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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 42]
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Building Unity Fighting National Divisions in Texas

On a daily basis, we here at the McConnell Unit experience backlash for any and every thing we do to stand up for ourselves. I have been at a receiving end for some time. I have now been confined as a "security threat group (STG) member or leader" and am constantly being watched by the pigs. I am a considered a confirmed gang member despite ten years without any major disciplinary cases, gang involvement/activity, or fights.

Now, because of that my mail has gone missing, and has been denied without my knowledge. The mailroom staff has to notify and give you a pink paper to let you know your mail was denied and for what reason. My family has received two of their letters returned to them as "denied" yet I have never been called to the mailroom as per policy to be advised that I am being denied a letter. Plus the last thing I received from MIM(prisons) was the three past issues of ULK. As you can see I am targeted. I am used to it.

I spoke with the Gang Investigator two weeks ago. I told him that I am not gang related, have never been, and his response was plainly "we can start the process to get you off file, but it will take a year." This is after I have already gone through the process twice in ten years.

I have been pushing hard on our section for unity and peace amongst Latinos and Afrikan Amerikans. There is a lot of racial hatred on this unit, and no one seems to want to get along. Since 2007 I have tried and tried to make peace between two races who are always at each others' throats. I put up articles from ULK on a common area bulletin board so all these brothers can open their eyes to what they are too blind to see. I speak individually to different people and tell them they have the power to change the minds of these new "inmates" coming in and teach them that they are not inmates, they are human beings! Furthermore color is not a factor. All the pigs see is white uniform. All we see is skin color. And that is wrong, brothers.

We need to realize that together as one solid voice we can move mountains. We can be heard! We can achieve. Stop looking at each other with malice and hate. The pigs will take all your property, destroy your pictures, confiscate your commissary, and lock you up under false pretenses, yet some will overlook that only to fight the next brother because he owes a soup (25 cents) or changed the TV channel. Open your eyes! All of us!

We recently came off of a 30-day semi-annual lockdown. B-side on the unit is all lifers and medium custody prisoners. We had not been to store a week before lockdown, and after lockdown (on the 16th of July) we still have not been to commissary. Today is the 26th. So that's 47 days more or less. On the 21st we staged a sit in. We agreed that we in solidarity would go to lunch and all of us would sit down in the hallway until the majors and wardens came to speak to us. Fifty of us inside and out of the chowhalls, all in unity, sat down requesting the wardens to come speak. Sure enough all the lieutenants, captains, majors and wardens came to speak to us.

I told them (at all times) that it was a peaceful demonstration about our mistreatment on many issues but also concerning commissary being denied to B-Side while A side had gone twice to commissary and were fixing to go for a third time. Despite cameras to record us "initiating riots," and threats about being locked up and given disciplinary cases, we stood our ground. (Although some ran away at the first sign of the wardens coming and some did not actually attend the sit-in.)

The main warden speaking told us he would work on getting us commissary. He gave us his word and we in unity and unison got up and went back to our building. Our commissary schedule was dated as us not going to store until the 29th. But thanks to our actions we started going sooner, on the 24th.

We have 3 pods on our building and when we told the other 2 pods to help us they refused. We did it alone. Yet thanks to us they are going to store. Ironic that they believed our actions would be in vain yet enjoy the victory we achieved.

Basically we need to stand together. Not in violence. That only gives them the excuse that we belong in prison. Instead we all need to unite in solidarity. I would rather fight 5 years to live my next 15 peacefully and not mistreated rather than live all 20 under mistreatment and torture! And to all the brothers in here that sit back and take it: Why talk about war stories of you being this big bad "gangsta" out there who takes nothing from no one and give a story of "don't disrespect me" only to sit back and be compliant with the pigs?

Recently a Federal lawsuit against Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was filed regarding the inhumane heat in the prisons. TDCJ responded that it's not an issue because they employ huge fans, air blowers and cold water as preventive measures to ensure safety. What they didn't state was that only one of those fans works in every section (one sits idle) and the air blowers do not work either. And cold water is hard to get because the pigs don't let us fill the coolers up until they feel like it. So that excuse isn't even true! Open your eyes brothers in Texas. Enough is enough! The fight continues. Don't give up or give in. Never let race be a factor! Power to all people!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this comrade's call for unity across all groups of prisoners so that we can join together in the fight against the criminal injustice system.

Rather than define people by "race" however, we talk about nations. Racism is the idea that there are different biological differences between people. The anti-racists still claim people are separated into different "races" even though they acknowledge that there is no biological or material basis to this claim. The concept of racial differences between people is a product of national oppression that was invented as an ideological justification for colonialism and slavery of the "lesser" races.

We recognize that there are distinct nations within U.$. borders with common language, culture, economics and geography, which face subjugation as a group. So there are different groups within U.$. borders, but we advance beyond the anti-racists by defining those groups materially. The oppressed nations within U.$. borders include at least the [email protected], New Afrikan and First Nations. Rather than trying to integrate these peoples into the oppressor Amerikan nation, like the anti-racists are doing, we work to liberate them from imperialism to take control of their own national territories and form their own independent states, free from imperialism and oppression.

