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[Abuse] [Hunger Strike] [North Branch Correctional Institution] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 35]
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"New Policies" Being Implemented in MD to Quell Protests

On 9 September an organized collective of over 30 prisoners representing the North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) movement for humyn rights submitted demands to the imperialist overlords in regards to the inhumane, unjust and degrading conditions here.

The vanguard of this "demonstration" was determined by pigs to come from the SMU, D tier. Their notice of infraction reports read, "A mass of officers was assembled and a cell to cell inspection of the entire tier was conducted."

Inside the prison, the grunts feel the movement has been suppressed, but the truth is even their tactics of not reporting strikers in need of medical attention, destroying personal effects, and elevated level of all previous oppression had no bearing on the suspension of the protest. The suspension is based on the collective recognition by the Governor, Secretary of Public Safety and DOC Director that change is needed and imminent. A total review has been issued and guarantees of policy change are at hand, as ambiguous as they were.

Since June 2013, NBCI has been on lock-down status. The "new policy" currently being implemented places the entire prison on a "level" system. Their answer to a "return to normalcy" is to allow one hot meal a day in addition to the two bags, one hour of outside recreation a week and one shower a week. Those in general population get one 15 minute telephone call a week as well. In addition, butter has been re-issued to bring the diet calorie count back to pre-lockdown levels. The pigs attempted total control through all means including the withholding of adequate required calorie count. It doesn't seem like much, but 300 calories of butter removed from a 2200 calorie diet does have an effect. Especially when bags are often shorted or withheld. The ever popular "air bag."

Many lawsuits and grievances have been labeled moot in the wake of the drafting of the new STG/step down program as it will supposedly address many of the main demands, like ending indefinite Administrative Segregation. However, nothing currently has been published and I for one hold reservations. When final products have been issued and all fall out dealt with, if copies suffice, I will send them for review.

There are a few soldiers so sick of the outlandish psychological torments that they utterly refuse to eat until they are removed or die. We have tried to reach and support these brothers as we know news reporting ceased a while back and we don't want good soldiers losing themselves to a battle when the war isn't over.

I persynally hope to unify more brothers for a future response for what will most likely be a failed reform, but time is needed to allow the overseers to implement their newest tactic in humyn warehousing and degradation. Then our time shall again be at hand to show the flaws of imperialist bourgeois ideology of suppression and exploitation.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade was organizing around the September 9 day of peace and unity campaign to promote the United Front for Peace in Prisons. It is true that our organizing will go in cycles, with some set backs, and then some forward progress. We are never optimistic that promised policy changes from the DOC or government will result in any positive changes for prisoners. But we can use these set backs to educate others about the failure overall of the criminal injustice system and point to these examples for why we need to organize outside of the system for lasting and fundamental change. These are all good examples of the importance of building an anti-imperialist movement, rather than just fighting small reformist battles. We look to the examples of socialist China to see what is possible in terms of revolutionizing prisons, and society in general. That transformation required the seizure of power from the capitalists and the reorganizing of the economic structure of the whole country. But just as that transformation began in remote villages of China, we can start it today in those who are hidden away in the prisons and control units of the United $tates.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 35]
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Striker Still Seeking Justice After Brutal Claw Hammer Beating

As a member of the Georgia hunger strikers of 2012 and the focus of Georgia's prison beating, I strive to awaken these brothers here in Georgia. I have been spreading ULK to all here and to a lot of associates at other prisons. As of 16 September 2013 the video of me being beaten with a claw hammer by these pigs has gone viral. A comrade and myself have filed charges on those pigs, and due to all the exposure, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is doing their best to do damage control, but the damage is too great. Two state Senators are calling for the whole ordeal to be investigated, including the Internal Affairs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation. I'm still at the so-called Special Management Unit.

To the brothers in California I salute you all! To all the fallen comrades: your sacrifice will not be in vain!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the power of media to expose injustice. Unfortunately, mainstream media has little interest in exposing imperialism or the criminal injustice system, as that would not sit well with their advertisers or their Amerikan readership. This is why we need an alternative press. ULK fills this role for prisons in particular. And we can best cover news when prisoners write about what's going on in their state. The 2012 Georgia hunger strike was not written about extensively in ULK because we had to rely on non-prisoner sources. Our ability to contribute to struggles like this one is greatly enhanced with comrades like this writing in with news about the struggle. Exposure does sometimes embarrass the pigs into making changes, and even when it doesn't, we must continue to educate people about the abuse and injustice going on across the criminal injustice system.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [International Connections] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 34]
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ULK34: Prisoner Health a Systematic Problem

Humyn health is perhaps the most basic measure of oppression that we have. More than economic exploitation, humyn health measures the degree to which the basic survival needs of people are being met. Looking at the conditions of health in U.$. prisons, as well as reservations, barrios and ghettos across the United $tates, does not paint a favorable picture of imperialism and its ability to provide for humyn needs, not to mention even worse conditions across the Third World. Given this, health becomes an issue that we can rally the oppressed around to both serve the people and oppose imperialism.

