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[Security] [MIM] [ULK Issue 37]
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Documents Reveal Imperialist Spies' Online Attacks on Activists

NSA and GCHQ presentation
British Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) presentation to the U.$,
Australian, Canadian and New Zealand intelligence agencies

Newly released information about the British GCHQ and Amerikan NSA expose the agencies' work to manipulate and undermine online individuals and organizations. In addition to the monitoring of online activity, email, and phone calls, the government tactics include Denial of Service attacks to shut down websites, releasing viruses to destroy computers, traps to lure people into compromising situations using sex, and release of false information to destroy reputations.

Previous Snowden documents revealed widespread spying by U.$ and British government agencies. These new documents confirm what we've said for years: the government has a long running infiltration and misinformation campaign to disrupt and manipulate individuals and groups they see as dangerous. This is particularly focused on political activists.

The online attacks were detailed in a 2012 presentation from the British Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) presented to the U.$, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand intelligence agencies. The slides describe this "Cyber Offensive" as "Pushing the Boundaries and Action Against Hacktivism." Essentially this is a way to attack people who are not charged with any crimes but are seen as somehow dangerous, generally because of their political protests.

One of the tactics, called false flag operations, involves posting material online that is falsely attributed to someone, and includes "write a blog purporting to be one of their victims", "email/text their colleagues, neighbours, friends etc," and "change their photos on social networking sites." This is a continuation of the COINTELPRO work of the Amerikan spy agencies targeting activist organizations in the 1960s, moved online for faster and more efficient attacks on enemies of the government. Those who have studied the Black Panther Party know about the government-led infiltratration and misleadership, false letters sent to disrupt internal communication and create divisions, and many other tactics used to imprison and destroy the most advanced and effective revolutionary organization of its time. Maoism is just as dangerous to the U.$. government today as it was in the 1960s, and just as our organizing work has advanced, their COINTELPRO work has also advanced.

It is right for our readers to ask, as one reader did in 2012, "I am concerned you have been already infiltrated or you're a CIA front organization claiming revolutionary organizing." We should question all individuals and organizations in this way, and judge them by their actions. You can't just take someone's word that they are a revolutionary; their political line and actions must be correct. And even then, there is no reason to give out more information about yourself than absolutely necessary. As we outlined in our article "Self-Defense and Secure Communications", we can make the government's job much more difficult by taking some basic security precautions in our work.

These latest Snowden revelations remind us of the struggle of the Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika (the vanguard party of the Maoist Internationalist Movement in the United $tates in the 1980s to 2000s) which had its information hosted on the etext.org website. Throughout their decades of work they often encountered forces on the internet that they characterized as cops based on their politics and behavior. This goes much deeper than our warnings against using corporate online social networks for organizing work. It requires a continued study of politics in order to guard against online pigs who will often outnumber the proletariat forces in that forum. Without a continued study and application of politics in such work, people quickly degenerate into nihilism because they are unable to trust anyone they interact with online. An unwillingness to engage in scientific skepticism will often lead to such nihilism and/or a degeneration to doing work that does not threaten imperialism to avoid these struggles.

Before MIP-Amerika ceased to exist one of its underground leaders went public with his name and persynal information in an attempt to fight back against behind-the-scenes government attacks. Many of the attacks he described come right out of this JTRIG playbook. In response to the situation, many of the MIM posts on etext.org were focused on security and confusing to most readers. But that doesn't make the struggle undertaken there incorrect, and these latest revelations lend further credence to the revelations from MIM. We can only assume that as the organization with the most correct revolutionary line within the United $tates, the government spy agencies focused significant attention on disrupting and destroying the MIP-Amerika. While that specific organization no longer exists, there are new Maoist groups like MIM(Prisons) continuing the legacy of MIM, and we have a responsibility to be diligent about security to ensure our continued existence.

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[Theory] [MIM] [ULK Issue 22]
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Henry Park Obituary: MIM Comrade and Devoted Revolutionary

UF People and Quotes

Henry Park, a revolutionary leader and member of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), died on May 17 2011. His death is a loss to the communist movement. We take this opportunity to remember MIM's important contributions to revolutionary thought.

MIM was an underground party, whose members were careful about anonymity and security and so did not identify themselves publicly by name. Henry Park went public with his identity several years ago in an attempt to defend himself from significant repression by the Amerikan government. He did this after MIM broke into cells and the central organization ceased to exist. The article Maoism Around Us discusses this question of cell structure in more detail and explains that MIM(Prisons) built itself on the legacy of the MIM Prison Ministry.

After the dissolution of the central MIM organization, Park continued to write prolifically and uphold the original MIM at the etext.org hosted website. As efforts to silence him grew, the etext.org domain was shut down without explanation after hosting radical writings for about a decade. This was a serious blow to the spread of Maoist theory and analysis on the internet. In 2007, "Among all self-labeled 'communist' organizations in the world, MIM [was] second, behind only the People's Daily in China [in internet readers]." This remains a lesson for those who are afraid to draw hard political lines in the sand in fear of losing recruits. MIM never claimed to be bigger than other "communist" groups in the United $tates, only to have much more influence than them.

Henry Park, along with the other members of MIM, was in the vanguard starting back in the 1980s in correctly identifying the labor aristocracy in imperialist countries as fundamentally counter revolutionary, and doing the difficult work of spreading this unpopular position which was rejected by so many revisionist parties falsely claiming the mantel of communism. MIM also correctly identified China after Mao's death and the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin as state capitalist countries, no longer on the revolutionary path, while so many other self-proclaimed communists continued to follow these countries down the path of capitalist degeneration. Park published some important research on both countries' regression to capitalism that are available on our resources page. Along with the view that the Chinese Cultural Revolution was the furthest advance towards communism in humyn history, these principles were the foundation of MIM(Prisons)'s cardinal points.

There are some who will falsely claim the legacy of Henry Park or who will attack him with persynal or ad hominem claims, now that he is not alive to defend himself. We encourage all revolutionaries to carefully study tough theoretical questions for themselves rather than just taking the word of an individual or organization. One of the reasons MIM did not use names was to avoid a cult of persynality that so often arises around public figures, leading followers to avoid doing the important work of studying theory, instead just taking the word of the individual on trust. This cult also exists within organizations where members accept the word of their party rather than thinking critically. Even with MIM's semi-underground, anonymous approach, Henry Park was brought into the light by recurring persynal attacks on his character. One of the things MIM taught so many of us so well was how not to think in pre-scientific ways, where rumors, subjective feelings and individuals are more important to people than the concrete outcome of your actions on the group level.

Park's life is notable for his unending commitment to fighting for the rights of the world's people, even at great persynal sacrifice in the face of state repression. Many who take up revolutionary struggle in their youth give it up when they gain some bourgeois comforts, trading revolutionary organizing for a well paying job and a nice house. Park never wavered in his work for the people, and in his vision of a communist world where no group of people would have the power to oppress others. Mao Zedong said "To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai." Park's death is weightier than Mount Tai and his work lives on through the continued application of MIM Thought.

[Read thousands of articles by the original MIM in our etext.org archive]


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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution] [Washington] [Oregon]
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MIM United Front lit banned on 2nd Amendment

MIM recently sent free issues of our magazine MIM Theory 14: United Front to many of our comrades behind bars. The response by prisoncrats was widespread censorship, that should be of concern to everyone from the National Rifle Assocation (NRA) to New Afrikan Liberationists.

The Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution sent us a stack of violation notices and a comrade in Oregon State Penitentiary forwarded us a copy of a violation notice that they never sent to us themselves, despite regulations requiring them to notify both the sender and the intended recipient. All of these censored MT14 complaining about page 92 and 96 of the Black Panther Party Reprints section of the magazine. On page 92, Field Marshall Don Cox says, "more and more gun control legislation, the guise under which the people are being unarmed, is being passed every day to take away the democratic right to bear arms, which in turn dehumanizes you by preventing you from exercising your human right to self-defense." While most NRA supporters will balk at the Panthers efforts to unite the oppressed for self-determination, if they want to protect the right to express one's opinions on the right to bear arms and self-defense they should support MIM in this case.

The main article on page 96 is "Message to Revolutionary Women" from Candi Robinson, which stresses the inherent unity of Black people in revolutionary struggle, while acknowledging the need for Black wimmin in the movement to educate Black men about gender inequality, among other things. The prisoncrats did not specify which part of either of these articles was deemed "inflammatory material," the reason given for its censorship.

Washington State has simultaneously issued an across the state ban of MT14, as well as MIM Notes 328, 330 and 331. Despite a US District Court ruling in 1999 that disallowed the WA Department of Corrections (DOC) from an across the board ban of MIM publications based on our declared purpose of "struggl[ing to] end oppression by build[ing] public opinion to seize power through armed struggle," they have blocked all four of these publications from entering WA prisons without providing any specific justifications. The only justification given by authorities at Stafford Creek Correctional Facility is WA DOC 450-100, which includes over 30 different reasons for which Incoming Mail can be rejected.

One comrade in Washington did write us to tell us his MIM literature had been censored, with the reason give that it "advocates armed violent struggle against authority." This misrepresents MIM to imply that we advocate that prisoners use violence against Correctional Officers (COs). On the contrary we expressly discourage prisoners from getting into physical confrontations with anyone. We have a long history of comrades behind bars who have stopped getting in trouble for violence after finding more effective means of self-defense through legal battles and public opinion building.

The idea that MIM can be censored because we recognize the need for armed struggle by the oppressed to liberate themselves from imperialism is illegal despite regular attempts by prisoncrats to do so. According to Procunier v. Martinez, the Supreme Court upholds the right of prisoners to receive mail, regardless of the prison official's opinion of the mail content, as long as there are no legitimate restrictions from the prison related to correctional purposes. Our belief in the need to seize power through armed struggle is a belief that we share with Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers of the United States government.

Just prior to going to print, a comrade in Washington State Penitentiary sent us a Mail Restriction Notice for MT14 and the three MIM Notes issues that did state the reason for censorship as being "Advocates armed/violent struggle against authority" and goes on to cite pages 80 and 94. Curiously, neither of these pages contains even a discussion of armed struggle. The first is our statement "MIM on Prisons & Prisoners", which our readers will be familiar with. It merely explains why we oppose the current prison system, how we would change it and the role of prisoners in the larger anti-imperialist struggle. Page 94 is an interview with David Hilliard explaining the ideology of the Black Panther Party. As far as we can tell, these pages were chosen arbitrarily, but we are currently investigating a more thorough explanation in order to combat these instances of censorship.

These instances of censorship are not isolated incidents, but part of a long history of struggle with various departments of the criminal injustice system. Regardless of their reasoning for singling out certain pages to justify censorship, just as u$ court rulings do not allow the censorship of Abraham Lincoln for his statements on the importance of overthrowing the state, they do not allow the censorship of our materials because someone disagrees with our beliefs. We welcome anyone who agrees with us on this point to join us in our struggle against censorship in Oregon and Washington prisons.

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[Control Units] [International Connections] [National Oppression]
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Shutting down Control Units and the World Revolution

From mimnotes.info Adapted from a presentation by the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League at the Unlock the Box conference on October 8, 2005. —ed.

It is important to recognize that we cannot pick our battles frivolously. There are uncountable horrible injustices in the world that need to be resolved. So figuring out where to start in order to be effective in eliminating all injustice is a crucial step for us. The ‘principal contradiction’ is the term we apply to the struggle of opposing forces that once resolved will do the most to push forward all struggles in our society.

Through practice, and the summing up of that practice into theory, we have come to see that in the United $tates, the lumpen of the oppressed nations are one of the greatest allies of the world proletariat. In particular, the incarcerated lumpen are at the vanguard in dealing with the problem of imperialism due to their facing its repression on a daily basis.

Mao Zedong made great contributions in demonstrating that the principal contradiction was that between the oppressed and oppressor nations during China’s war of liberation from Japan. His old adage that "In wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism" still rings true today. Especially in a world where imperialism is the dominant force in more and more corners of the globe. This has been manifested in the recent internationalization of the U$ injustice system. While the United $tates has ran prisons and systematically tortured people throughout its neo-colonies for decades, this has usually been CIA and other secretive operations. With the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as with the whole so-called War on Terror in general, we have seen Amerikan soldiers of the occupying forces being the jailkeepers and interrogators.

The fact that the torture going on in these prisons is systematic is well- established by the number of reportings from both soldiers and prisoners. Just last week, after being sentenced to 3 years prison for abuse of prisoners herself, Lynddie England stated publicly that the Abu Ghraib pictures she was in were not the worst things going on and that everything they did was a result of orders from higher ups. U.S. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo describing interrogation methods to be used at Guantanamo Bay that included everything depicted in the aforementioned photos before they happened in Iraq. Although he officially recanted the memo, the spread of these tactics through training of soldiers shows clear links between Rumsfeld’s orders and what is going on in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq. And of course, we also know that the same types of things have been going on in U$ prisons in North America for decades.

This begs the question of why is there so much more outrage surrounding Abu Ghraib than Pelican Bay. The difference is that the Black, Latino and indigenous nations within U$ borders have been colonized for centuries, with the dual effect of being integrated to some degree into the oppressor nation and benefiting from its exploitation of the rest of the world and the development of a colonized consciousness that is the product of dealing with this reality. In contrast, almost every single persyn in Iraq remembers a time before the U$ occupation, and they aren’t going to sit idly by while these Amerikans torture and humiliate, not to mention slaughter, their people.

To be powerful and effective in our struggle to stop torture in U$ prisons we must understand how this applies to our own conditions. This means recognizing the forces involved for what they are. The control units are often deemed ‘gang units’ and one of the primary excuses for their necessity is to deal with the supposedly out of control gangs. But we must see the War on Gangs, the War on Crime and the War on Terror for what they are, its all a part of the War on Oppressed Nations being led by the U$ imperialists and the Amerikan oppressor nation in general.

What is a gang? A gang is an organization, generally made up of lumpen proletariat, oppressed-nation youth. These lumpen organizations did not appear from thin air, nor from some alleged inherent barbarity of oppressed- nation people. These organizations come from the material reality in which whole nations are in subservient positions, and in which whole classes of people are prevented from participating in production and guaranteed consumption of basic needs. A recent program on Fox News, hosted by Newt Gingrich, spends an hour demonizing Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and calling for the imprisonment of lumpen youth, the militarization of the United $tates-Mexico border and the hunting down of al Qaeda. The latter comes from an alleged link that could lead MS-13 to helping al Qaeda bring dirty bombs into the United $tates. This link has been disputed by the FBI and appears to be pure lies and propaganda. However, Gingrich does get something right. He understands that all oppressed nations have the common interest of overthrowing U$ imperialism and so he is rallying Amerikans around this fear in defense of their empire.

