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[Release] [ULK Issue 68]
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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.

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[Release] [ULK Issue 65]
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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.
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    [Spanish] [Release] [ULK Issue 67]
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    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.

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    [Release] [ULK Issue 64]
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    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.

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    [Release] [Gender] [ULK Issue 61]
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    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.

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    [Release] [California]
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    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?

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    [Release] [Mental Health]
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    No Help for PTSD After Release

    I graduated college and was quite active in community prior to 2014. Well, one word: PTSD. I exited fedz with quite a serious case of it, which I sought counseling for. After a year the fedz canceled funding so I was left to fend for self. Entering campus with massive crowds saw one experience anxiety attacks. Two successive altercations with tribal members where one reacted as if back on the yard and resulted in other's physical harm, and my dormant insomnia/stress returning. Due to my aiding state in suppressing documented evidence of my PTSD ongoing crisis, it never got introduced at trial. Causing one to appear to have beat people up for no reason. And the introduction of party validation into a weak case served its desired purpose: incite fear.

    Presently doing 45 years as I was given more time than a murderer. Prayerfully the appeals gain one some justice. However I hold no faith in a system designed to entomb the poor and silence the militant. My remaining days of life shall be devoted to the destruction of my/our oppressors. By any means necessary!


    MIM(Prisons) responds: This story is all too common: prisons cause physical and mental health problems, which in turn make it difficult for people to survive on the streets. And so many people end up getting locked back up.

    It's hard enough to stay on the streets finding housing and a job. It's even harder if you want to continue with your revolutionary activism. This doesn’t mean you should give up, but it does mean you'll need support. We at MIM(Prisons) are working to improve our Re-lease on Life program so that we can provide some of that support. Right now that's limited to political support. We can help you build the structures necessary to stay active on the streets. But you'll have to do your part by communicating with us regularly and working to build the necessary self-discipline. If you’re reading this newsletter and you haven't engaged with us around your release plans, get in touch now!

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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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    [Organizing] [Release]
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    Challenges Organizing without Housing

    MIM(Prisons) has very few comrades who continue work with us once released from prison. Recently one of these comrades offered to ask the wimmin ey organizes with on the outside to write up something for this issue of Under Lock & Key. We sent prompts but didn't hear anything back. When we checked in on the article submissions, our comrade gave us an update:

    "The reason nothing has come out of the shelter is because of a sudden turnover in residents, many of the active wimmin are now gone or just can't be reached. I have not submitted due to constraints on my time. My fiancée was kicked out of the shelter and due to taking care of her as much as possible and my own parole and other issues, i simply have not had time to put anything to paper. I am sleeping about 3 hrs. a day and on the move the other 21. We are working on an awareness project to get some of the people mobilized. Currently there are only 3 of us working on all of this, a member of Blackstone from Chicago, my fiancée and myself. It is very slow and tiring work. I apologize for my silence, i have just been swamped with stuff every day."

    We empathize with this comrade's difficulties in finding time to put pen to paper. It's extremely difficult to juggle the bureaucratic challenges of parole with the lack of resources available for basic survival. We need to build independent institutions so we can meet our basic survival needs, so we can focus on the political struggle for self-determination. There's a catch 22 where reformist struggles take time and energy to build, and our ultimate goal is liberation from the conditions that make these band-aid programs necessary.

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    [Release] [Gender]
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    What I did as a communist and on probation: 2006-2015

    I emphasize greatly that I do not intend to romanticize my experiences while keeping true to my communism and being on probation. It was not a romantic existence being in sort of an involuntary political vacuum and underground. During this time, my political work was severely limited. I did not partake in rallies, forums, strikes, etc. Unfortunately I had to eventually internalize that the best way to fight against the system was to survive probation. Every day for nine years was excruciating hell for me, my comrades, and my family.