We've been pushing this very issue in United Struggle from Within (USW) circles in California for some months, in some cases leading to state repression. With the recently suspended mass hunger strike in that state, a rash of deaths in Texas and the usual array of abuses across U.$. prisons, we thought this was an opportune time to focus an issue of ULK on health struggles.

Health was a central theme in the California hunger strike where prisoners began to pass out from lack of food and other complications. Bill "Guero" Sell died after a approximately two weeks on hunger strike. The state says it was suicide, but however he died, the SHU was the cause of death. One San Quentin prisoner's kidneys shut down, and many complained of the lack of medical monitoring and the aloofness of medical staff. We have been sending regular updates to comrades in California about what has been going on over the last two months. For those who want to see more reporting in ULK, send in your donations to help reach the goal of $250 to add 4 pages to a future issue.

In at least two Texas prisons we have comrades organizing around the murders of prisoners by staff abuse and neglect, the most basic health campaign. In Texas we also have positive examples of organizing sports as a way to bring people together and improve health. Meanwhile comrades in more restrictive conditions in one California prison were punished for organizing group exercise, calling it "Security Threat Group activity."

The manipulation of people through chemical substances is another common health theme. Many comrades are being denied medications they depend on and facing life-threatening conditions. At the same time oppressed communities fight the use of recreational drugs to oppress their people as seen in the struggle of the Oglala Lakotah. The exposure of this form of low-intensity chemical warfare right here in North America is particularly relevant at a time when the blood-thirsty imperialists have been ramping up for an invasion of Syria based on unsubstantiated claims of chemical weapons use by the government there.

From rotten potatoes in Massachussetts, to inadequate servings in Nevada and people forced to rely on vending machines in Florida, basic nutrition is denied to people in a country where 40% of food is wasted. Recently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that greenhouse gases from global food waste is more than the emissions of any single country except China or the United $tates.(1) Water, another vital resource, is also used to produce all this wasted food. From U.$. prisoners, to the global countryside where malnutrition leads to thousands of deaths daily, to the environmental services that all of humynity depend on, the capitalist profit system has failed to serve humyn need.

We can look to the barefoot doctors in revolutionary China, or the mobile health units of the Black Panther Party or the Young Lords Party as examples of serving the people's basic health needs in a revolutionary context. The Chinese also took a completely different approach to mental illness, which bourgeois society does more to cause than to remedy. Materially, the capitalist economic system can produce enough for everyone, but cannot provide it to them. It's a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control, because if it did not the system would be overthrown. Rather than begging the oppressor for a little relief, let's implement real solutions to these problems.

This article referenced in:
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[Gender] [Abuse] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 35]
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Fighting Gender Oppression in Nevada Builds Unity Among Prisoners

On 21 August 2013 I was doing research as part of my challenge to my illegal perpetual imprisonment — officially I am being kept in prison forever only because I have no birth certificate, i.e. I am a prisoner of the war on terror.

Upon leaving the law library, I was groped/sexually assaulted by a senior CO under the guise of a "pat search." After the incident (and collecting my wits) I made a written complaint to the unit caseworker. Since then I have had my cell searched, been given a notice of charges, been sanctioned, and have received special attention from the good ole boys in the form of attempts at intimidation, verbal abuse, and derisive sexually charged remarks concerning my sexual identity and persuasion. In the wake of this incident, however, something else has also occurred, and that is an unexpected level of support from both comrades known and, until this incident, unknown.

It is my hope that this incident will galvanize people and raise their awareness of the need for unification. I'm not the only prisoner, transgender or otherwise, to be sexually assaulted at this prison by guards. It is only one of the many abuses we are exposed to, one of the many symptoms of a degenerate system that thrives on violence and exploitation.

