April 2021 - The San Quentin (SQ) administration has been running two modified programs on Death Row under the guise of social distancing since the pandemic began. Both look so good on paper, but how they look on paper and how they really work are the only things six feet apart and the result was putting many six feet under.
Death Row’s seven group yards were divided into 14 yards back in the first quarter of 2020. That was accomplished by sending half of East Block (EB) out one day, then the other half the next day with Death Row prisoners warehoused in Donner Section (DS). Which side of EB DS went out with switched at least three times – before, during and after spikes of COVID-19 on Death Row and throughout the prison. In addition to the switches thrown on the tracks of this crazy train, at no time was there a maximum allowed number of prisoners set for each of the yards. Requests to set a maximum number per yard and prepare daily lists by going cell to cell through both sides of EB and the DS tiers (as is done for ‘walk-alone’ due to the limited number of cages) were ignored all the way to Sacramento. Does CDCR prefer the truth be released at half capacity perhaps? Appeal#SQ-A-20-01123 remains unanswered since it was sent for final review on 14 July 2020.
No emphasis on social distancing regarding the shower program in DS exists anywhere but on paper as well. The Daily Program Status Report (PSR) fabricated 14 July 2020 explains only four showers can be used at a time. It conveniently omits the fact there are only four showers total. These consist of steel mesh cages – each sharing a mesh wall with the other. Three are approximately 3 1/2’ x 3 1/2’. The fourth is designed to accommodate a wheelchair. Nobody using these showers can be 6’ away from the prisoner in the adjoining cage. Perhaps CDCR hopes to bring in waterboarding. That would certainly be the effect if you wear a mask in the shower.
Prisoners can refuse to go to yard unless there’s a unit search. Prisoners can even refuse to shower, opting for an in-cell ‘bird bath.’ However, the San Quentin administration is now moving all Death Row prisoners from DS to EB. So, the four shower cage problem disappears as if in a mist of droplets, because the EB showers only accommodate one prisoner at a time.
It ‘seems’ all the moves are deemed safe and if that is indeed true, there is still no purpose for a 14 yard program except to keep something looking good on paper. It’s not working good at all if you read about it on this paper though. That’s because this explains how CDCR managed to execute prisoners even during a moratorium.
There is zero question that Kansas is using prisoners for cheap labor and profiting tremendously from multi-year sentencing of first-time drug offenders like myself.
I “earn” sixty cents per day to perform a skilled labor sewing position full time. If I refuse to work I will receive a disciplinary work report resulting in my custody security level to rise.
There is a 30-person crew that works at the Kansas State Fairgrounds year round. These prisoners also receive 60 cents per day. The fairground complex could not operate without prison labor.
These jobs are not maintaining KDOC prisons. They are part of the state prison economy, for the profit of the state.
Also, this prison takes 50% of the earnings of all private industry job income prisoners earn. At the private industry jobs, prisoners make minimum wage ($7.25/hour). Incarcerating probation-eligible offenders to minimum-custody facilities to work is proof that in Kansas, exploiting prison labor is a motivating force for mass incarceration.
In almost every other state I would not have been sentenced to prison for possession of medical cannabis.
I understand the point of the article was to look at medium and long-term goals. As a non-violent, non-victim, first time drug offender I believe cannabis decriminalization is a goal worth pursuing. Thousands of people in Kansas have been incarcerated by a corrupt, prison labor motivated criminal justice system.
Is the author agreeing that non-violent, non-victim, first-time cannabis offenders should be working for 60 cents a day to assist the state economy and provide cheap labor for giant factory farms in Kansas? When I see corrupt judges play in to this state economy, there are no myths in my first-hand facts. If I am misinterpreting Wiawimawo’s writing, please clarify what the author intended.
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: First, thanks for the details on how prison labor works where you are in Kansas. We regularly publish such reports on our website and use them to keep tabs on the realities of prison labor over time. You are our on the ground reporters for everything going on in U.$. koncentration kamps.
One thing you don’t specify is who you are making clothing for at your job. That is an important factor. Usually people are working on clothing and sheets and now face masks for other prisoners to use. That would be work for the prison system, not for profit. Similarly, running the fairgrounds is for the state. These are parallel to the examples of fire fighters given in my original article.
None of these jobs are making profits for anyone, which you seem to have confused. Multiple times you refer to Kansas as profiting from prisoners. States do not make profits. They have revenue and expenses, and they can run over budget if they want with expenses being greater than revenue by issuing bonds. Now the bourgeois definition of profit is netting more money coming in then you put out in expenditures. But even bourgeois economists do not use this terminology in regards to states. As Marxists, we define exploitation as paying workers less than the value that they produce and then selling the product (or service) to realize the full value. This is the source of wealth accumulation in capitalism.
Now to the prisoner sewing clothes for 60 cents a day, it matters little whether those clothes are to be used for state-issued use or sold in a store. So i can understand where you’re coming from. But if we want to explain how the prison system works in this country this becomes an important distinction. It is not profits for big businesses to accumulate capital that drives the system. It is a combination of financial self-interest of the people who work in these institutions, people who some would have us see as the oppressed proletariat themselves, and the broader interests of the oppressor nation to control the oppressed nations in this country. Through this control of the oppressed nations by Amerikans through criminalization and imprisonment, they can further gentrify the places oppressed nations reside and create further economic control for themselves. This is the heart of our analysis. And it is why we have a very different orientation than the petty bourgeoisie who is opposed to private prisons for profit and favor drug decriminalization as discussed in my original article.
