The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Hoke Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 17]
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Fighting Back Works

I would like to comment on the story written by a Pennsylvania prisoner titled "Stand Up For Real Causes," printed in ULK 16. First let me say the situation you describe is all too common. Unfortunately, I'm currently a ward of the North Carolina department of corruptions and housed at Hoke Correctional Institution (aka Toke Correctional). My point is this, these cats here are the most passive dudes I ever jailed with. I'm from Jersey and unfortunately I spent 9 years and 9 months in prison in NJDOC and the shit I see go on here in NCDOC would not go down there. Like you, I've tried to get these so-called convicts to stand up for change and correct some of the unjust B.S. here at Hope Correctional.

On Feb 2, 2010 this unit changed custody levels from medium to minimum custody and to a medical institution with little modification. Unfortunately, I was one of the few prisoners who were allowed to witness the transition from medium to minimum custody, and I believed all the lies the administration told us. The first thing they told us was that we would be given transfers to other facilities which would grant us custody level promotions with the privileges of work release and home passes if we stayed and trained the new incoming prisoners on how to run the kitchen and occupied certain jobs until they could be filled. Well, lo and behold, we were tricked and suffer daily. Prior to the custody level change this facility held 260 prisoners and now they have us packed in like animals. Single cells were made to house two men in quarters designed for one. 24-men units are now 48-men units with only four shower heads and we are only allowed to shower from 3 pm to 9 pm.

I tried to get a few dudes to come together to file grievances on this issue but only three of us actually filed. The admin simply used an old memo by a former governor about a water drought which ended two years ago. We lost on that issue.

Since we changed over, the food service can't seem to order or cook enough food to feed the whole population. Every day the kitchen runs out of food. Every single day! Everyone complains and cries to each other but no one is willing to stand up for change. I went to the operation office and asked for 200 grievance forms and they gave me 300 without a question. I put myself out there once again and went to each block to hand out grievance forms about the food. When it was all said and done, only 8 grievances were filed and once again they counted on us not to unify.

There are many other examples I could express, but like I said, these prisoners are so passive, all they care about is being able to watch lame ass weekly TV shows. If they took the TVs in every day room these clowns would write the Governor.

What really gets me is I witnessed what unity can do in NJ state prison. I've seen tyrant Sergeants get reassigned. I've seen change come when we stand up and unite without violence.

Just a few months ago I wrote ULK about the pigs here waking us up every 30 minutes to assure we were alive, and not only did I write to MIM(Prisons), I also filed a grievance on this issue. My story was published in ULK July/Aug story titled "Sleep Deprivation to Control Oppressed. My efforts were not fruitless. As a result of my grievance and persistence this policy was changed and they no longer deprive us of sleep in GP or the lock up unit (H-Block). When this injustice occurred I advised everyone on the lockup block to join me to change this policy, but once again I was the only one who raised hell and even then the result was change, so I know it works.

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[Organizing] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 17]
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Independent Leaders

After reading the article from our comrade in Pennsylvania under the title "Stand Up for Real Causes" in the Sept/Oct 2010 Under Lock & Key, I felt obligated to respond in hopes of giving some practical direction in seeking to revolutionize the prison's slave order of operation. When we examine the history of all those who organized and took action for a real cause we will learn that it was always initiated by the few, never the majority. Numbers help, but courage, loyalty, and discipline are much more important than numbers and must be without compromise the foundation in order for any unified resistance to exist, and most importantly be effective. Trust me soulja, I know first hand how frustrating and sick it can be when we see others around us willingly accept being oppressed, used up and abused. Most of them usually accept such humiliation with a big ol' Chicken George grin, in which you can almost hear "yeas sir boss!" squeezing through their teeth.

The prison's kitchen is in my opinion the easiest operation to boycott and the fastest way to bring about attention from the administration. You don't have to chase the mentally dead prisoners, they can go to work all they want but when half, or more, of the population is not going to the kitchen to eat, the administration is going to want to know why.

In 2007 I was involved in a kitchen boycott in one of Pennsylvania's state prisons and it was successful. Over half of the population didn't go to the kitchen to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner for a week straight. The administration started going around on each block talking with so-called block reps as to why and what. The boycott was initiated due to kitchen sanitation and food preparation concerns, and the prison administration made changes ASAP from our demands. However, the prisoners became comfortable and in the process things slowly but surely went back to the same poor conditions.

What made that boycott so effective was that the administration couldn't pinpoint any specific organizers because there wasn't any to pinpoint. Prisoners can't be given misconducts or lose his/her prison job, parole, outside clearance or any other privilege that they may have gained for not going to the kitchen to eat; that's our choice. There was a buzz put in the air as to why a boycott was going to happen and when it was going to happen, but trying to pinpoint where the buzz originated is like trying to pinpoint the very first piece of rice that was poured from a big sack bag into a pot of boiling hot water. You don't need to run around and give orders and instructions as to boycotting a prison operation, that type of thing will get you and others locked down under prison policy. The buzz itself will create a certain energy. And when that day comes and the cell doors open, people will not be looking for confirmation from each other. At that very moment a boycott will be born or aborted.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this letter, because we get more letters than we can print from comrades saying "things here aren't like they are in that state or this prison." These letters come from all sorts of places in every state. Of course there will be uneven development, and some places will advance quicker than others, but leaders are by definition a small minority. Leaders will recognize the self-interest prisoners have as a group in organizing themselves, but we cannot expect a spontaneous mass consciousness to take hold. This takes time to develop through education and participation. It is the job of the leaders to recognize when local conditions are changing and to push them to develop.


Related Articles:
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[Organizing] [Security] [California] [ULK Issue 17]
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Lumpen Loyalty Dividing the Struggle

My question to MIM(Prisons) is this: how could you consciously and intently continue to give known rats a forum or conduit to speak and voice an opinion as if he was an honorable or principled man? When has it been right in history to accept traitors? Never!

Let's keep shit non-fiction. Everybody who betrays their own can never be trusted. MIM(P), you're setting a dangerous precedent that should not be emulated in any regard. Those that will compromise all their beliefs and yet find a voice to be heard shows the weakness of the cadre. Real folks see them for who they really are: parrots, poison and cancerous cells. When one practices deceit long enough they begin to believe it. The truth and lies reverse roles. A coward dies a thousand deaths, a real one only once.