It is my hope that in time our solidarity will prevent abuses rather than merely tend to the damage caused by them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Prisoners are in a unique position of gender oppression in Amerika. While the vast majority of prisoners are male, they face gender oppression on the scale otherwise experienced by biological wimmin. This is because prison guards use sexual harassment as a power tool, and a form of abuse. It is good to hear about people coming together to help this comrade in this battle. This is the kind of unity we need to build against all forms of oppression. We can look to the struggles in Washington state from Men Against Sexism as an example of prisoners coming together to fight gender oppression.(see ]ULK 29)

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[Abuse] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 34]
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Deaths from Heat in Texas as Livestock Provided Better Conditions than Prisoners

In late August 2013, in an unprecedented move, the head of the Texas Prison Guard Union, Mr. Lance Lowry, joined a lawsuit filed against TDCJ by Scott Medlock of the Texas Civil Rights project. Mr. Medlock has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brad Livingston, the Executive Director of TDCJ on behalf of the families of 14 prisoners who died because of neglect and the oppressive extreme heat in Texas prison facilities.

This announcement comes on the cusp of many revelations that TDCJ continues to engage in behavior which shows a blatant disregard for the health and safety not just of prisoners housed in their facilities, but a blatant lack of care or respect for their employees also. However, my focus is on the prisoner because I am a prisoner. I stand in solidarity with the prisoners housed on the Connally Unit in Kennedy, Texas whose water supply was taken from them by a Warden who has ignored the basic human needs of the prisoners in her care.

Prisoners at Connally Unit are on water rations, they are being denied showers, and they can't flush their toilets! They are being forced to live in the heat and the filth because TDCJ decided to give the water well that serviced the prison to the residents of Kennedy!

In August we learned that Brad Livingston approved the spending of $750,000 on 5 climate controlled buildings for pigs! Literally, the Agency of TDCJ has spent three quarters of a million dollars on pigs which prisoners raise for consumption in TDCJ. Prisoners are dying down here Brad, what the hell are you doing?

But it gets better comrades. The American Correctional Association (ACA) has even made Brad Livingston the current chair of the organization that makes policies for all Amerikan prisons and jails across the United $tates. When the subject of heat-related safety precautions came across his desk, Mr. Livingston decided no heat standards were needed! So as we clearly see ACA is a sham and a fraud!

The fact that the head of the Prison Guard Union in Texas joined the lawsuit against TDCJ is a sign that prison officials like Brad Livingston have been passing misinformation and disinformation about the conditions in TDCJ for years. Soon a murder cover-up will be exposed with Brad Livingston being a chief culprit.

If you were thinking about joining USW and are housed in one of Texas's many gulags where inhumane treatment is the status quo and norm, now's the time. As Bobby used to say, we must Seize the Time! I don't know who got first down, but we got next!


Notes: 1. The Prison Show! KPFT, 90.1 FM Houston, TX, 30 August 2013
2. Austin American Statesman - Prison pig barns cooled while humans sweat. 25 August 2013


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the oppressed taking advantage of contradictions among the oppressors. It is rare that we can unite with part of the criminal injustice system against another part, but in the case of this lawsuit, if we can play some prisoncrats off against others, we can work this to the favor of the oppressed. Even better, and rarer, is when oppressors see the injustice and side with the oppressed, actively biting the hand that feeds them.

These preventable deaths from heat are a sad but clear example of the waste of humyn life under imperialism. A system that values profit over people, imperialism will never fix the problems with the criminal injustice system. But we can win some small reforms, and prevent some deaths, while exposing the system and building a movement that can take it down and put a system of people's justice in its place.

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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Control Units] [Harris County Jail Facility] [Texas] [ULK Issue 34]
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Texas Comrades to Remember Attica September 9

I was confined to Ad-Seg in Harris County Jail while my case was under trial. Texas law requires the jail to give prisoners at least one hour a day for exercise and meaningful recreation. I stayed in segregation for nine months. Not once was I allowed out of cell exercise. I filed grievances, which were denied. I then filed a Section 1983 lawsuit for violation of my 14th amendment right to due process. The litigation is ongoing, however the jail refuses to stop this barbaric and inhumane treatment of 24 hour lockdown. The "justice" system is failing to protect the incarcerated individual. Again.

I traded several of my meals to other prisoners for a few stamps. I was only able to gather 5 stamps. I know it's not much, but I hope it helps some. I have been spreading the MIM(Prisons) campaigns, and have put together a small group of other prisoners to remember the Attica uprising. We have planned a fast for September 9, 2013.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is organizing others to participate in the country-wide demonstration September 9. Calling attention to the treatment of prisoners, this demonstration coincides with the anniversary of the Attica uprising.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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United Action in NC Leads to Victory for Prisoners

On August 2nd my old cellmate had only been here 5 days and within those 5 days the pigs were really messing with him. Then on the 2nd they told him they were moving him, just to move an inmate across the hall into his cell. They were going to move him to the end of the hall in a sally port with a prisoner who had feces smeared on his cell wall and old food in his cell. Before the move he asked to see the Sgt/Lt, but was told no, pack up or they would pack his stuff.

