I've been slapped in the face with a crazy example of how this country uses its criminal system as social control.
In 1997 I was locked up for 1st degree murder for a robbery that happened when I was a kid just 17 years old. I didn't get to try the 1st Degree Murder Charge in court, only the robbery. This is due to the "Felony Murder Rule" (Cal P.C. 190.5) which says basically: all deaths that occur during the preparation, the act itself, or in fleeing of any serious felony are 1st Degree Murder. I didn't kill anyone or want anyone to die, but, because I wouldn't testify against anyone I became an adult murderer, even though I was neither.
The felony Murder Rule theory says since all adults should anticipate all potential outcomes of every act, they're responsible for anything that happens should they not alter their behavior based on the potential worst case scenario. So one becomes morally culpable for the acts of everyone involved. Disregarding the supposed pillars of our "justice" system: act and intent.
In 2012, Miller v. Alabama (S.67 U.S_,_,_) applied the primary theory in Graham v. Florida ((2010) 560 U.S. 48) to murder cases, which says "juveniles who don't kill or intend to kill have a twice diminished moral culpability when compared to adult murderers." This obviously eliminates the only "evidence" used to convict me of 1st Degree Murder. I was automatically an "adult" because of the serious felony charge. I was automatically a "murderer" because I caught the robbery. But the principal that invalidates my conviction can't be automatically applied. Nope. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) laws that restrict collateral reviews through my only recourse - Habeas Corpus petitions - are so complicated judges write books on their unconstitutionality. I had a 1% chance of being heard by the court.
Even the blood thirsty citizenry of this country balked at the insane application of this felony-murder rule on Dr. Phil when discussing the Elkhart 4 in Indiana, where 5 kids burglarized a house thinking no one was home. The owner shot and killed one and injured another. The 4 living kids got 50 years to life! Guilty of burglary, automatically adult murderers.
In California they tried to mitigate the effects by enacting P.C. 3051 which makes it easier for juveniles to parole after 25 years. So, I was found guilty of murder I didn't do, couldn't try in court, that your own law says I'm no longer guilty of but, I'll only have to do 25 years? Wow.
Could you imagine if the CEO of GM was charged with murder for approving the continued use of the faulty ignitions that led to the 13 deaths from their use? If the general who ran the VA was charged with murder for the 40 deaths they found so far that resulted from the faulty list waiting times? If wardens were charged with murder for every death by prisoner suicides? All these people committed crimes that led to peoples' deaths.
But these businesses are protected from culpability using U.S. v U.S. Gypsum Co. citing Morissette v. U.S. where the Supreme Court expressly articulated the importance of "mens rea" (act/intent) to "our" system of criminal law.
That's their system of criminal law. Poor minorities get Rockefeller, 3 strikes, felony-murder and AEDPA laws. A ton of other laws I'm sure.
I was a kid, unarmed, who wanted money. I got life in prison for a murder I didn't do, without a trial. There are thousands of us in U.S. prisons.
They get 'em young. But we're gonna put up our anti-felony-murder rule use on juveniles legal argument in light of Miller v. Alabama on the internet for those who choose to push that pen. One of us will get them.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a very good example of the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System. And the parallels this comrade draws to the CEO of GM and other corporate executives are right on target. When people criticize socialist China under Mao for "persecuting" landlords, imperialist spies, and capitalists they purposely ignore the murders, rape and brutality that these people enabled, in many cases directly perpetrating. A landlord who demands from a peasant payment of his entire crop in a drought year means inevitable starvation for that peasant's family. This leads to deaths easily foreseen by the landlord. And so under socialism landlords are convicted of these crimes. The same people who decry these socialist actions as "unjust" stand by while people like this writer are locked up for deaths they did not cause and could not have anticipated. This is the double standard of the capitalists.
Community Bulletin from the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement - First Amendment Campaign
This bulletin is to alert and update the community on the current fascist offensive that is being waged by one sadistic pig named S. Burris of the Pelican Bay State Prison - Prison Intelligence Unit (aka IGI). Officer S. Burris is going through some very drastic measures to try and criminalize the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP). This is typical of any fascist!
