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[Organizing] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 27]
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Appeals to Sacramento Politicians Lead to Improvements at KVSP

I'm reporting from Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). I've been engaged in the last 16 months educating our comrades to the increasingly aggressive tactics California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has taken in the course of systematically depriving us of every human and civil right a prisoner is supposed to retain. I've also been attempting to strengthen communication and, aside from a select few, have been met with complacency and apathy.

We few have organized effective communication with one another and have used creative strategies to combat certain conditions we've been experiencing. At first, utilizing the 602 grievance process was only met with rejections, so we took our well written 602s (grievances) that used Department Operations Manual (DOM), California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, California penal code, and U.S. law, and bypassed the lower level institutional coordinators and submitted copies to:

  1. Governor Brown, State Capitol, Ste. 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814
  2. CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, 1515 S. St., Ste. 330, Sacramento, CA 95811
  3. CA Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Capitol Bldg, Rm 4005, Sacramento, CA 95814
  4. Inmate Appeals Branch, Chief CDCR, PO Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001

And other relevant heads of department and politicians. The outcome has led to a spotlight shining down on KVSP administrative staff with official reprimands and supplemental memorandums and addendum. Warden M.D. Biter has been reprimanded to the effect of: stop superseding the DOM, CCR, and other applicable state and federal law, and to honor the CDCR 22 written request process that was formulated after the 2011 hunger strikes, and 602 grievance process. I've only been told this and cannot provide documentation, but it comes from reliable sources within administrative staff who are against the institution head's policies.

Ever since these reprimands have supposedly taken place, there has been a notable change in everything. Our 602s are being accepted for review, 22 forms are being answered within time limits, program has resumed on modified procedure, and our food is adequately proportioned. We've had no cases of staff misconduct, threats of any kind, or adverse retaliatory actions from administration, from January through today's date of 5 June 2012.

I've created a private law library of essential regulatory content and political value which has been utilized and facilitated by interested prisoners and we are accumulating knowledge.

These are still initial stages and our struggle needs lots of work, but even minor accomplishments are boosting morale. I encourage everyone to take the steps we've taken and stay strong and diligent. Keep records, daily logs, and file immediate complaints of misconduct.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner is setting a good example of how to push forward the legal struggle for basic rights. And this article provides some good advice for California prisoners working on the grievance campaign demanding that grievances be addressed. Improving conditions within which prisoners live and organize is an important step in the struggle against the criminal injustice system. We know these reforms will only bring short-term relief, as the system itself serves the interests of the ruling imperialists and so substantive change will not come until we overthrow imperialism. But these battles are important for both education and the successes they bring.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Control Units] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 26]
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Report Back from Corcoran Hunger Strike

[This series of events followed two statewide food strikes in California in 2011 focused on putting an end to Security Housing Units and improving justice and conditions in CA prisons.]

When we, the prisoners housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU1) of CSP-Corcoran, initiated a hunger strike to protest against the inhumane conditions and constitutional violations we faced in the ASU1, the prison officials responded with retaliation and indifference. Their intent was clear: to set an example of what would occur if these protests that had been rocking the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) this past year continued. Their statement was not only meant for the protestors in this ASU1, but for the entire class of oppressed prisoners in the CDCR.

The hunger strike in this ASU1 initially began on 28 December 2011. It was a collective effort with various races and subgroups standing in solidarity for a common interest. A petition was prepared with the issues we wanted to address, and it was submitted to the Corcoran prison officials and also sent out to prisoner rights groups in an attempt to gather support and attention.

A few hours after the protest began, Warden Gipson sent her staff to move the prisoners who were allegedly, and falsely, identified as "strike leaders" to a different ASU. I was included in that category because my signature was on the petition that was submitted to prison officials. When we initially refused to move, the correctional staff came to our cells wearing full riot gear to cell extract and move us by force. Since we were engaging in a peaceful protest, we agreed to move and were placed in the other ASU. This turned out to be 3A03 EOP, an Ad-Seg unit that houses severely mentally ill prisoners.

While isolated in that psychiatric ward, we continued to refuse food until we received word that the hunger strike ended in the ASU1. I later found out that the Warden and Captain had met with the spokesmen of the ASU1 protestors and promised to grant a majority of our demands but requested three weeks to implement the changes and to have the agreements in writing. The protestors agreed to give the prison officials the benefit of the doubt, and for that reason the hunger strike was put on hold.

