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[Revolutionary History] [Puerto Rico] [U.S. Imperialism] [Drugs] [Militarism] [ULK Issue 79]
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The Common Colonial History That Led Us Here

Free Puerto Rican POWs

For Afrikan people in the United $tates, captivity began in Afrika when we were captured and confined in slave forts like the Gold Coast’s Elmina and Goree Island’s “House of Slaves”. From those colonial forts we left Afrika in chains and shackles through the “Door of No Return” and we were transported to the Americas in the bowels of slave ships. Afrikans were dropped off in various places around around the world, and what is now referred to as North America, in chains and colonized here to work as slaves on the plantations of the settler-colonies of European imperialists.

As slaves we were chattel owned as private property, becoming the first commodity that gave rise to a global colonial-capitalist system. Slavery was absolute captivity with complete deprivation of life. The only means by which Afrikans could seek freedom was by revolt or escape, which is something we’ve struggled to do since our first initial capture from our homeland.

Colonizers’ plantations were forced labor camps where Afrikans slaved in the fields and were housed in hovels and fed slop. We were forced to work day in and day out, suffering severe beatings and some of the greatest acts of cruelty to force our submission. If we escaped, we were hunted and tracked by slave catchers with guns and bloodhounds. Once caught, we were brought back to the plantation from which we fled. Escaping slavery was a crime that was punishable by flogging and lashing, branding, mutilation and death. After 13 of the settler-colonies within North America consolidated into the “United States,” slavery was expanded to new territories as the colonizers continued stealing more Indigenous land, or killing them, like the case in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. It continued to reap the filthy lucre of the dirty business of the flesh-peddling slave-trade and the human trafficking of slavery until slavery was finally abolished after the Civil War – an intra-conflict between two rival settler-colonialist groups – the Union versus the Confederacy. With the abolition of slavery, Afrikans ceased to be formally held as slaves, but we remained colonial subjects all the same as colonialism continued to rule and regulate every aspect of our lives through the brutal exploitation of our labor through sharecropping, peonage and court-leasing.

As we have seen, U.$. administrators – Republican and Democrat alike – asserted their right to interfere directly in the domestic affairs of countries in Central America and the Caribbean for the sake of “national interest”. One island nation, however, remained under permanent Amerikan control. Puerto Rico became part of the United States as a result of the Spanish Amerikan War. In July 1898, in retaliation for the sinkage of the U.S. vessel Maine in Cuba, Amerikan troops disembarked in Puerto Rico, instigating the country’s first act of European-style colonial expansion. The island thus became the pawn in a war between Cuban patriots and Spanish garrisons. It had not expected military occupation, quite the contrary, Spain had already agreed to grant Puerto Rico autonomy and to devise some sort of “house rule” for the island. The U.S. invasion changed all of this. Suddenly, Puerto Rico became a crucial factor in U.S. global strategy – not only because of its potential for investment and commerce, but also because of its geopolitical role in consolidating U.S. naval power.

But there remains a basic question: Why did the U.S. take Puerto Rico as a colony while helping Cuba achieve independence?? The difference may well reside in the histories of the two islands. There was a large standing armed insurrectionary movement against Spain in Cuba. Puerto Rico, however, was on the way to a negotiated settlement and could present less resistance to outside forces. Puerto Rico thus became caught in a complex struggle between major powers and Cuba’s insurgents.

During the colonial period, the island had served as a supporting military garrison and commercial center for Spain, roles that intensified as the slave trade reached its peak in the 1700’s. Sugar production became the predominant agricultural enterprise. There were also small farmers, jibaros, rugged individuals who cultivated staple crops and helped maintain a diversified economy. Because of this, the slave population always remained a minority. After 1898 residents of the island had no clear status of our land. In 1917 they were granted citizenship in the U.S. due to W.W.I. In 1947, nearly half a century after the invasion, Puerto Rico was permitted to attempt self-government. In 1952 the island was granted “commonwealth” status within the United States. Puerto Rico at this moment is the oldest colony in the world.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, often believed to have formally abolished slavery, simply limited slavery, making it a punishment for crime, and that punishment was imprisonment.

Therefore, slavery became a penal servitude and prisoners became “slaves of the colonial state”. Prisons became slave labor camps and being sentenced to prison was to be forced to do “hard labor”. It was a sentence of forced labor in addition to a term of imprisonment. This was where the term “hard labor” came from. As a direct result of black codes developed specifically for our people, Afrikans were arrested for petty violations of those codes (other ethnic groups of minority also: Latinos) and sent to prison where we not only toiled in slave labor camps and worked in chain gangs, but were also contracted out to private companies to work for railroads, mines and mills.

We became the new slaves in a new convict lease system that was created by colonial capitalism so that it could acquire a steady supply of cheap labor to exploit for the greatest profit without paying for that labor because we were slaves of the state. After enduring the captivity of forced chattel slavery, Afrikans began to endure the captivity of imprisonment under colonialism. We went from being slaves on plantations to convicts in prison.

Colonialist law was established and created to protect the colonial system and primarily criminalize and punish Afrikans and other colonized peoples – Latinos.