“Is the author agreeing that non-violent, non-victim, first-time cannabis offenders should be working for 60 cents a day to assist the state economy and provide cheap labor for giant factory farms in Kansas?”
No, i do not argue that. We argue for more change, not less. We are not reformists, and we don’t think drug decriminalization in the United $tates will eliminate national oppression nor drug addiction. If done well, it could reduce these problems, and the specific expression of drug problems such as marijuana consumption. Therefore the reform is progressive, but it does not solve the problem of national oppression and the criminal drug economy. We have much better solutions for national oppression and drug addiction, and they certainly don’t include imprisoning people for victimless behavior. They do include eliminating profit motives in all aspects of our lives. In the meantime, we support an international minimum wage that would apply to prisoners.
A California Prisoner: The Covid and imperialism article in ULK 72 sparked my interest because I am already vaccinated and I had to ask myself why I, a prisoner, was vaccinated before tax payers? The answer was pretty simple logic. Prison is huge profit for California and the cash cow has been closed for Covid crisis, the sooner California can reopen the prisons, they can continue to rake in the profits they make from our suffering.
Wiawimawo responds: There was a significant effort in California by lawyers and activists to get prisoners to the top of the vaccination list. And this is at least part of the explanation as to why you got vaccinated early. It made sense from a public health standpoint, but this did not happen across the country because many Amerikans don’t care about prisoners’ lives.
It is not clear why you argue that profits dried up in prisons during the shelter-in-place, so i would need more information on that to respond. But as i explain above, states don’t profit from prisons. Prisons are a huge financial expense and do not create any economic value. Prison labor is one way to slightly reduce some of the expenses in running these prisons.(1)
All that said, i want to address this comrade’s talk about the “tax payers.” The vaccination campaign across the United $tates is being paid by the Federal government. The government has now passed a series of bills in the trillions of dollars to address the fallout from the pandemic. This is not “tax payer money.” They are just printing money, or creating money out of thin air to fund these programs. Since the dollar is the global currency, they can do this with some confidence that other countries and investors will buy up the bonds to cover the expense. It’s all funny money that we benefit from here in the United $tates, even those in prison benefit at times, thanks to our position as the premier imperialist power.
This is in stark contrast to countries like India and Brazil that are now being hit hard by the pandemic and the people are being offered little relief. One reason is that these countries can’t just print $1 trillion worth of their currency without causing massive inflation and damaging the conditions of the people more.
To the extent that it is “tax payers” who are helping to balance the budget deficit in the United $tates, we must also be clear where that money is coming from – the Third World proletariat. The above is just one demonstration of how value can flow from the periphery to the imperialist countries. This is reflected in the incomes of all U.$. citizens, who must give some of those super-profits to the state to keep the imperialist system running.
So let us not shed a tear for the poor “tax payer” in this country because California actually made some efforts to vaccinate people in a way that made sense in terms of promoting public health. There is no shortage of vaccines in the United $tates. In fact, we have far more than we need, while other countries have not even begun vaccinating their populations yet. If we were really working in the interests of public health, we would have a more equitable distribution of vaccines across the globe. We’d be prioritizing hotspots, which the United $tates is. And we’d be sharing the technology needed to make vaccines freely, releasing the intellectual property that is holding back progress in the fight against COVID-19. Failure to do so means that the virus will continue to evolve and likely continue to be a problem.
A New York prisoner: In response to ULK 72 (2021) article “Help Fund MIM(Prisons), Donate Now!”, I would like to offer a suggestion outside of charity from donations which seems to be a necessary form of income for the production, maintenance & shipment of ULK’s. What if MIM took some of its donations and invested them in the stock market? I know that seems pro-capitalist, but as the old adage goes you gotta fight “fire with fire.” Making a few short-term trades could possibly boost revenue for expenses (solely), and make donations a welcomed part of production but not so necessary. This would keep MIM’s line of no foreseeable future in capitalism by not becoming long-term investors in the stock market, but instead looking for quick returns in order to fund revolutionary work (i.e. short selling, which is basically betting against the U.S. market, which is still in some ways inherently communist behavior). I am enclosing an articled dated 11 January 2021, “Jay-Z Fund to Help Minority-owned Cannabis Businesses.” What do you think about this venture? I don’t really believe lumpen have the luxury of investing in non-essential production/consumption as cannabis right now, when they don’t even have land to cultivate on. But financial freedom is nonetheless a form of independence… so keep on keeping on Jay-Z!
Wiawimawo responds: First, we agree with using the oppressors’ tools against them, and have no moral qualms about the stock market. Proletarian morality means we do what will most benefit the liberation of the exploited and oppressed. Whether it is a wise investment is another question. Conventional wisdom is that it is a good long-term bet, but unpredictable in the short-term. As for shorting, well hedge fund Melvin Capital Management lost 53% in January in its infamous shorting of Gamestop.(2) They lost about $6 billion on that bet. That’s what the stock market is, gambling.
