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Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Control Units] [Oregon]
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Forming Prisoner-led Study Groups in IMU

I was discussing the difficulty of forming a study group in Intensive Management Unit (IMU), which is Oregon's Security Housing Unit (SHU), with a comrade (we are both in IMU) and we have figured that we two can at least do a study group with the two of us. We are hoping that you guys will be able to help with the literature. We are wanting to study "The Communist Manifesto" by Marx. If that is not a possibility we are hoping for "On Contradiction" by Mao. I don't believe my comrade is on the Under Lock & Key (ULK) list, but if you could put him on the mailing list and send us both copies of Marx or Mao or both or whatever is available. His info is enclosed.

We are, of course, willing to do political work for trade. Besides the essay enclosed, I am also working on an essay about "The Chicago Anarchist Trial" of 1886, in which the in-justice system fixed a trial and put four revolutionaries to death. My comrade is also working on a separate essay about revolutionary nationalism. We will send them in when they are completed.

On the invoice it was asked to answer those four questions, so here we go.

1. The most valuable thing I learned was about the "labor aristocracy." I had some prior knowledge, but the concept was expanded greatly in my mind.

2. I can't say that I disagree with the idea of a "white working class" as "labor aristocracy." But I am just trying to assimilate this fact with my previous revolutionary theories.

3. I would like to learn more about dialectical materialism and social sciences in general.

4. What most relates to the day-to-day struggle is to stop seeing the U.$. working class as potential revolutionaries. They are part beneficiaries from imperial exploitation.

As I said before, I am in IMU or SHU and so face different challenges when it comes to group study. I am really hoping ULK 45 will address the special circumstances that are part of the SHU study groups, and how to deal with and get around those challenges. But, if you can help us with the literature we will report back on how our SHU study group works out!

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[Education] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 45]
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Education vs. Propaganda

I am a tutor in the prison's fascist propaganda program, known as GED Preparation. In the classes the prisoners are taught the official U.$. government history line, which they are expected to parrot back when they take the GED tests.

Some of the lies the prisoners are taught are:

  1. The "valiant" Amerikan colonists fought for freedom with the help of many willing Black slaves. Of course, freedom for the slaves was never an issue, only how to secure power and control for the white masters (all male) who wrote the new rules (Bill of Rights, etc.) for the nascent Amerikan government.

  2. Once the British gave up, the new Amerikans immediately headed west to grab as much "vacant" land as possible, and with the accompanying preachers, to convert those filthy, violent heathens to the correct religion, Christianity. The religion that teaches "slaves obey your masters." They don't mention that when those pesky primitives resisted handing over the land, they were attacked, killed if possible, then once subdued, were herded off for re-settlement (to land no whites wanted because it was unlivable badland).

  3. At the end of the Civil War in 1865 Abraham Lincoln and his minions passed the 13th Amendment which, it was claimed, ended slavery. Totally ignored and denied (if questioned) by the teacher was the part saying "... except as punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted..." Then the creation of thousands of "crimes," when conviction of any of them meant to be thrown into slavery. "Put on those shackles and start hoeing that cotton, prisoner!"

I sit in the class with steam coming out of my ears as I listen to the lies. I cannot speak up if I want to keep my job. Frustration! Once out of class though, I talk to receptive people so they get the real history and its impact on the U.$. social/political system.

Comrades who write of the need for prisoners to educate themselves, using their free time for improvement, are absolutely correct. Prisoners reading the MIM publications will find truth and real knowledge. In the prison-created/mandated classes they will find only the official U.$. government line. However, we still can learn truth if we are willing to do our own research, talk to aware comrades, analyze the information, and then come to rational awareness.

In conclusion, if you want to win in your battle against the forces of capitalist fascism, then learn how to educate yourself, and spend your free time doing it. Knowledge does lead to power. Ignorance supports only slavery.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer is on point about the underlying themes of capitalist education and the importance of anti-imperialist information. We must take what we can from all sources. If you don't have a high school diploma and your prison offers GED classes, it's well worth enrolling. But we need to take this education, along with the mainstream press, with a critical eye knowing it is representing the capitalists' dishonest version of history and news. We can learn some useful facts but we have to always put them under the anti-imperialist microscope. This is why alternative press like Under Lock & Key is so important. We print the news that no one else will publish. If you are reading this, share it with others and help spread the knowledge and build the power of the oppressed.