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[Organizing] [Ironwood State Prison] [California]
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Pigs Endanger Safety and Security of Institution, Put Lives of Prisoners at Risk

"Everyone should know by now that prison is politics, it is part of the imperialistic policy of exploitation, oppression and domination over the internal colonies." From "Who are the Political Prisoners?," MIM Theory 11: Amerikkan Prisons On Trial

The pigs at Ironwood State Prison are at it again. Bored with the apparent lack of excitement and disturbances at this relatively peaceful and quiet yard, they have decided to manufacture their own entertainment to the detriment of the imprisoned. Within the span of two short days the pigs here have decided to raid people's houses without any kind of factual proof but only unfounded allegations from "anonymous" sources and supposed "snitches." To understand the actions of the past week however I must first recount the actions of a couple months ago.

It all began when pigs from Ironwood's Special Investigative Unit raided the cell of a born-again Christian in the early hours before breakfast because they'd supposedly received an anonymous kite stating that the Christian was going to stab a Corrections Officer. The Christian was taken to the hole pending investigation and everyone here was left somewhat surprised at this news, as everyone who knew this guy knew that he'd long since left the lumpen lifestyle behind and was only concerned with helping people out. Anyways, after finally getting out of the hole because the investigation turned up nothing, he confided in a couple people that on the day he went to the hole the pigs showed him a picture of another prisoner and asked him if he knew who this persyn was. He lied and told them he didn't, to which they responded, "that's the person who told on you."

Fast-forward to last week when two pigs unexpectedly ran to a cell and ordered the two cellmates to step out. When they asked the pigs what for, they were told not to worry about it and just step out. When the prisoners refused, the pigs immediately pulled out their batons and ordered them a third time to step out. Feeling threatened the prisoners complied. Once in restraints and out of their cell the prisoners were taken to the pigs' local command post on the yard, A-Facility program office. Once there the prisoners were stripped naked and put into holding cages where they were accused of making wine and subsequently treated to verbal assaults. Both prisoners denied the allegations, which proved to be false as the pigs searched and tossed up their cell and found nothing.

As a result the pigs had no choice but to let them go, but not before showing them the pictures of a couple other prisoners. The pigs then asked them if they knew who those two people were, and they said they didn't and were then cut loose. However, after returning to their building they started telling everyone what had happened and that the two prisoners who were in their building had snitched. Tension began to rise and it looked as if people were beginning to take sides preparing for the worst. In the end however, cooler heads prevailed and crisis was averted between the New Afrikan and [email protected] population, as these were the two nations being pitted against each other by the pigs' actions. And even though I started out this story by saying that this is something of a peaceful yard, at the end of the day it's still a prison and things happen.

The very next day almost the same scenario played out when ten or fifteen pigs rushed another person's cell and forced him out the same way they done to those other prisoners the night before. Again, just as the previous night the pigs said they were looking for wine, and just like the night before they found nothing. As the pigs were exiting this person's cell however they told him to thank the prisoners who'd gotten their cell searched the night before for their visit, thereby implying that those prisoners were somehow responsible.

These events from last week caused me to think deeper about the pigs' actions, as well as the prisoners' response to them and I'd like to discuss it here. Now, before jumping to conclusions because you took a pig at his/her word like most who are confronted with this scenario often do, why don't we first stop and actually think about what's really going on? The real issue in the examples given above aren't about who supposedly snitched on who, but about the motivation that the pigs have in exposing their supposed informants to us. Let us hypothesize that in all the examples given above the pigs were actually telling the truth and the people identified by them in their pictures were really snitching, what then? Should we handle our business in keeping with prison etiquette or do we conduct our own investigation in an effort to get to the truth?

Instead of just smashing on the alleged rat because a pig told us to, why not at least confront this person with the information given to us by the pigs and ask him if it's true before smutting him up? As a matter of fact, since when is a pig's word even worth anything?

You can even go further than this and tell this person exactly what the pigs told you and if he denies it then we can offer to file some kind of paperwork together against that very same pig. Whether it be thru your local grievance procedure or thru the courts, put it on paper and put the pigs on blast. This way there will be documentation which shows how these pigs are putting the lives of prisoners at risk; either because you mistakenly assaulted another prisoner due to a pig manipulating you or because the person in question was really a snitch - it doesn't matter!

Stop blindly taking the pigs at their word and doing their bidding, otherwise you're just a sucker who'll believe anything, as well as a tool of the establishment. We should strive to create unity out of the pigs' attempts to divide us. Turn their divide-and-conquer tactics against them and UNITE! These actions on our part could potentially have a two-fold outcome beneficial to us. First, if the pigs see that we're no longer biting into their little games they might stop baiting us, and secondly, if the rats know the pigs are giving them up and you're gonna confront them then they might think twice about telling, thereby reducing any additional oppression of all prisoners concerned. This way bad things can be turned into good.