I continued to file complaints and 602s during this period asserting that my placement in a unit along with severely mentally ill prisoners violated my Eighth Amendment right because I was not mentally ill; and that my placement in this psychiatric ward was the result of illegal retaliation by prison officials against me for exercising my First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and protest. These grievances went ignored. In addition to my isolation in the psychiatric ward, I received a 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance" (12 month SHU term), and was later found guilty although they had no evidence to support that charge besides my signature on a petition. The other protestors who were also falsely identified as "strike leaders" were issued the same 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance."

On 18 January 2012, Warden Gipson ordered her staff to move me, as well as the other isolated protesters, back to the ASU1 believing that the hunger strike was over. Before we were moved back, she sent an email to Lt. Cruz of 3A03 and asked him to read it to us. It contained a warning that she would not tolerate any more disturbances in the ASU1, and a threat that any such behavior would carry more severe reprisals.

After three weeks passed since the hunger strike was put on hold, it was clear that the prison officials had no intent to honor their word and keep their promises. The hunger strike resumed on 27 January 2012.

The ASU1 Lieutenant, after hearing that we resumed the protest, came to a few protestors and stated the following: "We are tired of you guys, all you guys, doing hunger strikes and asking for all this shit. I am not only speaking for myself, but for my superiors as well. There are correctional officers and staff getting laid off because the state doesn't have money, and you guys in here are asking for more shit? You know what, we don't care if you guys starve yourselves to death. You guys aren't getting shit. The only thing you'll get are incident packets."

Two days later, on 29 January 2012, Warden Gipson sent her staff again to round up the alleged "strike leaders" and place them in isolation. This time, the spokesmen who had previously come out to speak and negotiate with the prison officials regarding our demands were also included in that category. We were all moved once again to 3A03 psychiatric ward although we were not mentally ill. Furthermore, our visits were suspended by classification committee for the duration of our "involvement in the hunger strike," and we were issued another 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance."

The retaliation did not stop there. All the participants of the hunger strike were issued 115s for "participation in a mass disturbance," and the most important of all, the correctional staff and prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of the starved protestors in the ASU1. When some of the protestors started losing consciousness, experiencing serious pain, and requesting emergency medical attention, the correctional staff were deliberately slow in responding, and in many instances just simply ignored them. This conduct and this mindset, of prison officials to set an example by showing deliberate indifference to the medical needs of the protestors, directly contributed to the death of one of our own. His brave sacrifice and unfailing personal commitment will never be forgotten, nor will it have been for naught.

This is where they stand. The oppressors who take away our freedom and liberty continue to fight tooth and nail to deprive us of even our basic human rights. They employ brutal means of retaliation and suppression in an attempt to keep us from exposing the harsh truths of everyday life inside these prison walls. Although the ASU1 hunger strike may have ended, I will continue to have the spirit of resistance. The outcome will not be decided by a single battle but of many, and I will do my part in hopes that my small contribution may make a difference.

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[Gang Validation] [Civil Liberties] [California] [Connecticut] [ULK Issue 26]
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Organization vs. Validation: Oppose CDCR's "New" Proposal

debriefing beating
Below is a response to "Validation Leads to Longer Sentences for Oppressed Nations" from ULK 24. I would like to say first and foremost that I feel for these brothers in the state of California. From what I can tell the gang validation program in California is what the Department of Corruptions (DOC) in Connecticut call Security Risk Group (SRG). Our system is also corrupt but the process seems harder in this state. We also have a Safety Threat Member (STM) designation, which is a more severe version of an SRG. STM is for someone with a leadership role, or a repeat offender.

I believe if the California comrades looked at the DOC's model over here it would help in presenting a more productive model for them to use in reform. They used to be able to designate us at will with no evidence. Now it goes by a point system. A tattoo is not enough to designate you alone. And when you finish the program here, there's no debrief. You just have a piece of paper of renunciation; no information is needed. They have found ways to corrupt this process, of course, but it is a step up from what California is doing to our comrades.

Our mission is to put an end to these methods altogether, but I believe there are steps in that process. Not only should we be giving a list of demands, but also presenting a model for reform that honors our human rights as well as our due process rights.