During the Black Revolution of the 1960’s, the police arrested and jailed Afrikans such as Fannie Lou Hamer for “civil disobedience”. They arrested Huey P. Newton and Geronimo Pratt on trumped-up charges. At that time the voices of Puerto Ricans to be recognized as a nation joined hands with the Black revolution in the struggle against the U.S. empire. Oscar Lopez, Alejandro Torres, Antonio Camacho, and many more were railroaded to prison. The FBI asassinated leaders like Malcom X, Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Hampton through COINTELPRO. In 2005, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, leader of EPB “Eercito Popular Boricua” better known as the Macheteros, was assassinated in Puerto Rico by FBI agents. Those who were captured and thrown in prison became political prisoners and prisoners of war.

At the height of the Black Revolution, the CIA flooded Afrikan colonies (to the United States Puerto Rico is considered another Afrikan Colony) with heroin from the golden triangle in southeast Asia where it had long worked to finance its covert operations against China at the same time the U.S. was waging a war of imperialist aggression in Vietnam. With this process of narcotization our communities fell completely under control and influence of drugs: the illegal drug business and drug traffickers began a deadly epidemic of addiction. The war on drugs was escalated by Ronald Reagan with the beginning of the crack epidemic, started after the CIA flooded the Afrikan community with the drugs from Central America, funding dirty wars against Nicaragua. It led to increased militarization of the police, tougher drug laws, and the greatest prison build-up in history. Afrikans and Latinos became the main causalities of that war.

As prisoners, we are just bodies that fill cells in prisons, situated in economically depressed rural areas, producing jobs for settlers.

Today, Amerika has the largest prison system in the world. More Afrikans are now convicts in prison in 2022 than they were slaves on the plantation in 1852, and hardly have any more rights than we had when we were slaves.

Crime simply provides the justification for locking us up behind the razor-wire electrified fences. Imprisonment is an integral and indispensable part of the colonization and of Afrikans and Latinos in the United $tates. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, my father a black Puerto Rican and my Mother a white Puerto Rican; as colonial subjects we have always been captives of Colonialism.

The imprisonment in the U.S. will only end when we throw off the chains of colonial-capitalism and free ourselves from the rule of the colonizer.

We, all minorities, Blacks, Latinos, etc need to come together under the same line of thinking – I encourage every one to educate yourself, know your history, know your past, know your culture. It doesn’t matter how dark the color of your skin is, what state or country you’re from, in prison there’s only two uniforms – the prisoners and the guards – remember always which one you wear. The only way to beat this monster is by uniting, and come together as one body.

ALL Power to the People!

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[Drugs] [Prison Labor] [Censorship] [ULK Issue 78]
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Kill The Bossman in Your Head

Queridos Compañeros and Camaradas,

(Dear Comrades and Fellow Travelers)

A report from South Texas: In the wake of another mass shooting in nearby Uvalde, the pigs and their masters are engaging in the usual finger-pointing and recrimination but one thing is clear: the cops are cowards who are quick to shoot unarmed people, but become conveniently “policy-orientated” when they are faced with a disturbed young man wielding an AR-15 assault rifle slaughtering defenseless children.

I’m not really in the habit of blaming the consumers of this toxic system called “democracy”, but these poor children were already the “walking dead” after only a few years in the classroom. The lame-ass governor and the fascist Ted Cruz and their clique call it a “massive system failure”, but those who have been paying attention will immediately see the system works exactly as it was designed to operate: the state of Texas is the NRA torchbearer but ranks dead last in mental health treatment. In fact, the single biggest mental health care facility in the state is Harris County Jail.

Those who are waiting for a legislative solution better stop dreaming and open your eyes to the reality nobody is going to save us or free us unless we liberate ourselves and that can only happen if we organize and think and act strategically with our comrades and fellow travelers. It all begins with educating ourselves and arming ourselves with the necessary facts and tools to accomplish our goals and make the world a better place.

Here in Texas among the prison class it’s a real challenge to create solidarity as the cell blocks are constantly flooded with mind-numbing substances along with the disputes and rivalries and materialism that comes along with it. I’ve made very little progress in my effort to “kill the ‘bossman’ in your head” – not actual physical violence, but to actually banish the word “boss man” from our vocabulary when addressing these pigs.

I’m attempting to show the direct line from slave plantations through “convict leasing program” all the way to the modern system of mass incarceration, and how the term “boss man” helps keep us linguistically and psychologically in bondage. So we need to banish the term, thought, idea of “boss man” from our hearts and minds if we ever want to be free.

So my Juneteenth Freedom Initiative direct action is only days away and I will be peacefully protesting the lie that "slavery was abolished when in fact it’s alive and well in forced prison labor programs all over the United Snakes of America. As you can see from the enclosed denial forms, almost all your subsequent mailings have been denied. I am appealing the censorship and will keep you posted. At this point I am largely in the dark with regards to progress in other facilities, but I ask your assistance in helping me to challenge this censorship. In the meantime, I await further info/instructions.

