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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [LA State Penitentiary] [Louisiana]
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Angola Louisiana Warden Making Money on Prisons

I've decided to place my pen to paper and let you know about some reprehensible bullshit the imperial pigs who run this whole prison complex racket are up to and are hoodwinking the public about.

I was reading the June 2012 issue of Prison Legal News, Vol 23, No 6 and I was utterly floored when I read the cover article titled "God's Own Warden." [This article was reprinted from Mother Jones magazine.(1)]

There is a Warden of Angola prison in Louisiana by the name of Burl Cain. This man has a full blown racket going on down there, where he not only exploits inmates with blatant slave labor, but then hides it behind religion, and openly broadcasts his money making exploits.

This imperial pig "pays" inmates 2-20 cents to move the wheels of his little prison industry down there. He's got a "museum," farming fields, a gift shop, and a rodeo arena which seats 10,000 people and draws 70,000 people each spring and fall for "prison rodeos."

At these "rodeos" they have "convict poker," where they put 4 prisoners around a table and tell them to remain seated while a 2000 pound pissed off bull charges at them. In another event they call "guts and glory," they tie a poker chip to the horn of an angry bull. While it hangs from the horn "inmates vie to snatch the poker chip off the horn" while the prisoners run after and are chased by said enraged animal. These events are done for the laughs of the people who've bought themselves tickets to this idiocy.

In 1998 Daniel Bergner wrote a book titled "God of the Rodeo" where he himself researched this rodeo and wrote a book about it, saying that he "observed the reaction of the crowd which was electrified, exhilarated, by the thrill of watching men in terror, all made forgivable because the men were murderers." He then goes on to say "I'm sure some of it was racist (see that nigger move) and some disappointed (that there was no goring) and some uneasy (with that very disappointment)." Then he goes on to say "many people were not laughing, were too bewildered or stunned by what they'd just seen."

And of course this industrial pig has prisoners outside the arena selling arts and crafts, crawfish étouffée and Frito pies. In his "gift shop," he sells miniature handcuffs, prisoner-made jelly, and mugs that read "Angola: a gated community." Then people move on to a display of "Gruesome Gertie" which is dubbed as "the only electric chair in which a prisoner was executed twice." (The first time didn't take because the executioners were "visibly drunk.")(2)

So not only does this imperial pig make money off live inmates, he cashed in on their cruel and unusual deaths as well. But that's still not enough for the deep pockets of this racketeering Warden. He contracts his prison out to Hollywood and "allows" prisoners to be extras, all for a nice fee of course!

Cain gets away with it because he hides it all behind religion and converting prisoners to Christianity. So with his money he tosses up a few plywood walls and roof, calls it a church, and says he's "saving souls."

This is the prison where a trio of prisoners had been locked down in solitary confinement longer than anyone in U.S. history, because they were Black Panther Party members (Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace and the now released Robert King). They were put in solitary confinement, and have spent nearly 4 decades there, simply for their political beliefs.

In 2008 Warden Cain had a disposition taken in which Cain says of Woodfox, "He wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant... He is still trying to practice Black Pantherism, and I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize young prisoners, I would have me all kinds of problems, more than I could stand, and I would have the blacks chasing after them."(3)

Never mind the fact that these two heroic comrades are in their 60s and have a near perfect record for more than 20 years. Warden Cain says "it's not a matter of write-ups. It's a matter of attitude and what ya are... Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace is [sic] locked in time with that Black Panther revolutionary actions they were doing way back when... and from that there's been no rehabilitation."(3) Warden Cain then "suggested that Wallace and Woodfox could be released into general population if they renounced their political beliefs/views and embraced Jesus."(3)

Cain's policy is if inmates don't attend church services they don't get the good jobs (that pay 2-20 cents), or other goodies, such as a day or two off from plowing and farming his fields, a good meal, special banquets, ice cream, etc.

