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[Organizing] [International Connections] [California]
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MAC/IAC: Working for the People or Working for the Pigs

Many prisoners view the organization formerly known as the Mens Advisory Council (MAC), now known as the Inmate Advisory Council as servants of the people behind prison walls. Most of the people believing this fallacy are the new or relatively newer and younger prison population, and even some older prisoners who should really know better by now. However, for those of us who do know better we not only know the true limitations of the MAC but their true purpose within these walls, and so it's not for nothing that some of us refer to the MAC organization for what it really stands for: "Man Against Convict."

The original idea for what came to be known as the Mens Advisory Council can be traced back to the turbulent 60s and 70s inside of California prisons and the violent years that followed which included a relatively high number of staff assaults, prisoner-on-prisoner violence, and both peaceful and violent protests. The Council was initially conceived of by socially conscious prisoners as a way to not only encourage and develop dialogue between prisoners themselves to avert unnecessary violence between the white, [email protected], New Afrikan and First Nations, but also as a way to develop this same dialogue between prisoners and the prison administration. In this way then the precursors to the MAC were meant to function not only as representatives of the prisoner population with prison administrators, but as advocates of prisoner rights.

And for some years this precursor to the MAC org did what they set out to do, maintaining both a level of favorable and positive bias towards the prisoner population as well as enjoying a righteous level of credibility amongst prisoners themselves. Both the precursor to the MAC organization as well as the MAC itself tackled issues ranging from visiting policy and procedure, to basic hygiene and sanitation issues, to quantity and quality of food, to how our mail was to be properly handled.

As time went on however the MAC went from an organization representing the interests of the prison population as a whole to being co-opted by the powerful lumpen chiefs and representing their narrow and counter-productive interests, from which it was then taken and turned into an organization working in the interests of prison administrators. Today the IAC functions as an extralegal means for prison administrators to get from us exactly what they want, which is a highly passive and compliant prisoner population. As such, the MAC/IAC organization has become just another tool of the prison administration used to control us not unlike the tools on a pigs belt; like the pepper spray they use to gas us, or the batons they beat us with — just another tool.

I would like to take this concept even further. One can even liken a MAC rep to a neo-colonial ruler in the Third World who, thru their representation in government, gives the illusion of independence and a real self-determination to their compatriots; a nominal independence or a fictious level of power. This is not to say that the MAC/IAC never get anything done or accomplish anything for us. Quite the contrary, they do manage to accomplish a small victory from time to time. But prisoners get it twisted when they begin to believe that the MAC/IAC reps are there to serve or win anything for us. We must be clear about one thing here, the MAC reps accomplish nothing for us that the administration doesn't allow them to. In other words, in the battle for prisoners' rights, prison administrators do not lose to the MAC/IAC, rather they concede. Concessions in the prison realm are "necessary evils" to prison administrators as they are used to lend a level of legitimacy to the MAC/IAC org and hence continue their support from the wider prisoner population. Just like the system of neo-colonialism in the Third World, nominal leaders are allowed to govern and rule exactly because the imperialists allow them to, but these leaders must also have the support of the masses so that they may keep on ruling, or else the entire system collapses.

Surely there will be some who want to consider my allegations to be untrue, but it is hard to argue with my thesis when you see the MAC/IAC reps actively working against you. All you have to do is look closely at your MAC/IAC reps and ask them, what have they done for you lately? What oppressive and repressive policies have they helped the pigs peacefully implement and transition to with or without prisoners' consent? Not for nothing that a lot of the MAC/IAC reps are flat out hustlers and silver-tongued liars looking to swindle you out of your rights and privileges. Indeed if we look closely at these MAC/IAC reps we can see that they are messenger boys and running dogs to the administration because they have to be.

This is not to say that all MAC/IAC reps are bad. Of course there are some who actually seek out and take up these positions because they are truly interested in bringing positive change to the oppressed prison population, but these people are few and far between. These people however are also naive because they actually believe that they can bring real change to the prison environment thru steady reform, therefore they can also be some of the most convincing and legitimizing aspects of this oppressive prison apparatus and hence the most lethal to the prison movement for they will try the hardest to convince you of working within the system.

For those of you still not convinced of what I'm talking about, let's examine CCR Title 15, Article 3, Inmate Councils, Committees and Activity Groups 3230. Establishment of Inmate Advisory Councils:


(a) Each warden shall establish an inmate advisory council which is representative of that facility's inmate ethnic groups. At the discretion of the warden, subcommittees of the council may also be established to represent sub-facilities or specialized segments of the inmate population.

...

(2) The council shall operate only under the constitution and by-laws as prepared by the council's inmate representatives with the advice and guidance of designated staff and approved by the warden.

...

(d) Inmate advisory council representatives shall not, as a council representative, become involved with inmate appeals unless the matter affects the general inmate population and such involvement is authorized by the warden.

...

(h) A staff person at the level of a program administrator or higher shall be designated as the inmate advisory council coordinator.

(i) Facility captains shall be directly involved in council activities within their respective programs and may delegate specific aspects of supervisor, direction and responsibilities for council activities within their unit to subordinate supervisors.