Now cannabis businesses, that might be a more sound investment. As the article points out, and as i discussed in my article on Tulsi Gabbard mentioned above, the legalization of weed has been a bonanza for white petty bourgeois interests trying to get small businesses up and running before the large corporations dominate the market. New Afrikans are under-represented in business ownership overall at just 10%, but in the states listed that number was 3-6% for cannabis businesses.(3) Jay-Z, and New York State are correctly recognizing this gap and trying to do something to not let it happen in New York.
What do we think about this? More equal opportunity for the petty bourgeoisie just reinforces imperialism. When it was illegal, oppressed people selling weed were targeted by the state and potential allies to the anti-imperialist movement. People running successful weed businesses aren’t likely to be our allies, regardless of their skin color.
The weed game is in a major transition. It is still in a semi-legal state, where the Feds could crack down on you (and they have). Getting access to loans and bank accounts can be difficult as a result. One group that is proving successful as early pioneers in the trade are former law enforcement. They are less likely to be targeted by the state than a former felon, and they have clout to deal with the pressures from extortion rackets and the lumpen organizations they are competing with. Therefore as revolutionaries, the weed business might be risky.
You suggest that we need to invest in stocks to free us from our reliance on donations. On the contrary, we are trying to become more reliant on donations so that our cadre don’t have to worry so much about funding everything ourselves, which we do by working or investing or whatever. Maybe some of us are investing in the stock market to fund this work, but that is not a reliable source of income. We want to be going strong when the market collapses again. And that is why we want to be reliant on the financial support of the masses. Only by relying on the people is our future secure.
As i said above, legalization of weed will not eliminate national oppression in the forms of cop killings and disproportionate imprisonment rates. It will make pacifying substances more readily available to the masses. And for better or for worse it will undercut the underground economy in favor of public tax revenue. And that is what this is about of course, it is providing tax revenue to maintain government funding at the local and state levels.
Until the import of weed is legalized by the feds, this shift of production to the United $tates will be undercutting a source of profits in the drug trade – the Third World farmer. Historically the farmers who grow and process weed are the ones being exploited in Third World countries. As production shifts to the First World, wages will have to increase to exploiter-level wages, with the possible exception of using migrant labor from the Third World. This means the profits must come from other sectors in the Third World instead, to pay the farmers, marketers, sales people and accountants in the First World running the new weed economy, as well as the state taxes. If the exploited weed farmers are eliminated, then the profits must now be squeezed from the banana farmers or copper miners, and all the other exploited workers of the Third World. This puts more pressure on the already dangerously low international rate of profit.
Finally, we agree with your point about land. Without land there is no power. National liberation means liberating the territory of the oppressed. Owning land as individuals is not it. Oppressed nations must control land as independent nations, and be able to defend that land. This is a central task of the New Democratic movement.
The Nevada Department of Corrections, under Director Charles Daniels and his pet warden, Calvin Johnson, at High Desert State Prison, have, since their arrival, waged an all out war against Nevada’s prisoners. This includes illegal theft and misappropriation of prisoners’ money under the guise of Marsy’s law (money which is still unaccounted for), to the ban on prisoners’ access to visits, chapel, yard, law library, or tier, under the premise of safety concerns over COVID-19. Meanwhile prisoners are still required to work in unsafe and crowded warehouses, kitchens, etc. as if COVID-19 does not target workers.
These same criminals also committed the crime of biological warfare when they knowingly ordered prisoners to work while 15 of them had recently tested positive for COVID-19 but were left unaware of their status. This was used as a way to spread COVID-19 throughout the prison more quickly. This was, by definition, a criminal act!
And now, while prisoners are fighting to get access to visits, chapel, yard, law library, and tier (since the only time they are out of their cell is when working, or their 30 minutes to shower or use of the kiosk, or phone when permitted) these criminals have taken another action to attack prisoners’ rights.
Starting 1 February 2021, High Desert State Prison will implement O.P. 750 mail procedure as outlined in Warden’s Bulletin #21-07. This revised operational procedure is an unconstitutional attack against our right to communicate and be informed.
In effect this new operational procedure mandates the following.
All incoming mail must be in a 4" x 9.5" white envelope written in black or blue ink only. If the mail received is not written in black or blue ink on the envelope, the mail will be returned to sender.
All letters and correspondence within the envelope must be written in black or blue ink. Any other colors will be returned to sender.
Any mail or correspondence received that is scented with perfume and oils will be returned to sender.
Any letter received with drawings and markings that is not from the letter manufacturer will be returned to sender.
Any letter received that are stained or discolored will be returned to sender.
Greeting cards will not be accepted. All greeting cards received will be returned to sender.
Inmates will not receive the original copy of letters and envelopes being received with the exception of legal mail. All letters and envelopes received will be scanned and handed out to the appropriate inmate. Note: the legal mail procedure will remain the same.
If the inmate name is not properly spelled, the inmate identification number is not noted, the senders name/address is missing, the mail will be returned to sender.
If there is writing on the back of a photo sent through mail, the writing must be written in black or blue ink.
After all mail is scanned and distributed to the inmate population, the mail will be properly disposed of.
All magazines and newspapers received must come from an established approved publisher.
Pamphlets and anything copied off the internet will be rejected with the exception of pamphlets received through religious services.