There should be a public outcry of complete outrage over this shit. This is the very sickening degeneracy which we as communists strive to stomp out. These atrocities going on down in Angola under the skirts of religion piss me off, and only strengthen my resolve to standup and fight these imperial piggies every step of the way. With every breath I take it fills my eyes with only the color of red. In solidarity we stand.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we've explained in articles on the U.S. prison economy, the exploitation of prison labor by private entities is very limited in scope, with most prison labor contributing to prison maintenance and expenses. In the case of Angola, the farm laborers, making a maximum wage of 20 cents per hour, are actually engaged in productive labor and are likely providing a net surplus value to the prison after factoring in the room and board they are provided. But even in this large, well-organized operation, the income is only an offset to the total costs of keeping these men imprisoned, in particular paying the salaries of guards and administrators.

Those prisoners making jam, and other trinkets for sale outside the rodeo are raising money for Christian organizations.(1) In this case private interests are benefitting financially from coerced labor, but even then there are no capitalist profit interests behind these projects as implied by the myth of the "prison industrial complex." Petty economic interests aside, the bigger story here is the national oppression faced by the 75% Black prisoner population at Angola coerced into supporting Christian organizations and pushed into the rodeo. This is a reprehensible example of treating men like animals and turning social control into a sport for the entertainment of reactionary spectators.

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[Theory] [Economics] [Prison Labor] [Congress Resolutions] [ULK Issue 27]
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The Myth of the "Prison Industrial Complex"

myth of prison industrial complex

Many people are caught up in the line that millions are enslaved in this country, and that the main motivating factor behind the prison boom of recent decades is to put prisoners to work to make money for corporations or the government. MIM(Prisons) has clearly shown that U.S. prisons are not primarily (or even significantly) used to exploit labor, and that they are a great cost financially to the imperialists, not a source of profit.(1)

"Indeed, at peak use around 2002, fewer than 5,000 inmates were employed by private firms, amounting to one-quarter of one per cent of the carceral population. As for the roughly 8% of convicts who toil for state and federal industries under lock, they are 'employed' at a loss to correctional authorities in spite of massive subsidies, guaranteed sales to a captive market of public administrations, and exceedingly low wages (averaging well under a dollar an hour)."(2)

Instead, we argue that there is a system of population control (including all the elements of the international definition of genocide) that utilizes methods of torture on mostly New Afrikan and Latino men, with a hugely disproportionate representation of First Nation men as well, across this country on a daily basis. As the new prison movement grows and gains attention in the mainstream, it is of utmost importance that we maintain the focus on this truth and not let the white nationalists define what is ultimately a struggle of the oppressed nations.

To analyze why the term "prison industrial complex" ("PIC") is inaccurate and misleading, let's look at some common slogans of the social democrats, who dominate the white nationalist left. First let's address the slogan "Welfare not Warfare." This slogan is a false dichotomy, where the sloganeer lacks an understanding of imperialism and militarism. It is no coincidence that the biggest "welfare states" in the world today are imperialist countries. Imperialism brings home more profits by going to war to steal resources, discipline labor, and force economic policies and business contracts on other nations. And militarism is the cultural and political product of that fact. The "military industrial complex" was created when private industry teamed up with the U.$. government to meet their mutual interests as imperialists. Industry got the contracts from the government, with guaranteed profits built in, and the government got the weapons they needed to keep money flowing into the United $tates by oppressing other nations. This concentration of wealth produces the high wages and advanced infrastructure that the Amerikan people benefit from, not to mention the tax money that is made available for welfare programs. So it is ignorant for activists to claim that they are being impoverished by the imperialists' wars as is implied by the false dichotomy of welfare vs. warfare.

Another slogan of the social democrats which speaks to why they are so eager to condemn the "PIC" is "Schools not Jails." This slogan highlights that there is only so much tax money in a state available to fund either schools, jails, or something else. There is a limited amount of money because extracting more taxes would increase class conflict between the state and the labor aristocracy. This battle is real, and it is a battle between different public service unions of the labor aristocracy. The "Schools not Jails" slogan is the rallying cry of one side of that battle among the labor aristocrats.

