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[Education] [Release] [Recidivism] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 60]
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Rehabilitation Must Push People to Their Fullest Potential

Seven out of every ten parolees will be arrested sometime after their release. Nearly half will return to prison someday. The plague of recidivism hangs over every releasee's future like the scythe of the grim reaper coming to cut short their potential beyond the concrete walls, iron bars, and razor-wire of the perpetually proliferating injustice system. The very dehumanizing experience of imprisonment itself plays a significant role in criminal conditioning. For many, it is the influencing factor of imprisonment that detrimentally affects them the greatest. Many learn from those mistakes of their past and some don't. For those with the ability to endure the physical and psychological terrors of "doing time," the lack of skills acquired leaves them with few options other than crime for economic survival after release and leaves the parole board wondering whether or not it made the right decision in granting parole in the first place.

More often than not, it is overlooked as to what may have led to someone's imprisonment and what may be done to help them overcome the struggles or obstacles in their path and in order for them to have a successful reintegration into society. The feeling of defeat is often a temporary condition, but there is never a better measure of what a person is than when they're absolutely free to choose. Removing the individual's choice leads to a lack of inspiration and motivation to overcome one's struggles, and they eventually give up hope. Giving up is what makes the temporary condition of defeat permanent. Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.

In prisons the use of manual labor is considered by several states to be rehabilitative for those given the duty of performing labor that could be done by an advancement in technology through farming equipment. In all actuality, this manual labor is of no use to the prisoner and further hinders true rehabilitation. More money is put into prisons, county jails, and other state penal institutions than there is put into the actual rehabilitation of the prisoners. The addition of more educational programs throughout the state penal institutions would serve a greater good and present people with more opportunities for a successful reintegration into society. "Hoe squad" and "regional maintenance" are a hindrance to the efforts to rehabilitate criminal behavior and thinking modification efforts of the individual prisoners.

Forcing a prisoner to perform such tasks of manual farming and regional clean-up to replace that of existing farm equipment and jobs that are the responsibility of our city labor forces, and without an incentive for possible job placement upon release, serves no greater purpose to the individual prisoner and proves to be more dehumanizing than rehabilitative. It has been declared by many that we can change our circumstances by a mere change of our attitudes, but when placed under duress with no choice in the matter there becomes no room for progress. In regards to rehabilitation, it should and must be the objective of our state government and legislature to seek out better avenues by which to lower our states' recidivism rates, and use education as an avenue by which to rehabilitate our states' prisoners. The person everyone wants returning to their community is an educated, empowered taxpayer who has the skills to help make our society safe and healthy.

As an ex-convict, I understand the limitations placed on our states' prison populations by the use of "hoe squad" and "regional maintenance" as a form of rehabilitation. The value of post-secondary correctional education programs prove to be very beneficial. As this article is written, I am in progress of putting together business plans for an outreach program entitled "A New Leaf Outreach Program" aka "My Brothers' Place" that will serve as an avenue by which convicts / ex-convicts and parolees / probationers, as well as the community, may come together and organize our knowledge — not denying one another the opportunity to teach what we know and learn what we may not know — and bring about a solution to our society's problems.

One may choose to be a part of the problem or choose to be a part of the solution. Regardless of one's past mistakes, one always chooses to be a part of the solution. Once you are challenged, you find something in yourself. Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records. Success is based upon how one rises above his defeats.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer explains well the importance of education for prisoners and the uselessness of many of the "jobs" programs that currently exist. This failure of the work programs is specific to the criminal injustice system that seeks to control populations rather than educate and rehabilitate.

In communist China under Mao we have examples of prisons where people were sent for genuine rehabilitation and education. These prisons integrated work programs for the prisoners, to help them contribute productive labor to society and learn skills they might use on the outside. When prisoners were released in China it was after undergoing intensive education, which included reading many books and discussing these books with others. This process of study and criticism/self-criticism helped them see why their actions that harmed other people were wrong, and giving them a sense of purpose to their lives that did not involve harming others.

All of this occurred within the greater context of a society where everyone was given a role, and expected to participate in transforming society. We can't expect the imperialists to implement such a progressive system because it would be counter to their use of prisons for social control and impossible in a capitalist dog-eat-dog society. But we can, as this writer says, build together to be part of the solution. We can build our own educational programs, study groups, and organizations independent of the oppressor. This is our job right now, as we build to ultimately take down this corrupt and unjust system.