If you need access to non-Amerikkkan history books and study materials, you can get them from MIM(Prisons) via our correspondence study courses, Free Books for Prisoners Program, or the United Struggle from Within prisoner-led study group support project. Just write in to get started! And if you're like this comrade and are trying to reach out to interested people to spread revolutionary education, write in to get some anti-imperialist propaganda to share.

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[Education] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Utilize Cyber Space and Social Media to Expose the Corrupt Texas Pigs

Comrades, consider all the murders of people of oppressed nations in Amerika: the Trayvon Martins, Andy Lopezes, Renisha McBrides, and Michael Browns. Now consider the media attention and the fact that even though some attention was given to the racist security guards and police officers who were involved in these heinous acts, was justice rendered?

In Texas, finally we have woken up to the fact that attempting to ask the closed loop fraternity of oppressors to fix this corrupt grievance program is not the proper strategy to fix the problem.

In the mean time, numerous prisoners have been beat and murdered by Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) pigs hiding under the blanket of qualified immunity. The Office of Inspector General has been a willing conspirator in the cover-up of abuses of prisoners and Senator John Whitmire, the Chairman of the Texas State Legislatures Criminal Justice Committee, is the Chief of culpability when it comes to murders being un-investigated and obstruction of justice tactics made the status quo! Senator John Whitmire is a closet racist and cast in the same mold as the Dixiecrats of the South circa 1960 and 1970.

It is true, Texas State Representative Dr. Alma Allen from Houston fought hard to have House Bill 877 (HB877) passed during the 83rd legislative session in 2013. This is the TDCJ Independent Oversight Committee bill which Whitmire wouldn't support stating that “We already have policies and committees in place that do that.” Bull shit Whitmire!

Comrades, we must make a concerted effort to expose TDCJ prison employees and hucksters like Whitmire in the media. Let the public see exactly what is going on up in here and let the public decide whether the system is just or corrupt. What we do is start drafting brief, informative, and concise e-mails and blog postings and ask a family member, friend, or fellow comrade to post or send emails to particular sites and addresses.

For instance, Huntsville, Texas is the home of numerous TDCJ prisons and modern day slave camps and gulags. Huntsville has a newspaper called The Huntsville Item which occasionally reports on issues that take place within TDCJ. I've started to send short news clips and blog blasts to the Huntsville Item detailing abuse that I've witnessed or been victim to: [email protected], attn: news room. Put their ass on blast right in their own back yard!

But there's more!

The Houston Chronicle is the largest most circulated newspaper in the state of Texas. Chronicle staff writers Mike Ward, Anita Hasson, and Dan Schiller all focus on criminal justice issues and have exposed many instances of abuse inside TDCJ but they are or seem to be protectors of the pigs! Nevertheless, they are opportunistic journalists and love a juicy tale of murder, intrigue, and corruption, all salient subjects present inside the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice. I encourage you strongly to have brief but informative packed emails sent to them also! Houston Chronicle staff writer email addresses: [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

The Texas Observer is a left leaning “Journal of Free Voices” which publishes a monthly magazine. I've also been developing a rapport with them.

The prison show on KPFT 90.1 FM actually has a Facebook page which I highly recommend you have your friends, family and comrades visit and post short messages that detail abuse and the inadequacy of this important and useless grievance program!


Murders but no accountability

Comrades, too many prisoners are being killed by TDCJ employees and the murders are being justified as necessary use of excessive force by sadistic, brutal, and criminal TDCJ employees. As I said earlier, the Office of Inspector General is condoning and sanctioning these murders of the lumpen, so on top of our media strategy we must start contacting the Texas Rangers and the Public Integrity Unit in Austin, Texas.

The Texas Rangers are one of the oldest most advanced law enforcement agencies in Texas. Outside of the FBI the Rangers are the top pig organization in Texas. When we coordinate our efforts in such a manner as contacting the media and these Rangers, playing it out in the public domain, I promise you we will get some action right out of the chief imperialist pig oppressor Brad Livingston, TDCJ Executive director.

The public integrity unit in Austin investigates corruption of those who hold public office. So all those board of pardon and parole officials who've been taking bribery money from so-called parole lawyers in Texas watch out! All those Texas correction industries employees who have been engaged in deceptive business practices stealing tax payer dollars and promoting the slave plantation system in Texas – watch out!

