espejo de el estado terroristico Amerikkkano. Todavía no nos atacan en esta escala en este pais, pero las semi-colonias internas estan teniendo sus tierras ocupadas y estamos siendo asesinados selectivamente. Amerikkka usa el terror "blandito" con la tortura de el SHU, la pena de muerte y los guardias "cochinos/puercos/marranos/cerdos/lechones." En Palestina el terror no es "blandito," los misiles, tanques, y aviones de guerra masacrana la gente.
Estos actos terroristicos desatados por los perros Israelíes son los que me inspiran a propagar el anuncio que Palestina tiene que ser libre. Este avance militar me ha educado más que todos mis años de estudio. Después de ver el trato barbárico de los Palestinos lo único que puedo decir es que nunca más los Palestinos estarán solos peleando el colonialismo.
I am housed at Suwannee Correctional Close Management Unit, which is the Florida Department of Corruption's equivalent of the SHU or AdSeg. On 4 August 2014, myself and several other political prisoners on my cell block were targeted for repression during a shakedown which was conducted by the pigs. This shakedown was in retaliation for several grievances/complaints being filed about the corrections officers denying us outdoor yard access and indoor day room activities, including access to the phones.
During the shakedown the pigs read some notes I had written down from studying politics, history, and communism. These notes contained some commentary that wasn't very patriotic or friendly toward the Amerikan imperialist regime. When the pigs ordered me to explain the notes I told them that "I like to take notes on politics and current events," and "I like to keep tabs on what's going on in the outside world." The sergeant then held up one of the notes referring to "sovereignty" and said "so you're a sovereign citizen?" To which I replied, "No, I'm just a normal human being." Then he told me to explain why I had notes on weapons. I told him how I was in the U.$. army and developed a fascination for firearms, and he responded by saying, "so now you're a domestic terrorist?" I then told him that the average Amerikan citizen is more likely to be terrorized by their own local law enforcement than by so-called "terrorists."
Myself and three other prisoners were placed in confinement after the shakedown and we were charged with the disciplinary infraction of "Possession of Gang Related Paraphernalia." They tried to validate me as a member of a Security Threat Group (STG) on the basis that in the notes I made a reference to "Popular Sovereignty" and that therefore I was in possession of documents related to the sovereign association, which the imperialist bureaucrats view as a STG because sovereign citizens are not compelled to abide by U.$. laws.
When I went to my disciplinary hearing I told these pigs that the so-called evidence they have against me (the "gang paraphernalia") is merely a bunch of notes I copied from social studies. I explained that "Popular Sovereignty" is (supposed) to be one of the five basic principles of Amerikan government and that anyone who claims to be a patriotic Amerikan citizen should at least know this.
I used this argument to beat this charge and I also presented my own evidence as a defense — part of a social studies assignment on Amerikan government from FDOC's very own educational department which explains (what is supposed to be) the Five Basic Principles of Amerikan Government; 1) Federal System, 2) Popular Sovereignty, 3) Separation of Powers, 4) Checks and Balances, and 5) Limited Government. In real life these "principles" hold no valuable meaning, just as the U.$. constitution is merely a piece of paper.
It seems evident that anyone making an attempt to educate themselves is viewed as a threat by the imperialist bureaucrats and anyone who is against oppression and imperialism is a "domestic terrorist." As revolutionaries, it is imperative that we educate ourselves and our fellow comrades and expose the true terrorists for who they really are: the terrorists in pig clothing, masquerading as those who "protect and serve" and provide "care, custody and control."
We shall prevail in our struggle against imperialist oppression.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We have heard from some comrades that even writing to MIM(Prisons) or participating in our correspondence study groups can be used as evidence for STG validation. We know there is a risk to corresponding and working with MIM(Prisons) but the education and organizing opportunities are great. We hope others will take this comrade's example to fight false validation attempts made against them and stay active in political work and study. For those not yet involved in political study, write to us to join our next introductory study group.
Guard One was implemented in the middle of June per mandate of a court-appointed mental health expert in Sacramento. The device resembles a pipe about the size of a closet pole cut to an 8" length. It either flashes or beeps to indicate a welfare check has been recorded. Similar devices are in use throughout selected prisons, especially in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) where statistics reveal most prison suicides occur.
While it is being promoted as a high-tech device able to create an electronic record that prison guards are actually performing their assigned duty of half-hourly welfare checks at each cell, it is also supposed to be showing how much CDCr cares about reducing the number of suicides on its four death row SHUs at San Quentin.
In San Quentin's SHU II D.R. the sensor which the beeping pipe must make contact with is attached to each cell's food port. That's a small metal door on hinges which is padlocked closed unless the cell has no occupant, the prisoner is attending some other program, the cleaning bucket is being used, or there is a phone in use. When the food port is open, for whatever reason, it must be lifted to the closed position so contact can be made with the beeping pipe. Normally, upwards of 100 food ports are left open every day between the hours of 9am and 1pm as various programs are in session. During that time there is continuous banging, clanging and beeping. That's hardly conducive to anyone's mental health!
At around 9pm the beeping pipes are traded in for a non-beeping Guard One device. So between the hours of 9pm and 5am the padlocked metal food port doors continue clanging each time a contact is made. The banging of food ports on empty cells as they're lifted and dropped also echoes throughout the night while the prison guard flashlights would probably remind you of a prison break scene from an old movie as the spotlights search up and down for prisoners crawling the walls. Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of mental and physical health issues.
By 5:30am the beeping starts up like a small brood of electronic rooster chicks fighting for dominance in a cast iron coop and a few cocks get to crowing about the "easy money overtime" coming from the taxpayers.
