Seeing as I am SNY [Special Needs Yard], I'm compelled to put forth a few words on this matter. I've met many folks who neither "debriefed" nor snitched on anyone. After so much time on these lines, just how much b.s. can one person take? Unnecessary politics and needless racial tensions get old. That opinion is being held on the line. When young people get to prison and hear this type of talk, of course they will go SNY when confronted with an issue that will jeopardize their freedom or personal health and well being. Why fight a battle that the leaders are clearly undecided about?
To blame this or that generation is neither manly nor responsible, it's downright cowardly. Everyone is to blame and once an individual recognizes that there are responsibilities and duties to be upheld, that whether SNY or not, let him be a man and uphold those responsibilities and duties. Stay in your own land and quit trying to tell the next man what you think he should be doing. There are recriminations coming from this side (SNY) that there is more telling on the line than anyone will ever let on. The point is: get the beam out your own eye before you can get the speck out mine.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There has been a lot written about the SNY in the pages of Under Lock & Key as prisoners line up firmly on one side or the other of the debate over whether SNY prisoners can be revolutionary comrades. Our position falls in line with what this prisoner writes: we want people to demonstrate their commitments to the struggle through action. There are many reasons why people go to SNY, and not all of them snitch or debrief. Similarly, there are many mainline prisoners who snitch or work with the guards in other ways. So we must judge each person, SNY or not, by their actions.
The recent article in ULK23 titled Hunger strike strategy: tactical retreat or advance? raised some good ideas on how to move forward in the struggle for human rights in Amerikan prisons. We need to propose ideas and theory on the situation with the strike movement now more than ever. We need to develop a clear path on how to better strengthen our efforts. This development needs not just California prisoner's attention but all prisoners across the United $tates to lend their voice to this debate no matter where their cage is at as oppression can be found in every gulag from sea to shining sea.
When prisoners participate in this discussion, many are able to take from this debate, learn and hopefully add to it in a real way. Some may use the ideas for their own battles or modify other ideas to work in their efforts. In this way ULK will serve as a message board or chat room for the captive masses. All this is of course good and healthy for any movement to grow, and I look forward to read up on new theory and add to the mix as well. It is expanding on thought for all and a "win win" for the people.
One of the things that came out of the article "Tactical Retreat or Advance" was calling on certain people or LOs to provoke their participation. Had ULK been a strictly internal document that only prisoners read then I would think 'yea right on.' The problem is that ULKs are read and heavily scrutinized by prison officials and law enforcement agencies, thus what may mean to be simple criticism becomes a serious breach. In California prisons - and I suspect it is the same everywhere - if prison officials find letters, prison kites, etc., with prisoners names and affiliations this can be used as "confidential information," "proving" what they will call gang association. This will go into one's file to be used as a point toward validation. By naming aliases along with the name of a LO, all investigators need to do is punch in the alias and the database will list those suspected of affiliating with a certain LO and connect the dots. So listing names and LOs of people other than oneself is feeding intel to law enforcement which will be used to later put people in SHUs for decades or life. To name names and LOs is harmful being that ULKs go through kops hands before reaching prisoners. We should find ways to criticize our fellow prisoners while protecting their identity, it's not hard to do so.
Someone who may be new to ULK may read the naming names and wonder, is this writer sabotaging these prisoners ability to remain on the mainline? Is he trying to get them snatched up? So we don't want to give mixed messages to people picking up a ULK of what we're about.
I know many people who were validated because their last point was someone else wrote something about them, that they were affiliated with this or that group, and so I was surprised this was allowed to take place.
I read awhile back in a MIM Theory about a comrade who was at a rally or event, and this comrade spoke about how someone walked up and said something like "hey you're from MIM, I knew the founder so and so." Well this comrade and MIM wrote something about security and how we shouldn't name comrades as this information gets in the hands of agents. Of course I know the difference between a LO and MIM, yet a LO faces repression in prison in the form of SHU.
If there is a "pig question," I think it begs the question of can there be a "pig statement"? It's something we need to look at and see if there really is a breach in naming prisoners without their knowledge in ULK. What is the damage that can come out of this? And should MIM(Prisons) allow it or partake in the same? I don't think so. I remember another article a while back where someone did the same and called out people and identified their LO but I believe it was in NY. I'm not sure how prisons in NY deal with intel such as this but I am certain of how California prisons deal with it and I am sitting in SHU for stuff like that.
I think MIM(Prisons) has an excellent policy of not putting peoples real names in its publications. MIM(Prisons) says rightly it does not do so to protect prisoners from more repression by the state. I believe this should also pertain to prisoners writing about other prisoners as well.
I think there is a way to call out LOs without naming prisoners, and it is right to call on certain folks to encourage participation, but naming names is just too harmful. When we write we must always keep in mind it is being read by not just guards but the larger state as well. I myself would not want someone to write about me by name if they are putting an LO beside my name. This is why MIM(Prisons) does not print real names. It's a matter of security. The pigs get a lot of intelligence on prisoners from their snitches who help them out, they shouldn't get more help from prison revolutionaries nor revolutionaries out in society.
I think criticism is a good thing for all prisoners and this includes LOs who are a huge part in what occurs in many prisons. Revolutionary prisoners need to develop ways to criticize without doing damage. Writing is not just succumbing to subjectivism no matter how stressful it becomes. I fully understand the frustration that arises when people are right at the ledge and all they need to do is make that leap to freedom and here we are the prison revolutionary nudging and showing the path and yet it moves at a snails pace and so we put pen to paper to jump start what seems like a stalled engine. I get this and see where we need to go but still we must remember ULK is not an internal cable, it is literally on the world wide web. Let us move forward in our efforts while staying alert in all areas. People's Power!