Comrades, please understand that this info I am giving you has the potential to create a major disturbance in the corrupt practices of TDCJ. The oppressors don't want you to utilize this information but if we can get a significant number of comrades to embrace this strategy it will strengthen our position.

MIM(Prisons) is correct when it says the TDCJ independent oversight committee would bring progress for our fight against abuse and injustice. But remember this is a long protracted struggle that will go on for years. The key is to unify behind this strategy. We need actors not rappers.

Address: The Texas Rangers, PO Box 4087, Austin, Texas 78773-0600
The Public Integrity Unit, PO Box 1748, Austin, Texas 78767


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter because it gives us a chance to address the question of how to build public opinion. We agree with this comrade that it can be useful to send information to various media outlets to expose injustice. Sometimes they will cover our struggles, if not for the reason of actually supporting these struggles. But we do need to be very aware that media is not unbiased. Mainstream media is beholden to advertisers and so very much biased in favor of capitalism and the criminal injustice system. This means that when this media does cover our struggles, it will usually be with a slant or perspective that is counter to ours. Is it useful to have the media cover a prisoner hunger strike over bad conditions by interviewing the warden and letting him have a forum to tell the public how the prisoners are wrong and conditions are good? Of course, getting our side of the story in the hands of this media may get the struggle covered with at least a bit of our perspective. That is a good thing, but we cannot rely on mainstream media. This is why MIM(Prisons) publishes Under Lock & Key. The oppressed need our own media reporting from our perspective. USW88 left out ULK as a place where people should send their stories, but we must always keep this in the front of our minds: any story or news worth sending to the mainstream media should be sent to ULK first. ULK is the most likely place it will get printed!

Ultimately we need to distinguish between our short-term goal of achieving reforms to improve the living conditions of our comrades behind bars, and our long-term goal of eliminating the criminal injustice system. The first goal may sometimes be aided by broad publicity brought to the atrocities going on behind bars. The second goal will only be accomplished with an organized communist movement with solid anti-imperialist principles. We will never get anti-imperialist education printed in mainstream media. And so we can use these avenues tactically for short term battles, but we should not rely on them for anything more. And all of our work needs to be in the context of our long-term goals: even reforms should serve as educational tools for our comrades and potential comrades to explain why we will never be able to reform away imperialism.

As for the strategy of contacting the Texas Rangers, this is a historically very reactionary arm of the law enforcement with roots in the repression and murder of [email protected] We definitely don't expect them to take action on behalf of the oppressed . Exposing the criminal injustice system actions to this criminal “law enforcement” agency is a bit like reporting a corrupt pig to the pigs. Action is almost never taken. And further, those reporting the information to the Texas Rangers have now given over their name and contact info for future repression. Rather than encourage people to put their energy into this tactic, we suggest more work writing articles about what's going on behind bars and in the streets, from the perspective of the anti-imperialist movement.

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[Education] [National Oppression]
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Supreme Court Upholds National Oppression in Education

April 22 - The U.$. Supreme Court upheld a Michigan ban on affirmative action in admission decisions to public universities, a final decision that reinforces national oppression in education from grade school through college. The majority opinion of the court upheld the state law that was enacted by Michigan voters in 2006. In addition to Michigan, seven other states have enacted similar bans: California, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New Hampshire.(1)

The Supreme Court couched their ruling in arguments about upholding democracy: “It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds,” justice Kennedy explained in the majority decision.(1) This faith in the capability of the voters in Amerika is only correct if we seek to reinforce white supremacy. 76% of Michigan's population is white, and Amerikan capitalism promotes individualism and self-interest, so we should expect this population to vote in their own persynal interests, which rest on national oppression. "Decent and rational grounds" cannot be found as the basis for banning a practice of affirmative action that attempts to address the unequal access to educational opportunities offered oppressed nation youth in the United $tates.

