The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Gender] [Education]
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Outgrowing Transphobia Toward Lumpen Liberation

I’m in segregation so our study groups aren’t technically in groups. They consist of multiple people reading the same materials. All these people are people I socialize with but all of them don’t socialize with each other. Some people, after reading the material, write our thoughts and questions on paper then pass this paper around, then allow everyone to read everyone’s answers. Some people just converse verbally after studying the material and raise their consciousness like that.

Now many of these individuals are members of lumpen organizations and street tribes. I myself had been utilizing my Kiwe national identity to influence individuals from that tribe. With this in mind, we know there is a social stigma that comes from mere socializing with LGBT prisoners, especially for members of lumpen organizations and tribes. I myself through “redirecting the gangsta mentality” towards the communist road, have outgrown this colonizer-influenced mindframe and stigma, therefore I of course began dealing with a tranz sista as my comrade. The other individuals in the “study group” opted out, and I understand now that this was because their loyalties weren’t to political organizing nor communist ideology. Many aren’t willing to SACRIFICE within the movement.

Mao spoke on this in his “Combat Liberalism” speech. This sacrifice isn’t always of the physical form. Recently, tribesmen have actively tried to silence my voice and thus negate the mission by slandering my name. In retaliation to these developments the tranz comrade assaulted multiple tribesmen in my defense and thus was rehoused. Comrades, I learned thru this experience that my prior mission to revolutionize the entire tribe or org is damn near impossible. In my analysis the changes of one or a few comrades revolutionizing/politicizing their lumpen org or street tribe depends on the level of structure that group already has. The more structure and organization the better the opportunity.

Maoism is complete revolution in all aspects of life. Many tribesmen and bros aren’t willing to do this or truly act on it. I’ve completely outgrown the lumpen consciousness and this contradiction isn’t productive or conducive to the revolutionary movement. The good news is that the tranz comrade is now a self-ascribed New Afrikan Maoist. And has shown commitment and sacrifice to the movement. The few comrades that we still involve in the study continue to grow politically and all in all – A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues).


MIM(Prisons) responds: What you wrote about converting a lumpen organization (L.O.) to Maoism or progressive politics is what we’ve seen from our other comrades throughout the years. We’ve seen numerous times that when people are trying to make a big shift in an L.O., it doesn’t usually go far. On one hand the L.O.s have this incredible infrastucture that can make big shifts happen quickly. On the other hand, the vast majority of members would need to be on board with such an ideological shift for it to be successful. And the infrastucture that makes big shifts possible is also an impediment, in a way, to even making the shift. Keeping things in the L.O. as they are (especially if it means giving up profits or power) is historically a very difficult challenge for revolutionaries.

Which is exactly why one of the United Front for Peace in Prisons principles, Growth, was included in the UFPP and defined in the specific way it’s defined. “Growth: WE recognize the importance of education and freedom to grow in order to build real unity. We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle. Everyone should get in where they fit in. Similarly, we recognize the right of comrades to leave our organization if we fail to live up to the principles and purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.”

We stand firmly behind this comrade’s choice to unite with the LGBT persyn and include em in the political study group. Building toward communism isn’t just about overcoming oppression based on capitalism and class. We need to actively work against all forms of oppression, including gender oppression, as part of our mission toward the full liberation of the world’s people.

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[Education] [Drugs] [Civil Liberties] [Texas]
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Study Group's Long Struggle; Face Drugs and Censorship

Revolutionary Greetings!

As you know, March 2020 TDCJ has made changes. No more greeting cards are allowed in, only ten photos at a time and more little changes, such as the only ones allowed to send money or ecom packages must be on your phone or visitation list.

They are trying to slow the drug market down. However no changes for good time work time or payment for our labor. Still slaves to the system imagine that. Anyway the study group I am working on hasn’t grown. We are three strong. It’s a start! We decided to post “Did you know”’s and “Just think about it” notes to get the attention of people. A lot of people are still stuck on K-2 and other drugs.