Unlike militarism, there is not an imperialist profit interest behind favoring jails over schools. This is precisely why the concept of a "PIC" is a fantasy. While the U.$. economy would likely collapse without the spending that goes into weapons-related industries, Loïc Wacquant points out that the soft drink industry in the United $tates is almost twice as big as prison industries, and prison industries are a mere 0.5% of the gross domestic product.(2) Compared to the military industrial complex, which is 10% of U.$. GDP, the prison system is obviously not a "complex" combining state and private interests that cannot be dismantled without dire consequences to imperialism.(3) And of course, even those pushing the "PIC" line must admit that over 95% of prisons in this country are publicly owned and run.(4)

Federal agencies using the prison system to control social elements that they see as a threat to imperialism is the motivating factor for the injustice system, not an imperialist drive for profits. Yet the system is largely decentralized and built on the interests of the majority of Amerikans at the local level, and not just the labor unions and small businesses that benefit directly from spending on prisons. We would likely not have the imprisonment rates that we have today without pressure from the so-called "middle class."

Some in the white nationalist left at times appears to dissent from other Amerikans on the need for more prisons and more cops. At the root of both sides' line is the belief that the majority of Amerikans are exploited by the system, while the greedy corporations benefit. With this line, it is easy to accept that prisons are about profit, just like everything else, and the prison boom can be blamed on the corporations' greed.

tough on crime white vote

In reality the prison boom is directly related to the demands of the Amerikan people for "tough on crime" politicians. Amerikans have forced the criminal injustice system to become the tool of white hysteria. The imperialists have made great strides in integrating the internal semi-colonies financially, yet the white nation demands that these populations be controlled and excluded from their national heritage. There are many examples of the government trying to shut down prisons and other cost-saving measures that would have shrunk the prison system, where labor unions fought them tooth and nail.(1) It is this continued legacy of national oppression, exposed in great detail in the book The New Jim Crow, that is covered up by the term "Prison Industrial Complex." The cover-up continues no matter how much these pseudo-Marxists lament the great injustices suffered by Black and Brown people at the hands of the "PIC."

This unfortunate term has been popularized in the Amerikan left by a number of pseudo-Marxist theorists who are behind some of the popular prison activist groups on the outside. By explicitly rejecting this term, we are drawing a clear line between us and the organizations these activists are behind, many of whom we've worked with in one way or another. For the most part, the organizations themselves do not claim any Marxist influence or even a particular class analysis, but the leaders of these groups are very aware of where they disagree with MIM Thought. It is important that the masses are aware of this disagreement as well.

It is for these reasons that MIM(Prisons) passed the following policy at our 2012 congress:

The term "Prison Industrial Complex (PIC)" will not generally be used in Under Lock & Key because the term conflicts with MIM(Prisons)'s line on the economic and national make up of the U.$. prison system. It will only be printed in a context where the meaning of the term is stated by the author, and either criticized by them or by us.

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[Prison Labor] [Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting Trickery and Abuse by Texas Prison Industries

Without a doubt, prison is a microcosm of "free world" society and with that being said, revolutionary-minded men and women who are serious about combating oppression face similar struggles that "free world" comrades face. Earlier this year, on this unit I sat down with two of my comrades to discuss how we could awaken and revolutionize the minds of the proletariat on this particular unit. The proletariat group we were specifically interested in were those who worked in the Prisons Factory/Textile mill on this unit.