This new operational procedure (O.P.) is the latest in a long line of attacks against prisoner rights and protections since Director Daniels and Warden Johnson have taken on their duties. This O.P. is unconstitutional and deserves challenge.
First, in order to restrict prisoners’ Constitutional rights, the state must show how the restriction is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest. We do not believe that they can. The fact that prisoners are not receiving the physical letters/envelopes themselves, any act or restriction that bars or bans letters for scent, markings, drawings, stains, etc. cannot be in furtherance of a legitimate concern. Thus, we believe a legitimate argument can be made that these restrictions are arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Second, both the sender and receiver of mail/publications must be notified that censorship occurred as well as the reason censorship occurred. They must also give each party a chance to challenge the censorship. This is a very clear due process issue.
Third, we believe that a reasonable argument against the disposal of mail without due process is that the mail itself is the prisoner’s property, thus protected by due process.
Fourth, denying all pamphlets and internet copies have already been ruled unconstitutional.
Fifth, restricting all magazines and newspapers to established approved publishers poses a serious threat as it will ultimately be used to ban inmates access to materials and publications that the prison does not wish to enter the facility, such as Turning the Tide, Revolution, The Abolitionist, Black and Pink, Prison Legal News, Under Lock and Key, and other such publications. While “publisher only” restrictions have been upheld, rules which outright ban or deny publications have been ruled unconstitutional.
We are fighting this new attack, as we are fighting others. We are calling on all prisoners within the NDOC to fight for their families and friends, abolitionists, prisoner rights groups, and others, to stand up for NDOC prisoners and call for the resignation or firing of Director Charles Daniels and Warden Calvin Johnson.
Prisoners must utilize the grievance process, friends and families, or anyone else who wishes to help must call or write Governor Steve Sisolak or write Director Daniels - 5500 Snyder Rd. Carson City, NV 89702, and or Warden Johnson P.O. Box 1050 Indian Springs, NV 89070.
All Power to the People.
Let your voices be heard.
MS1 and MS26 - Revolutionary Front - NV
Caselaw: Turner v. Safley 482 U.S. 78.89. 107 S.Ct. 2254(1987) Lindell v. Frank 377 F.3d 655 659-60 (7th Cir 2004) Allen v. Coughlin 64 F.3d 77. 80 (2d Cir 1995) Williams v. Brimeyer 116 F.3d 351 (8th cir 1997) Procunier v. Martinez 416 U.S.396. 94 S.Ct 1800 Krug v. Lutz 329 F.3d 692.696-97. (9th cir 2003) Thornburgh v. Abbott 490 U.S. 401, 414-19 (1989) Juchlovich vs Simmons 392 F.3d 420 (10th Cir 2004) Montcalm Publ’g Corp. v. Beck, 80 F.3d 105, 109-110 (4th Cir 1996) Murphy v. Missourri Dep’t of Corr. 372 F.3d 979, 986 (8th Cir 2004) Clement v. California Dep’t of Corrections 364 F.3d 1148 (9th Cir 2004) Prison Legal News v. Lehman 397 F.3d 692. 699-700 (9th Cir 2005) Green v. Ferrell 801 F.2d 765, 772 (5th Cir 1986) Mann v. Smith 796 F.2d 79 82-83 (5th Cir 1986) Van Cleave v. U.S. 854 F.2d 82, 84 (5th cir 1988)
[MIM(Prisons) are not lawyers. The legal information provided by jailhouse lawyers in ULK is verified to the best of our ability. This particular issue seems like a winnable battle based on the information provided, but winning will take more effort by comrades in Texas.]
Prisoners in Texas are having the money from their stimulus checks taken by the state to pay fees and restitutions. Section 272(d)(2) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides that the second round of stimulus checks ‘shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and no applicable payment shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.’ This means that this round of stimulus checks may not be garnished to cover overdue debts by federal or state prisons.(1)
The stimulus checks have the same protections as the United States Veteran Affairs Administration whom sends millions of checks across the country to incarcerated former military service men and women whom only get 10% of such checks.
People held by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correction Institutions Division(TDCJ-CID) are having their stimulus checks stolen from their inmate trust funds accounts due to debts owed in the following categories, with the percent of each deposit they will deduct for each category:
current/prior TDCJ sentences (old or new, no amount specified)
I have written a complaint – a TDCJ Step One Offender Grievance Form No. 2021020837 that said the direction would come form the IRS as to whether those stimulus checks would be exempt from collection. The response was that this “action was out of the control of the unit, no action warranted.”
Thereafter, I appealed that response in another complaint Step Two Offender Grievance Form. I wrote the agents in charge at the IRS Department of the Treasury in Austin, TX but never received any response.
Scholl v. Mnuchin, et al. No.4:20-cv-05309-PJH ND Cal.; Appeal Docket No. 20-16915 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of prisoners getting stimulus checks while incarcerated. The checks in question should not be confused with the most recent $1400 checks under current Presdient Joseph Biden. It was the $1200 and $600 checks under President Donald Trump that were ruled on. These checks should be issued whether one is incarcerated or not because everybody is affected by this global crisis.