I know that many reading this are probably laughing and thinking it's a joke, and yes to a certain degree what I'm proposing is somewhat ideal, but the harm we keep inflicting on each other is not. The possibility of creating a United Front becomes less viable without finding ways to settle contradictions amongst ourselves without resorting to violence, and we must begin somewhere.

As such, within the prison realm there are generally two different types of social contradictions: those between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves. The two are totally different in nature, and since they are different in nature the contradictions between ourselves and the pigs and those among the prisoners themselves should be resolved thru different methods. In order to resolve the very many contradictions that inevitably arise among ourselves we should look to the methods of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not the methods of coercion or repression, i.e. violence. This way we can arrive at a new unity with these unstable prison elements on a new basis and against the real enemy.

Now, for those of you still reading this and still wondering if the people pointed out by the pigs were really snitches, that I don't know. What I do know however is that one of the supposed "rats" is constantly pushing paperwork against the pigs on a variety of issues which concern the prisoner population. While one of the other prisoners involved recently go this life sentence commuted to a lesser term after serving almost twenty years; the pigs knew this and didn't like it.

These pigs don't care about us and it doesn't matter to them what inmates are "snitches" and what inmates are "solid". To them we're all just prisoners and the same. Perhaps we should take that as a lesson and start looking at each other as one.

To all those people who are really snitching, start showing some self-respect and stop harming the people you should be working with to unite against the pigs. If you can't stop telling them, at least tell on a pig and not another prisoner. For everyone else, stop being a pawn to these pigs and at least conduct your own investigation before erroneously labeling someone a snitch, smutting him up and getting him or yourself hurt. You never know, next time the pigs might flash your picture to someone and call YOU the snitch.

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[Organizing] [Gang Validation] [ULK Issue 41]
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MIM Prison Activism Labeled "Contamination"

I recently came across something that may be of interest to you. I was doing some research into this reactionary pro-prison propagandist organization known as the National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC). It's run by an adamant apologist for this pernicious system named Dr. George W. Knox. Dr. Knox and the swine that work for NGCRC routinely conduct surveys for the gulag system to help them identify and neutralize any potential "threats." I was able to get my hands on one of these surveys and preliminary finding reports that was conducted within 148 gulags in the U$A, representing 48 states, and nearly 150,000 prisoners. Now, the part of the survey that I thought may be of some interest to MIM(Prisons) is the following:


Low Level of Contamination from the MIM

Some types of political extremist groups try to recruit inmates and prisoners in America, they can do this through the U.S. Postal Service. These groups often have sophisticated websites as well. The Maoist International Movement (MIM) exists to spread communist ideology among inmates incarcerated in American jails and prisons. It seeks to radicalize prison inmates and give them a platform for organizing resistance against the American government. If your inmates are corresponding with MIM, you might have a problem brewing.

The survey included the question "have any of the inmates in your facility corresponded with the Maoist International Movement (MIM)"? Only 4.6 percent of the respondents indicated that their inmates have been in contact with MIM. Thus, it would appear that MIM is not effectively reaching out to the vast majority of American inmates. Not yet at least. Alternatively, maybe such contact with MIM is going under the radar of prison and jail officials.



MIM(Prisons) responds: This report on "Gangs and Security Threat Groups" does not include mention of any other communist groups, so we could see our inclusion as an indication of MIM(Prisons)'s success in reaching oppressed nation activists and the correctness of our political line in threatening imperialism and Amerikkkan rule. Communism is our goal: a society where no group has power over another group. This threatens the imperialist criminal injustice system for sure. In reality, as the study admits, they cannot really judge our reach based on survey of prison administrators alone. We would love to reach the vast majority of prisoners, but in practice we are focused on those who are interested in anti-imperialist politics and/or open-minded and looking to learn. Nonetheless, we take this as a call to action for Under Lock & Key readers: we need to increase the percentage of people in contact with MIM(Prisons)!

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[Organizing] [Theory] [MIM(Prisons)] [ULK Issue 39]
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MIM(Prisons) July 2014 Congress Report

MIM Logo Burn Flag

MIM(Prisons) conducted our annual congress in July to sum up our work for the year, learn from our mistakes and build on our successes. We affirmed our strategic direction and came away with some shifts in our tactical work based on experiences over the past year and proposals from our comrades. This report sums up the decisions of interest that can be shared publicly.

Under Lock & Key (ULK) is our primary educational and organizing tool, and the main way that we retain contact with our readers behind bars. We will continue to lead theoretically through this publication with expanded analysis of economic issues and international content. This is important because we understand the value of prison-based reporting and organizing information, but must not lose sight of our role as a Maoist organization. Keeping the internationalist orientation of our work, and providing analysis based in communist theory, is critical to the goal of MIM(Prisons). We are working to develop more writers behind bars who can also contribute at this level, and we still value our field correspondents who report on what's going on in their prison or state.