    My letters from jail, prison, and the "outs" are full of such depression, melancholy, outright anger, and all sorts of ambivalent emotions. Obviously a lot of more people have it worse than me, but for those nine years I could only do my time. Even during probation, jail, and prison; at the best of my circumstances (almost at the cost of my life, friends, and family) I was very devoted and very biased in favor of supporting struggles of working-people, People of Color, the poor and the lumpenproletariat.

    My only contribution and commitment to the movement came to only keeping notes on the Prison-Industrial Complex, keeping up with contemporary news, and reading up on Marxist Theory, and History.

    For better or worse, my socialist credo kept me clear of reoffending. I have been a communist since 2004 when I joined a revolutionary youth group and later its parent group. I, with another comrade, was elected to represent our respective departments in the student senate. I was also in other activist groups on and off campus. At the age of 24 I plea bargained to guilty without a jury trial to using the computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

    Right away after being charged, my face was all over the news. I voluntarily left the party and discontinued as a student senator. Amongst radicals and communists, it is not easy to be convincing that it was a sting operation and there was no victim. Some feminists would argue I was being reactionary, misogynistic, and anti-communist due to my actions.

    I served a total of nine years probation. I was originally given three years and 90-days on an ankle monitor. Because I made some minor infractions of probation rules, I was incarcerated from 2008-2010. I did not offend, but served time in jail off and on for minor probation occurrences.

    In Wisconsin, when a sex offender is on probation, every move one makes, mental and physical is under a microscope by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WIDOC). I had to see my probation officer once a week. I had to respond to questions such as "If I have been around minors", "If I have taken drugs or alcohol", "If I was around parks, schools, or where minors typically frequent", "If I had sex with a member of my peer group." etc. She did not ask these questions every week, but it was disciplined into me that I would have to automatically bring anything up that the WIDOC needed to hear. They would even make me keep a masturbation log and record what I fantasized to. I was also polygraphed 8 times to see if I was telling the truth. For most of my probation, I could not use a computer, cellphone, or internet. This made it hard to finish my history degree without a use of computer.

    I had a fine network of friends and family to help me through it. Dating, networking, keeping up with news, was very hard without a 21st century device. For one instance, I had to finish my senior thesis on Sri Lankan communism on a typewriter and have a colleague type it up on a computer! I was not the model probationer. Due to my arrogance, naiveté, belief that I was wronged, I was revoked once and jailed many times. I was put on a probation hold for a number of occasions. Being revoked does not mean I reoffended with another crime. Revoked means I did not follow probation rules and I had to be incarcerated. This means losing one's "street time" and doing probation all over again. I was revoked for two years and had to do five years of probation.

    One cannot have sex, a sexual relationship, however defined, without DOC approval. The chances of finding someone, being okay with my crime, and willing to meet with the probation officer is very slim. I defined this as a "state-issued girlfriend." I did not have this luxury during probation. Many sex-deviants do not want to date due to the extremely strenuous circumstances with the WIDOC.

    But within the duration of my nine years, I did a lot of reading up on deviance, sexuality, the bourgeois notion of family, and Marxism. I hope my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors give one a clue on how ridiculous Americans overact towards sex offenders. I realize how such a sensitive topic sex offenders is dealt with in academia and so reactionary it is dealt with in the mainstream press. I only know that a better way is needed to treat sex-deviants and non-sex deviants alike need be done with facts and figures rather than sex-steria. I kept to my socialist ideas, no matter how one thinks I compromised them, destroyed them, or foolishly kept them. My exuberant sense of humor, zealous optimism (challenged at many degrees), stubbornness, knowing the system, kept me going. It takes a lot through treatment, conversations with PO, in jail, probation, prison, to keep true to my politics.

    I, like every human on the planet, am a product and by-product of my societal surroundings. This is where we get social cues, clues, habits, thought processes, and where we get our class from. I read up on different countries (primarily Stalinist countries) and how they have dealt with the concept of deviance. I primarily read up on the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), popular justice in the People's Republic of China (pre-1980), the Soviet Union, and Cuba. I kept up on theory with Merton, Quinney, and other ex-convict criminologist mentors. I continued to read up on contemporary and historic happenings and sent for radical bookstores for socialist newspapers. I took notes and worked on writings on a contemporary communist position of the revolutionary role of the lumpen. I put together some notes for a manifesto of "Dragon Battalions" made out of class-conscious criminals and social-deviants.