I deeply feel this is what they want to keep us from thinking, but never will I give up hope or educating men. We have a major fight on our hands and the battle is far from won. Not only are we fighting the oppressors but we must educate the masses. I read and studied a lot of material I still haven’t come to the understanding on how to influence people of the knowledge or political education or even a common platform that will help the Texas prison system. We all have been pushing peace so that’s a start.

We just now need to get rid of the Meth and K-2! Our unit just came off lockdown they had a surprise unit sweep, getting rid of a lot of K-2 and Meth only to see the prison block flooded again with that shit. Over 50 cell phones were found and pounds of K-2. No big changes cause it’s still here it seems like even more though. In other words they took pictures then put it right back on the streets.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In our survey on drugs in prisons conducted in 2017, 39% of respondents said staff brought in most drugs, and 78% mentioned staff as part of the problem.(1) From the ghettos of New York to the Iran-Contra scandal, drugs and drug money have been important tools of the oppressor in its war on the oppressed.

As this comrade points out, recent changes in mail polices to address drugs in prison are a joke, and only serve to limit support and education for prisoners. The results only reinforce the fact that drugs are being brought in by staff. Meanwhile, the lack of connection to family, community and organizations that are addressing social ills is counter to any goals related to rehabilitation.

This comrade is on the right track. Providing connection, meaning and hope through independent institutions like their study group is the best counter measure we currently have to the reactionary effects of drugs on the people. We want to hear more about the “Did you know” fliers. What topics and slogans are working to reach the masses that we could share with others? Let us know.

Notes: 1. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59.

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[Education] [Theory]
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Education is Key for Releasees

Greetings to all my brothers and sisters on lock-down and on the outside fighting the struggle against oppression everywhere. This is from your hardcore revolutionary brotha in South Georgia. With great respect and love. I want to share this information with you in the hopes of you doing the same.

Education is better than incarceration!
Something we can all support!

I’ve learned in the hardest way possible that in the United $nakes of Amerikkka every felony conviction – no matter what the judge officially assigns in months or years – results, quite literally, in a life sentence. As a strong proponent of decarceration, I am encouraged by the efforts toward sentencing reform which will get some people out of prison sooner. But I am painfully aware that release from prison will present new challenges for those individuals whose futures have been made permanently fragile by their status as convicted criminals.

The lifetime consequences of a criminal conviction are evident in the diminished social status and in the devastation of poor communities and communities of blacks that have been hyper-policed, hyper-prosecuted and hyper-punished for decades.

Individuals from these communities are punished not only by virtue of the time they actually spend in prison, on probation, or in an alternative program, but because of the additional punishments that are inflicted for a lifetime. The consequences of a felony conviction include periods of voter disenfranchisement, travel restrictions, restricted access to public housing, restrictions of federal educational benefits, barriers to certifications and licensure of certain professions, and an irreversible stigma that permeates every aspect of life.

For those who spend time in prison, release is stressful even under the best of circumstances. People are released with a small stipend that barely covers the cost of living for a day or two. Without adequate assistance, many understandably fail to find meaningful employment, build healthy relationships and integrate successfully into a community. Having been released to a militaristic system of supervision that provides few services, imposes conditions that almost guarantee – and often expects – failure, many parolees end up right back in prison. I have been down that road, and I make no excuses. Those who do manage to successfully stay out remain stigmatized by the requirement that they continue to identify themselves on legal documents, job and school applications, and in numerous other places as a person who has a criminal conviction, no matter how long ago the original crime occurred.