For example, within the WLNMP's Mission Statement, it states that our objective is to provide the community with alternatives to joining gangs, along with tools of violence prevention and intervention. Only a complete idiot would insist that this constitutes gang activity!
Officer S. Burris is attacking the WLNMP, not because we're involved in criminal activities, no! The WLNMP has been placed under attack because it possesses the potential of educating and unifying the oppressed masses to their real purpose in life. And this truth makes the WLNMP a viable threat to the prescribed social order of U.$. capitalism.
I have provided the community with factual evidence, wherein the courts have determined that George Jackson and W.L. Nolen were not Black Guerilla Family "prison gang members." They were actually members of the Black Liberation Movement. To receive a copy of this documentation, write to the below address and ask for the Request for Judicial Notice dated February 24, 2014 in the legal case of Marcus L. Harrison v. S. Burris, et al. - Case No: C-13-2506.
Attn: Central Texas ABC c/o John S. Dolley PO Box 7187 Austin, TX 78713
In the month of April 2014, I was issued four Stopped Mail Notices and one CDC 115 Rules Violation Report for communications relating to the WLNMP. For example, a comrade of the Maoist Internationalist Movement has contributed to the WLNMP by typing some of our study documents. I personally wrote these study documents and sent it to our MIM comrade via regular mail, but when s/he attempted to send me a copy it was disallowed on the grounds that W.L. Nolen and George Jackson are "prison gang members."
In conclusion, it must be noted that this contradiction is a continued manifestation of the Dred Scott court decision from 1857, wherein the U.$. Congress announced to the world:
"The negro lies so far below whites on the scale of created beings that they have no rights that whites are bound to respect."
We New Afrikans have committed to absolving ourselves from this contradiction via our collective efforts to restore and protect our human rights with the creation of the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement - First Amendment Campaign. We urge the community to get involved and check out our mission statement in the SF Bayview.
Revolutionary Ecology (RE) is a new website that appeared in 2014. We welcome its appearance as the Maoist movement is in great need of a dedicated cell to address our current ecological crisis. We promote a cell structure for the Maoist movement in the First World, with cells focused on specific projects or localities. MIM(Prisons) is a cell focused on the U.$. prison system. We need a cell (or cells) that are focused on the struggle against the destruction of our environment just as badly. As the RE comrades point out in many articles, these are problems of dire urgency. They are also problems that threaten First World youth directly, potentially connecting them to the interests of the majority of humynity. This website is a good addition to the arsenal of educational tools for communists working to build a movement to overthrow imperialism.
The organizers of RE describe it as "a collaborative project that seeks to popularize Marxism within the environmentalist and animal liberation movements." They go on to explain: "We are quite literally faced with two options: Communism or annihilation." In the article, "What Would Socialism Mean for the Environment", this is further explained: "Whereas capitalism involves productive relations of exploitation sustained toward the circular end of profit, socialism involves the democratic control over the means of production as part of the rational and increasingly egalitarian satisfaction of people's wants and needs. Implied in such rational and democratic production is the inclusion of ecological regeneration and co-dependence as regulative economic principles." In other words, instead of relying on the almighty invisible hand, socialism is about humynity taking conscious control of our collective destiny and organizing ourselves in a way to best serve the interests of all humynity. As should be obvious by now, these interests overlap greatly with preserving the natural systems that we live in and depend on.
The article "Capitalism's Steady March Towards Irreversible Ecological Tipping Points" describes how capitalism is moving humynity rapidly towards tipping points that will be devastating for the Earth, including the deforestation of the Amazon, while discussing the inability of single issue groups and government regulations to stop this process. Much of the website's content brings Marxist analysis into the ecological discussion, as with the article "Lake Michigan Oil Spill: Capitalism and Nature" which explains the role of commodities and money in the context of humyn's relations with nature. And we are reminded of the importance of internationalism in the revolutionary ecology struggle through articles about South African trade unions and First Nations, among others.
In response to the Deep Ecology platform, one article proposes a Revolutionary Ecology Platform:
The well-being and flourishing of human and non-human life are intimately related. The flourishing of non-human life is generally of direct and indirect utility to humans, and vice versa.