In our focus to lead theoretically we have set a goal of finishing the upcoming book on the [email protected] nation by the end of this year. [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztl├ín is a collaborative writing effort representing several emerging Maoist voices in the [email protected] movement. There is a need for Maoist literature and leadership in the hotly contested struggle of [email protected] and migrants against Amerikan repression, especially in the new context of multiculturalism and widespread wealth throughout the United $tates. We aim to get the ball rolling on that contemporary theory development with the release of this book. Prisoners interested in receiving a copy should write now to request one.

Because we are a prison-focused cell, anti-censorship is a very important battle for MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). Censorship is a primary and effective tool used by the criminal injustice system to cut prisoners off from the broader anti-imperialist struggle, and it is implemented illegally and arbitrarily against our literature. Censorship can stop folks from receiving important educational materials and in the extreme case it completely shuts down our communication in states where all of our mail is stopped.

Last congress we decided to target certain states for anti-censorship campaigning, and we had success with this tactic, especially in North Carolina, California and Missouri. In the censorship chart you can see what states had victories, bans in particular facilities, and overall statewide bans. The chart may appear misleading in that a ban might only directly impact a handful of subscribers. But still, even those few subscribers could multiply into a movement if given half a chance. On the flip side, there may be no censorship reported in a state that actually does have censorship or a ban; we just don't know about it yet. Facilities where our mail was banned over the past year were Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Elkton, FCI Talladega, U.S. Penitentiary Atwater, Rutledge State Prison in Georgia, Sheridan Correctional Center in Illinois, Ely State Prison in Nevada, Riverview Correctional Facility in New York, State Correctional Institution (SCI) Fayette and SCI Waymart in Pennsylvania, and Central Utah Correctional Facility. This is SCI Waymart's second year banning MIM material, and Central Utah Correctional Facility's third!

2014 Censor Chart Full

This year we made a number of commitments around censorship battles that should improve our ability to respond quickly and resolve them from the outside. We do not have the resources to fight every censorship incident, so we prioritize assisting subscribers who are also engaging in this battle from behind bars. You can request our guide to fighting censorship if you don't have it already. The basic advice is to appeal all censorship, and appeal it to the highest level. Send us copies of censorship notifications and inform us when any mail we've sent has been rejected. Censorship battles are sometimes won on just the first appeal, but others require much paperwork and persistence. Also tell us all the mail you receive from us, whether it was censored initially or not.

We decided to push our anti-censorship work in support of the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP), based out of Pelican Bay State Prison in California. This mentorship program is committed to providing one-on-one guidance to people on the outside who are interested in New Afrikan liberation and fighting injustice. A comrade in MIM(Prisons) attempted to participate in this program hself, but h participation was squashed at the outset. Pelican Bay officials claim the WLNMP is a Security Threat Group, related to the Black Guerilla Family. Since we're prevented from participating in the mentorship program directly, we've decided to instead help fight censorship of the program. We will continue reporting on the development of this program in ULK and on our website.

United Struggle from Within (USW) is the MIM(Prisons)-led organization for prisoners. This is the group through which we build campaigns and educational programs behind bars. California and Texas are usually heavily represented in USW membership, and this year we had an influx in the Southeast and Midwest United $tates. In the coming year we will expand our focus on states where we have active comrades, and help those comrades build new campaigns relevant to their local conditions. In practice this means that we have identified the most active states and will be focusing our work there to bring together individuals from different prisons with the goal of building unified campaigns and a broader state-wide movement.

In addition to our focus on more active states, MIM(Prisons) is working to improve the ways we engage people to make sure no lone comrades fall through the cracks due to censorship or just from being locked up in a relatively inactive state. We are going to pay special attention to those who stay in touch and do work.

Alongside our commitment to develop prisoner leaders and activists, we recognize the need to continue supporting our comrades once they are released from prison. The MIM(Prisons) Re-Lease on Life program will be focused on this year, in an effort to address some issues our released comrades have struggled with. In the coming year we are going to research the possibility of setting up a more intensive release program. This is something that will take significant time and resources, and we will only be able to offer it to those committed to a life of political activism. As we develop the program we will reach out to eligible individuals to work out a release plan. In the meantime, make sure we know when you have a release date coming up in the next few years so we can start planning now.

We considered a proposal from a USW comrade to use prisoner-created revolutionary art for fundraising, and to spread revolutionary culture in prisons and on the street. We are going to take up parts of the proposal that are within our means at this time. In the coming months we are going to initiate a project to create revolutionary greeting cards for sale on the streets and for use behind bars. The proceeds of this project will be used to fund the creation of a revolutionary prisoner art zine, which we will distribute on the streets. Any profits from that zine will be used to fund a culture project to be selected by the contributing prisoner artists. Anyone can donate art to this project by sending in your submissions to the address on page 1! Even if you aren't an artist yourself, you can help spread and build this cultural project in your facility. Write in for more information.