If reactionaries like Gingrich were actually interested in eliminating the anti- people activities of many lumpen organizations then they would try to understand where these organizations came from and why they do what they do. Specifically, MS-13 is said to have started with Salvadorian refugees in Los Angeles for the same reason that most such groups start, for self defense and meeting community need. Why were they in Los Angeles? They were there because the United $tates was backing right-wing paramilitary troops to crush the FMLN in El Salvador, as they were doing all over Central America at the time. After the bloody and terroristic 1980s, the region was decimated and many were left with one real option to meet their needs: to become active participants in the trade corridor that the Amerikans use to bring drugs North from Colombia. This effectively replaced the revolutionary organizations in the region with more criminal minded lumpen organizations.

When the refugees arrived in Los Angeles during the war one might ask why they needed to form a gang? Any oppressed nationals in LA will already know the answer to this question. The biggest impetus is the best armed rival gang in town, the LAPD, the infamous gang unit and other associated pigs. To make matters worse, you still have to deal with divisions and fighting between various oppressed-nation gangs as well. This is the legacy of an earlier period when the Black Panthers had unified the Black Nation under a revolutionary vanguard. The response from the FBI was COINTELPRO, which killed, locked up and otherwise neutralized the Panther leadership. In this vacuum arose organizations like the CRIPs (Community Revolution In Progress), that dressed like the Panthers, spoke like the Panthers and hoped to provide a better life for the people. But without a clear political outlook like the Panthers, and with the influx of crack as the fastest solution to their economic problems, these young people embraced a criminal mentality.

Now the government would have you think that this is the last thing that they want, that they are committed to "cleaning up the streets." Wrong. This is exactly what they want. They created it. When oppressed nations organize for positive change the imperialists destroy their organizations (ie. the Black Panthers and the FMLN). Then they bring in the drugs to simultaneously buy off and destroy the minds of the next generation. In California prisons they’ve gone as far as forcing people into gangs. And the reality on the street has always been that groups of oppressed-nation youth are targeted for repression, in effect enforcing the necessity for gangs where they might not have already existed.

In the long run this works in our interests. It is vital to our struggle to organize oppressed-nation groups. If the pigs want to help by repressing people and forcing them into gangs, then they are digging their own graves. The ‘gang problem’ did not always exist. In Attica, in 1971, people from all nations and organizations came together for their common interests against their oppressor, while recognizing the revolutionary leadership of groups like the Panthers, Young Lords and American Indian Movement. This commonality is far stronger than any petty differences that currently exist between lumpen organizations. And this commonality is once again being recognized by leaders of these groups. In Oregon this summer there were hunger strikes and uprisings every month inside the prisons, where groups that at other times might have tried to kill each other stood side by side in the face of the common oppressor.

So, how do we create the outrage in this country that has been created around the Abu Ghraib scandal? The answer is in the consciousness of the oppressed nations. It is in the lumpen organizations coming together inside prisons and on the streets. And it is in the support of the family members and communities of those who are suffering in these torture cells.

When the Abu Ghraib photos came out, MIM Notes ran an article that broke the story on the history of people like Charles Grainer and Ivan Frederick, who had been involved in torture as prison guards in the United $tates before going to Iraq. The comrades who struggled against and wrote articles about this abuse where acting in concrete unity with the prisoners being held in Abu Ghraib today, even though they didn’t even know Abu Ghraib would ever exist. That is oppressed- nation nationalism as internationalism in practice.

Every victory we have in ending torture and reducing oppression in prisons in the United $tates makes it harder for them to do the same things around the world. Similarly, the growing resistance and power of the Third World struggles create more opportunities for us to bring attention to and create opposition to what is going on here. Our struggles continue to reinforce each other. And as more struggles break out on more fronts, imperialism weakens and all of our battles become that much easier.

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[Organizing] [Control Units] [California]
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UNLOCK THE BOX! CONFERENCE BUILDS STRUGGLE TO SHUT DOWN CONTROL UNITS

Activists representing numerous organizations, former prisoners and family members came from across California to attend an organizing conference on control units in U$ prisons hosted by the United Front to Abolish the Security Housing Units (SHU).

Experience with promoting the event only underscored the need to have better access to independent media. We salute Indybay.org and their Enemy Combatant Radio program for promoting Unlock the Box. However, MIM Notes was the only newspaper advertising the conference. The larger alternative papers in the area prioritized their free listing space to things like nudists for peace and the Exotic Erotic Ball blood drive. Although organizers had a hard time getting mainstream or even alternative media to advertise the conference, it was featured on KPFA’s 6 o’clock news that evening in a piece that included interviews with MIM and RAIL activists.

The day long conference opened with an overview of prisons and control units by a MIM activist, some poetry and essays by a prisoner, and a rousing speech from a member of the Barrio Defense Committee who talked about the classification of her son into the SHU for his organizing work.

The MIM activist placed control units in the context of the criminal injustice system as a whole. This country has the highest imprisonment rate in the world with more than 2 million people in prison. As of December 2002 the imprisonment rate was 701 per 100,000 people. The numbers become even more frightening when broken down by race:

  1. Whites: 353 per 100,000
  2. Latinos: 895 per 100,000
  3. Blacks: 2,470 per 100,000

South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society. But the United $tates makes the Apartheid regime look good when you consider that the imprisonment rate of Black adult men in South Africa in 1993 was 851 per 100,000 while the imprisonment rate of Black adult men in the United $tates under George Bu$h in 2002 was 7,150 per 100,000.

But even with all these people locked up in prison, statistics show clearly that prisons don’t stop crime. As imprisonment has increased since the 1970s, government defined criminal activity has remained relatively stable. So why all the prisoners? The answer is social control. Prisons are a tool of social control.

The problem the imperialists have with using prisons as a tool of social control is that they have also become a breeding ground for resistance of the very system they were meant to enforce. Within prison, people completely uneducated and politically unaware are put in a position that encourages them to think about the system that locked them up. Extreme repression, overt racism, slave labor, mail censorship, and in many cases imprisonment of innocent people are among the realities they face. In general population (where prisoners interact with one another on a daily basis) there is the opportunity to discuss this system with others and to organize resistance.

The uprising in Attica prison in 1971 was a good example of this organized resistance that prisoners were able to pull off because of their interactions with one another. The system fears this kind of organizing and needs a tool within the prisons to stop prisoner activists from educating and organizing others.

Better defined as a prison within a prison, control units are used to defeat prisoners’ revolutionary attitudes, organization, militancy, legal and administrative challenges, and anything else the prison administrators deem objectionable.

A past warden of Marion IL, one of CONFERENCE BUILDS CONTROL UNIT STRUGGLE the first Control Unit prisons, stated: "The purpose of the Marion control unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in society at large." This is exactly what control units are used for.

Control units have serious mental and physical health consequences for prisoners locked in them. Fundamentally they are a form of torture. A prisoner in the Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay prison in California, described his conditions in August of this year: "I am currently housed "indefinitely" in this prisons’ Security Housing Unit (the SHU), which is an old typical isolation unit. It’s a unique and stark environment of physical limits, visual sterileness and sensory deprivation. I live in a 8-by-12 ‘windowless’ cell nearly around the clock. There are no jobs, programs or human contact of any kind. Once a day, my remote controlled cell door slowly grinds open allowing 60 minutes alone in a near-by walled in courtyard which is nothing more that a larger cell than the one I already live in."