Now let's look at what is described as the decision making process in matters of foreign policy on an international level and the general rules and concepts of how a strong nation (namely Amerikan imperialism) interacts and deals with weak nations (those in the periphery):

"The structure of a decision making process — the rules for who is involved in making the decision, how voting is conducted, and so forth — can affect the outcome, especially when a group has indeterminate preferences because no single alternative appeals to a majority participation. Experienced participants in foreign policy information are familiar with the techniques for manipulating decision making process to favor outcomes they prefer. A common technique is to control a group's formal decision rules. These rules include the items of business the group discusses and the order in which proposals are considered ... Probably most important is the ability to control the agenda and thereby structure the terms of debate."(1)

Foreign policies are thus described as
"the strategies used by governments to guide their actions in the international arena. Foreign policies spell out the objectives state leaders have decided to pursue in a given relationship or situation as well as the general means by which they intend to pursue those objectives....States establish various organizational structures and functional relationships to create and carry out foreign policies. Officials and agencies collect information about a situation through various channels; they write memorandums outlining possible options for action; they hold meetings to discuss the matter; some of them privately outside those meetings to decide how to steer those meetings. Such activities, broadly defined are what is meant by the foreign policy process.'"(1)

The Machiavellian implication of all this is all very apparent then, and one must be a special kind of naive to not see the resemblance between imperialist foreign policy and how prison administrators choose to deal with the prison population; the majority of whom come from the oppressed nation lumpen.

Amerikan imperialism is hostile to the oppressed global majority and their foreign policies are reflective of this hostility. Likewise prison administrators' dealings with the prison population mirrors Amerikan foreign policy exactly because prisons are extensions and tools of national oppression and social control, and so it is logical and to be expected that Amerikan foreign policy and the policy of prison administrators are two sides of the same oppressive coin. Whereas one deals with the oppressed nations on an international level, the other deals with the oppressed nations on a domestic level. Furthermore, as a matter of foreign policy U.$. borders are the structures used to keep Third World workers out and unable to gain access to their portion of wealth stolen by U.$. imperialism, whereas prisons are used to keep the oppressed nation lumpen in their place and away from this same global metropolis.

It has been said many times before, prison is a microcosm of society and it is time we begin to actively engage in this society. Marxist philosophy holds that we are all products of our environment and just as our environment has the power to influence and mold us, so do we have the power to influence and mold this same environment. We shouldn't be relying on individuals or small cliques of people to speak and act for us. We should rely on ourselves and our sheer numbers to bring change. Therefore, it is time that this whole business of MAC/IAC reps be done with and put to an end. It would be a positive qualitative development for the prison masses to begin relying on themselves. Individuals don't make hystory, the masses do.


Notes:
1. International Relations, Goldstein and Pevehouse. Pearson Longman publications, p.139.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [National Oppression] [International Connections] [Migrants] [Militarism] [Texas]
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Imperialist Cancer Found in Detention Centers and Militarism

Imperialism is the ravenous cancer eating away the body of humynkind. Karnes Detention Center in Texas is owned and operated by slimy fungi in the guise of humyns known as GEO group. And GEO group is Amerikkkan kkkapitalists feeding at the table of suffering like worms eating the insides of defenseless infants.

Karnes Detention Center (KDC) is one of the hundreds of torture chambers housing lumpen who are labelled "Illegal Immigrants" by the Amerikkkan elitists. Housed at KDC are mothers and their children. They have no criminal backgrounds. All came to amerikkka because of persecution in their native lands. Persecution often caused by amerikkkan kkkapitalist intervention in the domestic affairs of those lands.

At KDC one lawyer reports seeing many children with persistent cough. The children complained of no medical care and lack of edible food. A three-year-old girl with asthma was told to "drink water" when her mother sought treatment for her.

The food was pre-packaged and expired. Rotted and beyond use. The lawyer brought cookies for them from a vending machine. One sad looking girl held hers but did not eat. When the lawyer asked her, the tiny child said, "I will share mine with mommy." It was then noticed that none of the children ate cookies until they could share with their mothers.

KDC exists because of an executive order signed by united snakes president Obama. He reminds me of a "house nigger." You know, the "smart one" who looked after "Massa's affairs," and slept in "Massa's house?" The one who kept massa informed of dem dumb field niggas jes in case dey was a plottin' and schemin'. House nigger don't care that his "privilege" stands on the backs of bleeding filed workers. Chief Pig Obama and GEO Group stock holders get tax money for crushing undocumented children and their mothers.

Now we could discuss Obama's overwhelming and extensive use of military drones to kill innocent families in Third World nations. We could discuss how house nigger plans to sell drones to other countries to enable those countries to do "operations" that are illegal for the u.$ to perform. Or we could discuss Judge Gideon of Dewitt Town Court in New York. He issued an Order of Protection for Colonel Earl Evans. Colonel Evans is commander of Hancock Field where weaponized Reaper Drones are remotely piloted to make lethal strikes in Afghanistan. These cowardly amerikkkans fire missiles and kill innocent Afghani mothers and children from a cozy office across half a continent and an ocean from the victims. Slaughter without risk.

But Colonel Evans was granted an Order of Protection. He lives on a military base surrounded by soldiers with massive weaponry who are trained and ready to defend Colonel Evans. He needs an Order of Protection because he wants "protection" from peace activists who stand outside the base protesting drone warfare. And then Judge Gideon jails those activists for violating that Order of Protection, circumventing the First Amendment of the united snakes constipation.

Odd but I hear that old tune "London Bridge is Falling Down," but the word "Amerikkka" replaces "London Bridge." May the piece of shit soon implode. Maybe then the Afghanis can get an Order of Protection.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [International Connections] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 34]
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ULK34: Prisoner Health a Systematic Problem

Humyn health is perhaps the most basic measure of oppression that we have. More than economic exploitation, humyn health measures the degree to which the basic survival needs of people are being met. Looking at the conditions of health in U.$. prisons, as well as reservations, barrios and ghettos across the United $tates, does not paint a favorable picture of imperialism and its ability to provide for humyn needs, not to mention even worse conditions across the Third World. Given this, health becomes an issue that we can rally the oppressed around to both serve the people and oppose imperialism.

