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Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [ULK Issue 43]
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Torture Spreading as Tool of Social Control

In this issue of Under Lock & Key we take on the issue of social control in prisons through long-term isolation, commonly known as control units (CUs). CUs are permanently designated prisons or cells in prisons that lock prisoners up in solitary or small group confinement for 22 or more hours a day with no congregate dining, exercise or other services, and virtually no programs. Almost 50% uf ULK subscribers are in CUs, while this is true for less than 5% of the overall prison population in the United $tates.

This topic comes up a lot in ULK because control units are used to punish and isolate prisoners speaking up against the criminal injustice system, those with influence over others, and even those who just won't go along with the programmed repression of everyday prison life. Our prisoner activist comrades, United Struggle from Within members are often found in these long-term isolation cells, still writing for ULK and organizing others in whatever way they can. The real purpose of these control units is exposed in "Control Units: Social Control for Semi-Colonies in the United $tates," and several articles on validation for activism. Control units attack our ability to organize and are yet another way the prisons foment divisions between prisoners.

We know that long-term isolation has serious mental and physical health consequences. The conditions are eloquently exposed in the article on the Delaware Prison System. And the dangerous health effects are discussed in the article "Who's Defining Mental Illness?"

The use of control units is expanding within the Amerikan criminal injustice system and the past and future growth of control units are explored in the review of the book "Out of Control" and our summary of recent results from our own control unit survey.

With all this information on the development and purpose of control units we need to turn to activism and what we should be doing to fight back. Many of the articles listed above offer insights and options. And for the overall development of the movement we call attention to the article on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity and the lessons for the United Front from the Bandung Conference. By building a United Front for Peace in Prisons we are laying the groundwork of unity and peace to take on important battles like the one to abolish control units.

The fight against prison control units is important for the anti-imperialist movement, but it can only be waged in the context of the broader struggle. We might win some reforms and gain some freedom for our activist comrades behind bars, and better conditions for the general prison population, but until we dismantle the criminal injustice system we won't be able to effect systematic change. And that will only happen with the overthrow of imperialism because, as is clearly exposed in this issue of Under Lock & Key, prisons are a critical tool of social control for the imperialists. There's no way the imperialists will give up that control, and they always look for new ways to spin national oppression to sound tolerable and even necessary to the Amerikkkan public.

Control Unit Survey Responses

MIM(Prisons) has been soliciting for data on control units for the past several issues of ULK. We're forced to do this because there is no central information source on control units in prisons in the United $tates. Even for states that publish data on their population and report on the existence of control units, the counts of prisoners housed there are not always accurate. and there is a trend to downplay and under report on control units. Whether this is by giving them a different name (administrative segregation, super max security, security risk housing, tiers, etc.) or by refusing to talk about these long-term isolation cells altogether, this subterfuge and denial is evidence that the prisons know control units are cruel and unusual punishment.

In response to the frequently heard question of how would we deal with crime differently, first we point out that we do not agree with a definition of crime that allows the biggest murderers and thieves to run the government and military. Once the people have power to control the definition and enforcement of laws to be in the interests of humynity and not profit, we'll be able to thoroughly deal with the real criminals. We hold up the example of prisons in China during the Cultural Revolution to show how communists handle crime and justice. Prisons in China during that time were places of political education and retraining. Landlords, capitalists, and spies were given an opportunity to understand their crimes against the people, to make self-criticism, and to learn new and useful skills so that they could return as productive members of society. This is in direct contrast to the Amerikan criminal injustice system, which builds recidivism and isolates politically active and influential prisoners in control units without even a pretense of education or rehabilitation.

We received 54 responses to the control unit survey over the past year and this article summarizes some of the new findings.

The respondents broke down by state as follows:


StateRespondents
AR, DE, FL, KS, MD, ME, MO, NV, OR, SC, UT1
AZ, CT, IL, PA, TN, WI2
IN4
CA6
TX8
GA13

The high response rate from Georgia, Texas and California is at least in part reflective of the activism going on in those states, as well as the control unit prisons and cell blocks that have proliferated in those states. In many cases we received data on the same prison from multiple sources.

While close to half of the survey respondents did not report on the year the control unit opened (presumably because they didn't know), 12 of the units reported on opened in the past 2 years. That's a lot of new prison control units. This includes prisons in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maine and California.

Some prisons are control units in their entirety. Modeled after the first long-term isolation prisons in Marion and Lexington, these facilities are entirely dedicated to long-term solitary confinement. But most control units these days are separate sections within an existing prison. This might be a whole yard, several units, or just specific cells. This makes it more challenging to count the number of control unit beds/prisoners accurately, and gives the prisons a way to hide their torture programs within regular prisons.

The reasons given for locking prisoners up in long-term isolation vary, but most come back to some sort of justification based on safety and security, citing a history of violence or fighting, or rule violations. In many prisons there is a policy of locking up "Security Threat Group" members, also known as "gang members," for which validation is arbitrary and punitive, as we discussed extensively in Under Lock & Key 41. As one prisoner explained: "If you are politically conscious and write about such they claim 'gang activity'." Several others described the arbitrary nature of control unit assignment, explaining what gets people into these units in their prisons: "COs will falsify the lock up order and sergeant and lieutenant will go along", "Any and everything. Such as litigator-grievance filer", and "No information in inmate handbook. As far as known, administrative discretion."

Most people were unaware of new control unit prisons being opened or planned for in their state, but 13 people reported on known plans for new control units. This underscores the importance of our work to shut down these torture chambers.

Many survey respondants reported on the conditions in these control units. Below are some of the representative descriptions:


"Subpar treatment of prisoners, small food portions, withholding of property, mail, etc."

"They are all sensory deprivation torture at its best"

"We don't get yard correctly or food in proper proportions"

"Barbaric, human degradation less than dogs receive at the pound"

"We are locked in for 24 hours a day. Shower, sometimes every other day for 30 minutes. We get outside recreation for 5 hours once every 7-10 days"

"Each cell here only gets 30 minutes a day of dayroom and 3 hours of yard a week"

"They lie on us, beat us up, starve us, they don't give proper medical attention"

"While in segregation for almost four years, myself and other prisoners were subjected to the most inhumane and barbarous treatment. There were periods in which we went months without getting showers. In my almost 4 years here, I had recreation/exercise maybe 20 times. Prisoners would be stripped out, completely naked in their cells for days. Prisoners would be gassed/maced with multiple cans of this toxic agent – guys were sprayed so regular and with such large quantities of gas, they many of them had built up physical and psychological resistances to the torture – guys would brag about being able to 'eat' the gas, and the officers were so use to using such large quantities of gas, if they gassed someone with only one can and the person coughed and choked, they'd say things like 'you lil' bitch, you can't even take a full can.' Prisoners would be denied food, prisoners were beaten with restraints on, prisoners were shot with the canisters of tear gas guns, while locked inside of their cell, and on May 7th or 8th of 2012, one mentally ill prisoner was allowed to hang himself, while the officers simply slept the night away. There are so many crimes that have been committed behind these walls by animals that have the audacity to call us (the least of these) criminal."

