The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out
[Release] [Drugs] [Independent Institutions] [ULK Issue 76]
expand

Providing What They Can't - Rehab for Releasees

lumpen education study group

Shortly after receiving this issue of Under Lock & Key, a number of USW leaders and other supporters of our work will be receiving the first edition of our Revolutionary 12 Step Program. This has been in the works for over a year now and we are excited to get it into the hands of comrades who are ready to implement the program and provide feedback.

The Revolutionary 12 Step Program is a significant advance for our Serve the People “Re-Lease on Life” Program, which has been in existence in some form from the early years of MIM(Prisons)’s existence.

Who is it for?

When most of us think of the 12 steps, we think of Alcoholics Anonymous or a more general Narcotics Anonymous program. However, our program takes an approach similar to a program called Criminals & Gangmembers Anonymous to address the anti-people behavior of the lumpen class in a more general way.

Drugs and alcohol are a big part of the problems the people face. It is estimated that at least 65% of people incarcerated have a “Substance Use Disorder”, while the number goes up to 85% if you include all who were under the influence during the crime they were convicted of.(1) That’s a lot! As recent understandings of the brain tell us, the lack of impulse control that can lead to destructive behaviors is caused by unhealthy social conditions during childhood.(2) Drug abuse will often overlap with violence towards others and other behavior that is deemed criminal by the bourgeoisie and by the people as well. In the long-term, communism can eliminate the causes of these tendencies, but in the meantime we need to address all forms of anti-people behavior to transform ourselves from a lumpen state of being to a revolutionary proletarian one.

Some people in prison are innocent. Some broke a law in a conscious decision – sometimes even for righteous political reasons. But the vast majority of you reading this broke laws through actions you would have preferred to not have taken. The vast majority of people in prison could use this program to avoid regrettable actions in the future.

All of us have rehabilitation that we must go through because we were raised in a sick society. Ultimately, everyone born in this oppressive system could benefit from our Revolutionary 12 Step Program, but many of you need it if you ever want to stay out of prison.

Why do we need it?

The state, by definition, is run by the oppressors. In our imperialist conditions today the oppressors are the bourgeoisie, the imperialists, the oppressor nations – Euro-Amerika. The institutions of the state will always serve those interests. In the current system you have law enforcement, religious organizations, private prison companies like Geo Group, and more small-time profiteers running reentry programs for the state. None of these serve the interests of the oppressed.

Today, we don’t have the influence to abolish these imperialist institutions, but we do have the influence to build independent proletarian institutions. Not only that, this is part of our central task today as a movement, “create public opinion and the independent institutions of the oppressed to seize power.”(3) We discussed previous independent institutions of the oppressed in ULK 59 on drugs.(4) Since then we’ve been working on developing our own.

One of the lessons we can take from the practice of our Re-Lease on Life Program to date is the need to address the drive to do drugs, engage in dangerous sexual activities, and the temptation of the thrill of the life of crime. We must put in its place the thrill of revolution; of fighting the real enemy; of building something new.

Before MIM(Prisons) had a Re-Lease on Life Program, we had one comrade who was one of our top theoreticians and USW leaders while in the SHU. Ey was released from prison and quickly slipped into alcoholism again. Ey stayed in touch for the first year, and then we stopped hearing from em, and ey never did any political work on the outside. At that time MIM(Prisons) had little to offer this comrade to help em adapt to life on the outside, and we certainly had nothing like a 12 step program to help em with eir alcoholism.

A story that has become too common is USW members who are released and never write us for years. When we finally do hear back from them it’s because they ended up back in prison. One such comrade recently explained:

“something I felt lack of was community. When I left the gates I went straight to a sober living…. During the time there I worked and attended A.A. meetings. I pretty much gave all my attention to my sobriety and recovery. Simultaneously my career was getting started. At this time I am getting myself situated and also enjoying my freedom, it was a really good feeling getting to move around, good food, and women…”

“I got emotionally attached to a girl that did not fulfill my needs or expectations and I became emotionally unbalanced. All it took was one instance of drugs to get high and begin my relapse. All this was in the lapse of a year. The last three months was just a chase for thrills.”

“I felt loneliness because for sobriety I left everything behind, friends, places, everything I’ve ever done, made and been. Also I felt a need for thrills, action; that was my itch for crime. I lost track of it all and I couldn’t find like-minded people.”

From the above testimony we see how sex and romance plays into this as well. We all know how common “crimes of passion” are in our society. Many of us have done time for them. This comrade wanted community and felt lonely, and seemingly tried to find that in a womyn who maybe was not in a good state herself, or maybe just couldn’t fill the large gap in this comrade’s life. The original AA puts god in that gap, a higher power. Our program puts the proletariat, the people. We will all have important individuals in our lives who help us out and other individuals who set us back. But we cannot rely on any one individual to save us, nor to meet all our needs. One of our needs is a spiritual need to be a part of something that gives us meaning. The bourgeois institutions offer you job training and maybe the prospect of a marriage. But as we see with this comrade’s story, you can attain those things and still be lonely, still not be on the path to rehabilitation. That is why we need an independent institution of the oppressed.

