The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Can you do layout? Help out by laying out pamphlets and study packs to mail to prisoners. help out
[National Oppression] [California]
expand

Debating National Oppression and SNY Status

I am writing to express my concerns with your paper. I am 100% for a true United Front. I do not judge people by the color of their skin. I am white and I'm proud of the fact. I come from Oakland CA and in school was a target just because I was white. My family did not have money.

In a story in ULK 26 May/June 2012 you claim that poor whites searching for identity turn to white supremacist and we find our identity in the false belief of their supremacy in the color of our skin. Well my friend, I refute your belief and you're just way off the mark. I came up in Oakland, CA in the 60s, 70s, 80s when Oakland was at war most of the war was drug war, but in the 60s and 70s there were political wars and protest from the Blacks. There was one movement after another.

I for one never claim that I am better than anyone because I'm white, but growing up in Oakland, because of my white skin I was jumped. In spite of that, to this day I do not judge people by the color of their skin as you clearly do.

Now about ULK 24, 2012 page 3 concerning Special Needs Yards (SNY). I came into the system in the 80s and sure there was no such thing as SNY back then, they called it PSU. CDCR has always housed child molesters, rapists and snitches and they programmed on the GP yards for years, and for the most part we ran them off the yard. SNY was not put in place for that kind of people, SNY was put in place for prisoners who got sick and tired of killing each other. The system back in the day was run by a bunch of older guys who kept the youngsters in line. Well you had a bunch of kids coming into the system, yes more Blacks and Latinos, who were in search of an identity. They would join these prison gangs not knowing what they were getting into. Then you had a lot of kids on the streets looking at the drug dealers with all the money, cars, houses, women, so they joined up with their gang, then they come to prison for drug charges and as soon as they hit prison they have to prove themselves.

Now SNY came into play when people like myself said, wait why are we fighting each other and letting the system take more and more of our rights away from us, so they check in to PSU. But word got around on the GP yard that you can do your time without fear of death so SNY was formed. CDCR said OK that we now got these prisoners that want to drop out of the gangs, that's a win win for everyone. It took me until 2004 to check into SNY. I heard all races there stand as one. I said great. I think SNY has about 65% of the prison yards now, and about 80% of SNY prisoners stand as one voice, with 20% not ready or able to let go of the GP ways.

I can state I never had to debrief, I never had to tell on anyone, I am no sex offender. My position on sex offenders stands: they are still considered seriously damaged people that I myself stay away from. This person that sent you his BS about all SNY prisoners are weak and come to this side for better treatment is wrong.

I was in Corcoran as an SNY in the SHU and we all engaged in the hunger strike, we all signed numerous grievances and complaints to the administration, and as you know we didn't get all we requested but we did change things for the better. Yes CDCR needs to change its stand on SHU prisoners and I think this year will see more change.

Now when my SHU time was over they sent me to Ad-Seg pending transfer. Ad-Seg is a mix of SNY and GP. It was SNY prisoners who took the stand and boarded up, no GP took the stand but they enjoyed the outcome of our SNY work. We got our 3 showers each week back, we got hot meals with canteen.

We prisoners here in SNY do not get more privileges than GP. Our program is the same as GP except that they're locked down more because of the nonsense they're not willing to let go of. There has not been one lockdown since I got here six months ago, and that's because we still have guys who have disagreements but we don't try and kill each other, there are fist fights but it ends there.

So the program is the same, but we get more of it because we stand as one people and our fight is not with each other, our fight is to get out of prison as fast as we can. The way to shut down prisons is to not have prisoners to fill them. And the way that is done is for all prisoners to change their thinking, change their outlook on life and become better people no matter what color you are.

If prisoners would stop killing each other because of the color of their skin or where they're from there would be no need for SHU or Ad-Seg.

So before these so-called GP prisoners call all of us weak they need to think about the real facts. SNY in the next five years will be the new GP and these prisoners who want to hold on to the nonsense that keep them in prison will be locked away.

On this side of SNY we ask to be treated like humans and in most cases we are. When we stop fighting each other and put the paperwork in to bring back the programs needed to better our lives, then change comes.