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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Georgia State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 43]
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Georgia State Prison Hunger Strike Against Control Units

A hunger strike against the Tier program at Georgia State Prison started on February 24, 2015 and will be official as of February 26. So far four prisoners are refusing food trays!

I was recently transferred to Georgia State Prison and arbitrarily placed on a Tier 2 Step Down Program. These administrators have placed a ban on all newspapers, magazines, and any publications dealing with any form of press, so I have not received any of your periodicals since I was transferred from December.

I have filed grievances challenging this violation of the First Amendment and also the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments due to these prisoncrats stripping me and others of all personal property, denying access to the law library or outside recreation, and deliberately abusing grievance procedure by refusing to process any grievance that is submitted.

Further, prisoners are being placed on this so-called behavior modification program with no due process! Prisoners are being punished for disciplinary reports that are five years expired, and for sanctions already served. No one in this program has been given any form of evidentiary hearing nor any Disciplinary Report (D.R.) that has sanctioned this so-called program. In fact, all are being punished for past behavior. Even if the D.R. was dismissed or expunged from the prisoner's file he is still forced into this Administrative Segregation Unit.

Prisoners are being housed two men to a cell and locked down 24 hours a day. Prisoncrats state that this is not for punishment, nor is it solitary confinement, but they call it "isolation" with a roommate. There is nothing habilitative about this program and it only instills anger and hate into the individuals housed here.

The only prisoners who have been released off this program are prisoners that have either maxed out their sentences, died back here (3 prisoners in the past 90 days), or debriefed and turned snitches for the prisoncrats.

The majority of mail sent out to family and press is shredded or tossed into the trash, so we are struggling to get public attention drawn to this torture program. It looks as if we will be forced to participate in a hunger strike in order to get help in ending this prolonged solitary confinement program. So we ask that eyes and ears be placed upon this place because there are those ready to starve themselves in order to force these prisoncrats to remove us from these cruel and inhuman conditions.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Comrades in Georgia have been aggressively exposing and fighting the Tier program since it was implemented in 2013, and in some facilities have been writing petitions and gathering signatures against the torture. We offer much respect to those willing to sacrifice their health in order to demand changes to these horrible conditions. And we will do what we can to support this battle (which we only learned about in mid-March due to mail delays). We can not advise on the specific situation in GSP, but we caution activists behind bars that whenever possible we should build support both inside and out before engaging in such a potentially dangerous action. ULK is one good venue for building public opinion, and when we can get the publication into prisons it also serves to help build the cadre of dedicated folks willing to take these actions. Without this support the prisoncrats have an easier time isolating and breaking activists, and can even use this to permanently harm or even kill someone.


Update 9 April 2015 — I'm here in Georgia State Prison on hunger strike, in protest to my 1st, 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendment rights to the U.S. Constitution being deliberatily violated by the Georgia Department of Kkkorrections (GDC). Other prisoners and I have been arbitrarily and unlawfully stripped of all personal property, mail and phone privileges, access to satellite law library, contact visitation, commissary privileges, and to add insult to injury the Warden has taken the toilet's flush button from inside the cell and placed it on the outside. Now here's the kicker: prisonerers are being housed two prisoners to a single-occupancy cell with no way to flush the cell's toilet. This is part of Georgia Department of Kkkorrections' new Administrative Segregation Tier program of prolonged solitary kkkonfinement.

The Standard Operating Procedure states that this program is not to be used as a punishment measure, but GDC's actions are contrary to its stated purpose. According to this policy, a prisoner must be sanctioned to disciplnary Administrative Segregation in order to be placed upon the program. I have yet to come across any prisoner that has received a disciplinary report that sanctioned such a placement.

Then, daily, these prisoncrats come around and spew lies as to why this program was started: "To reintroduce prisoners back into the general population and back into society." This is a farce because none that have completed all phases have been placed back into general population. They've come up with a phase "+" (plus) to keep all prisoner who've defended themselves from guard attacks on permanent lockdown with all segregation/Hi-Max mandates stripped from them.

So I initiated a strike which started 23 February 2015 and ended 19 March 2015, has been resumed since 20 March 2015, and is still going on. I am also putting together a 1983 Civil Suit to challenge and abolish this torture program! I've posted several articles on this subject on IndyMedia hoping to expose this neo-fascist torture program for what it really is. There is nothing rehabilitative or positive in any aspect pertaining to this so-called Step Down/lockdown program. These Klu Klux Klan and bootlicking Negroes are working overtime to keep all grievances/complaints from reaching the courtroom. So this is a war and I'm fighting to destroy this torture program.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Darrington Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 43]
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Denied Recreation in Ad-Seg

We are placed back here in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for being part of a security threat group (STG), a supposedly "confirmed" gang member. I was placed in Ad-Seg in 2002 for corresponding with other prisoners in another unit who were already confirmed. I got out of prison in 2004, and have just recently come back this past year, and once again I find myself placed in Ad-Seg even though I am not part of a gang. I have tried to write to the gang officers and even wrote a history report about my association in the past. I was told I would go to a G.R.A.D. program that's designed for ex-gang-members. I have yet to hear anything.

During this time in Ad-Seg, we are supposed to receive an hour of exercise (recreation) per day. Well I have been here on this unit going on 6 months and have been to recreation only twice. I have written a Step 1 grievance only to be told that they would get to us when staff permitted. They claim to be under-staffed. But general population gets their daily recreation, and they have enough staff to allow them to shake our cells down every other day during showers. There are other units that are really under-staffed, yet their Ad-Seg blocks receive their hour of recreation. It's sad because some of us need the exercise for medical reasons, and all of us need it for mental issues. Constantly in the cell all day every day is really a mind battle and a severe health issue.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In Under Lock & Key 41 we published many accounts of gang validation being used as a tool of social control. The STG designation is held over the heads of prisoners who are often among the most politically active, and then used as an excuse to isolate them from others. It is irrelevant to the prison administration whether or not these "confirmed" people actually affiliate with a criminal organization. And in some places, working with MIM(Prisons) is considered criteria for classifying people as a security threat. We publish accounts like this one to demonstrate the ongoing conditions of torture in these isolation programs, and the arbitrary use of the STG label. But in reality we do not trust the criminal injustice system to decide who is a threat to security; the biggest security threats are running the Amerikan government and its military and prison systems.

