As early as October 2012, the administrators of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have relentlessly advocated to the public how the step-down program (SDP) is an improvement upon the gang validation policies/practices that previously existed. But history informs us that any mantra of change being presented by the powers that be means more of the same, literally.
On a day in March 2015, I was the sole prisoner transferred out of Corcoran SHU via special transportation, as the warden issued some type of "special order" for me to be housed at CCI Tehachapi SHU. I have yet to see this "special order." I'm not going to get into the litany of horrendous living conditions that exist here at this point and time, however, I've witnessed countless prisoners be issued bogus rule violation reports (CDC 115 RVRs) and then coerced to start over and repeat the step that they were just in. This subjects the prisoner to being interned to indefinite solitary confinement status once again, as there are no mechanisms in place that would prohibit and/or prevent this process from reoccurring. It's nothing more than the same old barbaric and dehumanizing gang validation policies and practices.
For example, the most prominent reason for prisoners being issued CDC 115 RVRs is because their name has been found in a "kite" that was written by another prisoner. Not only is this contrary to our primary 5 core demands from the mass hunger strikes, in relation to behavior-based "individual accountability," but it is also contrary to the new SDP policy. In particular, CDCR memorandum dated 9 August 2013 states in part on page 4:
"At times this information includes a list of names or other personal information being found in another offender's possession that has some nexus to STG activity or behavior. During the DRB reviews, the offender whose name is simply on the list (versus the individual being in actual possession of the list) will not be held accountable for the contents."
But wait, it gets even better my people. While at Corcoran, counter-intelligence officer S. Niehus searched my personal legal property in February 2015 and stole ("confiscated") my legal exhibits for active legal cases under the false premise of it being gang-related contraband. In my first level 602 appeal interview with Institutional Gang Investigator Sergeant Pierce, he told me:
"Corcoran's litigation office has confirmed [your] active legal cases and that the confiscated materials were indeed legal exhibits for said court cases, but he is going to retain possession of them, as CDCR has deemed the materials to be gang-related contraband per CCR Title 15 Section 3378."
It can't be both ways! Either they're legal exhibits or not. This type of subjective rationale makes it fundamentally impossible to challenge these bogus allegations of gang activity, because no sooner do we get evidence that refutes these ridiculous allegations, it is then stolen under the falsity of being gang-related. How is this not more of the same old policies and practices? But more importantly, how can we win under these circumstances? It is imperative that the people send letters and emails to M.D. Stainer, Susan Hubbard, Scott Kernan and others in CDCR's headquarters in Sacramento, California to voice your outrage on this contradiction.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In the meantime, we will also fight from the angle of publicizing these abuses via our independent media resources (Under Lock & Key and prisoncensorship.info). We also fight injustice by offering educational materials and study groups to raise the political understanding of anyone with an interest in putting a permanent end to false imprisonment, torture via inhumane long-term isolation, and an oppressive state and military which tries to bully the entire world. The more we understand our oppression, the better equipped we will be to fight against it effectively.
In recent years we've seen the consolidation of the movement to end long-term isolation in U.$. prisons. This has been an issue the Maoist Internationalist Movement, and others, have focused on for decades because they determined that it was an important contradiction between the oppressors and the oppressed in the United $tates. It's taken some time, but that analysis seems to be proving true as the movement is gaining traction.
Another issue that we have reported on over the years has been that of police brutality, and in particular police killings. In recent years, this too has emerged as a flashpoint issue. After many incidents that provoked local and ongoing responses, Ferguson took it to another level, and now Baltimore has further pushed the issue and begun to draw lines in the sand.
Just as the state attacked the anti-SHU movement for being a bunch of gangbangers just looking out for themselves, the question of oppressed nation unity across lumpen organizations has come to the forefront in Ferguson and Baltimore. In Baltimore, the Nation of Islam held a press conference with members of Blood and Crip organizations that led to a lot of press coverage. During the uprising, those organizations were on the streets protecting New Afrikan-owned businesses and community members. As they attempted to show their ability to do for their community what the police claimed but failed to do, the state tried to paint them as a bunch of cop killers in the media.