I think we have the same goal in mind, unity and peace. I am willing to work to bring unity and peace to all prisoners no matter the color of your skin or where you are from. With dedication and determination we can change the system and make it work for us in a way to end business as we know it today. We need to reach out to those that will listen and work with us to bring down the number of people in the system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: First, we will address the question of unity and the interests of whites. We have always maintained that whites can be revolutionaries and can act in the interests of the oppressed. But we make statements about groups of people and their material interests. This individual white persyn may in fact really be willing to fight for the interests of all people, but whites as a group in the United $tates have demonstrated their material interests are aligned with the imperialists. And historically they have gone for fascism over revolution (See Sakai's book Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat). Examples of one white persyn in Amerika who claims not to judge people by skin color is not relevant to this scientific analysis. This is not about judging people for the color of their skin, it is about understanding the history of nations and national interests. We don't like Obama better as a President because he is Black, he's still the leader of the biggest terrorist government in the world. Nonetheless, we call on all white people to unite with the movement against national oppression both in the U.$. and globally, and we know some whites will be on our side.

On the SNY debate we have more unity with this prisoner. We agree that there are many individuals in SNY who are part of the anti-imperialist movement, fighting on the side of the oppressed, and not snitching or betraying people. But this letter goes too far in posing SNY as better than GP. Conditions are different in each state and even within states in each prison. We need to judge the actions of individuals rather than making sweeping assumptions about "all SNY prisoners are snitches" or "all GP prisoners are fighting each other."

We also do not agree that "If prisoners would stop killing each other because of the color of their skin or where they're from there would be no need for SHU or Ad-Seg." We maintain that control units are a tool of social control, not a legitimate punishment for prison violence. And so we do not blame the prisoners for the system that confines them and in fact encourages violence. We know that many prisoners in the SHU are locked up for their political organizing, not for violence. We should not perpetuate the myth of legitimacy around these control units.

chain
[Censorship] [Legal] [California]
expand

CA Gov. Brown Threatens to Further Curb Prisoner Lawsuits

Jerry Brown CCPOA
As all oppressed nations within the U.$. injustice system know there is no such thing as justice or rehabilitation, let alone rights!

In prison is where we see fascism getting out at its harshest.(1) Recently governor Jerry Brown spoke about how prisoners' lawsuits are costing the tax payers (parasites) money.(2) We should know better than this as it's a coverup to implement more restricted measures in prison. Not only is he seeking support to curb lawsuits but now Brown wants to implement policies limiting what prisoners can actually sue about. Like an enemy telling his combatant he can only shoot at the ground. Perhaps the recent events of prisoners waking up has caused prisoncrats to put a gag order on us. If tax payers really want to save money they should realize how much more officers (pigs) get paid for working in the SHU (ASU, PSU) than working in general population.

As a comrade wrote in ULK 30 about a case concerning the suppression of Black Panther literature, (Tani Toston v. Muchael Thurmer et al. no#10 cv 288) "The ruling is a joke and more about suppression and control." Here in California the state apparatus is gearing up for repression and suppression of our so-called "freedom of speech." This time they are attacking our right to redress a grievance. Prisoners should be aware of the consequences this plan can have on our fight against repression. Once this policy is implemented it'll be much more difficult to rectify issues we face. Of course when push comes to shove the state will not hold back to silence the resisters, as the Attica prison rebellion has shown us.

Time should be taken to study and realize the hows and whys. Giving them an inch will only do us harm and further sink us into the hole of doom. Combating the issue of censorship should be one of the top issues we fight right now.


Notes:
1. MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial.
2. CBS Evening News. 2/11/2013.


