Successes and Failures of 2023
Comrades in MIM(Prisons) and Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS) have been looking at our last year of practice and planning for 2024. We want to bring United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades into this process as we have in the past. So we encourage thoughts and feedback on the below from our imprisoned readers, especially the questions at the end.
Starting with the basics, we collectively kept our key operations running for another year, which is a success in itself. We put out 4 issues of Under Lock & Key on schedule and with positive responses, processed our prisoner mail in a timely manner, kept our intro study courses for prisoners running, and sent out monthly literature orders to prisoners across the country.
Some other accomplishments for 2023 were:
released Second Edition of The Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons
started new level 1 study program based on FPL 2nd edition
transcribed and edited MIM articles on the Revolutionary Communist Party(USA) from MIM Theory journals and developed our own summary analysis of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) related to the RCP=U$A for a book we plan to release in 2024
relaunched our level 2 study group for prisoners after a few years of hiatus
expanded our pamphlet on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China and began distributing it to prisoners
upgraded and rebuilt our servers
we maintained a weekly study program for more advanced comrades working with MIM(Prisons) on the outside
While we did not meet our goal of financial contributions from AIPS comrades, we did see a continued increase in those contributions, so thanks to those comrades for the vital funding support. However, as we hinted at in previous issues, we saw a steep drop off in the number and amount of contributions coming from prisoners in 2023 as seen below.
We are asking for our readers help in investigating this drop. Our first guess would be that less people are receiving ULK. There was a corresponding decline in incoming letters over 2023, which meant less outgoing letters. Though we still mailed out more ULKs than in 2022, we mailed out less other literature. All of these numbers seem to indicate a decrease in engagement with prisoners overall. We did not see a significant decrease in study group participation.
One of our failures for 2023 was to follow through with support for Texas prisoners, such as: compiling reports for ULK, building and supporting campaigns, and updating our Texas Campaign Pack. None of that happened due to one comrade leaving who was leading AIPS efforts in Texas. Their efforts in 2022 led to an increase in outgoing letters, and we saw an increase in incoming letters that year seemingly as a result of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. Then in July 2023, Texas implemented their digital mail system, which has led to massive delays in prisoners receiving letters, and much of our literature being rejected because mailroom staff don’t understand the new system or are using it as an excuse to censor us. While the decrease in incoming letters from Texas has continued since that happened, it began well before July. So the digital mail system certainly doesn’t explain it all.
Another failure for 2023 was our Revolutionary 12 Step Training course. We want to apologize to the comrades who were keeping up with their responses to the course. Unfortunately, again, this is a case where the persyn leading this initiative was not able to follow through. For now we are considering the training course in that form as done. But we aspire to relaunch it in the future as we continue to focus on combating addiction. The Revolutionary 12 Step Program pamphlet was one of our most distributed items in 2023. And we are encouraging recipients to report on their efforts at implementing it so we can find ways to build it.
In 2023 we’ve seen a surge in requests for us to message people inside electronically through companies the states’ are hiring to run their digital mail via tablets. Years ago we used to be able to do this. The early prison email systems were free and accessible. Now they require credit card information and often for you to install software to use them. This is not something we are set up to do at this time. So do not expect us to respond to requests from these state-sponsored messaging systems in the near future. One comrade in Texas asked why we don’t have ULK on the tablets. Well, the point of the tablets is so they can further control and monitor what you read and write. So we assume that’s never gonna happen, but if you have a way for us to get on there let us know.
Every recent issue of ULK has listed Spreading ULK as a campaign to support. In 2024, we need to get serious about that campaign if we want to keep ULK sustainable and useful. This could be done by increasing distribution outside of prisons as well. But as the prison ministry’s primary task is organizing prisoners, we’re asking for your help in both analyzing what is going on with subscriber numbers and transforming those numbers. Please take the time to send us your thoughts on the following questions:
Have you noticed changes in the prison system that have made it harder for people to subscribe to ULK or less interested in subscribing?
Have you noticed changes in the prisoner population that have made people less interested in subscribing?
Have you noticed/heard of people losing interest in ULK because of the content, or because of the practices of MIM(Prisons)?
What methods have you seen be successful in getting people interested in or to subscribe to ULK?
Do you have ideas for how we can increase interest in ULK in prisons?