I just got done reading ULK 61 and I got to say it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff that I did as a gang member of Aryan Brotherhood in Texas to sex offenders coming into the system. When they came in, me and several other dudes would beat them up to "break them" and then would sell them to the butty bandits due to their crime of being labeled a sex offender.
The system would not attempt to protect them either, due to the label they had on them as a sex offender. So we had free reign to punish them as we seen fit. But nowadays I look back on the stuff that I did and can see the big errors of my ways.
I ran into a dude down in the state hospital that was just about dead of AIDS that he got due to the actions of me and some other dudes breaking him. I was going for breaking my hand in a fight and saw the death wagon pull up and unload two AIDS patients, and one dude seen me and called out my name and asked me if I was still breaking in sex offenders and if so to look at him and see what it causes.
I was like "Dude I do not know you or want to know you either." He told me where I beat him up and sold him, and it blew my mind. I had a lot of hate towards sex offenders when I came into this place and it has mellowed out over the last 34 years that I have been in prison. My baby sister was assaulted by her friend's father, so the issue of sex offenders is personal to me.
When I started in the County Jail beating up sex offenders for something to do, the Sheriff would tell the jailers to put anyone that came into the jail on my tan and tell me in front of the dude what he was in the jail for. I look back on it now and I am coming to the realization that they were using me to punish the dudes that were charged with sexual assault.
One dude, I broke his jaw in two places due to his granddaughter saying he touched her in a private spot. Come to find out it was a lie because she was mad at him for grounding her for the weekend.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not attempting to brag about it, just am showing the length of time and intensity that I have been blinded by the system to do their work, and now I'm starting to understand the system. What made me wake up is one of my brothers got charged with sexual assault/harassment for grabbing his croch and telling a chick to suck is dic- as he left school. Since he made a crude gesture towards her she said she felt violated. He was on a ten-year probation so he got violated for the gesture and came to prison for it. And yes he has to register as a level 1 tier offender due to him being mad about getting kicked out of school for a 3-day period.
Each case is different so you got to look at all of the facts. If you go blindly as I did for years upon years you are no better than the ones you are jumping on, due to the fact that you are siding with the oppressors and are holding down your own people. Yes I am fully aware that there are some sexual offenses that are true crimes and they need all that they get and ten fold more heaped on top of it if they are truly guilty of the crime of sexual assault on a woman or child.
But before you lace up the steeltoe boots and put your pistols on gloves to beat up a sex offender, make sure it's a true crime and one that deserve the punishment that you are fixin to hand out. If not you're just working for the system that you are claiming to work against. You cannot pull both ways at once or you go no place at all.
I used to beat up the dudes, now I try to help them with their cases due to the fact that a lot of them are not able to get help in the law library because they have ask a law clerk to help get a case cite and his first question is "what you charged with?" And he will go to the law books and look up your case, and if you do not pass his smell test he will not help you, or he will tell you the case cite you're asking about is not in the law library, or throw your request slip away and say he never got it at all.
Look at it like this, what if you're with a girl and you're going at it and she says "stop"? If you move forward one more time you have just committed sexual assault.
So before you say it will not happen to you, you got to look at it with your eyes open and see the whole picture and not just what the state wants to show you. So think about all the forms that you may have been labeled a sex offender in the past and then you can get over the stink of the name and start to see the person and not the label that the state has put on a person. Most I can work around because I was a dirty dog in the world and could have been charged a few times too. But the main issue is we need to stop letting the state do our thinking for us and take back our minds from the system. You can handcuff my body but I refuse to let you handcuff my mind any longer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer has learned through practice pretty much everything we've been saying about sex crimes. This is an impressive transformation, and we hope ey has also transformed eir thinking about oppressed nations over many years behind bars.
It's true that a lot of people have committed sex crimes but not been caught. Men are taught to be "dirty dogs" as this writer says. That's why the revolutionary movement will need to do a lot of work reforming thinking and rehabilitating. Not just those with sex charges, but everyone raised in this messed up system. As we discuss in the "Punishment vs. Rehabilitation" article, we can do some of this rehabilitating now, but we will focus our energy and time on those who recognize their mistakes and crimes and want to make a change and committ to serving the people.