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[Prison Labor] [Recidivism] [California]
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Extortion in California Prisons

In California we have 55% of any incoming money taken away, then another 45% taken out under the cloak of obligatory fees. So if your family sends $20 you get $8, minus another 45% and you are left with $5 and some change. This is ridiculous and should be challenged just like the amount of money a prisoner is paid an hour: 10-30 cents. Really if we were on the street we'd get minimum wage. A business owner would be in court if found out to be paying their employees 30 cents an hour.

The citizens have been led to believe prisoners don't need money because the state pays for everything. To these people I say eat our meals for 4 days and tell me if you don't want more to eat. Here's an example: if your lips chap and skin drys and you go to the doctor for an ointment they tell you that you have to buy that at canteen. Well if you don't have any money to go to canteen you're shit out of luck. If you're lactose intolerant there's no diet for that. They say just don't eat what you can't eat. Well you do that and you're shorting yourself of mandatory calories you're supposed to receive each day. Same with allergies to fish, peanut butter, etc. The state doesn't provide deodorant and lotion and hair grease or shampoo. So what's one to do?

The restitution is supposed to be for the victim. Do they get a check every time the prison deducts money from money sent in? Hell no! People wake up, we need to fight this money hungry place called prison which is making a killing off our sweat and prisoner's family sweat.


MIM(Prisons) responds: As we've written before, prisons across the country are paying prisoners pennies (or nothing at all). This is not just a way to keep prisoners totally dependent on their captors while locked up, but also makes it harder for released prisoners to get on their feet. No one leaves prison with money in their pockets. And we know that finding a job and housing as an ex-con is far from easy. But the prison system is counting on this as the revolving doors of incarceration help keep the prisons full and the criminal injustice system employees earning good wages.

We don't agree that the prison is "making a killing" off the labor of prisoners and the family money. In reality prisons are a money-losing operation subsidized by the state. The only people benefiting financially are the employees with fat paychecks and the few private enterprises that get to hire prisoners to do work that other Amerikans don't want or won't do so cheaply. Prisons themselves don't make a profit, but lots of individuals and other corporations are benefiting greatly from this huge subsidized humyn warehousing for social control.

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[Recidivism] [Release] [Texas]
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Parole Programs Hinder Re-Integration

I acquired my GED and then enrolled in college and studied economics; macro economics, micro economics, public speaking, business administration and small business management. This is when such were free to Tax-us inmates. Then Klinton passed the laws in 1995 to pull Pell Grants, and further punish us by implicating behavior modification level I, II, and III programs.

When I got released from TDC I was transferred to another cage called ISF, a mini-prison Inner Sanction Facility in a distant desert city in Texas. Then they placed me on a program called SIPS (Super Intense Parole Supervision) with a leg bracelet and electronic monitoring, and they imposed the rule that I couldn't meet or talk with any [groups of men, i.e. lumpen organizations] or they'd violate me. They completely isolated me.

I became gainfully employed after 9 days of being at the ISF and I saved all monies earned. They charged me 25% of my weekly check to be harassed and fed a cold bologna sandwich. I petitioned District Parole for permission to obtain my residency. They kept me on SIPS so I had to pay for a land line so that the security company ADT could monitor my whereabouts.

I worked approximately 2.5 years as a laborer and applied for grants to attend college. I graduated with a 3.95 GPA and I went on to become a sub-contractor and parole detested that I was finally beyond minimum wage earnings. They imposed guidelines claiming that, due to being a possible terrorist, I should be kept in one location. So I had to quit jobs where I earned more than poverty level, and had to find a job in a non-relevant industry to satisfy their requests.

I was rearrested 9 times for faulty batteries in the bracelet monitor, which were not my doing or fault, but marred my record as a recidivist. I only have been arrested two times but they use the technical arrests to further discredit me to make me look like a dangerous re-offender.

I was brought back to the Texas Department of Corrections in 2009 and was immediately placed in the security housing called Expansion Cell Block High Security (ECBHS). I, like other comrades here, have been stripped of all earthly possessions and marked as a threat for what we believe. But our minds are ours to control.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we described in an article on overcoming release challenges, there are many hurdles facing prisoners who are released from prison, even for those not faced with restrictive parole supervision. MIM(Prisons)'s Re-Lease on Life Program attempts to help prisoners prepare for life on the streets with the goal of keeping our comrades political active once they are outside of the structured environment of the prison. Get in touch with us if your release date is coming up within a year so we can start planning and preparing.

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[Education] [Recidivism] [Massachussetts Correctional Institution Shirley] [Massachusetts]
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MCI Shirley: Welcome to the Murder Factory

Welcome to MCI Shirley Prison where low-level drug dealers are turned into murderers. Where minor felons are instilled with such anger and resentment that they are talking mayhem as they depart through the razor wire gates. Where un-professionalism and abuse are the norm and the seeds of future killings are being sown one thousand at a whack. It is a place where it is hard to distinguish the real criminals. Do they wear gray scrubs? Do they wear paramilitary jump suits and badges, do they wear a shirt and tie, or do they wear Dolce & Gabbana skirts with Prada shoes? It is truly hard to tell.

