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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [Censorship] [Federal] [ULK Issue 61]
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Feds Ban MIM(Prisons) on CorrLinks, Disregard 1st Amendment

fists

On 15 March 2018, MIM(Prisons) received dozens of emails from corrlinks.com, a website used by some U.$. prison systems to provide email access to prisoners. All were from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and read in part:

"This message informs you that you have been blocked from communicating with the above-named federal prisoner because the Bureau has determined that such communication is detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, or might facilitate criminal activity."

It has long been established that it is legal for staff to open and read mail sent into prisons, and to not allow such mail that might pose a threat to safety like communicating information on plans to hurt someone or commit a crime. Quite frequently, publications and even letters from MIM(Prisons) are censored by prison staff for being a threat to security. Legally, this must be based on the content of that mail or publication containing information that poses a direct threat. In practice it often is not, and sometimes we can fight those battles and win.

What the Federal Bureau of Prisons is trying to say here is that members of MIM(Prisons) are not allowed to communicate or associate with prisoners they hold captive, regardless of the content of those communications. This is of course a violation of U.$. law and founding principles. (for more background on related laws and court rulings see our censorship guide)

Such blanket bans have been attempted in the past. Sometimes openly like this one, or like the ban in California, which ended after an out-of-court settlement with Prison Legal News because, well, the CDCR knew what they were doing was illegal. MIM(Prisons) is submitting appeals to this and will update our readers. In the meantime our comrades in federal prisons should continue to contact us via postal mail and keep us updated on censorship on their end.

Electronic Communications

There have been some recent discussions around the use of electronic communications and devices within U.$. prisons and how comrades should approach them. While CorrLinks has been around for some time, more recently prisoners in many prisons can purchase tablet computers for persynal use. Just as we warn people in general about how they use these technologies, those warnings apply even more to prisoners. While the internet provides opportunities for anonymity and free flow of information, this is not really true for the services provided by the state to prisoners. So there is little benefit, and much risk in terms of surveillance and control over a persyn's communications from within prison when using these tools. Thanks to profiteering, we are not even aware of any email services for prisoners that don't charge ridiculous rates.

In general, technology does offer solutions, that are at times better than what we can achieve in real life interactions in terms of both security and thinking more scientifically. To look at some principles of communication that we can apply both online and off, we will look at Briar (briarproject.org). Briar is still in Alpha, and only currently available for Android OS, but has received promising security reviews so far. Briar is an interesting example, because it addresses decentralization, cryptography and anonymity.

One of the biggest problems with the internet today is the centralization that a handful of multinational corporations have made of the traffic on the internet by locking people into certain services. When it comes to email, prisoners have little choice but to use the CorrLinks, centralized service, and face potential bans like this one. On the internet, centralization of activity on certain platforms allows the corporations on those platforms to decide what a majority of the population is seeing, who they are communicating with and when they are no longer allowed to communicate. With Briar, in contrast, one does not even need an internet connection to set up a network of communication with your associates. And even with the internet, each client serves as a node on a decentralized network, so that there is no one powerful persyn who can decide to shut it down. This same principle is applied in real world organizing, where an organization is decentralized to avoid being paralyzed if an individual is removed or repressed.

On the internet, we also have a problem of information being available everywhere to almost anyone. It is only recently, with many hacks and data breeches, that people are beginning to realize that encryption is necessary to protect even peoples' basic information. Such information has been used to falsely imprison people, to steal identities, and to just target and harass people. In the real world, people know to talk quietly about certain things, or talk about plans for building peace when that C.O. who is always instigating fights isn't around, etc. On the internet there is the potential for all information to be available for an indefinite period of time, to potentially anyone. So suddenly everything needs to be said in a whisper, or in encrypted form as Briar and other software does.

Related to encryption is anonymity. Whenever one goes online, one must have an IP Address that tells the other machines on the network where you are so they can send you responses. This IP address (typically) is linked to a real world location and often to a specific machine. Previously we have talked about The Onion Router(Tor), which works to hide your IP Address. When on the internet, Briar operates through Tor, when connecting to others on the network. This provides for anonymity. Anonymity does not have as strong parallels in the real world, but might be like putting up fliers in the middle of the night or marching in a protest with a mask on. This is an advantage of the internet. If done properly, we can spread information anonymously, and without fear of reprisal. In addition, anonymity on the internet allows us to share information without the biases that we come across in real world interactions. The internet can be a tool for people to think more scientifically and judge ideas for their merit and not for who is saying them.