As we explained in 2012 when a lower court ruling was issued on this case, bans on affirmative action are fundamentally reactionary in that they preserve white privilege, but overall affirmative action itself has failed oppressed nation youth. Affirmative action does not address the fundamental inequalities faced by oppressed nations within U.$. borders, it's just an attempt to deal with the effects of these inequalities in young adults. As we wrote in that article: "The achievement gap between Black and white children went down between the Brown v Board of Education ruling and the late 1980s. But it started to grow again in the early 1990s. By 2005, in about half the high schools (those with the largest concentration of Blacks and Latinos) in the 100 largest districts in the country less than half the students entering the schools in ninth grade were graduating high school. Between 1993 and 2002 the number of high schools with this problem increased by 75%. These numbers, not surprisingly, coincide with a drop in Black and Latino enrollment in public universities."(1)

The affirmative action debate highlights the ongoing existence of national oppression within U.$. borders. And it underscores the intersection of class and nation, keeping a sizable portion of New Afrikans and Latinos without a high school diploma and unable to take advantage of affirmative action in college admission even where it still exists. This goes back to the way that public education is funded in the United $tates, through property taxes, ensuring that poor neighborhoods will have lower quality education and denying kids from those neighborhoods the opportunities availabile to kids from wealthier neighborhoods. This economic segregation is tied to national segregation, creating a cycle of poverty that reinforces national oppression within this wealthy imperialist country.

The debate over affirmative action at the college level gets at the core of what equality is. Those who demand "blind" admissions practices have to pretend that everyone applying for college admissions had equal opportunities up to the point of college application. And this gives us a chance to challenge people on what many like to call a "color-blind" society. Even looking at the privileged Blacks and Latinos who went to schools good enough to qualify them to apply for college admission, pretending equality is only possible if we ignore all the aspects of oppression that these groups face in the U.$., from overt racial hatred to subtle cultural messages of inferiority. Society sets oppressed nation youth up for failure from birth, with TV and movies portraying criminals as Black and Latino and successful corporate employees as white. These youth are stopped by cops on the streets for the offense of skin color alone, looked at suspiciously in stores, and presumed to be less intelligent in school.

But the real problem is not the privileged Black and Latino students qualified to apply for college admission. These individual students from oppressed nations who are able to achieve enough to apply to colleges that have admissions requirements are a part of the petty bourgeoisie. The reality is very different for the other half of the oppressed nation youth who are tracked right out of college from first grade (or before) and have no chance of even attending a college that has admissions requirements beyond a high school diploma.

Among the students who entered high school in ninth grade, 63% of Latinos, 59% of Blacks and 53% of First Nations graduated high school in 2009. This is compared to 81% of Asians and 79% of whites. Overall the Black-white and Latino-white graduation rate gap narrowed between 1999 and 2009 but is still very large.(2)

This recent court ruling reinforces our belief that we cannot expect Amerika to reform away national oppression, even within U.$. borders where some formerly oppressed nations have been integrated into the oppressor majority. At this point in history, imperialism vs. the oppressed nations is the principal contradiction both globally and within u.s. borders. The dramatic differences in educational access and achievement are just one example of the oppressed/oppressor nation differentials. MIM(Prisons) fights on the side of oppressed nations everywhere for the revolution that will overthrow imperialism end national oppression.

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[Education] [Virginia]
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I am in Charge of your Destruction

My roommate is serving a life sentence. A few years ago he became eligible for parole but each year he is denied with an admonition to "obtain your GED before your next parole hearing."

He has been in prison 20+ years so why hasn't he obtained his GED? Is he ignorant? Lazy? Stubborn? No, each year he submits a request to attend school and each year his request is denied because "classes are reserved for inmates with five years or less remaining on their sentences." Persyns with life sentences will always have more than five years remaining.

The parole board Chairpersyn and the Education Director refuse to compromise. Each states emphatically, "I am in charge and this is my policy."

The imperialist/capitalist mindset views power as a goal in and of itself because imperialism is built upon domination, subjugation, and starvation of "those other people."

Socialism/communism views power as a means to a worthy goal. The view is toward the community or collective, and power is used to help each persyn find his or her place of function or service within the collective. A communist who sees a worker on the roadside with a flat tire will stop and show the worker how to change the tire. The imperialist will stop and flatten the other three tires, then punish the worker for being late to work by docking the pay.

In American life we see many selfish abuses of power. For example, almost 100% of persyns released from prison are at the lower end of the American socio-economic scale. Yet their criminal convictions will make them ineligible for low income housing. And if they have a conviction for a "sex offense," they are pretty much prohibited from living anywhere except landfills and moon craters.