We've been pushing this very issue in United Struggle from Within (USW) circles in California for some months, in some cases leading to state repression. With the recently suspended mass hunger strike in that state, a rash of deaths in Texas and the usual array of abuses across U.$. prisons, we thought this was an opportune time to focus an issue of ULK on health struggles.

Health was a central theme in the California hunger strike where prisoners began to pass out from lack of food and other complications. Bill "Guero" Sell died after a approximately two weeks on hunger strike. The state says it was suicide, but however he died, the SHU was the cause of death. One San Quentin prisoner's kidneys shut down, and many complained of the lack of medical monitoring and the aloofness of medical staff. We have been sending regular updates to comrades in California about what has been going on over the last two months. For those who want to see more reporting in ULK, send in your donations to help reach the goal of $250 to add 4 pages to a future issue.

In at least two Texas prisons we have comrades organizing around the murders of prisoners by staff abuse and neglect, the most basic health campaign. In Texas we also have positive examples of organizing sports as a way to bring people together and improve health. Meanwhile comrades in more restrictive conditions in one California prison were punished for organizing group exercise, calling it "Security Threat Group activity."

The manipulation of people through chemical substances is another common health theme. Many comrades are being denied medications they depend on and facing life-threatening conditions. At the same time oppressed communities fight the use of recreational drugs to oppress their people as seen in the struggle of the Oglala Lakotah. The exposure of this form of low-intensity chemical warfare right here in North America is particularly relevant at a time when the blood-thirsty imperialists have been ramping up for an invasion of Syria based on unsubstantiated claims of chemical weapons use by the government there.

From rotten potatoes in Massachussetts, to inadequate servings in Nevada and people forced to rely on vending machines in Florida, basic nutrition is denied to people in a country where 40% of food is wasted. Recently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that greenhouse gases from global food waste is more than the emissions of any single country except China or the United $tates.(1) Water, another vital resource, is also used to produce all this wasted food. From U.$. prisoners, to the global countryside where malnutrition leads to thousands of deaths daily, to the environmental services that all of humynity depend on, the capitalist profit system has failed to serve humyn need.

We can look to the barefoot doctors in revolutionary China, or the mobile health units of the Black Panther Party or the Young Lords Party as examples of serving the people's basic health needs in a revolutionary context. The Chinese also took a completely different approach to mental illness, which bourgeois society does more to cause than to remedy. Materially, the capitalist economic system can produce enough for everyone, but cannot provide it to them. It's a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control, because if it did not the system would be overthrown. Rather than begging the oppressor for a little relief, let's implement real solutions to these problems.

This article referenced in:
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[Europe] [International Connections]
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British Conservative on UK Prison System

prison diary 1 bellmarsh hell
A Prison Diary: Volume 1
Bellmarsh: Hell
by Jeffrey Archer
2002
Macmillan

Jeffrey Archer is a well known fiction author and former member of Parliament in Great Britain. He was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party for a year (1985-86). Archer was still active in government politics as Conservative Party candidate for mayor of London in 1999 when he was convicted of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to four years in prison. Archer kept a daily diary in prison and released it as a series of three books. This review covers the first book, which is about his stay in Bellmarsh, where Archer began his prison sentence.

On the positive side, this book is written for a general audience unfamiliar with prisons, and exposes many of the injustices and failures of the British prison system. These same failures, on a much larger scale, exist in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. For instance, British prisons have drug testing regulations that actually encourage marijuana users to become addicted to heroine. Archer documents his interactions with some very intelligent, resourceful, and humane prisoners in Bellmarsh, a high security prison associated with violent criminals. He repeatedly points out the lack of opportunities for prisoners, and the screwed up system that pushes people locked up for minor offenses into a life of crime.

Archer also does a service to the fight against the imperialist prison system by documenting the failure of day-to-day rules and regulations to serve any purpose but torture and isolation. From the lack of access to edible food and water, to the many long hours locked up isolated in cells with no activity, to the restriction on cleaning supplies, Archer details many failures of the British prison system. These conditions, bad as they are, when compared to the Amerikan prisons, seem almost luxurious. In particular, there are restrictions on prisoner abuse by staff, which seem to be actually respected and followed, at least where Archer is concerned.

Archer, however, is a firm believer in the government. And he repeatedly appeals to the leadership of the British system to pay attention to what he is writing so that appropriate reforms can be implemented. Archer never questions the fundamental basis of the criminal injustice system, and in Britain where the imprisonment rate is 154 per 100,000 (compared to the 716 per 100,000 in the U.$.), there is a less compelling story of prisons as a major tool of social control by the government.(1) However, Blacks in England make up 15% of the prison population and about 2.2% of the general population, a disgraceful discrepancy which Archer only touches on in passing when discussing the good prison jobs going only to white prisoners. Even this discrepancy is small-scale compared to the percent of Black's in prison (40-45%) relative to their population size in the U.$.(12%).(2)

Overall, this book is useful as a contribution to bourgeois literature on prisons because it no doubt was widely read by people who otherwise have little exposure to conditions in prison in England. However, it does not expand or contribute to the revolutionary analysis of prisons in any way, and so it leaves its readers hoping someone in power in the government takes heed of the problems and decides to make some changes. We recommend readers interested in learning more about prisons in the United $tates read the more revolutionary books and magazines distributed by MIM(Prisons). Or at the very least, for a more mainstream but still very useful analysis, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, is a good starting place. We are not aware of revolutionary literature on the prisons in England and welcome suggestions from our readers on this subject.