PS: It is increasingly clear to me that so-called “Aryan” white supremacist groups are expanding and enjoying cover from prison officials. We need to focus on this and build Brown and Black alliance/solidarity along with white fellow travelers (very few of them), but I’m sure they are around. But my point is, these Aryan reactionaries are tools of the state and should be viewed as such. Recent headlines about “Right-Wing Domestic Terror Threat” are propaganda designed to increase even more police/surveillance state apparatus that will be used to control us, not them. That’s how they justify this shit with headlines to “combat neo-nazi terrorists” when in fact the plan all along is to keep their foot on our necks.

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[Censorship] [Drugs] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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FL, TX Censor Revolutionary 12 Steps Program

As soon as the first printing of our new Revolutionary 12 Step Program pamphlet landed in prisons across the United $tates, it has been targeted for censorship in both Florida and Texas.

The Florida mailroom staff who seized the pamphlet checked two reasons for impounding it:

“(15)(i)is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, rebellion, organized prison protest, disruption of the institution, or the violation of the federal law, state law or Department Rules”

and

“(15)(p)otherwise presents a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives of the correctional system or the safety of any person.”

Since the pamphlet is actively preventing harm to the safety of any person and actively training people to stop breaking the law or engaging in destructive behavior, we must wonder what are the “rehabilitative objectives” of the Florida Department of Corrections.

MIM(Prisons) appealed this.

Texas on the other hand did not give MIM(Prisons) the opportunity to appeal, as required by Federal law, and only notified us of the censorship after the review committee’s final decision, which, like Florida, cited the “Entire publication contain security concerns.”

The reason they cited:

“Publication contains material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve a breakdown of prisons through offender disruption such as strikes, riots or security threat group activity.”

Literally no reasonable person would think this.

But as we’ve been reporting on, the TDCJ is openly trafficking drugs to sell to the people they imprison. So it is not surprising that they find our efforts to combat addiction to be a disruption to their operations.

It’s also no secret that the oppressor prefers us to be drunk and high, rather than thinking clearly and doing good for ourselves and our people.

Prisoners can help by getting our Censorship Guide and appealing any censorship as the comrade in Texas did. People on the outside can help by volunteering to help us appeal and hold these state agencies accountable. Legal expertise with these issues is also something you can contribute.

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[Drugs] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 78]
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Wine-Sniffing Dogs a Scam in Maryland, Drugs Benefit State

This is my first issue of ULK (#77) and I am writing in regards to the Suboxone and drug use within the prison system here in Maryland. K2 and Suboxone are in high demand. They are the most popular of all of the drugs here. I would say Suboxone is the most popular because of the “trips” that come with the K2. It is my belief that they allow drugs to come in for the money. They get the money for the urine test, for the search task forces and the intelligence agents they use to combat the contraband problem. And when they get the money, it’s misappropriated.

A recent example of this was the wine sniffing dogs. It was a big deal, it was all on the news. They played it up as alcohol was such a big problem so they needed these dogs. But the crazy part is that I have never seen a dog come through sniffing for wine. So where did that money go? Honestly if a prisoner is making wine, he doesn’t have a lot of places to stash it anyways. So there’s really no use for the dogs in the first place. It’s all for the money. The prison staff are just making shit up so that they can steal the money.

Now speaking on the statement made by the person from Allred’s RHU, with the increase of contraband came a decrease in unity. That is one of the major effects of capitalism; division. Not only will debts drive a wedge between debtor and supplier, but the competition between the peddlers will create a divide because each dealer wants to monopolize the sections. This will create beefs between gangs and organizations. Then the increase in violence will only justify the prison’s request for more money from the state. It’s the same way on the streets, the prison system is just a microcosm of the streets.

Now let’s talk about the drain of ambition as an effect of the drug. No longer will the prisoner seek self-developmental programs, nor will he choose to blow the whistle on the prison system’s injustices. He becomes content on doing dead time, with his Xbox, T.V., and tablet. There are many issues that spawn from drugs. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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[Drugs] [Economics] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California Medical Facility] [California] [ULK Issue 78]
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CA Extorting Money from Prisoners

I was impressed with the research behind the articles about Suboxone in ULK 75 and 76. I first heard of this substance four years ago when individuals showed up on the yard (at Richard J. Donovan) that were using it. Someone I associated with informed me that it was like methadone and that it was highly addictive. I know that guys here at California Medical Facility are using Suboxone whether it’s prescribed to them or not. In fact, illicit drugs of all types are available here, even during the quarantine lockdown when there were no contact visits allowed!

Also, this facility is holding a food sale to “raise money for the Special Olympics.” The offering of a chicken sandwich, potato chips and a cookie for $22.00 doesn’t seem like a good deal to me. Especially considering that only a small percentage would go to the Special Olympics and that 10% goes to the “Inmate Welfare Fund”. Is this a scam or what!?

An article in San Quentin News on a similar fund raiser reads:

“Prisoners spent $63,000 with 10% of the profits going to a charity.”

I see these sales as another scheme to extract money from prisoners and their families and friends and that the real benefactors for these “charities” are the CDCR.

There is another article in the same newspaper on the GTL tablets that are being pushed on us. I’ve read some of the specifications for these tablets and they are of course cheap pieces of crap. They are entirely dedicated to make GTL money pure and simple. How do companies like GTL get away with it? Here is some key points from the article:

"GTL is the phone service provider for all CDCR prisons…. According to Prison Legal News (PLN), GTL has had to pay out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits over the years for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).