MIM(Prisons) adds:
Jerry Brown knows how to rally the Amerikan tax payer against the imprisoned lumpen. Not a difficult task we might add. The federal government already passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act in 1996, which severely restricted prisoners' ability to file lawsuits. Yet Brown claims California still can't afford the lawsuits that make it past these restrictive measures. He claims lawyers are just scouring prisons looking for problems. Well, MIM Distributors was officially banned from sending mail to prisoners locked up by the CDCR for years, a ban that still comes back to haunt us every so often, by bureaucrats who didn't get the memo that it ended in 2008. Yet no lawyers came out of the woodwork to fight for our constitutional right to free speech (Brown claims these constitutional issues are easy money). And we've got a long line of prisoners with serious grievances, of not just censorship but physical abuse and neglect, who would love to talk to these lawyers looking for this supposed easy money. We'd be happy to put them in touch.

chain
[Gang Validation] [California]
expand

Blood in my Eye Used as Evidence of Prison Gang membership

I've enclosed a chrono that documents how these people have chosen to violate my First Amendment right to read a book. I've been validated and am awaiting transfer to the Security Housing Unit (SHU).

"On Thursday, November 18, 2010, the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) Unit conducted a search of the cell and property pertaining to inmate XX. As a result of the search the IGI Unit confiscated and reviewed various materials evidencing his association with the BGF. The materials included a photocopy of Blood in my Eye.

"George Jackson's Blood in my Eye is required reading by the BGF for training into the prison gang. George Jackson, though never validated as a member of the BGF, is attributed as being the founder of the BGF. The written rules and regulations of the BGF require all members and associates to continually practice the revolutionary theories and ideas promoted by George Jackson. The BGF require members and associates of the prison gang to study and familiarize themselves with all of George Jackson's written materials and his history throughout the years. Also potential BGF recruits must study George Jackson's materials to show their loyalty to the Black Guerrilla Family.

"In conclusion due to inmate XX maintaining material indicative to the Black Guerrilla Family, XX is evidencing his activity and association with the prison gang. Therefore this memorandum should be used as one (1) source towards validating XX (Written Material) as an associate of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF)."


MIM(Prisons) adds: This document from the prison administration demonstrates their systematic oppression of prisoners who attempt to study political history and theory. George Jackson is an author read by many prisoners because of his history as a prisoner and revolutionary organizer. Associating the book Blood in my Eye with a supposed "prison gang" feeds into the state's line that criminalizes the struggle for self-determination of the New Afrikan nation. It allows them to label politically active prisoners as dangerous for reading a book and subject them to isolation (the next step after validation).

chain
[Abuse] [Security] [Calipatria State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 31]
expand

Confusion About Snitching Means Pig Gets Away with Murder

do not snitch CA prisons
The pigs have been up to the same old stuff around here. Three days ago they shot and killed one of the brown brothers with the mini 14 assault rifle, the same rifle type the media and congress has been trying to ban. Two guys were attacking another guy and they were on him and wouldn't stop. So the pig stopped it with the assault rifle. The official report is that the victim had a stabbing instrument in his hand. But the men who were closest to the incident said they saw no weapon.

Of course they did the routine investigation and sent out some COs to ask if anybody saw anything. And of course no one wanted to talk. The pigs have brainwashed so many of us that we believe if we report on the pigs' wrongdoing then that makes you a snitch. A lot of guys are afraid to write a grievance for fear of being labeled. The bad thing is the pigs have their compradors in place to push this point.

Some guys here on a facility organized a food strike to protest the fact the kitchen has a mice/rodent problem. It was only one building. There was no communication that it was going to take place. They did it and got some people's attention. Inspectors came out and looked at the kitchen and gave the kitchen workers a pep talk and told them they needed to tell the population that the problem was being taken care of. All they did was put some mouse traps down and nothing else.

Hopefully the population continues to stand up for themselves. If this is a sign of change I hope it continues because the pigs got nervous when those guys refused to eat.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The righteousness of opposing "snitching" is in the idea that you don't go running to the oppressor to deal with problems among the oppressed people. In other words, don't snitch to the oppressor on the oppressed. There is no such thing as snitching on the oppressor. To report abuse of the pigs, you are not bringing the oppressor into a conflict among the oppressed; the oppressor already is the source of the conflict. And if the oppressed don't have the means to resolve that conflict, then it may be tactically correct to turn to other oppressors to resolve that conflict.