Criminal convictions in American "society" restrict employment to generally the most menial and lowest paying jobs. Yet imperialist judges demand fines, court costs, and restitution payments begin immediately. Usually there are additional monthly fees for parole and for court-ordered treatment programs. Plus, the former prisoner's drivers license is suspended or revoked until these payments are made, effectively hindering the mode of transportation to seek or maintain employment.

Deification of the individual ego and crushing the down-trodden are lauded achievements in imperialist nations. The only treatment for these symptoms is decapitation and removal of the minds that develop and implement politics designed to keep the impoverished in poverty.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer provides some excellent examples of how the criminal injustice system (CIJ) works to keep the lumpen class down. And as this article notes, the CIJ is an integral part of the imperialist system, serving an effective role of social control. The author outlines the ultimate solution to this problem: overthrowing imperialism and implementing a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat. But in the short term we can also fight these repressive policies through independent institutions of the oppressed that build the anti-imperialist movement. Two of these that are directly relevant here are our educational study groups and literature for prisoners, and our Re-lease on Life program. Both work within the current legal system, the first to provide educational materials and classes to prisoners motivated to study, and the second to help prisoners stay out and politically active once they are released. Write to us to get involved in building these programs.

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[Censorship] [Education] [U.S. Penitentiary Florence] [Federal] [ULK Issue 37]
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Educational Repression and Censorship a Tool of the Ruling Class

Understanding the historical foundations that imperialism rests upon, it's not surprising that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has moved to censor MIM material at United States Prison (High-SMU) Florence, Colorado.

As a New Afrikan, and a native indigenous warrior, I strove to show a qualitative form of unity by creating a social-political educational study class with MIM material. However, in a classic predictable anti-social way the BOP censored our materials. By the will to outlast our captors we remain committed and courageous as we strive to expand our political awareness and sharpen our mental tools.

As we study European expansionism, conquest and imperialism we find that their art of politics easily turns into their art of war. By tracking the footprints of history we find the first thing to be seized, controlled and destroyed by European settlers and conquerors is the cultural, political and educational facilities and institutions of those conquered.

By studying the mechanics of imperialistic conquest, we find that to effectively colonize a people the colonial system must thoroughly entrench itself inside the minds of that subjected people. Thus, the educational system of that people must be replaced, and repressed with an anti-social educational system that reinforces a system of slavocracy.

The masters of the means of production fear a people armed with the social weapon of political education, because true liberation education is the well of hope and power that directs and harnesses the humanism of humanity. Education for the colonized is not static nor does it exist on a one dimensional level that's academic in nature. Political, social and cultural education is forever in motion working in a dialectical relationship with materialism. Education is the catalyst for the process of decolonization.

Our brother Frantz Fanon noted: "Decolonization is the veritable creation of new men. But this creation owes nothing of its legitimacy to any supernatural power, the 'thing' which has been colonized becomes 'man' during the same process it frees itself..." Thru correct political and social education the "things" (i.e. the nigga, the pimp, the social parasite, the whore, the agent of fratricide and natural genocide, the gangster, the dope fiend, dope pusha, and every other reactionary element in our community) become true healers of humanity by finding a new sense of humanity within themselves. This is the powerful potential of education.

In Amerikkka it was a crime in the 1700s and 1800s for a slave to be able to read. We hung like strange fruit from trees for just picking up a book. This pervasive ignorance was a sturdy bolt in maintaining the system of chattel slavery, and we find the same system and pervasive ignorance in place today. So for a system that is bent on maintaining the present order of things it becomes a criminal act to possess and process any material that would induce a neo-colonial slave to bend these bars back, break these chains, challenge our minds, find our humanism and take our freedom. The class enemy understands that in the right hands, in the right minds, education would be a dangerous tool. It would become an anti-imperialist weapon of mass destruction and mass liberation at the same time. It would compel the "thing" to become "man", break the chains and rise up and slit the throat of those who presently pull the levers of control.

Our captors work overtime to repress any tendency of the birth of new age Malcolm Xs and George Jacksons. They understand that these jails and prisons are our universities and finishing schools. They know and understand there is a living contradiction between the ruling class and those of us who wear the chains of neo-colonialism. And the imperialists also know and understand there is a scientific development of opposites that's inherent in everything. Thus the material conditions will force the masses to bear the responsibility of solving the economic, political and social contradictions one day. So they can burn all the books, destroy all the libraries, kill all the wisemen, censor all the material they want, but they can't stop liberation.