As the above example shows, we cannot trust the U.$. government to just obey its own laws and not repress people for their political beliefs. We must continue to stand up to such political repression, while building independent institutions of the oppressed that allow us to continue to organize for a better tomorrow.

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[Political Repression] [Civil Liberties] [California] [ULK Issue 61]
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CDCR Uses Prop. 57 as Leverage Against Prisoner Organizing

It has been brought to my attention that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) is trying to propose changes to family visiting regulations. By using Proposition 57 as leverage to divide the masses, this policy is discriminatory towards our comrades who get family visits. This policy does not reduce violence, and/or decrease contraband and/or promote positive behavior and/or prepare you for a successful release or rehabilitation as claimed in the CDCR proposal.

In a recent announcement of proposed policy changes to the telephone system and family visiting eligibility, the CDCR issued the statement: "All inmates are encouraged to continue with positive programming and to not participate in any mass strike/disturbance. These types of disturbances impact the many programming opportunities for rehabilitation and reduction in sentence afforded by Proposition 57."

This new policy is trying to discourage the masses from using their constitutional right to peaceful protest, by pitting those working for sentence reductions under Prop. 57 against those organizing for justice and change. CDCR is back with their reactionary divide and conquer ideals. CDCR is a functional enemy of using the word rehabilitation. CDCR will never produce justice or correctness toward their captives. So I ask this question to the masses: Does Prop. 57 support us or does it help CDCR maintain and expand a repressive system against captives?

CDCR is abusing Prop. 57 and using it as leverage and against all organizing activity. This direct or indirect association of Prop. 57 to family visiting and discipline of prisoners promotes confusion and non-justice. The people who voted for Prop. 57 did so with the intent of trying to do justice to correct a broken system. They intended to return humyn beings to their families.

Without justice, there is no life in people. Without justice, people do not "live", they only exist and that's good for CDCR. (Wake up comrades!) I have one message for CDCR, "Where there is justice, there is peace."

[Proposition 57 was passed by California voters in November 2016. Its main purpose is to make it easier for prisoners with non-violent convictions to get a parole hearing, and allow prisoners who are not lifers or on death row to earn good time and earlier release through programming.]
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[Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [California]
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CDCR Not Upholding Ashker Settlement on Due Process

In August of 2016, a comrade was written up for possession of Security Threat Group (STG) contraband and given a 115 Rules Violation Report(RVR). This was in direct violation of the Ashker v. Brown class-action settlement agreement terms around "Due process" as described below. The new rules to reform isolation practices in California didn't even eliminate the outrageous practice of using drawings and greeting cards as reasons to put people in isolation in California. The "due process" clause was the only promising term of the weak Ashker settlement, and it seems CDCR does not intend to uphold it.

Political repression is the clear motivation here, as the target is a well-known anti-imperialist who works tirelessly for the improvement of the New Afrikan nation.

Facts:

On August 4, 2016, CO J. Hunter reviewed [XYZ]'s outgoing mail and found a drawing that included the image of a gorilla.

He based his conclusion that the drawing constituted "STG contraband" on:

  1. In past investigations, he received information from unnamed BGF members and associates that the "Silverback Gorilla is symbolic for the strongest force of the Guerrillas much like how the Silverback Gorilla is considered to be the dominant leader amongst a family of gorillas."
  2. The word "Gorilla" can be found in various documents used by the BGF. He provides one example: The "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF includes a verse stating "Long live the graceful guerrilla."
  3. The BGF recognizes the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power.
  4. The Office of Correctional Safety has established the credibility regarding the meaning of these symbols.

[XYZ] was found guilty of this offense and given 30 days confinement to cell, leaving only to shower. I have written him for these documents.

Challenge:

[XYZ] points out that item #1 above is based on unnamed confidential informants who allegedly have connected the "gorilla" animal with the BGF. However, CDCR has not complied with its own rules regarding confidential information (no 1030s, etc.) Also, this sentence makes no sense. Who are the "Guerrillas"? Does he mean BGF members or BGF leadership?

The picture depicts several fierce animals (lions, tigers, elephant, Pharaoh hound) and various male fighters who look more Aztec than African (to me). The gorilla does not dominate, nor is there anything else in the picture to suggest an STG.

The word "Gorilla" does not appear in the "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF. I was unable to find such an oath on the internet, but did find a BGF oath on a police-oriented website — see attached memo. It does not contain this term or phrase. The officer cites no authority for this claim, or is citing the confidential informants described above, without providing proper documentation.