MIM(Prisons) responds: California Prison Focus, a reformist organization focused on issues related to SHU prisoners, recently put out an issue of their newsletter almost entirely devoted to analysis and criticism of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR's) proposal for a new gang validation system.(1) The CDCR's proposal rests on a point system similar to the one used in Connecticut. A point system might make it more challenging for prison staff to frivolously send someone to a control unit indefinitely, but only if the evidence used to calculate the points is disclosed. Another key difference in the Connecticut DOC's system is that it lacks a debriefing process, and is therefore not as self-perpetuating as the CDCR's.

It may be a tactical advantage to model our reforms off of those which have led to some improvements in other localities. This would depend on the conditions in each location and time. A point system is slightly more objective than the CDCR's earlier protocol of identifying just three pieces of evidence, which were often kept secret as "confidential." But as Ed Mead reports in Prison Focus,

The stated purpose [of CDCR's proposal] is still to "prohibit inmates from creating, promoting, or participating in any club, association, or organization, except as permitted by written instructions."(1)

MIM(Prisons) stands in strong opposition to this stated goal of the CDCR in our efforts to support prisoners in organizing themselves for democratic rights as a class and for self-determination of the oppressed nations.

The U.$. government uses the domestic injustice system to justify the denial of democratic and Constitutional rights to a growing segment of its internal semi-colonies. The recent CDCR proposal refuses to eliminate the use of secret evidence to put people in SHU, which is a denial of due process. Meanwhile, not only is SHU used to punish people for associating with others, but the recent proposal includes plans to expand the range of Security Threat Groups targeted for repression. If these policies were implemented for the overall population we would call it fascism. Organizing strategies of our comrades behind bars should reflect this reality.

What is so sinister about the debriefing process, why it has been a primary target of the anti-SHU struggle, is because the statements given are used as secret evidence to put others in SHU for indefinite sentences, translating to years if not decades, in long-term isolation torture cells. As long as this continues, and as long as prisoners are denied basic First Amendment rights of association then we see no progress in the "new" proposal.

MIM(Prisons) calls for the abolition of long-term isolation, as it is a form of torture that destroys humyn beings. In addition, the way it is used attacks whole nations by targeting leaders of the oppressed and isolating them from the masses. There are reforms that could weaken the second effect, but people would still be tortured unless control units are abolished completely. The proposed point system barely puts a dent in either problem and can hardly even be considered a reform. Therefore we stand with the broad consensus among prisoners opposing the proposal, and call on supporters on the outside to do the same to remove all legitimacy from the government's attempts to keep the oppressed from organizing for any purpose.

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[Organizing] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California]
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Inspired to Organize by Under Lock and Key

In the course of my imprisonment at this facility we've been on a perpetual lockdown induced by the administration to conserve the limited resources and money appropriated to operate the facility. We're currently in our cells 24/7 and are only afforded escorted showers every few days. We have been denied yard, dayroom, phone calls, visits, law library access, adequate and nutritious food, education, and work.

I recently came in contact with a camarada who referred me to your organization and I would like to contribute any way I can to unify peace in prisons. Over the last few months, I've organized a campaign to bring change to our conditions and have been utilizing the administrative process to seek relief, which has been otherwise unsuccessful and only brought about the "privilege" of purchasing items from their canteen and the order of items through package companies who extort our family members by making them purchase luxury items at a 500%-1000% mark up, so that their private industry of capitalist pigs can profit from our poor families. I'm moving for a boycott on such items and to not put any more money in their fat pockets.

I've also been educating those who wish to learn and build up their minds. Since coming in contact with your newsletter, I've taken the liberty to expand your mailing list by assisting a few comrades in contacting you and have shared ULK with comrades who have been interested.

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[Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 26]
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Retaliation for Hunger Strike and New Protest Ideas

Corcoran prison officials have been retaliating and harassing the prisoners. They started feeding us on small paper trays, leaving us in our cells for days without exercise yard, and openly telling us it's because of people going on hunger strike.

Institution Gang Investigations (IGI) has been harassing everybody, even me. They came and took everything out of my living cell claiming that I am a suspected BGF member. That's crazy! I'm not from any gang at all. Corcoran prison officials got me going back to court facing 10 years to life. They wrote up several false reports on me stating I assaulted staff and the Hanford County DA picked up all the cases.