What separates the best from the rest is the loyalty, honor and dignity one has for self as well as those of like stature.


MIM(Prisons) responds:

"It is scandalous to Christians to think of a world without timeless moral values such as loyalty, honor and integrity — characteristics that God supposedly places in each of us once and for all time, especially in the more hard-line Protestant religions upholding predetermination. These moral characteristics are then referred to by the Christians as our 'moral character.' The Stalinists' opposition to such an ideology leaves the Christians aghast and hence we 'Stalinists' appear as 'amoral' to those who claim timeless values."
—MC5. Anna Larina. MIM Theory 6: The Stalin Issue, p.53.

Ironically, this quote comes from an article that defends Stalin for overseeing the killing of innocent people in an effort to eliminate spies and infiltrators during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Today we are in much different conditions in our discussion of spies and snitches, but "honor" and "loyalty" are still used to attack us. We would say that even the concept of being "principled" is dangerous. Principled is too often viewed as picking a position and sticking to it no matter what, right or wrong. But Stalin only stuck to one principle, and that was to serve the people by building socialism. Everything else is determined by a scientific analysis of conditions.

In Stalin's conditions, the principal contradiction was the fascists versus the first socialist state in modern history. Spies could have brought the destruction of the Soviet Union. In the U.$. prison movement, the principal contradiction we face is the conflicts between the lumpen themselves. Without resolving these conflicts and building unity around the mutual interests of the imprisoned population, there is no prison movement to speak of. So we must combat ultra-leftism that prevents broader unity.

We know Special Needs Yards (SNYs) are not full of scientific revolutionaries, because that's not true anywhere in the U.$. prison system today. We know that many prisoners use snitching as a way out to get more for themselves. Yet as more and more people go to SNY to opt out of the bullshit warring that the pigs have promoted, the pariah status given to SNY prisoners is playing right into the hands of the state's divide and conquer strategies. As long as general population insists on playing by the pigs' rules, SNY will continue to be an outlet for those who don't want to be pawns in the game.

Despite the rhetoric of honor and loyalty, it is a minority who really live by these ideals. Perhaps that minority are more reliable comrades in the revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, we are trying to mobilize the prison population as a whole on behalf of the interests of the oppressed, and we believe that through education people can change their character.

Of course, there is a reason why not working with the pigs is a common principle among certain populations, while most Amerikans turn to them whenever they need help. No good can come for the oppressed from working with the pigs, but we must apply this principle in a way that best pushes struggle forward.

The lumpen have an ideology of self-sacrifice and dedication that comes from their experience as oppressed people. While we often print articles that reinforce this lumpen morality when it reinforces the unity of the oppressed against the oppressor, we must also address its weaknesses. When the idealism of the masses holds back progress, we must push hard for the acceptance of scientific truth.

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[Organizing] [Security] [Texas]
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Snitch Solution

Ears on alert everyone - wherever snitches roam carelessly, claiming that this is their "get down" generation ready to put any prisoner way down.

There's no doubt that snitching has gotten out of hand in prison, but here in Texas we have found a good solution to this shameful way. If you want to be a "snitch", go ahead get down, I and other prison reformers have decided to support you all the way. You can declare victory now!

Pick up your pen and paper, if you need more, feel free to ask for more from any of us. No one will try to stop you, as long as you start snitching 24-7 to our state Senators and Representatives about our prison conditions. I truly believe that you, snitches, can get something rolling, and help us bring some kind of change for the betterment of thousands, if not millions. That's truly getting down, maybe someday others will stop calling you a snitch and honor your efforts because you finally got it right. Other prisoners are not the enemy - for sure.

What are you waiting for, become part of the solution, stop contributing to the problem. If that's what makes you a snitch, then more power to you, use your mind and your prison time for the struggles of someday fulfilling better prison reform. Go ahead, if you plan to do something, let it be done in prison style, that'll be the day, I and thousands more, maybe millions of prisoners will shake your hand tight, call you a real brother, never a snitch.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade correctly points out that there is a political line behind snitching. And when it is the imperialists and their pigs committing the worst crimes, we support those who are brave enough to come forth and expose the truth.

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[Organizing] [California]
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Call for SNYs to Take Up Anti-Imperialist Action

In response to the feelings expressed in ULK14 [on the issue of Special Needs Yard(SNY) prisoners]...I stand on the side of a General Population(GP) active convict for what it's worth as an anti-capitalist imperialist. And i can't stand the SNY population. But I deal with the existence, because it is a reality of California imprisonment.

I've gone back and forth from the main line to the hole for the lifestyle I lead behind these walls, and I come across SNYs like it's the new GP. The respect and conduct of the average SNY who blames his even more unfortunate situation of enslavement is terrible, because there is little to no order on that side. It's been told to me by various individuals that it's an each-to-his-own system, while being observed that there is no accountability.

I'm not an SNY hater, nor a paper tiger, but a true comrade against a police state in the existence of the social camps within this CDCR, LLC Control System. While you are allowing yourself to be divided into a sensitive mass, you are allowing our masters/captors to continue their control, rule, and conquer of the old convict structure.

Yea you already did that, we can't achieve any type of revolutionary goal by knocking each other off in person or on paper. Fuck wut others are talking about if it's a GP vs SNY discussion because no matter what, you ain't gone come on my side and I ain't gone be on your side.

Do something to impress the mass that SNYs can be revolutionaries too. Instead of snatching up lines and doing unnecessary yelling, shouting, and banging on the doors while the GPs are attempting to sleep at night in the hole. Observe the fact that SNYs are in the position to stop the production of PIA industries in Cali and cause the state to lose money in large sums. If you really as effective with the civil law as you claim, why don't you organize an action for the mass on the issue of the appeal system in general, or the poison (arsenic lead) that is given to most prisoners in the water.