We are pleased to report that our work has expanded in many ways over the last year, and we expect additional expansion based on the plans and resources we have in place for the coming year. In solidarity with all genuine anti-imperialist forces world-wide, we continue moving forward!

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [United Front] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Segregation is Torture, Unite to Fight Common Enemies

I've been relocated to Ad-Seg which is, of course, the hole. Life in here is as bad as it's ever been. It's been a while since last I was in Ad-Seg and the sad reality is that not too much has changed. A lot has gotten worse. We're kept in our cells for twenty four hours a day. We're given "yard," that is in 10 feet by 10 feet cages which are known as dog kennels, every third day for two hours. It fluctuates but that's pretty much the program. We're given showers every third day as well.

The worst part about being locked in confinement is the overwhelming oppression. The lack of sunlight and movement really does a number on one's mental state. Which is why they monitor us so closely here. We're counted every half hour and they have a crew of psych doctors constantly making circuits around the tiers. From what I understand the suicide rate is pretty high here. So they keep a close eye on us. I've been locked up back here since early May and I'll be here until later this month (June) or early next month. The sad part is that even though I'll be getting out there are a lot of brothers back here who won't be getting released for a long time. A lot of them are youngsters too.

It makes me feel so bad seeing all of these good young brothers in here sacrificing themselves for no reason. The LO violence here at Calipatria is back in full swing. There was a riot recently between the Mexican/Chicanos and the Blacks. The foolishness here in Cali continues. It's time we wake up and get our shit together and stop fighting against each other and start working with each other. Only then can we make progress. The sad truth in Cali is that racial divisions are deeply embedded in us. It's been this way since the eighties and who knows when we'll overcome it. But overcome it we must. So I call on all those LOs with any influence to reexamine the big picture. We are all in the same boat and it's in all our best interest to unite. As the saying goes united we stand divided we fall.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade reminds us why we have a campaign to shut down prison control units. Short term isolation is enough to dramatically harm people's mental and physical health, and in the United $tates prison system many prisoners are locked up for years in isolation units like this prisoner's describes. The call for unity is well placed as we agree with this comrade that oppressed groups coming together is the best chance to fight against the oppressor. This principle of unity is particularly important to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We encourage all our readers to organize for unity and peace for the September 9 solidarity demonstration this year, when our peaceful unity and protest can be a starting point for future united actions and peace agreements among organizations and individuals.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 40]
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From Unity to Collective Liberation; Learning to Unite Against Gender Oppression

Just recently I finished studying a book from PM Press by Chris Crass titled Towards Collective Liberation. This was one of the best political/activist books I've read, and it has been vital in helping me clarify my political vision and goal for creating liberating and transformative change within myself and the world.

I was not aware how this system of divide-and-control creates and utilizes divisions along the lines of gender (sexism), sexuality (homophobia), ability (elder discrimination), and nationality (anti-immigrant rights) to maintain its ruling-class dominance. This lack of awareness of these systems of oppression along the lines of gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality caused me to be completely numb to and disinterested in any struggles for justice and equality as it relates to gender equality and reproductive rights, LGBT rights, elder rights, and immigrant rights.

Prior to reading Toward Collective Liberation, I would not have come close to embracing any struggles remotely dealing with feminism or LGBT rights, partly out of fear of being viewed by my heterosexual male peers as weak, feminine, or even gay. I now see how such a concern is in and of itself sexist and homophobic in nature and is indicative of my own internalized values of sexist/heterosexist male superiority. All women and LGBT people are human beings deserving of our respect and collective support as they too struggle for equality, basic human rights, and the right to live their lives freely, without hindrance, slander, ridicule or discrimination.

Having been in prison for 20 consecutive years, I bear witness on a daily basis to how these same divide-and-rule tactics manifest themselves even behind these prison walls. The penal system uses behavior modification and psychology against us, especially those politically active prisoners engaged in a protracted struggle against all forms of oppression. Such psychological tactics are inflaming/instigating hatred and violence amongst the different "races"; the use of prisoners who covertly collaborate with the penal administration; treating prisoners who are willing to collaborate with the penal administration in far more lenient/favorable ways than those who are not; using collaborating/informing prisoners to spread rumors detrimental to the character and reputation of natural leaders so they will not be trusted; and most noticeably, the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) and Administrative Segregation (AdSeg) as tools of repression to isolate all prisoners deemed to be influential.

Of course, there are many divisions amongst prisoners that can clearly be seen in these modern-day gulags:

  1. Division between much older and experienced captives who view younger, less experienced prisoners as reckless, lacking a "code" of ethics, and not willing to listen to instruction; and the younger, less experienced prisoners who view the older captives as washed up, institutionalized, and behind in the times
  2. Division between those who classify themselves as gay/bi-sexual who are resentful towards those classified as heterosexual who openly alienate them; and those classified as heterosexual who look down upon prisoners classified as gay/bi-sexual with disgust and hostility
  3. Divisions between those who are part of religious/cultural organizations such as Christians, Muslims, Rastas, Catholics, Gods and Earths, Atheists, etc.
  4. Divisions between nationalities and even within nationalities
  5. Division between lumpen street organizations who are convinced that it is more "gangsta" to fight each other rather than fight for change in the circumstance or environment, against oppression and exploitation, inhumane living conditions, extortion, substandard food, etc.

