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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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[Abuse] [Legal] [Control Units]
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Case Law and Strengthening Spontaneous Action

Most prisoners don't know that the only reason some injustices happen to them is because the person before them it was done to did nothing about it. So it continues into custom, then into practice, then into policy. Once in policy, Court Order Injunction is the only means to prove unconstitutionality of such acts and force them to be changed. Therefore we need to fight injustice while it is still just a custom!

In ULK 33 "Solidarity: Dead in the Feds", a Federal prisoner reported on a spontaneous action that took place to protest poor meals in the Security Housing Unit at the United $tates Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana. 53 prisoners participated in a collective action but most quickly retreated. Clothing was taken away and everyone was placed on meager "disciplinary meals."

Besides the spontaneous direct action approach which quickly fizzled out, another tactic those comrades could take is to get those 53 prisoners to pick up a pen and a grievance and file the case law outlined on Donegan v. Fair, 859 F2d 1059.1063 (1st Cir 1988) (Statute: Prisoners have liberty interest in receiving nutritionally adequate food and meals).

I would also recommend to read the unit's use of force policy to see what they can and cannot do to you, being that this correspondent in Pollock was gassed five times. Getting gassed when done without reason is unconstitutional. See Stringer v. Rowe, 616 F2d 993 at 998 (7th Cir 1980).

The taking of clothes is arbitrary and capricious and done to punish without penological purpose. The case Reeves v. Pettcox, 19 F3d 1060 (5th Cir 1994) combats this type of act.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We appreciate this Prisoners' Legal Clinic contributor for sending in legal tips for others to use in their struggles against the criminal injustice system. Spontaneous collective action provides a good assessment of our overall level of solidarity. That 53 people participated in this spontaneous action in the first place is quite impressive. But building a protracted struggle to bring down the root causes of our vast criminal injustice system — capitalism, imperialism, and national oppression — is another thing altogether.

Unless there is a very broad and deep level of unity among the imprisoned population, direct actions will face defeat because the guards can easily intimidate people out of participating. This is essentially what happened in the original article from ULK 33. We hope the correspondent in Pollock will continue to organize others against injustices in their unit, rather than accept defeat because of one failed action. There are many tactics we can employ to build unity and strengthen our movement.

When choosing what campaigns to organize around, we can see there is a difference between just fighting for reforms while leaving the overall oppressive system intact, and fighting for reforms that make space for more political organizing. Our comrades behind bars should organize with others in their unit against prison abuses, to build networks and elevate the collective consciousness of their fellow captives. This would include fighting against excessive use of force, or for nutritious meals. And we can fight for reforms that directly impact our ability or organize, such as anti-censorship campaigns, or the struggle to abolish solitary confinement. We can organize over these campaigns, and even have some wins under imperialism. The biggest win will be developing our collective consciousness and unity.

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[Control Units] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia]
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Fighting Georgia SMU Torture

I'm currently in a lockdown unit in Georgia called Special Management Unit (SMU). It's a separate building outside the diagnostic prison in Jackson, GA. The conditions at the SMU are like the control units in other states. The E-wing is a 24-hour lockdown unit. You have to stay on this wing at least 90 days. We never come out of the cells for anything on this wing. No yard call or recreation and we have shower heads in the walls.

Most cells here at the SMU are very dirty and have mold growing on the walls from the condensation that builds up in the closed-in area while showering. The cells never get cleaned out and they don't give us bleach or any cleaning rags to wipe the walls and toilet down. They expect us to use what we wash with I guess.

We have no kitchen here so the food comes from across the street; trays are always cold and usually really small. We only eat twice on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We are not allowed books in E-wing or our personal property. We also don't have library or any aids to help on legal work. All we have is a guy from across the street who will bring us two cases a week, which really limits the access we have and is not much help.