These types of punitive responses to people who have made serious mistakes – but have already repaid their debts to society – do nothing to solve the problems. Like unemployment, which leads to crime, and hinders rather than promotes rehabilitation and successful integration into the community, it is difficult to understand why there would be any policy in place that would make it more difficult for people to come home from prison and do the right thing. I’m assuming the perspective of the mainstream in that doing the right thing means, at the very least, becoming self-supporting and living within the boundaries of the law. It has been argued that many of the barriers that are in place to restrict convicted people from certain jobs, from public housing, etc. are there to protect the public. However, the stronger arguments demonstrate that such barriers are purely punitive and that in being punitive to individuals we are actually causing further damage to society. Unsurprisingly, there is now strong evidence to show that by failing to provide convicted individuals with the tools needed to succeed once they leave the criminal justice system, growing incarceration has significantly increased poverty in the United $tates.

Among the most absurd punitive policies making it difficult to succeed after conviction are policies that restrict access to higher education. I say absurd because, at this point, even those on the most conservative side of the public dialogue about prison reform agree that “prisoners should be provided free education in order to reduce crime and recidivism.” This is a direct quote from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich during a meeting of Right on Crime in Washington, DC a few years ago.

At the same time that living-wage employment has required higher skill levels, education – particularly higher education – has increasingly become the most under-appreciated, underused and under-supported tool offered inside correctional facilities. This has happened despite the numerous studies proving that education is the most reliable predictor of reduced criminal recidivism. Educational attainment, besides being a worthy goal in itself, also increases one’s prospects for securing meaningful employment, enabling individuals to support themselves and their families. While country-wide 43.3% of formerly incarcerated individuals are likely to return to prison within three years of release, the likelihood drops to 5.6% for recipients of a bachelor’s degree.

Despite this data, the growing trend is to create post-conviction barriers for individuals who are attempting to apply to college. The Center for Community Alternatives found that nearly 60% of colleges and universities country-wide screen students for criminal records during the application process. In some cases, applicants are asked whether they’ve ever been arrested – even if the arrest did not lead to a conviction. Institutions that request this information often do so without appreciation for how a criminal record may or may not impact a particular student’s ability to successfully engage in the educational process.

For incarcerated individuals who desire to access higher learning opportunities, yet another barrier exists: they are ineligible for federal Pell Grants. Established by the late Senator Claiborne Pell, the grants allowed people – including those inside correctional facilities – who could not afford college to access post-secondary education. Incarcerated students were made ineligible for Pell Grants in 1994 under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, a contradiction of Senator Pell’s legacy of helping ensure that everyone could attend college. After eligibility was removed, the number of higher education programs in prisons dropped from 350 to 8 country-wide.

For more than 40 years, the goal of the Pell Grant program has been to provide need-based assistance to students to promote access to higher education. Funding flows directly to the educational institution, and eligibility for aid has been based on student need and expected family contributions. Pell Grants are available to anyone who qualifies; thus, removing the barrier to eligibility for incarcerated persons does not diminish the opportunity of any other eligible students who are motivated to pursue higher education.

As an incarcerated Black man, my incarceration does not define me, but people with criminal convictions live among us daily. It is up to you to decide how best to create systems and policies that promote public safety. Making it difficult for people to access opportunities and contribute to society is contrary to that goal, and contrary to the economic health of this country. Help support policy change to eliminate the 1994 ban on Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated persons and re-establish the opportunity for otherwise eligible people in prison to obtain college financial aid through Pell Grants for post-secondary education programs.

Straight from the “belly of the beast” on lock-down at Wilcox State Prison. The struggle continues and I fight on. One of the hardest who has ever done it. Power to the people.


PTT of MIM(Prisons) responds: It should be clear, from the evidence this comrade cites, that the criminal injustice system is not interested in rehabilitation or helping prisoners succeed on the streets. The restrictions on Pell Grants demonstrates just the opposite: prisons are a tool of social control of certain (e.g. oppressed-nation) populations, which are disproportionately targeted for imprisonment.

Getting Pell Grants reinstated for people with convictions would help reduce recidivism, as shown in this article. And that would certainly be a good thing for the internal semi-colonies, which are disproportionately affected by the oppression that comes from split families and the many other traumas of imprisonment.