According to The Intercept the TDCJ was ironically the only state they spoke to that claimed it was not garnishing stimulus checks to its prisoners. Many, if not all, states have seemingly been breaking the law in doing so.(2)
There is a solution to safe-guard some form of protection to those stimulus checks or other funds.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The author provided names of some companies that used to provide banking services for prisoners. These companies all seem to have closed down. We leave this note here as a suggestion for possible solutions to storing your stimulus money if you can find a similar service that is trusted.
Also note, that according to caresactprisoncase.org, if you have not filed the tax forms for the stimulus checks by 15 April 2021 you may not be able to receive them. At the same time, the official word has gone back and forth on how all this works.
Some comrades have written in to say they are boycotting the stimulus checks. While we agree that these stimulus checks are a means of buying off the population in U.$. borders with wealth stolen from the Third World, as individuals we can still do good things with this money. Like how we view investing in the stock market, we do not take a moralistic view of this money and encourage comrades to get the funds they are legally due and put them to good use in projects serving the people and building independent institutions of the oppressed.
As social conditions on both sides of the walls cause dissent and unrest, formerly disengaged elements are beginning to ask profound questions regarding the contradictions of humyn society. As these queries continue, people continue to seek out answers. It is at this point where imperialist institutions begin to up the intensity of their censorship.
In recent months, retail giant Amazon censored a book entitled Capitalism on a Ventilator: The Impact of COVID-19 in China & the U.S. The company sent a notice on its censorship of the book and its up-to-date information on COVID-19 stating, “Amazon reserves the right to determine what content we offer according to our content guidelines. Your book does not comply with those guidelines. As a result, we are not offering your book for sale.” Amazon claims to refer people only to “official sources of advice” on the COVID-19 virus, yet there are an abundance of conspiracy theory books on COVID, calling it a hoax.
People and groups on the supposed “left” have initiated a campaign on Twitter consisting of sending an ever flowing stream of tweets at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The above mentioned book was written by a collection of people around the world and edited by both a U.S. and a Chinese activist. The book puts forth answers to questions being asked, most importantly: “why is China doing so much better containing the virus?” Evidence and available data show that China’s containment of the virus stems from its free medical care and its planned economic system being supposedly “science-based and co-operative.” This book does an injustice to socialism by insinuating that China, Laos, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea are socialist or are currently attempting to build socialism. That is not true. But it does stand to reason that those previously socialist nations, with their residue of socialism, are doing better because of said residue.
Behind enemy lines on occupied Turtle Island, captives of the imperialist state have been active in resistance during the recent rise in social unrest. One of the various tactics used by the agents of repression has been to pick up the intensity of institutional harassment and mail censorship. Mail of prisoners known or suspected to be visionary leaders and protagonists has recently begun to completely disappear without any notice of censorship or denial. This same nucleus of captives has seen the disappearance of stimulus checks, political writings advocating communism, revolutionary nationalism, and writings exposing recent pig physical abuse against defenseless captives.
These disappearances are clearly politically motivated, as only activists and revolutionaries are subject to these tactics. Even more far reaching, is the delay in mail, both outgoing and incoming. Comrades within this nucleus received a recent mailing from comrades at MIM (Prisons) one month after it was mailed.
In response, it is paramount that comrades and visionary captives take steps to maneuver around obstacles put in place to neutralize our righteous revolutionary cause(s). Security culture inside the walls and out must be practiced in the extreme.
My way might not be your way
But it’s okay
It’s alright, your way might not be my way
But it’s okay
Yea, I used to go to church
But the church didn’t quench my thirst
Mama taught me to put god first
But she never tried to block my search
I was curious, young but serious
Why's religion so mysterious
Why is black life so hard?
They say you’re not supposed to question God
Well is it okay to question the pastor?
Was it passed down from the slave-master?
It was only the truth I was after
But I never could get a straight answer
So I couldn’t relate to the sermon
Put down the bible, then I start learning
About life, didn’t know where the path would lead
But I had to get off my knees
I build with the Five Percenters
On the God within us, it’s no limits
Study the Metu Neter from Kemet
All saw, I remembered
Smoke herb with the Rastafarians
Grew my locks became a vegetarian
Following the Tao, building with the Baba Laos
Jewels being handed to a innocent child
My mind is a Buddhist temple, the truth is simple
I try to be principled
Walking with a warrior spirit
Ain’t nothing like learning from first hand life experience
I’m a realist, that’s all I deal with
Respect the truth, that’s all I build with
A child of the universe
My religion is life and it’s just as valid
I strive for balance
I gotta admit, I don’t know
In the end which way it’s gonna go
Why we sit by the project window,
Instead of living off the land with my kin folk?
Is there even a master plan?
An unseen hand? Is God a man?
Some say that’s sacrilegious
Same folks selling us lies about Christmas
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny
Just so the capitalists can make money
They say God will take care of it
But you a terrorist if you say the same thing in Arabic
It’s so hypocritical
It’s a miracle, listen to the message in the spirituals
Wade in the water, I’m following Ms. Tubman and Nat Turner
I'm praying for my freedom
and heading for the border
There’s been a substantial amount of reports on increases in depression and mental health disorders in the United $tates due to the shelter-in-place orders. In September, Time Magazine cited a study that showed severe depression being reported by 5.1% of people, up from 0.7% before the pandemic. The common explanation for this increase is social isolation combined with uncertainty and fear. Yet we have a prison system that regularly uses more extreme forms of social isolation (for example no internet, and being locked down in a literal cage), uncertainty and fear and people often look at the people in these prisons as being mentally ill. In reality, we are seeing a massive experiment on the larger society that shows this is how most people react in the conditions we face in prison. So what does it mean to be mentally ill, if this is socially induced?