A controversial hypothesis that we have put forth is that we should look to the oppressed nation lumpen and lumpen organizations to find a mass base for revolutionary organizing in the United $tates. We see the social forces involved in the struggles against long-term isolation and police killing as providing evidence in support of this hypothesis. We have looked at this question in depth and think there is enough evidence to support this as a valid scientific theory. One source of confirmation we get from this is the support we get from the oppressed nation lumpen. One comrade from Baltimore wrote to us further illuminating the connection between our prison work and the anti-police movement today:
"I am a former eminent member of the 5-Deuce Hoover Crips in the Northeast region of Baltimore city. Currently, I am serving out a long prison sentence in Maryland. I am writing to you in regards to the riots and the looting and the unorganized protest that took place 27 April 2015. I can't say that I'm surprised, nor can I say I seen it coming; but you must know that if the melee on April 27 didn't happen when it did, it still would have taken place somewhere further down the line. Do I condone the actions of misled, poorly-educated youth and mindless adults during the date of Freddie Gray's burial? No, I do not!
"I knew Freddie personally so know his death is agonizing and he'll be missed. It is such a crying shame it took the misplaced anger and rage of Baltimore's youth to get the governor, mayor, city's councilpeople, etc. off their hindparts to 'work actively' with the protestors and conduct an investigation of Freddie Gray's death. Every big shot wants to say how good of a city Baltimore is, yet the justice system is corrupt, and our 'city leaders' are corrupt...
"There is good in Balti but those ghettos around the realm of the city are truculent. Not because there's direct destruction, but because right now it is the blind leading the blind. Those same misled youth who rioted April 27 will soon grow to be adults who will be misleading the next generation. Baltimore city needs help, in its ghettos and its prisons. In short, legislation has to make some changes with its shielding of police who break the law and violate the rights of the civilians."
Certainly there is much to be done in all areas where there is mass opposition to police brutality. And we do not see any possible solution from a state whose interests the police are serving. The struggle to transform spontaneous uprisings into long-term organizing is one that the movement has faced for decades. The increase in frequency and size of such uprisings is the quantitative change in this contradiction between the oppressed nations and the imperialist state. The transformation from spontaneous to organized, concerted movements is the qualitative change that must happen to keep the struggle advancing. And the lumpen organizations themselves must transform in order to play an effective leadership role in that process.
Some in the oppressed nations are frustrated with the slow pace of change. No doubt there have been a lot of peace treaties and calls from lumpen organizations to be forces for the community that have not always panned out to be all that we had hoped for. But just as there were countless uprisings to overthrow slavery before enough quantitative change had occurred in society to be successful, we are now in a stage where we see many efforts to form national unity in New Afrika and to politicize lumpen organizations. These efforts are part of the quantitative change that has not yet made a qualitative leap to a new stage of struggle. This is a process that faces setbacks from state interference, but also responds to state interference with further radicalization and mobilization.
Another sign that the movement is advancing is that lines are being drawn between enemies and friends. It is becoming clear that many who claim to oppose racism and police brutality actually care more about private property and business as usual. So the progressive facade of these forces is being torn off as they come face-to-face with the unrefined reality of mass uprisings. But just as those false friends become alienated from the struggle against police killings, the masses who have a real interest in change will become energized by a movement as it becomes more real and relatable.
Becoming more real requires having an analysis of the situation that is based in materialism; that is real. The more our analysis reflects reality and is able to harness the forces of change that are present, the more support we will gain from those forces of change. Many people are still stuck in metaphysical ways of thinking. They think this is just the way things are and they will never change. Such people conclude that the best thing to do is to try to avoid conflict with the oppressor, keep your head down and just try to get by.
The dominant Amerikan analysis is also metaphysical and misleads the masses who might otherwise be supportive of dialectical materialist analysis. Racism is a metaphysical view of sociology. Using an individualist approach to sociological questions, or replacing psychology for sociology, is also metaphysical. Sociology studies groups of humyns and can be used to predict how they will behave; psychology studies individual humyns and attempts to predict how they will behave. The metaphysical line goes that there are bad cops and there are bad people who go to the protests. These bad people must be rooted out and punished. As sociologists, we disagree, as this does not address the source of the conflict.