Richness and diversity of non-human life can contribute to utility for humanity at large. Thus, it should be promoted as such.
Real wealth is utility or the ability to satisfy human wants and needs. The source of all wealth is two-fold: nature and human labor. It is in the long-term interest of a majority of humanity to steward biodiversity and ecological well-being (along with other elements of nature).
Alienation from and the subjugation of nature is in the vital interest of a small proportion of humanity: the ruling classes. Increasingly under capitalist-imperialism, less real wealth (i.e., human utility) is produced in proportion to overall economic activity and at greater cost to human and non-human life.
Ecologically unsustainable economic activity is inherent to capitalist-imperialism, whereby economic activity must expand even as much of it is tertiary and adds no real wealth in terms of the satisfying basic wants and needs.[sic] Abolishing such parasitic economic activity and reassigning it to restoring the natural element of wealth would aid in re-establishing the basic link between human and non-human life and provide for the flourishing of both.
The whole structure of society needs to be changed. Only revolution — the seizure of power away from one set of classes by another — can create the necessary conditions for such a transformation. Any such revolution, if it is to be successful, must advance the interests of the most exploited and oppressed sections of humanity, not merely the privileged subjects of neo-colonial imperialism.
A total ideological change of reconnection between human and non-human life will not fully take place until the basic structure of society (i.e. the mode of production) has been transformed into one of democratically producing long-term utility instead of profit. Nonetheless, the ideological sphere and subjective forces are a leading variable component where class struggle is carried out.
Those who adhere to the above points must get organized to make revolution possible.
Point 5 is of particular importance for drawing the logical connections between Maoism and ecology. Many in the First World who are concerned about ecology are disgusted by the over-consumption of their peers. One example of the extremes this takes in rich countries has been circulating on the internet recently, exposing Amerikans in rural areas who are customizing their big diesel trucks to be less fuel efficient and spew out more pollution, while these excessive polluters are explicitly ridiculing and targeting people who drive more fuel efficient cars. While this is one example of the labor aristocracy taking capitalist values to ridiculous extremes, it is not the individual decisions of the consumer class that fuel the destruction of the natural world. Car culture was built by capitalist planners who developed and marketed suburbs and lobbied for state-sponsored roads. The focus on GDP, the stock market, and other economic indicators are an obsession in the First World that the majority have joined in on, with no thought to the fact that consumption must be reduced in First World countries in the creation of an ecologically sustainable system. But it is not the rural truck drivers who are the biggest obstacle to change, it is the very logic of capitalism itself, which requires ever-expanding production, markets and circulation. This system is backed up by the biggest, most ruthless militaries in the world today.
Nikolai Brown touches on over-production within capitalism in h article on e-waste, "Not only does the inherent focus on the realization of surplus value engender 'planned obsolescence,' a global division of labor enables the flow of resources necessary for the propagation of disposable electronics. True to the fashion of capitalism, by producing toxic e-waste on such a widespread basis, its two requisites, labor-power and the natural environment, are increasingly degraded."(1) This article introduces us to the concept of ecological unequal exchange: "the transfer of natural resources to the First World from the Third World, and the return of pollution and waste to Third from the First World." As ecological crises advance, this is a concept that deserves much attention in connection to the economic unequal exchange that occurs under imperialism.
While we don't have any fundamental disagreements with the principles proposed by RE above, we find their discussion of Deep Ecology idealist in its critique of Maoism's (and other socialist countries') environmental history. The article "Deep Green Maoism?" criticizes the history of socialism for its record on "environmental degradation and species destruction" without offering concrete facts on what is being critiqued. No doubt all socialist societies to date, including the Maoist countries, had much room for improvement around environmental protection. But we should not issue blanket critiques from a position of hindsight and idealism. For their day the Maoists advanced the environmental movement further than any previous struggle by overthrowing imperialism and building a society that aimed to put an end to oppression of people. In the process they set the masses free to solve farming sustainability problems creatively, and develop both farming and industry to more efficiently meet the needs of the people. These are critical first steps towards living harmoniously with the environment. And we can assume that as dialectical materialists, these socialists would have continued to improve and build an understanding and practice regarding the importance of environmental preservation, had those societies not been taken over by bourgeois elements from within the party.