They are retaliating and punishing everybody. And get this: the prisoners are running scared. They stopped filing complaints against the police, saying: "I don't want IGI fucking with me." Man! It hurts bad to see my own comrades laying down and giving up.

I have been really pushing hard to shut down the Security Housing Units. I have been telling everybody to stop taking a cellmate. Can you imagine the panic that will come over head officials if everybody with a cellmate said no, I'm not taking a cellie. Imagine that. Then ask yourselves should we push for another hunger strike and hurt our health and become too weak to fight these pigs? Or should we push for a big movement to stop all comrades from taking a cellmate? I'll give these pigs 30 days and they will shit on themselves and give up whatever we demand.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We know that the California prisons have been retaliating against prisoners who participated in the recent hunger strikes, and this comrade raises a good point in pushing forward the discussion about best tactics for next steps.

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[Organizing] [Heman Stark YCF] [California] [ULK Issue 25]
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Learning from History of Struggles at YTS Chino

I've been reading through the past few newsletters that you sent. First I want to thank you for sharing with me. I find it interesting and enjoy hearing about the rebellions against the system. It's fucked up to hear what fellow prisoners have to deal with, but from experience I know a time comes when we must say enough is enough. So I would like to share an experience with you that I had while doing time in California Youth Authority.

In August of 1996 a counselor was killed in YTS (Youth Training School) in Chino, California. She just disappeared one day. Three days later her body was found in the Chino dumping grounds. This has repercussions throughout the whole youth authority, statewide. But it really hit hard right here in YTS. They locked the whole institution down and things didn't completely go back to normal operations for about a year. We were slammed down 24 hours a day. The only thing we came out of our cells for was a racially segregated shower for 3 minutes a day. That's it! The only thing sold on canteen was Ajax to clean our cells. They took away weights, cigarettes, magazine subscriptions, visits, phone calls, school and trade classes, packages, canteen, everything. If you had a TV, radio or shoes you were allowed to keep them, but they were no longer being sold on canteen. Cells got ransacked and a lot of electronics went straight into the trash.

Now, understand that YTS is ages 18-25. No minors are there. This place is known as gladiator school. It's the end of the road before going into CDC (California Department of Corrections). The majority of the vatos go there from the younger YAs for punishment. And the majority of these youngsters are maxed out till they're 25. So that's a 7 year stretch on top of what they've already done. There's nothing that could stop them from going home besides new charges, and a trip upstate. So most already don't give a fuck, and then the system itself took away everything that kept us calm. And they had no intentions of giving anything back. So fuck it, we kicked it off. And kept kicking it off. It was mostly racial riots, fighting amongst each other, but there were times the pigs would get smashed out, jaws broken, etc.

That's just the way it was, although I now see all our energy should've been focused against the system itself. But what we did worked to our advantage. Through years of struggles and fighting the puercos could not control us. Outside administration thought the superintendent didn't have what it takes, so they replaced him. The second superintendent wasn't trying to hear any of our demands or compromise either. So we kept doing what we did and eventually he got replaced too. The third superintendent since the killing was a little more understanding and wanted to keep his job. So in an attempt to calm us down he reformed the institution to our benefit.

They started selling TVs, radios and shoes again. We got magazine subscriptions, day long visits, necklaces, and even packages (which were only twice a year to start with, but it was a start). There were a few things we didn't get back (weights, cigarettes, playboy, tape players, etc.), and all the juvenile lifers got shot to the big joints.

Furthermore, the amount of time we were slammed down improved. YTS had a policy of locking down the whole institution for two or three months at a time for basically anything more major than a 1 on 1 fight (which is almost every incident). So while cats are sitting in their cells pissed off, they figure if they're gonna be slammed down for something they didn't do they might as well get involved and make it worth it. So, just about every incident that happened turned into a riot. The superintendent then changed the policy and only slammed down the unit involved. It still wasn't good enough, because usually not everyone on the unit is involved. Then he changed it so only the races involved are slammed down. Still not good enough. Well, after years of going through this we finally got it to where they only slammed down the people involved and only for three days of racially segregated showers. We then all came out together for day room program for 30 days. After that we were allowed to go back to school, trade, and yard. Not too bad. But it wasn't an easy path. When I got released in 2001 it was still off the hook. There was shit happening just about everyday - one unit after the next - and we were still getting shit back from the system.