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[International Connections] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 32]
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Advance the Struggle for Humyn Rights in CA Prisons

smash the shu
Amendment I of the Bill of Rights of the United States:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

After decades of expanding the repression of the U.$. prison system, and despite their effectiveness in misleading and breaking up unity, the control units remain a flashpoint of struggle within U.$. borders. These flashes do take time to develop, due to the excessive restrictions placed on those in these units. So when they do come to light, they emerge from much struggle and are not likely to fizzle out soon.

The struggle against control units is a struggle against torture. It is a struggle against not just the violation of some of the most basic rights that this country was founded on, but also basic humyn needs like sunlight, exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction.

Orders From the Top

As U.$. president, Barack Obama once honored Rosa Parks and the movement of civil disobedience that she symbolized. It was a movement of Black people for basic rights under U.$. imperialism. Yet today the Obama administration gives its explicit approval to the torture and repression going on in a country that imprisons more of its population than any other state in humyn history, and a higher percentage of Blacks than the openly racist Apartheid state of South Africa. U.$. prisons also hold a higher percentage of their prisoners in long-term isolation than any other state that has been documented.

The 2014 federal budget proposed by Obama includes an overall increase in funding for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. More damning, it describes the remodeling of the recently acquired Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois to include an Administrative Maximum Custody (ADX) and Special Management Unit (SMU). ADX "houses the most violent, disruptive, dangerous and escape-prone inmates within the Federal Prison System including those convicted of terrorist activities." "The SMU program is for inmates who have participated in or had a leadership role in geographical group/gang-related activity or those who otherwise present unique security and management concerns." The budget proposal claims that one in six prisoners in maximum security are "gang affiliated." It does not specify how many of the 2100 beds will be SMU or ADX classified.(1) While lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the treatment people face in these units, and international bodies like the United Nations condemn them as torture, the Obama regime is providing clear leadership to the hundreds of state and local agencies involved in the U.$. prison system on how prisoners are to be treated.

Obama's role is even more clear in Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners are being held as enemy combatants by the military. Prisoners there began another hunger strike on 6 February 2013. Since then the ranks of the strike have grown to over 130 people.(2) Many are being force-fed, and many are skeletal in appearance now.

All this is being done as the United $tates still has the audacity to claim it is promoting freedom around the world, with bombs. As we highlight the connections of the struggle against control units to the struggle against the imperialist system itself, the global importance of this struggle becomes evident. As RAIM pointed out in their recent statement to the international communist movement, failures at building socialism in the past have been connected to a temptation to imitate Amerikan ways. One way the anti-imperialist minority in the First World can strengthen the movements in the Third World is by making it very clear that this is not a model to follow, and that the Amerikan dream is built on torture, genocide, exploitation and injustice.

What to Expect

A Yemeni prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay, who has been on hunger strike since the start had an Op-Ed published in The New York Times, where he wrote,

"I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn't. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.

"I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I'm sleeping.

"There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren't enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up."(3)

Another prisoner who has since been released from Guantanamo Bay after a 438-day hunger strike reported how the force feeding was brutal and they did not clean the tubes between feeding people. The prisoners asked military personnel why they were doing this:

"They told us, 'We want you to break your hunger strike.' They tell us directly like that. They ask us to break our hunger strike. They said, 'We'll never deal with you as the detainees until you break your hunger strike.'"(2)

Comrades from NCTT-Corcoran-SHU (a New Afrikan think tank) have reported that staff at Corcoran State Prison have been announcing similar plans to prisoners in California, indicating that they will not be providing proper medical care and attention to strikers in their prison in the future. These threats, which violate state policies, will also result in undercounting strikers.(4) It is possible that information will not flow as freely this time around, meaning outside supporters will have little information to go on until the struggle is over. This reinforces the need for strong unity among those inside and the ability to act independent of outside support.

We've also received word of plans to move prisoners and staff around strategically over the next couple months. In particular, Special Needs Yard prisoners are reportedly being moved to other facilities and given work assignments. Prison staff apparently thinks this will dilute the spirit of prisoners. However, depending on the balance of forces, this could go either way. We know there are strong supporters of the prisoners' rights movement in SNY already, and we hope these coming months provide the conditions to further break down the divisions within the imprisoned lumpen class. While we know that staff regularly bribe prisoners to create disruptions among the population, the mass support for the interests of all prisoners will make it hard for these bribed prisoners to create disruptions openly in the coming months, hopefully longer.

There have been positive reports of prisoners being moved to areas they once could not go, as a result of the agreement to end hostilities that has been in place for over 6 months now, which was endorsed by the largest organizations in California prisons. In particular, positive reports have come from Pelican Bay and Corcoran, where two of the main SHUs are located. San Quentin death row has also reached out to share ideas to build their own prisoner rights campaign over the coming months.

We have received some letters about ideas on tactics for advancing the prisoner rights movement in California. We've printed some in ULK and shared others with United Struggle from Within members in California. But in most cases it is impossible for us to have a full understanding of the balance of forces, and thus we are not in a position to determine which tactics are best. In addition, conditions vary so much between facilities. Clearly the comrades in Pelican Bay and Corcoran took the lead in struggling to shut down the SHU and they will likely continue to do so. What we can say for sure is that July 8 will be an opportunity to have your voice amplified by acting in solidarity with all across the state, and many in other states as well. To determine how you can best do this, you must think through and balance the effectiveness of your tactics with the risks involved.

