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[Education] [Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 47]
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Message to Clements Unit: to Continue to Exist We Must Resist

Folks are dropping dead like flies here in Clements Unit. Due to a faulty grievance system and benign inspector general investigations, the whole entire unit staff are literally getting away with murder. It seems like when one pig gets in trouble he/she gets promoted. Take officer (now Sergeant) Garret E. Rockholt for instance. In 2013 he cold cocked a prisoner in the medium custody unit of this prison. Not only was he caught red-handed, this incident gained him praise and eventually got him promoted to a Sergeant in the Ad-Seg building where he walks around with his chest out boasting about his charades as a former Officer.

Next we have Officer (now Sergeant) Desmond Finney. As an officer he had a reputation for beating and slamming handcuffed prisoners. Notably, one ended up with black eyes and another had a tooth knocked out. Not only was he beating our peers but he also denied several the chance to eat whenever he worked the pod. Now this clown has been promoted to Sergeant and the deck for corruption is constantly getting stacked.

These are just a few examples of the rewards for bad behavior that need to stop. But comrades it’s going to take more than just words and hope. Unity is key and unity is mandatory with any effort towards changing prison conditions and prison behavior. We can’t afford to let differences between one another dictate how pervasive things get and we need to focus on how to liberate one another. As comrade Mao said, “to gain public opinion and seize power.”

Since 2013 we’ve had one peer murdered, one left to die, one found in his cell where he’d already been dead for several hours, one left with a broken arm and another a broken finger. None of these instances were peer-on-peer attacks; they were all due to the intentions and neglect by the very pigs that are supposed to prevent these things from happening. It’s obvious that we can’t count on them to protect us, so the only obvious alternative is to protect each other collectively and with honor.

Getting involved in study groups and reading, learning, and teaching the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao is sure to create an understanding of how to lead. So if you haven’t begun to study and don’t know where to start, if you’ve read this you just began.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Study groups are an excellent way to build unity and political leadership. Getting people to agree that unity is good is pretty straightforward, but building a long-lasting movement that’s strong enough to stand up against all obstacles put in our way requires deep political study. We run correspondence study groups and also support prisoner-led study groups behind bars. Write in to get materials for either of these methods of study.

For prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) there is also an activist pack which has info on the various campaigns United Struggle from Within has running in TDCJ. This activist pack doesn’t just contain information to help fight for your rights; it is a great organizing tool to share with others in your facility to get people working together and building tangible unity.

We hope to develop activist packs for other states where comrades are fighting similar struggles. In Texas the campaigns center around the inability to have grievances properly addressed, a $100 medical copay for healthcare, and a limit on indigent envelopes to 5 per month. If you have an idea for a campaign and resource that can be developed in your state, write in to get involved. If you’re in Texas, you need to get this Texas activist pack! It’s costly to print and mail so if you are able to send us a donation, that would be greatly appreciated.

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[Download and Print] [Abuse] [Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Alaska]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Alaska

Alaska Petition
Click to Download PDF of Alaska Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Director April Wilkerson
Alaska Department of Corrections
PO Box 112000
Juneau, AK 99811-2000

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140


PDF updated October 2017

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Georgia]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Georgia

Georgia Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of Georgia Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Commissioner, Georgia Department of Corrections
300 Patrol Road
Forsyth, GA 31029

Southern Center for Human Rights Law Offices
83 Poplar St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30303-2122

GDC Office of Internal Affairs, Investigation and Compliance
PO Box 1529
Forsyth, GA 31029

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

this petition was first put up in November 2014, updated October 2017

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[Abuse] [Religious Repression] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 48]
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Punished for Reporting Brutal Assault During Ramadan

I’m a Muslim here in the New Jersey gulag. Back during the month of Ramadan, I witnessed the pigs brutally and viciously assault a fellow Muslim. I felt so strong about the incident that I wrote to the local regional FBI. And as it would turn out, they shipped the Bro out to another of the New Jersey gulags.

Well about a month after that incident, I was snatched up, and placed on temporary close custody status. A prisoner may be placed in temporary close custody for a period not to exceed 72 hours, unless there are exceptional circumstances, or substantial evidence found to warrant an extension at this time. Well I was in temporary close custody for 12 days. But the prison Special Investigative Division came to interview me regarding some info they received, stating that I was trying to rally prisoners to attack female prison guards, regarding the incident on the Bro. Now what’s funny about this whole thing is that it wasn’t only female guards who attacked my Bro. Well I offered to take a polygraph test in order to confirm my truth.