They are not acknowledging the grievances about the yard call and the unsanitary living conditions, and I've never even received a receipt back. We have been trying to file a class action suit but no one will represent us or take the case, and no one here will assist us. It's hard time that should be against the law.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have heard a lot lately from Georgia comrades in various control units like this SMU. And this has inspired some work on the Georgia grievance campagn to demand our grievances be addressed. We build campaigns like this one to expose the conditions behind bars and provide tools for prisoners to fight for improvements in conditions. But we know that even if we win some small improvements, the criminal injustice system will remain as a tool for social control. Grievances alone will not fundamentally alter this system. Our job is to educate and organize, to build a broader anti-imperialist movement that can take on the Amerikan system that needs prisons for social control. We are organizing those the imperialists wants to control.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Hays State Prison] [Georgia]
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Georgia Targets Goodfellas for Permanent Lockdown

I want to speak up about the Security Threat Group (STG) program in the Georgia prison system. They claim it's for gang members and people who pose a great risk to the system. Their validations are done based on hate and color and where you are from. The people in charge are validating prisoners who pose no threat to the system.

There is a group of prisoners in the Georgia prison system called the Goodfellas. They have their way of living just like any other brotherhood. But they're from the Atlanta area and the prison officials hate them and label them a security threat to the prison. Every other group can come to the Tier 2 program and go back to the main compound after doing 9 months in a cell. But these brothers who are Goodfellas can't get out and are forced to repeat these Tier 2 programs even after they have completed the program.

These young brothers are under great stress. They have been on lockdown for over 4 years with some going on 5 years. It's unfair and the prison will label anybody to keep them locked down.

Free all Goodfellas!
Stop the madness and bigotry in the state of Georgia!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've heard from others in Georgia about this arbitrary labeling of prisoners as Goodfellas and the use of the tier 2 program for long term punishment and isolation. It is worth pointing out that in the face of all this repression, and reports of thousands of prisoners in Georgia now being held in control units, we are seeing ever increasing levels of activism and organization in that state. We call on all prisoners in Georgia, whether you're part of a lumpen organization or not, to step up and get involved. With the rising tide of activism we have a chance to unite and make some serious progress, not just on small reforms that will make a few people's time a little better, but also on building the unity and political education necessary for a long term movement that can take on the criminal injustice system as a part of the anti-imperialist fight. Organizations in Georgia should join the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

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[Control Units] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 42]
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Unity Against Georgia Torture Units

I am currently housed in Georgia Department of Corrections's (GDC) Tier 3 program. This is the only Tier 3 facility in the state at this time. There are Tier 2 programs at every close-max facility in Georgia which means there are about 10 of these units altogether. These programs are sensory deprivation torture at its extreme.

There is no due process or even a set standard that GDC goes by to place prisoners in these programs. If you file too many grievances, don't get along with the administration at a camp, or if snitches and rats give information to staff about your activities that can't even be proven, Georgia will place you on the tier.

At Tier 3 there are "phases" to the program, but all prisoners for the first 90 days are locked in a cell with only a shower, toilet, sink, and bunk. All windows are covered with metal, and you are allowed no outside recreation for at least 90 days. During this period you are allowed no books, no magazines, none of your personal property except what legal work the facility deems necessary. There is no store call except stamps and paper (which are also limited), no phone calls, and no hygiene except state issue.

In the whole state of Georgia we are fed only breakfast and dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With no store call on the weekends, they basically enforce starvation torture on us. If prisoners try to resist in any way they are pepper sprayed or beaten. Guards slam prisoners' arms and hands in heavy metal door flaps, curse at us, threaten to not feed us, and then when they don't feed us they say we refused our trays.

We have to fight this. I have filed three grievances so far in the 50 days I've been here, about the illegal classification and the fictionalized classification standards. All have gone unanswered.

There are 200 prisoners all on Tier 3 at this facility. All over Georgia there are probably 5,000 prisoners or more facing these oppressive conditions. I am a white ghostface and I am introducing my organization to the precepts of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. None of our policies, laws, creeds, or codes go against what the front stands for, nor does it go against what the MIM stands for or believes in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Georgia's tier system is being used to target activists and anyone the prison wants to isolate. We have many comrades now locked down in isolation. If anything, the torture is breeding resistance and organization in Georgia. This comrade sets a good example, looking to educate and organize others, including any organizations that might join the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Coming together around the UFPP principle of Unity we can build a movement to take on long-term isolation units like they have in Georgia, as a part of the broader fight against the criminal injustice system.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Tamms Supermax] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 41]
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STG Validations to Justify Reopening of Tamms Supermax

The good old boys are at it again. These slipper suckers, who feed off other people's misery, are upset about the closing of Tamms Supermax in Illinois a few years ago. Rather than let Tamms sit unoccupied, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials have devised a plan to put pressure on the legislature to open up the 500-bed hell hole again.