This article referenced in:
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[Control Units] [ULK Issue 43]
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Book Review: Out of Control

Out of Control: A 15-Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons
by Nancy Kurshan
Freedom Archives, 2013
web book available here

"All human activity is collective - a combination of the work and inspiration shaped by those who came before us and those who labor with us." - Nancy Kurshan

Nancy Kurshan does an excellent job of highlighting the significance of a 15-year struggle of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML) from 1985-2000. This struggle was initiated to end the lockdown at Marion Federal Prison, located in the state of Illinois, which morphed into one of Amerikkka's earliest and most notorious control units and isolation-based torture chambers. At its core, the book illustrates countless examples of mutual aid and cooperation, along with emphasizing the importance of having clearly established goals and objectives that can be reasonably achieved.

As with any struggle that is geared towards movement building, CEML began with the idea of a few individuals; founding members Nancy Kurshan, Jan Susler, and Steve Whitman initially just wanted to educate the people by exposing to the public the systemic practices of social, political, economic and racial injustices that are inherent in the prison system, and how these contradictions impact and affect our communities. It wasn't long before their work took on a life of its own, that was molded by their relentless strategical planning and organizing.

Unbeknownst to many in society, solitary confinement units were originally modeled after the diabolical techniquest of the mad scientist, Dr. Edgar Schein of MIT. He provided a blueprint on how to break and brainwash the Chinese prisoners of war in his book Coercive Persuasion. Nancy Kurshan excerpts a passage from Schein's article "Man Against Man":

"In order to produce marked changes of attitude and/or behavior, it is necessary to weaken, undermine, or remove the supports of the old attitudes. Because most of these supports are the face-to-face confirmation of present behavior and attitudes, which are provided by those with whom close emotional ties exist, it is often necessary to break these emotional ties. This can be done either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about, or by proving to him that those whom he respects are not worthy of it, and, indeed, should be actively mistrusted...

"I would like to have you think of brainwashing, not in terms of politics, ethics, and morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior and attitudes by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the environment in which the captive populace lives."(p. 12)

This history gives relevant context to the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) gang validation policies/practices, and in particular to CDCRs newly-created step-down program (SDP). The SDP is where we prisoners have been targeted and persecuted with the same purpose and objectives that Schein had in mind — to break and brainwash us! It must be noted that Pelican Bay's counter-intelligence unit (Institution Gang Investigators — IGI), has successfully destroyed the only real outside support I had. They falsely accused my beloved lil sista of promoting gang activity via a letter she sent me to tell me that Black Panther Party members were going to be attending and supporting a community event that was being held on my behalf to raise awareness about my status as a political prisoner and forthcoming parole board hearing.

Instrumental in CEML's successful grassroots organizing were several key factors:

1) They made a point of not just jumping into activities but rather committed fully to doing the groundwork necessary to make events successful. This allowed them to preserve and maximize their limited resources. For example, they would initiate plans 3, 6, or 12 months in advance, containing specific objectives that they wanted to achieve in their line of work.

2) Their collaborative work with political prisoners such as Sundiata Acoli, Oscar López Rivera, Alejandrina Torres, Bill Dunne, Safiya Bukhari, Hanif Shabazz Bey, Carlos A. Torres, Silvia Baraldini, and Susan Rosenberg, which later included the prisoners who were also being subjected to various human rights abuses. CEML members were able to learn first hand of the contradictions that plagued Marion Prison and others like it, thus equipping CEML with the necessary tools to achieve their objectives, while providing substantive support to prisoners. Pivotal in this exchange was CEML including the prisoners in the decision-making process when strategizing for a particular action and/or a community event.

3) CEML understood the importance of having organizational infrastructure. They constantly distributed pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, brochures, and other propaganda-based materials via the workshops, seminars, and study groups they held, to educate the people about their line of work. This ensured the basis of clearly-defined organizational expectations being set forth, which made it easier for CEML to receive support from the community.

4) CEML did not limit the focus of their primary objective to just ending the lockdown at Marion; they also instituted additional campaigns that became interconnected to their pursuits. For example, the prisoners at Marion were being forced to drink, shower, and wash themselves in toxic, polluted water. The exposure of this contradiction brought about outrage from the environmentalists, and allowed CEML to forge a united front with them.

And so I close with a clenched fist salute to Nancy Kurshan and the entire CEML staff for a job well done - but more importantly, for having the wherewithal to share their struggle and life experiences with the people. I urge people to read and study Nancy Kurshan's book Out of Control and build upon the framework that she has provided us. The book is available online at: www.freedomarchives.org.


CLASS="no-indent">MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this writer about the value for activists in the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown's (CEML) summary of their 15-year history. Out of Control provides valuable historical documents and analysis on the development of control unit prisons in the United $tates and their use for social control, as well as organizing lessons from fifteen years of CEML activism dedicated to fighting the torture units. By linking to historical documents, the online version of this book provides a particularly useful resource and should serve as an example to other activists about the importance of not just doing our organizing work, but of documenting and summing up our lessons for the future. (Quotations below will reference chapter numbers because the online book does not have page numbers.)

In this book we learn that CEML was the original source for some of the critical statistics we still use today about the disparity in incarceration of New Afrikan people in the United $tates. And based on their correct understanding of the use of prisons as a tool of social control targeting oppressed nations, and the use of control units to target revolutionary activists, CEML correctly predicted the dramatic expansion of the prison population and of control unit prisons. CEML's analysis of the criminal injustice system in the United $tates lines up well with our own:

"[W]e realized that there was virtually no connection between crime and imprisonment. Rather, imprisonment was being used as a method of social control for the most rebellious segments of society, in this case Black people and other people of color.

"We reasoned and asserted that just as prisons were to control rebellion in society, control unit prisons were to control other prisons, and that the 'holes' or 'boxes' within control unit prisons were used to control control unit prisons, etc. Just boxes stuffed in boxes."(ch. 29)

CEML was initiated by Nancy Kurshan and others, coming out of movements such as the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee. Kurshan summarizes their view on organizing: "In our corner of the movement, we felt we had a particular responsibility to organize other white people to fight racism and injustice."(ch. 4) MIM(Prisons) agrees with some of the theory behind this approach, in particular the idea of focusing on the needs and goals of oppressed nations' struggles for self-determination within the United $tates. Kurshan writes: "We thought it was important not to compete with the self-organization of people of color, and everything we did was in close consultation with activists in those communities. In addition, we tried to support the agendas that were developed by those activists."(ch. 4) Kurshan goes too far into identity politics in some of her statements, as it is critically important not to abdicate leadership to others simply based on their nationality, but rather to look for correct political line. However, the real problem with this idea of organizing white people to fight racism and injustice was found in CEML's incorrect analysis (or lack of analysis) of classes within the United $tates. Talking about "racism" rather than "national oppression" is indicative of this mistake.