What prompted this discussion was the arrival of a new plant manager who was implementing a new oppressive system. Now I want you to remember in Texas, inmates are not paid anything! Some years ago when the feds took over Texas prisons, a question was put forth to offenders "would you like to get paid for your labor or would you like to receive good time and work time credits toward your sentence?" Offenders were bamboozled and hoodwinked into choosing good time and work time credits. I say offenders were bamboozled and hoodwinked for this reason: I have seen numerous men who had time slips that have shown a combination of flat time, good time, and work time exceeding their sentence length! In some cases I have seen time slips in which offenders have served, or more accurately been credited, 150% to 200% toward completion of their sentence. Why are they still here? I thought Texas Department of Criminal Justice had told Uncle Sam they would honor an offender's good time and work time credits. Comrades - they lied!

So with this and other relevant factors considered I came up with an idea for a "flier" to be posted up on every housing block on Estelle urging Black men, Brown men and white men to stand up. Basically I was calling for a work strike to protest the 10 hour work day and the austerity campaign implemented by the new plant manager. Please note in 2011 the Textile Factory at Estelle Unit made about $1.8 million. How many deodorants, toothpastes, or "zim-zims" and "wham-whams" do you think the prison workers received for their labor? Zero, nada, zilch!

In the aftermath conditions improved slightly inside the factory. Prisoners still aren't paid a penny and are treated like scum. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. With the application of the dialectical problem solving method as well as employing some "covert" tactics the struggle continues, it's just not "televised," or telegraphed.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend the scientific process undertaken by this comrade to think through the contradictions within the prison and figure out what strategies and tactics will be most effective in pushing the movement forward. This is the discussion and debate that we must undertake within each state and prison.

While the proletariat in U.$. prisons is a small minority (see previous articles on prison labor), these types of organizing strategies are useful in many situations where prisoners are employed in running the prisons themselves.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Abuse] [Turney Center Industrial Prison] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 26]
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TN Prisoners Organize to Prevent Privatization and Further Degradation

When Republican Bill Haslam was elected Governor of the $tate of Tennessee, he appointed Derrick D. Schofield as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC). I assume the "D" in Schofield's middle name stands for either dumbass or dickhead, because since then the conditions in prison have deteriorated. Schofield is one of the $nakes that was instrumental in causing the largest prison sit-down in United Snakes hystory.

It is no doubt that the Governor brought this individual to cause chaos and mayhem to the captives at all the prisons in Tennessee. They do this in the hopes of enticing the captives to riot so that they can receive federal funds and justify turning the state plantations over to Correctional Corporation of America (CCA). This way they can pad their pockets and implement new legislature that will rob the captives of what little dignity they may have left.

Many of your politicians have stock in CCA as well as political allegiance to their dubious goals. Recently it was revealed that CCA had sent letters to most state governments offering to buy up prisons on the condition that the state contracts with them for at least 20 years, and that the state keeps the prison at a 90% occupancy rate or more. Such a move would further cement the prison industrial complex that profits off humyn suffering while lessening government oversight in how prisoners are treated.(1)

Schofield has attempted to remove all identity and dignity from all captives. His agenda is to persecute instead of rehabilitate the captives. His tactics have been to disregard policies and procedures that have been in place for years and implement unwritten rules. He has caused an atmosphere of hate, discontent and danger for both his employees and the captives.

Captives are required to walk single-file under escort on the compound, a specified distance apart. Captives are not allowed to talk or have their hands in their pockets while under escort, even during cold weather, and the TDOC has not issued gloves to all captives. Captives must be neatly dressed and keep their cells in an orderly condition with beds made, and must stand at attention during morning inspections without speaking, engaging in any other activity or making eye contact with the inspectors. This includes captives who work night shifts who do not get off work until early in the morning, yet must be out of bed for inspection. When captives are called to meals, they are required to line up and wait outside until it is their turn to go to the dining hall, even when it is pouring rain. Captives must keep their property in specific locations in their cells, and property storage rules have been changed multiple times in an arbitrary manner, leading to confusion and frustration among both captives and staff. Captives may no longer possess coat hangers, which makes it difficult to dry wet towels. Permissible items on the property list have been changed and, rather than be grandfathered in, items that are no longer allowed have been confiscated or required to be mailed out.