The racist version is that these looters are thugs who have nothing to do with Gray. If we look at history, these types of occurrences in similar communities in the United $tates are almost always in the response to the killing of New Afrikans by the U.$. state. This would lead the scientific mind to develop a hypothesis that there is some connection between the two. To test this hypothesis we could search history for incidents when large groups of people loot stores when there wasn't a New Afrikan killed. If we find few-to-no examples of this, and find many examples of the first situation, we might raise our hypothesis to a theory, that can be used as a predictive tool.
In contrast, Amerikans say the people in Baltimore who looted stores are opportunists, using the protests as an excuse to act out their real goals. Like getting some free Doritos is a higher priority for them than getting justice for the countless New Afrikans who have faced abuse and murder under Amerikan occupation. Such a nihilistic view is almost laughable. But let's entertain it a little further. If we are to oppose this position, we should propose a better explanation for the behavior of many of the youth in Baltimore recently. As our comrade wrote, it is a blind leading the blind problem, but why is that? Are New Afrikans just not smart enough to figure out how to respond effectively? He further wrote:
"I am a 25 year old Black man who taught myself how to read while incarcerated. After being sent to prison a third time I learned my true calling. There's so much more to life, I am trying my hardest to be an activist behind the prison walls and when I make it out on the streets. I know first hand how it feels to be those Black children who've been mis-educated and unheard, so the only way to express your emotions is through lashing out because you don't know any other way. The police used to beat and harass me every single day because of my position in the Crips, because I wasn't properly educated, and because they had the power. I'm no saint, but a lot of things I went through and/or other Black children endured with police brutality often times was uncalled for.
"If the shoe was on the other foot and someone killed a police officer, there wouldn't be a waiting period or an investigation to lock the person up. The police might even go as far as persecution (execution style) of the person themselves. The video clips taken during the occurrence of Freddie Gray's death should render enough information for all of those cops involved to be taken into custody (without bail) until a trial date is arranged."
Let's analyze this a little further. We live in a capitalist society, where the primary motivator that keeps things moving is profit. Our country is an imperialist country, that has always used force to kill and steal from people to increase its wealth. When New Afrikans walk around with $ signs hanging from their necks, and big portraits of Benjamin Franklin on the back of their jeans, is there any doubt that they are reflecting the dominant ideology of capitalism? On the other hand, whenever a New Afrikan movement has arisen that promotes socialism, communism, cooperative economics or anything of the sort, they have faced repression. People who led New Afrikan youth against capitalism have been imprisoned and killed. Could these be explanations of why New Afrikan youth today are often caught up in fetishizing money and wealth? Because they've been terrorized into it? The individualist will pretend these things don't matter and that it's up to the individual to make the right decisions, even when the individual does not have all the information or knowledge they would need to do so because that information has been purposely and systematically kept from them. It amounts to blaming the victim.
Of course, a real Amerikan patriot supports the First Amendment, so they will say "I support the protesters, but I oppose the looters." The petty bourgeois class interest is not hard to see in this dominant narrative. People are literally putting more weight on private property than a New Afrikan's life. They might respond, that to put it such a way is a false dichotomy, because it was not a situation where we either break some windows and save Gray's life or let Gray die at the hands of police. But this again is based on their individualist worldview. In their view, each incident is unique and isolated between the individuals involved and must be assessed as such. There is no consideration of the possibility of the mass uprising in Baltimore leading to a surge in organizing, that then contributes to a new revolutionary movement that 30 years from now has put an end to imperialism in this country so that New Afrikans' lives are no longer threatened by police.
The more we look at the big picture, the worse things are for the defenders of capitalism. When we look at the big picture we see things like 80% of the world's people have a material interest opposed to capitalism because their basic needs are not being met. And that capitalism has only been around for a few hundred years, a blip on the timeline of humyn history. And that all systems change, all empires fall. This constant change is a part of the dialectical worldview.