I personally say it's too much talking and not enough action. Take responsibility that you busted under pressure on an individualist need, or desire. And learn from the experience. What I as a part in this struggle for liberation from this belly of the beast think about you as an individual means, or does nothing to advance our struggle against capitalist-imperialism in USA territory. Stay focused revolutionaries.

A nation divided can never stand together, but a nation united can. We will never come to recognize each other as equals fighting for the same cause of liberation, under the same conditions as long as we attempt to prove ourselves to ourselves instead of the people.

To the SNY population I say prove yourself to the people that you are more than what some say. Prove to the people that there isn't a major difference from SNY yards and GP yards. If you are so active, I challenge you to truly begin implementing the actions needed to get the force of imperialism off not only your backs but also the backs of the GPs.

I agree that the GP population as a whole collective of parts are very divided and un-unified. So seeing that the SNYs have their struggle a little more advanced than ours, why don't you all kick it off with organized boycotts, and sit in peaceful protests on the matter of the corrupted appeal system?


MIM(Prisons) responds: Despite having an anti-SNY bias, this is a principled approach to the divisions that the CDCR likes to promote. As this comrade points out, there is no question of SNY and GP working side-by-side, so each needs to organize where they are at. And we want to see people hitting the pavement to show who's doing more for the prison population as a whole, because at this point in time no one has much to brag about.

This article referenced in:
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[Theory] [Organizing] [New Afrikan Maoist Party] [ULK Issue 16]
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Self-Criticism on Relations with New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty

[Editor's Note: Before the public version of this self-criticism was published, the NAMP comrade mentioned below denied most of the political lines attributed to h herein. Since NAMP has made no official political statements either way on these issues, the question of NAMP's real line is a mystery for now. We hope that they will print documents that clarify their positions for future struggle.]

This self-criticism comes following the rectification of the relations between MIM(Prisons) and the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) and its associated organizations. After being assigned the role as the primary contact for relations between MIM(Prisons) and other organizations, i failed to correctly apply the Maoist theory of United Front in this position. Here i will outline my mistakes and demonstrate why they should not have happened.

Historical Background

NAMP predates MIM(Prisons), and both organizations came out of circles working closely with the Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika before its disintegration. We were both focused on lumpen organizing within a Maoist framework. Soon after forming, MIM(Prisons) took over "MIM Distributors" and continued this institution by distributing MIM literature through the Free Political Books to Prisoners Program that MIM had led for many years. At the same time that we were developing this transition of responsibilities, our comrades were in dialogue with NAMP to help with the distribution of their journal that had been launched earlier that year.

MIM Distributors became the main source of the NAMP's Party Bulletin. MIM(Prisons) dedicated its own resources to producing and distributing these materials as a fraternal Maoist organization with NAMP. On the whole, we uphold the Party Bulletin as correct and an excellent starting point for a New Afrikan vanguard party. The Party Bulletin even premiered some new political line on the lumpen in the United $tates that MIM(Prisons) and others also uphold to this day.

As NAMP had established itself as a fraternal organization with a correct line and practice, the responsibility of coordinating our work together on behalf of MIM(Prisons) was put into my hands. By the time the last issue of the Party Bulletin (issue 6) was put out, NAMP had already launched a new mass organization called the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty. This organization was explicitly less radical than other groups NAMP had attempted to launch under its umbrella, with a focus on their strategy of developing ujamaa or "cooperative economics." While we had already struggled with NAMP over this strategy in the past, i did not see this difference as a dividing line question.

The Party Bulletin ceased and after a period of "reorganization" NAMP's leadership came back to MIM(Prisons) with the Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty asking for help with production and distribution. This was part of a plan to expand and fund the work of NAMP and the New Afrikan Liberation Movement in general. But it was more than a fund-raising tactic, it was a strategic orientation that saw pushing the contradictions between the New Afrikan national bourgeoisie and the imperialists as principal. It is at this point where my practice began to violate the Maoist line on United Front, not to mention our line on the cell structure.

Fundraising: Strategy or Tactics?

Throughout our relationship with NAMP, i expressed disagreements with their strategy based on building New Afrikan-owned businesses, but did not want to impose unrealistic fundraising techniques on a fraternal organization struggling to get going.

In 2002, MIM's PIRAO Chief had already dismissed the strategy of developing bourgeois businesses with proletarian politics, using lumpen and labor aristocrats from the imperialist countries, as being an ultra-left strategy. A counter argument would apply if comrades are unemployable. Having one's own business would be a good way to employ comrades with prison records, for example. Generally though, we should be opportunistic in our fundraising and not get sucked into life projects nor into risky get-rich-with-little-work schemes. The Amerikan dream is an easy resource that we can tap for the movement with minimal work and preparation.

Most New Afrikans are legally employed and are therefore labor aristocracy/petty bourgeoisie. Compared to starting their own businesses, they could do more for the struggle by being part-time cogs in the imperialist country mall economy to raise funds for anti-imperialist work. Ironically, NAMP lost the hypothetical unemployable argument for building businesses when they more recently switched their recruitment focus from the lumpen to the petty bourgeoisie.

Strategy should stem from one's political line. Therefore, when NAMP and i (as representative of MIM(Prisons) ) agreed that we should not split over strategic orientation i should have been pushing some of those disagreements harder. To an extent they were correct to say we should not split on strategy, particularly in a stage when we do not have a centralized party as is currently the case. Different cells and organizations will vary in their tasks and therefore in the strategies to achieve those tasks. So the question should have been, do we agree that the tasks that each other is taking on are worthwhile? Now it is clear that we do not. If we had dug into these issues deeper at the time, we could have avoided the confusion we have now created and the setbacks we have caused both organizations.

No Neo-Colonialism

Part of this self-criticism is a criticism of the NAMP leader putting forth a liquidationist line. In short, NAMP abandoned their focus on the lumpen in favor of the petty bourgeoisie, who they said had the most revolutionary potential. This was justified by an inappropriate application of aspects of the theory of New Democracy to New Afrika. While Mao used his theory of New Democracy to demonstrate the impotence of the bourgeoisie as a revolutionary force in a semi-feudal exploited country and the need for proletarian and peasant organizing, NAMP used it to justify organizing primarily the petty/national bourgeoisie for their own economic interests as a necessary precursor to a socialist revolution. This is backwards, because even the impotent Chinese bourgeoisie were economically hampered and oppressed to a degree that New Afrika has not seen for at least 50 years, and Mao showed that they could not be depended on as a progressive force due to imperialism's influence.