The United $tates is a society based on national oppression with the white nation in power and the oppressed nations facing dramatic disparities in education, housing, income and of course imprisonment. Further, the United $tates is a wealthy imperialist country where the vast majority of citizens enjoy class privilege. And so when we look at who we want to organize we need to first understand what their class and national interests are in the status quo. Those suffering national oppression have an interest in changing the status quo but they still benefit from class privilege just by virtue of their U.$. citizenship. And those benefiting from national oppression (the predominantly white Amerikan nation), and enjoying wealth from the exploitation of the global proletariat, have a strong class and national interest in upholding the status quo including the oppressive criminal injustice system.

And so strategies like the one CEML undertook in Tamms, Illinois to organize the community incorrectly tried to pose the opposition to the prison in the economic interests of the community members: "When it looked like the small southern Illinois town of Tamms might be the site of the new control unit prison, Erica, Leila, and Joey traveled to Tamms to speak with members of the community regarding the nefarious nature of these control units. They distributed literature debunking the notion that the prison would provide locals with an economic shot in the arm."(ch. 22) In reality prisons often provide economic help for the communities where they are built in the form of new jobs and spending. We should take on the nefarious nature of control units without misrepresenting the economics of prisons and the interests of those employed or potentially employed by the prisons. In 2013 Tamms was closed for budget reasons and the guard's labor union delayed the closure with a lawsuit allegedly over safety concerns.

Kurshan explains CEML enjoyed only small victories while facing defeats in all of their larger goals. Our understanding of national oppression within the United $tates helps us see why we are unlikely to win big victories for the oppressed while the imperialists are still in control. Further, CEML put too much faith in their ability to impact Congress, although CEML did recognize that politicians would not take action without outside pressure:

"Our focus on Congress was never exclusive, because we realized that only through grassroots activism — people in the streets — could we hope to get any action from the politicians on these issues. We had to build a movement of people to challenge the dominant ideology regarding imprisonment."(ch. 21)

Ultimately to win this battle against control units and the criminal injustice system we will need to dismantle the capitalist economic system itself. CEML did not put their work in that context and so were not pushing forward the important work of building towards communist revolution. Only with a dictatorship of the proletariat in power will we be able to make fundamental changes to Amerika's injustice system.

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[Control Units] [Mental Health] [ULK Issue 43]
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Who's Defining Mental Illness?

Psychological diagnoses made in bourgeois society seek not only to isolate and treat mental illness on an individual basis, but also says the illness neither affects, nor is affected by, others.

Taking isolation in prisons into account (where research shows that being locked up in itself can cause mental illness) one begins to see the so-called facts in bourgeois reasoning behind individual diagnoses as fallacious. Individual diagnosis benefits the bourgeoisie by separating the individual from h environment, forcing the illness to be considered through the biological lens where it is said to be internally developed. This method negates a persyn's social and cultural influences, economic plight, outside forces acting upon h social milieu, as well as individual interpretation of all the above.

Inside isolation pods in U.$. prisons we are subject to sensory deprivation, restricted movement, lighted cells 24 hours a day, the constant clanging of metal doors, bullying by guards, unhealthy food, as well as sporadic screaming and banging by those even more deeply affected by imperialism's woes. This constant barrage of negative stimuli over a period of time is agitating, if nothing else. Agitation leads to the need for an outlet for the release of pent up tension. That tension leads to anger and resentment. This anger can have far-reaching, long-term effects. This awareness is underlined by my own persynal experience of having a quick temper, blurred reasoning after being agitated, and less thought-out reaction to anger with little to no thought of consequences.

The bourgeois system is backwards because it is idealistic (diagnosing as biological and as not affected by environment) and metaphysical (mental illness affecting only the individual and unchanging). Both these are world outlooks that imply things are what they are and will always be what they are. These outlooks are supported by the bourgeoisie because they compel apathy (indifference to the rule of the bourgeois because there seems to be little we can do to change things) and acceptance of the "order of things" by the masses who come to accept the conditions as inherent and the dominance of bourgeois leadership as unchanging. Basically the bourgeois classes push this line of reasoning because it allows them to hold on to power.

While the bourgeois classes perpetuate imperialism and deny responsibility for world conditions (including the systematic incarceration of oppressed nations) they also label all who refuse to subscribe to their world view as sick, radical, deviant, disillusioned and, of course, mentally ill.

In Under Lock & Key 15 after asking the question "who is mentally ill?" MIM(Prisons) quotes MCB52 that those who are diagnosed with mental health problems are mostly "pissed off people rationally resisting the hegemonic culture one way or another."

The method of diagnosis will change once the people begin defining and deciding our own conditions. Fed up with the conditions we find ourselves and the world in, fed up with being agitated, let's begin to agitate back. And let's build independent institutions that operate outside the diagnosistic structure of the bourgeoisie, where the people decide who is mentally ill based on their contributions to the further development of the people's interest, not because we refuse to take part in a system that oppresses us and others.

Revolution starts in the gulags.
All power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade on the problem of individual diagnosis for mental illness in bourgeois society. This standard especially benefits Amerikkka because it justifies drugging up oppressed nationals full of psychotropics in the name of psychology, while leaving the structure of prisons and solitary confinement intact. We have heard reports from many comrades in prison that the so-called therapists want to prescribe them strong psychotropic drugs (or even force them to take these drugs), which they refuse because it will have a negative impact on their ability to engage in politics. Yet these comrades' requests for a resful night's sleep, or adequate nutrition, are ignored. Individual diagnosis permits individual (mis)treatment.

The most progressive of psychologists in the bourgeois countries do see a connection between the individual and society. But the vast majority of those are reformists who do not see the link of the individual's mental illness to the capitalist economic system itself. These academics can be our allies, such as those in the struggle to abolish long-term solitary confinement. But their reformist leaning is inherently limiting.

There is use for mental health practitioners and counselors to work with revolutionaries in our present social context in order to help us resolve the mental illnesses we pick up just from living in an imperialist society. The goal of this mental health work should be to make us better revolutionaries, and not just so we can feel more comfortable going along with the status quo.

Of the few mental health practitioners that do see the bigger connections between capitalism and mental illness, most present-day radical counselors are found in the anarchist movements. A challenge with anarchism is it often seeks persynal "liberation" from capitalism today without a long-term plan of how to achieve liberation on a worldwide scale and for the most oppressed peoples in the world. We are not opposed to anti-imperialists of all stripes achieving a higher level of mental health. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that mental illness can be a persynal motivating factor for many people into revolutionary politics ("i am depressed because this world is so fucked up and makes no sense"), and a resolution of persynal mental illness combined with the frustration many feel by the dead-end strategy of First World anarchism is a perfect formula to push people to age out of political struggle for good.