At the same time, college education, for people of any nation, is controlled by the U.$. government, and thus does not teach a liberatory education curriculum. There’s no degree you can earn in the United $tates, or any country, that’s going to teach you how to liberate the majority of the world’s people from the effects of capitalist imperialism. It simply is just not allowed to exist, and it definitely won’t be paid for by taxpayer dollars.

All self-betterment, including college education, has its positive effects. If our goal is to end oppression worldwide and forever, we need to also build our own independent institutions that can educate people in what matters for the planet. And we don’t need federal funding to do this. We can start by creating more study groups behind bars, including the mail-based study groups supported by MIM(Prisons). We can expand these educational institutions to include comrades on the streets and provide ongoing education for releasees. When we control these programs we can ensure they persist and aren’t at the whims of government funding.

Our own educational programs are no substitute for a college degree when it comes to an individual’s earnings. GED programs and college classes are important opportunities for releasees, which can increase their abilities to contribute to liberatory projects. We don’t have the resources to substitute for these institutions yet, and we can help our comrades use these educational opportunities. Therefore our work around prisoner education supports the re-instatement of Pell Grants, while building independent education programs for prisoners and releasees that are grounded in the needs of oppressed people worldwide.

Individual gain is not our end goal in any education project. We don’t win unless we all win.

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[Education] [Control Units] [Tucker Max Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]
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Sparking Conversations, Building Independent Institutions

First off I want to express gratitude and respect to the comrades that contributed to ULK 68. It has sparked some interesting conversations on the tier. And this dialogue is strengthening the unity; the only unity I’ve seen at this unit in the year and a half I’ve been here.

Here at Tucker Max Unit they have been keeping us restricted housing prisoners locked in our cells 24/7. We get one hour of yard every two weeks here at Gilligan’s Island due to “lack of security.” They recently re-opened their re-entry program and when they did so, they took officers off yard crew to go work the re-entry. They have made no effort in the past 3 months to replace these officers so re-entry is essentially running at the expense of our constitutional rights. Yard call is a constitutional right, re-entry is not. From my understanding they receive so much money per each prisoner enrolled in their programs, i.e. re-entry, substance abuse treatment, therapeutic comm., and in my opinion the biggest sham of all: the step-down program that restricted housing prisoners are being forced to enroll in. The parole board is notorious for stipulating the first three programs as a condition for prisoners to be considered for release. They reap double benefits thru this system. They get extra money for your enrollment in this program and they can release you with some semblance of rehabilitation.

We, the prisoners, know these programs are a joke. And when they don’t provide the rehabilitation sufficient upon release to hold it down and keep on top of our responsibilities then we become we the repeat offender. And the Dept. of Corruptions is right here with their paternalistic arms wide open, all the while telling us it’s our fault.

But to get another shot at freedom we’ll be forced back into the same programs. Spoiler alert: it’s not gonna work no matter how many times you take their programs, and that’s by design. They don’t want the programs to work. Why would they want us to stay out of prison? A requirement of these programs here in Arkansas is that you drop kites on other prisoners for shit as small as not tucking their shirts in, and if you don’t you’re considered as not “participating”. What the fuck does that have to do with a person getting their shit together and preparing for the responsibilities that weigh us down when we get out?

To boycott these programs would be ideal, knowing the money they rake in off of them. But far be it from me to tell the next man to not do what he’s gotta do to go home. But we can’t depend on these programs to be the substance of our rehabilitation.

So now that I’ve made the argument against their programs there are two questions to be addressed. How do we implement our own programs, and which programs should take priority? Well, as far as the programs that should take priority, we’ve got to implement those that build unity into community where everyone has a role, minus our egos. We must work together to come up with a format that has a higher potential of success when it comes to tackling the issues that perpetuate our carceral existence, and by “our carceral existence” I’m speaking of the shackles on our mind that even upon release from these dungeons into the free world, remain fast in place.