Another lesson we can take from this comrade, and from others, is that success will usually mean leaving behind a lot, especially at first. The easiest way to go back to prison is to go back to the same people and places you were around before you got locked up. Ultimately, our aim is not to cut you off from where you came from like a bourgeois program might do. We must stay connected to the people, and your past may offer some such connections. But those connections can only be good ones if you approach them from a new way of thinking and being. There must be a new community that you can rely on that supports your transformation into a new socialist humyn.

Even in the best case scenarios, the bourgeoisie cannot provide the support comrades need to rehabilitate. However, more often you do not end up in the best case scenario in this system as one comrade describes:

"I spent 6 years in the Drug Court program in York, PA, where a predatory judiciary, local bar, probation department (teamsters union) and suck ass ex-junkies prey on the weak and pile them 3 and 4 men to a room in some old crack house and charge them $500 per month rent plus a $500 deposit, which they would lose when they relapsed (95%) and went back to jail.

“Bless his wife-murdering heart. Bob Allen’s (Life’s Beacon House) means well and has the nicest of these houses but we can do better. The”group homes" or “recovery houses” have 3-4 month waiting lists and so do the rehabs, which county dollars are 95% of their $1000/day business. These houses are 501(c)(3) non-profits and if you start a business to employ the guys that live in these houses, it can operate non-profit too."

Next Steps

As we said, the Revolutionary 12 Step Program should address something that our Re-Lease on Life Program has been lacking for so long. But to do so, the program must be actualized. Here are some 3-year goals we have related to actualizing this program:

  • build a broader network of local contacts across the country so comrades can get more hands-on training and support from other communists

  • establish a revolutionary 12-step program, run by released comrades, where others can stay and immerse themselves in the program

  • establish satellite programs in prisons across the country that report to the program on the street, learning from each others’ experience and feeding releasees into the street program

Clearly this will require the participation of many of you to succeed. We need comrades on the outside to volunteer to be support people or sponsors for our comrades who are released. Even if you can’t administer the 12 steps, giving them someone to talk to and organize with on a daily basis will be important.

We need comrades on the inside to begin implementing this program locally. Ideal candidates will have successfully gone through the 12 step program themselves and MIM(Prisons) political study courses. And finally, we need similar people on the outside to run our program for post-release. If you think you can play any of these roles, get in touch so we can start building.

Notes:
1. Center on Addiction, Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population, February 2010.
2. Burke-Harris, Nadine, 2018, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-term Effects of Childhood Adversity, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
3. What is the plan? What concrete actions can I take? What is to be done? What are you doing?
4. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59

chain
[Release] [California] [ULK Issue 74]
expand

Freedom Calls in Cali: Hit the Streets Running

Out here in California there’s a buzz going through the state that 76,000 prisoners are eligible for an early release as of 8 May 2021. This is some great news that there’s going to be a mass expulsion of prisoners from these koncentration kamps. There’s a high chance that comrades of New Afrika and Aztlán who are most dedicated to the struggle of the liberation from the grip of imperialism will be freed into society to reach and teach those who inspire to make a positive step for growth and development for the lumpen in Amerikkka through the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons(UFPP).

While it is great to hear that so many prisoners are now eligible for an early release in the state prisons in California, we can’t forget about our political leaders and soldiers who are still locked away in the FEDS, and those in exile. We can’t forget about Larry Hoover Sr, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Bomani Shakur, Assata Shakur, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin FKA H. Rap Brown, and many others who sacrificed their all for the liberation of the lumpen of the United $tates of Amerikkka from capitalism and imperialism. To be honest, we owe it to our political leaders and soldiers to fight for their freedom twice as much as them who fought for us back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

With the release of 76,000 prisoners, a lot of comrades will be hitting the streets and it’s time to go into overdrive. We can’t afford to get out there and fall by the wayside and end up becoming reformist or joining the pop culture revolutionary popularity contest. We don’t do this for popularity or none of that other self-glorifying bullshit. We do this for the reason that liberation of our peoples and folks NEEDS TO BE DONE! PERIOD! Teach the youth of our communities about the truth of their past, what’s really going on around them in the present, and tell them about our leaders who are not being publicly and world-widely advocated for. Let it be known that prisoners are still HUMAN BEINGS; human beings that are majority from our lumpen communities, and that our lives, our political leaders and soldiers lives matter. Regardless of what the individual was convicted for or alleged of doing, inhuman treatment shouldn’t be the punishment.

In the words of Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Even though it is crucial that we do re-educate as many mis-educated imperialist/capitalist brainwashed adults as possible, we’ll have a more productive output if we put more focus on teaching the youth through building University of Maoist Thought schools, classrooms or at the least study groups.