The BGF's view of the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power is also asserted without attribution, or it is attributed to confidential informants.

The statement about the OCS establishing credibility is insufficient. Credibility is a term referring to people — the statement does not say who the people are. But broad reference to another CDCR office establishing the credibility of an informant or the reliability of the information seems like an end run around the responsibility of the hearing officer.

Finally, on what authority does the mere drawing of an animal among other animals constitute gang contraband?

Additional information:

I have done a little internet research on the "Silverback gorilla." Apparently, this refers to a mature male gorilla whose back hair has turned grey with age. He is the "alpha male" among the group of gorillas that he lives with. The drawing does not purport to be a Silverback gorilla. It doesn't say it is a Silverback nor can you see his back. We can guess that the gorilla in the picture is male, but even that is not necessarily true. That the officer brings up the "Silverback gorilla" is suspect to me. He is making himself sound like he knows more than he really knows. He does not purport to be an expert himself, yet by throwing out this term, he is making himself sound knowledgeable.

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[Download and Print] [Organizing] [Civil Liberties] [Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Political Repression] [Campaigns] [California]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, California

California Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF Of California Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC)
2590 Venture Oaks Way Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95833

Prison Law Office
General Delivery
San Quentin, CA 94964

Internal Affairs CDCR
10111 Old Placerville Rd, Ste 200
Sacramento, CA 95872

CDCR Office of Ombudsman
1515 S Street, Room 311 S
Sacramento, CA 95811

U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, PHB
Washington DC 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
PO Box 9778
Arlington, VA 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*Petition updated September 2011, July 2012, and October 2013, February 2016, November 2016*

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Political Repression] [Gulf Correctional Institution Annex] [Florida] [ULK Issue 54]
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Brutal Response to September 9 Work Stoppage at Gulf CI Annex

It's been rough these past couple months at Gulf Correctional Institution Annex, that is ever since prisoners attempted to have a non-violent sit down. On 8 September 2016 Administration walked around to every dorm stating "We going to treat a non-violent sit down just like a violent one." When it came to awaken A.M. food service workers to report to work, all prisoners sat on their bunk in silence. At approximately 2:05AM administration gave a final call in L-Dorm for food service workers to report to their assigned post for work. Every prisoner refused to leave the dorm and sat on their bunk.

Once the sun began to rise prisoners became aware of the large number of heavily armed Rapid Response Team (RRT) officers in full body armor marching towards L-Dorm. A sledgehammer came crashing through two open bay windows. Once an opening was cleared, officers armed with 12 gauge shot guns started aiming on those prisoners sitting on their bunks in L-Dorm. Warden Blackwood ordered all prisoners to lay on their bellies with their hands on head. The warden ordered officers to switch to live rounds, safeties off, any prisoner gets off his bunk shoot to kill.

Once the prisoners in K-Dorm and Q-Dorm witnessed how Administration and RRT members was mistreating prisoners in L-Dorm they started standing up against our oppressors. RRT members smashed out a window in K-Dorm and deployed Pepperball Launching System (PLS). RRT members began extracting K-Dorm prisoners, zip tieing them, and emergency shipping those prisoners. While in Q-Dorm prisoners were ordered to go into their cells and close the doors, RRT entered Q-Dorm using Pepperball Launching System (PLS), noise flash distraction devices, and stinger rubberball grenades.

One prisoner was disabled and confined to a wheelchair due to having only one leg. This Muslim disabled prisoner had a stinger rubberball grenade explode under the wheelchair. Officers days later was heard bragging how it launched the prisoner out of his wheelchair and into a cell! While in L-Dorm hours went by laying on bellies, prisoners were denied restroom privileges and forced to urinate into empty powerade bottles or on the floor next to their bunk. Only times prisoners had permission to sit up was when bag lunches arrived during breakfast, lunch and dinner. No drink was provided at any meal to prevent dehydration. Prisoners began to beg for water around evening. Captain Shwarz followed by armed RRT members entered L-2. Captain Schwarz had a 9mm handgun in his hand, walked up to the prisoner who had been requesting water out the window, leveled the handgun on the inmate and threatened to blow his head off if he did not cease his actions. Prisoner was then zip tied and escorted to confinement.