Where we can provide leadership is in our ideological alignment. Some lists of goals that are circulating include things that are not humyn needs. These demands may be subjectively popular among the prison masses, but will greatly damage support from the outside and internationally by trivializing the struggle for basic rights. As we presented in ULK 31, below are the strategic goals that, if attained, we think would represent the establishment of basic humyn rights for prisoners (note a small change to point 1.f.).

  1. An end to torture of all prisoners, including an end to the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) as long-term isolation prisons.

    Basic humyn needs are centered around 1) healthy food and water, 2) fresh air and exercise, 3) clothes and shelter from the elements and 4) social interactions and community with other humyns. It is the SHU's failure to provide for these basic needs that have led people around the world to condemn long-term isolation as torture. Therefore we demand that the following minimum standards be met for all prisoners:

    1. no prisoner should be held in Security Housing Units for longer than 30 days. Rehouse all prisoners currently in SHU to mainline facilities.
    2. interaction with other prisoners every day
    3. time spent outdoors with space and basic equipment for exercise every day
    4. healthy food and clean water every day
    5. proper clothing and climate control
    6. an end to the use of and threat of violence by staff against prisoners who have not made any physical threat to others
    7. access to phone calls and contact visits with family at least once a week
    8. timely and proper health care
    9. ability to engage in productive activities, including correspondence courses and hobby crafts
    10. a meaningful way to grieve any abuses or denial of the above basic rights

  2. Freedom of association.

    As social beings, people in prison will always develop relationships with other prisoners. We believe positive and productive relationships should be encouraged. Currently the CDCR makes it a crime punishable by torture (SHU) to affiliate with certain individuals or organizations. This is contrary to the judiciary's interpretation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We demand that prisoners of the state of California only be punished for violating the law, and that there be:

    1. no punishment based on what books one reads or has in their possession
    2. no punishment for jailhouse lawyering for oneself or for others, for filing grievances or for any challenges to conditions of confinement through legal means
    3. no punishment for what outside organizations one belongs to or corresponds with
    4. no punishment for communicating with other prisoners if not breaking the law
    5. no punishment for tattoos
    6. no punishment for what individuals of the same race/nation/organizational affiliation do unless you as an individual were involved in violating a rule or the law, i.e. no group punishment
    7. no punishment for affiliation with a gang, security threat group, or other organization - in other words a complete end to the gang validation system that punishes people (currently puts people in the SHU for an indeterminate amount of time) based on their affiliation and/or ideology without having broken any rules or laws

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[Spanish] [U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 35]
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La Cultura de la Tortura Amerikana Golpea al Inmigrante

El inmigrante proletario ha sido componente fundamental del incremento en el número de prisioneros en los Estados Unido$ en los últimos años. Debido a ello están sufriendo en sus propias carnes las tácticas de tortura que los Amerikanos utilizan contra sus propios ciudadanos. Un informe reciente muestra que la oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas de los EEUU tiene a más de 300 prisioneros en aislamiento en 50 de sus mayores cárceles, lo que supone un 85% de sus detenidos. La mitad son mantenidos en aislamiento durante 15 o más días y cerca de 35 de los 300 llegan a permanecer en esas condiciones más de 75 días(1).

Aunque estas condenas son relativamente cortas comparadas con las que ya se consideran habituales en los Estados Unido$, las experiencias vividas en ellas son particularmente difíciles para el inmigrante que no habla ingles y han sido víctima del trafico de seres humanos.

Los autores del articulo citado anteriormente relatan con tono cauteloso que los Estados Unido$ usan el aislamiento más "que cualquier otra nación democrática en el mundo." Esto solo indica que es posible que otros países utilicen el aislamiento todavía más. Una de las razones por las que no pueden obtener estadísticas sobre las prácticas carcelarias de algunos países es que éstos son regímenes títeres de los Estados Unido$ que se administran de una forma intencionadamente opaca para permitir formas extremas de opresión contra los pueblos oprimidos. No hemos podido encontrar pruebas de una nación mitológica que torture en confinamiento solitario a más gente que Amerika.

Los Amerikanos encarcelan a más gente que ninguna otra nación incluso excluyendo a aquellos que mantienen en prisiones de terceros países. Con al menos 100,000 personas en aislamiento de larga duración dentro de las fronteras de los EEUU, parece altamente improbable que ningún país pueda superar sus números. Podemos encontrar más pruebas si observamos el estado de las prisiones en la mayoría de los países del tercer mundo, las cuales son más transparentes con su información que cualquier prisión de baja seguridad en los Estados Unido$. Las excepciones a esta regla siempre son los países con gran actividad militar o de inteligencia Amerikana, donde normalmente son los propios Amerikanos los que gestionan las prisiones.(3)

El ciudadano de los EEUU Shane Bauer fue encarcelado con cargos de espionaje por el gobierno de Irán, el cual es independiente de los Estados Unido$. Bauer nos ofrece ejemplos de como sus condiciones en aislamiento se distinguen en lo positivo y en lo negativo de las de aquellos encarcelados en Pelican Bay SHU en California. Lo más llamativo es el tiempo total pasado en aislamiento, que en su caso fue de sólo cuatro meses. Comparándolo con el "democrático" sistema de injusticia de los EEUU, Bauer escribe sobre Iran: "Cuando Josh Fattal y yo finalmente nos presentamos ante la corte revolucionaria de Irán, teníamos un abogado presente, pero no se nos permitió hablar con el. En California un reo que se enfrente a la peor condena posible, con excepción de la de muerte, no puede tener a su abogado en la
sala. No se le permite acumular o presentar evidencias para su defensa. No puede llamar a testigos. Muchas de las pruebas, recabadas por informantes, son confidenciales y por lo tanto imposibles de refutar. Eso fue lo que el Juez Salvati nos dijo después de que la persecución soltase su discurso acerca de nuestro papel en la vasta conspiración Americano-Israelí: había montones de pruebas, pero ni nosotros ni nuestro abogado podíamos verlas."(2)