NAMP's New Democracy line is an example of something that i didn't investigate enough and struggle with thoroughly. Others in MIM(Prisons) have also been self-critical for not thoroughly investigating the line of this material we distributed to the masses, due to laziness. To approve these items for distribution by MIM Distributors, we should have been as thorough as we are with an issue of Under Lock & Key. Ultimately, it is not practical for one of us to serve as the distributor for the other because NAMP and MIM(Prisons) are not in democratic centralism with each other. With the movement decentralized in a cell structure, we must each study and understand each others' work before distributing it. Being forced to do this, and the subsequent learning process for all leaders that will occur, is a benefit of the cell structure in a period where theory is a big focus.

At MIM's 1998 Congress they defined the "No Neo-Colonialism" point of their United Front policy by saying, "Always keep the perspective of the international proletariat and do not use the United Front as an occasion to cut 'a special deal' for one oppressed nation." Siphoning resources from MIM(Prisons) to NAMP effectively cut short the internationalist struggle in favor of one nation's struggle under a leadership that was openly organizing for the economic interests of those benefiting from the super-profits from Third World nations around the world! The open focus on the petty bourgeoisie happened late in the game, but it was the logical conclusion of the "cooperative economics" strategy and "New Democratic" struggle with no proletarian leadership.

The limited size and influence of our organizations makes the claim of neo-colonialism seem a little disproportionate to reality. But that just shows how narrow my view was to take resources for the internationalist struggle and funnel them into this very small operation, on the premise that it represented the New Afrikan struggle for self-determination.

No Pimping

"The most backward masses should be able to see what the difference is between us and our allies, except for fraternal parties on issues that are not the third cardinal [the labor aristocracy question —ed.]." - MIM's 1998 Congress resolution on policy for building the United Front

One thing that NAMP's work demonstrated was the appeal of nation-based organizing. While NAMP was pushing essentially the same political line in the Party Bulletin as MIM had put forth, often printing MIM articles, they attracted recruits that MIM did not. This small confirmation of the correctness of single-nation parties reinforced the importance of building NAMP to me.

It was a combination of attempting non-interference and of trusting a long-time comrade that led me to support Ujamaa as we had supported NAMP. While MIM(Prisons) did not officially run the Ujamaa, it was associated with MIM(Prisons) in a way that i saw as validating our correctness to the masses. Here was another mass organization coming from the lumpen that was part of the MIM camp. Like NAMP, the Ujamaa recruited people who then read MIM literature, which was also a material benefit of keeping the Ujamaa around. This was opportunism, linked to sectarianism, or putting the organization first as opposed to the struggle and the correct line to push the struggle further. As a result we confused the masses about what the best line and practice was.

For a Maoist organization to provide resources for a mass organization that it leads, particularly in its early stages, is completely legitimate according to Maoist theory. For NAMP to fund Ujamaa work is one thing, since NAMP controlled Ujamaa. For MIM(Prisons) to provide labor, supplies and funds to promote the Ujamaa was incorrect.

A correct practice was to print an interview with the Ujamaa in Under Lock & Key, i.e. within the context of our own Maoist newsletter. To co-publish materials with other mass organizations is completely within the realm of United Front work as long as we are able to assert our political line and criticize our comrades when necessary.

Hard Bargains

Another lesson to take from this is that any material/financial exchange for work should be strictly accounted for between the parties as well as with the central leadership. It is ultra-left to assume relationships under capitalism can exist in an amorphous mutually beneficial way. Acquiring material wealth is THE goal under capitalism, and it will take many generations of socialism before this will cease to be true. That's not to say that people can't act outside their material interests under capitalism, but instead to put a realistic standard on how relationships should be structured at this time to avoid problems.

As NAMP effectively liquidated itself into the Ujamaa, they went as far as to imply that MIM(Prisons) should do the same. But it was only after MIM(Prisons) work continued to expand and a long period of conflict between my efforts to support the Ujamaa and our own work that i seriously considered breaking our relationship with NAMP. Harder bargaining wouldn't have corrected the situation, but it would have reduced the setbacks to MIM(Prisons) work and the false expectations developed within the Ujamaa of our relationship.

It was a liberal approach that led me to continue siphoning MIM(Prisons)'s resources to NAMP/Ujamaa for so long. I saw our relationship as a binding contract, and i saw breaking it as going back on my word. This was an incorrect view of the situation, since MIM Distributors agreed to distribute NAMP material only by virtue of it being fraternal, Maoist literature. Because NAMP was leading the Ujamaa work does not mean that we should honor that relationship; that is a bourgeois approach. This was my biggest error: that i didn't say 'no' to working on the Ujamaa because it is not a Maoist organization.

Another way i looked at it is that NAMP was working hard and in the middle of a lot of things that i could sabotage if i just cut the rug from under them. But again, neither of us should have gotten in this position in the first place. NAMP cannot be an independent organization if MIM(Prisons) has the ability to do that to them. This is important to realize in a time when the movement is made of many small, independent groups who are trying to figure out how we can support each others' work.

No Liquidationism

When the Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty came out, a couple of comrades within MIM(Prisons) brought significant criticisms of the line presented in it and asked why we were distributing it. I justified it by saying it was only a mass organization and need not be held to the same standards. While i was privately criticizing and debating NAMP, i essentially silenced the Maoist critiques of the Ujamaa with my line that these criticisms were too harsh for a mass organization that we were effectively bankrolling.

There is one simple rule that should have prevented my errors and it is not new to me. That rule is that Maoists do not distribute materials that we do not agree with without criticizing it or providing our own line in conjunction with it. Reading MIM Theory 14 on United Front helped me fully realize the mistakes that i made, and i recommend that it be studied thoroughly by all revolutionaries as a crucial component of building an effective anti-imperialist movement. I don't think i will make the same mistake again, but there is no excuse for making it this time, when i had already studied United Front theory.