The following day inmates was rounded up and placed in Q-Dorm which became Emergency Confinement. Administration rounded up the majority of prisoners who had ties to one affiliation or another. This was administration's excuse for their excessive force used. The gangs didn't force prisoners to participate in the sitdown but as far as the warden was concern that's who the blame was going to fall on. Prisoners in Emergency Confinement were placed under investigation, given falsified disciplinary reports, unjustly use of force in the form of CS gas, placed in scalding hot showers for decontamination, escorted back to the same cell that had not been decontaminated, forced to sleep on steel + concrete for 63.5 hours, and had suffered a beating from the hands of officers.

All prisoners in Q-Dorm have been shipped after 60 days. Only 18 prisoners remain now, and have been escorted to P-Dorm regular confinement. I am the prisoner who suffered beating from Sergeant Kirk who was escorting me to rec. Captain Schwarz told Sergeant Kirk to "take care that little bitch for me." Once outside and out the view the camera Sergeant Kirk struck me in the back of the head with a closed fist, slammed me viciously to the ground, elbowed me to the back the head, while trying to force my hands above my head in handcuffs. I don't know why out of the hundred some prisoners in Emergency Confinement that I was left behind and not transferred. As of now I've been sentenced to 150 days disciplinary confinement, my DR's consist of "Refuse to Work," "Participating in Minor Disturbance," "Gang Related Activity," and "Disorderly Conduct." My grievances are being trashed and I expect more hands-on retaliation upon my release from confinement. This is all results of September 9th at Gulf Correctional Institution Annex.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We've printed a lot of reports about the protests on September 9, both as part of the United Front for Peace in Prisons Day of Peace and Solidarity, and part of the broader work strike. It is good to hear more details about the unity and struggle put into action on that day. We also want to publicly document that brutal, terroristic and illegal behavior of Florida DOC staff towards the peaceful protesters at Gulf CI Annex. Humyn rights in action in the United $tates of Amerikkka.

It is not surprising that the prison administrators blame lumpen organizations (LOs) for the action. Although LOs in some prisons serve a negative role by pitting prisoners against each other, in many places they have taken a positive role and stepped up to push unity and struggle against the criminal injustice system. The potential for these organizations of oppressed nations, which already have a strong cadre and the ability to quickly mobilize many, is correctly identified as a threat by the administration. And it is our job as revolutionaries to help members push these organizations towards progressive action.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Political Repression] [Ely State Prison] [Nevada]
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Retaliation for Fighting the NDOC and Political Beliefs

I am writing to inform you of the most recent form of retaliation. As I have written in the past, I have been fighting the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) over a number of issues. Two issues are now in the courts, but one deals specifically with the racist, homophobic, sexist and all around disrespectful actions of two pigs here at Ely State Priosn (ESP). SCO Mullins, and CO Wheeler. In February these officers searched my cell for four hours. They broke all my appliances, tore and threw away almost all of my books and other materials relating to communist thought. They have repeatedly gotten on my intercom and talked down to me, have called me a "commie pig," a "red", and nicknamed me "USSR." I doubt they know what communist thought is, more their ignorance allows them to utilize it as a tool of harassment.

ESP started allowing porters on 1 October 2016, the first since 2003 I believe. (ESP is locked down). Well my cellie and I got the porter job. We worked for 17 days. The first time we worked with SCO Mullins, we were fired and written up for making threats towards officers. Which did not happen.

My cellie and I were moved from our cell, but to another room in the same unit! Despite our many claims of harassment. All the harassment has been a direct result of our fighting the NDOC in relation to its use of racial segregation in housing, its use of the paging system for the law library, and the grievance process.

As a result of these false allegations, my cellie and I are now removed from the transfer list. I am looking at up to two years in the hole. My cellie will lose up to 3 years of good time (I have life without) so he will have to do 10 more years, instead of 7 more, and neither of us may ever be able to leave ESP.

This officer thinks he has won. However, all he has done is strengthened my resolve to fight harder. I would appreciate any information regarding case law dealing with retaliation that you or incarcerated comrades may have.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We applaud this writer's resolve to continue the fight in the face of very real consequences to eir work. Additional years in prison and long-term isolation are serious outcomes that will cause many to give up the fight. Even more, this comrade is doing the right thing by writing about eir experiences to expose the injustice, and reaching out to others for support and help. This sort of oppression can be an opportunity to organize and educate others. But the resulting isolation of course means limited ability to organize people. We invite our readers to share suggestions for this comrade.

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[Education] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 54]
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The Adaption of Capitalistic Controls

“The educational and professional training systems are very elaborate filters.”