One of the first things we try to teach to new comrades is the difference between idealism and materialism, and that materialism means comparing actual practices. When we compare Chinese socialism to the Soviet Union we see improvements in the overall political approach, which translated into better science and ecology. And when we compare both socialist countries to the capitalist countries, the socialists were industrializing in ways that were much friendlier to humyn workers and the rest of the environment. While we cannot make a comprehensive comparison here, we will provide some large-scale examples that indicate the advances of these real world examples of socialism over what was happening in capitalist countries at the time (and even today).
One Amerikan correspondent in the Soviet Union wrote in 1942, "Moscow has also the most scientific garbage disposal in the world. All the waste of this great city of more than 4,000,000 people is first used in 'biothermal processes' which heat large 'greenhouse farms' from underground. When the garbage and sewage is thoroughly rotted in this quite odorless manner, it is then used as a fertilizer for ordinary farming. This amazing development got no advertising whatever. I merely chanced upon it when I visited a farm."(2) Decades later in northern China, "cadres, peasants, workers, and technicians experimented for ten years with utilizing industrial waste waters. Now the city's daily 400,000 tons of sewage is processed to fertilize and irrigate 12,930 hectares of farmland. ... Reciprocally, agricultural wastes such as cottonseed shells, corncobs, sugar-cane residue, and animal viscera become raw materials for developing commune-owned industries. ... Decentralization and multipurpose use of wastes have, besides integrating industry and agriculture, been used to control industrial pollution. Like the relocation of factories, pollution control is generally coordinated on the local level."(3)
Local, self-sufficient agricultural production was a key to successful socialist development in Mao's opinion. This had more to do with class and economics, but reinforced and enabled ecologically sustainable practices. In discussing the balance between the foreign and native and the large, medium and small scale production, Mao wrote, "At the present time we have not proposed chemicalization of agriculture. One reason is that we do not expect to be able to produce much fertilizer in the next however many years. (And the little we have is concentrated on our industrial crops.) Another reason is that if the turn to chemicals is proposed everybody will focus on that and neglect pig breeding. Inorganic fertilizers are also needed but they have to be combined with organic; alone they harden the soil." (4) Aside from pigs, humanure (or "night soil" as they called it) was a major source of organic fertilizer that utilized local resources on hand while simultaneously dealing with the problem of humyn "waste" similar to the Soviet example above. The safe and efficient use of humanure was greatly accelerated under socialism. Under capitalism, in 2014, this resource is disposed of as a waste, and the movement away from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is still very small.(5)
Guided by the popularization of the scientific method to serve production, the Chinese also developed bacterial fertilizers at the local level. This is something that has gained a lot of attention in India in recent decades as the problems of over-dependence on synthetic fertilizers are becoming more pronounced. A report by Science for the People from 1974 describes the process of culturing the fertilizer, which is "reported to help crops absorb nitrogen, to protect them against more than thirty-two bacterial diseases, and to promote speedier seed germination and a shorter growing period." The report states that, "Such small factories producing microbial products seem now to be common in the Chinese countryside." They report on the process by which this commune studied bacterial fertilizers and has since taught it to about 20 other communes. "Similar processes of face-to-face contact and exchange appear to be exceedingly important in the transmission and popularization of science in China. Because such exchange generates little or no printed material, western observers, who tend to believe that all scientific communication of any note eventually reaches print, are likely to overlook what appears to be a vast network of informal scientific exchange in the Chinese countryside."(6)
An author on revolutionaryecology.com argues that "...the environmental problems associated with the first world-wide wave of socialism were due to a lack of foresight and scientific knowledge about ecology, holdover culture from capitalism and semi-feudalism, and the partial impact of the theory of the productive forces." The socialists of the 1900s had only as much foresight and scientific knowledge as existed at that time, and holding them to the standards of knowledge available today is idealism. Further, we know that the Maoists aggressively attacked the theory of productive forces and undertook the Cultural Revolution to fight capitalist culture. Sure, once these battles were won the revolution in all aspects would advance further, but this is not a basis for a 20/20 hindsight critique of the Maoist environmental practice in the socialist countries of the mid-1900s. We know that some practices in Maoist China would not be undertaken today, with the current state of the environment and the knowledge we have of effects of these practices. But that does not constitute reason for this critique any more than we would criticize China for failing to use computers to advance socialism before computers were available.