I was eventually released back into general population, with no reason as to why, and no “we made a mistake.” But I’ve come to understand over the years that the insidious prison system is used to destroy people mentally, as well as physically and spiritually. I had to report this incident, and I felt that every one of us who witnessed that brutal assault should have done the same. About 20-25 Muslim prisoners saw it, why didn’t they write reports? I had to report this incident to Under Lock & Key because these kinds of conditions need to be made known to the public outside. I don’t hear from the outside much, mostly because I’ve been forgotten about.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we can’t say whether the brutal assault of the Muslim prisoner was related to eir religion, this comrade provides an example of where religion can serve the oppressed. If Muslim prisoners are moved to fight brutality from their religious teachings, they can be an ally of the anti-imperialist movement. In fact, we call on all religious prisoners to think about the teachings of their religion around violence and brutality and use this as motivation to join your fellow prisoners in fighting the criminal injustice system. Often religion is used as a tool to keep people passive, but revolutionaries should seek to ally with all who can be rallied to our cause. Those who are targeted for repression because of their religion, as Muslims in the U.$. often are, will be most likely to see the connections with broader oppression and join the struggle.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville] [Federal] [ULK Issue 46]
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Death Due to Medical Negligence

June 2015 brought about one of the more serious human rights violations here at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Aliceville. The medical care is horrible. From the first day I have witnessed gross negligence, malpractice in many forms, and some of the nastiest medical personnel I’ve ever encountered. I worked in the intensive care unit at a hospital for 9 years, and I’ve seen some lacking in bedside manners, but these people are downright abusive.

I’ll skip all the second-hand horror stories and tell you about Karen Massengale. She came here about a month ago. I am not sure exactly how old she was but by her gray hair and other tell-tale signs I think she was not young. From day one she was sickly. There were several times she vomited in the common area and in her cell. She was seen at medical and given a laxative. After multiple trips to medication pick-up she finally was able to get them.

Her condition continued to deteriorate rapidly. She lost weight and she couldn’t leave her room. On two occasions she was wheeled to medical saying “something’s wrong, I know my body and something is wrong, I think I’m dying.” When she returned she was distraught, treated like she was faking and told there’s nothing wrong. Then on 25 May 2015 after laying in her room for three days, unable to eat or drink, she was rushed to medical. I saw her in a wheelchair barely able to sit up. That was the last time we saw her.

The buzz around the facility is that she died 30 May 2015, possibly of a bowel obstruction. One of the nursing staff (Nurse Eli) who told her there wasn’t anything wrong has told multiple prisoners that they are faking. She even went so far as to write one prisoner a shot for malingering. Two days later they were in surgery for a bowel obstruction. Trust me this is not the exception, it is the rule.

I currently have a grievance in process on medical and one on Nurse Eli. What I am asking from MIM(Prisons) is to simply follow up on Karen Massengale. She deserved for the last weeks of her life (if in fact she is deceased) to have been more humane. To die in a prison while begging for help and being told you’re faking is the epitome of cruel and unusual punishment, wouldn’t you say?


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have verified that Karen Massengale did die on 30 May 2015. Medical negligence is a serious form of abuse of prisoners. It is particularly tempting for prison administrators looking to save some money, as health care can be quite expensive, especially for a population that is fed a terrible diet, given little opportunity for exercise, and put in conditions that cause both mental and physical deterioration.

The health care system offered by capitalism generally offers better care to the wealthy and punishes the poor with sickness and death. This distinction is especially dramatic in countries like the United $tates which don’t offer universal healthcare equally to all. But even those capitalist countries that provide healthcare for all of their citizens are ignoring the health of the majority of the world’s people who are literally dying in service of profit. There is no excuse for the deaths from easily (and in many cases cheaply) preventable diseases that plague the Third World. Pharmaceutical companies test and manufacture expensive drugs in oppressed nations around the world while denying these test subjects and workers access to basic care. These drugs are for First World customers. The profit motive driving healthcare is a clear example of why capitalism is bad for the majority of the world’s people.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 47]
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"New" Torture Tactics at Pelican Bay

SolitaryIsTorture
I want to inform you about a new torture tactic being used here in the Security Housing Units (SHU). Since August 3 [2 weeks ago] the staff have been doing what has been termed “security/welfare checks” which entails staff walking by every prisoner’s cell every 30 minutes 24/7 and pressing a button that has been installed next to our cells. Due to the design of the SHU the sound everyone and everything makes is louder than it should be and at night we are woken up every thirty minutes due to staff opening/closing the pod door, which is extremely loud, stomping up the stairs to the top tier and back down, and making a loud bang sound when hitting the button next to our cells as they are hitting metal on metal.