And many more.

The "Agreement to End Hostilities" initiated by those courageous brothers of the Pelican Bay State Prison - SHU Short Corridor Collective and the "United Front for Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles" developed by MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within, and other types of progressive collective moves taking place in various prisons across this Empire, are just glimpses of the type of unity and leverage we can achieve with a multi-national, inter-organizational, cross-gender alliance if we develop a multi-dimentional analysis of how the penal administration utilizes our differences to keep us divided and at each others' throats instead of working together for our own common good.

What the penal authorities hate most is that after decades of oppressive and inhumane living conditions, the arbitrary use of SHUs, AdSeg, and this "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality, the progressive, revolutionary elements within the various penal colonies will always raise their head. They see within the progressive, revolutionary elements that which will expose and defeat them: the commitment, determination and resolve to oppose and ultimately abolish the criminal injustice system.

At the same time, they can see and feel their own powerlessness, for their power ends at the point when we all come together to lift our heads, take the reigns of our lives into our own hands, throw off the old guard, and collectively struggle to provide new guards for our future security.

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[Organizing] [Boycott] [Civil Liberties] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 39]
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Virginia Prisoner Punished for Organizing

I am in receipt of your introductory letter to the Prisoners' Legal Clinic and a copy of my edited article that's published on your website. Since the publication of the article, the prisoner who had previously been denied schooling is now enrolled. Your efforts and exposure had a positive impact!

Unfortunately, the other materials you have sent, Under Lock & Key, the study group materials, etc., continue to be censored. I'm awaiting the final decision of the Publication Review Committee, so I may send you their notice should you choose to file a lawsuit challenging the censorship.

With the appeal of my conviction for Encouraging a Group Demonstration being decided against me, I am not permitted a prison job. While I did not expect a favorable decision, I was stunned that the final arbiter explicitly admitted that I am punished, "Not for what you did, but for why you did it."

Of course the U.$. Constitution guarantees freedom of belief and speech. And the United Snakes Supreme Clout whose "justices" are the final interpreters of the constitution of the United Snakes have repeatedly ruled "[N]o citizen may be punished for his beliefs but only for his actions."

My point is, I was "convicted" inside the gulag for "encouraging prisoners to refrain from commissary purchases." This action is not a violation of the rules because no prisoner is required to purchase commissary. So the reasons that I encouraged prisoners not to purchase commissary - or my beliefs - are supposed to be immune from punishment. Yet the Virginia Department of Corruptions explicitly stated I was punished not for what I did but for why I did it.

I'm having the decision of the Virginia Department of Corruptions reviewed by some associates for consideration of filing a lawsuit. But to be frank, it has been my experience that for a prisoner in the gulag, the Constitution of the United States is most useful only when my roll of toilet paper is empty.

A paper document has no power. Ask the crime victims who've been beaten by the perpetrators who stepped across the boundaries of the "protective orders." Ask the black and brown people of the south who were beaten for voting even when a piece of paper stated this harassment was unlawful. The Constitution of the United Snakes says we have protected liberties, but the festered minds of the so-called "justices" are filled with pus, and they repeatedly ooze phrases telling us prisoners that the Constitution really does not say what is written therein. These pus-filled minds are fond of saying, in the prison context these god-given rights for humanity are subjugated to the objectives of the go-vermine-ment.

Think about that, my friends. Supposedly, the Constitution of the United States grants the God-given liberties that are basic and essential to human life, but those liberties are permitted in prison only as long as they are not contrary to a legitimate government objective. (read Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989)). By implication, this means the government has objectives that are contrary to what is basic and essential to human life.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner's report comes in as we are building for the September 9 Solidarity Demonstration this year. This day of peaceful unity and protest, commemorating the date of the Attica uprising has resulted in punishment of participants in past years. We cannot let them frighten us into inaction, but organizers need to take account of local conditions when deciding what actions to take on September 9. Prisoners can write to us for the September 9 organizing materials, which includes some background on the Attica uprising.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [MD Reception, Diagnostic & Classification Center] [Maryland]
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Targetted for Filing Grievances in Maryland

Less than two months from my release date, I was maliciously scapegoated for my actions in reporting a continual, inhumane practice of Central Maryland Correctional Facility (CMCF). CMCF is a supermax camp that houses minimum and pre-release security inmates under Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS, formerly DOC). As you may imagine, there isn't much effort put forth by convicts to struggle (peacefully or otherwise) against administrative injustices, due to short release dates and the strict guidelines of the residential substance abuse program (RSAT), which half of the jail is binded by. For the vast majority of those assigned to RSAT by case management, it is mandatory under DPSCS policy that they complete the program or they receive a notice of infraction (ticket) in which all good days given to you at the beginning of your bid may be taken if found guilty. Needless to say, I'm hoping I can dodge that ticket somehow. But with the aforementioned in mind, you can understand the lack of political involvement at CMCF.