Editor of MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank comrade Cipactli for calling out this error in Under Lock & Key, and as editor i fully accept the criticism made. While any potential damage in that instance has been done, we are printing this publicly to correct any bad impressions it may have given people and remind all comrades of the importance of these issues. This was an opportunist error on my part that risked pushing away people that we hope to ally with, who never asked to have their names in ULK.
MIM(Prisons) agrees that it is dangerous practice for ULK to include people's LO name and affiliation and we will edit articles in the future to remove this information. While we have never printed people's real names, as Cipactli points out, this doesn't matter if the prisoncrats can make the connection between a prisoner and their LO name. We don't need to be helping the state with their repression, and feeding them information can have a real impact even when we are printing common knowledge.
This doesn't mean people should stop calling out LOs or writing about them, but ULK writers need to be careful to never use a name that can be associated with an individual. We can talk about groups without connecting them to specific names, and we can address lines and practice without naming groups. As we build the United Front for Peace in Prisons this is particularly important: we must build unity, not divisions, amongst the Lumpen Organizations.
I recently received ULK24, thank you. I share your newsletters with more than twenty people and an article (Correction on SNY debate) caused quite an uproar. I recognize the opinion of what people perceive Special Needs Yards (SNY) is (deviants, rats, etc.) but have major disagreement with the flawed perception.
The first of a few salient points is the strongest. In buying into the SNY/GP separation a fatal flaw emerges in ideology. The idea that SNY refugees who pursue personal safety are filth comes from a criminal mindset of values and morals. This needs correction and as a solution I offer education. SNY refugees are getting away from criminal mindset organizations and street gang policies. 99 percent of conflict within the walls isn't political struggle. It's not being able to pay for drugs, tribalism, promoting racial hatred and warfare for earlier lost battles, revenge for street gang violence, manipulation by imperialist agencies, and good old "I can't do my time so I'll make everyone else miserable."
As a mainline and SHU veteran of fifteen years traipsing across New Folsom, High Desert, Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Chino, San Quentin, and Old Folsom, the idea that I should prepare for death because a corrupt criminal organization declares it so is sheer idiocy. The idea that I could crawl under a rock in a hole somewhere and meekly keep my head down and not try to "make" my situation is sheer childlike fantasy. Convict (criminal) justice isn't blind, it is premeditated power struggles, envy, greed and the law of the jungle coming to fruition. The reality of prison politics is simple, dope is shotcaller. Greed, self-aggrandizement, negative cultural and educational values run rampant like a virus. Split by race, geography, imagined fifty year old slights and insults, the semi-ignorant masses huddle on their claimed patches of territory on the yard and build up walls of separation that tower far above the actual prison walls that confine them. Imperialists stand watching; laughing, and profiting. The convenient high noon-middle of the street showdown of physical combat isn't a noble ideal and it has replaced rational thought as the tool of necessity in the concrete culture.
It needs to be said that Republicans and Democrats don't care if you're SNY or GP, creating a mental separation to divide and conquer is proven COINTELPRO strategy. It makes moving the herd easier.
Bear this in mind please. Just because you are in a cell in prison you are not a political prisoner. As an individual you must make peace with why you're in the cell in the first place. Responsibility for your life is first. If you choose to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do that then wipe away the veil and quit dividing the world in to race, geography, and location, quit dividing your world into SNY and GP, become more than a convict.
SNY was a choice I made that I must live with. To believe that I have no redeemable value is ludicrous. I didn't testify against anyone, no one went to the hole, I did not become an oppressor of my own people. I did not leave my morals on the mainline. I do not live, associate, or do business with deviants, rats, or oppressors. I am vigilant in knowing who and what they've done in my life. I simply now walk stronger alone in my stride.
If you are still on the path of separatism you're stagnant and if your doctrines espouse convict vs. convict violence, drug profits, or control of the mass. You are not a revolutionary, you are an oppressor, as your desire is simply to be king of the mountain. Please do not don the guise of righteousness simply because of a designation the system created that you choose to use.
It is every day actions that define you. if you're still gangbanging, slinging, separating, wake up you're stuck in the matrix like Neo was.
Do something revolutionary, walk across the yard to that semi-familiar face with the ink work of a different tribe on his sleeves. Embrace the viking king, the African warrior, the Aztec warrior and realize that if you can't do it you are by choice dividing and separating, and you're the one who doesn't get it.
My heart and mind are guiding my moral compass true and I cannot see exploiting another for self-gain. Where do you stand really? It doesn't matter in the physical sense as it isn't a physical question. What is in your heart will show up in your everyday life. If I'm just talking, blowing smoke, what I've written above makes me another windblown hypocrite and false seer uttering borrowed phrases and aping the intelligent conversations of my learned betters. But if it resides in every beat of my heart and my stride matches my hearts intentions, recognize, wherever I may be.
Just because you read the little red book and you're on a mainline doesn't make you a revolutionary. Educate yourself, enlighten others, uplift all.
MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM(Prisons) does recognize all prisoners as political prisoners because who goes to prison is determined by the politics of those in power. But there is a difference between why you are in prison, and what you are going to do with your life. So we agree with this comrade that political consciousness must be learned through study and work, and is not given to you the day they close you behind a cell door.