This is why Mao talked about science being on the side of the oppressed. Injustice is an objective fact. And the solutions to the problems our society faces today are found in a thorough analysis of that society.
We commend our comrade from Baltimore for taking the journey of teaching himself to become an activist to serve the people. But how does one go about learning in an effective way? There is so much information out there, so many books and groups and so little time. Making effective use of the collective knowledge of humynkind requires using the correct scientific methods, and comparing different practices to see which ones have worked. We hope this issue of ULK gives our readers some guidance in this process of judging truth and knowledge. As always, we have study materials that go more deeply into this than we can here in ULK where we try to focus on news and agitation. Issue 45 of ULK will focus on the practical side of how to organize study groups in prison, and the question of how do we teach basic skills like literacy. We hope those of you with experience will contribute to that issue and help build the quantitative change that must come from the oppressed masses themselves for any systematic change to take place.
My strive is to liberate So with my scribe I demonstrate Teaching those education who seek to be free So with their own two eyes, the truth they will see Oppressors abuse their authority with fallacious tendencies To whom do officers rehabilitate, it ain't you or me If I could liberate just one, maybe two, or even three They will know the cause of a revolutionary Realizing that one can make a difference Look at Malcolm X or Nat Turner for instance Each with their own position in the cause So this is why I strive to perfect my flaws For their descendants is why my ancestors died So regardless if I fail at least I tried
I'm currently incarcerated in a town I've never heard of called Smyrna, Delaware. I've been locked down in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) for 7 out of 9 years. The SHU torture here is something unheard of in regards to humanity. In my 7 years in the SHU I have received only 135 minutes of recreation a week and 45 minutes a week for showers. This totals to just 144 hours a year out of my cell, which is less than Gitmo, ADX, and Pelikkkan Bay.
We are not able to buy food on level 1. This means you come from the hole for 90 days only to do another 90 days in another building or tier. After 90 days if you don't catch a bogus write up for salt and pepper, reckless eye balling, not making your bed, or a fishing line, then you move to level 2. The reason the food buying is so critical is because they have us on an unwilling SHU diet - half portions of what the rest of the prisoners get outside.
Many guys like me have maxout dates, some are in the SHU with life for possession of marijuana under a bogus third strike. There are also misdemeanor convictions, parole violations, and probation violation. One more recently killed himself while waiting on a bed at the half way house.
They attempt to demoralize, dehumanize and ostracize us with their every move, and every rule newly created is another quadruple jeopardy.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade exposes more evidence of the unjust torture that are long-term control units. These exist in prisons across the country, and are the target of our campaign to shut down prison control units. There is no possible justification for the use of this extreme isolation, starvation diets, and inhumyn conditions. These units are tools of social control, primarily targetting prison activists, oppressed nations and others deemed a threat to the Amerikan criminal injustice system.
The rehabilitation program for abused dogs at Perry Correctional Institution (PCI) is commendable. Prisoners have the primary responsibility to care for and rehabilitate abused animals. Selected prisoners have dogs assigned to them and they literally spend all of their time with these dogs; they even have to share a 6 by 10 foot cell with them. This is a remarkable program wherein prisoners are allowed to show love, compassion, and empathy for their fellow creatures.
Being that these dogs have been abused, it is expected that it will take some time for them to be fully rehabilitated. It is also expected that these animals remember their former abuse and at times may become scared, agitated, and even dangerous. Example in point: At least two of the K-9s in the program here at PCI (Shep and Pippin) have bitten people. Nevertheless, instead of these dogs being euthanized, they are allowed to remain in the rehabilitation program and even to be sent to live with families out in society. The program organizers and the prisoners themselves realize that real rehabilitation takes time, patience, compassion, love, and understanding. In contrast, there are many prisoners here (including myself) who have been given Life Without Parole (LWOP) under South Carolina's two-strikes law, who may never see their families again.
It is no secret that a large number of imprisoned people come from families and homes where abuse has been rampant. Why is there no rehabilitation program for them? Do we not afford human beings equal rights with dogs? The truthful and troubling answer is no.