CMCF is a dorm setting and down in the RSAT building the bunk area is separated from everything (bathroom, TV, microwave, etc.). During count time the Correctional Officers (COs) are supposed to keep the doors locked only until they are finished counting the other side and then return to open the doors so prisoners can utilize the bathroom, two at a time. Most prisoners are frustrated by this "supermax-like" procedure of a pre-release camp because they were of the belief that the closer to getting home that you are, the easier your bid got. Getting to the issue, every now and then a CO will leave the doors locked for excessive time, consequently forcing us to hold our bladder and bowels.

When a legitimate situation arose, I felt it was imperative for someone to take up the vanguard so we could do some agitating of our own. This particular instance, the doors were locked for an hour and a half (no exaggeration), leaving some to piss in cups, while the officer bullshitted and remained in the bubble acting oblivious to the kicks on the doors and prisoners pressing the buttons that lets them know that someone needs to get out. A strong Black brother from the FOI (Fruit of Islam), me, and two other conscious brothers struggling to ameliorate the Black man's plight, encouraged our dorm mates to write it up so administration would know that we are sick and tired. Twenty five out of a dorm of 61 people filing grievances for the same reasons is abnormal to say the least, for that jail.

As a result of this protest I have been placed on Administrative Segregation pending adjustment (hearing) for four charges (most serious to least): engaging in a disruptive act, interfering with officer's duties, coercions, and forging documents. They alleged that I forced people to sign some grievances, signed others myself, and intimidated ALL participants with my STG status (I am validated as Blood). They needed what seems like a feasible explanation to dismiss the grievances filed - thus scapegoating the "intimidating, coercing, Blood member who had a vendetta against Officer D. Brown." But this route wasn't taken until after the THIRD attempt to get inmates to withdraw complaints using their usual bribery and manipulative tactics: promises of yard every night in exchange for signing off, saying the grievances wouldn't accomplish anything, etc.

There are lessons to be learned in every situation, this in particular being, not giving administration an easy target, as a conscious brother warned me of just before I got this ticket. For those who wanted to contribute but just didn't know how to write the complaint or were just too lazy, I wrote their grievances for them, all the exact same way that I wrote mine - this was a crucial mistake. I also spoke out more than others when administration came to convince us to withdraw our complaints - another vital mistake, giving them an easy target again. If found guilty of this ticket I face 180 days lockup, 246 days loss of good time, a year loss of visits and my security going to medium. Whatever the outcome, I will be seeking justice!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This story of punishment for filing grievances is echoed across the United $nakes prison system. And it is one of the reasons prisoners have initiated a campaign to demand grievances be addressed in many states. We have petitions that prisoners can use to fight the denial of grievances, though Maryland is one state where we still need someone to customize the petition for use. These campaigns are important for two reasons: first, they give prisoners a way to fight back against unjust denial of grievances and demand the prison respect their rights, and second, they provide an educational opportunity for prison activists. As a common battle faced by all prisoners, the struggle to get grievances heard can be used to unite many for a common battle, while educating all about the limitations of our struggle within the system and the need for an anti-imperialist movement for long-term and systemic changes. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or if one does not exist volunteer to customize the petition from another state to be used there.

This article referenced in:
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[Organizing] [Boycott] [ULK Issue 38]
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September Solidarity Demonstration: Using Our Financial Power

In solidarity, I offer this suggestion: reduce your contribution to your imprisonment; instead contribute to your child's development. Advantages: the prison system has less funding; the companies that lobby for prisons lose money; you remain healthy to fight!

J. Paul Getty said, "If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If you own the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem!"

The prison gets roughly $30,000/year for each general population prisoner, but receives an average of $70,000 for us in solitary confinement. Where does the money come from? Too much of it comes from us! Federal prisoners spend $300 million a year in commissary. It is estimated that prisoners contribute $3 billion annually toward their own incarceration. We are allowing our money to be used as a weapon of war against us. "Playing by your enemy's rules is suicide." Growth and Development symbolizes growth of knowledge and development of new skills and tactics to be successful!

If you want to bring the CDCR director to the negotiation, make Keefe force him to the table. It is always about the money with capitalists. You have to give them something to lose!

We never shop during September out of respect for the sacrifice of my Attica brothers. Ask your family and friends to participate by not purchasing products from Keefe, Bob Barker, Golden Valley and any other company that profits from prisons. Eliminate the funding, and the problem is solved. Stop contributing to your own suffering!

Request the public records, budget and audit for the California prison system. It will show you how you are giving your money to your suffering.