This debate over whether there can be any revolutionaries on SNY has been raging in the pages of Under Lock & Key for 2 years now. MIM(Prisons) comes down on the side of all revolutionary prisoners. We judge people by their work and not by their state-determined classification. There are revolutionaries on SNY and there are rats on GP. And we know the rats in all units like to pretend to be revolutionaries. We can only look at people's actions to determine where they really fall.
I recently completed an assignment as a prospective USW leader. The topic of dissertation was of revolutionary Fearlessness, Scientific Strategy, and Security. The study offers a primary discourse on issues such as applying the scientific method in strategy, rather than being passionately or emotionally driven. The "fear factor" is addressed, and how it can be effective or reckless in issues like security.
I got a lot from the study personally. I understand as materialists we aren't supposed to be influenced by ideas of "the divine," metaphysical, or spiritual intervention in human affairs, or in any context for that matter. Maybe it's the strong indigenous traditions passed on for generations in my family and culture that lead to such first impressions and perceptions. Whatever the cause may be, within the time frame of me receiving and responding to the above referenced assignment, things were happening on the ground level directly associated with the lessons in our assignment. Maybe a Christian or Muslim would believe it was God allowing their faith to be tried and tested by satan or his legions. Or a pagan may have believed it was a fusion of Mexican and Roman war gods, Vaitzilopochtli and Mars somehow interfering with material conditions on Earth in order to sharpen and refine his skills, strategy, tactics, and security in struggle. But such convictions, regardless of how firmly believed, have no scientific basis and cannot be interpreted as truth. Yet the life lesson and the message has been conveyed.
Back in the 80s in the Texas prison colonies known as "ranchos" there was a spontaneous combustion within the social relations of Chicano prisoners. It spread like wildfire, like a virus. A true example of dialectic materialism in a controlled environment. Like Phoenix rising out of the flames, ashes, and blood, rose a democratic prison society claiming to stand together against negative activities in prison. By the late 90s, entering the new millennium there was a loose confederation of Latino tribes, regional and autonomous in nature, in virtually every one of the over 100 Texas ranchos. These regional autonomous tribes are now a dominate factor in almost every correctional institution in Texas. No longer are they confined to the Ranchos either, but have spread into the hoods and barrios, infecting our youth. There is ample evidence that the state has played an effective instigating role in a long and bloody war of attrition that has been going on for over two decades uninterrupted, in a now hidden, now open fight, a fight kept from the public eye. A war between the tribes and organized Texas families. This evidence could be used to substantiate a claim that the government has encouraged, even created the conditions for this anarchistic tribal take over of the social structure amongst Texas prisoners. Similar to how the U.S. has continuously done in the Third World, funding and provoking civil wars in the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East in order to divide, conquer, and maintain hegemonic control of economic interests and security.
Within the tribes there is no constitution, rank, or central command structure. They're divided into regional districts, and are purely democratic and autonomous in nature. What's so important and phenomenal here is the material dialectics in action. How the tribes are a natural development, the structure, principle, and form naturally developed over time under conditions of extreme oppression by more than one force. Notice how at the beginning it was a Chicano based movement, but has since embraced the Latino concept.
It should be very well noted that by no means is the tribal structure revolutionary, nor is it structured as a family. It's distinct in nature, a security measure so to say. But it's phenomenal to me. Almost any criminal, political, religious, or economic ideas can be retained by the individual, yet they cannot be instituted as a form from top down. This is anarchistic and ineffective at times, and leads to much conflicting interest, but these are the material conditions.
I happen to be a progressive individual. I believe in developing my mind, body and soul. I'm constantly studying, reading, working out, collecting my thoughts and energies, and focusing them in a productive and creative form. This is what I do, it's how I've learned to adapt to my environment and pull through these wasteful conditions. Yet I'm surrounded by negativity and destructive individuals. Other tribesmen are stuck in a state of mental and physical decadence and decay. They're manipulative, oppressive and dictatorial, straight criminal by nature. I understand these too are only character manifestations of these wasteful conditions. And something I strive against. These two separate and distinct classifications are both allowed within the context of the tribe. Of course they oppose each other and conflict at times.
Recently conflict arose between the tribes and ALKQN. What resulted from the conflict wasn't good for any of us, nothing positive or progressive was attained. In fact what resulted was the loss of solid braves, continuous lockdowns, strategic hits, and "mediation" by the rancheros to keep the steers in line. As a deterrence, the administration began rounding up tribesmen. The tribes have the larger numbers and are often perceived as the aggressors regardless of the circumstances. Anywhere from 16 to 20 tribesmen were rounded up at different times during the conflict, seed as collateral, systematically subjected to punishing intimidation, subjugation, and humiliation, all in order to psychologically inhibit the young braves, and break their will and resistance. Of course it was effective on the youngsters who average out to about 20 years old. Left for weeks without anything, in a bare cell with only enough soap to wash our ass. No writing, legal, or correspondence materials. No books or literatures with which to stimulate our minds. After 3 weeks they gave us our bibles, which we all know to be pacifist literature telling us to turn the other cheek and obey our masters. We were systematically served disciplinary cases for nonsense. Sadly it wasn't my first, and won't be the last time I go through such conditioning. I was a part of the final round up, all my property was confiscated before I was herded into the holding pen "corral." 16 volumes of legal transcripts, including legal notes and work product was seized and inspected for weeks. The round up lasted from Dec 6 2011 through January 12, 2012.