This statement comes from Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky. In chapter four he discusses safeguards and controls put in place by and to protect the capitalist system. His analysis is apt. In the United States those who control information are those who hold the power. Which is why the government is the largest collector and disseminator of information. More importantly it is the most effective filtration system.

This is accomplished through 1) popular control and 2) the media. Effective popular control isolates citizens and dissidents. When someone is isolated it is easy to control their reality and/or manipulate their actions. On the other hand there's the media. The media does much more than provide an outlet for the dissemination of information. It is the main tool, outside of formal schooling, for indoctrinating non-proletariat citizenry. It also validates petty-bourgeois society by marginalizing dissidents and the proletariat. This particular control (a process of measures and procedures to prevent substantive changes and to preserve a system), I've termed the subjection-manipulation cycle. Information control, isolation, indoctrination and marginalization are continued in perpetuity. The purpose of this control is to create a sheepish or gullible populace.

It is effective because the un-indoctrinated are deprived of a voice, a vote, an opinion. Even maybe shunned completely. They are isolated and made seemingly impotent. The subjection-manipulation cycle has been adapted by the U.$. prison system. At present, it provides a reliable method for repressing "subversive", "disruptive", or "threatening" activities, attitudes, or behaviors. Prison has a wide array of people. Some who become indoctrinated, and others who refuse to relinquish their freedom to determine their actions. The first I've termed subjugated, the second self-determinants. Self-determinants find themselves targets of the subjection-manipulation cycle.

Self-determinants are generally punished and repressed, while the subjugated are rewarded. In public life, dissidents are parallel to self-determinants in prisons. By isolating and repressing self-determinants, prison authorities filter and provide examples of "unacceptable" behavior. Self-determinants are segregated, privileges stripped and their associates harassed. This ends with them being socially stigmatized. The parallel in public life is almost identical. Isolation, repression and harassment in the hopes of inducing impotency. The subjection-manipulation cycle is not only a system of reprisals and rewards. It contains the essential element of information dissemination.

Authorities screen, examine, and filter all information available to captives. This way they can promote desired modes of thought and behavior. Why else have banned/prohibited publication lists? Or overly complicated grievance procedures? Or such general lack of access? A lack of information is equivalent to a lack of education. This stymies only pro-proletarian, revolucionario, anti-capitalist, or anti-imperialist movement. Education leads to organization. As long as prisons can reinforce this control, the results will mirror those found in history. It presents a massive obstacle, but not insurmountable. The solution begins with knowledge, followed by discipline, and unity.

First, to gain knowledge one must become educated. Not through the system, but an actual education. Becoming well versed in the rules that govern prison officials, procedures, operations and policies. Making an intensive research into the history of capitalism, its motives, goals and methods. In short, you must learn the enemy: imperialists and exploitative capitalists. Just as important, you must learn and know yourself: strengths, weaknesses, abilities and potential. This is called "self-knowledge." The enemy has full self-knowledge. To be anything more than a minor annoyance to the authorities you must also attain full self-knowledge. Education is the first step to supplanting capitalism and its controls.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer does a good job explaining the importance of education to developing appropriate strategies in our struggle. This education must counter the indoctrination we have all experienced from birth under capitalism. Write to MIM(Prisons) to get involved in our introductory study group, or to get some educational material and tips for your study groups locally.

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[Education] [Political Repression]
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The Adaptation of Capitalistic Controls

"The educational and professional training systems are very elaborate filters."

This statement comes from the book titled, Understanding Power: The indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky. In chapter four, he discusses the safeguards and controls put in place by and to protect the capitalist system. His analysis is apt: control and manipulation began with the educational institutions.

In the United States those who control the information are those who hold power. Which is why the U.S. government is the largest and most efficient collector and disseminator of information. More importantly it is the most effective filtration system of information. Why is that? It is elementary, as Sherlock Holmes would say. If your opponent (read the proletariat) lacks the knowledge (read information and education), then your opponent is unable to employ it to your disadvantage. When I say 'your opponent' I mean the opponent of the u.s. government and capitalism.

This is accomplished through 1) popular control and, 2) the media effective popular control isolates citizens and dissidents. When a person is isolated, it is a simple matter to control their reality and manipulate their actions to conform to your specific aims and objectives. On the other hand is the media. The media does much more than simply providing an outlet for the dissemination of information. It helps to, and actually is a main tool for, indoctrination and marginalization. Or the subjection-manipulation cycle as I have termed it, is continued in perpetuity. The formation of this specific control ('control', meaning measures and policies used to prevent substantive changes to and for the preservation of a system) is meant to create a sheepish or gullible populace. One easily manipulated and maneuvered.