The Five Stages of Consciousness model in the Five Percent tradition will break these chains when utilized to the fullest, but so many of us only attain the base stage of consciousness or the second stage of subconscious and go no further. So many of us attain all this knowledge on our quest for truth, only to use it to know more than the next man. But how many of us are using our knowledge to help win lawsuits, win appeals, and other battles that build upon our independence from this paternalistic system? I constantly see pride and ego hinder all 5 of the United Front for Peace in Prisons points of unity, and keep a lot of prisoners from reaching out to others to build these independent institutions. It’s imperative that we tear these individualistic walls down and build upwards on community consciousness. We need examples of what these independent programs look like and how to build them.

The book Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett that MIM(Prisons) refers to in its response to “Fighting the System from Within” in ULK 68 sounds like a good place to find this example. The writer makes a good point in eir letter that if our people would come to work in these prisons that they could expose the deficiencies and ill treatment.

Which reminded me of a question a comrade asked me a while back pertaining to the “lack of security” I referred to above. The question was: why did I think that this place has such a high turnover rate? C.O.s get $17 an hour and Sergeants get $20 but they can’t keep them working here. It’s not like they work them especially hard. Myself, wanting to hold out hope in humanity answered that maybe once they started seeing this shit for what it really is, decide that they don’t want to be an active participant in the oppression of their community. Maybe I put too much faith in their moral standards? Even if my answer was right they are still actively participating by not exposing the things done in here. I also like how the writer put it that the “moral obligation is ours,” not just to end oppression, but to build a new system in its place. We the prisoners must champion our own rehabilitation and re-education, independent of our oppressors’ programs, no longer allowing them to determine our value and self/community worth.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer picks up on the theme from ULK 69 where we discuss building independent institutions. As this comrade points out, we can’t count on the criminal injustice system to provide us with effective programs for rehabilitation or release. And so we need to build these programs ourselves. One such independent program is this newsletter, in which we are free to expose the news and conditions that the bourgeois press refused to cover. An independent newsletter is critical to our education and organizing work.

Another example of independent institutions is MIM(Prisons)’s Re-Lease on Life program to help releasees stay politically active and avoid the trap of recidivism. This program isn’t yet big enough and is greatly lacking in resources, so right now we’re not very effective. But we have to start somewhere. And we work to connect with comrades like this writer to build this program on the inside and on the streets.

In the short term, anyone looking to build small independent institutions behind bars can start a study group. This is a good way to start educating others while also learning yourself. And you can build from there with anyone willing to sit down and study. We can support this work with study questions and literature, just let us know you’re interested!

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[Education] [United Front] [ULK Issue 69]
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Build Cellblock Schools as Independent Institutions

education over violence

Peace to all the Gods that's stuck in these chains. I would like to speak power to the truth. I'm a young God in prison, but I feel there is a need for U$ Afrikans on these prison yards to focus more on building up a school than to focus on these prison politrix. What will the curriculum be in this school??? Knowledge of Self (KOS)! Why?? Well my son, that's a question asked most by the 85 and less by the 5ive%. It's a necessity for U$ to gain this truth about ourselves and all of our stolen greatness, to remind ourselves who you really are: "Original Man."

Because the majority of U$ are living in a bunch of lies, believing the blood suckas and what we've been taught by them; the trick-knowledge, weak wisdom, slick-understanding enslaved our mind frames believing since I was born and came from the trenches I have to depend on the United $nakes government for GR, Section 8, SSI, EBT, etc. to live and function as a citizen.

Wake up, that's wrong G. See this issue we focus on the topic at hand, which is "Independence." That's 1 of our 5 principles in the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Correct and Exact. So we don't need no government assistance in building up a school, we just need brothers who are dedicated to show up to cipher, getting these lessons Father Allah gave U$ Gods. It's all about chain of command with the system. If custody sees brothers coming to cipher they should have no problem getting our cell doors unlocked for school. Word is Bond.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Education] [ULK Issue 68]
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Love Your Varrio by Liberating Your People

Growing up in the internal semi-colonies (ie. Aztlán, New Afrika or the reservations), one is confronted with a certain form of oppression. This national oppression naturally compels our youth to come together and unite for survival purposes. This phenomenon is mirrored anywhere in the world where the contradictions exist between oppressor vs. oppressed nations. This results in oppressed youth forming youth survival groups, which the capitalist state calls "gangs."