“When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself with what he will do. He with low self-esteem is more likely to accept social conditions that society expects of him. He will seek sympathy and handouts as he feels he cannot raise from his beggar’s status.” - Carter G. Woodson, in The Racial Race p. 217

As long as the lumpen masses are stuck in this beggar mindset, then situations like the murder of George Floyd, where multiple bystanders who could have stopped the murder by pushing the pigs off of him instead of begging, pleading and calling the pigs on their fellow co-workers for the checking and correction of unjustified behavior and conduct of so-called officials.

Our leaders will be in these koncentration kamps dying a slow, miserable, tormenting death and many more in our communities will die on the streets and in these kamps if we don’t change as many minds of the new generation as we can.

Right now we’re in the middle of a war, a lot of individuals who are in the class of the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, who benefit from capitalism is going to deny, but we of the First World lumpen(FWL) all know better than to fall for the lie. As of now we’re working on building up our strength to overthrow the imperialist government and put in our own which will be the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations (JDPON). To accomplish this, those who are going to be in the wave of releases from CDCR must reach those who are the local leaders of the BLM and NAACP, get them in the studies of the concepts and ideologies that’ll lead to Maoism. If they refuse to change their reformist and revisionist ways, then we show the youth the contradictions of the BLM and NAACP and show them the difference of us who are not reformist or revisionist.

Let it be known that it’s more of a duty than a natural right to defend oneself from any and all attacks by whomever, most importantly and especially the pigs! How long are we going to stand by and let these so-called officials murder us without even attempting to defend ourselves? If we must die like the artwork on the 73 issue cover of ULK states, then it’s best one dies on their feet defending oneself, if they can’t get away. The reformist, revisionist and history has proven that non-violent approach doesn’t get the job done, to obtain freedom, justice and equality. A United Front of armed resistance is the only way.

Through dialectical materialism, historical materialism and deep studying of one’s true history and of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism, we’ll get our moral correctness. And through learning hand-to-hand combat (i.e. martial arts, boxing etc.), obtaining licenses to carry for those who can, also make our own rifle clubs and be our own security force for the protection of our neighborhoods, when we rally, etc. This will be our way to achieve freedom from imperialism through armed resistance as we build our strength to overthrow imperialism, once and for all. Let’s get to work comrades!

PRISONER LIVES MATTER!! FREE THEM ALL!!

chain
[Migrants] [Release] [Civil Liberties] [ULK Issue 72]
expand

Parole Options Denied to non-Citizens in United $tates

I am a citizen of Colombia. In 1993, I was sentenced to a 45 year prison term, here in Texas. I was to serve 22 1/2 years before I would be eligible for parole. While serving my time, I was summoned to an immigration court, where an ICE judge informed me that upon release from the custody of TDCJ, I was to be transferred to an immigration facility where I would await deportation.

On 25 March 2016 parole denied my release for these reasons:

  1. The record indicated that the offender has repeatedly committed criminal episodes that indicate a predisposition to commit criminal acts upon release.

  2. The record indicates the instant offense has elements of brutality, violence, assaultive behavior, or conscious selection of victims vulnerability indicating a conscious disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others such that offender poses a continuing threat to public safety. (3 year set off after serving 22 1/2 years)

On 14 May 2019 set-off again, for the same reasons. (3 year set-off). I committed a crime when I was 21 years old. I’ve been in prison for the past 27 years, where I’ve never had a single altercation. In 2007, while taking my GED a new law was passed, prohibiting prisoners with immigration detainers from participating in school activities; I was kicked out of school. (parole uses me not having a GED against me each time I come up for parole). I’ve taken Bridges to Life, Voyager, Peer to Peer, Job Skills, Over Comers, Tutoring, and at the moment I’m finishing Cognitive Intervention. My last infraction (case) was in 2014, six years ago.

The parole board here in Texas has its own agenda as far as who will be released and who won’t. When a prisoner comes up for parole, the prisoner can’t speak on his own behalf. No type of evaluation is conducted to see if the prisoner is ready for society. It’s all done through paper work. The board members review each folder for no more than 3 minutes and come to a decision. How can a proper review be done in 3 minutes? At the moment I’m on my second three year set-off. I am being set off for the same reasons over and over again. How can I be a continuing threat to public safety, if I’m not even going to be in the United States?

How can the parole board state that I’m a violent person? In 27 years of being in a violent environment such as prison, I’ve not even had a single fight. I have no type of violent infractions (cases) towards prisoners nor officers. That itself should show a pattern of change. There’s a lot of prisoners (who will be deported) being held in Texas prisons, under numerous set-offs, because we have no voice out there and the state can abuse its power and claim we’re not ready for society or we’re being rehabilitated, but what the public doesn’t know is that there is no rehabilitation here, there’s more drugs and corruption in this place than out there. The only reason we’re being kept is for the federal funds these prisons receive.

I humbly request that our comrades at MIM please help spread the word about the injustice that the parole board and its associates commit against prisoners who will be deported and have no voice to help them out there. I thank you very much for your attention to my letter. God bless each of you.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Concentration camps for migrants without U.$. citizenship are the one sector of the Amerikan prison system where private prisons have been widely used. This puts another level of financial incentive into the criminal injustice system as this comrade points out. In a system built on profit, and not people, there will always be injustice.