A member of the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project spoke at the conference, focusing on prisons as a tool of national oppression. In California, Mexican prisoners make up an overwhelming portion of those locked up in Security Housing Units. This is not an accident; it is a direct result of the criminal injustice system targeting oppressed nations. In 1998 (most recent statistics available) the CDC reported that 34% of the population in all CDC institutions was Latino, and 31% was Black. 82% of those in SHUs were non-white, and 52% of those in SHUs were Latino. This compares to a California population that was 32% Latino, and 7% Black in 1998. Half of all SHU victims are put there via a classification system based on supposed evidence of gang membership. Under this system, signing a "get well" card, talking to another prisoner in the yard, or even just speaking Spanish can get you classified as a gang member. They also use confidential informants who have a strong incentive to make up evidence to get themselves released from the SHU. Prisoners cannot challenge this information.

In a recent issue of MIM Notes one prisoner in California wrote:

My ethnicity is Hispanic. When I arrived in the DOC I was asked by a C.O. if I was ‘a Northern Hispanic or Southern Hispanic.’ I said ‘I don’t know what you mean.’ Then I was asked what city I was from. I stated Salinas, CA. It was then that I was classified as a Northern Hispanic. Now I’m labeled as a Northerner, which is a gang member from the prison/street gang Norteños. At that particular point in time I had no idea what that was or what I was about to experience behind these walls. The Southern Hispanics are classified/labeled Sureños, another prison/ street gang. The DOC [Department of Corrections] currently has the Northern and Southern Hispanics on a 24 hour, 7 day a week lockdown. We are getting no visits from our families, no exercise outside our cells, and no State-issued hygiene.

A speaker from the Revolutionary Anti- Imperialist League made connections between the war on gangs within U$ borders and the so-called war on terrorism the United $tates is waging all over the world. This comrade stressed the connections between comrades struggling against control units in the United $tates and the outrage in the Middle East about prisons like Abu Ghraib. (See Shutting Down Control Units and the World Revolution.)

A member of the African People’s Socialist Party gave an inspirational talk about the importance of fighting to shut down the Security Housing Units as a part of the fight to dismantle the entire oppressive system of imperialism, stressing organization and consistent work. The United Front to Abolish the SHU has been doing monthly protests around California for almost two years now. The effect is that people are getting to know us and know what we are trying to do and we are laying the groundwork for a potentially powerful movement.

The afternoon was spent in break out groups where conference participants worked together on action plans to work with prisoners, work with family members of prisoners, and organize actions to shut down the control units.

The working groups came up with a number of concrete action plans with volunteers to work on each idea. One topic that came up in all of the working groups was the need to help people visit family members, friends and comrades in prisons. This work helps the families while also helping prisoners stay sane and giving us a way to reach out to people on the outside by filling a need in the community. Comrades in California who are interested in such a program for themselves or their family should get in touch. The United Front also hopes to come out with a newsletter for prisoners and their allies on the outside that would provide information about how to fight the injustice system, resources upon release, legal aid and recent changes in the system.

In addition, volunteers made plans for future demonstrations and petition drives using more creative tactics. Finally, we are following up with the conference and building on these plans on November 5th, with a meeting from 11-2pm in San Francisco at 2955 18th Street and a rally to follow.


Campaign info:
Shut Down the Control Units
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[Control Units] [Mental Health]
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U.S. Prisons Prove Maddening

Prison Madness: the Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About it
Terry Kupers, M.D.
Jossey-Bass Publishers
1999

Dr. Terry Kupers is an ally in the struggle to abolish Control Units in prisons, and more generally to provide basic humyn needs for those incarcerated. While this book focuses on mental health, Kupers takes a systematic look at the prison system and the criminal injustice system in general, but he does it from a liberal perspective. This book is written for a general audience and provides an introduction to conditions in u$ prisons for those who are unfamiliar. For those who have been there or who read Under Lock & Key on a regular basis, the anecdotes of his clients will be nothing new. Some of the most interesting aspects of the book are the facts explaining the effects of isolation and medication on mental health and Kupers' alternative recommendations for group therapy and normal humyn interactions for rehabilitating people. Prison Madness by Terry Kupers, M.D.

What Kupers does not say is that mental health in a system of oppression requires an adaptation to that oppression that can either be done through acceptance and denial or through struggle. He only goes part way, saying that racism in arrests, imprisonment and treatment in prisons is a major factor in creating mental health problems in the oppressed who feel they have no recourse to defend themselves. He also acknowledges social ills in the general community that are taking a toll. But without pointing his finger at the system behind the symptoms, his book only calls for reforms of that system.

As someone who spends a lot of time in court rooms, arguing against prison officials and repressive district attorneys, you can see how this may have shaped the forms of the arguments made in his book. Kupers stresses the logic of helping prisoners to become better adapted to society so that they can be productive members when they get out; and over 90% will get out some day. (p.87) This is usually a good place to start when discussing Control Units with someone who is skeptical of our campaign to shut them down. But at other times Kupers goes too far in accepting some of the positions of the tough on crime politicians by minimizing them and not flat out rejecting them.

For instance, in taking on the accusation that most of the prisoners are faking mental illness to get attention and the better conditions of the mental health units he says, "some are faking their symptoms- but not as many as the guards and mental health staff accuse." (p.34) This comes after a paragraph of discussing the various reasons that prisoners resort to throwing feces at guards and other inmates. He argues that some do it because they feel no other recourse against guards, and others do it in retaliation to a mentally ill prisoner who had hit them first. So what we see is all of the prisoners (and guards as well) reacting to an oppressive situation. In other words they are acting how they deem to be appropriate in the situation they are given, to say that some actions are 'fake' skirts the real issue. Some will react better than others, and be able to deal better than others. But to say that they are therefore "faking it" when they act in certain ways is contradictory to the position Kupers takes elsewhere on the inhumane conditions of Control Units and their effects on humyn beings. Even if a prisoner is consciously acting that way to get attention, there is nothing fake about it, it is an act of self-preservation in the face of extreme oppression. When the system is the problem it becomes irrelevant to draw a line between the 'fakers' and the truly sick. This is especially true when in the majority of suicide cases Kupers has looked into, the person had a note in their chart saying they were "manipulating," meaning they were faking their mental problems. (p.184)

Similarly, in his chapter on 'Recommendations for Treatment and Rehabilitation,' he writes, "We need to stop sending nonviolent drug offenders and mentally disordered felons onto prison yards with murderers and rapists". Again, we are dealing with degrees of sickness here. The "tough on crime" media and politicians like to talk about "murderers" and "rapists" as if that is what some people are from cradle to grave. But those being labeled "murderers and rapists" are a product of the same social system as all of us. Here we are dealing with a situation where questions of individual mental health are far less important than questions of social sickness. Kupers' point that we need to keep the small time criminals away from the violent criminals is a good argument under the current system because we see the effects of such integration in u$ prisons. It is an environment that forces most people into choosing between joining the ranks of the violent criminals or becoming a victim. But if we broaden our goals to actually overthrowing the current system and instituting a system where healthy behavior was promoted even within prisons, we can move away from the myth that there is a new breed of "super criminals" that can only be killed or put in isolation for the rest of their lives.

Prisoners suffering from mental illness that are lucky enough to get treatment in prison usually just get put on medications. Not only does this not solve the problem, but it can make life more dangerous for the prisoner due to delayed reactions and increased fears of leaving their cell. Kupers describes meds as a band-aid for the symptoms of mental illness; if not accompanied by group treatment and socialization then there will be no meaningful improvements. He even cites cases that demonstrate that the need for meds decrease when prisoners leave the Control Units. This fact alone is a damning one for any who tries to argue for the necessity of Control Units.