Lumpen organizations, or lesser-organized youth survival groups, are a reaction to living under an oppressor nation and although it is a good alternative to assimilation or attempted assimilation to Amerikkka, there is a need to develop more fully to political consciousness. Political consciousness will be what leads to liberation of our nations.

In my own development, I realized how my varrio will always be my varrio, my homies always my homies, my brothers always my brothers. But in order to liberate Aztlán it will take more than being a rebel. I now know if i truly love my people and community i should uplift their consciousness, not turn my back on them. The goal is to bring my people to the side of revolution. The goal is to have my people develop as did the excellent example of the Young Lords Party. From a so-called "gang" to a revolutionary organization. This can be accomplished via political education. Each one teach one. Start with your cellmate, then neighbors, then homies on the tier and branch out. Leaders should institute political education and raise the consciousness of the org. This is when real accomplishments will be gained. Rise!

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[Education] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 63]
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Revolutionaries Making a Big Impact with Education

It was 1995. I was in my late 20s and totally caught up in the tribal death style! For the first year or so, I spent much of my time learning who was who, and how to navigate the very dangerous and reactionary gen pop yards. It should be noted that in the beginning, we rec-ed together in GP yards. (This changed in 2004/05.)

At any rate, when I got to the next unit I met conscious men. Two in particular still stand out in my mind: Kareem and Ray Luc. The former was a student of the Party and member of prominent militant entity created by them, in the Bay Area! The latter was a staunch revolutionary, who walked it like he talked it, to the fullest.

Kareem used his extensive knowledge (learned in CDC) to teach us. We had mandatory "machines" (i.e. collective exercises with cadences) each day! Mandatory study of all progressive literature and mandatory Kiswahili lessons weekly. Kareem was a taskmaster who used his position (within so-called "Calicar") to subtly coerce us towards a souljah's identity.

Ray Luc was our source of revolutionary literature. It was through this brother that we learned of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Fidel, Che, MIM, and other groups and newspapers. Ray Luc used to give us revolutionary education on a daily. Him being Euro-Amerikan and being such a firm revolutionary! And in ADX, where 99% of the European captives aligned with the "Aryan" identity speaks volumes about his strength of character and total commitment to struggle.

Between the two of these brothas, many ADX reactionaries were forever transformed by their revolutionary organizing efforts. Many street tribal members became nationalists. Others (like myself) went on to then embrace New Afrikan Revolutionary ideology. Whatever we each went on to do, it was a direct result of the organizing techniques of comrades like Kareem and Ray Luc. Strategies that I utilize to this day actually.

Kan't stop, won't stop. Will not be stopped. Machine! Power to the people.

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[Education] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 63]
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Books Ignited a Flame in Me

While growing up in Newark, New Jersey, I always heard of the stories about the riots, the grassroot movements, and life in the aftermath of the 1960s and 70s. However, I was a young kid who only cared about getting high, gang banging, and wanting to be recognized as being big and bad. Well I got recognized alright, but for the wrong reasons. In 1999, at the age of 20 years old, I was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In the first few years in prison I was still acting a fool, still trying to be recognized as big and bad. But it wasn't til 2005 when that revolutionary spark first ignited in my mind. It all started when I went to solitary confinement for a fight I was involved with. While in solitary confinement I didn't have nothing to read or anything to keep my mind occupied. So I spent hours at a time just standing at the door yelling and cursing out the pigs as they went by for their counts. Anyway, I guess my next door neighbor got tired of listening to me yelling, so he knocked on my wall and ask if I needed a book to read. So I said, "yeah, sure why not." He passed me a book called Assata by Assata Shakur. Before this I never knew who she was or even read the book, but being that I had nothing better to do while in solitary I read it.