It means this place will drive you crazy. If not by having hardly any contact with the opposite sex, then by isolation in a small cell (including being allowed 3 showers a week and an hour of recreation outside your cell 5 days a week). This is not normal and causes abnormal effects.
As you sit in your dwelling long enough you become a different person. You may find yourself venting or doing things you normally wouldn’t do, like burning down your cell or town.
A person may go a period of time without speaking. An elderly self-disciplined person may stay quiet, longing, but when one does break their silence they will talk for an hour or two until they burn themselves out. This will usually occur once a day in conditions where there’s only one person to talk to, as it is an HCON (high) Control Purpose.
Others began to talk to spirits and demons. In some cases, this is stimulated by them making up stuff in their mind, but there are also diagnosed paranoid prisoners who scream every time the light cuts on and they open their eyes. They also fight demons.
Solitary confinement can also lead to suicide, as an escape. There have been people committing reactionary suicide, like Biscuit from the movie Life, when he ran across the gun line because he “couldn’t go on living.” Psychologists don’t even bother to get to know who you are or talk you through your problems. They either give you some drugs to experiment with or decline to help you altogether. They are unconcerned that abused children are liable to grow up with an attachment disorder which doesn’t necessarily require medication but does require TLC, which a half-dozen psychiatrists can’t provide for the 1200 prisoners here.
On Segregation we receive even less communication with our families who can provide that loving sanctuary and keep us sane, because we have no phone and only one non-contact visit a month (we should be able to receive more TV visits).
Our families mail is sometimes held for a month after it arrives at the prison. This creates depression by worrying about our families and why they haven’t written over the holidays, to later find out devastating news from our loved ones. Talk about fear and uncertainty.
Some people become anti-social in solitary confinement for different reasons. One reason may be that after so much chaos and falling out with people around them in distress, they began to fall back from everyone.
Others find themselves through self-discipline and block out all other worldly distractions to work on their goals.
Some stressed adolescents in solitary confinement turn towards music as escape and begin to sing lyrics at the top of their lungs, others find refuge and entertainment in woofing. With all this racket going on in Restrictive Housing, it will drive a perfectly sane person insane and into an insomniac.
At Polk Correctional Institution in North Carolina on supermax (or HCON, High Risk Security) we don’t go outside because the officials will trash your cell, steal your property, fully restrain you with your hands behind your back connected to chains around your waist, and leave you in a recreation cage with giant brown recluse spiders, all to deter you from going outside again. Similar tactics are practices here at Central Prison.
The air in the building is insufficient for a human being to breathe at times and I’ve experienced shortness of breath. Compare that to wearing a mask that you can easily remove if you choose.
Comrades at that camp have developed bone marrow cancer, and there is probably cause to expect that this cancer may have been caused by the contaminated water they were working in. There was also strong gasoline type chemicals in the food that was being served at the time.
Right now at Central Prison our lunch consists of one bologna and cheese sandwich, 2 crackers and a 2oz (1/4 cup) of fruit with a juice packet every day. Dinner’s no better, and staff will fight and curse you if you speak out, because they have PTSD and other disorders themselves from war, childhood and other experiences. In this way, mental health patients (the staff) are responsibly for the well-being of other mental health patients.
There’s a mental health program called T.D.U. for patients on RHCP (Restrictive Housing Control Purposes) that they can send you to where you can slowly earn privileges like television, canteen, phone, being allowed to come out of your cell, but they never send any New Afrikans to the programs.
By contrast, RHCP pods have 16 cells each, and I have never seen more than 5 non-color people at a time in any pod. At HCON there are four blocks each with two tiers that hold 12 cells each. I have never witnessed more than 2 non-color people on any tier at a time during the 2 years I spent there.
If a non-colored comrade gets in a scuffle on the yard at Central Prison, they may receive a week or two in segregation, but a negro will receive 12-18 months on RHCP. Right now, we are receiving more time at Central Prison on RHCP than prisoners at Polk CI on HCON who spend only 10 months on HCON, but after they do their HCON at Polk CI, Polk may hold them for 6-12 months on RHCP.
Some people haven’t been guilty of any charges to be placed on RHCP or HCON, so Classification will lie and forge paperwork (no due process). They are con artists who don’t follow their own laws.
The ill-treatment we receive from the institution only creates more PTSD and brings unnecessary bad energy towards people. Workers should be focused on taking care of their families and not risking their lives to oppress others for no gain, but of their master’s amusement.
This room becomes our life. At Polk CI on HCON our cells have showers with food being delivered to their doors, and some guys never want to leave. Some people aren’t going home and to some poor men on the street, incarceration provides 3 meals a day. In the County jail I’ve seen people live in the hole and refuse to leave on numerous occasions.
Solitary confinement is the only place I’ve seen a man smear shit everywhere including his face, and eat shit sandwiches. Tell me this is normal and something you see people do. Thankfully they finally sent this particular prisoner to the mental hospital where he may get some help (and not get thrown in a cage for sleeping in some bushes on public property because he’s a poor New Afrikan man who was stripped of his assets).