Wardens have been transferred to different facilities, and it has been stated that Schofield intends to continue transferring Wardens every few years, which may have an adverse impact on institutional stability. There are daily cell inspections, including by Wardens and deputy Wardens, which means that all of a facility's highest-ranking administrators are on the compound at the same time, which may constitute a security risk.

The policy changes that Schofield has implemented have significant consequences. This is not a concern that is only an opinion of the captives. At least four Wardens have resigned or retired since Schofield was appointed commissioner, some due to the implementation of Schofield's new unwritten policies. Also, a number of TDOC staff, from the Warden level down, have contacted the Human Rights Defense Center to express their concerns about the effect Schofield's policy changes have had on both captives and staff in terms of frustration and discontent among prisoners and decreased morale among employees. None of the staff members who spoke with Human Rights Defense Center were willing to publicly identify themselves, citing fear of retaliation. The atmosphere here is very vile and becoming extremely dangerous. As is the case in the state of Georgia, the fights, assaults on captives and assaults on staff have gone up significantly, all because of Schofield's silly unwritten rules.

At Turney Center Industrial Prison (TCIX), captives are targeted to fill up the hole commonly known as segregation. It once held Close Security captives, and once they were transferred to other plantations, the oppressors began to target captives by issuing both arbitrary and capricious disciplinary reports for so-called infractions that the captives have never been informed of, not to mention the unwritten rules are as silly as the individual who implemented them. The ridiculous rules have no penological interest. Moreover, most of the disciplinary infractions issued are fraudulent and without legal authority.

Within the masses of captives at TCIX, you would be hard pressed to find many that are willing to fight against their oppressors for the liberation of the basic human rights. I call them the "i can't crew." I like to say that i am part of the "i can crew." There is a famous saying, which goes like this, "if you won't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

Since the atmosphere here and at all the prisons has become vile, a few of us decided to get together and address our concerns in a petition. We recognize that the oppressor wants for us to riot and that we must first put our struggle out there before we start busting heads.

We got together and put all our concerns down on paper. We then found someone with a typewriter and asked him to type up our concerns. After this petition was typed up it was given to a person in each pod to go door-to-door asking individuals to sign. The only ones not asked to sign were known rats. The signatures were then sent out to be copied and we sent copies to many organizations, State Senators, State Representatives, Turney Center Warden, Commissioner Schofield and Governor Bill Haslam. The petition has also been placed on the internet and Facebook.

To protect the large number of captives who participated in brainstorming this movement, we submitted our demands in the petition. The demands included and were not limited to a meeting between the Warden, Commissioner, Governor and various other officials, with the Captive Counsel Members and different religious organizations. The purpose of having the other organizations present at such a meeting is because the individuals who go to counsel are generally intimidated by the current Warden. Even if they were allowed to speak freely, they are ill-equipped to speak on matters they have no interest in or have no knowledge about. As in the past, a majority of them cannot be trusted. Some are sincere, but most are there to be close to the oppressor to feel some sort of worth.

If the oppressor does not acknowledge or dialogue with us, we will be forced to conduct a sit-down. The sit-down will consist of all of us refusing to go to work, and refusing to purchase commissary items or use the phone. The oppressor can serve the food and make the beds in the metal plant for the new prison that they have built in Bledsoe County. We want all of the captives held against their will in all the prisons in the State of Tennessee to stand up for themselves, before they are unable to fight for their dignity, identity, freedom and justice.

What the captives don't realize is that the fiscal year for the TDOC is July of each year. They can expect more legislation coming that will give the bourgeoisie more authority to take more inmate property and continue to deprive us of basic human rights. The food will become worse than it is presently; there will be less opportunity to access the fresh air; it will be mandated for all to cut our hair in a military fashion, including facial hair; and visits will be by monitor, thus denying human contact with your family, friends and loved ones. There is a laundry list of atrocities that are on the way, and instead of complaining about them, the captives must rise up and do something about it, in every single death camp in this state. If anyone wants to help in the cause and has ideas, please contact MIM(Prisons).