Cita luego una decisión de la corte de los EEUU: "el juez dictaminó que 'un prisionero no tiene garantía constitucional de inmunidad al haber sido falsa o injustamente acusado de una conducta que pueda resultar en la privación de su libertad.' En otras palabras, es perfectamente legal que las autoridades de la prisión mientan con el objetivo de encerrar a alguien en aislamiento."(2)

La célebre prisión Californiana de "Pelican Bay" informa de un promedio de tiempo de los reos en el SHU (Unidad de Confinamiento Seguro) de 7.5 años. Muchos de los que pelearon por la liberación nacional contra el imperialismo Estadouniden$e han pasado 30 o 40 años en aislamiento en prisiones a lo largo de los Estados Unido$. MIM(Prisons) no conoce informes de ningún otro Estado que utilice el aislamiento como herramienta de castigo hasta estos
extremos.

Las técnicas de tortura desarrolladas en las unidades de control Amerikanas fueron diseñadas para destruir el espíritu combativo de las personas y grupos sociales que desafían el status quo, en particular el imperialismo de los Estados Unido$. Treinta años después de su desaparición, la posesión de materiales del Black Panther Party (Partido de los Panteras Negras) todavía mete a la gente en problemas de forma regular, siendo incluso citados por una infracción del tipo "Grupo de Amenaza a la Seguridad" (Security Threat Group). Éste es el termino Amerikano para los "crímenes de pensamiento".

Puede que estas técnicas se están desarrollando en centros de detención de inmigrantes como forma de disciplina para el proletariado Mexicano que los Amerikanos temen como una fuerza social de cambio. O puede ser un ejemplo de la cultura de una nación opresora extendiendo sus tentáculos hacia otras naciones. Sea como fuere, esta es una de varias formas de opresión que sirve para socavar el mito propagandístico de Amerika como nación que promueve la libertad.

Durante años, los Estados Unido$ han sido criticados por las Naciones Unidas como el principal Estado responsable del uso del aislamiento de larga duración como forma de tortura. Hoy, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos dijo, "Debemos ser claros: los Estados Unido$ están en clara violación no solo en sus propios compromisos sino también en leyes internacionales y normas que están obligados a cumplir."(4) Estas palabras figuraban en una declaración dirigida a los 166 extranjeros que llevan más de una década detenidos en la prisión de Guantanamo Bay, muchos sin ningún cargo.

Así como el armamento de alta tecnología no pudo ganar la guerra de los Amerikanos en Afghanistan, las técnicas más sofisticadas de tortura de las modernas unidades de control no pueden acallar el ultraje extendido de las masas que viven bajo el dominio imperialista. Las oportunidades para hacer conexiones internacionalistas en el movimiento de prisiones dentro la fronteras de los EEUU no hace más que crecer a medida que más y más gente de
fuera de esas fronteras son atrapados por el sistema.


Notas:
1. Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz. Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks, New York Times, 23 March 2013.
2. Shane Bauer. Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons, Mother Jones, 18 October 2012.
3. Cora Currier and Suevon Lee. The Secret Prison
ProPublica gathers the best reporting on detention and rendition under Obama, 16 July 2012.
4. Stephanie Nebehay. U.N. rights chief calls for closure of Guantanamo prison, Reuters, 5 April 2013.

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[International Connections] [ULK Issue 32]
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Strategic Confidence in the International Balance of Forces

Together we break imperialism
While many of our readers write to us to express the lack of consciousness and unity in the prisons where they are held, one USW comrade pointed out in ULK 31 h realization that ULK is a venue where conscious prisoners can come together and build, minimizing that isolation. We try to make ULK a tool that helps the development of the growing new prison movement. But primarily it is to be the "voice of the anti-imperialist movement" in U.$. prisons, and it is a Maoist-led project. This not only sets this newsletter apart, but makes for what we believe is a more effective way to address oppression.

Over the years, we've received comments from some USW comrades that ULK is too light on international news and analysis. With all the reader surveys we've gotten back recently, we've had many say they love the content of ULK and like to hear about similar struggles throughout the U.$. prison system. But a few have said they find the prison reporting dry and, more importantly, it does not provide a clear political message to the less ideologically developed comrades. If true this would be a grave error.

Even if we unite the handful of conscious comrades in each prison across the country, we are still only dealing with a small minority of prisoners, not to mention the whole U.$. population. One young comrade recently wrote us, "I write this because I seek advice. At times I feel like giving up trying to fight this fight because it seems like I'm here fighting by myself."

While the day-to-day struggles of USW comrades are primarily focused on the conditions of oppression that the prison masses around them face, a reformist strategy would understandably lead one to defeatism. This is particularly true if you accept our line that Amerikans in general support the current injustice system and have made it what it is today. How could asking them for change ever change anything? That is why we strive to help prisoners build reformist battles in targeted ways that build a movement, while realizing the limitations of such struggles. Campaigns for prison reform are a tactic to push the prison movement to develop.

One important piece of our strategic orientation is the strategic confidence we have from our global class analysis. Basically, our analysis says that the vast majority of the world's people, a solid 80%, will benefit materially from an end to imperialism. This is why we believe anti-imperialism is destined for success. Subjectively, this can be important to keep in mind in an environment surrounded by class enemies or by those with bourgeois consciousness.