"In October 2020 a New Jersey judge approved a $25 million settlement agreement between GTL and New Jersey prisoners who paid up to 100 times the actual phone rate between 2006 and 2016, according to PLN.

“The company has also been sued for charging unlawfully inflated prices for collect calls made by incarcerated people throughout the U.S.”


MIM(Prisons) adds: We whole-heartedly agree with this comrade’s assessment of these money-making schemes. We call this extortion, prisoners are forced to pay higher prices for things because there is no other option for them.

The Chik-Fil-A sandwich with waffle chips and a cookie that CDCR was charging $22 for is about $8 on the street. They’re charging prisoners almost 3 times the normal price! If $2.20 is going to charity, where’s the other $12 going?

For more on the topic of tablets, see “A Strategic Objective to Disrupt and Surveil the Communication Between Prisoners and Our Loved Ones” in ULK 76. The article on GTL tablets claims they offer “secure email”, which is a joke because we know GTL and CDCR staff can read anything you send on those things. In other cases, companies have charged prisoners for things like ebooks that are free in the public domain. GTL loves it because they charge prisoners extortion-level subscription fees for very restricted content, and CDCR loves it because it increases the ease of surveillance. The article also promotes the tablets as pacifiers, like suboxone, to keep the prison population docile.

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[Drugs] [California] [Texas] [ULK Issue 77]
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Suboxone Spreads to More Prison Systems, Little Evidence of Counseling

Following up on some recent warnings and reports from comrades on Subxone(buprenorphine), we conducted an updated survey on drugs in U.$. prisons this past winter.(1) We received survey responses from NC, PA, VA, WV, MI, CA and TX.(2) While we heard from Michigan in ULK 75 all of the other states were represented in our original survey, which was distributed more widely and received more responses.

So has anything changed in the last 5 years? In 2017, Suboxone use was reported to be common in many states in the northeast and midwest United $tates. Specifically comrades in NY, KS, WV, TN, CT, WI, and especially PA reported Suboxone use being popular. We do not have info on whether the Suboxone was obtained from the prison or not in that data set. In 2022, we can add California, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan to the list of states where Suboxone is abused in prisons. Of those four, only Michigan was not represented in our 2017 survey, meaning Suboxone seems to have become popular in the other 3 in the last five years. Texas is the only state we got responses from this year that reported Suboxone still not being available at all.[UPDATE October 2022: We later received report that Georgia did not have Suboxone either.]

Our comrade in Michigan reported this new drug appeared on the scene in 2012, and had become the most common drug abused in the MDOC, with perhaps 5 in 10 prisoners using it. (until recently when K2 took over)

We have updated info from Pennsylvania affirming that it is prescribed there and that people can stay on it for as long as they are held in prison. About 1 in 7 people are using Suboxone at SCI-Dallas.

In North Carolina, Suboxone is very popular, though less popular than K2, which has been increasing in use. Suboxone may be more popular with white prisoners there.

Our Virginia respondent is in a “big mental health/drug rehab” unit, where ey says “we can’t order self-help programs nor books.” Imagine that! Yet you can get a Suboxone subscription with no indication that there are any classes to go along with it. Some are continuing their Suboxone subs from the streets.

Michigan and West Virginia do not prescribe Suboxone according to our survey respondents. Yet it still gets into the prisons there and is quite popular.

California the big mover

The biggest shift we learned from our second round of surveys was the new introduction of Suboxone, which Ehecatl already reported in ULK 76 started in 2020. A recent study reported a sharp increase in buprenorphine consumption in prisons from 2020-2021. The number of incarcerated people consuming it rose an estimated 250,000 from January 2015 to May 2021. With only 115,000 prisoners total, CDCR may have been a good chunk of that growth, but clearly was only part of it.

That said, one comrade in California reported that they now “give anyone and everyone Suboxone. I know a bunch of people who never have used drugs and went to see the doctor and got put on Suboxone.” The price of Suboxone on the black market has decrease from $100 to only $2-4 as a result. This comrade continued,

“I’ve been in solitary confinement for over 4 years so I signed up to get put on Suboxone and I got put on it a week after seeing the doctor. I’ve been a drug addict my whole life, but was still surprised how easy it is and was to get put on Subxone.”

We’ve always held that solitary confinement is used as a tool of social control in the U.$. injustice system. We also see Suboxone being used in the same way. Here they are being used in conjunction as a way to help people adjust to the torture of solitary confinement. When used outside solitary, most prisoners reported its use leading to people retreating from socializing and not engaging in any kind of group organizing.

Another CA comrade had put in a request in December 2019 after the CDCR publicized a new drug to help with addiction. By March or April 2020 ey was approved for Suboxone. Doses there range from 8mg to 20mg. As for counseling, this comrade did report that, “while I was receiving it we were seeing a C.O. Healy and ex-drug user facilitator bringing us 5 days of work on Monday and coming back on Monday to pick up the homework.” It is not clear why ey stopped receiving Suboxone.