Professional psychological standards in the United $tates push for "objectivity" of the therapist, which is actually just institutionalized Liberalism. In Communist China, mental health workers were educated in political economy and would use Mao Zedong Thought to help people understand how their depression, suicidal tendencies, or even schizophrenia fit into an international and material context. Rather than being limited to defining somone's "personality" or persynal chemical defect, mental health was seen on a mass scale as a product of society. Anecdotal evidence from our prisoner comrades and outside recruits has shown that mental health challenges can often be resolved on an individual level by taking up revolutionary politics and studying to understand all the nonsense of capitalism.

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[Control Units] [Delaware] [ULK Issue 43]
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Delaware Prison System Exposed as Tool of Social Control

In the early 2000s Delaware spent tens of millions of dollars to develop supermax (SHU) and maximum security (MHU) buildings. These buildings house nearly 1,000 prisoners — a robust portion of Delaware's prison population. Destined for these torture chambers were supposedly the most unruly and depraved individuals: those with violent crimes and violent prison records; the kind of people widely considered to be beyond rehabilitation. The problem is, Delaware doesn't have many prisoners who fall into that category. So while some of the few prisoners who fit that description are in the SHU, it is filled mostly with prisoners guilty of only minor infractions such as using drugs or getting into minor scuffles. Even infractions for innocuous "contraband" can earn a prisoner enough "points" to be sent to the SHU.

In the SHU prisoners spend all but 3 hours a week locked in their cells. They come out for "rec" 3 times a week for 45 minutes each time, in a cage roughly 200 square feet in size, followed by a 15-minute shower. They have no contact with other prisoners and are handcuffed whenever they leave their cells. The SHU possesses an eerily Machiavellian structure where everything is incentivized, from how many phone calls and visits a prisoner can have each month, to how much commissary they may purchase, and even whether or not they are allowed a TV or radio. All prisoners entering the SHU start out with the barest of privileges (if they can be called that) and may earn an increase in their "level" every 90-120 days. If a prisoner fails to graduate to his third level (out of four) he will likely remain in the SHU for an additional year. On the lowest levels prisoners are severely isolated from the outside world, being allowed just one phone call and visit each month. Commissary is limited to $15-$25 every other week.

Implicit in nearly every interaction with the guards is the potential, the threat, of violence; every breath is a potential disciplinary infraction, or "write-up." Many rules are either unknown or go unenforced, making for a milieu where a guard could enter, quite literally, any cell in the SHU and find a reason to write up its inhabitant. If you have more than three books at any given time it could be a write-up, or you put water in your Pepsi bottle, or put a picture of your family in your locker, or hang wet clothes up to dry. Almost anything can be considered "non-dangerous contraband." Any guard has the power to keep a prisoner from seeing or talking to his family, a power not infrequently abused. This kind of isolation and control is maddening for the individuals who live under its influence; any refusal to comply with these instruments of violence — any lack of submission — can be met with a can of mace followed by beatings, restraints, and time in the "hole."

It is not too late for Delaware — or any other state, for that matter — to acknowledge and fix their mistake, converting these buildings into "normal" medium or medium-high security housing. Recidivism has not declined, and neither has the number of institutional disciplinary reports. Meeting violent offenders with more violence, along with mental and physical torture, is not an effective method of reform. It will only make the prisoners more fluent in the language of violence. The millions of dollars spent could have been more wisely invested in productive programming and treatment, methods that would actually improve the quality of life of these prisoners. The SHU costs more than twice the amount to operate as ordinary prisoner housing. Converting these buildings would free up funds that could be more wisely spent on means to reduce recidivism, instead of in a way that only worsens the lives of prisoners, and serves to perpetuate a lifestyle of violence and crime. Prisoners released directly from the SHU are frequently angry, bitter and full of resentment. Studies have shown that these individuals are at a much higher risk for recidivism than those released from general population.

The SHU not only allows the administration to control the prisoners within its confines, but also the prisoners in general population. They are able to control and bully the prisoners-at-large with the mere presence, the threat, of the SHU. Looming in the background is the implicit threat that if you step out of line, even for small infractions, you may ultimately be carted off to the slow-motion torture chambers. This provides great leverage against the prison community.

Corruption amongst, and abuse by, the guards is not some abstract concept, but rather a pervasive, daily reality throughout the prison. This manifests itself in a number of ways from filing illegitimate disciplinary reports, to provoking or sanctioning physical altercations between prisoners. Guards will disseminate information that leads to violence, such as if a certain prisoner is a sex offender or a snitch. On more than one occasion I've witnessed a guard provoke a prisoner verbally, and taunt him until he had a reaction, which was then used as an excuse to assault the prisoner, claiming the prisoner acted aggressively.

There is almost nothing a prisoner can do to address such abuses. A group of prisoners that does manage to unite in an effort to organize, make their voices heard or address social concerns will quickly be exposed by some informant (often from within their own circle) and then targeted by the guards and administration. Something will be "found," or some reason invented to have them moved or sent to the SHU. The guards may simply make something up and call it an "investigation." And why not? Nobody is going to stop them. All the power to do so has been stripped and suppressed.

These deplorable conditions create an environment that often feels helpless and insurmountable to the prisoners who live through it. They are being oppressed and controlled, mistreated and abused, on a daily basis. They have no means of addressing these abuses — even the grievance procedure is hopelessly flawed, not permitting the prisoners to grieve the conduct of the guards, or any procedure whatsoever. They recognize that they are being subjected to conditions that surpass mere punishment for their crimes. They are playing in a rigged game. The parole board isn't actually there to help prisoners obtain their freedom; it's there to give the illusion that it is possible, so that prisoners may be controlled. The few that are successful will emerge as scarred, changed men, living with the knowledge and pain of what they were forced to endure, and the daily suffering that continues by the people they left behind.

Readers may wonder why they should care about how prisoners are treated. The majority of them did, after all, commit some sort of crime. But it is no secret that the United $tates imprisons more of its citizens than any other country, with a prisoner population numbering more than 2.2 million, which is 25% of the world prisoner population. We breed criminals to feed into the prison industrial complex for profit. It is a new form of segregation and slavery, done under the guise of justice. We should care because people who would otherwise be productive, contributing members of society are being indoctrinated and conditioned to perpetuate the revolving doors of recidivism. We are not "correcting" bad or criminal behavior; we are not reforming lives or serving justice. What we are doing is abusing millions of our very own, our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, our neighbors. These people seldom come away from the experience cleansed of their criminal inclination or reformed in any productive way. We should care because if this system of injustice operated the way it was intended, we could actually reduce crime and make our neighborhoods, our country, safer. We should care because while most think it won't happen to them, injustice may strike anyone at almost any time. It could very easily be your loved one on the opposite side of the razor wire. And in that moment it will be no consolation that the general public will find them deserving of the mistreatment they will endure at the hands of our deeply flawed (and too often corrupt) "justice" system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This essay from our comrade in Delaware does a good job exposing the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control rather than a system for punishment and rehabilitation. In particular, the uses of long term isolation, and the effects on those locked up this way, are important reasons behind our campaign to shut down all prison control units.