In public life, the effectiveness of this control lies in the fact that, those who aren't indoctrinated, or, at least, able to behave as if they are, soon learn that they have no voice, no vote and lack the consideration of others. Even find that they may be shunned (socially ostracized) as if they had a contagious, fatal disease. The un-indoctrinated are thus isolated and made 'seemingly' impotent. This system has been adopted by the u.s. prison system and is strictly adhered to.

The subjection-manipulation cycle has been adapted to and by prisons because it provides a reliable and justifiable method of repressing subversive, disruptive, or 'negative' attitudes, behaviors and/or activities. Prisons present a sampling of society's range of individuals. Some prisoners become well-indoctrinated and follow prisons' policies and regulations. Other less indoctrinated follow some or most. And finally those who are self-determinants (prisoners who refuse to relinquish their freedom to determine their actions and conduct). It is these last that suffer the reprisals of the subjection-manipulation cycle.

Self-determinants are generally punished. While their counterparts, what I termed subjugated, they are rewarded. The reward/reprisal structure is even clearer in the prison adaptation of the subjection-manipulation cycle. As in public life, where dissidence earns social stigmatization. In prison, self-determinants are shunned and given a wide berth. In this way the system filters the population, in order to isolate self-determinants. Holding them up as examples of unacceptable behavior to the subjugated. Punishment in public is normally being unemployable, negative to one's status in society, or being labeled a liability. This ends with a dissident's social ostracization and impotency. The parallel found in prisons is self-determinants are housed in segregation, isolation units, their privileges curbed or stripped completely. Their associates treated harshly or harassed for continuing any association with the self-determinant. The picture is clear as in public, in prison the self-determinant is isolated, repressed in the hopes that they will become impotent.

The subjection - manipulation cycle is not only a system of rewards and reprisals. It also contains the essential element: information control. Prison authorities screen, examine and filter the information made available to prisoners. This is paralleled in the U.S. schooling system and structure. The only information allowed is that which concurs with the system agenda. By promoting, or discouraging (if not prohibiting), certain information the prisons, as schools in public life, can encourage and manipulate modes of thought and revolutionary, anti-imperialist, or anti-capitalist movement. Why else have overly complicated grievance procedures create obstacles and have banned/prohibited literature lists? Education leads to organization.

The goal is to create an unbearable reality for self-determinants. With the intention of creating a subjugated instead of self-determinant, through the psychological effects of isolation and ostracization As long as prisons can reinforce this cycle, the results will mirror those found in public life. Stigmatized, isolated and labeled an outcast among outcasts, society's outcasts. This is a particularly dire forecast for self-determinants. It presents a massive obstacle, but not insurmountable. The solution begins with knowledge, followed by discipline and unity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer offers some astute commentary on the role of information, education and media in social control under imperialism. And this underscores the importance of independent media of the oppressed as well as independent institutions for organizing and educating revolutionaries. The "self-determinants" as this author calls them, are people willing to think for themselves and perhaps take up organizing in the interests of the world's oppressed. These anti-imperialists need an organization to support them in the face of the challenges outlined by this author. This is why, behind bars, it is important to build United Struggle from Within, as a structure that can unify and support our prison comrades. Ultimately the independent media of the oppressed, along with our independent organizations, will unite those willing to think for themselves into a revolutionary force that can challenge the imperialist structures and fight for a future where self-determination is not repressed.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [Winn Correctional Center] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 51]
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Private Prisons Exposed, and Same as Public

UFPP for all liberation

Recently an exposé of the private prison Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Lousiana, run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was published in Mother Jones.(1) The article explains conditions which are completely inhumane, and many of the atrocities are linked to the CCA's drive for profit.

In the section about the mailroom, the author Shane Bauer mentions Under Lock & Key:

"Around the mail room, there are bulletins posted of things to look out for: an anti-imperialist newsletter called Under Lock and Key, an issue of Forbes that comes with a miniature wireless internet router, a CD from a Chicano gangster rapper with a track titled 'Death on a CO.'"