The article argues further "...it is this same understanding on the unity between people and nature which was either missing or gravely misapplied during the socialism of the last century." Socialism "neglected to treat nature as part of and necessary to people. That is not to say that socialism treated the natural world and other species in terms other than of humyn utility, but that it did so in an often ill-conceived and short-sighted manner." Here again we ask for concrete examples of socialism's failure in this regard, which should have been corrected based on information available at the time. In farming areas the communes in China were acutely aware of their dependence on nature as essential for survival.
The article goes on to say: "In short, an ecologically informed Maoism offers the chance to build a 'socialism of a new type' for the 21st century which seeks to resolve the contradiction between people and their natural environment as much as the contradictions between people themselves." As humynity's ecological understanding expands, socialism will utilize this knowledge and it will do so without the barriers presented by capitalism. Humyn knowledge and scientific understanding is constantly expanding. We find it misleading to say that "a new type" of socialism is needed to address ecological problems.
Aside from these Revolutionary Ecology Platform issues, we have a few smaller disagreements with the website. First there is a question of setting a bad security example by including a Facebook plugin so that people can "like" the website via their persynal Facebook accounts. This means the website is pushing people to expose themselves publicly as supporting RE. Unfortunately, this is information now available to the state, and individuals who may be new to activism (plus some blissfully ignorant experienced folks) will think they are helping the movement by "liking" the website only to expose themselves as targets for state repression just as they deepen their political line and involvement. Even at the level of random readers, we should always promote good security practices, both as a point of keeping our comrades safe and as an educational point about the repression the so-called democratic state of Amerika will unleash against those who threaten the imperialist system.
RE does not provide much information for readers on how to get involved. They do solicit participation of writers for the website, and the site links to other websites that are generally anti-imperialist and/or Maoist, or have good resources for Maoists (Kersplebedeb), and some of these other websites provide a forum for broader activism. But as a friendly suggestion we'd encourage the organizers of RE to make it easier for newly interested readers to take some anti-imperialist action if they don't want to become writers for the site. Ecology is an appealing topic for white youth, and more must be done to pull those serious about real solutions to environmental destruction into the revolutionary movement. We look forward to more ecologists stepping up to build a powerful and active revolutionary ecology organization.
Since I arrived here in Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), I have personally observed officers oppress prisoners. One prisoner who is disabled was jumped on by these officers, and these officers falsified reports to cover up their use of unnecessary force. Well, he filed 602 (grievance) after 602 on these officers, and he has not allowed the tricks and oppressive tactics to stop him. They placed him in the hole and he managed to get out in 3 days. And now these same officers realize that he is not going to stop, and have turned to getting at other prisoners to get him off the yard, all because of his 602 filing and the direction he is taking against them.
Other prisoners have mentioned how this person always has the officers around him, as to feed into the officers agenda, but that's just not true. This prisoner would be minding his own business, and they start provoking him, so he turns around and uses law back at them. One time officers told him he was a "rat for 602ing all the officers," and he told the officers he would 602 them if they violate him. They responded that they are not afraid of the 602, but when he asked them if they are afraid of "the grand jury" they changed their tune, and demeanor.
I have never seen anyone who was not afraid of the officers, despite what they have already done to him. The amazing thing is he stays to himself and is laid back and shares law with others. I never once seen him involved in any altercations, verbal or physical, with other prisoners. Some officers don't want to even touch him during searches, and I overheard one say this is because he loves his money and job.
This is inspiring to me, because I have watched the officers throw everything at this prisoner and he is still not dissuaded. And now the divide and conquer tactic of paying another prisoner to take care of their problem is what they have resorted to.