Warden Jerry Lester recently told one of his minions that he does not have to respect the captives. Is this a directive from Schofield, or is this the Warden's mentality and/or the result of Schofield's intervention that is causing this oppressive thinking?

The captives cannot change their condition until they want to change themselves. Every captive needs to realize who their real enemy is and come together so that they can maintain what dignity, respect, manhood and rights they have left.

Note: Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash in Exchange for State Prisons, Huffington Post, February 14 2012

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[Prison Labor] [Fremont Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
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Protests in Colorado Win Some Improved Conditions

Fremont Correctional Facility (FCF) was recently supplying labor energies (human cattle) to 2-3 other correctional facilities within the Canon City Industrial Corrections Complex to cook, clean and do maintenance (and previously build) these maximum security facilities, and paying us very low wages. We were driven back and forth daily to maintain these other facilities, which included daily strip-outs and other various degrading experiences.

Due to administrative budget cuts and pressure from passive resistance labor strike movement protestors, FCF prisoners will no longer be forced into working and maintaining those job assignments as of (approximately) 21 February 2012. But, those facilities are opening up for "incentive" living units: single cell occupancy with a TV. Hobby work items such as color pens and pencils are also being added to the monthly catalog canteen and we are no longer in need of special "hobby permits" in order to obtain those items.

On the down side, I was just recently released from "punitive segregation" and am being charged $122 for two bursts of OC [pepper spray] that were sprayed on me and fogged my domicile, and which also saturated an FCF library book, for which the library has charged me $29.95 to replace. I am also being charged for lost and/or destroyed (missing) bed sheets, not accounted for with my personal and private property withheld from me during my wrongful stay in punitive segregation. I was occupying my domicile sanctuary in protest against administrative corruption and for the inalienable rights to vote on all matters concerning my liberty interests.

Also while in punitive segregation I had mailed out many letters to other comrades within the facility and many of those letters were never received and CDOC did not notify me or the addressees of their interception.


MIM(Prisons) adds: These local protests that lead to improvements in conditions for prisoners are a good example of what is possible with greater unity. We stress the importance of building a United Front for Peace in Prisons to expand our ability to fight for legal rights while building a broader movement to educate and organize the prison population for fundamental, revolutionary change that will bring an end to the criminal injustice system in its entirety.

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[Prison Labor] [International Connections] [Education] [Federal Correctional Institution Victorville I] [US Penitentiary Victorville] [Federal]
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U.S. Prisoners Build Imperialism thru Military Industries

A friend gave me a little study of yours, Level 1 Study Group in which a participant states that prisoners may be called upon to build bombs and war machines as Amerika's military industry expands. You respond that this is unlikely since "the imperialists will not share their military secrets" and "wouldn't want prisoners building bombs and war machines for security reasons." Well, you are wrong!

Try and take a tour of the Unicor in USP as well as FCI#1 in Victorville, CA by Adelanto. I was there 2007-2009 prior to going to SMU and worked in UNICOR in metal shop. We had a contract on making ammo cans for Humvees and Humvee engines and interiors were also worked on. Also we built little "Iraqi Villages," little pre-engineered huts for the military to put in the High Desert to train troops to raid prior to deployment to the Middle East.

Not just that, but we converted 5 ton and trucks, stripped them down and built them into MRAP prototypes (Mine Resistant Armored Protectant Vehicles), to train troops prior to deployment, with gun turret and everything, since real MRAPs come off the line in some warehouse and are immediately shipped to Afghanistan. We built 15 trainee MRAPs. Also, Humvees came into the shop and if any inmate found a bullet case or shell and turned it over we were rewarded with up to $100 bonus! Go to USP Victorvile and FCI #1 in UNICOR and see for yourself.