We educate to liberate!

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[Organizing] [Education]
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Education Countering U.$. Government Propaganda is Essential

In considering the art of warfare and conflict resolution, many miss the significance of how much an effect of one's party winning on the battlefield of propaganda has on that party's victory in the war. Throughout history, effective information distribution has been a major factor in a nation or group gaining/obtaining power. It is essential in the United $tate's retention of its global position today. So one cannot stress enough the importance of the efforts at educating people about injustice.

One of the main ways in which the U.$.government, and the various governments under its jurisdiction, are able to brazenly contradict their stated laws, purpose, and principles, is by ensuring the effectiveness of its personal propaganda machine - the corporate media. For instance, it is well documented and basically established that the CIA is responsible for the introduction of crack cocaine into the streets of South Central Los Angeles, with knowledge and possible complicity from the Executive Branch. Yet in this "war on drugs" none of those mid-to-top level responsible CIA/Executive Branch officials were ever made to face "justice."

On the other side of that, the average Tyrone, in any hood U$A, is given decades to life in prison for selling a minuscule fraction of what the CIA introduced into his community. And by the media, Tyrone is portrayed as the violent dangerous criminal, while George H.W. Bush, and the Clintons are labeled as heroes. It's an irreconcilable contradiction, yet it is accepted as reasonable by the general public, which is mainly due to its well-documented public opinion manipulation tactics.

And with the Amerikan public being so bombarded with pro-establishment garbage, some people don't have any exposure to any info other than what the corporate media presents, and the U.$. establishment's response to the rise of Wikileaks shows that this is by design. Anyone who stands against corruption, repression, oppression, social imbalance, and the other vile things that this nation's ruling class works to promote, must put much focus on a counter-propaganda campaign to show the people precisely what the effects of their support for the antisocial U.$. establishment's policies and actions are in real life circumstances.

This used to be an uphill battle due to the Establishment's exclusive hold on the corporate media, coupled with there being no real alternative means of info distribution. But one of the advantages to this information age is social media, which can give one access to a whole world of people. Now people don't have to rely on the corporate media as their sole means of obtaining info on current events. The establishment has lost its grip on info control and the opportunity for you and most anyone else to be heard is at hand.

And with the daily displays of official lawlessness recently transpiring, and with the corruption adversely affecting more and more people, that's more people with an ear open to your message. Knowledge is power and education is essential to knowledge.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree on the value of alternative news and the need to have media around which to build a movement. This is the reason MIM(Prisons) prioritizes Under Lock & Key, both in print and on the web, as a key responsibility of our organization. However, we do not think, as this writer implies, that the Amerikan people are so mis-educated that they only go along with the government corruption because they don't know otherwise. In reality the Wikileaks exposure has not led to any new uprisings by Amerikan citizens. The government fear about information release is mostly related to international exposure. Within this country they do have to worry about the youth in prisons and universities where there is much broader political consciousness and interest in the real news about what's going on. Amerikans overall are complacent because they are bought off by their government, paid to enjoy a petty bourgeois life at the expense of the international proletariat. And so Amerikans generally are happy to believe the lies fed to them by their government. With Under Lock & Key we hope to reach those at the margins who do not enjoy the Amerikan dream, or who have not yet bought into it. Having a materialist understanding of the social forces in this country will allow us to have a greater impact with our limited resources.

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[Censorship] [Education]
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Does Censorship Encourage Recidivism?

Why does a political newsletter such as Under Lock & Key get denied on a regular basis, but so called urban novels and other related material is allowed in to flood the cell blocks? The answer is simple, political material is dangerous to the established system of injustice. By censoring or abolishing political material the door is open for a replacement and how convenient that the replacement consists of literature conveying tales of drug peddling, murder, deception, racism and other criminal activity. The system uses this replacement as a means to keep ignorant prisoners in a criminal mindset and out of a revolutionary one, because if the lumpen spent the time wasted reading replacement novels with revolutionary research and education, we as a whole would be one stepping stone closer to complete abolishment of the injustice system. Sadly the ignorant prisoner cannot in his mind put down such material because the tales described leap out to him in an enticing manner. This is why the system wins and continues to operate in a full capacity.