Meanwhile, the lack of rehabilitation is not unique to migrant camps. At this stage, we build or Serve the People Re-Lease on Life program to help our comrades transitioning out of prisons. But for many, like this comrade, they just aren’t getting out because of financial incentives, and the need to control oppressed people to prevent social change.

In every issue of ULK we indicate our alternative to this system (see p.2). We propose a system where the real criminals are imprisoned; the people who have stolen thousands of lives by locking up hard working people, or bombing their homelands. And a system where everyone has access to all the resources they need for rehabilitation. Even those outside of prison need to transform themselves for a new world based on a common humynity. We are all shaped by the current system. Check out Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett for a glimpse at what socialist prisons can be like. ($5 stamps/cash or work trade from MIM Distributors)

chain
[Drugs] [Release] [ULK Issue 71]
expand

People, Places, and Things Philosophy for Overcoming Drug Addiction

united front for peace in prisons

I had reached a point in my life where I was high for weeks at a time. I would stay awake for over a week at a time on ice. While living this lifestyle for over a half a year I was also big on the spice (K2). I was smoking an 11oz bag by myself every 2 days. When you are in this state one clearly can’t think or function properly in society on any legitimate level. I decided that I was tired of living this lifestyle and thought back to an intensive behavior modification program that I was forced to attend a few years prior to my current addicted state of being. The greatest tools I had received in this 6 month program was the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding based on these 3 words: People, Places, and Things!

If we truly want to be free from drug addiction we must change some or at times all of the people we associate with. We may have to find new employment, housing, recreational places etc. We will have to get rid of certain habits or stumbling blocks that hinder or block progress to freedom from addiction. We can not make excuses, but must stand firm in our convictions that whatever storms or difficulties may arise drugs are not our solution. They will only make things worse 100% of the time in the long run.

I found success when I completely applied the People, Places, and Things philosophy. It’s never easy, but absolutely necessary. Positive People, positive Places, and positive Practices will keep you in a positive direction. It does not make us weak feeling we need others for support during such trialsome times. It shows strength and courage when we can admit to our weaknesses and reach out for the necessary help. I hope you find success in this strategy as I have knowing that it will awaken you, clear your mind and help you move in a more PROMISING DIRECTION!


MIM(Prisons) adds: Taking the initiative to surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing is a great tool for success. Unfortunately, it is not always an option (especially in prison) or easy to do. We can apply this comrades’ advice to society as a whole and understand the success of socialist China in eliminating drug addiction. They did not have policies that were particularly unique around drugs. But they were in the process of redefining their nation and their future, which offered everyone a positive roll to play, not to mention jobs, housing and health care.

We see the Chinese model as the solution to addiction. In the meantime, we must figure out how to survive and thrive in this system. That is why our Re-Lease on Life Program is developing resources for those who struggle with addiction that help connect them with a lifelong political mission. We hope to have materials to review and test out soon, so let us know if you are interested in reviewing this program.

chain
[Release] [ULK Issue 68]
expand

Fixing Credit is One More Challenge for Releasees

I'm writing about a problem that I've been dealing with for the last two years of my incarceration. If you all have any information that will help me, please send it or put me in touch with someone who can help.

Basically I had a normal life before I was incarcerated. Meaning I had bills. Due to my incarceration I fell behind on all my bills, ruining my credit.

I've found information in the library to run my credit report and contact my debtors. But the mail room here will not allow me to send out anything that has to do with finances. They advise me to appoint a power of attorney.

My problem is this, how does DOC expect us to be "rehabilitated" while incarcerated, but won't allow us to do for ourselves? I'm going to be released to society with terrible credit, no money and no means (legally) to provide for myself. And I'm certainly not the only one. This system is creating a cycle that turns DOC into a revolving door. And does nothing but add to the paychecks for the state.

Everybody doesn't have family out there to provide for them. So I thought I could try to handle my own business but I'm being held back. I read the policy and it basically states that as a prisoner we are not allowed to sign financial contracts or start/conduct business via mail or phone.

So I'm reaching out to see if any other prisoners are having this problem. If so has there been a solution? Because I have several ideas on how we can help ourselves to have the funds to start over once released. But how do I implement them with the restrictions applied by DOC? Hell I don't even know if they'll let me send this out asking for help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade describes just one of many problems releasees will face as soon as they hit the streets. Usually thinking about your credit is not the first order of business for a released prisoner. But this can have a big impact on your ability to find housing and set up basic services (which require credit cards). There are ways to rebuild your credit rating, but it's slow and one more problem to add to the difficulties of life on the streets with a prison record. And as this writer points out, all this adds up to a revolving door of recidivism.

We don't have any easy ways to help fix this credit problem, or the bigger question of how to set up businesses from behind bars. However, we hope that our comrades with release dates or finite sentences will start thinking about this well in advance. If you have someone on the outside who can help square up your delinquent bills, it's never too early to ask for help. And if your prison allows you to send mail out to those billers directly, you might be able to work something out with them to defer the debt.