MIM(Prisons) responds: First we're happy to hear that prisoners participating in our study groups are sharing the lessons with others. It's a challenge to conduct these classes through the mail as interest grows. In order to expand this educational work more, we rely on our comrades behind bars to share what they are learning through USW-led educational institutions that can be conducted face-to-face.

We're also glad this prisoner took the time to write to us with information about prisoner labor in federal prisons, and to correct our comrade's mistake on the question of letting prisoners work on military construction. The extent of prison labor's involvement in supporting imperialist military repression is something we addressed in the article The Privatization of War: Imperialism Gasps its Last Breaths, printed in ULK 8. Much of our empirical knowledge of the U.$. prison system comes from our many supporters still on the inside, so we always welcome help keeping our facts straight.

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[Medical Care] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Texa$' Extortion of it's Prisoners Reaches New Heights

Prisoners working for free will now pay $100 per year for healthcare. Governor Rick Perry and the Texa$ legislature have signed a bill into law that will charge prisoners a one hundred dollar per year medical care fee. This new law (Sec. 501.063) will take effect September 1, of this year, and is a desperate attempt by the powers that be in Austin to save money on a prison system housing 160,000 people which is the second largest in the nation.

Charging prisoners for medical care, room and board, etc., is not a new idea; but in contrast to most other states, Texas doesn't pay their prisoners to work. Since Texas prisoners have no way to support themselves while incarcerated, they are financially dependent on friends and family members. It's their money they use to buy items like stamps, fans, t-shirts, hygiene and food items.

The new healthcare law will not only be taking from what little money prisoners get, it's in essence taxing the ones who send them money. If the prisoner doesn't have enough money in their trust fund account to cover the $100 fee, then 50% of all incoming funds will be deducted until the debt is paid in full.

Some prisoners only get 50 or 100 dollars a year - usually for their birthday or Christmas - meaning all that money their families sent and intended for them to have, will be seized by the state for something they shouldn't be charging prisoners for in the first place.

Workplace injuries and ailments due to prison conditions comprise a considerable percentage of prisoner requests for medical care. With the new law, they will be charged to receive medical care for on the job injuries; the same jobs they receive not a dime for.

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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United Front Needed to Fight Texas Prison Abuses

I appreciate you sending me the book I had requested. You see, I've got to stay busy to not allow myself to get sucked into the Texas prisoner slave mentality. Just perhaps, being armed with initiative and the right knowledge, I can get these guys minds off of the TV and gossiping, and onto unity and change. It's a very pitiful state here in Texas (no pun intended!) Last week an officer turned off the dayroom TVs during count and left them off for an hour or so. The prisoners went crazy! They were yelling, cursing, making threats and demanding to speak to rank. They're willing to come together and protest over something trivial like the television, but not over important things like parole, our good time and work time being honored, and getting paid to work.

As we know, slavery and capitalism go hand in hand. This is evident because there's no equality; slaves are less than, and whoever is the richest and most famous, their lives are more precious than the common and poor folk. Capitalism takes on a new meaning in Texas prisons. Since we work for free, and the state has enslaved us in their TCI factories to exploit and profit off of us; it's every "offender" for themselves, and some are doing whatever it takes to survive.

While the warden and major sit in their air conditioned offices, and officers are huddled up in the air conditioned pickets, us offenders are sweating like pigs in the scorching hot day rooms and cells. We're running around like savages hustling and conning for a ramen soup, stick of deodorant, a stamp, or a shot of coffee. And the ones who are fortunate enough to have friends and family sending them money to buy stuff from commissary; they're revered, admired, despised, or the next potential victim. Thanks to the state of Texas, petty criminals and first timers become hardened criminals, and whoever has the most money, has either the most power, or has to make the most protection payoffs.