The very next day after being released onto the pasture, not any time during the "investigative" lockdown, but after my release, the Rancheros called a coup of tribal representatives, to show them a letter that was found in my property. This letter was correspondence to one of my kin on the Rancho. A written analysis of our social relations and conditional circumstances as Chicanos under this neocolonial order. It included strategy and tactics regarding pending and future litigation addressing family and communal lands stolen from our direct ancestors after the Texas revolution. The royalty and mineral rights to raw crude being pumped and refined on a particular island off the Southern coast of Texas. The letter was detailed and passionate. It was revealing and exposing. Nothing that should have fallen into agency files. Truthfully, I don't even know the full context of the letter.
Somehow the Rancheros convinced or influenced these two representatives that I had intentions of waging and leading a guerilla assault against other tribal bands. This has no logical or reasonable basis. The context and substance of the letter was written in a language of resistance. These leaders are steeped in the criminal programming and traditions, which is only a natural response, I understand. I evolved from these perceptions myself. Somehow they agreed with the Rancheros that the content of the letter was a threat to the structure and security of the tribal alliance. Council was held, both sides brought their points to the fire. The determining factor was how these so-called gangsters and criminals were allowing themselves to be used by the rancheros, and using the word and influence of the Rancheros to substantiate a claim against a tribesman. Many other subjective and objective factors played a role in the democratic process. But the objective truth is that I'm still here. I'm almost 100% sure that had this issue been brought up on a weak-minded, unrefined, undisciplined and fearful mind, the situation would have played out differently, and that individual may not be here to share the experience like this.
What's amazing to me is that this whole experience happened to coincide with an assignment on "Fearlessness, Scientific Strategy, and Security," that I received from MIM(prisons) while these very events were unfolding. The experience was very humbling. I learned a very valuable lesson: "gots ta be mo' careful."
To all you would be progressive individuals with a revolutionary vision, who happen to be involved with LOs who do not follow a well formulated line, or uphold the principles they claim to represent, be careful. Limit yourself and your activities, don't be so careless in expressing your views and concerns around ignorant unlearned individuals. People fear what they don't know. Above all, if your views and beliefs can be based on science and conditional/material facts, if you feel these scientific views to be pure and true, be loyal and stay true to them to da fullest. Stay committed and stare down adversity with a fearless spirit. Understand your material and social conditions. Please don't let no law enforcement elements interfere with your relations and influence your views to the point they become reactionary against your own. Their intentions may be all in good faith to maintain peace and security on the unit level. But their interests and security does not comport with yours in the objective long term. Proceed with caution.
There are two specific challenges we face with our comrades who get out of prison and want to stay politically active. First, the difficulties of balancing work, school, politics and general home life. Second, the overlap between friendship and politics. It is important that we address these challenges to help our comrades follow through on their pledges to serve the people after gaining their freedom.
So far we have been less than successful in this regard, and many comrades fall out of touch with us, only to re-emerge when they are locked back up months or years later. In a country with such a relatively low number of active, committed anti-imperialists, losing these comrades to the streets is a significant blow to our work. As we expand our Re-Lease on Life Program, we are working to address specific challenges with life on the streets in the belly of the beast.
Meeting Your Basic Needs
There are few resources for released prisoners, and without family or friends to provide support it's very difficult to find housing, get a job and provide for basic necessities. There are few studies of homelessness among released prisoners, but those that we've found suggest that at least 10% of parolees end up on the streets without housing after release.(1) The numbers are probably higher; sleeping on a friend's couch is not a long term solution but it won't get you counted as homeless in these studies.
Unfortunately MIM(Prisons) doesn't currently have the resources to provide much help in the area of basic needs for released prisoners. We do have some resource guides for some states, and we can help you think through the best plan for your circumstances. But our ability to help in this area is limited. The rest of this article focuses on people who are released and are able to meet their basic needs. If you have a release date coming up, let us know so we can help you make a plan for the streets.
Time Management on the Streets
Behind bars life is very regimented, with little room for any decisions about how to organize your day, except when you are locked in your cell. And even there, your options for how to spend your time are very limited. You don't have to keep a schedule because the prison keeps it for you. So one of the problems prisoners face when they hit the street is the vastness of opportunities and choices, and the lack of structure.
Many comrades will want to pursue some education, while also finding a job, and attempting to reconnect with family and friends. This means a lot of choices and opportunities, and structured days are necessary to make them fit together. The demands of family and friends can be especially difficult during the initial months post-release after so long with social interactions closely monitored and limited.
Friends, family, school and work are all institutions that are deeply ingrained in and supported by our culture. There is no support for doing revolutionary organizing. That is why Re-Lease on Life is so important. People have a hard enough time doing the normal things they need to do to get by as former prisoners, especially as felons. If you just go with the flow, you'll find your time just flies by and you don't put in any political work.
To participate in the Re-Lease on Life program you need to make a commitment to political work upon release. But most people will need to keep this commitment minimal at first, so that you can focus on getting established with a plan for meeting your long-term needs as an individual, while keeping a connection to the movement.
It's important to think about the future. If you get government assistance, or have a part-time hustle when you get out, how long can that last you? If you don't have job skills or a college degree you should consider school and look into scholarships. On the other hand, it may be worthwhile to focus initially on just making some money before you consider starting school.