So there we were, an institution that went from having it all, to having nothing overnight. It wasn't the whole prisoner population that killed that counselor, only one person was accused of it. But they retaliated on us as a whole group. So we reacted in a way that seemed justified to us. And it worked. Never once did we try any peaceful protest (food strikes, canteen strikes, phone strikes, etc.) There was no such thing in our eyes. I'm not against a peaceful resolution when dealing with the system, but as Mao said, it's up to us to analyze our own conditions of oppression and react accordingly. The institution pushed us in a corner with no reasonable way out.

I know there's many oppressed prisoners nationwide who feel hopeless, who feel there's no way things can get better. They feel lost and in the dark. Therefore, there comes a time when we must say enough is enough and make the necessary sacrifices to better our own conditions on the necessary level, peaceful or otherwise. It's better to try and fail than to have never tried at all. May honor, hope and victory be with those in the struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is true that there are times when fighting repression with peaceful protests will lead to nothing more than ongoing repression. This is why revolutionaries know that the only way to achieve ultimate victory over the imperialists is through armed struggle; they will not give up their power without a fight. Even within the criminal injustice system this is true. However, engaging in armed struggle prematurely will only lead to greater oppression and deaths for the oppressed. This is what revolutionaries call focoism: revolutionary violence without the proper support and mass base and often without the correct ideological leadership.

This story about Chino appears to counter our position that we need to build the vanguard leadership and mass base of support before engaging in armed struggle. The prisoners there successfully won back many privileges that had been taken away by rioting and fighting each other. But we have to look at what they really won. As this writer notes, the privileges taken away were things that used to keep the population calm: TV, radio, canteen, etc. These are pacifying elements, not threats to the criminal injustice system.

Certainly lockdown 24 hours a day is inhumane, and we want our comrades to have access to reading material and visits and phone calls. All these things are essential to raising political consciousness and re-integrating back into society. But did the riots that forced the prisons to throw prisoners a few bones actually gain anything for the fight against the criminal injustice system? Prisoners learned that fighting each other is rewarded. They didn't learn how to fight the pigs. They didn't gain any education about the actual cause of their oppression or how to get free. And as we look at the contradictions between prisoners we also must ask what role privileges play in pacifying sectors of the imprisoned lumpen and turning them against those that rebel. This is a question United Struggle from Within is contemplating as we discuss which is the principal contradiction facing the prison movement.

The victory of a few calming privileges at YTS is an example of how little can be accomplished with focoist violence, and how an ultra-left focus on "action" is often just the other side of rightist reformism. Next time the prison takes away privileges there will be no better organization, no greater understanding and no progress towards real change. As a counter example, in Pelican Bay and elsewhere, the recent hunger strike led prisoners to study politics and organizing, and to think more systemically about how to fight the criminal injustice system and what we really want to win. This may not have resulted in many (if any) privileges won for prisoners, but the growing education and unity is a much bigger victory.

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[Censorship] [Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Censorship and Criminal Neglect in San Diego

In Richard J. Donovan State Prison in San Diego Ad-Seg this place is off the hook with their green wall mentality and tactics. For starters, today I got my mail and it's your magazine dated August 9, 2011. So these people are playing with our mail. It took seven months to get my mail from you. If that ain't censoring our mail then I don't know what is. There are other items of mail I've been waiting on that I still have not received. I've written ISU (Institution Services Unit) and the mailroom to find out whats going on with my mail, they have not bothered to respond.

When I was on the line here at RJDSP I worked as a porter in the EOP (Enhanced Outpatient Program) building. I used to find 10 to 20 letters a day in the trashcan. I got to the point of just passing out mail to these guys myself, as I found it in the trash. The pigs keep whatever they want here, mags, photos out of letters, stamps, money orders, visiting apps, etc.

Mail is just the tip of the BS going on. I've eye witnessed back-to-back beatings by CDCs finest. These poor guys here have tried time and again to get outside help, all these people do is screen our mail and hold back what they don't want getting out.

The food is bland and there is no salt in our food. The amount is so small in portion that a child could barely live off it. The air conditioning is on full blast to keep us frozen in the middle of winter. The conditions are so bad - it's so dirty in here and they never give us cleaning supplies.