In the end, both MIM(Prisons) and NAMP have suffered from my mistakes and the mistakes of others in both organizations. The masses have suffered because an organization they look to for leadership has confused things for them. This is not to condemn mass organizations like the Ujamaa, or even the Ujamaa itself, which has taken aim at many of the pressing problems of New Afrikans. But we are seriously criticizing its leadership to the extent that it overlaps with NAMP. For those who see the system for what it is and hold no illusions or attachments to it, we should expect much more than petty bourgeois business development built on super-profits from the Third World. For me to treat work for Ujamaa as equal to work for MIM(Prisons) was a disservice to the pushing forward of the struggle and promoting the most correct line needed to do that. This is the same error that NAMP has made (to a greater degree) by liquidating itself into the Ujamaa.

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 16]
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Unity as a Stronghold

Greetings brothers and sisters bound by the chains of injustice. I speak today about the urgent need as prisoners to unite to stand against prisoner abuse. Too many of my fellow prisoners become caught up in gang-warring, belittling each others' character to become the block's best gang-warring machine. Rather than us fighting against prison oppression, we engage in battles amongst each other. If the majority of prisoners confined in these special housing units (SSNU, SMU, RHU, etc.) come together to stand as one against staff on prisoner abuse, we could stop the abuse and place a halt on the unconstitutional actions by prison officials.

When we fight amongst ourselves we allow the prison officials to get away with their actions of brutality and mistreatment. The DOC was meant to break the strong-willed and to demolish the fighting mainframes of prisoners. Some of us do break and some of us can withstand the difference. Rather than attempt to break each other, we should be attempting to break the chains of injustice.

When we see one of our fellow prisoners stuck in a situation where he's trapped fighting these prison officials alone, let's stand with him and fight by his side to curb what they are doing to him. There are many outside agencies that we can contact to help stop prisoner abuse. It's not hard to write a letter to these agencies exposing prison officials' abuse. The more that the names of these oppressive people becomes public, the more society becomes aware of the abuse we go through each day.

The special management units of SCI-Fayette and SCI-Camp Hill are breeding grounds for abuse, neglect and high forms of oppression. In these units it is hard to organize a solid front to stand against the abuse. However, educating each other should open each others' eyes to the need to fight against oppression. Some of us are stuck in our cells each day pondering what we can do next to get back at these prison officials. Let's use our thoughts, ideas and possibilities to make a successful attempt at forcing these prison officials to think twice about abusing and mistreating us prisoners.

Another thing I see happening in these control units is prisoners co-signing the irresponsible acts of prison officials towards their fellow prisoners. This happens because someone is upset with the next man locked in his cell so he decides to applaud the abuse they receive. Because you had an argument with your fellow prisoners doesn't make it right for you to support abuse towards them by prison officials. Gang-warring behind a steel door each day should be against the prison administration that carries out these racist, oppressive and hostile actions, not against another prisoner.

This is where unity has failed and this is the place where it could start. One group of prisoners can make a difference. They can only separate so many prisoners until they get sick and tired of moving them all the time.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this prisoner's call for unity, especially among those prisoners in lumpen organizations (LOs) fighting each other rather than the oppressive system. And we offer prisoners an avenue to join this unity through the MIM(Prisons)-led group United Struggle from Within (USW) - an anti-imperialist organization for prisoners. We are also working on a project for peace among lumpen organizations and encourage all representatives of LOs truly interested in fighting imperialism to get in touch to help us move this forward.

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[Organizing] [Security] [California]
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Special Needs Yard debate continues

Response to SNY critic article published in the July/August 2010 ULK, #15, p.5

As is typical, I have ruffled some feathers on the SNY yard when I pointed out my personal sentiments regarding the SNY/general population issue. I criticized both SNY/GP as a matter of fact and the SNY cat asked what have I personally done. He would have to look up this history of John Q. Convict, an aka I have written under in various publications and prison news letters. I have blisters on my fingers from doing others' legal work and appeals as well as writing about what I experience and see. I am again on my way back to the SHU till I am paroled since I am not nor have I ever been one to be a passive submissive sheep nor am I in competition with anyone, I just keep it real.

It's ironic but I have had five CDCR numbers and I have experienced a lot. Maybe I am crazy to rather go to the SHU than exist on an SNY yard but I started doing time in the 70s and prisoners were a lot different then. The misconception I see in the term "active" as that is a prisoncrat designation of gang members (prison/street). Read the regulations of the CDCR and you know. I have never been one to tell on myself yet I see prisoners do it all the time enhancing CDCR/California Department of Justice investigatorial files that exist, yet we will never access, as one can other confidential files via court order.

Do not get me mixed up, I am not "active," I am "General Population" and I have seen how the California prisoner culture has succumbed to the tyranny of the prisoncrats with a whisper. Yes some get frightened and are keen to become SNY and bow to a perceived necessity in what I believe to be a misguided belief that such necessity forces conformity and that conformity allows for stability in which some can enjoy the "privileges" of visiting, canteen, telephones, packages. They are not rights that are guaranteed by the constitution. I elect to not conform in this prison environment.

I am a dissident who stands out and I am easily branded and locked back down but they always got to let me back out. I do not get visits or have money sent to me by choice, it's so I do not subject my family to the harassment that visiting presents, and the CDCR does not collect 55% of every dollar my family sends to me. I tried to point out that we prisoners are all victims of picklesuit tyranny, and yes I feel like those who volunteer to go to SNY have abandoned the struggle to a certain extent. I see the victims of the picklesuits assume the face of the tyrants, be they GP/SNY self-righteous and intransigent, while assisting the picklesuits instigate conflicts.

There is not a lockdown situation in the state of California that I have not experienced, and I do not confuse unity with conformity. I have always believed that prisoners should unite around principals. I have recently been labeled a "terrorist" I am an activist and it is frustrating as hell to try and pull the coats of those in these prisons who have submitted knowingly and unknowingly.