Think about where you want to be in a year or two. If your political work is limited by time now, how can you free up more time in the future? One way is by getting into a career path where your income will grow with your experience. Another consideration when looking for jobs is, how can it support my bigger goals? If you work in food service, you save money by bringing home leftovers. If you work at a copy shop, you get discounts on fliers and literature. Getting a manual labor job might help you meet your physical fitness goals. If you work at a security job you get paid to do your political study, leaving your free time to do outreach work.
Whatever your plan is, you need to start thinking about your time as a budget. You have only so much each week, each day. Determine how much you really need for the necessities in life and then schedule that time.
A week has 168 hours in it. If you sleep 8 hours a night that leaves 112. If you need 2 hours a day to cook, eat and take care of persynal hygiene, you are down to 98 hours. Take at least 5 hours a week to deal with other persynal stuff like finances, cleaning, and organizing. You want to work out at least 4 hours per week, maybe more like 8. Now we have 85 left. If you work full time you've got 45, plus transit time, so make that 40. If you're going to school too, you could probably use up most of that 40. If you have regular appointments with your parole officer, doctor or counselor, that will take a few hours. In your best case scenario you might have 40 hours to spend on socializing, relaxing and doing political work. Realistically, finding 15 to 20 hours a week to do political work with a normal bourgeois life is an ambitious goal that requires discipline and good planning.
Keep in mind that even if you only have 5 hours a week free for political work, that is 5 hours of work getting done in the interests of the oppressed. Any time you can set aside for this work is good. And when you first hit the streets this will be easiest if you can set aside that time on your schedule so that it is always the same day/time. For instance, you could say that Tuesday and Thursday nights you will do political work from 5-8 p.m. Block it off on your calendar and tell your friends you have appointments or classes at those times (see below). Working this into your schedule as a regular thing will make it much easier to maintain your activism. If you give up and stop doing political work, chances are good that you will never take it up again. The revolution can't afford to lose good activists like you, so don't let that happen!
Money is Time
Just as challenging for many former prisoners as managing time is managing money, and the movement needs both. Don't fall into Amerikan consumerism. Imperialism has kept itself going by building a consumerist culture at home to keep capital circulating. What that means is that a typical Amerikan lifestyle involves far more consumption than is necessary (or even healthy). Having your own apartment, your own car, a cell phone plan, and others preparing your food for you are just some obvious examples of things considered to be "necessary" expenses justifying the so-called "high cost of living" in this country. Seek out others who you can share expenses and cost-saving tips with. Extravagant spending is often a social behavior. Many recreational things like cable television, alcohol and cigarettes become habitual expenses. Rest and recreation are important, but try things that are more healthy and cost less, and if you do want to splurge, make it a special reward, not a daily expense.
One of our strengths in this country is that Amerikans get paid extremely high wages. By keeping expenses low, you'll find that you can get by on a part-time job, leaving you with more time to do what is most important to you. Remember, even if you're making minimum wage you are in the top 13% income bracket in the world. Don't use poverty as an excuse, when your wealth and privilege are really what's holding you back from doing political work.
The Persynal vs. The Political
Related to the challenges you will face with managing your time on the streets is the social demands of family and friends. The overlap between friendship and politics is something that most people don't consider. In fact, in this country we are encouraged to think about politics as something we must share with family and friends. But MIM(Prisons) does not agree with that view.
We live in a country where most people have a very strong material interest in the status quo, and so they will oppose anti-imperialist politics. The chances of winning them over to the side of the revolution are very minimal, and there is generally no need to destroy relationships with family and friends in the name of this struggle when there are so many other people out there we can try to recruit. Also, because of security concerns in this country, exposing your politics to family and friends can put you at a real risk, especially if you are on parole. If there's one thing you should have learned being locked up, it's that snitches are everywhere.
There is nothing wrong with having friends who don't share your political convictions, you just need to avoid talking about politics with them or only talk about smaller points of politics, without raising suspicion. This doesn't mean you can't share your political views with friends and family who show that they are likely to be interested and agree, but be careful because once they know your views and the work you do, you can't take it back.
Basics About Security on the Streets
When you are locked up in prison the government has a lot of information about you and knows your every move. So behind bars you can only control your security to the extent that you keep your mouth shut on the yard and don't share information about the political work you are doing with people who might use it against you.
On the streets things are a little different. Although you might have to report in to a parole officer or allow the state to track you in some other way as a term of your release, you have a lot more freedom about what information you do and don't share with people and with the government. You are under no obligation to tell anyone about the political work you do, and in fact you should do your best to keep this private from people you know unless you have a reason to believe that they would be supportive. And of course you want to keep it a mystery from the state. This is NOT because we are doing anything illegal, but rather because the state does not like anti-imperialists and will use this as a reason to find or create an excuse to lock you back up. So don't make this easy for them.
I'd like to speak in regards to the Special Needs Yards (SNY) situation. It's synonymous with the plight of my comrades, relatives and brothers detained in Pelican Bay, Tehachapi and Corcoran Security Housing Units (SHUs), from which I was released in 2010.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Institutional Gang Investigations (CDCR IGI) squad uses insidiously foul tactics, involving "validating" or "associating" an "active" [gang member] who isn't really active. Somewhere within my 16.5 years on this joke, many, including myself, lost our sense of direction and consciousness. Because we've lost our direction, the CDCR has found flaws in our infrastructure as a collective.