Suddenly they claim we have a major gang problem here in Illinois. IDOC officials are rounding up all the Latinos who they can claim are a part of a security threat group (STG) and sticking them in administrative detention (A.D.).

Some guys haven't caught so much as a disciplinary ticket in years and were quietly toiling away in the kitchen or some other form of servitude. Next thing they know they're on a bus and sent to A.D. Some guys, after serving their segregation time for disciplinary tickets, found themselves in Phase 1 of A.D.

The common thread that binds these guys together seems to be that they are alleged members of an STG. It doesn't take much to validate someone as an active member these days. Most guys were members as kids, and their record preceded them to the joint. Some were identified by gang tattoos. And of course there is always that elusive confidential informant (CI), and only the gang intel officers seem to know for certain if the CI even exists. Personally I believe the correctional officers (COs) make up the CIs because the COs know that all they have to do is say the CI's identity is being withheld for the safety and security of the institution, and no one can or will inquire further.

These brothers sit with no recourse in the courts, stuck in limbo waiting in administrative segregation for some sadist to stop using them as a means to obtain a bigger piece of the tax dollar pie so they can re-open Tamms Supermax, and give themselves a pay raise for a job well done while they are at it.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Tamms Supermax opened in 1998. As 2008 approached many who opposed the torture chambers in Illinois formed the Tamms Year Ten campaign to bring attention to it and get it shut down. By January 2013, the unit was completely closed. This campaign was one of a handful demonstrating that the closing of control units is a winnable campaign under imperialism.

That said, almost as soon as Tamms was closed we are getting reports of increasing use of control units in Illinois again. This is why our Shut Down the Control Units campaign uses a specific definition of long-term isolation rather than just counting the prisons officially labeled as "supermaxes" as many bourgeois press do. The above example of pushing false gang validations for more or higher security prisons should not surprise us because prisons are a tool of social control for the imperialists, and that social control includes long-term isolation cells for anyone who challenges the system. The oppressed must organize to build power to change this.

This situation also provides a good example of how we know prisons are not run for profit. The government regularly uses funds to open control unit prisons, which are more expensive to run than lower security prisons. In 1999, MIM Notes reported "Tamms' budget works out to well over $34,000 per year to control each prisoner, not including the $73 million the state reports spending on building the dungeon. Tamms' cost per prisoner is more than three times the $11,006 estimated cost of living for a University of Illinois student at the Urbana-Champaign campus." The employees (COs and other staff) make out with nice high salaries (totaling $17 million at Tamms when it first opened), but these salaries, and everything else in the prison, is funded by the government, with prisoner labor offsetting some of the costs. The imperialists don't mind spending money to sustain their system of social control. It's money they got from the exploitation of workers in the Third World, and they will spend it freely to maintain their way of life and position of power.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 41]
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(Un)Due Process of Validation and Step Down Programs

Pelican Bay Validation
One of the most damaging aspects of U.S. prisons today is the control units. Control units and solitary confinement are the state's biggest guns in their torturous arsenal. Control units are called SHU, SMU, CMU and a variety of other names depending on what state one is in, but they all work to employ torture on the captives held therein.

When we look to the history of the U.S. prison system we find that the oppressed nations held within have always suffered greatly at the hands of Amerikkka. Prisoners in the United $tates have suffered unpaid labor, lynchings, beatings, floggings and assassinations to name a few. Although much of this still continues — at times more concealed and shrouded than in the past — there are other new methods of national oppression which are employed in this new era of United States domination. I suspect that post-Obama (so-called "post-racial Amerikkka") we will continue to see more of these concealed forms of oppression which inflict the same harm, but which slip through under the radar of the average First World citizen. This makes liberals feel warm and cozy and allows them to believe "progress" is obtainable in the imperialist center.

One such method employed on prisoners in dungeons within the United Snakes is the use of the control unit. The control unit is a modern-day torture chamber, but it cannot be advertised as a lethal killer of mostly Brown or Black minds because the liberals might even turn their noses up at such a revelation. Instead the public must be told that control units are only used on incorrigibles, savages, foreigners, gang members or the sensationalized terrorists.

Who is Locked in Control Units?