However, we do not agree with the analysis of the "prison industrial complex" (PIC) or the claim that the United $tates is locking up people for profit. The term PIC implies this profit motive, and it's just factually incorrect. While individuals and some private corporations do make lots of money off the prison system, this is not money that comes from prisoner labor but rather a subsidy from the government which is footing the bill for the imprisonment of so many men and wimmin. The rest of this writer's article actually underscores the point that prisons are for social control, not profit.

So while we agree with this comrade's appeal to Amerikans to join the struggle against the criminal injustice system, we don't think that the general public will join up because injustice might strike them at any time. This injustice is actually very targeted to oppressed nations within U.$. borders. The general white nation Amerikan has more interest in rallying behind expanding prisons in order to preserve their national privilege. We call on Amerikans to join the struggle, but not out of self interest, rather because it is in the best interest of humynity to put an end to national oppression and social control.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [California]
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It's Phase Two, We're All Goin' to the SHU

The January issue of ULK really grabbed my attention with its front page article Agreement to End Hostilities is Main Struggle in CA. As my last article to ULK can attest, there is a whole lot going on in CDCR right now with the SHU lawsuits pending, a court order for CDCR to release people to manageable levels due date on 2/28/15, STG "phase two" pilot program blowbacks, and a general sense of what almost seems like panic among the prison bureaucracy. It's starting to look like CDCR just might have bitten off more than it can chew and the hogs are starting to realize that the tax payer gravy train isn't endless and everyday more and more people on the other side of these electric fences are waking up to the fact that they have been lied to and stolen from by the very people they have placed their trust in for years.

As MIM points out, although it's nice to hear that finally after years and years locked in the torture units, people are starting to be moved back to the mainline, we all have to take heed and remind ourselves that it's just more of the smoke and mirrors that these prisoncrat cowards have been hiding behind for decades. Although they are finally going to acknowledge international laws regarding "long-term" isolation, the SHU torture units remain open and as I can personally attest, still being held and threatened with SHU placement, the pigs are far from being done with using torture units and are currently, and as quietly as possible, filling those same SHU beds with new "STG members and associates."

It is simply a change in official CDCR stratagem. Now everybody they cannot outright "classify" as a "gang member or security threat" they now simply label as an "associate." That way we are all eligible for SHU placement under the terms of the new "phase two of the STG pilot plan" and they can peddle to the public how CDCR "no longer holds prisoners in long-term isolation" per international law. It's a twisted game of musical SHU beds and no one in CDCR, regardless of SNY placement, or non-gang member status, or even an absence of disciplinary write ups, is immune from catching a SHU term. The way the pigs look at it they can cover up their illegal torture programs to the public while carrying on with business as usual by keeping the SHU units constantly full with large numbers of "new gang members/STG associates." All they are going to do now is rotate us in and out at will. I even heard an unconfirmed rumor that they are currently opening up more ASU (Administrative Segregation Units) at prisons in order to accommodate the coming influx of torture victims while maintaining the lie that they will not build anymore SHUs in California.

The orchestrated riot that I was found "guilty" of back in July 2013 is an example of these new "phase two" programs at work. The pigs are using prison yard politics, or better yet what they think are our politics, to pit prisoner against prisoner and place everyone on their STG lists. Once they have "official, confirmed STG activity" placed on every prisoner's file, they are able to pick and choose who they deem a dissident and send them to the gulag units for up to 6 years at a time. As I like to say, "it's phase two, we're all goin' to the SHU." And with this new system in place, they don't have to worry about wasting time with all that "validation points" nonsense that they apparently had in place before to separate the "gang members" from the average prisoner in order to "keep the prison yards safe." In fact, with the new phase two STG program, they have streamlined the SHU placement process so although it might appear that they are releasing those that they have held in the gulag for decades, they are also quietly setting the stage for their eventual return along with all of us "Associates."

It appears CDCR has spent at least some of their stolen money on a think tank along with prison litigators in order to conceive and implement this new STG program as well as getting it written up in the official Title 15 for the Operations of Cali prisons. So although it is pleasant to read that a lot of those long-term political prisoners are being "released" to mainline prisons, we all need to make sure we see these events in the proper context. These pigs care for nothing but money and power and want to be able to steal as much as they can with the least amount of effort. If they are being forced to release those SHU prisoners in order to appear just and in accord with international law, you can bet they are going to do whatever they have to do to confirm their hegemony over the prisoners.

We cannot let up the pressure until all the SHUs/ASUs are closed, prison population levels are in check, and the illegal conviction rates that these corrupt courts maintain in order to keep CDCR growing like the malignant cancer that it is, is overthrown. Let's not start celebrating and discussing setting up a "round table" "powerhouse revolutionary structure," quite yet. Just as the swine are taking a fresh look and stratagem so shall we. We must remember that the end hostilities agreement is a great weapon against the pig dominance and they will do everything in their power to destroy it thus, the orchestrated riots they are staging in increasing fury.

I suggest we all take it up a notch and all start refusing to be placed in a double cell environment. Imagine the chaos that would ensure if CDCR was actually forced to proper prison capacity limits. As of now, under section 3005(c ) of the Title 15 inmates that refuse to double cell will be punished with SHU placement, (I know first hand, as of now I am pending a SHU term for this very violation among other things), yet the "sting" of this punishment for a non violent "crime" is worse than it appears to be. With phase two SHU prisoners quietly, but quickly being used to fill those SHU beds left vacant, they would physically not have the SHU torture cells to punish all of us and set their "example of proper behavior." They might have the guns, but we've got the numbers, which becomes glaringly obvious when all prisoners, of all demographics, stand together on an issue. History has shown, it's the only thing that will without doubt, force their hand. Let's not wait until phase two is fully implemented. Let's act now with a pre-emptive attack on their cute little "rehousing plan" and start refusing cellmates! Much love and respect to all in this struggle.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's call for a collective response to put an end to torture in Calfornia prisons. However, we print h suggestion of refusing double celling only as an idea, which others have brought up as well. We are not advocating the use of this tactic at this time.

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[Control Units] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 43]
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Control Units: Social Control for Semi-Colonies in the United $tates

Comrades living outside of the First World, and specifically outside of United Snakes borders, may be surprised at the social reality of this prison house of nations. The methods employed on the internal semi-colonies are in ways like what is seen in the Third World. The concentration kamps in the United $tates are renamed control units and (CUs) and in most cases the CU population are from oppressed nations. Although the names of these torture centers change, the purpose is the same. The CUs are the centers of neutralization.