August 2018 — September 9 is expected to be big! No violence, everyone has agreed to be at peace. In USW we support!
We are upholding the five principles of the United Front here in Missouri. We've been effectively organizing, uniting, educating, etc. as a part of the program for peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. And as a result, prison violence has dropped dramatically. We thank you for giving us a way to transmit positive energy and reduce conflict among prisoners. We now have 5 maximum security prisons on board, helping to raise the consciousness of the confused youth and building unity amongst the older captives. As we focus ahead, we see a future filled with love, freedom, and peace. We pray that you will continue to help us transform our people so that together we can strengthen our organizing for liberation.
I received ULK 63! I was so glad to hear from you all. This issue really laid it all out for my guys, so I made 45 copies and passed them out, then instructed each member of UZI (United Zulu Independence Movement) to do the same.
Three days later I called a meeting in the gym to discuss in-depth what each bro had read in this new issue of ULK about UFPP. The responses I received were beautiful. The young Crips now believe that the lumpen in California, who they mimic, are seeking to unite instead of separate. They now see that the gangs are fighting against the oppressor.
Missouri is a slow state, so they were still set on fighting each other, until they witnessed me and my New Afrikan Tribe moving under the sciences of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. We trade evolutionary material, we speak about communism, we teach each other to use the law as a tool to build doorways to freedom, and now your newsletter just explained everything that I've been telling these young Crips about the need to stop the senseless gang bangin', riots, and territorial disputes on the yard caused by the COs.
Thank you! ULK Thank You! Now these bros see that the struggle is real. I have to get back to work. Will write more soon. Can't stop! Won't stop!
July 2018 — Hey guys n gals. Well good and bad news.
First the good. I successfully organized my first demonstration, on Father's Day. We are in G-4 custody (20 hr lockdown - 2 hr dayroom and 2 hr rec). The staff always steals our rec with the excuse of "short of staff." So I gathered 6 other prisoners and stated that we would like to speak to Rank (i.e. Sergeant or Lieutenant). Soon all 48 prisoners were united. The officers did not know what to do. They called on the radio an ICS (inmate control squad) stating that we were refusing to rack up. Lo and behold, every officer on the unit arrived with bean bag guns, gas, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, everybody. I guess they were NOT short of staff! LOL!
After that I approached the Captain very calmly and told him our grievances. The Warden showed up just in time to see. He said "tell them to rack up and we will see what the officer has to say." Seeing that the message had been delivered, I withdrew.
About 10 minutes later they came back and gave us rec.
Now the bad news. Since then the prisons are now targeting me and I am in Seg. SMH! It is okay. Because I see now that I do have the power to make a difference.
Thanks for the Texas Activist Pack, and thanks for the back issues. I also got ULK 62 yesterday and I will follow up soon. In Struggle!
MIM(Prisons) responds: The Texas Activist Pack was updated in August 2018, and you can get one by sending a donation of $3.50. It's a bit thicker now, so the cost to print and mail it has gone up since the last version. The Texas Pack has info about all the campaigns that United Struggle from Within comrades have developed for the state of Texas.
Let's pause to consider why aren't these materals already available to prisoners held by TDCJ? Why has the TDCJ been withholding the grievance manual from prisoners since at least November 2014? Who are the people held by TDCJ and how does it impact their lives and familes when they don't have access to this info?
Filing grievances and working on individual or reform campaigns do have their place. But, like with this comrade's successful efforts to get rec time, the greatest impact will come in the unity we build with our comrades, and the sense of our own power that we can tap into. Those are the successes that are going to stick with us for the long haul, and through various stages that our struggle goes through.
I think a crime against the people is dead ass wrong because they be bringing up all kind of bullshit ass charges to hold you for shit just because you have a certain kind of charge. People will judge you. It's hard for a sex offender charge because the female officers will use your sex charge against you. They act like you done killed the president or something.
I done seen some cats get locked up for 1 charge, come out of prison a sex offender. Like in the state I'm locked up in, Georgia. They will make you register as a sex offender if you have masturbation charge on your file or too many of them.