All of the tactics you hear about to validate or get homies to debrief are true. After being detained for an assault on a faulty comrade, a SHU term was assessed and completed. After numerous incidents on Corcoran's integrated yard, and relationships with individuals of other acknowledged sects, IGI tried to seize their opportunity with interrogations. They were met with my defiance, then, they manifested a "packet".
What was troubling is that these silly goons were adamant of an alleged association with a sect that literally would be treason, had I been linked to them. Now my existence is in jeopardy.
After consultation with a selected few of my infrastructure, I had to denounce my legitimate association with whom I truly move to subterfuge the fabricated trash the IGI spawned. Pride was hard to swallow, but the flaw in their system relegated me to fall back without compromisin' comradz.
The procedures to become SNY depend on the administration at each institution, and it's at their administrative discretion. For me, in Corcoran SHU, I denounced my legitimate gang association without debriefing in order to rebuke a false alleged association. Once the process begins you are infected like a plague, whether you've debriefed or not. So I chose to drop out without debriefing, but the outcome is the same: SNY. With that label, the assumption is that I've either snitched/debriefed or I am some kind of "victim." There are now many prisoners in the SHU who are SNY and pending or are validated because someone on SNY can join the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) for mentally ill prisoners, and get his SNY status revoked to be re-integrated into the EOP/GP program. EOP basically was SNY prior to the implementation of SNYs.
There seems to be a plague, a misconception that all are debriefing on SNY — no! Nor is it legit for the validated homies to only have the lesser option to debrief in order to obtain civility and humanity in prison. That's not an option.
I now find myself in the eighth month of an 18 month SHU term. Initially, there was shame in my decision, yet I been kickin' dust from Calipat to the Bay; my gangsta, my manhood, my integrity is and always will be solidified. I'm still pushin' and movin', and was surprised to see many reputable comradz and relatives on SNY too! Don't let the fence in the middle misconstrue reality: it's us vs. them!
Do not lose consciousness, whatever side you're on. I agree, most SNYs are faulty. There's an influx of kids who tapped out without ever walkin' any line, even for a hot second! Real spill. Now, consciousness is lost when homies are unconsciously toten' "burners" and gettin' caught? Fumblin' missives? Harborin' hooks? Politicin' with emotions as opposed to rational thinking? C'mon, we've all done it. The infrastructure must be tightened. Why do you think all these young homies needed on the line are now on SNY?
Again, not everyone is faulty; they weren't groomed right. We are responsible for us, so as the homies in these SHU complexes hunger strike and resist, our lack of consciousness is inconsiderate to the struggle. The lack of consciousness only perpetuates the offensive of the CDCR.
So, yeah, I've spoke on it. I am SNY, but don't think I ain't still active!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is referring back to the long running debate in Under Lock & Key about SNY yards and whether or not we should work with people in SNY who want to get involved in the fight against the criminal injustice system. We agree with the author that we've come across good comrades who are doing good work in SNY. We judge individuals by their actions, not by their prison-imposed classification. However, we would not glorify the activities on the street that lead to prison. We do need to educate the youth, but kids coming to prison aren't going to be more political because they did more street crime. Our job is to turn that energy against the system, preferably before they are locked up by the system.
There are deep contradictions within the lumpen organizations (LOs) that are alluded to by this comrade in his calls for self-criticism and evaluation. He echoes our previous points that the LOs are playing a big role in pushing people into SNY. Right now the SHU prisoners are leading the way, showing how to gain power and respect without being predators on each other, or other oppressed people. Internationalism means not just looking out for your group or clique. When the oppressed unite internationally, then self-determination can be real and power will no longer be fleeting as it is in current U.$. prison culture.
Most people cannot say or determine how they'll react in any situation unless they've had similar experience under the same pressure and conditions. Most of us can only theorize and examine best options one should take from an objective standpoint and hope to learn valuable lessons from another's mistake, in attempts to prevent oneself from ever having to face the same problem.
One general fact is that the words "snitch" and "rat" are probably the worst and last label anyone would care to have placed in conjunction with their name, especially in prison where one's name and respect is the ultimate factor in dividing and determining a "man" from a "boy." (A "boy" is one step above the label of snitch.) Once labeled a rat, Special Needs Yard (SNY) or Protective Custody (PC) are your only options, because snitching is penitentiary sin number one and the only justice served for this act is punishment upon death - as very painful as possible!
I've noticed that MIM(Prisons) made a good-hearted attempt at bringing forth evidence of credibility by producing past letters that reveal Loco1's anti-SNY sentiments and truth of his commitment to the struggle, but after a complete examination of the full story (never cross-checked), I don't believe snitching to be the issue nor do I think anyone, after investigation, feels that he snitched. His lumpen organization (LO) members were within listening range and heard the pig loudly read the hidden message found in a medicine bottle. They also allowed him to choose an option. Snitches do not receive options. Snitching is an irredeemable violation that cannot be forgiven no matter how many pigs one is willing to "clean up." This verifies that snitching was not the reason for group violation.
My judgement is that a major security breach in communications was initiated due to an irresponsible lack of diligence and, as a result, vital information fell into the hands of the enemy that brought harm to others. My discipline methods may have been different, but regardless, every man is responsible for his actions and must face the repercussions that come along no matter how great or how small. If I was presented with options given in his situation I would've unhesitatingly chosen the choice of cleaning up a pig (in a clandestine manner). Doing battle with a comrade(s) in defense of my life would've never been an option and running from a disciplinary violation would've never entered my mind. George Jackson even made the statement that a coward is no good to the cause.