If anyone else has ideas to help folks hitting the streets to deal with these sorts of financial challenges, write in to share them. We want to help our comrades hitting the streets to ease their transition as much as possible. This is critical to making it possible for releasees to continue their political work on the streets. We need an army of former prisoners building independent institutions of the oppressed, to support new releasees.

chain
[Release] [ULK Issue 65]
expand

Prep for Release, Plan for Future

break da cycle

Imagine you have just been released from prison. What do you plan to do with your freedom? Finally eat some real food, smoke a cigarette? Buy some Jordans? Get drunk? Score some dope? Get laid? And then go report in at the parole office?

If this sounds like a good parole plan, you obviously did not spend enough time planning for your future. Maybe what you need is another term, so that you can devise an effective parole plan to enhance your chances for success. That faulty parole plan was one that I used many times. I even changed the order, and reported to the P.O. first, but for me it always ended in a violation of parole, or a new term.

Failure to plan is planning to fail, and as convicted felons the odds are stacked against us. If you are a high school dropout, woman, or minority, the opportunity for legal financial advancement are already adversely affected enough. But there are ways to level the playing field, and put the odds back in our favor.

Many prisons have pre-release classes, and re-entry services available. If your institution offers such programs, take advantage of the opportunity. If not, check your prison's library for resource guides that often provide addresses of transitional housing, and re-entry services in your area.

Residential drug programs are also a good place to build a foundation once you are released. Due to the demand of these services there usually are waiting lists, so start writing them when you're about a year to the house. And many have classes for life skills, computers, parenting, and resume building, while also providing you with a safe, clean and drug-free environment to reside, oftentimes at little or no cost to you.

If you do not have a GED, make an effort to get it while still imprisoned. If you do have a GED, sign up for vocational or college courses. This will optimize your time, by turning unproductive time into a constructive endeavor. A transitional re-entry plan is also an excellent way to plan for your release (see example below). You know your weaknesses, but you have the power to correct your faults.

Example Transitional Plan

First day goals:
  1. Report to parole office to discuss parole conditions, and any issues pertaining to the expectations of a successful parole.
  2. Abstain from drugs and alcohol.
  3. Check in to transitional housing.
  4. Call family.
First week goals:
  1. Obtain social security card, library card, and bus pass.
  2. Register with the employment development department, and update my resume.
  3. Apply for general assistance.
  4. Register for community college.
  5. Continued abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
  6. Locate and attend AA or NA meeting to find a sponsor.
  7. Buy a smartphone.
  8. Attend church.
  9. Visit family.
First month goals:
  1. Stay within the structured program of transitional house.
  2. Get at least a part-time job.
  3. Continued participation in AA/NA.
  4. Open a bank account.
  5. Obey all laws, and report to parole officer as scheduled.
  6. Be active in my church, and volunteer in free time.
  7. Meet other positive people.
  8. Continue living alcohol- and drug-free.
  9. Be punctual in work and school.
Six month goals:
  1. Continue following the program rules of transitional house.
  2. Report to parole office as required, and obey all laws.
  3. Excell at work and at school.
  4. Maintain sobriety.
  5. Stay active in the church.
  6. Do volunteer work in the community.
Six-month to one-year goals:
  1. Be an exemplary resident of transitional home.
  2. Obey all laws, and comply with parole conditions.
  3. Continue AA/NA participation.
  4. Maintain excellence in work and school.
  5. Stay active in the church.
  6. Help others.
One-year to five-year goals:
  • Get a stable residence.
  • Get off parole.
  • Get my associates degree.
  • Become a sponsor in the AA/NA family.
  • Get married or engaged.
  • Be employed in social work.
  • Continue my church involvement.
  • Be a productive, respectable member of society.
  • Make my family proud

    MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good practical example of the planning that should be done before release to help with the challenges of parole. We would substitute political organizing for church involvement, and we'd sub any programs that help someone maintain (or increase) sobriety for AA/NA.(1)

    This brings up another thing we'd encourage people to consider about their release goals. Is your top-level goal to integrate into the labor aristocracy, get married, and live a "normal" Amerikan life? Or is your top-level goal to put in work into the anti-imperialist struggle for the liberation and self-determination of oppressed nations? Whatever you set as your top-level goal should have mid-level (practical) and low-level (tactical) goals attached to it, and any mid-level goals that don't lead you to your top-level goal should be avoided.

    Whatever your overall life goal is, finding a community to get involved with is a good way to create ties and build a support structure, which is imperative to avoiding another bid. Some people find this in the church or NA, but there is also often family, friends and political comrades to look to for this same support. Political work on the streets can help to give you further motivation to stay out of prison as you see how much more effective you can be when not locked up. Materialists who reject religion will do better building their community outside the church.