I hope MIM(Prisons) is able to convey what I am saying, because I see the teaching from the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles in his walk, and just some of the fruits of these principles that he is reaping, too. I know the officers hate him because I personally hear them talking bad about him.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a great portrait of a prisoner fighting his own battles in prison and through this fight inspiring others. He exemplifies the Peace principle of the UFPP: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." Drawing the hatred of the prison officers is a good sign of success, though of course we always want to minimize the suffering of our comrades and help them gain as much room to organize and survive behind bars as possible.
I began a hunger strike here at the federal supermax 16 days ago with several peers. My body is weak but my indignation is as powerful as ever and fuels my determination to not give up. The federal prison system controls us by giving us email, MP3 players, and huge meals daily. But under all of this we are not free and we must not ever trade our freedom and dignity for entertaining distractions and sugary snacks.
As many states slowly begin to close prisons, the federal government now seeks to use illegal immigration as an excuse to incarcerate thousands of poor migrants en masse. Only a corrupt, cold, capitalist society would justify incarcerating children simply because they were brought to America seeking food, shelter and a better life. Wall Street crooks haven't spent one day in a jail cell yet thousands of migrant children sit piled into cells so tightly there is no room to walk.
We must not become fat, lazy, complacent and compliant in the destruction of the social and moral fabric of our society (any more than it already is). We must all resist oppression for as Frederick Douglass once said, "The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree wholeheartedly with this prisoner's sentiments about prisons, immigration and capitalism. And we join his call to all to resist oppression and complacency. We do, however, have some concerns about people initiating hunger strikes without clear demands and goals as this can lead to the weakening and even death of comrades who still have much to contribute to the struggle. This is a question of strategy and ensuring that we carefully plan actions so to maximize our energies and efforts, rather than bringing down repression without any gains. Sometimes we do take on losing battles, but in the course of these fights we are able to use the struggle to educate many and gain new supporters. We do not have more details on this comrade's hunger strike so we offer these cautionary words without judging h particular situation.
While imprisoned on one of South Carolina's 27 prisons, I've come to understand that Hailey Care is a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control. Hailey Care offers prisoners poor nutrition, medical neglect, ignoring medical complaints, deliberate indifference to medical needs, improper diagnosis and failure to provide prescribed medication.
Nikki Hailey, a Republican and South Carolina's first female Governor, is responsible for this system. So far Hailey Care has meant a denial of medical care for a lot of Black prisoners, especially for older prisoners. Doctors who come to work for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) usually have less than stellar records, come from other states where they have been barred and/or have an array of sanctions. Perhaps for South Carolina and its medical board it's a case of "political unaccountability" and an indifference to the human lives of its lumpenproletariat class.
One case in point was Dr. Paul C. Drago (lic # 9700531), barred from three states: New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He's listed as a plastic surgeon, and was hired by the SCDC, but after many complaints he was said to have resigned. The SCDC then brought in Physician Assistant Gregory Schaller, who time and time again exhibited intolerance towards the medical needs of Blacks. After much resistance he too resigned.
I'm currently under care of Dr. Robert Sharp, an Osteopath. I went to see Dr. Sharp and I requested medicated shampoo for psoriasis of my scalp. I also informed him that I was indigent and could not afford shampoo from the canteen. His reply: "I'm Jewish and a tax payer and I'm not ordering shampoo for an African American's hair." Because I reported his racial remarks to human resource staff person Ms. Wright, a member of the predominately Black "overseers" here at the Ridgeland plantation, I was labeled a liar and given a sanction of 15 hours extra duty.
As of the writing of this article, I'm in need of glasses, and am being denied treatment for sleep deprivation and a degenerative nerve disorder. Just today I reported the fact that I have holes in the bottom of my "crocks." I was told I have to wait a month, while under the auspices of Hailey Care. I will continue to speak out about the inadequate health care abuse in South Carolina's prison kamps.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We've written extensively about the failure of capitalism to provide adequate healthcare so it's no surprise that the healthcare provided in South Carolina prisons is even more dangerous to the health of prisoners.(1) In previous articles we've exposed Dr. Drago's incompetence on our website. The dismissal/"resignation" of him and his equally incompetent successor are tactical victories, no doubt in response to the complaints and bad press. We encourage all readers to follow this comrade's example in exposing abuse in all forms, including medical neglect and malpractice. While we cannot create a system of healthcare that provides adequately for all under capitalism, we may save some lives by stopping the most dangerous practices. We can even use this information to educate people about the need to put an end to imperialism, a system that lets people suffer and die around the world with no interest in the health of the majority of the world's people.