Comrades, we are not ourselves behind the door, so I’ll leave you with the words a knowledgeable man left with me:
We mourn the hundreds of thousands of people who have died due to the incompentancy of the U.$. government from the federal to the local levels during this pandemic. Deaths in prisons from COVID-19 are at 2,173 as of 19 January 2021.(1) We know of one comrade in California who died who was working with a local USW cell.
In California, Governor Newsom put prisoners at the forefront of their vaccination roll out plan. However, things have not gone so smooth. All over the state vaccines are sitting unused, while they have opened up access to more than 10 times the number of people than they have vaccines for. According to the COVID Prison Project, which is tracking the vaccination of prisoners across the country, almost all of the 19,000 vaccinations administered through the California Department of Corrections and “rehabilitation” so far have gone to prison staff. Though California is one of a handful of states that have confirmed data of vaccinations having begun (currently at 65 prisoners).(1)
As infections and deaths reach record-breaking numbers every day, prisoners continue to be much more likely to be infected with SARS-COV-2 virus and they are more likely to die from COVID-19, despite the fact that the population in prisons is younger than those outside prisons. Old age is a very strong risk factor with COVID-19. This demonstrates that being in prison in the U.$. has a significant negative effect on your health status and the health care that you receive. It is very ironic. One would think that prisons are the most effective way to “stay inside” and get a population safe from a viral plague. The fact that prisons are rampant with this disease shows that “natural” disasters such as plagues, earthquakes, and floods are in fact bound with social relations just like all other things.
On top of that, prisoners are suffering disproportionately from the conditions of shelter-in-place, nominally to stop the spread of the virus. The rest of the country gets to decide for themselves whether they want to follow best practices and stay at home and where a mask. As one might have predicted, this model failed horribly and is leading to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. But for prison staff, lockdowns are a routine affair. In many rural, white communities, sheriffs have refused to enforce state ordinances to promote public safety by sheltering in place. In prisons, correctional officers are happy to lock oppressed people in their cells for months with little access to the outside. This hypocrisy exposes the pigs true intentions.
Being in prison is about controlling all your time; the labor time you could have spent building up wealth and the leisure time you could have spent building your relationships and community. As mentioned above, being locked in a prison in the United $tates has a strong negative affect on your health status. It seems that many who don’t die from COVID-19, will have long-term effects. This will affect people’s ability to be productive and enjoy leisure time after being released from prison. U.$. prisons have long-term affects on peoples’ class and gender outcomes throughout their lives, especially for the oppressed nations which have less resources and support to overcome these setbacks.
Meanwhile, there is some pleasure involved on behalf of staff instituting lockdowns to make their jobs easier and refusing to wear masks because they “don’t feel like it.” Pleasure that would not exist for people who actually cared about others.
While there are economic reasons at the heart of why the oppressed always bear the brunt of “natural” disasters, there are cultural reasons as well. So much death and suffering could have been prevented in U.$. prisons without any affect on capitalist profits. And arguably, the U.$. economy would be doing better right now if the government had implemented better, clearer practices in society in general.
The struggle for basic health, including mental health and social connection, are struggles for basic humynity. Struggles we see falling more in the realm of gender than class, because it is not about economics and production. It is about transforming the relationships between people in a cultural way. A way that works to eliminate the possibility of one group finding pleasure in the oppression and suffering of another. We see the examples of the oppressed coming together in these conditions to struggle for basic humynity, and to build it between each other, as the early steps of a revolutionary transformation of national and gender relations in our society.
Up until 12 December 2020, the day we as Mexicans celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, we had been very fortunate here at California Medical Facility - Vacaville (CMF). That morning I came out at 0500 hrs, for my insulin and it didn’t take long to notice the change, the C.O.’s and nursing staff wearing not just masks, which had become the norm by this time, but wearing face shields and PPE also. Then later that evening when I came out my cell at 1705 hrs. for my insulin C.O. White informed us that someone in T-wing had tested positive for the virus. By 2015 hrs. two more men went down with COVID.
Then came the push to once again take our CPAP breathing machines, and the night of the 13th they came in the middle of the night with their Gestapo tactics to take our breathing machines and most of us resisted and did not have to surrender our DME’s. Then came the threats of 115’s but they had a problem and that was how to justify level II prisoners in Unit IV insulation single cells which is where they put us after we fought to get our CPAP’s back – a fight that MIM was instrumental in our being able to get our DME’s back the first time.
Then they sent a Sgt. to explain: either we surrender our power cords to our CPAP’s or they would cell extract us and thereby confiscate our power cords. So we complied under duress to the confiscation of our DME power cords. This as almost daily they tested us for COVID and constant temperature checks at our cell doors as time after time we were slammed down in our cells. On 15 December, they pulled out 18 more prisoners with COVID, by the 18th we had at least 35 men down with the virus in T-wing and we are hearing this is the same throughout the institution. And the same across the street at Solano State prison, surging. By Christmas T-wing had become like a ghost tier, not many men left. And for those of us left breakfast and dinner meals were coming in brown paper bags, though I must say Christmas dinner was the BEST I have had in years to keep it real. On 27 December, C.O. Smith was telling us that we had 200 prisoners hospitalized and a hundred plus C.O.’s with the virus. My son who is in the hole at Corcoran State Prison tells me that it was surging where he is at as well. He himself got the virus, thank God he is young and healthy and was able to pull through though still feeling some effects of the virus.