Like our ancestors who may have been asked what got the shackle around their ankle, what got them branded with their owner's name on their face, or what got that noose wrapped around their necks, our answer, like theirs, is that it is the nature of our oppressor to seek to eliminate all rebels and revolutionaries who oppose the oppressor nation. This is ultimately what places one in a control unit.

Of course we are up against a sophisticated oppressor nation and the placement of prisoners in control units is wrapped in flowery language. We are told it is for "gang activity" or a "threat to the safety and security of the institution." I am sometimes given a chrono stating I'm "actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy that threatens the institution, staff and other prisoners." This to the untrained mind may sound like justification for torture. Not only is this character assassination not true, but nothing justifies torture, absolutely nothing!

It was only after I began to write articles that spoke up for prisoners, and began filing appeals and lawsuits on behalf of all prisoners, that I was targeted for placement in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU). In short, when I began to resist state repression was when I was isolated in solitary confinement. I was allowed by the state to commit minor crimes and fight other prisoners, until I started to become politically conscious. I am not alone.

Most who work to advance and organize their nation, speak up on behalf of others, or engage in jailhouse lawyering will end up in a control unit. This is a common practice in colonized society: those who resist and who are politically influential are imprisoned under a colonial oppressor.

Why Does the State Have a Validation Process?

Our oppressor must devise ways of placing us in control units, and in California it uses the validation process. The validation process attempts to lend a legal aura to torture and national oppression by claiming to undergo a fair and unbiased process to validate someone as a "gang affiliate." This process is about as unbiased as asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

The fact that the validation process continues to use things as ridiculous as a birthday card, an Aztec drawing, or a book written by George Jackson as evidence of gang activity proves that there is nothing unbiased about this validation process. The kourt cases which supposedly stopped the prison from using these items show how much of a joke the injustice system is and how much it really is an extension of an oppressive state. Our victories will never come from massa's kourthouse.

The validation system helps pacify prisoners into thinking that there is a legitimate process they are undergoing to end the torture. That somehow if we are patient and do as we are told that we might get out of the SHU. This of course is ludicrous. We will stay in SHU until our oppressor feels we no longer resist, until they feel we are broken. Sometimes they want to train their agents and attempt to capture all who associate with us out on the mainline, as if we were live bait. But so long as we remain resistant to their oppression, we will not be allowed to freely associate with others. The validation process only works to uphold our national oppression.

The Step Down Program is More Repression

When we go to committee in California SHUs we are given a form called the "CDCR Advisement of Expectations." This form gives a list of supposed STG behavior which includes "participating in STG group exercise, using gestures, handshakes, possession of artwork with STG symbols." Note that we are not informed what STG symbols are.

We basically cannot socialize with anyone, or we might be accused of STG behavior. We are not told who is validated as part of a STG or given any information about STG behavior. We are simply told we better not associate with STGs or engage in their behavior. The state will decide if we are behaving properly and allowed to proceed in the Step Down Program. They claim they are the experts.

I have heard of some being put on this "Step Down" Program, but the state is picking and choosing who they put in the program. In my opinion it is a pacification program and I am not going to participate in it. Participation masks the oppression of the state while also allowing them to attempt to coerce me and any participants of being guilty, of confessing guilt, even if only guilty of what they deem to be incorrect thoughts.

Recent news of a federal class action lawsuit challenging policies and conditions at the Pelican Bay SHU is welcome and something we all should be following. Ashker et al. v. Governor of California et al., No. C 09-05796 claims that being held for more than ten years in SHU is cruel and unusual punishment and that the validation process is a violation of due process.(1) But here's the kicker: if you have joined the Step Down Program you are not included in this class action. So already we see how the new Step Down Program is serving the state by making it more difficult for prisoners to challenge their conditions.

My behavior is no more incorrect today than it was the first day I was captured and housed in the SHU. The state will not be let off the hook and I refuse to step down from resisting oppression. The Step Down Program continues the same oppression that the validation process started: it attempts to justify what the state is doing to the oppressed nations.

What will End the Validation/Step Down Program?

The Step Down Program is not only similar to the validation process, but here in California many prisons are still using both methods, so we need to end them both.

From the beginning I saw the need to struggle for closing the SHU. From the first hunger strike I knew that if we don't close the SHU altogether, the state will just have us fighting the same problem under new names for decades via strikes/lawsuits. This will never accomplish our goal. We need to keep all justifications for the use of solitary confinement in our scope. No matter why someone is held in solitary confinement, it is always torture and it should always be opposed.