My neighbor got an infection on his toe, and they wouldn't treat him for it. It got so bad they had to cut it off. They got us sleeping on mattresses that are stained with piss. Or in some cases no mattress. But if we make a big deal by asking for help, we'll get the shit beat out of us, and stripped down to nothing. I've been in Ad-Seg for a minute now and still haven't got my property. But I refuse to stop the fight no matter where they put me. This is why I write, to encourage others to never let these people still your spirit.

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[Political Repression] [Gang Validation] [California Institution for Men] [California]
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CA Continues to Torture Blacks for Reading

Greetings Comrades. I'm reporting from the Correctional Institution for Men in Chino. The fascist pig COs (correctional officers) are trying to validate a fellow comrade because of books he had in his possession. First they attempted to get him to snitch on who gave him the books. Now Investigative Services Unit (ISU) is holding him in isolation "pending an investigation" accusing him of being a member of the Black Guerilla Family. All behind books he was reading! The books he had were on the Black Panther Party, anarchism, Che Guevara, the Symbionese Liberation Army, etc.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Recent struggles in California have focused on the so-called "gang validation" process used to put people in torture cells for years and even decades. This is just another example that the process is a thinly veiled tool of political repression. While the carrot offered to Blacks in the United $tates has gotten quite tasty for our generation, the state continues to target Blacks who are seeking political education or doing political organizing.

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[Censorship] [West Valley Detention Center] [California]
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MIM Notes Package Triggers Threat Assessment

This missive will be brief but informative on the level of state repression being executed by the authorities down here in West Valley Detention Center. It seems that my interest in researching history by receiving your MIM Notes newsletter has rubbed the police the wrong way. On February 16, 2012 I got a visit from a federal agent who wanted to know why I was receiving such information. The agent reveled to me that they were contacted because a package had MIM material inside of it.

Although the package was given to me it was quite unusual in the manner it was presented. Being that it wasn't classified as legal mail, I was called out of my cell and instructed to bring my ID. An officer who did not work in my unit handed over the package after scrutinizing my I.D. The package was open and was obviously inspected. Now none of this I would consider misconduct on their behalf, but suspicious in how they did not give the package to me in the regular way they pass out mail, which is through the unit officers who pass out all books, mags, and first class mail after 8pm count.

The only logical conclusion that I can reach on this matter is that they were making a threat assessment of me which would be considered absurd for receiving a publication that reports on global events. But when looking past the surface of this event, it is quite obvious that our so-called rights to the press and "individual sovereignty" are denied when we are discovering the skeletons in this nation's closet. On that note I will end this missive with a message to the masses: learn the facts of everything, don't let the authorities intimidate you.

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[Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 25]
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Organizing to Target Prisons Financially

I extend my greetings to you all and want to make a few observations based upon questions posed by Loco1 in ULK 23. It is quite true that we obtained the attention of prisoncrats who have assumed that the continual promotion of division of lumpen organizations will keep us at each other throats. Prisoncrats have adapted and pursued new oppressive tactics as a result of the intensive scrutiny that the shot across the bow of battleship CDCR caused.

To retreat is not an option, as to do such only further emboldens prisoncrats to erode civil and human rights of California prisoners, actions which will be mimicked across the nation. We must use our collective brains to adapt new tactics. In war many tactics are used. You may be able to sneak up on an enemy once or twice but in due course the opposition will counter with an ambush. So as master Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War, "Those who win every battle are not really skillful. Those who render others' armies helpless without fighting are the best of all!" And that's what was done, embarrassing the prisoncrats who were ill prepared to deal with it. It's only a battle in a broader war.

I am nobody's leader or follower. My duties are to help teach independent thought, which will ensure that an individual can and will anticipate the likely reaction of prisoncrats and minimize the effect. Everyone has seen the so-called increase of privileges, some of which are still very elusive, since they mandate a year without a disciplinary, which will never be possible for a true revolutionary or resister to achieve. These privileges also encourage prisoners to lean on their families and friends to help finance their imprisonment and enrich prison profiteers who feed on the golden state's teat.