“Buprenorphine use in jails and prisons increased by 224-fold, from a daily mean of 44 individuals in June 2016 to 9841 individuals in May 2021 (Figure). Most of this increase occurred from 2020 to 2021. Nationwide, across all retail and nonretail settings, buprenorphine use increased by 53.9% from a daily mean of 466,781 individuals in January 2015 to 718,591 individuals in May 2021. By May 2021, correctional settings accounted for approximately 1.5% of all buprenorphine use nationwide. An estimated 3.6% of the 270,000 incarcerated individuals with [Opioid Use Disorder] in the US received buprenorphine.”(3)

These numbers are likely underestimated as they are based on retail sales numbers from one source. But the sharp increase in prescribed Suboxone starting in late 2019 is certainly something of note.

K2 Still King in TX

We received the most responses to our second survey from Texas, and things seem to have not changed much there. Everyone agreed that Suboxone was not available in Texas. K2 appeared there around 2013 or 2014 according to our respondents, and has been on the increase ever since. Many people report tiers filled with the smoke being a common occurrence in the TDCJ. K2 use rates reported in TX this time around estimated 10%, 20%, 30% and in the RHU up to 75% of people.

Our correspondent from Allred’s RHU reports that back in 2013-2016 “drugs were virtually non-existent… 1/2 that time there were no cameras, yet there still was no drugs, no cell phones, no contraband at all really. Since i’ve been back here there has been at least a 70% increase in contraband” (2017 to present). This comrade points to a huge cultural shift among staff leading to the change.

Ey goes on to explain the social effects of this influx of drugs and how it serves as a tool of social control:

“We had a good thing going here after working to bring all New Afrikan lumpen groups and people together, but clashes over drug debts have undermined the unity… We were able to organize 1/3 of the RHU population against their confinement. With the drugs one year later, barely 50 people!”

As far as effective efforts to combat drugs, we once again got a resounding “no” answer to that question form all states. One TX comrade reported, “the Christians and Muslims are the only social groups openly condemning drug use, simultaneously, some of their”coordinators" are getting officially charged with possessing it!"

Another comrade who struggled with prescription psych meds as well as illicit drugs explained, “One of the worst parts of my own ‘addiction’ was the shame and guilt that came from using these ‘illegal drugs.’” This is just one reason why the approach to drug addiction in this country is ineffective. We encourage comrades to try our new Revolutionary 12 Step Program, which will walk you through addressing these feelings of shame.

A couple of respondents reiterated a preference for “natural” drugs rather than ones that are synthesized by multi-national corporations. But we’d point out the reason we can’t trust modern technology is because of capitalism. It is not the fact that humyns made it that makes it unsafe, but rather the profit motives that cause humyns to hide and overlook any safety issues that come up. There are lots of things that grow naturally that can kill you. In a system that operates in the interests of the people, we wouldn’t be making things to add to that list like the capitalists do.

Notes:
1. [see the results of our first survey on drugs in prison in Under Lock & Key 59]
2. The response size for this survey was much smaller and only included the following number of responses by state: NC-1, PA-1, VA-1, WV-1, MI-1, CA-2, TX-5
3. Ashish P. Thakrar, MD1; G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS; Brendan Saloner, PhD; Trends in Buprenorphine Use in US Jails and Prisons From 2016 to 2021. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(12):e2138807. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.38807.

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[Drugs] [ULK Issue 77]
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Reader Found Suboxone Helpful

Hello

I’m just writing to say hi and thank you. I got my latest issue of Under Lock & Key no.76. I love your newspaper even though I don’t agree with a lot of the stuff you say about Suboxone. I’m on it myself and there’s nothing to do in prison, so a lot of people use drugs.

I had overdosed 3 or 4 times, but always had a celly who brought me back. Then, I had a celly I stabbed so I no longer could have a cell mate. If I were to overdose again I’d probably die. They started giving us Suboxone and I stopped using heroin – I no longer want or need heroin or meth or anything else. My suboxone is perfect.

Over my 10-plus years in prison, most drugs enter the prisons through the cops, C.O.s, nurses, and other free staff, not visiting. I always had and sold drugs, then when I got a couple pen pals and my family came back into my life I stopped. Even the Prison Legal News noticed during the pandemic a lot of drugs were still entering jails and prisons even though there were NO in-person visiting in a lot of states. But anyways, I love your newspaper: keep up the great work.(1)

I’m sending you 7 more stamps – I’ll send them whenever I can. I know you guys are a non-profit and can use all the help you can get.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this reader for this perspective. In past articles, and again in this issue, we address the spreading use and abuse of Suboxone in prisons, both state-authorized and not. This occurs despite Suboxone being marketed as a tool to help with addiction. Our point is not to say that people who have found Suboxone helpful are wrong to use it or wrong that it can help. But like so many drugs under capitalism it is overly-prescribed, and abused widely without prescriptions in the black market. This serves a couple interests: the pharmaceutical companies profit interests, and the oppressors’ interest in social control.