Pulling these theoretical points together into our practice, as editor i will continue to push for international content in each issue of Under Lock & Key, as has been our policy. One way i plan to expand the international connections we make is to have a section in each issue to print news snippets on events from the Third World that demonstrate determined resistance and a broad class consciousness that is opposed to imperialism. We hope that our readers find inspiration in this information that you probably aren't getting from other news sources. With no further ado, here are a few recent events that help illustrate why we have strategic confidence in the people's struggle against imperialism.

Paktiya province of Afghanistan, 17 April 2013 - Hundreds of angry residents protested against NATO occupation troops for conducting a night-time raid that killed at least one citizen.(Khaama Press) The sentiments of the people of Afghanistan are so clear that even U.$.-backed President Karzai has continuously called for an end to these raids led by the Amerikan military.

In India it is reported that Maoist forces have established a "Red corridor" allowing troop movement between the two key fronts of the People's War in southern Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, near Gumla. (Hindustan Times, 15 April 2013)

The Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been leading a People's War for decades, has clearly opposed the use of the Philippines to stage a U.$. war in Korea:

"With not even a hint of advocating or forging an independent foreign policy, the Aquino regime declared it an 'obligation' on the part of the Philippines to side with and support US warmongering under the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of 1951. The Filipino people must take a stand and resist the Aquino regime's puppetry to US imperialism and for dragging the Philippines into intervening in the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific. Such a policy endangers the Filipino people."(CPP Ang Bayan, 10 April 2013)

Meanwhile, Hezbollah's Nasrallah said in a TV statement, "Syria has real friends in the region and the world that will not let Syria fall in the hands of America, Israel or Takfiri (extreme jihadi) groups."(The Guardian, 30 April 2013) Russia and Iran continue to support the Syrian government, while Obama threatens intervention and Israel has reportedly bombed the capital of Damascus. This over two year "civil war" is an example of why we say World War III is already here, and it is characterized by U.$. hegemony and low-intensity warfare in the Third World involving both local interests and the conflicting interests of the imperialist camps.

In South America, indigenous people have once again interrupted construction of the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil. Hundreds of people including, "Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapo, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakana, Arara, fishermen and peoples who live in riverine communities" occupied the site releasing a statement that read, in part,

"You invent stories that we are violent and that we want war. Who are the ones killing our relatives? How many white people have died in comparison to how many Indigenous people have died? You are the ones killing us, quickly or slowly. We're dying and with each dam that is built, more of us will die. When we try to talk with you, you bring tanks, helicopters, soldiers, machineguns and stun weapons."(Earth First! News, 2 May 2013)

Finally, in Ecuador, the media has covered the continuing struggle of the Wuaroni and Kichwa people who have pledged to fight to the death to keep oil operations out of their homeland in pristine Amazon rainforest habitat. Both struggles stand strong against formidable opposition of the local state and multinational corporations.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 32]
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Amerikan Torture Culture Hits Migrants

Maoism Path to Prisoner Liberation
Proletarian migrants have fed much of the growth in the prison population within U.$. borders in recent years. As a result they are getting a taste of the torture tactics Amerikans use against their own citizens. A recent report showed that U.$. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds about 300 migrants in solitary confinement in 50 of its largest detention facilities, which account for 85% of their detainees. Half of them are held in solitary for 15 days or more and about 35 of the 300 are held more than 75 days.(1)

While these terms are relatively short compared to what has become normal in the United $tates, the experiences are particularly difficult for migrants who don't speak English and have been the victims of humyn trafficking.

The authors of the article cited above cautiously state that the United $tates uses solitary confinement more "than any other democratic nation in the world." This implies that other countries may use solitary confinement more. One reason they cannot get stats on imprisonment practices in some countries is that they are U.$. puppet regimes purposely run under a veil of secrecy to allow extreme forms of repression of the most oppressed peoples. We have seen no evidence of a mythical nation that is torturing more people in solitary confinement than Amerika.

Amerikans imprison more people than any other nation even if we exclude the people they are holding in prisons in other countries. With at least 100,000 people in long-term isolation within U.S. borders, it seems unlikely that any other country can top that. Further evidence exists by looking at the state of prisons in many Third World countries, which are far more open than even the low security prisons in the United $tates. And the exceptions to this rule are all countries with heavy Amerikan military/intelligence activity, and usually Amerikans themselves are running the prisons.(3)

U.$. citizen Shane Bauer was imprisoned on charges of spying by the government of Iran, which is independent from the United $tates. Bauer offers examples of how his time in solitary confinement differed in both positive and negative ways to those held in Pelican Bay SHU in California. But one stark contrast is the time in solitary, which for him was only four months. In a comparison of the "democratic" U.$. injustice system and that of Iran, Bauer wrote:

"When Josh Fattal and I finally came before the Revolutionary Court in Iran, we had a lawyer present, but weren't allowed to speak to him. In California, an inmate facing the worst punishment our penal system has to offer short of death can't even have a lawyer in the room. He can't gather or present evidence in his defense. He can't call witnesses. Much of the evidence — anything provided by informants — is confidential and thus impossible to refute. That's what Judge Salavati told us after our prosecutor spun his yarn about our role in a vast American-Israeli conspiracy: There were heaps of evidence, but neither we nor our lawyer were allowed to see it."(2)

He later cites a U.$. court ruling:

"the judge ruled that 'a prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongfully accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest.' In other words, it is not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary."(2)

California's notorious Pelican Bay reports an average time spent in the Security Housing Unit there as 7.5 years. Many who fought for national liberation from U.$. imperialism have spent 30 to 40 years in solitary confinement in prisons across the United $tates. MIM(Prisons) has not seen reports of long-term isolation used to this extreme by any other government.