    We don't yet have the resources or infrastructure to offer all of the support our comrades being released need and deserve. And so we really appreciate this list of options for some essential services. Ultimately we must provide our own housing, rehab programs and schooling to get free. But for now, we can take advantage of services offered by others (even the state) as we build to that point. What we can offer is political engagement and support. In exchange for your organizing work we can also offer regular check-ins, advice, and day-to-day support helping you navigate the streets. Together we can enable you to be a productive member of the revolutionary movement.

    Everyone should tell us your likely parole or release date so we can keep in touch as it approaches. But it's especially important that you tell us if you have a release date in the next 3 years. We need to start planning and working together now.

    Note:
    1. In our current social context, no drug treatment program has been shown to work for everyone. There are lots of options, but the problem is accessibility (i.e. capitalism). Abstinence is excellent, but reducing harm is better than a "fuck it" attitude. Do what you can to reduce drug and alcohol use, up to and including abstinence. Whatever your behavior toward healthier living, make a sustainable effort.
  • chain
    [Spanish] [Release] [ULK Issue 67]
    expand

    Volver a las Calles es Duro

    Hemos estado tratando de establecer un programa efectivo de Liberación En La Vida, aquí en MIM(Prisons) por muchos años. Hemos extendido el apoyo de pre-liberación que ofrecemos a nuestros camaradas activos que están detrás de las rejas. Y hemos sentado algunas estructuras para un mejor contacto y apoyo en las calles. Pero, lo que podemos ofrecer es todavía muy poco frente a la realidad muy dura de una vida en las calles después de una estadía en prisión. Estamos trabajando en extender lo que podemos ofrecer. Eso se implica dinero. Pero eso también requiere de ideas y gente en las calles que trabajen en esto. Nosotros sabemos que lo que estamos haciendo ahora es inadecuado. Pero, estamos tratando de construir.

    Por varios años publicamos el boletín, "Liberación en la Vida" (Release on Life newsletter (ROL)), el cuál fue enviado a nuestros camaradas en las calles y aquellos con una fecha de libertad en su futuro cercano. Pero no hubo mucho interés alrededor de este boletín. Nosotros sabemos que Bajo Candado y Llave (ULK) inspira a las personas por que recibimos muchas cartas sobre eso y envían artículos para el mismo. Liberación en la Vida (ROL) no inspiró muchas respuestas o artículos. Así que, vamos a descontinuar ese esfuerzo. En su lugar, nos enfocaremos en apoyo practico y logístico para nuestros liberados. Y seguiremos imprimiendo artículos sobre la liberación en Bajo Candado y Llave (ULK).

    Pónganse en contacto con nosotros si tiene una fecha o espera ser puesto en libertad en los siguientes años. Empiece a trabajar con nosotros ahora para poder ayudarlo a que tenga éxito cuando salga a las calles.

    A continuación hay una entrevista con uno de nuestros camaradas, quien recientemente fue puesto en libertad, subrayando los desafíos con la vida en las calles y la importancia de prepararse y educarse mientras todavía se está preso.


    Saludos Revolucionarios!!! Yo fui puesto en libertad de la Penitenciaria el 9 de Julio del 2018. He estado fuera poco más de un mes. El Gobierno Estatal y Federal no nos están ayudando ni mierda. Esta en nosotros el trabajar duro para proveernos a nosotros mismos. Aprende todo lo que puedas mientras que estas en prisión, porque al salir a estas calles es pura acción sin parar. Para ustedes sin fecha de salida, mucho amor y respeto. Cada uno enseña a uno.

    Pregunta: Has encontrado algún apoyo para encontrar vivienda? Y si no, que has hecho y que recomiendas a otros que hagan sino no tienen todavía arreglado el ir a vivir con otras personas?

    No, no he recibido vivienda. Yo no he recibido ni mierda del gobierno Estatal o Federal. Si tu no tienes amigos o familiares que te den un techo sobre tu cabeza, entonces sí vas a lucharla de verdad aquí fuera. Yo tengo familia y amigos que me han bendecido con apoyo.

    Pregunta: Has podido inscribirte para cualquier programa de apoyo del gobierno (Estampillas para comida; Seguro Social; Asistencia Pública, etc)?

    Sí, me inscribí para beneficios y mierdas de ese tipo, pero, tanto el gobierno Estatal como el Federal me negaron.

    Pregunta: Que hiciste para encontrar trabajo después de haber sido puesto en libertad?

    Yo aplique en agencias de empleo, mierdas como esa, pero cuando investigaban mi nombre, nunca me llamaban. Todavía no tengo trabajo. He estado afuera ya dos meses. Se puede decir que trabajo por mi propia cuenta.

    Pregunta: Tú dices que las personas deberían aprender todo lo que puedan mientras que están presos. En qué tipo de programas y estudios les recomiendas a los presos que se enfoquen en prisión, para prepararse para cuando salgan a las calles?