During the day it’s the same thing except the wand makes a high-pitch beeping sound when hitting the button. So 24/7 it’s non-stop excessive noise that doesn’t allow us to sleep longer than 30 minutes without being woken up. I feel like I’m living in a dream 24/7 as I’m always stirred and feeling the effects of being denied sleep and not being able to go through my normal sleep cycles. Anyone with common sense can see this is cruel and unusual punishment. The ironic thing is staff say it’s to prevent suicides. Yeah let’s make a bunch of excessive noise all day and night and not let anyone sleep longer than 30 minutes at any given time, that should prevent suicides. If it’s driving relatively stable prisoners crazy I’m sure it’s pushing those with mental health issues over the edge.

Also by doing this, even though it’s misguided and unnecessary, the CDCR is admitting that the SHU makes people more likely to commit suicide if they need to check on everyone every 30 minutes. I have filed an administrative appeal on this to have it stopped or modified and plan to file a lawsuit if we are not allowed to sleep normally again. In the mean time I’m writing friends/family to call the prison/CDCR head quarters and complain about this, and I’m writing all prison organizations and public servants to make them aware of this new form of torture being conducted.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This sleep deprivation torture tactic has been reported on from San Quentin for some time, and we recently received word from a comrade on pending litigation on this issue:

“I am challenging a blatantly obvious psychological torture program put in play by Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the gulag system in California, as a payback to the SHU guys for the hunger strikes. The CDCR had to throw us, death row, under the bus too, to make it less obvious who the target really is.

“There is a program whereby they come and shine lights in eyes, bang and yell, using a ‘beeper’ stick to hit the cell tray slots, every 20 to 30 minutes, all day and night.

“In my moving papers I proved it is utterly pointless as stated, as a suicide prevention program. Anyone knows you can commit suicide during the half hour between walks, and also in our unit it takes them over 20 added minutes to get the keys, get shields, and race in and pounce on a guy hanging by the neck. It is specious.

“So I filed saying this is far too onerous to be a mere act of stupidity, it is a malicious torture of the SHU units only (including PSU, psych wards, all lock-up units). If this does not cause suicide, what would? Ha!”

This latest tactic of inhumane sleep deprivation reinforces our point that the settlement of the Ashker v. Brown lawsuit will do nothing to end torture in California prisons. As the comrade above points out, this is not rogue COs, this is facility policy. We received reports over a year prior about the new Guard One torture program. As one comrade pointed out at the time, most deaths in cells are due to medical neglect.

Calling this a “new tactic” is a bit of a misnomer. This same exact system of “security checks” every 30 minutes has been used in recent history in Texas and North Carolina. Though in these cases they seemed more targeted, and the comrade in North Carolina grieved the abuse and won. In fact, this type of sleep deprivation dates back more than 50 years when prisoners suffered similar conditions in Walpole, Massachusetts. All these examples go to show that the system is inherently oppressive, and only by overthrowing imperialism will we ever begin to see humane treatment of prisoners.

We view the latest behavior by guards at Pelican Bay as a form of retaliation against the prisoners held in SHU, to show them who is in charge and that torture is alive and well in spite of the “successful” settlement. Exposing this consistent mistreatment of prisoners in California is a must to counter the narrative that the modern prison movement has succeeded in transforming the CDCR, or the conditions they submit their prisoners to, in any way.

The acute threat of this form of torture requires an immediate response.

A concerted effort has been taken up by a number of groups supporting the California prison movement to contact the warden to demand an end to this torture.

Write to:
Warden Clark E. Ducart
Pelican Bay State Prison
P.O. Box 7000
Crescent City, CA 95531-7000
email: CDucart@cdcr.ca.gov
call: (707) 465–1000 ext. 9040

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
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Carrot and Stick in TDCJ

I am doing time and slave labor on the Wynne Unit in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). This is an industry unit. Millions of dollars worth of commodities are mass produced by prisoners who receive no type of worthwhile compensation. These items consist of vehicle registration stickers, license plates, mattresses that range from Sealy Posturepedic to college dorm and prisoner beds. Signs are produced for a wide range of functions, and there’s a computer recovery warehouse that refurbishes used and discarded units to be sent to high schools and hospitals.

It goes without saying that if everyone decided to lay it down the powers that be would have a serious problem. Yet sadly enough out of the 2,200 prisoners housed here, the number would more than likely be in the double digits only. You have those who don’t want to lose their clerk job where they might get a few perks every now and then. Some in the craft shop would put the craft shop first. I do understand why people want to protect their “jobs,” but how much longer are we going to stand by and be forced to witness the constant abuse of power?