Here at PCI prisoners see staff members hugging and kissing the dogs, but they themselves are not given common or even professional courtesy. And in fact, we are disrespected on a daily basis, from the warden all the way down to new officers who haven't even been certified yet.
The dogs are fed with expensive dog food such as Purina, while the South Carolina Department of Corruptions (SCDC) brags about feeding prisoners for less than a dollar a day. The dogs are given brand new mattresses stacked up to sleep on, but a prisoner has to damn near go through an act of congress to get anything new around here. The dogs have new stainless steel bowls to eat out of, while we have plastic trays that are peeling so bad that each time someone eats in the mess hall, they are assured a healthy diet of plastic.
I've complained continuously about the peeling trays to several staff members (Lt. Church, Lt. Wilson, Cpt. Williams, food service employees J. Husband and B. Olsen) and even filed a grievance. But we are still eating plastic.
I believe that animals are a source of therapy for human beings, especially those human beings who are denied the basic rights of humanity itself. We love these abused animals, because we know their plight and can feel their pain. And as these dogs are being rehabilitated so that they can be placed in loving homes, we are being treated worse than dogs.
How is it that people can rationalize and believe the rehabilitation of a dog, but not a man? It is a shame and a travesty that there is a genuine rehabilitation program here at PCI for dogs, but not for humans.
The dogs have People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Why don't prisoners have People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans (PETH)? The simple truth of the matter is that the landlords of these gated communities don't believe in rehabilitation for the human residents.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade's off-the-cuff proposal for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Humyns (PETH) organization underscores an important point about capitalism: it is based on treating humyns as nothing more than labor to create profit, or worse, as an obstacle to stealing resources. There are many compassionate people in the First World who devote much time and money to bettering the treatment of animals while ignoring the plight of people around the world suffering in truly unlivable conditions, without clean water, access to medical care, sufficient food, and often all this while in danger from a war initiated by the imperialists to gain greater control of strategic resources.
MIM(Prisons) is a part of this PETH battle, in the broader context of opposing the imperialist system that is fundamentally inhumyn. We are fighting for a world where no people have power to oppress other people. In these conditions we will be able to create a society where people do not die unnecessarily, and do not suffer so that others can profit. This will only be possible when we overthrow imperialism, the imperialists won't make these changes out of the kindness of their hearts because the exploitation and oppression of humyns is an integral part of the profit system.
They say "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" So all this prison violence gives me the creeps Those prison wars that help keep us all blindfolded We don't see where all that has been going I can feel it as if these walls are closing in on me But somehow I'm still opening up some cell doors As if I have the key For all those who want to be freed Mentally The last thing we need is to make one another enemy So whoever's serving time, we have to draw a line That makes room for some peace Do you feel me? If so, throw up them deuces That gives us all a sign that you're all for Making peace!
I'm writing because here in Texas the legislature or some "committee" got the bright idea to forbid prisoners the ability to purchase stationary materials (writing paper, typing paper, envelopes of all kinds, and carbon paper) from outside vendors. This really is felt by those who do legal work and those who refuse to support this state. We are now obligated to further support it by purchasing stationary from commissary.
Before this rule was adopted and enforced, one could purchase stationary items from the outside. This was especially good while on a unit lockdown when one needed paper (especially in litigation), because one could do an outside purchase and still get the paper. On a unit lockdown all movement comes to a halt! No commissary, nothing. So no commissary, no paper.
Now, of course, this system has a rule where after seven days on a lockdown one can use the state's "indigent" process, even having funds in one's account. But what the rule states, and what the indigent supply supervisor (usually the law library supervisor) does, are two different things. Let's say it's a four week lockdown. So the first week is "free" or s/he doesn't have to worry about filling out stationary requests. Then week two comes along and all those requests come in. Now the supervisor claims that there's "too many" requests and can't get around to sending the requester their "assigned" indigent supply envelope (ISE). There goes week two, with no paper. Now, each building has their "assigned" request day so this wise ass stupid-visor knows which day is the building's request day. S/he then sends the ISE on the day that the requests are to be made — there goes week three. Week four, you finally make your request, but you come off lockdown, with no supplies sent, and you haven't written in a whole month. Then you have to wait to go to the store.