I see that there is the need for the mending of broken spirits on both sides of the California prison divide which is no easy task since it will require the prison population to reshape itself and refuse the gratuitous gifts and reject the privileges used to co-op prisoners as well as the elimination of it being all about self. Prisons use prisoners working in the kitchen or selling out for a fix/hit of dope, utilizing that instinctual will to survive. I do not believe in leaders as they become the focus of compulsive collaboration with the opposition once they are identified, and they are not infallible and such leads to eventual disaster. Yet I have known that principled individuals avoid the natural vices such as greed, betrayal, and the misguided notion that one has to compete without exception as if it's a healthy attribute. Such is and always has been, in my mind, a sad path to self-esteem, an illusion built upon putting ones foot on the neck of another which is what the pickesuits do, and it's not lasting since when they fail to physically and emotionally break my will they become fearful and envious because I have endured what they themselves know they could not. Yes I have on several occasions learned to make due with nothing, making myself mentally and emotionally strong and I survive.

Kudos to any successful SNY litigator. I read Prison Legal News (PLN) each month for the past six years, noting all the successes published there, rarely seeing an instance in which a California prisoner received millions. Even though the state has deep pockets, that 12.2 million eludes my perusal. You should send the decision to PLN so they can publish it as your work.

I also want to point out a simple truth even though our comrades at MIM(Prisons) disagree. In my years of doing time, always General Population, I have learned to read people and I am rarely in error. I can and do note agent provocateurs and quislings as well as those who think they are well hidden and can not be spotted. It's the nature of such individuals to expose themselves. I have never gone to the hole for harming another prisoner over the years I have served. It has always been an issue with the real enemy who has hoodwinked and bamboozled, coerced, pressured or otherwise manipulated the greedy and the weak; of which I am neither.

My view is that SNY prisoners who volunteered to go that route are their own worst enemy and the stigma attached is something that they will have to deal with, as those who dropped out, originally dropped in, when it was fashionable for you, and you were on the hooligan end claiming to be a gang member, telling the pig that you are a gang member, proud to be a gang member till the pack turns on you and then you don't want to be a member any more or you find yourself in a position in which you are facing time and you choose to purchase leniency by telling on your sworn homeboys. But wait, not all SNYs have been snitches, but many have "debriefed" so I must say that the percentages speak for themselves in terms of those who allowed themselves to be used and manipulated to self-detriment. There are still some in GP hiding in the wings.

I was brought up believing that it takes a lot of balls to stand up to adversity and not compromise one's principals. I am constantly educating myself in a variety of subjects. Yet I do not tell others who, what or how they should believe, we all make choices and some ultimately lead to some becoming SNY. I want to be quite clear that I am not any better or worse than any other human being on this earth. We all have faults yet the struggle has never died, it has been altered and manipulated towards personal gain. I am presenting my personal perspective from my years of experience. Though it is true I've never lived on an SNY/PC yard, they do put SNYs on the tier with GP in the ASU/SHU, to my dismay. I am an equal opportunity criticizer since while some focused on SNY, I spoke of both sides of the fence.

I noted years ago that the most illuminating and dangerous place in the prison was the law library as knowledge was power. Yet the time of spending 8 hours a day in the law library has been effectively reduced to one hour and thirty minutes a week if you are lucky and are PLU. I am not here to brag on myself but there are people on the streets thanks to me and new life was breathed into others whose cases were on the ropes.

So since I was asked what I have done, well helping others and standing up to abusive prison staff and officials has resulted in my doing 100% of my term due to my concern for the similarly situated prisoner. Ethnicity never mattered, all came to me. Yet when I think about it I wonder if my sacrifices have been all for naught, as those who instilled the fortitude, stubborn tenacity, and courage to fight back in the 60s and 70s are flip-flopping in their graves about the conditions and backwards steps in California prisons. The ladies put up better fights and they as a result still get stuff that we don't. Some of the prison population put privileges before rights so you enjoy your privileges while they keep chipping away your rights.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is part of an ongoing discussion, started in ULK13, of the controversial issue of the potential for prisoners in Special Needs Yards (SNY) to participate in the anti-imperialist struggle. It is MIM(Prisons)' position that prisoners in all situations can be induced to sell out and serve the needs of the system. And while we recognize the harm done by prisoners debriefing, going to SNY can sometimes involve less cooperation with the pigs than staying in an LO. We can't condemn people for mistakes they made as youth trying to find a place. We need to unite with all who demonstrate, in practice, that they are on the side of the anti-imperialist struggle.

This comrade says he can read people, and is rarely in error. And to an extent we agree. We "read" people by applying work and line standards to our potential comrades. By judging how one completes their work and upholds their line we can judge them as a comrade. The error comes in when you think you know when someone is a cop or snitch or not. You trust people you shouldn't and attack your friends. Even if these errors are rare, they tend to be the most serious. This is why general policies are superior ways to "read" people than looking at individual cases.

This comrade comments that s/he does not "believe in leaders." We agree that security and hero worship are weaknesses of having leaders, and we should work to minimize both of them. However, we also must be materialists and recognize that leaders, including the writer, exist and that leadership is important. A leaderless movement ends up without clear direction and can waste the resources and energy of the masses. Leaderless movements (also known as anarchist) generally end up with de facto leaders - people who are not formally put in positions of leadership but who just take up the lead because of experience or line or a desire for power. These de facto leaders are far more dangerous than elected leaders because there is no mechanism to remove them from power. And this also limits the people's input into the direction of a movement. For these reasons we affirm the communist principle of clear and formal leadership of the revolutionary movement and its organizations, while we work towards a society where no groups of people have power over others.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 16]
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Congress Report 2010

MIM(Prisons) held our first official congress in July of 2010 to clarify our priorities, renew our common commitment, and push our work forward. We reviewed work in key areas, discussed successes and failures and debated resolutions on new directions for the coming year. For the most part this congress focused on strategic and tactical priorities and the best way to advance our work. But these priorities are based in political line, and discussions of that line and the priorities it requires were a key component of the congress. Proposals related to new political line were also raised and those that were controversial were put on the table for study and debate in future discussions.