I have been locked up in segregation unjustly. I’ve seen my brothers lose their lives which may have been prevented if the COs acted as if they gave a damn. Although we all know they don’t. So, we rise early every morning, we are told to work “or else”, and god forbid you try to utilize the option to go to school because you are expected to be at work before sunrise even if you are trying to educate your mind and work on your attitude.

It’s no secret that the TDCJ’s main concern all the way around is money. Ironically our “great state’s” prison system is in the negative on funds but will not hesitate to lock someone up over a bullshit parole violation or something nonviolent like theft. And we are being punished daily by the COs and administration who use their position as an opportunity to abuse other human beings and get away with it. Our so-called grievance system is a laugh-out-loud joke, just like TDCJ’s good time and work time fiascos.

The reality is that if just one third of our prison population would spend some of those phone minutes on educating our outside support rather than crying about more money for holiday packs and new shoes every 6 months, we might see some difference. Let people know how they can help, without making TDCJ’s commissary richer. I like candy and sodas as much as the next guy. What I don’t like is getting treated like dog shit just because I’m trying to resolve a problem. The indigent mail issue, the medical copay, the good time, work time and assaults on inmates by guards are but a few of our long list of issues that are not just going to disappear. We will not go quietly into that good night, and we will not back down without a fight.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Medical Care] [California]
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Basic Needs, Property Denied: Grievance Process Needed

I thought I’d share how it works up here in Ad-Seg. I trip on how I’ve been going at it since the end of September. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, from request forms, to 22 [inmate request] forms, to 602 [inmate appeal] and no good results. The appeals here are quick to catch a mistake and return it. First off, I am not a lawyer, second I’m a CCCMS mental health prisoner. But that does not mean anything here.

Anyhow, I wrote Sacramento, letting them know that I never wanted to do a 602 but it concerns my back brace and prescription glasses. And they’re in my property at the property room. I had to pay for those 2 items in state and I needed them so I was OK with that. Now I’m just asking for what’s mine and it’s a need. I use a cane and have a vest. I bought some glasses from another prisoner who wanted hygiene, but I’m not supposed to do that.

Nobody listens here and the 602 process is meaningless. I don’t know what else to do.


MIM(Prisons) responds: California was where the demand for grievances to be addressed began five years ago. It has since been taken up by comrades in a dozen other states. The focus is on petitioning state and federal officials responsible for the care of prisoners. In doing so, comrades are attempting to rally prisoners together as a group to defend their basic rights, like the ones the writer above describes; basic medical care and property rights.

But there are reasons why the arms of the injustice system are so unaccountable. Their central task is to control certain populations, and they must be given leeway to achieve that task. If their task was about justice, then obviously injustices like the ones above would not be tolerated. So we must rally together to ensure the rights of all are respected. Yet, ultimately, we must build a system that serves the interests of those who are oppressed and exploited by the current imperialist system that dominates our world. Petitions will not prevent these ongoing abuses.

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[Abuse] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 45]
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Guards Deliberately Starve Prisoners in Virginia

I was in building B2 and saw officers Lawson and Gibson starve a prisoner for 3 days straight because the prisoner wrote them up for messing with him.

We were in the hole in B2, in segregation. When we get fed we have a box on our door. The officer puts the food in and then slides this piece of metal to the side so we can reach in to get the tray and put it back. All trays have tops on, and this is how they get away with it on camera. The tray is empty when they get to the cell, but with the top on the camera just shows them placing the tray in the box. If someone writes them up the officer will claim he delivered the food, but the whole time there was never anything on the tray.

To punish prisoners who expose them, the officers do things like plant knives in their cells to do a staged cell search, or put the person in segregation to have better control over them.

The main two people who call all the hits here at Red Onion Prison are Walter Sweeney, the Unit Manager for B building, and Yonce, Unit Manager for A building. They both use the word “nigger” here frequently with prisoners. The warden does nothing; he lets the unit managers run this place however they want.


MIM(Prisons) adds: There is no justification for torture of prisoners, yet it happens all the time in the Amerikan prison system. This description of deliberate starvation in Virginia in retaliation for prisoners exercising their legal rights fits in with the overall goal of the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control. There is nothing rehabilitative or corrective about these actions. This is why we call for a complete dismantling of the system. We are not just writing about a few bad apples perpetrating evil deeds, while the rest of the system is otherwise working well. Prisons help control oppressed populations within the United $tates for the imperialists. We won’t be able to end this through the legal system that is part of the overall criminal injustice system. That doesn’t stop us from taking on legal battles when they are winnable, but at the same time we must build a movement that can take down the entire system.

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[Abuse] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 44]
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Prison Dog Rehab Program Underscores Inhumynity to Humyns

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.

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