A lot of drug charges get more time than anything. But it's the hardest, say like this, if I sell drugs to support my family because I can't get a job. That's the only thing I know how to do. Not to say it's right. But I done seen how drugs fucked some people up, like ice. It done messed up a lot of black people. How can the pigs punish you for drugs? But you are not trying to stop it. It's doing nothing but killing our own people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores why we want to set up systems of rehabilitation for people who commit crimes against the people. We agree that it is hypocritical for a society to punish people for selling drugs, but set it up so this is the easiest (or only) way people can feed their families.
Capitalist society promotes crimes against the people: from careers in national oppression (police, CO, military, government), to flooding lumpen neighborhoods with drugs and guns, to advertising sex (often with very young girls) in popular culture. We need to transform these oppressive structures and culture of rape so that we can hold people to realistic standards of treating their fellow humyns with dignity and respect.
That's not to excuse the cops and military for what they do every day to oppressed nations. And we can push the lumpen now to stop pushing destructive drugs on their people. Even under capitalism people have the ability to act in the interests of the oppressed. But we know that the biggest step we can take towards ending the oppression is ending the structure of capitalism that requires this oppression.
Having been engaged much of my adult life in fedz and now state of Oregon, I am acutely aware of this dilemma which faces us behind the walls. As a "validated" (e.g. oppressor-classified prison gang member) New Afrikan for over 20 years, I've been conditioned to see myself as a kind of superior klass of man within the greater kaptive klass. By virtue of my "good" paperwork I established a history of violence behind walls: day-to-day conduct in line with NARN ideological precept(s). I saw it as us vs. them, the latter being those who had "bad" paperwork (e.g. sex charges, informant backgrounds, etc.). We were taught to revile them, extort them, dog them at every turn, as if doing so would somehow validate my/our realness. A "convict" vs. "inmates"! For over half my life I've bought into this fallacy.
In 2014 I had a life-altering experience. First I was given 45 years behind a PTSD-fueled assault. Secondly, I was abandoned by all I'd held dear. Thirdly, I embraced Islam. All of which caused me to do a self-evaluation and in turn analyze my ideology as it related to "struggle". Entering the ODOC, I've found that all my previously-held notions of what is and what is not a so-called "convict" has been forever altered. This cesspool is a virtual twilight zone to say the least. The ODOC captives have created a Calif-caricature, in which alternative realities to reality is the prevailing social norm. The so-called "good dudes" are those with no sex offenses, yet can be obvious jailhouse rodents and be respected. This wierdo worldview made me reevaluate.
Those of us who subscribe to progressive politics see it like this. Simply having a sex case does not, in and of itself, make one a pariah to us. We believe in a peoples' tribunal, where one's peers study all paperwork related to a case prior to making any community decisions. It should be noted: child rape and elderly rape is non-negotiable, if DNA evidence is involved. We all hold those to be a line of demarcation and that peoples' justice should be meted out accordingly.
Now with this being said, a Muslim is obligated to not only accept all fellow Muslims as brothers in faith but also support him in conflicts that occur. I cannot lie, my prior conditioning has me today struggling with this. My hatred for the Amerikan injustice system makes it virtually impossible to be cool with those who've rided for the kkkops. Ditto for those who see putting molestation of children or elders as ok. Islam teaches us that our creator accepts repentance of all who sincerely repent and in turn correct their behaviors. As a man, a dad, a granddad, I am wrestling mightily within myself to embrace this tenet of my faith, whilst simultaneously striving to embrace my kaptive peers into a more unified and progressive ideological precept.
In a nutshell, ODOC is showing us that many sex convictions are highly suspect and as such must be independently verified, prior to judging them. And, there can be redemption and klass acceptance for some. The divisions within klass truly only serve the oppressors' interests, as they continue to oppress us all. History has shown the poorest of Euroamerikans have been and continue to be the greatest obstacles to klass unity, as they fear unity and klass progress will cost them their "white privilege." Hence their continuous "chads agent" behaviors anytime we make any advances. This segment is our greatest enemy in my eyes and until we address them, in context of "dangerous foes," we shall not progress.