'Prison Madness' looks at the various cyclical aspects of the system that help create people that are harder to reform due to worsening mental states. He argues that many prisoners suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon arrival in prison from things like sexual abuse and witnessing extreme violence at a young age. Yet, being isolated in a cell, with no humyn contact or activities to occupy the body or mind, is itself a cause of PTSD, which only encourages worse behavior and worsening of the persyn's mental health. Movement to isolation usually means being moved farther from family, which translates into less visits from loved ones and once again, a worsening mental state. Estimated suicide rates in prisons are two times that in general u$ population and rates in jails are nine times more common than on the outside. (p.175)

We must point out however, that Kupers' discussion of PTSD does not serve our struggle very well. He is quick to grant the diagnosis to the majority of oppressed nation youth as well as wimmin who end up in prison. But the symptoms of PTSD can include very understandable actions like throwing things at someone who keeps you locked in a cage all day. With an open-ended diagnosis like PTSD it almost serves to further criminalize those groups, because hey, they've been traumatized and might act crazy as a result. He gives this as a reason for the increased imprisonment of oppressed youth, as well as for why they end up in isolation. Once again, we see the shortcomings of psychology and the need for a class analysis. Instead of using the histories of current inmates as way to argue that the problem is societal, let's just look at the society and recognize how it is set up and in our case which groups have power over other groups and how that is transforming the interactions of those groups. If we really want to tackle systematic problems we have to use a systematic approach, we need to connect the millions of people that know that this is a system of oppression, not keep people stuck on their own individual past and problems.

Kupers' interest in changing the horrifying conditions he describes in 'Prison Madness' is made clear in the third part of his book dedicated to recommendations and courses of action. For the most part we don't disagree with any of it except that it doesn't go far enough. In talking about litigation, where he has spent some time, he includes a healthy dose of skepticism as to how much it can accomplish. He puts forth a nice mental health program for u$ prisons and then criticizes the "tough on crime" culture. While the examples of the Danish prison system he describes are encouraging, that is a small scale system in a wealthy imperialist country. To provide a model for what a prison system would look like in the hands of the oppressed we would point to socialist China as the prime example. Not only was there a focus on study, exercise and participation in the greater society but it also dealt with crime from the perspective of the oppressed. Within the context of a socialist economic system, this provided for the quickest and most widespread eradication of criminal behavior in modern history.

Kupers puts forth concrete examples where litigation has actually improved the conditions in prisons, but goes on to warn that there is a strong tendency for the Department of Corrections (DOC) to retaliate. (p.209-10) A loss in court puts them on the defensive and only emboldens their reactionary side. This is somewhat contradictory to Kupers talk of "bad apples" when discussing racism in prisons. (p.106) To put forth the "bad apples" theory is to deny that the injustice system is inherently oppressive. Just as in most places, we can sometimes find allies within the prison system itself, but we can see from 'Prison Madness' and from decades of our own work that the DOC is one of the most reactionary institutions of the state. More importantly than that, the prison system exists as a form of political repression. The fact that the majority of prisoners in the u$ are Black when only 12% of the population is, is not the product of a few racist "bad apples." It is the product of a tool that systematically serves the interests of the ruling class by repressing those who tend to oppose it. We work with dozens of prison organizations that have faced repression due to their successful organizing, often across lines of nation and affiliation that the CO's use to divide them. Kupers cites a case of this where the Santa Cruz Women's Prison Project was expelled by the California Department of Corrections because guards complained that the empowerment of the wimmin undermined their authority. (p.252)

'Prison Madness' is an accurate and fairly comprehensive look at the u$ prison system, with a focus on the mental health of those being confined in it. That alone makes it worthwhile, as most amerikans remain ignorant of the realities of prison life. The proposed solutions in the book do not address the source of the problem nor does it explain the full nature of oppression in u$ prisons, but there is much to unite with and to build on in those demands.

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[Control Units] [Mental Health] [Theory]
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An Alternative to the SHU

While campaigning to abolish Security Housing Units in prisons, we are frequently asked "What's your alternative?" This question usually comes from people familiar with the prison system who know that there is a lot of violence in prisons and that putting certain people in the same space is enough to instigate such violence. So they argue that the SHU provides security to help avoid such petty confrontations.

In practice however, it is the prison system and the Correctional Officers who promote and even create the violent situations rather than defusing or preventing them. This is the product of a system that is set up to be every man for themselves, where snitching is rewarded and violence is promoted as the way to solve problems. It's the same old divide and conquer techniques used in a more concentrated form within the controlled communities of prisons. When a majority of the people in an institution are there against their will, facing repression and inhumane conditions, the minority running the institution doesn't want them interacting in a cooperative way that might lead to organizing against their captors.

When addressing the question of abolishing the SHU we have to make it clear that MIM is not a reformist organization. We are fighting this campaign within the context of overthrowing the whole system and replacing the current criminal injustice system with justice for the people. Our goal is to transform society to eliminate the social causes of crime. Our long-term answer to the question of what to do with violent criminals is to build a system of re-education, reform and reintroduction to society for those who previously posed a threat to society.

In the short term we must fight to limit the oppression of the current system and abolishing the SHU is part of that fight. We know that the SHU is used for political repression. We know that everyone in the SHU suffers mentally and physically regardless of why they are in there. Therefore we often point out to those who are reluctant to sign our petition to abolish the SHU that these people are usually going to get out of prison some day and will only be more maladjusted then when they entered as a result of the isolation and torture they faced. Prisons can be made safer under the current system, but this goes counter to the interests of the prison administration to keep power over the imprisoned. Therefore until the oppressed decide who goes to prison and how the prison system is used there will be torture and violence in prisons.

When it does come time to build a new justice system in the interests of the people, we look toward the model of the prison system in socialist China (i.e. China under Mao). People who were successfully reformed through that system include two amerikan students (Allyn and Adele Rickett) and the last Emperor of the Manchu dynasty, Pu Yi. All three of them have written about their experiences and provide some great insights into the socialist prison system. In our review of the Ricketts' book, Prisoners of Liberation, we wrote, "a psychological approach to antisocial behavior takes agency away from the individual and the masses, and has as its goal teaching people to learn to adjust to their oppressive conditions (or their role as an oppressor) rather than struggling for political change."(1) Individualism leads bourgeois society to use psychology to explain and then treat crime rather than the sociological viewpoint of class struggle. "In the contradiction between individuals and society, universality is the principal aspect and particularity is the secondary aspect. By focusing exclusively in the secondary aspect of the contradiction, metaphysicians cannot understand the individual or society."(2) By focusing on the societal sources of humyn problems we can actually eliminate their source.

The difference between our plan for prisons and the current prison system is that we see prisons as a means of re-education not punishment. When we bring up re-education under socialism suddenly white liberals get indignant. This violates their individualist value system that looks at identity as a sacred and static being rather than a reaction and an ever changing product of society. Because reeducating people to interact better with other people is taboo in amerika, we are left with the option of punishment to deal with those who don't play the game or who aren't allowed to play.

Curiously, isolation and physical torture do not illicit the same indignance from these people as any mention of 're-education' does. This can be explained by the fact that it is oppressed nations who are disproportionately suffering at the hand of the current punitive system. Especially in extreme instances of repression like the SHU we see the targeting of Black nationalists, Spanish speakers, members of lumpen organizations like B.L.O.O.D. or ALKQN, or others whose behavior is outside the norm set by white society. Meanwhile the biggest criminals in the world are living it up within u$ borders with no fear of reprisal by the current system. To talk about replacing this system with one that reeducates people to work together in a socialist economy turns the tables, making white amerikans the biggest target. While the Black man selling rock on the street will be quick to give it up for a means of supporting himself by building his community rather than destroying it, the white man making millions by allowing that product to enter the country in the first place will be a lot more reluctant to change his ways. And he sure as hell doesn't want the economy socialized.