For those interested in alternative healthcare systems to the ones failing us currently, we recommend studying how the public health standard was raised in communist China under Mao. We distribute a number of books on this topic through our Free Boos for Prisoners Program.
I have initiated this correspondence in reference to the most recent arbitrary action taken by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of incarcerated, and non-incarcerated, citizens. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
However, the SCDC, which is not even a legislative body, has implemented a policy that impedes and infringes upon the constitutional right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The following offense was amended to SCDC Policy OP-22.14, Inmate Disciplinary System:
"905 Creating and/or assisting with a social networking site: The facilitation, conspiracy, aiding, abetting in the creation or updating of an internet web site or social networking site."
This SCDC policy has resulted in Facebook, a social networking site, taking the following arbitrary action on accounts created by, or on behalf of, prisoners within the SCDC:
"Your account is locked because it doesn't comply with inmate regulations. People who are incarcerated may not be eligible to use Facebook if: * It is prohibited by state law or regulations of the facility * The account is being maintained by someone else"
These actions on the part of the SCDC and Facebook are of significant public interest due to the fact that they prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to be able to create and update internet websites and social networking sites, utilized to advocate for family and legal support on behalf of their incarcerated family members or loved ones. Further, these actions by the SCDC and Facebook prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from being able to publicize the conditions, and rehabilitative efforts, of their incarcerated family members and loved ones. Such decisions by the SCDC do not serve any "legitimate penological interests" and are in direct conflict with any rehabilitative and re-entry agenda. Most importantly, they are violating non-incarcerated citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech.
The SCDC may cite "security concerns" but this is not a valid response. To prohibit the creation and/or updating of all websites and social networking sites by, or on behalf of, any prisoner within the SCDC is not a sound defensible position. It would effectively negate the hundreds of prisoners who want to establish a true re-entry plan or proceed on a path of rehabilitation. It would also prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. In addition, it would punish prisoners for the exercising of this protected right by non-incarcerated citizens.
In a similar case, the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, decided against such policies and made the following ruling:
"Prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of non-incarcerated third parties." Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty v. Ryan, 269 F. Supp. 2d 1199 (D. Ariz. 2003).
My family created and updated a Facebook account on my behalf to advocate for the support of my family and friends, and to publicize my conditions of confinement and rehabilitative efforts and progress. Facebook has locked that account due to SCDC's arbitrary policy. My family and I are preparing to take legal action against the SCDC, because although they can limit the rights of prisoners due to "legitimate security concerns," they do not have the legislative power to impede upon non-incarcerated citizens' rights.
My family and I would be grateful for any aid and assistance, or referrals, that any individual citizen, or group of citizens, may be able and willing to provide. We would respectfully request that everyone help in publicizing this issue, because there are many citizens who are unaware of the fact that they are affected by it. I thank you all in advance for your time and assistance.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We know that many prisoners and their families and friends make use of social networking sites like Facebook to publicize their case and garner help and support. This attempt by SCDC to further limit prisoner's voices comes as no surprise after they banned literature coming from outside sources a few years ago. We have seen an upswing in prisoner activism in South Carolina over the past year, and this policy suggests the prison will do whatever it can to restrict these activists from getting word out about the abuses and injustice going on behind bars.
We know that social networking sites like Facebook are not going to form the basis for successful revolutionary struggles, and that we must build independent institutions of the oppressed, whether online or elsewhere. Yet even that would not address the threat of punishment against prisoners for providing information that is posted online, the basis of this very website. So we stand behind this prisoner's fight and agree that SCDC does not have the right to impose these restrictions. Meanwhile, we call out Facebook for playing along with regulations that shut down the free speech of prisoners and their family and friends.