With that I shall stop here. Hopefully, something i've shared can help push this national dialogue. Until the next time, I remain standing firm and firmly embracing of all progressives! Power to the people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this writer's work to build unity and embrace those ey previously rejected. But we want to comment on the klass division ey mentions. As this writer explains, Euro-Amerikans' fear of losing their class privilege is a huge barrier to unity in the United $tates. This fact reinforces our understanding that it is nation, not class, that is the principal contradiction within U.$. borders. Oppressed-nation unity is what we must fight for, because the vast majority of the oppressor nation will not join the struggle to end their power and privilege. There's still a place in the struggle for white folks who renounce their national privilege and join the revolutionary movement. We can embrace whites, men, sex offenders, drug dealers, and all who renounce past reactionary acts and dedicate themselves to serving the people.
I read ULK 61 and it gave me the idea to finally speak up. I spoke with my loved ones on me sharing a bit about my current situation, and they agreed it was a great idea to share my conflicting story.
I was arrested in 2013 at the age of 16 for a sex crime on a minor under the age of 14. The victim was a relative who was very close to me. Being sexually abused myself at such a young age, I know how my victim might feel. The difference in my abuse was I was 9 years old when a 43-year-old man took advantage of me in the worst forms possible. I started to use heavy drugs at the age of 11. I smoked meth and PCP, and did mostly any drug that I could get my hands on. I was under the influence when I committed the crime. Even though I only remember small pieces of that day, I had to be honest with myself and my loved ones. I was sentenced to 5 years in prison for what I did.
Now that my victim is older she has forgiven me for what I did. My mom and other family members stood by my side. They knew I needed help. The drugs were taking over my life.
Being so young in prison really shattered my innocence and what little of humanity that I had within me. My transition from juvenile hall to state prison was terrifying. I was afraid that I wasn't going to make it home. I was beaten, humiliated by COs, sexually assaulted by my cellies.
I had lost hope. I didn't want to accept that I was being categorized as a sex-offender or a cho-mo, even though I was a youngster when I committed the crime. I attempted suicide at least 7 times while in prison. I tried to hang myself, I cut my veins, and overdosed several times. I couldn't come to terms with having to register and all the other obstacles that I would have to face. I'm not this weird old man who gets off on watching little kids, or has a rap sheet for being a predator. That's not me.
Now that I'm going home soon, my family support was giving me a glimpse of hope. They want me to write a book to tell my story. I'm not this animal that the state painted me to be. I just had a messed up childhood that led to traumatic events. Some of my counselors in juvenile hall used to tell me to not be so hard on myself, that I should also take some time to receive help on issues from my past. I'm currently diagnosed with three major mental health disorders: PTSD stage 2, major depression disorder, and personality disorder. I take medication for these disorders.
I don't ever want to come back to prison, I have experienced things in this place that I'm embarrassed to talk about. It would break my family's heart if they knew what was going on with me inside these walls. I'm not asking for sympathy or pity. I just want people to understand to not be so quick to judge or put someone down. In a couple of months I'll be home with my family fighting for my happiness and seeking a better future.
MIM(Prisons) responds: By demonizing everyone in prison who has committed a sex crime (and this persyn readily admits ey falls in that category) we can see how people like this writer, who may just need help to overcome their own history of abuse, are instead terrorized and further traumatized. It's hard to see how this demonization is helpful, or serves to rectify the wrong that was done against a this writer's victim.
Those who can admit to and recognize their crimes against others are in the best position to be rehabilitated and turn their lives to productively serving the people. Writers like this one are setting an example of self-criticism and self-awareness. We hope that ey is able to move past eir own abuse and use those horrible experiences to inspire future work fighting the patriarchy that creates a culture encouraging such awful acts. We embrace comrades who can put in the hard work of self-criticism and rectifying their past wrongs. It does not matter which crimes against the people we committed, it matters that we are learning and growing and taking action to fight the imperialist system that enables and encourages such acts.
Until, and perhaps after, we achieve a society where the culture of capitalist individualism has been destroyed, revolutionary organizations will have to deal with crimes against the people. We need to protect our movement from harm, and we must balance how to protect it from all sides. In some cases, punishment will be appropriate. But our primary focus will always be rehabilitation. Here we will discuss how we think about punishment and rehabilitation in the different stages of revolutionary struggle.(see definitions in Notes below)
Simply punishing someone for a behavior is a generally accepted, but widely ineffective, method of changing that persyn's behavior. There is first the consideration of whether the persyn is compelled by the punishment to change their behavior. (What does the punishment mean to the one being punished? Does the punishment match the crime?) Second is the consideration of whether the persyn being punished understands their crime and how the punishment relates to the crime. So simply punishing someone without providing any accompanying rehabilitation may serve the purposes of satisfying the victims, or detering others from doing the same behavior, but it does little to change that persyn's behavior or change eir mind about eir behavior.