But some people are just crazy

It may or may not be true that some people are born crazy and are therefore incorrigible. But to quote the band Propagandhi, "Ordinary people do fucked up things, when fucked up things become ordinary." In other words, behavior is relative to the material conditions of a society.

While holding out for proof of biologically-induced insanity, we can say with certainty that the vast majority of people who have committed crimes against other people are not crazy and can be reformed. Evidence that crime can be largely eliminated can be seen in a comparison of violent crimes committed in the world today. Amerikans are willing to accept the idea that there are all these incorrigible crazies out there because our society has succeeded in creating excessive violence in individuals and the media turns around and feeds that to the populace as a scare tactic. A quick glance at an amerikan prison yard will tell you something is not right when the vast majority of the people are not white, while white people still make up a majority of the u$ population. Unless one believes in racist behavioral genetics then one must admit that there are social factors involved in who goes to prison.

The same individualism that leads people to be more concerned about some static idea of identity than about physical abuse and mental torture is what allows people to act against the norms and interests of the society that they live in. Communists favor class struggle over the psychological approach. For example, "Rather than giving moralizing sermons, China strove to create in individuals a social conscience."(3) In this way we can combat all sorts of social ills, from drug addiction and eating disorders to violence and other neuroses. Rather than brushing these problems under the rug, by trying to lock their victims up in prison and isolate them, we can involve those people in building a better society so that they understand the importance of their lives and the negative effects of their former behaviors.(4)

A prerequisite to eliminating 'antisocial' behavior is to accept that we in fact live in a society that sets norms for how we behave. In fact, much of what is labeled 'antisocial behavior' in our society today is actually encouraged by our society; it does not exist because of some innate humyn characteristics. Amerikans look at how they think and see that their friends think the same. They've all been taught by the same school system, the same media, the same culture. And then they assume that that is how all people behave at all times. As Mao said, "what [petty-bourgeois intellectuals] call human nature is nothing but bourgeois individualism."(5)

So for all who want to know what our alternative to the SHU is, it is building a communist society where no one has power over other people, where people see their importance as a part of a society rather than seeing every persyn as an island, and where social problems are addressed and reconciled rather than repressed and locked away to fester.

Notes:
(1) MIM Theory 9: Psychology and Imperialism, p. 39
(2) MT9, p.48
(3) MT9, p.36
(4) For more on this read "Psychological Practice in the Chinese Revolution" in MT9
(5) Mao Zedong, "Yenan Forum on Art and Literature," in Selected Works, op. cit., Volume 4, p.90

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[Control Units] [Wisconsin]
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"A SuperMax in every state!" Torture technology advances in

In September, more than 18,000 people from four states attended
tours at an open house for Boscobel, Wisconsin's new SuperMax
prison. Just as the torture techniques of the Illinois Tamms C-Max
prison (see MIM Notes 196) were modeled closely after other U.$.
dungeons, this and other newer Super Maximum security prisons are
replicating and expanding on the Tamms model.

This inhumane project of torture is popular in the small town of
Boscobel. The contract to build the 509-cell prison brought a $44
million boon to the region's budget.(1) Reactionary white Amerika
supports the proliferation of such prisons because they
simultaneously lock up the oppressed and provide jobs for rural
whites.

Amerika justifies the proliferation of SuperMaxes within the
booming prison system as a way to allegedly control the worst
criminals. MIM disagrees. The worst criminals in Amerika are the
imperialists because of their crimes against the peoples of
oppressed nations throughout the world. SuperMaxes are certainly
used as a method of control. Many politically active prisoners are
housed in SuperMaxes as a means to deter prisoners from fighting
for basic necessities and organizing against oppression. MIM does
not see that all prisoners in SuperMaxes (or prisons in general)
should be automatically freed, but we see that the current system
is doing nothing to lead prisoners that have committed crimes to
rehabilitate and contribute productively to society.

Amerika's high-tech torture chambers

The Pelican Bay State Prison Secure Housing Unit (SHU) in far-
Northern California is a model among SuperMax builders; Tamms C-
Max in Illinois was built after planning visits to Pelican Bay.
All SuperMax prisons pursue sensory deprivation tactics, though
each puts on localized touches. A prisoner wrote in the Journal of
Prisoners on Prisons: "colors when used, are muted, mostly just
white, off-white and grey. ... Even though the region surrounding
the prison uses local cable television or satellite broadcast,
this prison points its dish at (of all places) Denver, Colorado.
... I suggest that the reason is to isolate us from local
events."(2)

Thirty-six u.$. states now have similar facilities and offer no
pleasantries to cover the fact that "we don't try to rehabilitate
these guys," as an assistant to the warden at the Florence Federal
Administrative Maximum prison (ADX) put it.(3)

The prison is designed to enforce conditions including complete
isolation from other prisoners and from sunlight, a minimum of 23
hours per day in the cell, all concrete and steel furniture, and
great distance from the state's population center (which means
difficult visiting with families, friends and attorneys).(4)

In MIM Notes 83 we reported: "strip status in 50 degree cells,
limited access to reading and writing materials, rare visitor
privileges are normal torture tactics for the pigs."(5)

Who are the real criminals?

According to the State of Wisconsin's public relations department,
"the SuperMax Prison will house the state's most violent inmates
in the state's most secure facility."

If this were true, it would make Wisconsin the only revolutionary
authority in the united $nakes. The most violent prisoners in
Wisconsin would have to be the governor and deputies running the
prisons and police departments. Then, maybe we could also count on
Wisconsin to seize and incarcerate chiefs of Amerikan military and
political affairs when they traipse through on their campaign
trails.

In MIM Notes Under Lock & Key in September, a Wisconsin prisoner
reported on the preparations for the new SuperMax: "They are using
all kinds of tricks to put us Africans and Hispanics on what they
call 'Administrative Confinement.' The catch is that they say the
ones on Administrative Confinement have a 75 to 90% chance of
going to this super max. ... I believe the reason for this is to
fill up the super max as soon as it opens. If it is filled
immediately, they can justify to those fools in society the
building of more prisons."(6)

Tourists hail torture as advance

Visitors on the six-day "state fair" style tour of the prison
believe these prisoners are getting more "privilege" than they
deserve in the lower security facilities.(4). The tourists
included more than 3,000 schoolchildren — Amerika's newest
inductees into the reactionary nation accustomed to dehumanization
of oppressed nation members.

The majority who spoke to newspapers about the prison approved
either SuperMax repression or worse brutality against prisoners. A
Milwaukee newspaper reported visitors saying of the SuperMax "it's
a step in the right direction," and "they left their rights when
they committed these crimes." A womyn said that executing the
prisons prospective inmates would be a better use of tax money.(4)

In the land of failure to do simple math and understand the
function of prisons, many visitors to the SuperMax were shocked by
the $32,000 it will cost to house a captive there for one year.(4)
MIM calls this a contradictory stance — a failure to put two and
two together: the University of Wisconsin at Madison estimates
cost of a full year of college at $11,000 per year, including
living expenses.(7)

MIM has long criticized the prison-building craze as part of a
wild jobs-creation program for rural Amerikan labor aristocrats.
In formerly farming or industrial towns, prisons bring
construction and guard jobs — turning a company town into a
prison town.