The censorship doesn't stop at just political material, education period is under attack. The mail room drones will use any excuse to deny material which they feel would encourage an individual to think for himself and question the tactics of oppression deployed by the injustice system.

I chose this topic because I feel the individuals who fill their minds with system approved propaganda are the ones who suffer most in the long term and need to be reached out to and have the system's hold on their minds broken. I truly hope the many comrades who read this understand my point and will reach out to the ignorant and build them into solid comrades instead of pawns played by the injustice system.

I close this with the following: education is what will deliver the captives from the chains that hold them, but knowledge is not limited to just politics. One must be educated all around in order to attack this oppressive system from all sides and angles, because without education we are everything they want us to be: dumb, ignorant, and harmless. In all reality censorship does encourage recidivism, and as long as the oppressed remain ignorant to the tactics the system has nothing to fear. I encourage all who read this to put down system approved urban novels and pick up an education based book or newsletter, sign up for all political newsletters and educate those around you. Form a study group and become a part of the United Struggle from Within. With unity and solidarity we can abolish the injustice system and we will break these chains of oppression.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we have documented extensively, prisons across the country regularly censor Under Lock & Key and other political literature and even letters that we send to prisoners. This comrade is right that this is politically motivated. Denying prisoners political education while providing them with trash to read is one way the prisoncrats try to prevent political organizing. We need the help of lawyers on the streets to work with the Prisoner Legal Clinic on the day-to-day battles against censorship.

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[Education] [Mental Health] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania Prison System Promotes Social Ills

Systemic and severe violations of international human rights law are an endemic feature of prison conditions in Pennsylvania. This is why the PA Department of Corrections is being investigated by the U.S. Deptartment of Justice and a class action lawsuit has been filed by the Disability Rights Network challenging PA's mental health practices of warehousing prisoners with serious mental illnesses in solitary confinement causing this class of prisoners undue suffering. The treatment amounts to a punishment nightmare where they cannot receive treatment, but receive disciplinary infractions and sanctions for behavior directly related to their mental health issues.

During the past 30 years or more, Pennsylvania has embarked upon a project of race and class based incarceration unlike anything Pennsylvanians have ever seen. In my almost four decades of incarceration, I have witnessed the annual state prison budget increase from under $100 million for the fiscal year 1980, to $2 billion today. Not coincidentally, prison construction and prison population increased with the passage of the law that created the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing in 1982. The prison budget has increased even more because the General Assembly authorized three new prisons and built cells at 17-existing prisons to imprison another 9000 prisoners in the next 3 years. Additionally, PA leads the nation in juveniles serving life sentences, the overwhelming number of them being of African descent.

Pennsylvania is one of many states that are building more jails and prisons at the same time that they are closing schools. While states have an abundance of funds to build jails and prisons, more and more school districts are facing funding and program cuts, furloughs, and hiring freezes. Is it not more sensible to invest in schools than jails and prisons? Schools will help to improve quality of life, education and values; jails and prisons will continue the pipeline to prison and increase the penal population.

Just like I have witnessed the state's annual prison budget increase tremendously, I have witnessed a perversion of the priorities in education that in the long run criminalizes poor blacks and poor people of color in general, institutionally robbing public education to feed the prison industrial complex.

The National Center for Education Statistics affirms that 68 million people read below basic levels, but less money in education is spent. It uses the state of Texas as an example, where they have eliminated close to $4 billion of the budget and also the financing of programs that served 100,000 at-risk children. Other cuts have included the closing of hundreds of schools.


MIM(Prisons) adds:
We appreciate this comrade for taking the time to write this article, which concisely points out many of the problems with the current system. While we print it here for its useful content, we disagree with the reformist line of the article. Long-term isolation is torture for all people, whether you are mentally ill or you are a political prisoner. We've watched as reforms around who gets put into control units only justifies using them against some of the greatest leaders of the oppressed. So we do not report on these efforts uncritically.