If prisoners were treated as people and paid for their labor like everyone else in civilized society are, they would in turn, act accordingly. There would be real equality, unity and harmony. MIM, please give me some advice on how to make this come about.

On a related topic, I've enclosed my latest timesheet showing I have 213 percent of my sentence completed with all my worthless earned time credits. I want people to view this state issue timesheet so they can see for themselves what a scam this is. The time credits look great on paper, but they're not worth a damn. If they were, I would have been released last February when I reached a hundred percent.

Also with this letter is my last denial letter from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. I want the people to see this too. To see the absolutely ridiculous reasons why we're denied parole and "mandatory supervision." The following is their most absurd: "The inmate has a previous juvenile or adult arrest for felony and misdemeanor offenses." We've all been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor. We wouldn't be in prison if we hadn't. The parole board might as well deny prisoners because they wear white uniforms, since that applies to all of us too.

Truly amazing the Lone Star State is getting away with such widespread and blatant fraud, and exploitation of its prisoners. But, in our capitalist society and capitalist prison system, money and profit always trump humanity and morals.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is correct about the need for unity to fight the injustice in prison. We point everyone to the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a starting point for developing principled unity to fight our common enemy. We do, however, need to point out that the prison economy does not lead to prisons, the state or the imperialists profiting from prisoner labor. It is a system primarily used for social control, not for profit. Though of all states, Texas probably has the most productive industries in prisons, and workers receive no wages, only room and board.

As we concluded in our article in Under Lock & Key 8 on the U.$. Prison Economy: "A number of articles in this issue include calls from prisoners to take actions against the prison industries that are making money off prisoners, and to boycott jobs to demand higher wages. All of these actions are aimed at hitting the prisons, and private industries profiting off relationships with prisons, in their pocketbook. This is a good way for our comrades behind bars to think about peaceful protests they can take up to make demands for improved conditions while we organize to fundamentally change the criminal injustice system."

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[Prison Labor] [Oklahoma]
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Prisoners Paid Nothing for Work in Oklahoma

I am writing about slavery in the prison system operated by Oklahoma Department of Corruptions. Prisoners are classified by security levels 1-4. Unless medically restricted, all prisoners must work. Jobs range from air conditioned settings to outside jobs in freezing winter temperatures or 100 degree temperatures in summer.

Gang pay ranges from $14 on level 4 to zero on level 1. Level 1 prisoners work just as hard as other levels, yet work for nothing. Prisoners get write-ups if fired from a job or if they refuse to work. Among other things, sanctions can include a $5 fine. For getting fired or a write-up, your level gets dropped. Thus, level 1 prisoners get no gang pay and get fired. Your fine is confiscated from any money your cash-strapped family sends you.

The cycle is vicious. The slave wages of nothing show just one of the inequalities of Oklahoma's prisons.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that the conditions of labor in Oklahoma prisons are unacceptable, but we would not call this system of prisoner labor "slavery." As we explained in our article on the prison economy prison labor does not produce a profit for the prisons, rather it is used to offset some (but not all) of the costs of imprisonment. Prisons are primarily used as a tool of social control, with the prisoner labor only a minor aspect of this. The term slavery refers to the system that captures humyn labor for the purpose of exploiting and profiting from it. This is not the case with the Amerikan prison system today. It is important to understand the real motivations of the oppressor if we hope to change this oppressive system.

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[Prison Labor] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania Keeps Prisoner Pay Low, Commissary Prices Rising

This is my second state incarceration since 1988. PA is already known as a "prison state" (29 state prisons and $600 million "found" to build 3 more soon with no end in sight). I am also all too well aware of how unorganized and for the most part uneducated the prisoners in these human warehouses are. PA's solution has always been "build more prisons."

The highest pay rate for prisoner jobs is 42 cents an hour. Those who are fortunate to get a job in one of the correctional industry shops (see bighouseproducts.com) can receive bonuses. These pay rates have been the same for more than 10 years, yet the commissary prices increase quite regularly.

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