What makes matters worse is that now he's labeled a snitch and a coward! All benefit of the doubt and creditability was lost when he ran and checked in with the enemy. What's he going to do when the revolution kicks off? If a person's max out date is more important than maintaining his dignity, and trust as a true revolutionary — I say fuck a max out date.
As long as the people remain in chains, there is no personal liberation for me. The struggle doesn't exist in here or out there, it exists in one's heart, mind, and soul. The only max out date is on the day of freedom or death. Some may call Loco1's actions a tactical retreat, but I don't see nothing tactical about completely losing support of allies and comrades. My assessment may seem overly critical but in the war against oppression everything is critical and criticism can never be stressed enough.
There were no excuses for the mistakes Loco1 made. What organization does not teach their members to write and speak in codes especially while operating within enemy territory? It's also common sense to never use real names or known aliases, especially on the same line with incriminating statements. Developing security awareness and communications is the most important aspect of any revolutionary organization. One wrong word in the right ears can cause whole nations to fall. I wish Loco1 the best of luck and hope he finds the road to recovery. Mao said, "a fall in the pits a gain in the wit." He never mentioned anything about diving in head first.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This response to Loco1 is a rational analysis of mistakes made and the importance of security. While many people insist that it is not possible to be classified SNY or PC without ratting someone out, we know that conditions vary between prisons and even more between states, so there is no way one person can make this blanket statement with certainty. We printed Loco1's story as an example that this is not always true. We did not print it to say that one should always choose the route Loco1 did.
Our main disagreement with the above author is in his/her insistence that it's better to opt to clean up a pig than to go SNY. Most likely, given the current balance of forces, that thinking is putting ego above the movement. You cannot be a revolutionary if you are not ready to sacrifice as an individual, but there is a difference between courage and bravado. And we can tell the difference by putting politics in command. Sometimes appearing selfless is better for the individual but hurts the struggle. The streets are where we need our comrades, and temporary setbacks in the name of long term successes are sometime valuable choices to make. We know each situation is different, and sometimes there are no options besides fighting back, but no successful military strategist engages the enemy every time they attack.
[MIM(Prisons) has long defended a line that combats the divisions that the California Department of "Corrections" has tried to institutionalize by separating large numbers of people from the General Population (GP) into Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY). In a previous letter this comrade joined us in calling for SNY and GP alike to contribute to the struggle, while not hiding h lack of regard for SNY prisoners. Today h story serves to demonstrate why allowing the pigs to tell us who is our friend and who is our enemy is a backwards way of discovering the truth.]
I'm in the hole (Administrative Segregation Unit) once again, the material you sent found me when I needed it the most. This time around I'm found under an ISU/IGI investigation which will most likely result in me being sent to the other side (SNY). Surprising? Not really, I saw it coming since the day I committed myself to the United Struggle from Within (USW), in the form of either validation as a guerrilla revolutionary or the assassination of my character behind these walls through the SNY program that leaves a lot of brothers and sisters credibility out and in the cold away from the warmth of prisoner society's acceptance.
It's crazy how it happened all so fast. I blinked and at the drop of a dime my whole life turned upside down. It started October 16, officially with an unjustified unclothed cavity/cell search that I refused to submit to because the officer first claimed that they were hitting my cell randomly, then later said because me and my cellmate were exhibiting suspicious behavior when I was on the toilet taking a shit and my cellmate was on the assigned bunk asleep. I understood the nature of the situation that the corruption officers were creating. Someone dropped a dime on me, so I looked to get a paper trail.
By searching my cell they were committing a constitutional violation against search-and-seizure safeguards granted to prisoners such as notification of cell searching party (corruption officers involved), confiscation of personal property, and the right to appeal without retaliatory actions being taken against one. I made the choice to get the incident documented to bring to the attention of the administration here at Killer Kern, and I paid for it in the worst way possible. But still I stand revolutionary minded putting USW theory into practice outside of the study group's environment. Refusing to let the dragon win, I fight them with my pen and continue to force them to show their brutality on paper and physically.
After refusing to submit to their commands I was placed in wrist restraints and escorted to the facility program office cage where I spent the next few hours resisting the Sergeant and Lieutenant's request for me to submit to an unclothed body search. At this time the corruptions officers searching party (the Kern Valley A yard jump out boys) were back at the cell, searching, confiscating, and disposing of my property and attempting to pay me back for my resistance. They came across a kite [prison letter] that I had hidden inside a medicine bottle waiting to be delivered to it's destination. I will say that I slipped up! Cause I did.
The kite was in regards to a business arrangement that I had going on and gave details about involved individuals who were to participate. The kite was supposed to be delivered that same morning, but due to the unexpected visitors it wasn't and I thus forgot about it in the commotion of three COs at my door with their cans out ready to spray me while on the toilet for nothing.
I knew what was up, but didn't act quick enough and therefore allowed intel into the hands of law enforcement. And they had a ball with it immediately reading the kite loud enough for my neighbors, who were members of my LO, hoping to create the confusion that they did.
I spent three days in a small holding cell, cold, cuffed and shackled, taped in a dirty jumpsuit, with no linen, and a mattress that I was allowed only to lay on from 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. with no covering on it. Sleep-deprived with lights on all night attempting to sleep with restraints, I was deprived medical care, and denied high blood pressure medication. I was smelling like shit without a shower, and forced to eat cold meals without any eating utensils or a cup to drink from. I felt the firsthand experience of torture at the hands of the department of correction (corruption) until I had three bowel movements to prove that I didn't have anything concealed in my ass.