After moving he and I were at recreation call and we, along with one other prisoner, refused to lock up until the Lt/Captain came down. When she came I locked up. As she approached his sally port she asked what the smell was. He explained. They got the prisoner out of his cell and janitors bleached and removed all the items from the cell, and after the weekend on 8/5 he was moved to another cell.

Had we not stood our ground that prisoner's cell would still be covered in feces. The pigs knew this and were doing nothing. All of the H-Con staff here at Polk Incorrectional institution just didn't care, and went even further to harass a prisoner who they thought they could take advantage of due to his health (he just had surgery on his foot to reattach bones and replace a steel rod after PERT team pigs shattered it during an assault using excessive use of force a few months back). We need more times of unity like this in North Carolina prisons.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a small example of prisoners uniting for common cause. And this is a good start to building the broader unity that is necessary for the United Front for Peace that will build the power and strength of the anti-imperialist movement behind bars.

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[Gender] [Abuse] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Food, Medical and Sexual Abuse

I would like to respond to an article on page 8 of ULK33: Rats Undermine United Front. The brother who sent that in to you should be on something other than what he spoke about. I feel he should've been informing you about how these pigs down here continue to bring us cold food in lockup. How they mistreat Muslims during Ramadan and all throughout their stay here as far as how they are fed. It is so ridiculous how they so blatantly give you cold half-cooked, sometimes spoiled beans and a funky crusty peanut butter sandwich in place of a "pork-free" meal. There's a sign posted in all the chow halls that says "drink at your own risk" when it comes to the juice. They put this poison out on the tables knowing that the majority of the offender population is more than likely going to drink it. We are not getting the proper portions, or enough to eat.

When you write a grievance and a step 2 followup, you get some type of frivolous disposition back on it. I have several grievances from different offices, all with the same disposition on them. It is as if the employees are trained with what to write on the back on the grievances. And they always side with the guilty officer.

Also, a female guard or nurse has power. Especially in these little hick and country-ass towns, where they wish a muthafucka would get out of line. Don't matter what color you are. When they get thru beatin' you half to death, behind something some female said, you'll more than likely be beat blue. I've seen it at least fifty times. I even had a woman lie on me and say that I had threatened her physically, from behind two closed and locked doors. The warden looked at her like she was crazy and let me make it. I was just blessed to be in the presence of a warden who knows the game.

The article should have also talked about how we get charged $100 every year for medical, but they don't pay us for working or provide a way for us to work the $100 off. Also, we only get $50 when we leave, and $50 when we go report. If you discharge they give you a whole hundred. Wow! And the windbreakers they make us wear during the winter months, and have the nerve to call it a coat. They work you in winter weather with no thermal clothing, even though they have more than enough to issue out.

Damn man, talk about the shit that's really going on. The real shit. How muthafukas came in gangsta-and-guerrilla, but leaving out like ginger bread dolls. Yeah. And you all know who you are. You boys outta control down here in the great state of Texas.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are a few points in this letter that need a response. First, we're not sure exactly what issue the author is taking with the original article in ULK where another prisoner wrote about how rats working for the prison were undermining his United Front work. It sounds like this prisoner thinks that's not important, but if we are going to fight these terrible conditions we need some unity, and building a United Front across organizations is critical to this battle. We can't just write about the problems without also talking about the solutions, or organizing successes and failures, and how to build from there.

The point this writer raises about female prison staff is a good demonstration of the gender oppression that happens in prison, that is very different from what goes on on the streets. While biological men generally have gender privilege relative to biological wimmin in Amerika, there are some differences by nationality and also within prison. In the prison situation, where most prisoners are men, female prison workers can accuse those men of sexual misconduct and get them beat or punished, without having to provide any proof. Further, numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics demonstrate this power difference: "Significantly, most perpetrators of staff sexual misconduct were female and most victims were male: among male victims of staff sexual misconduct, 69% of prisoners and 64% of jail inmates reported sexual activity with female staff."(1) Overall MIM(Prisons) sees gender privilege as the norm for both men and wimmin in the First World, relative to both men and wimmin in the Third World. But the abuse in prisons should not be ignored.


Notes: Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2008-09" January 2010.

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[Abuse] [Montford Unit] [Texas]
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Exposing Guard Brutality and Coverup in Texas

On 8/13/2013 an offender who has severe breathing problems was pepper sprayed in the face. I am sorry to say it took his life. On 8/14/2013 on A3 in an isolation cell an offender had his hand in the door where the hinges are. A guard, Mr. Wright, closed the door on his hand, cutting it and breaking bones. I asked Mr. Wright about it and he said he did not do it out of malicious intent. I was working as SSI all day and had to clean up all the blood that was in the cell. A Sergeant came and told Mr. Wright that he should be careful what he says in his report, and ripped it up, and all morning the Sergeant helped him cover up the incident.