    Yo digo, que las personas deberían aprender todo lo que puedan en prisión, como leer libros. Yo cumplí mi sentencia en encierro solitario (Ad-Seg) porque soy un miembro activo de STG. Yo mismo me eduqué. Usa tu tiempo sabiamente porque una vez que salgas a calles, es todo otro mundo.

    chain
    [Release] [ULK Issue 64]
    expand

    Hitting the Streets is Hard

    We have been trying to set up an effective Release on Life program here at MIM(Prisons) for many years. We have expanded the pre-release support we offer to our active comrades behind bars. And we've set up some structures for better contact and support on the streets. But what we can offer is still so little in the face of the very harsh reality of life on the streets after a prison stint. We're working on expanding what we can offer. That takes money. But it also requires ideas and people on the streets to work on this. We know what we're doing now is inadequate. But we're trying to build.

    For a few years we published a Re-lease on Life newsletter (ROL) which was mailed out to our comrades on the streets and those with release dates in the near future. But we didn't get much interest around this newsletter. We know people are inspired by ULK because we get lots of letters about it and article submissions for it. ROL didn't inspire many responses or articles. So we're discontinuing that effort. Instead we will focus on practical logistical support for our releasees. And we will continue to print release articles in ULK.

    Get in touch if you have a date or expect to be released in the next few years. Start working with us now so we can help set you up for success on the streets.

    Below is an interview with one of our comrades who was recently released, underscoring the challenges with life on the streets and the importance of preparation and education while you're still locked up.


    Revolutionary Greetings!!! I was released from the penitentiary on July 9th 2018. I've been out for over a month. The state and federal government ain't helping us with shit. It's on us to hustle to provide for ourselves. Learn all u can in prison cuz once u hit these streets it's non stop action. For all y'all without a date, mad love n respect. Each one teach one.

    Question: Have you found any support for finding housing? If not, what have you tried and what do you recommend others do if they don't have people to live with already set up?

    No I have received housing. I haven't received shit from the state or federal government. If u ain't got friends or family to provide u with a roof over ur head then u gonna struggle out here for real. I got family and friends that blessed my game.

    Question: Have you been able to sign up for any government support programs (food stamps, SSI, welfare, etc)?

    Yes I did sign up for benefits and shit like that but the state and federal government both denied me.

    Question: What did you do to find work after release?

    I applied at staffing agencies and shit like that but after they ran my name I never got called. I still don't have a job. Been out 2 months already. Self-employed I guess.

    Question: You say people should learn all they can in prison. What kinds of programs and studies do you recommend people focus on in prison to prepare for the streets?

    I say people should learn all they can in prison like read books. I did my time in solitary confinement Ad-Seg cuz I'm a active STG member. I educated myself. That's what I mean. Use ur time wisely cuz once u hit these streets its a whole nother world.

    chain
    [Release] [Gender] [ULK Issue 61]
    expand

    Released Sex Offender Struggling to be a Feminist on the Streets

    In a recent MIM(Prisons) Re-Lease on Life newsletter there was an article on what it is like to be a communist and on probation. In September 2016 in a ULK there was an article about sex offenders and status within the prison. This article will complement both, talking about what my experience has been like over two years as a communist post-probation.

    The current revolutionary communist party versus the party branch I have been loyal to and committed to during my 10 years on probation, jail, prison was reluctant of taking me back. The reason why I only was allowed as supporter/sympathizer status was a defense mechanism from the COINTELPRO and now 9/11 days, where the ruling class or reactionaries could use my case if they found out to discredit the party.

    The idea of another "other" somehow possibly discrediting the party makes sense. Especially if it was front line news that a socialist party, that has already been attacked throughout its history for all sorts of untrue accusations, was now "exposed" as harboring sex deviants. This would possibly make other party members uncomfortable. And it would appear to other groups that the party was not being a radical feminist communist party.

    But my situation became a non-issue, probably due to members forgetting. I joined the same branch I was part of in the past. For a year I jumped into environmental work, anti-war work, feminist work, and helping with a homeless bill of rights. I also jumped into the leadership of an ex-prisoners' organization, as well as with Samizdat Socialist Prisoners Project. Also working on a memoir of my thoughts as a thought-criminal.

    When activists and revolutionaries of all stripes found out about me having a background, or of my crime, I did not shy away from acknowledging it. I told them I did not have a victim, that it was a sting by local cops. I am doing what I think communist sex deviants should do: work towards eliminating the capitalist state that creates schizophrenic and contradictory mores and norms in the first place. I was the guy that did prisoner liberation work in my area.

    After a year, someone calling themselves a feminist found out what I had done and lambasted me on Facebook. As a white, male, sex offender, atheist, and communist I had to refrain from attacking a female feminist to avoid seeming like a white sexist and chauvinist. So I left the feminist group along with other feminist groups I was a part of.

    But it did not stop there. There was nothing I could say to defend my actions or defuse the situation especially on social media. Only two or three people, who were hardly activists, were attacking me, questioning why someone like me should be in a feminist group. They found a paper I wrote about being in college as a sex offender, and did not interpret it correctly as I am no longer entitled, deviant, and uber-sexualized.