It is true that the prison administration gets nervous when prisoners organize. The more we can unite around common goals, the more power we will have. If the oppressed stay quiet and disunited, there is no counterbalance to the abuse that prisoners face.

chain
[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [California]
expand

Challenging Conditions of Confinement in SHU

I have a habeas corpus petition in the Superior Court which challenges the "conditions of confinement" in California Department of Corrections and "Rehabilitation" (CDCR) Security Housing Units (SHUs), and the pro forma sham "periodic reviews" that CDCR purports to conduct for possible release from SHU.

My "conditions of confinement" challenge is based upon the fact that 30% of the validated "gang affiliates" in SHU are actually "gang associates," which are basically prisoners who had a social relationship with one prisoner who was a former gang "associate" [or member], or an "associate" who had been classified by CDCR as no longer "active" in the gang, i.e. a guy who has been "inactive" for a minimum of six years, or who had a social relationship with a "gang" member. How such a one-on-one social relationship constitutes "associating" with the gang is a leap of logic only a CDCR mentality could make.

It is unconstitutional for the government to find a person guilty of "association" sans any overt acts of personal misconduct. So it is very curious that prisoners are the only group of citizens who are consistently placed in SHU on the sole basis of being "guilty by association" without any charge of personal misconduct, and without any finding of guilt of any acts of personal misconduct, or of any acts of misconduct on behalf of or at the behest of a "gang."

Since Title 15, Section 3312(A) mandates that all prisoner misconduct be handled in the specific manners set forth in that section/regulation. Either CDCR is in violation of Section 3312(A), or there has been no misconduct! If there has been no misconduct, then a prisoner cannot be subjected to punitive treatment. Punitive treatment includes conditions of confinement that are historically recognized as punishment. So, it is all about identifying the conditions in SHU that are historically recognized as CDCR (or general prison) punishment, such as: loss of privileges, loss of property, solitary confinement, etc.

I know that making the SHU more comfortable is not an acceptable alternative to closing the SHU. But if you take the whip away from the CDCR, and SHU becomes just another general population facility with just a "maximum custody" designation, it then loses its value to CDCR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Why would the government want to torture people for talking to someone? Presumably they fear this persyn. This has nothing to do with "misconduct" or "safety" and everything to do with politics; one group oppressing another. Yet, control units are still torture, no matter if the population decreases or increases by 30%. As this comrade states, there is no humane alternative to abolishing the SHU altogether.

chain
[Organizing] [Religious Repression] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 30]
expand

Indigenous Group Takes Up Revolutionary Organizing on Death Row

I write this missive from the bowels of California's Death Row (DR), at San Quentin. Just wanted to give an update at what is going on and the progress we are making in regards to a wide area of issues which the condemned population has been experiencing.

Being an Indigenous person, we have been in a long struggle with the San Quentin administration and California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr) in regards to DR captives being afforded access to Sweat Lodge ceremonies. Our rights are grossly violated by denying the access of Indigenous persons to the right to practice their religion/culture. In the administration's eyes, to have sweat ceremonies available to the DR population creates a serious "security risk." Each time the CDCr screams "security risk," the United Snakes courts fall into stride with the department's assumptions, allowing refusal of Sweat ceremonies, Pipe ceremonies, and access to smudging with sacred Native American medicines. "Safety & security" is an honored mantra here at San Quentin. Stripping us of our culture, religion, and traditions has been the norm for centuries for ALL oppressed nation peoples. It is obvious that no matter what we fight for, the CDCr views it as "Gang Activity/Disruptive." There are comrades that have been stuck in the infamous Adjustment Center (the Control Units) for over a life time simply because they decided to speak up and push back for what they feel they deserve and what they have a right to actually have.

In this situation, the administration dangles privileges in front of the captive, in order to make them do as they say, not as they do. Comrades are being forced to remain in cages away from other DR captives, being denied any sunlight or room to stretch their legs, because the administration feels that they are "too violent" to be placed on a programmed group yard where they can have fellowship with others, get some sunlight, and take a hot shower. This treatment is barbaric and uncalled for.

