Battling Censorship in NC Prisons
As the comrade whom recently filed an civil case against NCDPS stated “there are no rights, only power struggles.” Currently a prisoner entrapped in the cages of North Carolina, I testify his comment as truth. Censorship within NC prisons has been expanded from safety examination to harassing and illegal.
Censorship has become as a tool to cover up the corruption, tyranny, and oppression. Not only outgoing and incoming mail, but also phone calls. When an incident of corruption occurs, these facilities will not allow prisoners to utilize commissionary to purchase stamps, envelopes, or paper. Following the stoppage of canteens, warehouse officers will cease the issuance of paper and envelopes for those of us who are indigent.
The continuous banning of ULK, and similar publications is a problem, but not our only problem. Those of us who are experiencing these conditions, we have to create a vanguard. And the comrades in Texas, California, and the like, we must create a voice. Where is the unity? Where is the solidarity. We have to construct a united front. It doesn’t only occur in North Carolina. Maltreatment of prisoners occurs all across Amerika. We must step up to cease these problems. Our sons, daughters, the future generations, we must fight so they aren’t subjected to these circumstances.
Censorship in North Carolina has risen to the point where it’s an impossibility for my loved ones to receive a letter. Censorship in North Carolina has elevated to the plane where legal documents are not reaching their intended destinations. NCPDS has become so oppressive to where there isn’t a law library in any correctional facility throughout the state.
NCPDS attempts to counter-attack, more appropriately worded as prevent, a rise of consciousness. The preventative measures began with stripping us of the tools which was used to enslave us: politics, economics, and jurisprudence. As the historic figure Fredrick Douglass wrote to Gerril Smith, the abolitionist, in his letter entitled "No Progress Without Struggle":
"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to the august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
Mr. Fredrick Douglass continues:
"Those who profess freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are he who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand."
Is the prison industrial complex not the contemporary plantations? Are those of us who are locked away in the penal systems of Amerika, denounced, then deprived of their rights? Dr. John S. Rock, an accomplished physician and lawyer, who was the first New-Afrikan attorney admitted to the bar of the United $tates Supreme Court said, "The greatest battles which they have fought have been upon paper."
We are stripped of our rights according to their principles, laws, and constitution. North Carolina this is the time to support each other, to unite and form organizations, on the inside and outside to voice against the oppression. You are not alone. For all of those whom are oppressed, we have one common objective: to end it! Comrades, please aid your assistance by advice.
The first step is organizing!
One for all, all for one!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We previously reported in ULK 52 on a former prisoner's lawsuit against North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) for censoring Under Lock & Key. Since that article we have not seen any updates on this front.
In the meantime, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services Nicole E. Sullivan recently responded to our appeal of the censorship of ULK 51. In eir response, Director Sullivan acknowledges that ULK has a policy against violence and insurrection in our newsletter, ey still says peaceful protest when no other administrative avenue has provided any relief is a threat to safety and order. The real threat to safety and order is the deplorable conditions of confinement that prisoners in North Carolina and across the country are forced to live in. It seems Director Sullivan sees prisoners as inanimate objects rather than people.
As ridiculous as this response is, we need a lawsuit to get NCDPS to budge on its censorship of ULK in the short-term. Getting ULK into the hands of prisoners is one major way we work toward addressing the long-term problems of oppression that NCDPS is able to operate under.
Also as part of our long-term strategy, we need to go beyond Frederick Douglass and the "prison industrial complex" analysis. While Douglass did provide inspiration for many, when it was time to decide between New Afrikan self-determination and integration with Amerikkka, Douglass affirmed eir loyalty to empire and was even appointed U.S. Marshall of the District of Columbia. This was at a time when others, including Harriet Tubman, were organizing separatist movements and independent institutions for New Afrikans, post-Civil War.(1)
We oppose the line that prisons are set up for profit (the analysis of the "prison industrial complex") because not only is it simply not true that the prison boom is motivated by profit from prisoner labor, it also glosses over the primary purpose of prisons: to control oppressed populations.(2) When we have our historical analysis ironed out, we will be better able to take on our oppressors and win!
Stop Censorship by North Carolina Department of Public Safety