At the same time we have made improvements in many prisoners' lives and some have gotten out of SHU, and I am happy for this. However validation and Step Down Programs will keep us locked in the SHUs until we can make resistance to oppression a hip and common thing. When hunger strikes occur more often than once every ten years, and peaceful protests are as frequent as spring cleaning, then maybe we will finally end validation/step down programs.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Most civilians would say that controlling gang violence is a good thing, and that perspective is exactly what the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is relying on for its gang validation and Step Down Programs. The assumption is that all groups classified as gangs are engaged in criminal activity, and anyone in contact with the gang must be a member.

Let's put aside for now the reality that the U.$. military and police force is the biggest gang in world history. If anyone is organized in criminal activity and terrorism, it's them. That any U.$. government agency claims to be against gang activity without being critical of itself is just a joke.

The entities identified as gangs by the CDCR include correspondence study groups such as the William L. Nolen Mentorship Program. In Texas, Under Lock & Key is cited as a security threat group, despite actually being a newspaper. The National Gang Crime Research Center recently published a report which included the Maoist Internationalist Movement as a potential threat to prison security. It is obvious that the gang label is not used for criminal, but instead political, reasons.

Lumpen organizations that are not necessarily revolutionary are also targeted as gangs, whether or not they break U.$. laws. The real threat is not the activities that the lumpen are engaged in, but that they have any level of unity and organization. STG labels and Step Down Programs criminialize the association, not actual crime.

The U.$. government will do everything it can to protect its international hegemony. Controlling any potentially subversive population within its borders, especially the internal semi-colonies, is a high priority, no matter how much they dress it up with fancy titles and administrative process.


1. to receive updates on the class action lawsuit write to:
Pelican Bay Class Action
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
201 Redwood Shores Parkway
Redwood Shores, CA 94065-1134

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 41]
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Pigs Orchestrate Race Riots to Fill Control Units

Things have been pretty rough here at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). A prisoncrat-orchestrated racial riot has put me in administrative segregation since July. KVSP's "A" yard (the only general population, non-honor yard) has been, more or less, on a constant lock-down since the beginning of the year. This lock-down is due to racial tensions that have been exacerbated by the prison's state-sponsored security threat group, also known as the goon squad, or simply the gooners.

The best way for the prison oligarchy to remain in power and thwart any organizing or political dissent is to keep us all fighting amongst ourselves. Of course this is nothing new for many of us, but for some reason we all find ourselves locked down time and again, pointing fingers (and unfortunately, knives) at one another instead of using our minds of reason to see that clearly this whole war/mess has been instigated by the very pigs that always have the most to gain. It's extremely frustrating to sit here watching the same pattern of senseless fighting and rioting occur while the pigs laugh, crack jokes, and generally play us against each other for their sick jollies and political agenda.

This madness on "A" yard at KVSP and elsewhere in the state is definitely part of a much bigger political agenda. One of the results of the 2013 general hunger strike is that, slowly but surely, a lot of those guys have been returning to the main lines after spending ten, fifteen, or twenty years back there in the SHU. Well, CDCR can't just let those beds remain empty so we've been seeing the gooners dropping fallacious gang validation packets on people for all kinds of erroneous reasons. And the best way to "prove" gang conspiracy or activity is to run us all into these stupid racial riots. The fucked up thing about it is that it's working. Every time we all go out to the yard and fight each other is another victory for the pigs, and another bus load of "gang members" heading to the SHU torture units and thus, the very "evidence" CDCR points to as justification in keeping those control units open and full.

This white vs. Black violence needs to stop for the benefit and health of both our people. Let's stop and remember that it should always be blue vs. green! It's time for peace on these yards. Don't forget who the real enemy is.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade's call for peace on the yards underscores the importance of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We need organizations to come together behind bars to stop the pigs and the imperialist system in general. A United Front is comprised of groups with different views and goals, that have a common enemy. It doesn't require everyone to agree on everything, and in the case of the UFPP there are just five key principles around which groups have unity: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism and Independence. If your organization is interested in putting an end to the fighting amongst the oppressed and ready to take a stand against the oppressor get in touch for more information about the UFPP.

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