The institutional appeals office is no help. They are refusing to process any of these prisoners' 602s (grievances) by simply throwing their appeals away, or "losing" them until the time constraints to file on a certain issue have run out, preventing them from going any further with their grievances. Captives with a full program label are being subjected to disciplinary conditions, because the administration can do whatever they want. These comrades are pushing for the same fair treatment as any other DR captive who has privileges.

Due to the budget cuts, programs here have been cut in half. Education is almost non-existent, and yard days have been cut. Visits are being supervised by sergeants who violate Title 15 guidelines, and the captives as well as our families suffer. Medical is suppose to be monitored, but even that has failed to meet its mark. The treatment of DR captives is going from bad to worse.

After the Hunger Strikes here in California, the CDCr implemented a new rule, that anybody that participates in any type of strike will be placed in the SHU (Security Housing Units) for good. Those who participate will be "validated" as a member of a disruptive group, even if one is not gang related. The DR administration went crazy with that new rule. They ignore the fact that the last actual murder that took place here was almost 12 years ago. They have made comments to media that they have succeeded in finally having full control of the condemned population, and call this place "The Safest Prison in the State."

They use tactics of mental torture. They take and give back, then take and give again. It is a mental game and it has driven many good brothers to snap and completely lose their minds. I do not find that to be a weakness in them, nor is it their fault. It is the fault of the pigs here for the games they play. I fault the captives for allowing their minds to be stretched so far without assisting one another instead of sleeping with the enemy and snitching on each other. There are more snitches than crickets at midnight here, and sadly they are blind to the fact that when it is time for the needle to hit the vein, it will be done by the very pigs they blindly befriended while they were here.

So, with that said, a few other solid comrades and myself have decided to up the ante and are holding study groups. We struggle on a daily basis like the rest of our comrades around the U.$., and decided that the only way to begin to break this chain of ignorance is to teach and guide the ones who have the desire to overcome this oppression "by any means necessary." Along with the education we are receiving from MIM(Prisons)/ULK, we have formed a small movement that we hope will reach beyond the walls of this shit hole. We are the IPLF.

The IPLF (Indigenous Peoples Liberation Front) is composed of comrades from all walks of life, willing to stand firm on the front lines and fight as warriors against the (in)justice system. We are a selected few, pushing to break the chains of systematic oppression of any and all kinds. We are human beings, not animals, and not terrorists. We are a movement choosing to follow MIM theory, and assist our comrades in any way possible.

The IPLF will take part in the Day of Solidarity & Peace on September 9, 2013, and will take that day to focus on what needs to be done here on the row that will have a positive outcome. And if we end up in the hole, then fuck it! We ride or die for the cause! To all my comrades out there, to all our sisters out there - A-HO!

chain
[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 30]
expand

New Rules for California Security Threat Groups - Same Old Repression

Recently prisoners in California received the "new" instructional memorandum for the "pilot program for security threat group identification, prevention and management plan."

This is basically the "new" step down program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has put together. According to the memo the term "security threat group" (STG) will "replace the terms prison gang, disruptive group, and/or street gang within the CDCR." On page 3 it states "CDCR manages the most violent and sophisticated security threat group members and associates in the nation." This is bullshit and propaganda, as we know from history the FBI once called the Black Panther Party the highest threat to the national security of Amerika, when in reality the BPP helped Black people the most in this country.

According to the memo, 3,150 people are currently validated prison gang members and associates and, as a result, are in the hole in California. Meanwhile, 850 prisoners are reviewed for validation each year in California.

According to this "new" program, STG members will, once validated, go to a Security Housing Unit (SHU). STG associates will remain in general population unless staff feel they are involved in STG behavior — which we know will be abused like the current validation process. It's the same old unfettered repression regurgitated. They can still use all the "violations" as before, even saying "hi" or "good morning" can still be used as evidence of associating with a STG. Only its now called "staff information" and is described as getting you 4 points toward STG and would be considered "STG activity" instead of the old "gang activity." So it's all about semantics here.

Section 400.2, validation procedure, on page 9 states in part that once someone is validated "CDCR staff shall track their movement, monitor their conduct, and take interdiction action, as necessary." Interdiction action is code talk for getting someone off the mainline by any means necessary — the set up! They can even still use a birthday card a prisoner gave you as "STG activity."