The original hunger strike strategy clearly impacted prisoncrats. It should provide a plethora of new tactical ideas. Consider that besides the so-called security concerns over prisoners possessing cell phones, the reality is that cell phones cut into prisoncrats' fiscal resources. The prison phone provider gives the CDCR a concession fee. This is why prisoners' phone privileges, canteen, packages and anything that the CDCR receives a concession fee from, are generally not taken. The income from canteen purchases pay the wages of state SEIU employees who are canteen managers II, I, supervisors and workers in addition to profits being diverted from prisoner welfare to custody welfare activities.

We should consider alternative strategies that hit them where it hurts the most: in their pocketbook. Just like one can go without eating for a week or three, people should be able to go without canteen for 3 to 6 months and empty trust accounts, which will result in more expense to the CDCR. There are numerous ways that the CDCR sticks it to prisoners' families and friends. So if, as Loco1 suggests, it is correct to re-evaluate our actions, it is my opinion that the new strategy should be a fiscal one.

I address this to all prisoners irrespective of your status, as status is given by prisoncrats. Be you general population or sensitive needs, if you choose to allow prisoncrats to manipulate and control you with privileges, you are by proxy their collaborator. As such you cause as much of the problem, rather than a solution.

I also want to point out that tactically and strategically it is never wise to call out numerous lumpen organizations as BORO/Loco1 did. Such will likely have a negative impact, since those named will have to deal with substantively more scrutiny. So while others may think that ULK is a forum to send shout outs, to me the objective is to try to encourage education and the capacity to think independently. The CDCR benefits from dumbed-down prisoners, particularly those who do not have their priorities in order.

Prisoncrats look to pacify all prisoners, particularly the segment that is weakest. So it is on us to try to encourage self-esteem, self-worth, self-sacrifice and self-deprivation, all of which builds character and the ability to endure the picklesuits' plots and conspiracies. The preparation that is most important to any struggle is the will to personally do something to encourage change. I believe that ideas and strategies of the opposition should be examined, and then we can decide on a course of action and systematically pass on the purpose and reasoning, not as leaders to followers but as men and women in concerted struggle.

The fact that there is no real accountability of prisoncrats and their subordinates has again led to the introduction of Assembly Bill 1270 on January 26, 2012 by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano to try to restore media access to prisoners. Taking away media access gave prisoncrats control over what's spoon fed to the public. Independent media access is what made it possible for the pacification privileges introduced in the 60s and 70s, since there was a lot more transparency and prisoncrats were exposed to more accountability. But since the imposition of media restrictions on pre-arranged in-person interviews with prisoners, what takes place in prison tends to be out-of-sight/out-of-mind.

I believe in a United Front, but we must recognize that the composition of that front is varied. I prefer that we always seek to encourage education which brings clarity and understanding to less knowledgeable comrades. I will say, however that ignorance and stupidity is infectious. I guess I could be equated with a silverback, only I do not take to leading. But I am not adverse to the development of consciousness so maybe we should send requests to the education department of all CDCR prisons asking for "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" that Wiawimawo provided us with a review of in August 2011, as it might help open up some minds to revolutionary concepts.

Yes I'm all for a true United Front, where we all (Black, Brown, White, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue or plaid) can stand together to regain our civil and human rights, not confusing privileges with rights. We can positively seek to cease all the senseless grudges that plague the ethnic divisions and LOs. I do not believe in violence just for amusement. My battle is not with prisoners, it's with prisoncrats. Any prisoner who sees me as a threat, I deem them an agent of the state. "Think and not hate" is what your commentator in struggle relates.


MIM(Prisons) responds: First we want to agree with the criticism of calling out LO members by name which we already responded to elsewhere. But we do not agree with this comrade's abdication of leadership. The movement has a strong need for leaders and pretending that all people are equal in this way gives power over to the imperialists who have no problem seizing leadership. Those who are more advanced, have more education, or more will to struggle, must take up leadership positions in educating and organizing others. We can't afford to have these people step back in the name of equality as that void will be filled by reactionary leaders. The antidote to misleaders is better, more educated leaders as well as a better more educated mass that can judge, choose and reject would-be leaders. Ultimately we are working towards a society, communism, where all people are equal and all can lead, but we must deal with the current reality and uneven development of forces and individuals. USW is an organization for leaders. A vanguard party is the leader of the revolution. And the oppressed people desperately need more leaders.

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