By the time any grievance is heard the stupid-visor now has his goons kicking down your door searching all your "legal work" under the guise of "probable cause" of written contraband, but really it's retaliation. After all your shit has been ransacked and possibly stolen, in the end you've been fucked good with no claim upon which relief can be granted.
eCommDirect usually allows people on the outside to purchase commissary items for prisoners, but they are not allowed during a lockdown. And if you're in a custody level of what's known in Texas as a G-4 or closed custody there are no eComms allowed any time anyway.
So what does the system do to stop you if you're a writ writer? Make you a G-4 or closed custody. And you can be disciplined for anything! The way the rule reads, an open bag of chips is "contraband" cause it's not as you bought it! Everyone with a little sense will know that the prison system disciplinary process is only a means of control.
MIM(Prisons adds: Beyond just the disciplinary process inside prisons, the entire prison system, from denial of writing materials, to long-term isolation, is set up for social control. There's nothing rehabilitative or corrective about the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Denial of paper and envelopes is a clever way for Texas to try to stop people from using the grievance and legal system to address injustices. It is no surprise that many prisoners turn to physical violence when all other avenues are cut off. But in the face of this increased repression we call on all prisoners to come together, build unity and peace and join a broader movement to fight both these specific injustices and the broader imperialist system. United we can have an impact and build for revolutionary change!
Locking us down simply because they can Trying to break us down to make us feel less of a man Instill hate in us, turning us against each other When will we utilize our 3rd eye which is the mind Through its strength alone it will break these chains that got us blind We must stand as one together, we must unite Realize violence is not the only way to fight So much can be done by the force of a powerful voice Confined behind these walls but my mind will never be under lock and key Exercise my mind daily so there's no stopping me
Nosotros los que estamos en Segregación Administrativa fuimos puestos aquí por ser parte de un STG (Grupo de Amenaza a la Seguridad), supuestamente un pandillero confirmado. En el 2002 fui encerrado en Segregación Administrativa por corresponder con los presos de otra unidad que fueron confirmados como STG. Salí de prisión en el 2004, y recientemente regresé a prisión este año, nuevamente me encuentro en Segregación Administrativa aún no siendo parte de una pandilla. He tratado de escribirle a los oficiales que investigan a las pandillas, también escribí un reporte sobre mi asociación en el pasado; me dijeron que iba a ir a un programa (GRAD) diseñado para ex-pandilleros. Todavía estoy esperando.
Durante el tiempo en Segregación Administrativa, debemos de recibir una hora de ejercicio (recreo) por día, como parte de nuestros derechos. Yo he estado en esta unidad por seis meses y solo he salido a recreación dos veces. He escrito una queja como primer paso, solo me dijeron que me darán una respuesta cuando el personal lo permita. La población general recibe recreación diariamente, y tienen el personal suficiente para esculcar las celdas cuando salimos a bañarnos cada-otro-día. Hay otras unidades a las cuales les falta personal, pero todavía reciben su hora de recreación. Es triste porque unos necesitan el ejercicio por razones medicas y todos lo necesitamos por razones mentales. Estar constantemente en la celda del diario es una batalla mental y un problema de salud serio.
MIM(Prisiones) responde: En Under Lock & Key (ULK41) nosotros publicamos unos relatos de validación pandillera que han sido usados como instrumentos de control social.
El STG (Grupo de Amenaza a la Seguridad) está diseñado para sujetarse sobre las cabezas de los presos que son más conscientes en la política, y después es usado con excusa para aislarlos de los demás. Para la administración es irrelevante si los individuos validados se afilian con una organización lumpen. Hay lugares que te clasifican como una STG solo por trabajar/estudiar con MIM(Prisiones). Nosotros publicamos relatos como este para demostrar las condiciones de tortura en estos programas de aislamiento, y el arbitrario uso que el "STG" marca. En realidad no confiamos en el sistema de injusticia, que decida quien es una amenaza a la seguridad: Las amenazas más grandes a la seguridad se presentan en el gobierno Amerikano y en el ejercito y sistema de prisiones.