The step down program calls for 5 steps that we are told can lead us to general population. So-called "self help" classes must be attended, with names like "victims awareness" which point at oneself as being wrong. This is classic brainwashing that must occur if you want to go back to general population, so we were tortured for years and decades in some cases but now we are told by our torturers we must attend their brainwash camps and learn that we are responsible and guilty for bringing our torture upon ourselves. Our oppression is brought on by the state and no classes will change this reality.

We are also told in the memo that we will be given a course on the book Purpose Driven Life, which is a religious book. So the state is coupling their self-help brainwash with religion to cover up repression that the internal semi-colonies face from Amerika. What we are seeing is a re-shuffling of the same deck of cards where state officials are given way too much power over prisoners, with threadbare oversight, and a sadistic history of abuse. This of course is not a positive thing for those of us held in these dungeons, it is a continuance of a long rusted chain of oppression. The reality is we have way more power than we even know. We must remember that it was our action here in these torture chambers that forced the director of corrections and other high level officials to fly out here and beg those they call the "worst of the worst" into stopping the strike. As a result of our protests they have made superficial changes to our "privileges." Many times when dealing with the imperialists people become demoralized, whether they are dealing with imperialists at a higher level or via its many apparatuses on a lower level i.e. with the courts or prisons. But Mao put it very well when he said: "all reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful."(1)

As in the case with our efforts of 2011 when thousands of prisoners across the United Snakes went on hunger strikes we found that Mao was correct that they are paper tigers. The state capitulated, but quickly devised a way to temporarily slow down our momentum via deception like lying about what changes would come. Although they stopped the strike they did not erase the reality that we saw the state as the paper tiger it really is. Like Mao said they are not so powerful and in the long term it is the people or in our case the prisoners that are really powerful. One only needs to look at the last couple of years of prisoner struggles that the new prison movement has produced, where most strikes have resulted in better conditions for prisoners across the United Snakes.

The recent changes to the state's torturing of prisoners does not change the torture that me and the other fourteen thousand plus people in California are still held. Many will continue in this way for many more years, and some for the rest of their lives. But the people will have many more victories in the years to come as prisoners begin to really grasp the oppression we face and discover different paths out of this oppression.

The author Michelle Alexander said "The 'whites only' sign may be gone, but new signs have gone up - notice placed in job applications, rental agreements, loan applications, forms for welfare benefits, school applications, and petitions for licenses, informing the general public that 'felons' are not wanted here."(2)

What Alexander leaves out is that there is also a new sign that says Brown, Black and Red people are to be swept up and tortured en masse across the United Snakes of Amerika in order to attempt to break the back of resistance in our respective nations. And now a newer sign is going up in the SHUs, saying that after we are tortured for years and decades that we will also be tortured or brainwashed into believing that our torture was our own fault. Those who refuse the brainwashing will remain in these torture chambers for years or decades more.

Once prisoners decide that not only won't we accept the torture but that we will resist until we actually see prisoners walking out of the SHU, not falling for the state's lies and pacification program, only then will we be victorious in our efforts wherever our torture chamber is in this country.

Humyn rights should be afforded to everyone, even prisoners. Some believe the state's propaganda and begin to think we deserve this treatment or it is normal. But this is unacceptable, and it's only normal in a capitalist country where those who do not contribute to the capitalist system are introduced to genocidal treatment. At some point people realize that change will only come from our own efforts and if we wait for our oppressor to bring change we will be waiting the rest of our lives.

chain
[Organizing] [United Front] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 29]
expand

California Hunger Strike Representatives Promote Peace Agreement

On October 10 a peace accord went into place across the California prison system to end hostilities between different racial groups. The Pelican Bay State Prison - Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU) Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives issued a statement in August, and hundreds responded on October 10 with hunger strikes to continue the struggle against so-called gang validation and the SHU. The original statement calls on lumpen organizations to turn to “causes beneficial to all” instead of infighting among the oppressed. Recently leaders in Pelican Bay State Prison reasserted that this applies to all lumpen organizations in CDCR, down to the youth authority.