Crimes against the people
Crimes against the people are actions that harm the oppressed, either directly or by harming the revolutionary movement of the oppressed. In our current context, they include things like snitching to pigs, facilitating drug addiction, stealing from the masses, and a long list of other counter-revolutionary actions. The list of crimes that must be dealt with today, directly (versus crimes that can't be dealt with until during the wartime period, or post-revolution) will change as we move through stages of struggle. Additionally, what is possible for us to deal with will also change over time, as we grow in strength and acquire more resources.
Even though we see many crimes against the people committed around us daily, we only have so much capacity to try to rehabilitate people, and an even more limited ability for punishment. But while lacking the time and resources to rehabilitate everyone, we also must keep in mind the consequences to the movement of punishing counter-revolutionary actors. Doling out punishment can have potentially dangerous consequences, yet it might be the only option available to us in certain circumstances. So whether to punish vs. rehabilitate is not simply a question of what we are able to do, but also what will be best for the revolutionary movement.
Overall, focus on rehabilitation
There are no cut and dry guidelines on this question of relabilitaion vs. punishment. Our actions will depend on many factors, and we can only figure this out in practice. Focusing too much on hypotheticals only clouds our judgement when we are faced with an actual crime that we need to deal with.
Yet on the overall question of whether to focus on rehabilitation or punishment, we look to Mao's injunction that we focus on rehabilitation of those who make mistakes but are open to correcting their errors and rehabilitating their political line and practice:
"A person with appendicitis is saved when the surgeon removes his appendix. So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure, so long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade. We can never succeed if we just let ourselves go, and lash out at him. In treating an ideological or a political malady, one must never be rough and rash but must adopt the approach of 'curing the sickness to save the patient', which is the only correct and effective method." (Mao Zedong, "Rectify the Party's Style of Work" (1 February 1942, Selected Works, Vol. III)
Before the proletariat seizes state power
We are in the pre-revolutionary period right now. Pre-revolution includes the current period of "relatively peaceful" organizing, and the period of outright war when the oppressed fight to take control of the state. The oppressed-nation lumpen in the United $tates face life-or-death circumstances every day, including consequences of imprisonment, economic disparity, inter-lumpen violence, police violence, and attacks from various white nationalists at all levels of society. While we face daily violence, our organizing at this time primarily focuses on self-defense and building independent institutions of the oppressed. That's why we call this a "relatively peaceful" organizing period, where we focus on preparation.(1)
In our day-to-day struggle, many counter-revolutionary actions will not be a question of life and death as they are in wartime. But they are still serious and potentially dangerous to the movement. This is the period when we have the least power to carry out punishment and to rehabilitate effectively. We should strive for rehabilitation when possible, but with limited power and resources we will need to evaluate each case to determine what we can accomplish.
While we don't have state power, when rehabilitation is not an option, we still have enough power in some situations to punish crimes against the people. This punishment most often involves exclusion from the movement, but can include public criticism and more physical actions. Our actions in this regard will need to be carefully considered in each case.
The case of snitches comes up a lot in prison organizing, where many attempt to curry favor with the guards in this way. Snitches are counter-revolutionary actors who must be cut out from the movement, though we may lack the power to appropriately punish snitches (beyond exclusion) at this time. But we also believe that snitches, and everyone else who commits crimes against the people, have the potential for rehabilitation through education and struggle if we have the opportunity to engage with them deeply. However, that's not always a good use of our time right now. Those who see the error of their ways and come to us with self-criticism for their past actions are clearly an easier target for rehabilitation and revolutionary education. Each case will require individual consideration. Those involved in the struggle and impacted by the crimes will have to assess the appropriate response and mix of re-education and punishment.
At Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio in 1993, prisoners were throwing their trash on the tier in a protest. In the book Condemned by Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar) we learn the details. This protest was going on for several days and the guards brought in a trustee to clean the tier. The prisoners tried to talk with this trustee over multiple days, to get em to refuse the job, yet the trustee kept cleaning the tier. The protesting prisoners punished the trustee violently. In this case we see the correct method of first attempting to struggle with someone who is acting against the movement, and later taking more direct action to shut em down to protect the movement. We can't judge this specific incident from afar, and it is something revolutionaries will have to figure out in day-to-day struggle.
Pre-revolution active wartime
Times of war are, of course, characterized by the use of violence and killing of the enemy as the default means of achieving goals. In wartime, the primary focus is on destroying the enemy, and this includes killing counter-revolutionaries. Anyone who acts to support the imperialists is swiftly punished. Some of these crimes merit death, as actions that result in the deaths of many revolutionaries cannot be tolerated.
"Mao Z reminds us in one of his military essays, of the insight from von Clausewitz, that war is different from all other human activity.
"When you check out the record, you can get the feeling that young Mao Z barely bothered to conceal how much he wanted to rip the Li Li-san faction right out of the 'red' military and rural party, by any means necessary. No matter how flimsy the excuse or reason, he really didn't care. To him, the revolution had to disentangele itself, to meet a life-or-death challenge, as quickly as possible.
"...Mao Z and Chu Teh weren't in suburban California, judging or dismissing cases of individuals in a civilian situation. That would be one set of circumstances. They were in a remote war zone, deep in the countryside, preparing feverishly for the largest and possibly most decisive battle any of them had ever gone through, raw soldiers and officers alike. Any disadvantage could cost them everything, while any advantage might be life-saving. That was a different set of circumstances."(2)
During the revolutionary wars of the USSR and China, they did not always have the time or resources to attempt to convince traitors to rejoin the revolution, and in many cases they could not even set up prisons to contain these enemies for future rehabilitation. Mao's guerillas had to turn around and execute lumpen forces that had previously fought side-by-side with them against the Kuomintang. At other times, the People's Liberation Army was able to successfully recruit whole sections of the Kuomintang army into their ranks. Again, an in-the-moment assessment of our threats and capabilities, with a preference for rehabilitation whenever possible, will be necessary even during wartime.
When we have state power, we will be in a better position to rehabilitate people. But in the short term the masses will demand punishment for those who owe blood debts. In China shortly after the anti-Japanese war was won and the Communist Party took power, Mao addressed this topic:
"The number of counter-revolutionaries to be killed must be kept within certain proportions. The principle to follow here is that those who owe blood debts or are guilty of other extremely serious crimes and have to be executed to assuage the people's anger and those who have caused extremely serious harm to the national interest must be unhesitatingly sentenced to death and executed without delay. As for those whose crimes deserve capital punishment but who owe no blood debts and are not bitterly hated by the people or who have done serious but not extremely serious harm to the national interest, the policy to follow is to hand down the death sentence, grant a two-year reprieve and subject them to forced labour to see how they behave. In addition, it must be explicitly stipulated that in cases where it is marginal whether to make an arrest, under no circumstances should there be an arrest and that to act otherwise would be a mistake, and that in cases where it is marginal whether to execute, under no circumstances should there be an execution and that to act otherwise would be a mistake."(3)
In this situation, the Communist Party was acknowledging that it could not get too far ahead of the masses. Punishing those who had committed extremely serious crimes was part of demonstrating to the masses that the Party was acting in their interests. But the goal was not punishment and execution. The goal was to move as many people towards rehabilitation as possible. And we can't know who has the potential for rehabilitation until we try. Overall, communists should assume that all people can be educated/re-educated because humyns have great capacity to learn and grow, especially when removed from harmful/reactionary circumstances.
Of course forced labor in China was a punishment for these counter-revolutionaries. But it was also an opportunity for reform and rehabilitation. As we learn in the book Prisoners of Liberation by Adele and Allyn Rickett, even people who had served as spies for imperialists during the war were given a chance at rehabilitation. The Ricketts, in China for academic study on a Fullbright Scholarship, were passing information to the Amerikkkan and Briti$h governments. This was while the Chinese were fighting for control of Beijing and then into the imperialist war on Korea, in which the Chinese were fighting against Amerikan troops.