Once my bowel movements showed negative results for contraband (not an explosive device or a gun, or a knife, but simple contraband) they released me back to the yard, and to the cell I went.
Not even three hours after my arrival I received a kite about the matter of the disclosure of intel in the confiscated kite. It wasn't "Cuz how you holding up? Can we assist you any way?" or none of that. But with everything falling the way it did, I understand. Because a week prior to the incident, individuals of various groups were getting popped with phones. And all were cats who were making the dead presidents, but removed from the front lines. There was a leak and Investigative Services Unit (ISU) was getting more fat than a fat guy in an all you could eat buffet.
I was brought up on charges of being that leak. And if the shoe was on another person's foot, I would've really pushed for an old school lynching. Treason is a no no, but here it is in the accused, getting kites now from OGs on the bricks, and weeks later I find myself up against the wall with those who I've actually shed blood for, explaining that I ain't no fucking rat and did not intentionally drop intel into the hands of law enforcement. Time drew on with me and those that be, doing just as the pigs planned us to, as we were on lockdown due to a war with the Blacks and the "southern Mexicans," over a drug debt, a phone, and miscommunication that caused an eight-on-twelve melee between Blacks and Browns, and one Black to be stabbed eleven times.
The option came around to me after the verdict came in that I was guilty of loose lips. I could either clean up some green (guards), get cleaned up, or handle the individual who would clean me up. For those who can't read between the lines clean up in this situation means to stab something up good enough that the message (whatever it may be) be sent clearly.
Now it may seem like nothing, but I'm not new to this shit, I'm true to it. I ain't no crash dummy, I've got a close release date, and a lot of life to live. I ain't stabbin' no pig without no chance of getting away, and I damn sho' ain't about to be a pin cushion. So I got the hell out of dodge, and didn't blink doing it. I'm an SNY, I recognize that some will understand, but most won't and I am no longer who they seen me as. But my time was limited as any real active revolutionary is on the line abroad the people who are and love the same exact thing that they claim to hate. Straight up!
Politicizing amongst the LOs is a difficult task when the same ones you advocate for are advocating against your existence for individualist purposes. I bump heads with the big dawgz about policy even when certain radz advised against it because of my youth and their popularity, and I got exactly what they said it would get me. An early death in the prison game.
I sit in ASU now on my third month for investigation into my security concerns that I raised truthfully on a 602 appeal form. The ISU/IGI agents attempt to sell protection like they are some type of "Green Wall" protection agency. I'm told the more you cooperate and inform us into the details of drugs, cellphones, crooked cops, and criminal activity, the more we can help you. Since when does the lion help the lamb?
I attempted radio silence with MIM(Prisons) until I could get my §1983 lawsuit put in, because my mail is being highly monitored, censored, withheld and returned.
But it seems that faith will have us together married until death do us part. So I'm back like Jesus from the dead, not really back at all, reborn into the characteristic of a USW on the other side of the fence.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is one more example of our point that not everyone on SNY yards is a snitch or rat as the pigs would like us to think. A bourgeois approach to security allows the bourgeoisie to win out. By bourgeois, we mean an individualist, rather than a group approach. We oppose studying "persynalities" instead of politics. And we oppose thinking that violence against individuals builds a strong movement.
There are plenty of enemies on mainline and there are friends to be found in SNY. How we associate and how we build allows us to determine which are which, not rumors or labels given out by the enemy.
Who did what who called the shot I just don't know all I know is that it shouldn't have been so Malcolm should have lived until he was a thousand years old or even more some say it was the COINTELPRO of that I'm sure but what made negroes gun down our hero and turn around and practice non-violence towards a savage who threatens our very existence while Malcolm was plotting a resistance against the nemesis these imbeciles was plotting against the shining prince they're worse than Judas because Judas had a conscience so he hung himself after his treacherous action but after the treason these Judases are still breathing why don't they just die and make us rejoice with joy non-believers disguised in Black skin sabotaging the struggle that they don't believe in so they use their skin to deceive men
niggas killed Malcolm X and niggas will probably kill me too
You got to be naive to believe you can determine friend from foe just based on skin color alone and not by the content of the character I see the niggas but where my brothers at Bob Marley said that they sold Marcus Garvey for rice Then they ambushed Bob Marley in the night They say the eyes never lie but experience tells me that they don't always tell the truth
niggas killed Malcolm X and niggas will probably kill me too
Huey Newton was still an asset yet slugs put him in his casket while agent provocateurs that deserve death remain in our midst misfits in positions of leadership navigating the lives of the less fortunate the blind leading the blind now we can't find our way out of this maze that got us trapped and strapped with gats that we only aim at Blacks
niggas killed Malcolm X and niggas will probably kill me too
I'm analyzing this self hatred wondering why this Black life of mine ain't considered sacred in a blink of an eye a nigga would lay me dead on the pavement but if my pigment was white a nigga would think twice fifty times before he contemplates homicide I've stared into the eyes of these boys who claim to be real men and I've seen the fear that paralyzes that make them throw away their weapon when the cops hit the intersection we're conditioned for submission so the prisons are full of Blacks who hate Blacks and back stab each other because they're petrified of the real nemesis life sentences and these fools are complacent with just being jail house celebrities all is vanity buy up the commissary and live good in the penitentiary while we're becoming liabilities to our families where's the sanity?
niggas killed Malcolm X and niggas will probably kill me too