On 6 January, while Trump supporters were engaging in acts of insurrection, I am happy to report that I did receive the Coronavirus vaccine. The institution is telling our families that they are returning our DME power cords, however I can tell you I have not seen it, but I can only speak of what is happening here in T-wing as we are still on “modified program” here at CMF at the time of this writing.
All Power to those who deserve it, all those who fight for it and all those who know. The hunger strike at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF) over conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic is still alive. Though the leaders have suspended the starvation act of the strike, our workers strike remains alive. We determine that our Covid Intervention Statement remains relevant as an organizing tool to those involved in the struggle to force the transparency of California Prisons. It’s sad that it takes individuals to put their life at stake before the public can have knowledge made known of the conditions we suffer. But it is how it goes within the belly of the beast. Leaders plan to resume the hunger strike at a later date of 2021, and will notice at the point of strike.
We suspend our strike solely because the conditions began to take a very unhealthy turn, with little adequate record keeping power of the families and supporters to know just what is happening with the healthcare of the leaders. By no means do we want our suspension to be construed as a resolution of our DEMANDS being met. For there can be no talks of SATF Administration meeting strikers’ DEMANDS when SATF and CDCR Director Connie Gipson fall silent to ANSWER to the statement of prisoners at SATF hunger striking. They do not deserve this sort of CREDIT.
The conditions of building 2, where prisoners receive showers every 72 Hrs. Laundry exchange, including sheets and pillow cases are unknown to any other living units. And Phone calls have been consistent to once per week. Meals remain served cold. Showers remain dirty, standard of PPE remain poor, and the package officer L.A. Alvin is said to have been rerouted to G Facility Gym 2 weeks ago. For 3 days packages were issued, and then they were stopped.
The more pressing issue is testing and quarantining prisoners, that first DEMAND. It would seem that SATF has engaged in testing, hence the report of the outbreak. The high numbers serve as a focal point and evidence of the need for families and supporters of prisoners to mend broken relations between one another and unite against this human rights disaster. The hunger strikers recognize the support the public gave, and we say that though SATF and CDCR fall silent to answer the DEMANDS of the strikers, members of the public did not fall silent. Members of the public stood in solidarity with the strikers, accepting the terms of which we testified to be true, spreading this as high as the State Capitol. We rest in recovery from the loss of body weight, consequent to starvation. But we know that there are members of the public who are now directly connected to the struggle here at SATF in the Valley of Death’s shadow.
In the question of what it is that leaders achieved in starving themselves in this ACTION, we won the fight to silence prisoners by the noise of CDCR Covid scheme operations. We raised awareness in the Valley in solidarity with other prisoner leaderships in prisons across California, that CDCR’s failure to protect the imprisoned population where Covid is concerned is unacceptable.
A public stage has been made available to prisoner leaderships in the shadow of Death Valley, where once it had gone silent. The CDCR culture known as the ‘Code of Silence’ cannot rule where there are members of the public willing to speak out and ACT out in criticism of the state, its departments’ bureaucracy and the ACTIONS of its agents.
The REPUBLIC and SOVEREIGN will of individuals, independent of the state, acting in collaboration with WE who struggle for human decency against all odds.
WE together born about a culture that ushers a future where redemption is real. Reconciliation is possible, and reparations are as simple as a public admission of guilt, an apology and plan of action to make right said wrongs.
This is what we struggle for. NO MORE SILENCE, give us answers. The supporters of the strike have done great in raising awareness that here at SATF there are those who have starved to improve the conditions within CDCR as it relates to Covid. We have established court in the streets, now we will begin releasing our AFFIDAVITS and MOTIONS for orders against these FACILITIES, like SATF. COMMON LAW RULES everywhere in AMERICA where the CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM fails. All that is needed are a few FARMERS who can teach how to GROW and provide WORK to the UNEMPLOYED, for there remain WE who will WORK for food, and stock inner-city community food banks. A few BAILS BONDSMAN willing to perform CITIZENS ARREST of ASSETS LIQUIDATABLE in PERSONAL DAMAGE CLAIMS of PRISONERS, against correctional staff and healthcare personnel for COVID ATTACKS.
What the PIGS are doing to us is equal to a carrier of COVID intentionally coughing in the face of someone who hasn’t been exposed.
It’s assault and battery.
We will begin putting out BENCH WARRANTS for offenders, and from here on out the PUBLIC OPINION will decide their FATE. COURT is in the STREETS.
THE FAILURE OF CDCR HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AS AN ACT OF WAR AGAINST WE PRISONERS.
Right now we need our supporters to help us get our health back up so that we can make our next strike. We can use whatever folks can by making a deposit into our inmate trust account.
Using JPAY Deposits, supporters can send leaders money for canteen where food purchases, cough drops, lotions, spices, herbs, oil and vitamins may be purchased to do for themselves what the institution will not do for them. [Contact MIM(Prisons) to get a name to send donations to.]