I've been relocated to Ad-Seg which is, of course, the hole. Life in here is as bad as it's ever been. It's been a while since last I was in Ad-Seg and the sad reality is that not too much has changed. A lot has gotten worse. We're kept in our cells for twenty four hours a day. We're given "yard," that is in 10 feet by 10 feet cages which are known as dog kennels, every third day for two hours. It fluctuates but that's pretty much the program. We're given showers every third day as well.
The worst part about being locked in confinement is the overwhelming oppression. The lack of sunlight and movement really does a number on one's mental state. Which is why they monitor us so closely here. We're counted every half hour and they have a crew of psych doctors constantly making circuits around the tiers. From what I understand the suicide rate is pretty high here. So they keep a close eye on us. I've been locked up back here since early May and I'll be here until later this month (June) or early next month. The sad part is that even though I'll be getting out there are a lot of brothers back here who won't be getting released for a long time. A lot of them are youngsters too.
It makes me feel so bad seeing all of these good young brothers in here sacrificing themselves for no reason. The LO violence here at Calipatria is back in full swing. There was a riot recently between the Mexican/Chicanos and the Blacks. The foolishness here in Cali continues. It's time we wake up and get our shit together and stop fighting against each other and start working with each other. Only then can we make progress. The sad truth in Cali is that racial divisions are deeply embedded in us. It's been this way since the eighties and who knows when we'll overcome it. But overcome it we must. So I call on all those LOs with any influence to reexamine the big picture. We are all in the same boat and it's in all our best interest to unite. As the saying goes united we stand divided we fall.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade reminds us why we have a campaign to shut down prison control units. Short term isolation is enough to dramatically harm people's mental and physical health, and in the United $tates prison system many prisoners are locked up for years in isolation units like this prisoner's describes. The call for unity is well placed as we agree with this comrade that oppressed groups coming together is the best chance to fight against the oppressor. This principle of unity is particularly important to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We encourage all our readers to organize for unity and peace for the September 9 solidarity demonstration this year, when our peaceful unity and protest can be a starting point for future united actions and peace agreements among organizations and individuals.
I am chairman of New Aztlan - the Young Brown Berets which works to promote the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We are an anti-imperialist group which focuses upon militancy and revolutionary doctrine; our main audience is Chicanos and Native Americans, united in struggle to expose racist agendas in the injustice system. The term Young applies to those in our group who range from 18-30. We attract a lot of non-gang members and de-active members alike. We stand in the pursuit of self-determination, bridging the gap of racism and uniting all people for the cause of dignity, human rights, and national liberation of all conscientious people. We've opened up our work with all minority and resistance groups of all colors.
Due to political retaliation by the guards in Colorado prisons, I've been moved to solitary confinement, in Colorado's highest security prison. Recently, the DOC headquarters told the public that it will put an end to administrative segregation (Ad-Seg). The 23 hours a day spent in total isolation with a TV to babysit us is no longer going to happen. Yet, all it did was to create an even more complicated form of isolation. Ad-Seg has turned into maximum security, with 3 levels to progress into the general population. Class one writeups which carry potential street charges are now given for fights, and other actions that can be perpetuated at any time by any guard.
STG-affiliated members can be sent to Ad-Seg for no reason other than the notion of a perceived threat. Unity of any type threatens the prison system and any prisoners caught taking any action will be subjected to the cruel imagination of the guards. I was denied soap and all hygiene items including a shower for 21 days, all due to my proclamation of my membership as part of a community. It's ok, it's worth the time I've spent alone, in fact your ULK was revealed to me while I was in Ad-Seg.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons builds for peace and unity amongst the oppressed, with an anti-imperialist platform. As more and more organizations like this across the country sign on to the United Front, we are working to implement these principles on the ground. We know that in the early stages many who take up this struggle will face long-term isolation as they become very real threats to the violent, predatory ways promoted by the U.$. prison system. Yet, as more courageous leaders step forward a critical mass will be reached that make the state's tools of repression less effective. We offer study groups and individual study materials for our comrades behind bars, programs that are especially important for those locked up in solitary confinement with no other contact with the outside world. We urge our comrades to make good use of their time behind bars to study and build, whether in isolation or general population.