Amerikkka attempts to bribe the population living under its heel, and for those who cannot be bought off with luxury items, it tries hard to isolate and dehumynize us lest we influence others. The state understands that even a bribed population may be concerned with humyns being housed in dog kennels without sunlight for decades, so they created the "gang" boogeyman. Just like Nixon created the "war on drugs" in order to criminalize the oppressed nations in the United $tates, today the war on the oppressed continues and rages on, only the CU is the contemporary "final solution."

Understand the Enemy's Control Units

Although most of us held in CUs think of ourselves as strong-minded warriors and soldados, sometimes we underestimate the effects that CUs have on us as people. Sure we are strong-minded, it is why we were kidnapped from the mainlines and stuffed in here. But it's important that we understand the nature of the CU so that we can find ways to combat its effects.

The Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov said in an interview about a year ago, about whistle blower Edward Snowden and his current circumstances,

"Snowden is not a trained intelligence agent. But those who are can tell you, if you live in a controlled environment, you cease to be truly independent-minded because everyone and everything around you is also controlled."(1)

If lumpen are "independent-minded" compared to most of the bought-off populations in U.S. borders, then as the above journalist noted, a controlled environment works to crush this independence. CUs can thus be seen as a bigger tool than many realize. This is not saying that all prisoners held in CUs are not or cannot be independent-minded, but it does mean that we need to guard against this because CUs do attack our independence.

Those of us who are held in CUs are those who threaten Amerikkka the most; it is why we are buried alive in these tombs. Our methods of social organization are outside the influence of the oppressor nation, and this scares them. This fear to protect their privilege compels Amerika to find new ways of neutralizing their enemies, and under the guise of the war on "gangs" it can and does use torture by control units with little notice from the majority of the U.S. population.

Bush 2's legal mouthpiece John Yoo said abuse becomes torture if it inflicts severe pain, and if the interrogator intends to inflict severe pain or suffering. Yoo defined severe pain as necessarily being associated with death, organ failure, or serious impairment of bodily functions. And abuse isn't considered torture unless there is "prolonged mental harm," with "prolonged" defined as over months or years.(2)

This gave the United $tates and its agencies unfettered reign to dive deep into all of its torture projects and unleash them on oppressed people in and outside of U.S. borders. Anything short of organ failure can be used on prisoners. CUs are used by "interrogators," because before we are released from CUs the state wants us to debrief or do journals. The state is also pushing profile requests, sometimes called "compass" in order to build its intelligence on imprisoned lumpen. This helps them repackage our oppression in the name of "corrections."

Control units are tied to our colonization process. They are but physical manifestations of colonization in the 21st century. So theory that forms in response to CUs, and which attempts to give us ways to not just cope but combat these torture centers, must keep in mind that colonization is at the root of our current battle.

One author put it this way:

"It is my contention that any theory must take into account the fact of colonization of Chicanos. This is not to suggest that colonialism is the only or the 'correct' perspective, but rather that colonization is an essential historical fact that cannot be ignored. Just as any theory of black oppression must consider the legacy of slavery, so any perspective on the Chicano must be cognizant of its colonial legacy."(2)

Our theories revolving around the internal semi-colonies in U.$. borders must take into account the reality of us as a colonized people. For Aztlán, the First Nations, New Afrika and Boriqua, we are NOT Amerikkkans. We are nations that are colonized by Amerika, and control units are tools used in this colonization process.

What Good Can be Made of the Control Units?

Looking at it from a dialectical approach, yes control units are horrific designs which I have seen suck the mental capacities out of brilliant thinkers for years, but there is some promise for those held in the kamps. Control units provide us with concrete examples of our oppression so that we can teach people on both sides of the prison walls exactly what national oppression entails. Another nugget that we can glean from control units is that they concentrate the most rebellious sectors of the prison mass. Those held in control units have an audience and are in many ways leaders in their own right already, within their own circles of influence. So it is from here where the seeds of revolution will be sown to spread throughout the prison system.

The lumpen within control units, and those being released to the general populations across the United $tates, often struggle against the state and its oppression. This is good. But unorganized forms of struggle must be transformed into organized forms of struggle. In order for this to happen, conscious prisoners must exert a revolutionary influence on our fellow prisoners.

Prisoners tortured in control units, no matter how long, are "baptized" into the social reality of life in the United Snakes. It is a wake-up call where lumpen of all nations are given a reality check. It is a place where all bribes are stripped away and the mask of U.$. imperialism is finally discarded. Although it is a painful process, the flip side is that control unit prisoners are more open to revolution, perhaps more so than any other sector of the U.$. prison system, and it is from the control units that we will harvest the next generation of revolutionaries.


Notes:
1. Janet Reitman, "The Men who Leaked the Secrets," Rolling Stone, issue 1198/1199, December 19, 2013 - January 2, 2014, p. 89.
2. Wikipedia page for Torture Memos.
3. Alfredo Mirande, "Gringo Justice", University of Notre Dame Press, 1987, p. 222.

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[United Front] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 42]
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Agreement to End Hostilities is the Main Struggle in CA

In early December 2014, we received a letter from a comrade who had recently run into a number of revolutionaries who had been held in Pelican Bay SHU since it opened in 1988. He wrote,

I am writing to say thank you for all of your work and all that you do for us convicts, political activists, freedom fighters and all parties of the struggle. The last hunger strike achieved a lot. Many of the political prisoners housed in Pelican Bay have been released, due to the step down program. Some have been released to step 5 — mainline. Others step 3 and 4 at Corcoran I, or Tehachapi SHUs. But they are close to getting out there. I had the pleasure of talking with [a handful of these comrades] on the bus from Pelican Bay. All of the individuals mentioned had been in Pelican Bay since it opened in 1988, and had arrived from Tehachapi.

We spoke candidly about many things and all parties expressed a deep desire to push and maintain the Agreement to End Hostilities. Even the youngsters smiled and saluted the end to the senseless racial violence of old. For we can overcome obstacles and achieve our definite chief aims by understanding the true cause of our racial divides, which were always perpetuated by the administration to bring about our demise.

Our 20 representatives are doing a great job to maintain order and a common goal. By 2017 or 2018 the entire leadership from all sides should be out. Once that happens I would love to see all political and revolutionary parties establish a round table, power house, to jointly and successfully build the most powerful revolutionary structure the United States have ever known.