So what can you do to help stop the vicious spread of SuperMax
prisons and to join in education and activism to End the Amerikan
Lockdown in general? Contact MIM for information on organizing
rallies; educational films, lectures or panel discussions. Contact
us to organize benefit concerts and other fundraisers for MIM's
Serve the People Free Books for Prisoners Program. If more behind-
the-scenes activism is what you're looking for, you can help out
with the Under Lock & Key section of MIM Notes; the Serve the
People Prisoners' Legal Clinic; or MIM's website. MIM leads
projects in these and many other areas along with the work of the
United Struggle from Within prisoner organization and the
Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League. All these things are part
of MIM's work to End the Amerikan Lockdown.

MC12 contributed research and editing to this article.

Notes:
1. Wisconsin SuperMax Prison
http://supermax.jobsight.net/public/index.stm
2. Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, Volume 3, Numbers 1 and 2
Autumn 1990/Spring 1991 http://www.jpp.org/fulltext-v3/v3n12-
e.html "It's a Form of Warfare: A Description of Pelican Bay State
Prison" John H. Morris, III
3. The Houston Chronicle 20 June, 1999.
4. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 12 September, 1999)
5. Fight the Spread of Supermax MN83 December 1983
6. A prisoner in Wisconsin, July 1999 from MIM Notes 194
7. U. Wisconsin website. Note: this assumes Wisconsin resident
status; prisoners of the Wisconsin prisons are Wisconsin
residents.

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[Control Units] [Tamms Supermax] [Illinois]
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Tamms Supermax latest in decades of prison struggle

End the Amerikkkan Lockdown month draws attention to the barbarity of Amerikans fastest growing industry: The incarceration industry

On September 13 of this year, MIM celebrated the 1971 struggle ofthe Attica (NY) prisoners for their basic rights and dignity. On this date we also mourned the brutal murder of 29 of the Attica brothers by New York State Troopers and prison Corrections Officers — who also cut down ten of their own as they stormed the prison and ended the Attica Rebellion. On October 15, we rejoice in the formation of the Maoist Black Panther Party (BPP) in 1966. These two dates encompass MIM's first annual End the Amerikkkan Lockdown month. Throughout the month we have held educational events about the criminal injustice system and protests focusing on ending various aspects of the Amerikan Lockdown. We have been on the streets educating and organizing progressive people in the small and large tasks of assisting the struggle.

One of these tasks is drawing attention to the growing numbers of politically active prisoners who are being caged in Amerika's highest security gulags. One of the newest of the torture factories is Tamms. On March 8, 1998, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) opened a new Super Maximum security prison in the far-southern Illinois town of Tamms.(1) According to a bourgeois press report, optimal conditions at Tamms C-Max include four visits through a glass partition each month, five showers per week and one hour of solitary yard time per day. Prisoners report that under these conditions "You start to lose touch with reality. You become depressed. You become incoherent."(2) On January 7 of this year, four prisoners at Tamms filed a class-action lawsuit charging that the extreme isolation conditions there are driving prisoners insane. Three of these four plaintiffs are now facing new criminal prosecution from the State Attorney's office in retaliation for their lawsuit.(3)

Standard treatment for prisoners who speak out against the criminal INjustice system is for guards and wardens to take punitive measures against them in barely concealed retaliation for their activism. All manner of regulations govern punitive measures against prisoners by guards or wardens. But if a prisoner is moved to Tamms or placed in segregation at another facility for "administrative" reasons, no justification is required.(4,1) Many politically active prisoners find themselves under so-called administrative measures that restrict their most basic activities.

The state of Illinois' retaliatory lawsuit against these four Tamms prisoners and the existence of the Tamms facility itself are aspects of the Amerikan prison system's agenda of social control. The events at Tamms embody direct retribution for the efforts of the oppressed to make their own situation livable, and extra-legal sentencing that adds time and trouble to prisoners' sentences after they enter the gulags. MIM sees prisons in this country as part of imperialism's control over the oppressed nations confined within u.$. borders. As our first annual End the Amerikkkan Lockdown month comes to a close, we look forward to continuing our work against the u.$. injustice system throughout the year. We will continue to work with the MIM-led united front organizations RAIL and USW, and with other individuals and organizations that oppose the prison manifestations of u.$. imperialism.

Isolation, Supermax, Segregation

Bourgeois press reports have noticed that Tamms is about as far from Chicago as a prison could get while remaining in Illinois, even though the plurality of prisoners at the facility come from Cook County —the Chicago area. This placement is part of the formula for high maximum security prisons in the u.$. These prisons are built to subdue "non-conforming" captives through sensory and social deprivation. Many of these more rebellious prisoners are from urban centers like Chicago and part of their deprivation is being placed prohibitively far away from friends and family — to make visiting difficult.

Censorship of MIM Notes is a classic example of this harassing activity — MIM Notes is harassed for organizing prisoners in their own interests, and prisoners are harassed for reading and writing for a newspaper that exposes the pigs' activities. Our own experience with revolutionary comrades behind the walls demonstrates that even the harshest of lockdown conditions will not "stop the grass [of revolutionary activity] from growing."(5) In April of this year, an Illinois prisoner filed a law suit against the IDOC, arguing that the prison censors were denying him his MIM Notes subscription because of its political content — although they claimed the newspapers were a security threat. Knowing that this is true, the state has agreed that the publications are a not a threat to the institutions and have turned them over to the prisoner. "Now brothers in Illinois can receive all the MIM-related publications which you offer. They have returned all the Theory Journals that they had confiscated. My MIM Notes, my Maoist Sojourners, Notas Rojas, and the pamphlet 'What is the Maoist Internationalist Movement?'"(6)

When MIM talks about revolutionary politics among prisoners, we are talking about the idea that prisoners are people who are being oppressed by the imperialist system. Prisons in Amerika are designed to repress those who would rebel against u.$. imperialism from within. Not by accident are oppressed nationalities more than 50 percent of the prisoner population in this country. And it is no coincidence that a Wisconsin prisoner finds that "right now in the hole where I am, it is about 85 to 90% Blacks and Hispanics. When the white prisoners come to the hole, they are released within 2 to 3 months."(7) Former prison employees in other states have reported identical statistics to RAIL and MIM, and the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML) publishes the fact that most control units are 85% Black.(4)

The united snakes has always held substantial minorities of the oppressed forcibly within its borders. Settlers conducted a barbaric genocidal campaign against Indigenous peoples and confined those small groups that remained to "reservations" while stealing their land. In the case of the Black nation, kidnap victims were brought and forced to remain here so the white nation could live off their labor. Different Latino nations have been brutalized by a combination of these methods, and conscripted as sacrificial ground troops in Amerika's wars. The exploding prisons of today are a response to these nationalities' righteous movements toward rebellion against the u.$. empire. CEML quotes the Tamms warden as saying "Tamms is not about rehabilitation, it's about punishment ... some people may never leave."(1)

Former prison staff and prisoner advocates with whom MIM has spoken about the prisons in this country report that those prisoners with a revolutionary political consciousness often take the most productive approach to the conditions of their confinement. These prisoners understand deeply why they are in prison, and many spend time educating other prisoners, and organizing among other prisoners to educate people on the outside about the conditions that all Amerikans are guilty of perpetuating within the prison system. Prison officials agree with this assessment of the rebellious prisoners, as a former Marion (home of the Marion Lockdown) warden said: "the purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and the society at large."(4)

One Illinois control unit prisoner of nearly nine years has told MIM of his own organizing work among "paralegals, law clerks, and comrades confined in control units for challenging the status quo. MACS comrades engage and instigate the filing of S1983 civil complaints, mandamus actions, post conviction grievances, and civil and criminal appeals. We also write articles to expose the racist system and its docile servants. MACS fights to put an end to the methods of intense repression, kidnapping, torture and prison censorship. Recently MACS members have all been moved to the new 'Super-Gulag' in Illinois as a means to break their resistance and spirit. This new place is called Tamms, or for better words, Scams. This is another horror story that by design other comrades are living nationwide."(8)

Retribution, not rehabilitation is the purpose of prison.