Curiously, Winn mailroom staff consider political education just as dangerous to the prison environment as electronics and death threats. This blatant censorship is not unique to this facility, and is not unique to private prisons. There are many state-run facilities all across the country where we know our mail is censored in a similar manner. Unfortunately we don't have an investigative reporter inside, and, only being able to communicate with our comrades through the mail, we are not able to combat this censorship or expose it. We post known censorship incidents on our website, but the reality is that we will never know what happens to approximately two-thirds of the mail we send in.

In reading the exposé, one might start to believe this private prison is different from public prisons. That's one of the major downsides of this piece: it leaves the reader wondering, assuming that state-run facilities are inherently better. Yet we post many articles from our correspondents inside showing that state-run facilities can be just as bad as Winn Correctional Center: lack of appropriate medical care leading to long-term health problems, lack of programming, arbitrary lockdowns, excessive use of force, lack of discretion in hiring personnel, and the list goes on.

To campaign against private prisons is to assert that state-run prisons are acceptable. It legitimizes the United $tates government as an impartial arbiter. It says that it isn't the prison that's bad, but instead just the aspect of private ownership. Yet MIM(Prisons) sees the prison struggle in the United $tates as one against social control generally — whether private or state-run.

We thank Shane Bauer for writing this horrific piece for the benefit of our fight against inhumane prison conditions. And we must look at the bigger picture, how state-run facilities fit in, and how the prison reform movement interacts with the struggle for self-determination of the internal semi-colonies and the liberation of the Third World from imperialism's death grip. Certainly imprisonment for profit must be abolished. But this phenomena could only develop inside a capitalist economy. If not this atrocity of capitalism, then there will be another one, and there certainly are. If our struggle is limited to simply abolishing private ownership of prisons, we will have wasted much time and energy that could have been spent on a broader struggle.(2)

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[Theory] [Political Repression]
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Book Review: Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition

Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition
By Griffin Fariello
Avon Books, 1995

Red Scare is set in the time when there were open communist witch hunts across Amerika. Younger people may not remember or even have heard of the time when it was a crime to be a revolutionary in the United $tates. Although the laws have made it "legal" today to be a communist, it really isn't as legal as many think. The state's old methods have only been fine tuned and made more subtle, but the repression still exists and may even be more dangerous today than in years past.

Senator Joe McCarthy, elected in 1946, started off as any other Senator and then took a real fascist turn in 1950 when he began his anti-communist terror. His political life did not last too long as McCarthy died in 1957 but his ideals lived on and took on even more deadly ways in the years after, especially for oppressed nations in Amerika.

The 1950s was a tougher time for communists in Amerika. There were many laws that were anti-communist in nature. In the state of Texas for instance, membership in the Communist Party would get you twenty years in prison. In the state of Michigan to just write or speak subversive words would get you life in prison! No wonder Michigan today has some of the largest white supremacist militias in Amerika. The state of Tennessee would give you the death penalty for what it called "unlawful advocacy" that was aimed at communists.

This was a time when buying a house came with having to sign a "loyalty oath" denouncing communism. A student receiving a diploma had to first sign an oath, people living in the projects had to sign it for the landlord at rent time. This was the "war on terror" on steroids. Think of the round ups and harassment of Muslims in Amerika post-9/11 and triple that!

By 1956 Hoover's FBI spread its slimy tentacles so much that in the CP-USA, whose membership at that time was less than 5,000, one out of three members was an FBI informant. This may help explain CP-USA's passivity on many issues at that time. It was a time when the feds had three informants in a three-persyn CP unit, so entire units were comprised of informants, which also helped to ensure who was supplying reliable information and who wasn't as the informants were not aware the others were informants.

The information on surveillance and what one ex-FBI agent called "bag jobs" was enlightening. It was a look on how the feds really teach their agents about those of us who want to free the people from oppression. An ex-FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen is interviewed about his targeting of a communist group in COINTELPRO-like methods, defends his self-described "hundreds" of bag jobs by saying

"none of us worried too much about the illegality, because most of us were veterans from World War II. Gee, all you had to do is wave a flag and we'd stand up and salute and do all kinds of things. And after the indoctrination we got in training school about communism and the communist party and how they were trying to overthrow us, it was like war all over again, just that no one was shooting at anybody yet..."(p. 86)

Like in the 1950s, the FBI enjoys recruiting its agents from police or military. Like Swearingen noted above, all you have to do is "wave a flag and we'd stand up and salute and do all kinds of things." And so when people want to stop genocide, exploitation and other madness, the state is meanwhile teaching its agents that it's war, only no one is getting shot yet. It's war because poor people don't want to live in land contaminated by toxic waste, because poor people are protesting the corporate greed, the war on the Third World, etc. For objecting to this monstrous behavior it's like "a war all over again."