As proletarian internationalists, spending more money on schools or prisons for Amerikans is a crime as long as people (whose wealth they've stolen) are dying of malnutrition and basic medical care. Segregation in public schools is an ongoing problem in the United $tates. And the educational disparity, which leaves oppressed nations within U.$. borders with far less than adequate education, feeds into prison. Taking money from prisons to put into education will not solve this problem. While we do support cutting prison budgets as a means to discourage the ridiculously high incarceration rate in this country, as long as the imperialists control the budgets, they will find ways to spend money on furthering their goals. Reforms to spending will just move things around a bit, but not make fundamental and lasting change we will need to end the system of imperialism which prioritizes profit over the life of the oppressed.

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[Education] [Adirondack Correctional Facility] [New York]
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Prisoners Struggle with Lack of Education Programs in NY

Upon entering the state of New York's prison system in 1992 I did not have my high school diploma, nor did I possess my GED. I am a high school drop out. Leaving my education behind was one of the biggest errors I committed in my life while coming of age as an irresponsible adult.

My biggest hurdle, besides my own roadblocks, was worrying about how my peers would judge me (in prison) if I was to enroll in the GED class. This prevented me from signing up. In the New York State Prison System (NYSPS) you cannot get a respectable job/program if you lack the credentials of either a high school diploma or GED. The most you can make is $6/bi-weekly. However, if you have this education then you can make as much as $30/bi-weekly. I was hindering myself from earning more money due to an attitude, misinformation, and pride which left me stagnated for many years.

A person incarcerated in NYSPS cannot enroll in any college programs without either a high school diploma or GED. This was another slap in my face when I desired to register in the "free" college program in 1993 while housed at Attica Correctional Facility.(1)

In 1999 the assistant to the leader in the Islamic Chaplain ordered me to enroll in the GED program when he learned I did not have either a diploma or GED. I enrolled in a GED class and after earning it in 1999 I enrolled in the Inmate Program Assistant (IPA) course which I completed with honors allowing me to land a program as a Teacher's Aid.

Through the years from 1992-1999 I witnessed a drop in the GED graduates among the prison population. This was partly due to, in my observation, the lack of concern the civilian teachers(CT) had for the education of Blacks and Latinos in the classroom, deficient supervision from the civilian teachers toward the hired IPAs who'd rather play cards with the student than help them learn, and poor administrative leadership which directly affects almost every student who really does want to learn. Albany administration limited the utilization of IPAs when the civilians failed to compete with the IPAs statistics in turning out more GED grads than the CTs. So a memorandum came down from Albany to reduce some of the IPAs in the classroom.

From 1999-2008 I witnessed a swooping change in the classroom which shocked my conscience. I saw very few IPAs in the classroom who were bilingual (speaking Spanish and English), I rarely saw Spanish-speaking CTs who could relate to the Latino speaking population. This lack of diversity in the State of New York prison system is hindering the chances for Latinos.

My experience at Barehill Correctional Facility will shock your mind, because of the laziness of the CTs who sit in boardroom chairs, leaning back reading the latest James Patterson novel, with no care in the world. As long as the students and IPAs remain quiet, everything is okay! The CTs get paid for sitting in a classroom doing absolutely nothing, just making sure the students don't tear up the classroom or fight one another. I have written Albany to explain the downfall in the classroom only to be dubbed the troublemaker, whistle blower, or snitch amongst the prison administration in NYS.

Right now I am struggling to continue my education in this facility. It is very difficult to pursue higher education in this facility because of the mindset of the administration (prejudice, racist, and bias) toward the Blacks and Latinos who desire superior education, as opposed to working as a porter around the compound. The waiting list for enrolling into school is at least 3-4 months. By that time many of the prisoners are preparing to either go home, see the board of parole, or transfer to another facility. According to some of the prisoners at Adirondack CF, there are only two civilians teachers who serve the population.

Notes:
1. While at Attica Correctional Facility in 1993-1996, the Pell Grant program was eliminated from the educational programming due to NYS legislature yielding to the public outcry that "prisoners have a better opportunity to earn higher education than their children, who struggle to pay their college tuition." so I was unable to earn a college degree sooner.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Lack of educational opportunities is a major element of national oppression in the United $tates. As we wrote about in an article on Affirmative Action, it is not just in prisons where the schools are inadequate. This is part of the system that prepared Blacks and Latinos for prison. One benefit of an education is jobs that pay higher wages, but the primary reason we focus on education for our comrades behind bars is to raise their political consciousness. Learning basic reading and writing skills is the place to start. We encourage all of our comrades behind bars to take advantage of any prison education programs you can find.

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