The Ricketts were spies in wartime. Yet the Chinese Communists did not execute them. Instead they were imprisoned in a facility where the emphasis was on re-education and self-criticism. It took both Allyn and Adele years to come to an understanding of why their actions were wrong. But during that time they were never physically abused. Their forced confinement was certainly a punishment, but in the end they came to see this time in a Chinese prison as justified and a valuable educational experience that made them both better people. They were transformed.
Balance of forces for punishment and rehabilitation
In all cases, we must balance several considerations:
The weight of the crimes of a persyn
The sentiment of the masses towards that persyn and their crimes
The power we have to implement rehabilitation programs effectively
The ability to perform punishment if deemed appropriate
Our assessment of the above considerations will change based on our stage of struggle and our ever-evolving strength and abilities. In all cases revolutionaries should strive to reform and rehabilitate as many people as possible. But the limits of our resources pre-revolution, the need for expedience on life-and-death situations in wartime, and the need to fulfill the masses' demand for justice post-war must also be taken into account.
Greetings from the A-yard of Valley State Prison. In honor of the anniversary of the Attica uprising, and as an act of solidarity, the members of our study group abstained form eating for 24 hours. For one day we did not eat, starting with the Sunday G-slam, lunches (cold) and the evening meal. Ten copies of the solidarity study pack were passed out to members of our sg and a few other prisoners who were interested. A comrade was kind enough to photocopy my solidarity study pack which MIM(Prisons) provided. Most of the prisoners who attend our group were not even aware of the events at Attica on 9 September 1971, or the calls for prison reform which the Attica uprising prompted. A special emphasis was put on finding ways to promote peace and to educate all prisoners across the country on principles of the UFPP.
In closing, I want you to know that I may be new to this but I am tryign hard to learn and organize here at VSP and so are others. We, as always appreciate very much the material support and organizational guidance of MIM(Prisons). Thank you.
Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move here at SVSP quad this Bloody September. This September 9, 2018 we remember the anniversary of Attica of Sept 9, 1971 and them faceless freedom revolutionary fighters who fought and died in these prisons uprising throughout history of our struggle as we continue to fight the oppression, exploitation, abuse and inhumane treatment of prisoners. A lot of rights and privileges comrades have today is because of these soldiers at war with this corrupt system.
Throughout this country, we as New Afrikans must reconstruct our thoughts and come up with ways and ideas to get control over our minds behind enemy lines, and work to educate the lumpen. I know our young comrades think they know everything. Being upright, independent and fearless against all odds and not fearing the outcome of whatever is what the young comrades are looking for true leadership.
This Sept 9 day I refrained from all negative conversation. AFW continues to push to end prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities throughout this country. I had the chance to meet and become a student of the main 4 reps to end all hostilities between our racial groups, and also a brother from the representatives body. I spoke with brother X about our beloved brother W.L. Nolan and GJ and our conditions today as "new man," and how GJ struggled to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality. And solidarity with all you comrades around the country this Sept 9 day.
I am approaching from a background of having been held captive in general prison population where I am aware that at least a few of us subscribe to The BayView and Under Lock & Key and agreed the latter's issue No. 62 is controversial in criticizing a certain labor union.
One reason for focusing on this outstanding view(s) is because some of us are unionized with this entity which is the only one of its class that waves membership dues for prisoners and is also actively involved in the prison abolition movement. Specifically you allude in your article to, "Those organizations don't want low paid prisoners to replace high paid petty bourgeois workers."
Further what I think was more shocking is you attributed to outside support low, selfish motive by claiming, "They would be happy to see prisoners rot in their cells... it's higher pay for their class that the labor aristocracy wants." Indisputably your position is informative and generally supported by historical patterns, including Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow which illustrated how Capitalists successfully divided White and New Afrikan working class through granting pay raises and white skin privileges who in turn collectively advocated us decaying in segregation.
I would like to remain on Under Lock & Key subscription list because by far, it's more advanced than a number of other non-mainstream publications, in that yours boldly challenges general thought trends. One case-in-point is an Elder had cautioned us to be vigilant on what Under Lock & Key also affirmed about those who share sentiments identified as "the mass base behind the prison craze." We see clear signs they are present, active and have self-centered agendas.