From around 8am to 2:30pm I was out cleaning pod. I cleaned isolation cells at 8am and again around 2pm on 8/14/2013. I heard them talk about it all morning. They disrespect us, harm us, and when they do something to us they high five each other. Their actions to fib on reports are backed up by each other. How to ever catch them to tell the truth is a major problem.

I am at a unit that violates multiple policies of its own. It hides its actions and harms us in many ways. I started looking into the rules and I am really not surprised at what I found. I have seen them handcuff and beat one prisoner and they later on pepper sprayed another for having his jacket on at pill call. I have filed multiple grievances and have received no answer. We can't defend ourselves at all without double punishment due to the guards being one solid group that high five each other after they beat us down. They do such mean things to us and get away with it. These officials go out of their way to do mean things to us. We are held in isolation for months even years even though we have not broken any rules. How far must we bend before we get help from outside?

One mailroom worker made sexual advances and I knew it was a setup so I filed a grievance and sent a statement to the warden. A captain came and I refused to be forced to write a statement for him so I wrote him up. On the grievance response it stated that my verbal statement was different than my written statement. But I gave no verbal statement. The grievance investigator did not even investigate.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner is right that catching the guards and exposing the truth is a major problem. This is part of the important role played by Under Lock & Key: providing a forum to expose guard brutality and abuse. By documenting these incidents we can show that they are not just individual cases, but a systematic part of the criminal injustice system, and something that we must fight as a whole. Write to us with details about abuse in your prison.

To help fight the grievance system, which denies prisoner's an avenue to appeal injustice and guard abuse, get involved in our campaign to demand grievances be addressed. There is already a petition for Texas, and petitions exist for many other states as well. If we don't have a petition for your state we can send you a generic petition which you can customize for your state.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [ULK Issue 34]
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Force-Feeding Approved for CA Hunger Strikers

19 August 2013 - Today, a federal court approved the force-feeding of people who are on hunger strike in California prisons to protest torture in the form of long-term isolation and group punishment. The force-feeding itself is considered torture by many, including those who have been on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay since February and have been suffering through force-feeding for months.

yasiin bey force-fed crying
For those interested in why it is considered torture, Yasiin Bey bravely provided the world with a video of what that is like (click picture).

The decision in California came shortly after we posted a report from a comrade who was denied liquid supplements and collapsed on July 21 in Corcoran State Prison. Many others have collapsed since then, and the state's behavior has made it clear that the health of prisoners has not been a concern of theirs. They apply very strict rules to how they count people as being on "hunger strike," knowing that strikers depend on the state to report their numbers to the public, forcing them to abide by these rules that don't allow for any electrolytes.

The state has consistently used health care as a weapon to manipulate prisoners into submission, rather than act as the custodians of health and safety that they claim to be. Now that strikers are approaching life-threatening conditions, the CDCR is acting to prevent them from exercising one of the strongest forms of protest that they have from within these isolation cells. The attention given to the situation inside California prisons right now is already unprecedented and they fear that if more prisoners die they may lose their power to torture prisoners in the future. The torture is important to them because it is what they believe to be their best tool to prevent the oppressed from fighting their oppression (the injustice system's true purpose). The ongoing hunger strike, decades in the making, has begun to turn the tables on that idea though.

This recent report asserts that 70 of 130 prisoners currently on hunger strike have been going since July 8, 2013. There are a number of groups of prisoners in California who are ready to restart hunger strike in support of the 70 (or more) who are in it for the long haul as the struggle heightens.

In the months leading up to July 8, there was some debate about the return to the hunger strike tactic, particularly as previous attempts were aborted prematurely without any changes from the state. But those first two strikes resonated among the oppressed across the country, and particularly in California where 30,000 prisoners stood up against long-term isolation on July 8, 2013. As we approach 50 days on strike, and repeated assertions from participants that they will not stop for mere promises this time, this struggle is approaching a crucial point. To date, control units have been a fairly effective tool of repression. But if oppression breeds resistance, then even these tools of total control can be overcome. At no other point have we been closer to that goal than we are right now. Those who have and will give their lives for this struggle must not die in vain. Those 30,000 plus prisoners who supported this campaign must take every opportunity over the coming months to build, educate and organize to prepare for the next phase of this struggle. A failure to seize this moment in the prison movement will mean much more suffering for the imprisoned lumpen in the decades to come.

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