While reading the book, flipping through page after page, Assata's story spoke to me. I felt and recognized her struggle. Within two days I finished the book and now it was me knocking on my neighbor's wall, wanting more to read. My neighbor was an older brother, and throughout the year I spend in solitary he kept feeding me books such as Blood in My Eye, Soul on Ice, and other great books. My neighbor was a firm believer in the ideology of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panthers. Being a Latino myself, he also taught me about people and groups such as Che Guevara and the Young Lords Party. Now, instead of yelling on the gate for hours on end, my neighbor and I would spend hours talking to each other, building and helping me become more conscious of myself. He helped me realize that me wanting to be known as big and bad was just that egotistical force for recognition, which will one day lead me into a brick wall.

After my sanction in solitary confinement was complete, I continued my studies while on mainline. I read up on people such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mao Tse-tung, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Marx and many others. Gang banging wasn't even on my radar. That one spark became a single flame, changing the way I think, the way I talk, and the way I conducted myself. Throughout the years since then, that flame is now a hungry fire inside of me, like the heat of earth on fire. My sole mission is to help educate those oppressed about their political and social conditions that we live under! Because as my neighbor taught me so long ago, "Each one teaches one!" Power to the people!

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[Education] [Release] [Recidivism] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 60]
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Rehabilitation Must Push People to Their Fullest Potential

Seven out of every ten parolees will be arrested sometime after their release. Nearly half will return to prison someday. The plague of recidivism hangs over every releasee's future like the scythe of the grim reaper coming to cut short their potential beyond the concrete walls, iron bars, and razor-wire of the perpetually proliferating injustice system. The very dehumanizing experience of imprisonment itself plays a significant role in criminal conditioning. For many, it is the influencing factor of imprisonment that detrimentally affects them the greatest. Many learn from those mistakes of their past and some don't. For those with the ability to endure the physical and psychological terrors of "doing time," the lack of skills acquired leaves them with few options other than crime for economic survival after release and leaves the parole board wondering whether or not it made the right decision in granting parole in the first place.

More often than not, it is overlooked as to what may have led to someone's imprisonment and what may be done to help them overcome the struggles or obstacles in their path and in order for them to have a successful reintegration into society. The feeling of defeat is often a temporary condition, but there is never a better measure of what a person is than when they're absolutely free to choose. Removing the individual's choice leads to a lack of inspiration and motivation to overcome one's struggles, and they eventually give up hope. Giving up is what makes the temporary condition of defeat permanent. Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.

In prisons the use of manual labor is considered by several states to be rehabilitative for those given the duty of performing labor that could be done by an advancement in technology through farming equipment. In all actuality, this manual labor is of no use to the prisoner and further hinders true rehabilitation. More money is put into prisons, county jails, and other state penal institutions than there is put into the actual rehabilitation of the prisoners. The addition of more educational programs throughout the state penal institutions would serve a greater good and present people with more opportunities for a successful reintegration into society. "Hoe squad" and "regional maintenance" are a hindrance to the efforts to rehabilitate criminal behavior and thinking modification efforts of the individual prisoners.

Forcing a prisoner to perform such tasks of manual farming and regional clean-up to replace that of existing farm equipment and jobs that are the responsibility of our city labor forces, and without an incentive for possible job placement upon release, serves no greater purpose to the individual prisoner and proves to be more dehumanizing than rehabilitative. It has been declared by many that we can change our circumstances by a mere change of our attitudes, but when placed under duress with no choice in the matter there becomes no room for progress. In regards to rehabilitation, it should and must be the objective of our state government and legislature to seek out better avenues by which to lower our states' recidivism rates, and use education as an avenue by which to rehabilitate our states' prisoners. The person everyone wants returning to their community is an educated, empowered taxpayer who has the skills to help make our society safe and healthy.