The "bag job" involved breaking into a home of a suspect, and if the suspect was a communist or member of the CP the agents would search for any pieces of paper with anyone's names. It could be the paper boy's name but agents would gather these names and add them to the "security index" which was a list kept by the FBI of those "subversives" (communists) who, in case of "national emergency," would be rounded up in concentration kamps. This was awfully similar to how in California prisons the state deals with the validation process: during all searches any names found in a supposed gang member's cell are added to a database as a gang associate for future targeting and possible round up into SHU (concentration kamp). The similarities are uncanny, if you simply substitute "communist party" with "prison gang" you would think a lot of this was written about California's validation program.

For example, the ex-FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen goes on to say

"During the Church Committee hearings one of the Senators asked James Adams, who was the associate director of the FBI, how long a person would stay on the security index. I think they were talking about one individual who had been on there something like twenty or twenty-five years. And the senator said 'Did you have any information that he was still a member of the communist party?' and Adam's response was 'we didn't have any information that he was not a member of the communist party, then we'd keep him in there and we'd keep him on the security index.' Sometimes we would get information that someone did drop out of the communist party, but we wouldn't believe it anyway. Bill Sennett stayed on the security index almost ten years after he quit the party because no one would believe it."(p. 95)

The chapter titled "Five minutes to midnight" discussed the underground. In the late '50s CP-USA began discussing the inevitability of war between the Soviet Union and the United States. It was decided that the United States was on the verge of repression and so to survive the coming fascism the party would need an underground organization.

The underground apparatus was organized in three different levels. The first level was called "deep freeze" which were top leadership who jumped bail for conviction on the Smith Act which basically criminalized the act of being a communist, along with those who it was assumed would be in the next sweep of arrests. The second level was called the "deep deep freeze." These were trusted members who would be a source of leadership should all the other leaders be arrested. Many of these people were sent abroad to Mexico, Canada or Europe, kind of like sleeper cells, to lead normal lives and not engage in any political activity. The third level was called "operative but unavailable" who traveled state to state in disguise working as liaison between the aboveground party and the deep freeze.

According to the author, millions of dollars were spent on the underground apparatus with lodgings, transportation, and the courier system that kept the hundreds of men and wimmin underground. This took its toll with almost everyone abandoning the party within five years. The writer states "seasoned communists realized the impossibility of carrying a political movement in this fashion." A couple of decades later, activists would probably beg to differ with this because of the targeting, murder, and imprisonment that followed being above ground.

The Smith Act created some real anti-communist ways of thinking. The city of Birmingham, Alabama for instance passed a law in the 1950s mandating that all communists had forty-eight hours to leave town or face imprisonment. This was looked at as normal treatment for political ideas by many. This continues to sound like the witch hunts progressive prisoners face today in Amerika where you are locked in control units, not for acts, but ideas, beliefs or assumed beliefs and yet it's not for 2 or 3 years like when the Smith Act was enforced but decades and sometimes for life!

Red Scare falls short in not analyzing the politics of this era, not discussing the political line of revolutionary groups of the 1950s. The Jim Crowism was not even really talked about much. The author does discuss events like the Rosenberg trial/execution, children of the persecuted and what ey calls "redactors" who were the teachers who were persecuted under McCarthyism. But ey does not get into the oppressed nations of that time. The author gives one example of the CP-USA going to New Mexico to work in the Chicano barrios, briefly mentions the Black Panthers, and does not even mention the First Nations.

One will not learn anything of the different ideologies of that time yet this book is worth reading if you seek to understand the birth of COINTELPRO which really decimated the oppressed nations' struggles in the '60s and '70s. Although this book was written in the 1990s it reads as if it was written in the 1950s with its oppressor-nation outlook on struggles during the McCarthy period, a little too vanilla and boring, but worth plowing through the 500+ pages only for its content on early COINTELPRO.

Red Scare speaks volumes about the success of the Soviet Union in building socialism, a more popular alternative to capitalism. While it is easy to laugh at the extreme paranoia expressed by the state in this period, there was a real fear starting in the 1930s when the Soviet Union was developing in leaps while the capitalist world crumbled under the great depression. Coming out of World War II, during which the Soviet Union demonstrated its technological and ideological strength, the Red Scare of the 1950s reflected this.

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