    Throughout a week of turmoil, many comrades and friends defended me saying that I have never hid what I have done, and no opponent of me reached out to me to defend myself. My comrades pretty much asked if a sex offender's best place is in a feminist group attacking the chauvinism, sexism in the days of Trump, Weinstein, and Brock Turner. Currently after two months, I still have not participated in any feminist-related event.

    These opponent feminists are a possible example of carceral feminism. The carceral feminists are people who believe the best punishment is a thrown-away prison key. They have allied with conservatives on this issue. If I had my chance to defend myself, I would say I am more committed than any of the carceral feminist armchair activists. I would tell them how most of my close female friends, sexual partners, and even my girlfriend have experienced rape, sexual assault, etc. and they accept me. The one to two years off of probation, jail, and prison have been very rocky and it is hard to figure out my voice and place in the revolutionary struggle. I hope many of the released do not return to a life imposed on them by the bourgeoisie, but partake in liberating a prison world.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade's experience speaks to the universal struggle of former prisoners, and more specifically to the question of how revolutionaries should work (or not work) with people convicted of sex offenses. To clarify, ey is working with some organizations that we have significant disagreements with, but that doesn't change the relevance of what ey writes.

    This is a case where someone who was convicted of a sex offense is not disputing the accusation. Instead, ey comes to the conclusion that the right thing for someone who committed gender crimes to do is to fight to end the system that creates a culture of gender oppression. This we very much agree with.

    We did not see the social media debates with and against this persyn so we can't comment directly on what people said when arguing that ey should not be allowed into feminist organizations. But there are several problems we see with this incident. First, attacking someone on social media rather than taking criticisms directly to em and eir organization does not do justice to the seriousness of this political debate. Also, pushing someone out of an organization before hearing eir side and investigating the issue thoroughly just does the work of the government by dividing the movement.

    As Maoists we believe that people are capable of change, and so when we learn about errors people have made we ask for self-criticism and an analysis of why those actions were taken. Those who not only make sincere self-criticism but also demonstrate through their actions that they have changed should be given the opportunity to contribute to the revolutionary movement.

    Sex offenders are generally pariahs, both on the streets and behind bars. All people with a criminal record face extra scrutiny, criticism, and ostracization when they hit the streets. It's important that revolutionary organizations don't play into this. We shouldn't dismiss former captives who want to be activists. Instead we should set up structures to help them get involved and support their work. And for those who have committed crimes against the people in the past, we can help them better understand not only why these actions were wrong, but also to transform their thinking to best avoid hurting others in the future and how to build a society that doesn't foster those crimes in the first place.

    chain
    [Release] [California]
    expand

    Communication is Key

    The challenges I faced upon release was money and housing. These two were primarily the most significant factors. I have a big family, so one may think that at least temporary housing wouldn't be a factor. Yet for me, and maybe for many others, it is. There's a family member that I have that loves me dearly, I believe, but just won't (or just can't) allow me to live with them, becuz of either past run-ins or past lifestyle choices I've made.

    I mean let's face it — no matter what changes I've made recently (i.e. politically, morally), most of my family members just don't trust me to live with them or in their homes for more than a few days before they feel it's time for me to go. And it's not becuz, I feel, they believe I'm difficult to deal with, but becuz their not 100% faithful that I'll come thru on moral promises.

    Then I find myself reaching out to parole to be placed in a program for parolees, but with programs comes parole restrictions. The only problem with this is the parolee begins to feel like he's been sent back to prison again. Upon arriving at the program, due to the CDCR regulations that most CDCR parolee programs operate under, this gives anyone thoughts of wanting to leave the program prematurely before securing a job or housing.

    And even if one completes the program and/or secures job or housing or both, then there's the cost of living and spousal-family problems that comes into play. It did for me. These are some of the factors that makes it difficult for comrades to stay connected with our MIM homebase and involved in our political work.

    There are also other factors that comes into play in addition to the above: Some of the biggest challenges are past gang ties and drugs. For me these are the most crucial and can greatly affect effective communication with the comrades.

    I personally understand that communication is vital and efforts needs to be directed at communication, becuz had I stayed connected immediately upon release, my comrades could've walked me thru my obstacles by instruction. Without instruction, comrades being release may get lost. And without communication there can be no instruction.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer poses an important question, "What can MIM(Prisons) do to support our released comrades while they get their lives set up?" If you're reading this newsletter, you probably have already read our Release Letter and Release Challenges letters, both focused on the details of our Re-Lease on Live Program. In those letters we lay out the need for weekly communication with MIM(Prisons).

    We advise that comrades write to us via snail mail at first, so we can set up secure communication lines. We can set up phone appointments and try to help you get e-mail running on a secure machine. Like our prisoner organizing, if we can't get on e-mail or phone, we are happy to support via snail mail indefinitely.

    Our question to this writer, and everyone in a similar situation, is whether this system we've set up is viable. The writer above talks about the need for communication, instruction, support, between eirself and MIM(Prisons). With our current Re-Lease on Life structure, are we set up to be successful at this? What do we need to modify about it to be successful?

    chain
    Go to Page 1 [2] [3] [4]
    Index of Articles