"Every day in prison is but a bureaucratic routine of beatings, continuous harassment and sensory deprivation. These are techniques being used to control prison populations throughout Illinois' correctional warehouses. The key word here is 'control,' for it is now painfully clear that Illinois prison officials have forsaken all attempts at fostering a positive, potentially rehabilitative prison environment in favor of the brutal policies they claim are necessary to maintain 'control' over the prison population. Comrades ... it is not just about bad food, visits, or brutal treatment, it's more fundamental."(9)

Illinois' only Supermaximum security prison, Tamms, is part of a $73 million complex. Part of the complex is a 200-bed minimum security work camp. The beauty of locating minimum and supermaximum security facilities in the same place? The 445 IDOC employees at Tamms will not have to do any dirty work as the "work camp inmates will handle maintenance, laundry service, groundskeeping and food preparation for the supermax prison as well as public service work for area communities." "The 23-acre supermax prison compound is protected by double rows of 12-foot high cyclone fencing topped with razor ribbon. A courtroom with video conferencing equipment is located inside the prison. ... An execution chamber has also been constructed at the facility although condemned inmates will not routinely be housed at the supermax. It was designed especially for executions by lethal injection." 312 of the Tamms employees are guards, the facility's total payroll is $17 million; its total budget is $23.9 million per annum.(10)

Tamms' budget works out to well over $34,000 per year to control each prisoner, not including the $73 million the state reports spending on building the dungeon.(10) Tamms' cost per prisoner is more than three times the $11,006 estimated cost of living for a University of Illinois student at the Urbana-Champaign campus.(11) A year at Tamms even costs more than a year at the elite Northwestern University and University of Chicago.(12)

Prison regulations are an additional, hidden punishment for prisoners

"So cruel is the Tamms Correctional Center that a prisoner who tried to hang himself with a makeshift rope was charged the cost of the bedsheet he ruined to make it, according to the action to be filed this morning in federal court in Chicago."(3)

MIM has argued for years that many prison regulations amount to an additional sentence — meted out by guards, wardens or the state legislature instead of a judge. At Tamms, prisoners are 'home' in "8' x 10' concrete cement cells, which contain concrete beds, and stainless steel sinks, toilets, and mirrors."(1) The cells are building blocks of a sensory deprivation experience designed to abort a humyn being's normal thought processes. For this reason, prisoners argue that the prison is making them crazy; also for this reason, they are correct.

Sensory deprivation at Tamms includes: regulation against prisoners placing phone calls, limited contact with each other and staff, and no physical contact with visitors. Prisoners at Tamms may not smoke, and are "handcuffed and shackled whenever they are out of their cellblock, and recreation will be allowed only individually with recreation equipment."(10) A prisoner reports new restrictions on reading material: "Tamms has issued a malicious book policy that limits a resident here to having only 25 books and/or magazines combined together as their own personal property. Tamms will not store or exchange personal books or magazines in their personal property storage. ... This book policy is a cruel and unjustifiable punishment; reading is one of the few positive activities we have here at Tamms."(13)

Michigan prisoners have recently been subjected to a new property policy that places similar restrictions on reading materials. Prisoners in the highest security facilities in the state are allowed no more than ten books or magazines — many aspects of this policy are under legal fire from prisoners and their advocates. This is one of many situations in which we do well to compare prison policies and prisoner responses across state lines. See article in the next issue of MIM Notes for more on the conditions of SuperMax confinement in different prison systems.(14)

These conditions of legalized brutality directed at prisoners' minds and bodies in tandem are designed to break down resistance, to gain submission from the oppressed through terror. But as Mao said of the marauding Japanese army that overran much of China in the 1920s and 1930s, such systematic disruption of the people's lives "educated the people and quickened their political consciousness." Through rapid development of a disciplined proletarian party in opposition to the Japanese invaders, China became powerful enough that the Japanese came and apologized for their barbarity. Mao thanked them for doing so much to help the development of the revolution.(15) In the united snakes, the situation is the same — it is an historical fact that repression breeds resistance. Amerikkkan prisons are a school of national oppression for the nearly two million people caged behind their barbed wire. Such education serves only to foment national liberation struggles and socialist revolution.

MC12 contributed research to this report.

Notes:
1. Walkin' Steel. "Illinois opens "SuperMax" Control Unit prison
in Tamms." Fall 1998.
2. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 December 1998.
3. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 7 January 1999.
4. MIM Notes no. 83, December 1993.
5. See poem, www.etext.org/Politics/
MIM/aa/articles/text.php?railfile=controlunits.txt
6. MIM Notes no. 186 15 May, 1999.
7. MIM Notes no. 194.
8. A Tamms Prisoner 5 April 1999.
9. A second Tamms Prisoner 6 November, 1998.
10. IDOC description of Tamms
www.idoc.state.il.us/institutions/adult/tam/
11. www.oar.uiuc.edu/current/tuit.html
12. The schools' web sites, www.nwu.edu www.uchicago.edu
13. A third Tamms prisoner 8 June, 1999.
14. MIM Notes no. 160, MIM Notes no. 167, MIM Notes no. 168
15. Paraphrased from a 9 January, 1965 interview. Edgar Snow, The
Long Revolution (New York: Vintage, 1973), p. 198-9.

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[Control Units] [Massachusetts]
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Control Units: Department of Corrections targets politically conscious prisoners with technology that tortures

According to the US Constitution, citizens get due process and are not punished merely for whom they associate with. In the reality like at Walpole prison — Latino prisoners are being systematically denied these "rights" as they are categorized as being in "security threat groups" (politically organized, what pigs call "gangs") with scant evidence of membership and no evidence of wrongdoing.

The Department of Corruption's crusade against socially and politically organized prisoners is all about increasing repression. Selectively targeting Latinos for special lockdown units — between 90-95% of those in the units are Latinos — it is a particularly clear case of prisons as an instrument of national oppression.

The "gangs" targeted are the Latin Kings, la Familia, and la Nieta. La Nieta is considered by many not to be a "gang" in the traditional sense at all, but more of a prisoner rights group. Regardless, all three groups have potential as base areas of support for Latino liberation.

There are no hearings to determine who is a "gang" member. There is simply a questionnaire-type form that is filled out by the pigs. It has a point system, with each "criterion" having a set amount of points. If a prisoner gets ten or more points, he is considered a "gang" member. A "known group tattoo," for example, is 8 points. Obviously the pigs don't have a good grasp of the subtleties of tattoos, and one on any Latino can be perceived as a "known marking." Never mind if the prisoner got it ten years ago, it's supposed evidence of current association. That plus something small like possession of some "gang" documents, a "secret handshake" or association with pig-identified members, and the prisoner is doomed to never go below minimum security for the duration of his sentence. Those labeled gang members receive extreme sensory deprivation which has been shown to cause mental problems and is internationally recognized as a method of torture. They are only out of their cells for one hour for four out of every five day cycle, and if they work out they cannot shower the same day.

Such treatment is a violation not only of the U.$. constitution, but also of international law. This is more evidence that the so-called Justice System has little to do with justice and everything with protecting the imperialist system.

RAIL has been campaigning for an end to the current Mass control units and to prevent more from being built as planned. We want to stop this weapon of political torture as well as expose the whole corrupt system. So far, we have gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions, which have been sent to friendly media as well as the DOC and government officials. As long as there is injustice, the people will not be silent!

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