    I also had to participate in Sex Offender Treatment (SOT) run by a so-called "law and order conservative." To me, it is part self-criticism session and part Catholic confessions. I did not disclose myself in SOT or in probation as a communist. I would not be on the outs if I did. At one point, since treatment did not know why I was failing polygraphs, they called me the "most dangerous man in [XX] County." I had to attend several different SOT groups due to my unequivocal nature of probation.

    I also tried to start up a socialist prisoner group called "Samizdat: Socialist Prisoners Project." The SSPP was designed to send radical literature to prisoners and be a more direct movement. Because of my arrogance I snuck through a couple months without the WIDOC knowing of the SSPP. I ended it as soon as I was banned from computer use. Upon the closing of SSPP, the WIDOC still did not know of it. Due to a bit of arrogance and indifference, I listened to Radio Havana Cuba (RHC) on a shortwave radio. I even wrote to the radio station, heard my letter read on the air and received parcels from RHC. I also wrote the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (north Korea) and received some books. Who knows if the WIDOC found out, what state of affairs I would be in?

    The boogeyman of the sex offender is a product of the contradiction of the ultra-sexualized, ultra-puritan, police state standard-operating-procedure of the USA. I do believe sexual abuse is harmful; I am against rape, as well as the societal cannons of chauvinism, sexism, racism, bigotry, misogyny — all stemming from capitalism.

    I am still serving a life sentence due to be stigmatization and even registered for another ten years. The WIDOC knows my email, where I live, my phone number, my Facebook accounts, and the car I drive. I have to disclose my crime to possible future employers. I have to disclose my past to future relationships. While on probation I made a small service to the revolutionary cause. I wrote hundreds of poems, and published four books.

    Without the use of a computer, I finished my degree in History and Sociology. I co-authored a paper about the life of a sex offender partaking in college. I was inspired to be a convict criminologist researching and observing so-called criminal deviant acts from the view of the incarcerated and recently incarcerated persons.

    I am currently writing a political memoir of my experiences of treatment, jail, prison, and probation. I am now in many leftist organizations including SSPP and my past socialist group. I am working towards a Masters in Criminology and for workings of a formation of the freedom armies of tomorrow. I am currently occupied in the solidarity front of the Wisconsin Dying to Live hunger strikes. Mentally, I am left paranoid, colder, distressed, with social-effective disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, anxiety, depression, scared, and insecure of forming close relationships and doing some political work.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade does a good job describing the difficulties that face former-prisoners on the streets. In the case of someone labeled a sexual deviant there are even more challenges. These difficulties face all parolees and require a strength of persynal conviction as well as social support to overcome. This is why we are building our release support program preparing our comrades years before they get out. And why we emphasize setting up structures on the outside that will lead to a sustainable life. This will make it much more likely that folks can stay politically active on the streets.

    We want to clarify that we agree with this writer's implication that it is society that conditions people to be "sexual deviants," and in fact creates a hyper-sexualized culture and then condemns people who respond to it with arousal. We recognize the power differential between adults and youth, just like that between wealthy and poor, or male and female, as something that creates an inherent inequality in a relationship and a power dynamic that makes full consent to sex impossible. Because of this we agree with the line that says all sex is rape. There is no perfect sex as long as the system of patriarchy exists. Because of this we don't put sex offenders in some special group more condemned than those who steal from the people, deal drugs to the people, or kill people. Instead we are clear that any action that harms other people by using power over them is unacceptable. But we do not recognize the Amerikan criminal injustice system as an authority to judge people's crimes. The people running this system are the biggest murderers, thieves, rapists and drug dealers in the world. Only when we have eliminated imperialism and established a dictatorship of the proletariat will we be able to mete out justice for the people by the people, and help those who really did commit crimes against the people reform to become productive members of society.

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