The campaign to launch a peace treaty by influential leaders in Pelican Bay is not new. In 2000 prisoners worked with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to organize peace talks, but those efforts were sabotaged by the CDCR whose class and national interests conflicted with those of the prisoners. It is inspiring that comrades find now to be an opportune time to initiate the process without the state, which is in line with the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons initiated by MIM(Prisons) and USW in 2011.

We share the PBSP-SHU Collective’s view that peace is key to building unity against the criminal injustice system. Prison organizations and individual prisoners across the country have pledged themselves to the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principles and are building this United Front in their prisons, communities and organizations.

We know this won’t be easy, but there is a basis for this unity and peace. As was written in the original announcement of the UFPP:

“We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already ‘united’ – in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know ‘we need unity’ – but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence.”

The ending of hostilities between large lumpen organizations has sweeping implications for the possibilities for prisoner organizing. USW comrades in California should work to seize this opportunity however possible, to translate the peace agreement into meaningful organizing in the interests of all prisoners.

chain
[Organizing] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 29]
expand

Grievance Fight Assisted with Citizen Complaint Letters

I am writing to follow up on the problems we've been experiencing with our appeals system as it relates to the mass complaint form that at least 85 of us sent to Sacramento. I went a step further and had my sister draft a "citizen's complaint letter" to the Warden of RJ Donvan. He's required by law to investigate and respond to this letter within 30 days. This puts more pressure on the Warden's office due to the time and resources involved to send out responses. So, if your readers have friends and family who can draft and submit the citizen's complaint en masse, I believe it can have a greater impact.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As previously reported, this comrade is making good use of the grievance petition and taking on this battle creatively through the legal and administrative system. Write to us to get involved in this campaign. We can send you a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or a generic version you can customize to create one for states that do not yet have one.

chain
[Abuse] [Environmentalism] [Calipatria State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 29]
expand

Using Toilet Flush Limit to Torture Prisoners

I want to bring up an issue that should be addressed and included in the struggle for positive change. Back around 2005 the Department of Corrections began installing timers on our toilets, to limit us to two flushes every five minutes. The reason given for the timers and limits on the flushes is for the purpose of water conservation. I'm all for saving the planet and conserving Earth's resources, but not at the expense of my own health and well-being.

The timer and two-flush limit has emphasized the impact of living with a toilet in the compact space where we also eat and sleep. No man should have to be forced to endure prolonged exposure to the revolting stench of human waste! To limit us to two flushes every five minutes is simply unreasonable, but what is unconscionable and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment is the so-called "penalty flush!" especially when we have no way of knowing when the toilet's timer has reset itself. Here at Calipatria State Prison if we inadvertently or purposely attempt to flush the toilet a third time before the toilet's timer has reset itself, a 15 minute penalty will incur. This means the toilet will not flush for 15 minutes and anything in the toilet will remain there throughout the duration of the 15 minute penalty.

In other prisons I hear that the penalty flush can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour! There's simply no penological justification for the penalty flush because the two-flush limit every five minutes serves the penological interest of the water conservation. It is inhumane to punish a man for simply trying to use the bathroom. So please include this stinking issue into the struggle. United in struggle we will prevail.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Actually, water conservation is not a penological interest at all. Like this correspondent says, a two-flush-per-five-minute rule would be enough to prevent any attempts to abuse toilet flushing. The penalties for attempting to flush the toilet show us clearly that this is just another method to make prisoners’ lives extra miserable, and dangerous, for no good reason.

It might be argued that flush rules are in the state's interests to save water, because water is money. But either way, the "greening" of Amerikan prisons highlights the dominant pro-imperialist slant of so-called environmentalism in this country. Water conservation can be used to improve production for California agribusiness, or it can be used to provide people with clean drinking water across the world. Which goal you choose is a political question. Really environmentalism that is not internationalist in perspective is not true environmentalism at all because it ignores most of the biggest problems humyns face interacting with our natural environment in favor of the local interests of small, privileged groups.

chain