We promote bigger solutions to the problem of drug addiction. Whether Suboxone is a tool some people need in today’s world we have not taken a position on. But we can say that through revolutionary organizing and liberation from imperialism we can overcome, and virtually eliminate drug addiction without the use of drugs like Suboxone.(2) As this comrade says, many people do drugs in prison because there is nothing to do. And things that people might be engaged in that would keep them off drugs are often discouraged or punished, such as political organizing. The comrade also found that being able to have basic social interactions with people that cared about em also got em to stop using drugs. This supports our position that long-term isolation is torture.

Another thanks to this reader for sending 7 additional stamps. July 4th is our annual Fourth of You-Lie fundraising campaign, where we ask all of our subscribers that are able, to send us 7 stamps for their annual subscription to Under Lock & Key. To say we are a “non-profit” is a bit misleading as non-profits generally have grant money and paid staff and such. We have none of that. Our “staff” is our comrades who also fund all our work from our pockets. So yes, we can use the help. And small contributions from lots of supporters is the kind of mass base we need to make our work sustainable.

Notes:
1. also see TDCJ: Your Staff are Bringing in the Drugs, and it Must Stop by a Texas prisoner in ULK 73.
2.Wiawimawo, November 2017, Opioids on the Rise Again Under Imperialism, Under Lock & Key 59

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[Education] [Drugs] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 77]
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Academics Advance Amidst the Addicted

While the suboxone once reigned supreme here in Michigan prisons, since the start of the pandemic resulting in lockdown in state, K2 (Twoche, as its called here), has eclipsed suboxone. Previously you only saw non-Black prisoners doing suboxone, but this is no longer the reality as it has now cut across racial/ethnic lines. K2 is the new crack within the prison context. I’d wager at least 80% of the facility I’m caged with have a K2 addiction. It is very much reminiscent of the 1980s/early 1990s, especially for those smoking (or vaping, as they call it) K2 out of self-manufactured pipes made from the fiber glass ink pen holders. So its not at all uncommon to see a neo-slave on the prison-plantation free basing. You see guys selling all of their possessions, spending all of their money on K2 just as I saw crackheads do decades ago. You even see the choyboy, the aluminum brittle pads being used to ignite flame. It’s sad.

Even sadder, however, is that these guys don’t have a clue what they’re ingesting in their bodies. Frequently guys are having PCP and other dangerous liquid substances brought in by prison guards that is not K2. Some have gone to some extremes in manufacturing K2 within the facility from liquid chemical compounds (the synthetic weed form has long ceased being used. K2 is now in liquid form). I’ve seen guys use oven cleaner and other chemicals to make a compound that meets and interrupts the brain chemistry to produce a reaction resulting in a high. The manufacturer of this concoction, strung out himself, then partakes in his own made up substances. It is literally sickening!

The widespread nature of addiction can only be considered to be state sanctioned repression. No shakedowns occur. No instances exist where the substance is being sought after by the state to remove it from the facilities. Being that it keeps guys in stupors, states of docility, the facility is alright with it as it allows them to push their agenda in keeping the prison locked down as the voices don’t exist in numbers to push back against the de facto semi-segregation we’ve been kept under for over two years now. They only have to contend with the effects in the form of overdose and other tripping episodes as guys sometimes fallout, hallucinate, become paranoid, experience the illusion of impending death, or become stuck in a state of immobility (literally). I can’t believe this shit.

In Michigan, we’re suffering from a near total lack of political consciousness or will to resist the myriad forms of repression and overt oppression.

I’ve started a small study group among some of the younger brothers (24-28 years old). I’ve been exposing them to revolutionary concepts and manners of struggle. I’ve introduced them to Marx, Lenin, Mao, the BPP, Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral, Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, you name it. They are loving the experience. The expansion of their consciousness is being noticed as more young guys are approaching us to be allowed into the circle. These youngsters are leaving traditional religious formations to indulge in revolutionary thought ways.

All Power to the People!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides an update to the report from Michigan in ULK 75 that discussed the rise of Suboxone in Michigan prisons prior to the pandemic.

Thanks for ending on a positive note after depicting the overall sad state of affairs there. It is inspiring to know you comrades are rising above the environment, and we are confident that the study and implementation of lessons of revolutionary history will be the best medicine to combat addiction among the masses in the years to come.

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[Police Brutality] [Drugs] [Abuse] [Pasquotank Correctional Institution] [Granville Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 77]
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Will prisoners' iPads feature apps that record police brutality?

Today at Polk Correction Institution the prep-team beat a young man in full restraints named Mr. Fox as he screamed for help during a shake-down: video surveillance was not provided.

15 March 2021, a few weeks before the killing of Andrew Brown by Pasquotank Sheriff’s Department, I was maced, tased, beat, and nearly killed by almost 20 Pasquotank C.O.s. The beating occurred in 6 different locations in the building including 3 elevators. I received several life lasting injuries to the head, face, and mouth from being punched and kicked over a hundred times while laying flat on the ground on my stomach and/or side. A chunk of meat was ripped out of my shoulder from being dragged over 50 ft. I was choked while beaten til they thought and asked one another if I was dead.

Another official cut my thumb with a switch blade and I received several other injuries that medical refused to treat or document. The officers said, “they’ll be back to beat me every chance they get and that I better not eat.”

I was emergency shipped, and 3 hours later pictures were taken of my injuries when I arrived at Polk Correctional Institution (High-Risk-Security).