The torture techniques used in Amerikan control units were developed to break the spirits of people and social groups that have challenged the status quo, and in particular U.$. imperialism. Thirty years after their demise, materials from the Black Panther Party still get people in trouble regularly, sometimes even with a "Security Threat Group" charge. That's the Amerikan term for a thought crime.

It could be that these techniques are being expanded into migrant detention centers as a form of discipline of the Mexican proletariat that Amerikans fear as a force of social change. Or it could just be a case of oppressor nation culture spreading its tentacles into other nations. Either way, this is just one of many forms of oppression that serve to undermine the propaganda myth of Amerika as a nation that promotes freedom.

For years, the United $tates has been under criticism by the United Nations as the principal state using torture in the form of long-term isolation. Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said, "We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold."(4) This was in a statement addressing the 166 foreign nationals held in Guantanamo Bay Prison for more than a decade, most without charges.

Just as high-tech weaponry could not win the war in Afghanistan for the Amerikans, the sophisticated torture techniques of the modern control unit cannot overcome the widespread outrage of the masses living under imperialist domination. The opportunities for making internationalist connections to the prison movement within U.$. borders only increases as more people from outside those borders get swept up in the system.

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[International Connections] [Middle East] [ULK Issue 27]
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Palestinian Prisoners Still Striking Too

When the 2011 food strike was peaking in California, MIM(Prisons) had mentioned similar tactics being used by Palestinians in Israeli prisons. And just as the struggle in U.$. prisons continues, so has the struggle of the Palestinians. A mass hunger strike lasted 28 days this spring, with some leaders having gone as long as 77 days without food, until an agreement was made on May 15.

"The written agreement contained five main provisions:
  1. The prisoners would end their hunger strike following the signing of the agreement;
  2. There will be an end to the use of long-term isolation of prisoners for "security" reasons, and the 19 prisoners will be moved out of isolation within 72 hours;
  3. Family visits for first-degree relatives to prisoners from the Gaza Strip and for families from the West Bank who have been denied visit based on vague "security reasons" will be reinstated within one month;
  4. The Israeli intelligence agency guarantees that there will be a committee formed to facilitate meetings between the IPS and prisoners in order to improve their daily conditions;
  5. There will be no new administrative detention orders or renewals of administrative detention orders for the 308 Palestinians currently in administrative detention, unless the secret files, upon which administrative detention is based, contains "very serious" information."(1)


While the concessions were a bit more gratifying than those that stopped the strike in California, Palestinians still have to ensure that Israeli actions followed their words, just as prisoners have been struggling to do in California. And sure enough the Israelis have not followed through, as leading hunger strikers have had their "administrative detentions" (which means indefinite imprisonment without charge or conviction) renewed. One striker has been on continuous hunger strike since April 12, and was reported to be in grave danger on July 5, after 85 days without eating. Others have also restarted their hunger strikes as the Israelis prove that they need another push to respect Palestinian humyn rights. [UPDATE: As of July 10, Mahmoud Sarsak was released from administrative detention, after a three month fast. Others continue their fasts, including Akram Rikhawi (90 days), Samer Al Barq (50 days) and Hassan Safadi (20 days).]

MIM(Prisons) says that U.$. prisons are just as illegitimate in their imprisonment of New Afrikan, First Nation, Boricua and Chicano peoples as Israel is in imprisoning the occupied Palestinians. The extreme use of imprisonment practiced by the settler states is connected to the importance that the settlers themselves put on the political goals of that imprisonment. Someone isn't put in long-term isolation because they're a kleptomaniac or a rapist, but they are put in long-term isolation because they represent and support the struggle of their people to be free of settler control.

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[Education] [Latin America] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 27]
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Prisoners Study for Early Release in Brazil

Time is Knowledge
Brazil has instituted a program in its federal prisons to allow prisoners to earn an earlier release by reading certain books and writing reports on them. In a country with a maximum prison sentence of 30 years, they recognize the need to reform people who will be released some day. The program is interesting for us because it's hard to imagine Amerikans accepting such a program, in a country where there is no consideration for what people will do with themselves after a long prison term with no access to educational programs, and prisoners who do achieve higher education get no consideration in parole hearings.

This reform in Brazil seems to be quite limited. Only certain prisoners will be approved to participate, there is a limit to 48 days reduction in your sentence each year, and the list of books is to be determined by the state. Meanwhile, the standards applied for judging the book reports will include grammar, hand-writing and correct punctuation. Which begs the question of what are the prisoners supposed to be learning exactly? Writing skills are useful to succeed in the real world, but being able to use commas correctly is hardly a sign of reform.

In socialist China, before Mao Zedong's death, all prisoners participated in study and it was integral to every prisoner's release. Rather than judging peoples' handwriting, prison workers assessed prisoners' ability to understand why what they did was wrong, and to reform their ways. The Chinese prison system was an anomaly in the history of prisons in its approach to actually reforming people to live lives that did not harm other humyn beings through self-reflection and political study. This type of system will be needed to rehabilitate pro-capitalist Amerikans under the joint dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations. It is very different from the approaches of isolation and brute force that Amerikans currently use on the oppressed nations.

While it would be a miracle to have in the United $tates today, the Brazil program demonstrates the great limitations of bourgeois reforms of the current system. The books are to be literature, philosophy and science that are recognized as valuable to the bourgeois culture. And the standards for judging the prisoners will be mostly about rote learning. The politics that are behind such a program will determine its outcome. Without a truly socialist state as existed in China during Mao's leadership, we can never have a prison system truly focused on reforming people.

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