Grow your knowledge
Develop new skills and tactics
Revolutionary strategy
Intelligent sacrifice
Stand United
Economic pressure to obtain your goal


MIM(Prisons) adds:Every September 9 the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) promotes a solidarity demonstration in honor of the Attica uprising. This peaceful protest could easily expand to a month-long boycott of the parasitic industries from which prisoners are forced to make purchases. We welcome input from UFPP members and supporters leading up to this September's demonstration.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [ULK Issue 38]
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Resolving Contradictions, Developing Cadre for a Protracted Struggle

I had some thoughts on an article that i read in ULK 37 entitled "Elevate the Prison Struggle Beyond Day to Day Goals". In this article a comrade voiced the frustration of the disarray or disfuction of the movement. I fully understand this.

There are times when i get frustrated at those who just don't get it. What seems like it is crystal clear to me is not grasped by so many. But remember this is what separates levels of consciousness. We have to remember most of us were knuckleheads at one time; at least i was. And i'm sure those wiser than me were stressed out about me as well. We don't have to like it, but we do have to understand it if we ever seek to change it. I must know that what i understand and grasp may not be the same for others, but people develop consciously at different rates, even two cellmates will not be totally on the same level.

A protracted struggle is not simply performing and being victorious, rather it is a long drawn out struggle. It does not matter what one is struggling for. If i am trying to get better health care or healthier food to eat and i am up against a medical corporation or a prison policy that prevents me from getting what i want, it will be a struggle. We are not talking about just filing a grievance or refusing to go back in my cell, we are talking about possibly YEARS of struggle.

One of the things a protracted struggle means is that it will be long and rough. Not only that but it is a stop and go struggle where, in between efforts for human rights when there is "down time," the people use this time to sharpen up educationally and learn more about the human rights they are shooting for by studying similar historical struggles. A protracted struggle then is struggle first in the physical realm THEN in the ideological realm so that the people are struggling - preparing - struggling.

Disarray and disfunction are signs of a lack of political education and nothing more. This is why there is a great important necessity for political education and building cadre. The lack of cadre in any group, prison or organization will be the difference between obtaining human rights or settling for a bigger variety of cookies on commissary; of the revolution moving closer to reality or being extinguished.

Mao spoke of cadre and summed it up as follows:

"In order to guarantee that our party and country do not change their color, we must not only have a correct line and correct policies but must train and bring up millions of successors who will carry on the cause of proletarian revolution.

"In the final analysis, the question of training successors for the revolutionary cause of the proletariat is one of whether or not there will be people who can carry on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary cause started by the older generation of proletarian revolutionaries, whether or not the leadership of our party and state will remain in the hands of proletarian revolutionaries, whether or not our descendents will continue to march along the correct road laid down by Marxism-Leninism, or, in other words, whether or not we can successfully prevent the emergence of Kruschev's revisionism in China. In short, it is an extremely important question, a matter of life and death for our party and our country. It is a question of fundamental importance to the proletarian revolutionary cause for a hundred, a thousand, nay ten thousand years. Basing themselves on the changes in the Soviet Union, the imperialist prophets are pinning their hopes of "peaceful evolution" on the third or fourth generation of the Chinese party. We must shatter these imperialist prophecies. From our highest organizations down to the grass-roots, we must everywhere give constant attention to the training and upbringing of sucessors to the revolutionary cause."(1)

Here Mao is referring to how a bourgeoisie arose within the Bolshevik Party, taking the Soviet Union down the revisionist road after Stalin's death. The younger generations, not having a deep enough understanding of revolutionary science allowed such preposterous ideas as a peaceful evolution from capitalism to communism to be promoted and accepted as guiding principles. Mao's solution to this was the Cultural Revolution, which advanced socialism to its furthest stage of development to date. It is not good enough for the wise, the vets, the double O.G.s to be up on game as far as what it means to come together in peace and struggling for human rights. It's important that the young buck must also be educated on the importance of peace and the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Young people must be taught why human rights are important and what ways to acquire human rights.

What many forget is education comes in many forms, conversing with someone about social justice can be just as effective as passing a political newsletter down the tier. Sharing an article one tailored for a specific bunch can be just as effective as giving a fiery speech on the tier and, well, doing all of the above is good too. Without one studying him/herself one is unable to learn ways to improve one's environment and instead is left in a chaotic atmosphere which never moves forward.

Educating those who never listened to anyone in their life is no walk in the park. I get this. The thing is i know it must be done.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This essay is a good introduction to the focus of this issue of Under Lock & Key, which is an update on the theory and practice of building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Cipactli gives us some good theory to chew on here, but we would not go so far as to say that problems in the movement are "signs of a lack of political education and nothing more." While every prisoner is oppressed by the same state, there are contradictions within the imprisoned lumpen that contribute to disorder and conflict. Some of these contradictions may not be resolved by education. These contradictions must be recognized, it must be determined whether or not they are contradictions among the people and they must be pushed to resolution. Hashing this out is a big part of the process of building an effective united front. These are tasks that we are working with USW leaders to take on in addition to outreach and education work. At the same time these tasks will serve to train and develop leaders within USW.


Notes: 1. Mao Zedong, "On Kruschev's Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons for the World" (14 July 1964).

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