Young men enter MCI Shirley (or "ShirleyWorld" as it is largely known) thinking they may be able to get an education through college courses or the trades. Those hopes are dashed upon the rocks of guard overtime, administrative nepotism, and complete lack of any semblance of order. The warden is deaf, the deputy is dumb, and the captain is blind. This barrel of monkeys chews upon taxpayer dollars while the young prisoner is further separated from the societal norms the rehabilitative process was meant to instill. You can see the death in their eyes. It is scary.

This vast criminal conspiracy that is the department of corruption is as much a killer as Charles Manson or Adolph Hitler were. They see with perfect vision the folly of their ways but press on with malicious intent: premeditated job security equaling death in the Mattapan Corridor. Drunken guards bring in drugs and cell phones, take out their ire on weaker prisoners and all the while talk about pay raises, time off and pension plans. They are the thieves and murderers!

The prison system spends $517,000,000 per year to diminish the safety of the streets. Criminal guards suck up $360,000,000 of that yearly budget while rehabilitative programs and education are allotted only 2% of that budget. An equation which is designed for failure. It assures repeat customers but that assurance comes at the cost of far too many lives. When will you, the taxpayer, become outraged? When will your ire replace the apathy that belays commonsense? This is a state, a country, and a land that is founded in second chances.

If you were ever afforded the tragic opportunity to tread the pathways of MCI Shirley you would witness first hand the systemic failures. There are guards everywhere — sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and multitudes of line staff — but each and every day some rehabilitative aspect of the prison is shut down due to "under-staffing." It is a lie. The DOC has 5500 employees for about 12,000 prisoners. The guard's union has injected so much propaganda that even Hitler would be proud of their achievements.

The time has come to reorganize the prison budget, to use these vast taxpayer dollars to actually protect the safety of the public. We must terminate the excess of secretaries, deputies, assistants, aides, clerks, etc., and invest that revenue in expansion of the college degree program. Prisoners who earn that degree in prison do not come back: they do not commit any more crimes. The recidivism rate for in-prison Boston University graduates is less than 1%. The statewide recidivism rate has hovered at about 47% for over a decade. Did you know UMass offered to come into the prisons and provide college courses for free? The DOC rejected them. Did you know that Fitchburg State had a free program at ShirleyWorld but the facility failed to support it? The reason for the folly is that there is no money in it for the DOC to have these programs.

Prisoners need real job training. Prisoners need transitional housing in lower security prisons. Such prisons cost only a fraction of what it costs to run the higher security prisons as they need less staff. This is why the guard's union fights this at every turn. Please join forces with those who have a plan for real and effective public safety reform. the time is now for you to get involved.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade does a good job exposing the Massachusetts prison system's lack of interest in rehabilitation and education. It is true that in Massachusetts, and across the country, prisons are providing good jobs to guards who have formed strong unions to lobby effectively for expansion of the system. It is a system whose employees have every interest in expansion and no interest in rehabilitation. The very fact that education has been proven to dramatically reduce recidivism but prisons across the country have cut or eliminated education programs is clear evidence. Further, programs such as MIM(Prisons)'s led study groups are censored as a threat to the safety and security of the prison. It's not the criminal injustice system that cares about safety and security, they care about job security and social control. And prisons conveniently provide both: locking up the oppressed nation lumpen who might organize against imperialism and giving jobs to the labor aristocracy in the prisons.

But we disagree with this prisoner that tax payers are going to become outraged and fight this system. Both the social control and the good jobs are benefiting those tax payers. The labor aristocracy wants to protect it's own jobs: and the prison provides a good number of these. If tax money didn't go to prison jobs it would go to some other labor aristocracy services. And these would not be jobs benefiting the oppressed nation lumpen: that's not something tax payers are going to get behind. On the contrary, prison guard unions successfully campaign for more pay and funding for defending white power, unlike most labor unions.

With that said, we do think there is value in exposing the lack of safety and security in the current prison system. We may gain some allies in certain battles, people who will see that the streets of Amerika are objectively less safe. But we don't want to mislead them by appealing to their persynal interests and pretending that substantive change to the criminal injustice system is going to actually benefit them in the long run. Anti-imperialism is not in the interests of the majority of the Amerikan people, because they benefit financially from this system. And the criminal injustice system is an integral part of Amerikan imperialism.

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