But in contrast to what you promoted, I don't think our struggle has yet nor is on the verge of being co-opted by selfish motives — though potentially via "Incarcerated Organizing Committees" — provided our focus don't prioritize amending the 13th Amendment over acquiring human rights and Independence, attacking deceptive parole mechanisms. In this regard, MIM(Prisons) provides a vital source exhorting the prison movement to re-evaluate the ramification of amending the 13th Amendment. Perhaps the pendulum will sway away from giving successive energy to the 13th Amendment when factoring that many prison systems already pay money of account for prisoner labor; but yet, both sides of the spectrum agree mass incarceration is the core problem.
In ULK 62, among other issue numbers, you criticize massive prison work strikes. The perspective MIM(Prisons) is herein asked to ponder upon is the impact of "sustained" general work strikes will have on the bottom lines of private sectors; namely, commissary stork, telephone companies, choicey livestock parts that never reaches our food supply, etc.
MIM(Prisons) responds: First, we must make a disclaimer related to this discussion. We've learned of a recent article in Turning the Tide by a couple of United Struggle from Within comrades that calls out IWOC, among other organizations, as "ghost organizations." This is NOT the position of MIM(Prisons) or ULK. We will likely address this in more detail soon. However, we hope our readers can distinguish our approach here in criticizing the political line of other organizations and the effects of that line, rather than disparaging them for not doing anything just because they aren't working with us. No one can deny that the IWOC has done a lot to successfully publicize recent prison struggles and actions.
Overall it seems we have a lot of agreement with the writer above, but areas of debate are well worth addressing. The main point raised here is whether labor unions are selfishly pushing their own agenda for higher wages for the Amerikan labor aristocracy, or if these labor unions can really be putting the interests of prisoners first in prison labor struggles.
As this writer notes, we have plenty of historical evidence of labor unions in the United $tates promoting the interests of the Amerikkkan nation at the expense of oppressed nations.(1) And this promotion of national oppression includes support for the expansion of prisons to lock up oppressed nations. In fact, those prisons provide well-paying jobs for many labor aristocracy workers. So the contradiction between prison employees and prisoners is amplified, as this incarceration is essential to their livelihood.
Many corporations can't take advantage of cheap prison labor because labor unions have put provisions in their contracts and state laws to force consultation with labor leaders before establishing a contract for prisoner labor. It is clear the cheaper labor available in prisons is a direct threat to the high wages paid to people outside of prisons for work that could be done by prisoners. Many labor unions are quite clear about their position on this point.
But the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is different from other labor unions in that it claims to be international and anti-capitalist. The IWW is the labor union offering free membership to prisoners and actively campaigning on behalf of prisoners. The IWW also actively campaigns for higher wages for Amerikan workers. So they are walking a fine line between progressive work supporting prisoners' struggles, and reactionary pro-labor-aristocracy politics. The history of the IWW includes some clear examples benefiting white workers at the expense of colonial labor, as is documented in J. Sakai's book Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat.(2)
This doesn't mean the IWW is always working against the interests of prisoners. In fact they have waged some progressive battles. But their goal of raising wages for Amerikan workers is still fundamentally reactionary. The Amerikan labor aristocracy is the mass base for fascism, not a base for revolutionary organizing. They continue to come down on the side of imperialism, and are well bought off with the spoils of conquest and exploitation of oppressed nations around the globe.
In all of our prison struggles we need to keep the contradiction between internal oppressed nations (locked up, killed by police, flooded with drugs, denied economic, educational, and work opportunities, etc.) and the oppressor nation at the forefront. Why do we have such a huge prison population in the United $tates? It comes back to national oppression.
Battles around prisoners getting access to education, or getting paid for their labor, can be progressive parts of the struggle against the criminal injustice system. As long as they are framed in the context of the battle for liberation of oppressed nations. Opportunistically tying the prison labor battle to the broader Amerikan labor union struggles will only drag us down into reactionary oppressor-nation politics which builds up the labor aristocracy at the expense of the world's oppressed.(3) The oppressed, around the world and within U.$. borders, are always the losers in Amerikan labor union wage struggles.