Pasquotank Prison Officials deny to have ever touched me and claim their innocence while not even bothering to explain how my injuries were sustained. The disciplinary officer found that the video footage of the incident had been tampered with and cut-short.

18 October 2021, all mail for North Carolina prisoners will be received at TextBehind in Phoenix, MD with long time promises of iPads in the future. Should department of public safety provide proper video surveillance for safety before iPads for profit and entertainment? Surveillance is critical to maintain and monitor unwanted violence.

Relief in the claim I’ve filed against Pasquotank Correctional Institution include that the courts enforce a policy with an injunction ordering hand-held cameras be used when escorting offenders or using force in blind spots.

Unfortunately, body-cams in prison make it harder for guards to smuggle contraband or have relations which would decrease the rate of violence from drug related issues allowing more prisoners to focus on rehabilitation and money management.

With this we would ask for higher pay rates to support our families and conjugal visits for married couples.

Prayers out for the family of Andrew Brown and the victims of police brutality.

For a full report of Pasquotank Prison Incident, see: “Two Letters From North Carolina Prisons Make the Same Demands 45 Years Apart.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In the last issue of Under Lock & Key one of our comrades addressed the use of tablets to pacify and surveil the oppressed in A Strategic Objective to Disrupt and Surveil the Communication Between Prisoners and Our Loved Ones. The article above connects this to the many campaigns prisoners have waged to get cameras in prisons so that there is documentation of the regular abuse and illegal happenings that go on inside.

In 2014, comrades in North Carolina won a lawsuit to [require staff of NCPDS to record with video cameras any use of force incidents]((https://www.prisoncensorship.info/article/north-carolina-prisoners-preliminary-victory-on-use-of-force-lawsuit/). This suit however, left it up to the pigs to determine when cameras need to be used. As AK47 asks, if the state is to invest more money in technology, shouldn’t it be on this important task of preventing physical abuse and drug trafficking, both of which leads to the loss of humyn lives?

We can also take lessons from the implementation of universal cameras, including audio recording, in California which brought up concerns of excessive monitoring of prisoners, including in counseling and rehabilitation programs. Just last year, another lawsuit in California brought a federal court order requiring body cameras in Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in California, resulting in passive protests from staff in the form of not running programs for prisoners.

Modern surveillance and communication technology can be used for good and for bad, for the interests of the oppressed or the interests of the oppressor. The interests of the oppressed lie in holding the state accountable for the rampant abuse and drug dealing its employees commit every day, while being able to maintain connections to society, engaging in rehabilitation programs where they can speak freely and openly. The interests of the state lie in pacifying the population with pop culture media and surveilling the communication of those who cannot be pacified.

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[Release] [Drugs] [Independent Institutions] [ULK Issue 76]
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Providing What They Can't - Rehab for Releasees

lumpen education study group

Shortly after receiving this issue of Under Lock & Key, a number of USW leaders and other supporters of our work will be receiving the first edition of our Revolutionary 12 Step Program. This has been in the works for over a year now and we are excited to get it into the hands of comrades who are ready to implement the program and provide feedback.

The Revolutionary 12 Step Program is a significant advance for our Serve the People “Re-Lease on Life” Program, which has been in existence in some form from the early years of MIM(Prisons)’s existence.

Who is it for?

When most of us think of the 12 steps, we think of Alcoholics Anonymous or a more general Narcotics Anonymous program. However, our program takes an approach similar to a program called Criminals & Gangmembers Anonymous to address the anti-people behavior of the lumpen class in a more general way.

Drugs and alcohol are a big part of the problems the people face. It is estimated that at least 65% of people incarcerated have a “Substance Use Disorder”, while the number goes up to 85% if you include all who were under the influence during the crime they were convicted of.(1) That’s a lot! As recent understandings of the brain tell us, the lack of impulse control that can lead to destructive behaviors is caused by unhealthy social conditions during childhood.(2) Drug abuse will often overlap with violence towards others and other behavior that is deemed criminal by the bourgeoisie and by the people as well. In the long-term, communism can eliminate the causes of these tendencies, but in the meantime we need to address all forms of anti-people behavior to transform ourselves from a lumpen state of being to a revolutionary proletarian one.

Some people in prison are innocent. Some broke a law in a conscious decision – sometimes even for righteous political reasons. But the vast majority of you reading this broke laws through actions you would have preferred to not have taken. The vast majority of people in prison could use this program to avoid regrettable actions in the future.

All of us have rehabilitation that we must go through because we were raised in a sick society. Ultimately, everyone born in this oppressive system could benefit from our Revolutionary 12 Step Program, but many of you need it if you ever want to stay out of prison.

Why do we need it?

The state, by definition, is run by the oppressors. In our imperialist conditions today the oppressors are the bourgeoisie, the imperialists, the oppressor nations – Euro-Amerika. The institutions of the state will always serve those interests. In the current system you have law enforcement, religious organizations, private prison companies like Geo Group, and more small-time profiteers running reentry programs for the state. None of these serve the interests of the oppressed.