Many prisoners have died in their cells due to heart attacks, cooking, or other things which might not have been fatal if they had received timely medical attention. So these must be some of the factors considered by the "expert" who armed prison guards with these devices seemingly designed to preserve prisoners and create jobs. I hope I separated the truth from fiction for you.
We call for the elimination of the Guard One device because it is causing more torture and anguish for prisoners.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the criminal injustice system implementing new costly practices in response to serious problems, but the new practices do nothing to help prisoners. In this case, it is a real problem that prisoners die due to medical neglect. But spending lots of money creating more jobs for guards and increasing sensory torture for prisoners is not a solution to this problem. We can never expect the injustice system to reform itself or address its problems fundamentally. We must continue to demand an end to torture like long-term isolation and these new devices, while we build a broader movement that can attack the fundamental injustice of a system that uses prisons as a tool of social control.
In prisons, men are housed separately from wimmin, but gender oppression is still a very big issue behind bars. From sexual assaults on prisoners by guards and other prisoners, to the abuse of gay and trans people, gender oppression perpetuates disunity and furthers the social control of the criminal injustice system. In this issue of Under Lock & Key we have articles about rape and sexual assault in prison, the use of sexual orientation to divide prisoners, denial of health care, and several attempts to challenge and fight gender oppression behind bars.
Our readers should be familiar with the concepts of class and national oppression. Class is clearly related to work and ownership of the means of production. Those who are owners have the power to exploit those who are not. National oppression is also clearly visible with nations which have resources and militaries using those to steal from and control nations which don't.
We distinguish gender from class and nation because it is defined by leisure-time activity. Men (the group with power in the gender oppression dynamic) oppress wimmin through rape, sexual harassment, and a social structure that portrays wimmin as valued for their looks, not for their skills or knowledge. Gender is not so clear cut as "men against wimmin" though. We have an Amerikan history of lynching Black men accused of raping white wimmin, giving white wimmin significant gender power over Black men. The use of humyn bodies in the Third World for drug testing by pharmaceutical companies gives First World men and wimmin benefits from gender oppression. And overall health status and physical ability is tied up with gender privilege; professional athletes and models are both enjoying gender privilege while those with physical and mental disabilities are often times forced into homelessness or imprisonment.
Gender in Prison
In prison we see clearly that gender privilege is not just about biological definitions of male and female. Prisoners face rape and sexual harassment by both prison staff and other prisoners. According to the Department of Justice itself, 50% of sexual assault against prisoners is by staff (See the article "PREA National Standards: Symbol or Sword?"). Prisoners are vulnerable because of their powerlessness against abuse from employees, their lack of recourse to stop abuse from other prisoners, and also because of their lack of access to adequate health care. These vulnerabilities have an even bigger impact on prisoners who are gay or trans, those with physical disabilities or health problems, youth (especially those in adult facilities), and any prisoners who are perceived as weak.
Trans Oppression in Prison
A New York prisoner wrote to MIM(Prisons) recently:
"I'm a transgender woman. I'm writing this because I'm different from the regular male prisoners. I am 200% aware of the oppression that's being done to the heterosexual prisoner population. I've been raped, beaten, and starved. The main reason I've been oppressed is due to my sexual orientation. An LGBTQ individual has it bad [in prison]."
Trans people face gender oppression for their perceived sex role non-conformity, based on physical health status and needs, and for trans wimmin there is the added oppression for being female. As with other gender oppression, this interacts with class and nation, leaving Third World trans people to face the most severe oppression, while some First World trans people end up integrating well with their imperialist culture and enjoying its benefits. Trans prisoners are unique in the First World because the condition of imprisonment puts them in a situation that denies them class or nation privilege, resulting in increased danger specific to their gender oppression.
The root of violence against trans people lies in the strict enforcement of the gender system. People who are visibly trans, especially trans wimmin, are often singled out for social or physical violence. Trans people are automatically regarded as non-heterosexual, and violence against them often includes elements of homophobia. These factors can conspire with national oppression and class to produce disastrous and murderous results.
Trans people have a number of specific health needs, primarily hormones and surgery, but are commonly denied access to even routine healthcare.(1) An unemployment rate double the average(2) often leaves trans people without insurance; but for those who do have it, trans-specific coverage is often categorically denied, and aging medical standards allow doctors to restrict treatment to only those who conform to rigid standards of masculinity or femininity. The result of all this can be lethal. Approximately 41% of trans people have attempted suicide,(3) and trans wimmin are 49 times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population.(4)
Lack of healthcare is even more acute within prison, with hormones normally denied even to those receiving them before incarceration, and surgery completely out of the question. 21% of trans wimmin have been imprisoned (rising to over 50% for New Afrikan trans wimmin)(5) and for them, correct identity documents can mean life or death. Trans wimmin who are regarded as "legally male" by the state get sent to men's prisons. This leaves them much more likely than other prisoners to be victims of sexual assault, rape, and murder,(6) and has a number of other consequences like the assignment of cross-gender guards for strip searches, and incorrect clothing provisions.(7)
Unity is Key to Fighting Gender Oppression
Gender oppression is an integral part of imperialism, and we can't expect to eliminate it without overthrowing imperialism. Ultimately we fight for communism, a system where no group of people oppresses any other group of people (classes, nations or genders). But we can have an impact on some forms of this oppression now, including sexual violence and harassment, through a united struggle behind bars. We call on all prisoners to put an end to gender oppression between prisoners. We need to stand together and say no to prisoner-on-prisoner sexual assault, and no to harassment. Unite and stand up to defend those who can not defend themselves. If you do not face this oppression, it is your job to stand with your comrades who do, and ensure your fellow prisoners do not turn around and act as gender oppressors. Straight prisoners need to understand that gay and trans prisoners are comrades, not enemies. Don't let the prison divide us along gender lines.