Distribution

The production and distribution of revolutionary materials to a potentially revolutionary class that is systematically denied educational materials is central to our work as a cell. Keeping Under Lock & Key as a regular publication reaching U.$. prisoners and maintaining other correspondence with prisoners topped our list of priorities. We also gave relatively high priority to our website, the second major leg of our distribution work.

Despite a number of small improvements and a consistent publication schedule, our distribution of Under Lock & Key slightly declined over the last year and a half. While the production and quality of ULK falls in our lap, we see its expansion as a responsibility falling largely on United Struggle from Within (USW). We encourage other comrades to make pledges to increase our subscribers behind bars as our comrade in the Black Order Revolutionary Organization has.

In order to reduce costs we have changed our policies so that new subscribers only get our introductory letter and one issue of ULK. To get more than that you must write us again confirming receipt or censorship of those items. Similarly, we are requiring our regular subscribers to tell us exactly what mail they have received, and when, each time they write us. If we can't confirm you are receiving our mail we will stop sending it. By saving costs where we cannot confirm our effectiveness we will be able to expand our distribution to a larger subscriber base.

Over the last couple years we have seen a steady increase in the number of letters we have sent to prisoners. This is indicative of the expansion of our various smaller projects (other than ULK) with prisoners who are active participants in the movement. While readership online may be comparable (based on our limited statistics), the amount of work we see being done per reader from our paper literature is far greater.

Worldwide Web

Adding the etext.org MIM archive to our website greatly increased our content and eventually led to serious increases in readers. Yet we are still only getting around a sixth as many page views as they were getting in 2002. MIM had the most widely read Amerikan, self-described communist website at that time. This goes to show the damage done by political repression and privatization of the worldwide web.

Original content that MIM(Prisons) has added to the web that attracts the most attention is our censorship work and other services we provide to prisoners and their supporters. Many of our readers are utilizing our information to maintain better communication with their loved ones and to try to get information on what's going on behind closed doors and barbed wire fences.

Items that are in demand that we need to improve are Spanish language material, artwork and cutting edge cultural reviews. We are dedicated to making all three more prominent on our website, but we need help from our comrades to keep producing great anti-imperialist art, to provide insightful reviews of movies and music that our readers might be interested in and to translate and edit materials into Spanish. Online readers will see improvements to the site in coming months.

While many are following the corporate bandwagons of Facebook and Twitter, we are interested in recent battles over net neutrality (the premise that the interests of the powerful can't allow certain online content to get priority access to the public). Some have a theory of putting technology in command and worshipping the oppressors' institutions and petty bourgeois trends, rather than building independent institutions of the oppressed with politics in command. As examples, Facebook, Twitter and Google all have direct relationships with the state department. How could these ever become serious tools for revolution? The real question is, how can we build serious tools for revolution in cyberspace?

Censorship

Distribution of literature to prisoners comes with the ongoing problem of censorship faced by MIM(Prisons) and our comrades behind bars. Our annual censorship report details the changes and accomplishments of the past year.

Most of the prisoners on the ULK mailing list are not letting us know what mail they receive from us, making censorship very difficult to track. It's possible the mail is not getting through but it's just as likely that these subscribers are just not telling us about what they got. We also have a lot of prisoners write once and then never write again. To better focus where we spend money, and to improve our tracking of censorship, we are changing our policies as described above.

Correspondence

In the first six months of 2010 about a third of our mail came from repeat writers - prisoners who are in relatively regular contact. This is an increase from 2009, and we should push to continue to increase this percentage. While it is great that we get so much interest from new comrades, it is important that we engage our regular contacts in study and work. We recognize that as long as our materials are being read and, even better, shared then we are accomplishing our goal of building public opinion. Yet, while most subscribers may be passive learners at this stage, we see our task as a cell as facilitating the organization of prisoners, including the development of cadre level skills. Several specific congress proposals related to this work were passed and we hope to see increased engagement from our newer comrades behind bars in the coming year.

A key element of raising the level of political understanding and providing study opportunities to our comrades behind bars is the MIM(Prisons)-led introductory study group. This study group gains a lot of interest but for both logistical difficulties (censorship, moving, lack of stamps) as well as loss of political interest, we see a steep decline in participants over the course of each study session. To provide more frequent opportunities for study to new folks, and as a pre-requisite to the more serious introductory study group, MIM(Prisons) will start all new comrades in a shorter introduction study group (Intro Level 1) which will last two sessions and run approximately every 3 months. Successful completion of this study group will be required for admission into the more comprehensive, year-long Intro Level 2 class.

United Struggle from Within (USW)

United Struggle from Within (USW) is a MIM(Prisons)-led mass organization for U.$. prisoners. USW is explicitly anti-imperialist in leading campaigns on behalf of U.$. prisoners in alliance with national liberation struggles in North America and around the world.

This year, MIM(Prisons) opened a separate forum for USW leaders to develop the organization and strategize on campaigns. This was a step forward in the re-establishment of USW as an independent organization (following the dissolution of the Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika). The campaigns leaders develop will be advertised in each issue of ULK for rank-and-file USW comrades to keep abreast of progress and how to get involved. If necessary, MIM(Prisons) will send out notices to affected comrades regarding campaigns that are moving at a pace that is too fast for ULK. Comrades who want to receive such notices need to write to MIM(Prisons) to join USW.

The campaign to get grievances heard in California is one campaign that is resonating loudly, both there and in other states that have adopted similar campaigns. This is a great example of a campaign that was initiated by USW and promoted through regular articles in ULK. We believe that those in charge of prisoners should be held to the highest standards of conduct, as was done in socialist China, because of the extreme amount of power they have over other people. In contrast to socialist prisons and work camps in China, abuse is a daily occurrence in U.$. prisons. Therefore the grievance struggle is strategically correct in that it gives the state a chance to clearly take a position for or against this rampant abuse, which informs the prison masses as to what forms of struggle are necessary to achieve humane conditions.

Also related to USW, there is a ULK writing group, which is open to comrades who have completed the introductory study courses and are involved in writing projects with MIM(Prisons). At the congress we affirmed our commitment that USW should be producing short summary articles for Under Lock & Key reflecting struggles within the ULK writing group. Comrades have already seen the ideas from the study group reflected in the pages of ULK over the last year.