As an ex-convict, I understand the limitations placed on our states' prison populations by the use of "hoe squad" and "regional maintenance" as a form of rehabilitation. The value of post-secondary correctional education programs prove to be very beneficial. As this article is written, I am in progress of putting together business plans for an outreach program entitled "A New Leaf Outreach Program" aka "My Brothers' Place" that will serve as an avenue by which convicts / ex-convicts and parolees / probationers, as well as the community, may come together and organize our knowledge — not denying one another the opportunity to teach what we know and learn what we may not know — and bring about a solution to our society's problems.

One may choose to be a part of the problem or choose to be a part of the solution. Regardless of one's past mistakes, one always chooses to be a part of the solution. Once you are challenged, you find something in yourself. Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records. Success is based upon how one rises above his defeats.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer explains well the importance of education for prisoners and the uselessness of many of the "jobs" programs that currently exist. This failure of the work programs is specific to the criminal injustice system that seeks to control populations rather than educate and rehabilitate.

In communist China under Mao we have examples of prisons where people were sent for genuine rehabilitation and education. These prisons integrated work programs for the prisoners, to help them contribute productive labor to society and learn skills they might use on the outside. When prisoners were released in China it was after undergoing intensive education, which included reading many books and discussing these books with others. This process of study and criticism/self-criticism helped them see why their actions that harmed other people were wrong, and giving them a sense of purpose to their lives that did not involve harming others.

All of this occurred within the greater context of a society where everyone was given a role, and expected to participate in transforming society. We can't expect the imperialists to implement such a progressive system because it would be counter to their use of prisons for social control and impossible in a capitalist dog-eat-dog society. But we can, as this writer says, build together to be part of the solution. We can build our own educational programs, study groups, and organizations independent of the oppressor. This is our job right now, as we build to ultimately take down this corrupt and unjust system.

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[Education] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Liberation Schools to Organize Through the Walls

Lumpen Education

One way to accomplish the task of organizing the streets from behind bars is to show the importance of organizing. We on the inside of the razor wire slave plantations have transformed our minds from criminals serving the interest of the oppressor, into revolutionaries who educate our oppressed nation by way of the Afrikan struggles that happened before us in our history. These true revolutionary nationalists challenged the conditions of slavery with rebellions, and within the system that continues to treat us as second class citizens, in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and still to this day.

Within the prison system we've resisted these practices by our solidarity demonstrations, with 3 mass hunger strikes and our Agreement to End Hostilities, and now we have organized the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington DC on 19 August 2017. With this demonstration we are attempting to show that the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to treat us as modern-day slaves. The Millions for Prisoners March is led by men and women on the inside and organized by men and women on the outside.

This is a show of solidarity with the understanding of knowledge about the injustices being done to us economically, politically, socially, culturally, and militarily by the capitalist system. A system of exploitation dependent on the stratification of society into opposing economic classes who compete within and against one another for upward mobility in the class system, and especially in the prison system across this country. In order to beat this monster we have set up education classes within the prison system, entitled schools of liberation.

With liberation schools you teach the new generation about struggle and what the New Afrikans accomplished by their resistance, which was an example on how to challenge your conditions, like the elders, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party, just to name a few trail blazers. In every form of resistance, be it armed conflict, heroic methods with bravery, educating the masses, leading demonstrations, or getting the word out in newspapers, building schools of liberation will help strengthen you in character and bring about a revolutionary new man & woman, which will give you a world view of scientific socialism, and the desire to end oppression, long-term solitary confinement, and to see people thrive throughout the inner cities of the United $tates. We will never give up or give in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives some excellent examples of organizing behind bars, both to educate prisoners and to build the movement on the streets. And liberation schools behind bars can accomplish both tasks, by building solid revolutionaries who will continue their activism when they hit the streets. For people looking to get your own schools together, we offer study groups through the mail along with materials to support your prison-based study group. Get in touch to get involved.

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