We are pleased that some of the leaders in Pelican Bay will be gaining relief from decades of solitary confinement soon. But we need to be clear that the Step Down Program being employed will not have an overall positive effect. In the article "(Un)Due Process of Validation and Step Down Programs" from ULK 41, cipactli explained how the Step Down Program to get out of isolation actually legitimizes the validation process, and why they will not be participating in it. And there is still no plan by the state of California to shut down the torture cells altogether, as new prisoners continue to fill the empty spots. Even this comrade notified us of plans for another strike in Corcoran where the state has not upheld its end to the agreement made after the 2012 strikes. Getting some people out of the torture cells may create opportunities, but alone it doesn't change the conditions overall. We must push a campaign of total abolition of the SHU.

All that said, the Agreement to End Hostilities continues strong, and we were glad to receive word of some of these comrades regaining humane conditions on the mainline where their important work can have more impact. Without the end to hostilities between prisoners, there is little hope of ever ending torture in California prisons. Recently, comrades from the New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) Collective Think Tank (NCTT) in Corcoran SHU put out a good article reinforcing the strategic importance of the Agreement to End Hostilities as well.(1) Below are some excerpts.

They intentionally pit the New Afrikan prisoner against the Mexican prisoner, the prisoner from the North against the prisoner from the South, the European prisoner against the New Afrikan prisoner, the young prisoner against the old prisoner, the Kiwe against the Damu, the folks against the people, the European have-nots from one group against the European have-nots from another — and for decades WE ALLOWED them to do this to us.

They used our antagonisms, antagonisms born of this system they created, as a basis to erect torture units — Security Housing Units (SHUs) — and a system of mass incarceration which continues to devastate the working class and the poor. They broadcast our conflicts and contradictions to an uninformed public to secure ever larger portions of the social product (taxes), further enriching themselves, their industry and their labor aristocracy — as we were further dehumanized and despised.

Just like the slaves of the chattel era, many of us helped them out by embracing this fiction, these manufactured categorizations, and fought each other with delusional gusto, as they built a monolith of money and political power in pools of our blood... until the Agreement to End Hostilities was announced; and just like that — hundreds of years of capitalist institutional exploitation was immediately put in jeopardy.


"Only social practice can be the criterion of truth ... Marxist philosophy holds that the most important problem does not lie in understanding laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world." — Mao Zedong

Correct ideas come only from social practice. In two short years since the Agreement to End Hostilities was enacted by a relatively small population of prisoners, it has manifested itself into a social force which has accomplished the liberation from SHU of some of the most severely tortured prisoners in the history of modern imprisonment.

...

The Agreement to End Hostilities offers our communities the opportunity to confront and overcome our own internal contradictions while forging new areas of social cooperation from which closer and more harmonious relationships may emerge.

"This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. A struggle which mobilizes all classes of the people and which expresses their aims and their impatience, which is not afraid to count almost exclusively on the people's support, will of necessity triumph." — Frantz Fanon

When social cooperation is strengthened, state power and oppression is always weakened. Our capacity to manufacture and mobilize underclass political power — not to validate the bourgeois political process but to expose its contradictions, truly democratize its mechanisms and reclaim our human right to influence society — will determine if we are collectively capable of conquering our rights. Abolition of the slavery provision of the 13th Amendment means the abolition of prisoner disenfranchisement, instantly transforming the prisoner class into a constituency.

The main thesis of this article by the NCTT comrades is that the Agreement to End Hostilities can be a basis for ending the legal enslavement of prisoners. We have some differences in strategic focus, as we see focusing on the enforcement of the First and Eighth Amendments as more important to building a struggle for a just society than repealing portions of the Thirteenth.(2) Speaking to this point, the article even points out that, "it is not the inhumanity of systematic torture in indefinite SHU confinement which is deemed criminal; it is our protesting against the inhumane practice which is criminalized."

We agree with the overall analysis of the NCTT, which addresses the many ways that the lumpen, migrants, and oppressed nations in general do not have full citizenship rights in the United $tates. As a result they do not have full vested interest in the maintenance of this government and economic system. And from there we conclude the importance of the Agreement to End Hostilities in prisons, and extending that to the lumpen on the streets, as building a motive force for social change.

That is what the Agreement to End Hostilities and the United Front for Peace in Prisons are and always have been about: transforming society. Less fighting amongst prisoners is not our end goal; it is a step towards reaching our goals. These goals that have been kept from the oppressed and concealed through manipulations by the oppressor nation in this country. And that is why independence is one of the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. The criminal injustice system exists to prevent us from working together to end the hegemony of the oppressor.


Notes:
1. NCTT-Cor-SHU, "Prisoners’ Agreement to End Hostilities as the basis for the abolition of ‘legal’ slavery," 25 December 2014.
2. 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
8th Amendment - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
13th Amendment - [1.] Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
[2.] Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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[Control Units] [US Penitentiary MAX] [Federal]
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Feds Punish Legal Battles with Extreme Isolation

On 8 October 2014 I was suddenly awoken by men in black (literally) with guns who simply stated, "Get dressed you're leaving ADX." The United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) is considered the end of the line in the Federal prison system and the conditions of confinement are often more extreme than other facilities. ADX is where terrorist suspects are held in the United $tates.

While I had fought for 11 years to be released from solitary confinement, I was not expecting this sudden transfer. I was compelled to leave my property in my cell, rushed to an airport nearby, and placed on a privately chartered Gulfstream Jet. It was just me and the SWAT-type team of officers and pilots, on an aircraft clearly more used to ferrying billionaires than prisoners.

I was hopeful I was finally about to be treated with dignity and released from solitary since my plight has been chronicled in the courts and national media for years. I was very wrong.

I was flown to the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri which was built in 1933. I was thrown in solitary confinement in a small 6x9 foot cell that contains only a bed and toilet. The TV, 2 hours daily recreation and other amenities I had in ADX were gone in an instant, meager as they were. My only mental stimuli is to hope for mail or to watch aircraft land out my large window. I'm told I'm being mentally "evaluated," though no one seems to have time to do so. The conditions are so spartan and oppressive I am shocked.

That the U.$. government would respond to the largest class action lawsuit in its history, and scores of negative press (see: www.supermaxlawsuit.com), by treating me worse speaks to an audacity and arrogance only the U.S. Government is capable of. There is much left to achieve but I will continue to report on my journey through solitary nation.


MIM(Prisons) adds: For years we have been fighting to shut down prison control units because they are used just as this writer describes: as punishment for those who are resisting oppression. And for those who don't find solitary confinement sufficient inducement to stop filing lawsuits and protesting abuses, the Federal prison system has created even more extreme isolation as punishment, including and exceeding the notorious Supermax at ADX.

The imperialist system relies on these control units to punish and intimidate activists. The end of long-term solitary confinement is not possible today given the current balance of forces in the United $tates, but public opinion against them is spreading. It is our task to push an abolishionist stance against torture and not allow for reforms that maintain this tool of repression as a legal option under bourgeois rule. In the medium-term this is a winnable battle under capitalism, but we have a long way to go.

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