Prisoner Legal Clinic

MIM(Prisons) rarely has access to legal advice from experienced lawyers on the outside. In 2009 the Prisoner Legal Clinic (PLC) was formalized as another facet of USW for prisoners interested or experienced in legal issues. The basic goals of the PLC are to push our anti-censorship and anti-repression work forward, while also offering members a space to discuss specifics of their legal work. Members of the PLC write legal articles for ULK and contributed greatly to the legal strategy issue of ULK, issue 13.

If you are an active member of the PLC, you should expect an updated letter from us two or three times per year detailing our current projects and comrades' questions/suggestions. Members of the PLC should also be contributing legal articles for ULK.

Release Program

At our congress, MIM(Prisons) reaffirmed our commitment to the Prisoner Re-Lease on Life Program. We recognize that our resources to advance this program are limited, and we have learned some valuable lessons over the past year through our work with released prisoners. We need to work more aggressively with prisoners scheduled to get out within a year, making it clear what resources are available and helping them do the research necessary to hit the streets as safely as possible. Prisoners with upcoming releases should contact our newly appointed release coordinator for more info.

United Front for Peace in Prisons

MIM(Prisons) is working on a United Front for Peace in Prisons with leaders of a number of progressive-minded organizations behind bars. The principal contradiction facing the imprisoned lumpen today is the prisoner-on-prisoner violence and conflicts that prevent any progressive work from happening. The United Front project is developing a statement of unity that groups and individuals can sign to join. This statement has been in progress for a long time, partly because we are trying to develop unity with a number of groups before we finalize it. If you are involved in any kind of peace or unity project where you are, please get in touch so that you can have input on this very important project.

Related work with a number of more advanced organizations will also result in the production of a book on the lumpen within the United $tates. Over the next year MIM(Prisons) will be printing draft chapters of this book to be distributed as pamphlets for comment from lumpen organizations and fraternal groups. The feedback will be incorporated into the final printing of the book which is targeted for 2011.

This book will advance our analysis of the class and national contradictions in the belly of the beast and how we can best utilize them in the interests of the oppressed masses of the world. It will serve as a survival guide for the lumpen, recognizing the necessity of internationalism to overcome the number one enemy of humynity: imperialism.

Conclusion

MIM(Prisons) plans to hold congress annually and we welcome submissions of proposals for new areas of priority as well as new political line from our comrades in United Struggle from Within and other United Front organizations. We also look forward to feedback on our work over the coming year so that we can continually improve and advance the struggle.

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[Release] [Campaigns] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Fighting Parole System in Texas

January 2011 will be a legislature year in Texas. A petition has been put on the internet to ask our state leaders to reform the Texas parole board system, a tyranny agency ruining thousands of lives, in prison and in our own society. For some years now, since the mysterious death of David Ruiz (a Brown brother who achieved federal action to demand prison reform in Texas) we continue to raise awareness of the new and old injustices of the "justice" system as it pertains to parole.

Texas prisoners are not granted parole, even though they have done everything possible to be eligible for parole as required by their Inmate Treatment Plan (ITP). When the judge, the lawyers for both sides, and the offender all agree to a sentence, why does the parole board have the right to deny the parole because they decide the prisoner hasn't served enough time? Doesn't make sense or seem fair, does it? Prisoners have a time calculated date which is the parole eligibility date and those having met their ITP requirements should automatically make parole on that date. As the system works now, prisoners can not know whether they can exercise their special review rights, effectively ask for a review, or even know why or if they have been turned down, because they do not have access to their files. It is impossible for anyone to know if they have been falsely or wrongly accused of a transgression while incarcerated. If information has been erroneously placed in the file that may actually belong to another prisoner, or if their parole is being thwarted by a campaign by others they won't know. They can not know if rules have been violated or if evidences that would prove their worthiness for the privilege of parole is actually in their file.

Good time is currently not calculated or used to achieve parole or financial compensation for prisoner labor. At present it is awarded but discounted as part of the parole process (ignored and not honored), meaning modern day slavery is going on. The system currently continues to vindictively punish even the "ideal" prisoners who have been rehabilitated (which supposedly is the goal of the incarceration) making them wonder why they keep trying and causing them to lose all capacity for hope as the promised parole is disregarded and becomes one setback after another. In addition it callously wrecks the lives of families and children of prisoners who suffer needlessly while trying to find some reason for the parole board's coldness and tyrannical practices acting above the laws of the land.

Taxpayers are being robbed of funds by the corrupt parole practices. Prisoners in Texas seem to be the exception to the 13th amendment of the U$ constitution abolishing slavery as a large amount of capital is raised by the prison work generated by the incarcerated people now in prison. However, in the united states of america we should not allow slavery for state and corporate profit. It is criminal in itself to keep prisoners incarcerated for financial benefit by enslaving inmates past their parole eligibility date when they prove that they have gotten rehabilitated and qualify for parole release.

If you want to help change these parole injustices, please have your families and friends go to the following website and sign the petition: www.petitiononline.com/tcb123/petition.html
Also please have them write each one of their representatives.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this prisoner that the parole system in Texas, and throughout the criminal injustice system in the U$, does not work, not even by the laws of this illegal government. We find the demands in the petition agreeable in that they would lead to a general reduction in imprisonment in Texas.

However, disagree with the common misperception that the U$ prison monstrosity is driven by a desire to exploit prison labor. Certainly the workers benefiting from their well paid jobs running the prisons have an interest in denying parole, and the politicians who want the votes of the workers and their families, share this interest. But as we explained in an article on the U.$. prison economy, prison labor can offset some of the costs of imprisonment, but prisons are not profitable. They are a tool of the government that both provide jobs for the mostly oppressor-nation labor aristocracy workers while providing social control of the mostly oppressed nation population that is incarcerated. The U$ prison system is a massive suck on superprofits extracted from the Third World to pay staff and provide basic needs for those imprisoned. This is one of the costs of operation the imperialists are willing to pay, not something they are making money off of. That an industry has developed around this massive project is only a product of this reality that helps tie labor aristocracy interests to the imperialist state.

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