Today, we don’t have the influence to abolish these imperialist institutions, but we do have the influence to build independent proletarian institutions. Not only that, this is part of our central task today as a movement, “create public opinion and the independent institutions of the oppressed to seize power.”(3) We discussed previous independent institutions of the oppressed in ULK 59 on drugs.(4) Since then we’ve been working on developing our own.

One of the lessons we can take from the practice of our Re-Lease on Life Program to date is the need to address the drive to do drugs, engage in dangerous sexual activities, and the temptation of the thrill of the life of crime. We must put in its place the thrill of revolution; of fighting the real enemy; of building something new.

Before MIM(Prisons) had a Re-Lease on Life Program, we had one comrade who was one of our top theoreticians and USW leaders while in the SHU. Ey was released from prison and quickly slipped into alcoholism again. Ey stayed in touch for the first year, and then we stopped hearing from em, and ey never did any political work on the outside. At that time MIM(Prisons) had little to offer this comrade to help em adapt to life on the outside, and we certainly had nothing like a 12 step program to help em with eir alcoholism.

A story that has become too common is USW members who are released and never write us for years. When we finally do hear back from them it’s because they ended up back in prison. One such comrade recently explained:

“something I felt lack of was community. When I left the gates I went straight to a sober living…. During the time there I worked and attended A.A. meetings. I pretty much gave all my attention to my sobriety and recovery. Simultaneously my career was getting started. At this time I am getting myself situated and also enjoying my freedom, it was a really good feeling getting to move around, good food, and women…”

“I got emotionally attached to a girl that did not fulfill my needs or expectations and I became emotionally unbalanced. All it took was one instance of drugs to get high and begin my relapse. All this was in the lapse of a year. The last three months was just a chase for thrills.”

“I felt loneliness because for sobriety I left everything behind, friends, places, everything I’ve ever done, made and been. Also I felt a need for thrills, action; that was my itch for crime. I lost track of it all and I couldn’t find like-minded people.”

From the above testimony we see how sex and romance plays into this as well. We all know how common “crimes of passion” are in our society. Many of us have done time for them. This comrade wanted community and felt lonely, and seemingly tried to find that in a womyn who maybe was not in a good state herself, or maybe just couldn’t fill the large gap in this comrade’s life. The original AA puts god in that gap, a higher power. Our program puts the proletariat, the people. We will all have important individuals in our lives who help us out and other individuals who set us back. But we cannot rely on any one individual to save us, nor to meet all our needs. One of our needs is a spiritual need to be a part of something that gives us meaning. The bourgeois institutions offer you job training and maybe the prospect of a marriage. But as we see with this comrade’s story, you can attain those things and still be lonely, still not be on the path to rehabilitation. That is why we need an independent institution of the oppressed.

Another lesson we can take from this comrade, and from others, is that success will usually mean leaving behind a lot, especially at first. The easiest way to go back to prison is to go back to the same people and places you were around before you got locked up. Ultimately, our aim is not to cut you off from where you came from like a bourgeois program might do. We must stay connected to the people, and your past may offer some such connections. But those connections can only be good ones if you approach them from a new way of thinking and being. There must be a new community that you can rely on that supports your transformation into a new socialist humyn.

Even in the best case scenarios, the bourgeoisie cannot provide the support comrades need to rehabilitate. However, more often you do not end up in the best case scenario in this system as one comrade describes:

"I spent 6 years in the Drug Court program in York, PA, where a predatory judiciary, local bar, probation department (teamsters union) and suck ass ex-junkies prey on the weak and pile them 3 and 4 men to a room in some old crack house and charge them $500 per month rent plus a $500 deposit, which they would lose when they relapsed (95%) and went back to jail.

“Bless his wife-murdering heart. Bob Allen’s (Life’s Beacon House) means well and has the nicest of these houses but we can do better. The”group homes" or “recovery houses” have 3-4 month waiting lists and so do the rehabs, which county dollars are 95% of their $1000/day business. These houses are 501(c)(3) non-profits and if you start a business to employ the guys that live in these houses, it can operate non-profit too."

Next Steps

As we said, the Revolutionary 12 Step Program should address something that our Re-Lease on Life Program has been lacking for so long. But to do so, the program must be actualized. Here are some 3-year goals we have related to actualizing this program:

  • build a broader network of local contacts across the country so comrades can get more hands-on training and support from other communists

  • establish a revolutionary 12-step program, run by released comrades, where others can stay and immerse themselves in the program

  • establish satellite programs in prisons across the country that report to the program on the street, learning from each others’ experience and feeding releasees into the street program

Clearly this will require the participation of many of you to succeed. We need comrades on the outside to volunteer to be support people or sponsors for our comrades who are released. Even if you can’t administer the 12 steps, giving them someone to talk to and organize with on a daily basis will be important.

We need comrades on the inside to begin implementing this program locally. Ideal candidates will have successfully gone through the 12 step program themselves and MIM(Prisons) political study courses. And finally, we need similar people on the outside to run our program for post-release. If you think you can play any of these roles, get in touch so we can start building.

Notes:
1. Center on Addiction, Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population, February 2010.
2. Burke-Harris, Nadine, 2018, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-term Effects of Childhood Adversity, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
3. What is the plan? What concrete actions can I take? What is to be done? What are you doing?
4. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59

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