Even with my release date approaching, the spread of COVID-19 in prisons means that there remains the very real possibility that not only myself, but many others may not make it out of here alive.
The outside public may raise an eyebrow at this statement, and to an extent I understand why. Their reaction might be, ‘Do the crime, do the time – along with everything that comes with it.’ Granted, prison isn’t intended to be a steel and concrete paradise. From the moment you wake up to the time you close your eyes you can expect to be perpetually stressed, depressed, anxious, isolated – a whole range of negative emotions. But does that mean that we should be subject to a form of roulette that could be tantamount to a death sentence?
Most casual readers of articles concerning incarceration in the U.S. are aware that there is an overcrowding issue in their jails and prisons. The facility where I am housed is no exception. FCI Petersburg Medium has a population of 1,500 spread among three buildings containing twelve housing units of 120 men each. We are housed two, sometimes four to a cell about the size of a handicapped parking space, with a toilet and a sink thrown in. Remaining socially distant is out of the question. Despite the feeling of sitting on a powder keg, prison strangely felt like a sort of protective bubble from the effects of the pandemic raging unchecked on the outside. I never would have perceived it in that manner before.
In mid-September 2020, the first cases were reported in the building furthest from ours. There was a heightened tension in knowing it had finally arrived, yet it was still this nebulous thing that felt like a problem of the outside world. The outer defenses had been breached, but some of us are still safe. We wonder at the fate of the others – who has it? How many? Did they recover or not? Official answers are few, and it seems deliberately so. They do not want to create a panic, so rumors abound.
We immediately enter into a lockdown period, meaning complete cell confinement save for a ten-minute shower three times a week. This experience is psychologically taxing, however it is a reasonable precaution. I am struck by the fact that during this period, none of us are tested for symptoms despite a memo proclaiming daily testing. This is a disaster in the making, but with protocol typically disregarded by staff in day-to-day operations, it does not come as much of a surprise. After fifteen days, we are allowed a degree of freedom once more, to collect our meals, to venture outside … with a sense of foreboding. I found myself wondering, ‘is it too soon?’
Eight days later, on the 6th of October, more cases were reported, this time in the building next to ours. Still a separate place, but nearer now. The feeling it evokes could be compared to hiding from someone with no possibility of escape, and being able to hear each footfall resonating ever louder as they close in… it is unnerving. The protective bubble has turned into its opposite, and we are trapped. We are immediately placed back on lockdown. I didn’t have a chance to let anyone know why I won’t be calling anymore, so I hope they will infer the reason why and not be overly alarmed. Thoughts such as ‘Am I still being thought of? Do they care?’ become amplified, as anyone who has experienced being alone with your thoughts in isolation knows it can be challenging at times. I begin mentally preparing for the days ahead. I look forward to any word from the outside.
Twenty days in, and suddenly, voices emanate from the ventilation system: In the unit above ours, we are informed that someone is showing symptoms. It is here. They have moved the affected person to a separate cell for monitoring, but it is still in the same unit. We all continue to breathe in and share the same recycled air. Is there nothing else that can be done? There is less talking now. My cellmate and I cover up the vent as a precaution, but it does not block out the sound of muffled coughing that has now begun in earnest somewhere above us. I don’t know what will come next, but I’ve prepared for all eventualities.
As Revolutionaries and Communists, we must organize and agitate our fellow captives to demand that our health, safety and human rights be respected by the prison and medical staff. A tall order, knowing that our oppressors are here merely to collect a paycheck and the additional hazard pay that has undoubtedly accompanied these lockdown measures, but a just fight during these trying times.
This is a galvanizing poetic call 2 action, The Soledad Comrade, George Jackson, Once declared: “capitalism is the enemy,” Meaning: you and me, The common man and woman of poverty, Are more family than enemy, Because we are poor, Fighting a common enemy of imperial elite capitalism, Not 2 allude 2 the day 2 day, Systemic Amerikkkan racism, There’s truly no time, For us 2 be killing and fighting each other, When in arms together, We are sista and brotha, Therefore we must come together, In a clenched fist alliance, A peaceful defiant display, Of unity and excellence, Unite or die, Is a true rallying cry, Wherefore, we must join forces, And overthrow the corrupt, racist, imperialist, Capitalist Amerikkkan government, Ergo, the clenched fist alliance, A resolute display of resistance, And defiance, There’s no time 2 pray, March and cry, It’s either unite or die, Truly, unity is the most dominant, In the face of all inequality, We are living in a truly, Provocative span of time, So what is it going 2 be, Unite or die, And commit 2 memory: “Capitalism is the enemy.” We must unite or die.
I am a citizen of Colombia. In 1993, I was sentenced to a 45 year prison term, here in Texas. I was to serve 22 1/2 years before I would be eligible for parole. While serving my time, I was summoned to an immigration court, where an ICE judge informed me that upon release from the custody of TDCJ, I was to be transferred to an immigration facility where I would await deportation.
On 25 March 2016 parole denied my release for these reasons:
The record indicated that the offender has repeatedly committed criminal episodes that indicate a predisposition to commit criminal acts upon release.
The record indicates the instant offense has elements of brutality, violence, assaultive behavior, or conscious selection of victims vulnerability indicating a conscious disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others such that offender poses a continuing threat to public safety. (3 year set off after serving 22 1/2 years)
On 14 May 2019 set-off again, for the same reasons. (3 year set-off). I committed a crime when I was 21 years old. I’ve been in prison for the past 27 years, where I’ve never had a single altercation. In 2007, while taking my GED a new law was passed, prohibiting prisoners with immigration detainers from participating in school activities; I was kicked out of school. (parole uses me not having a GED against me each time I come up for parole). I’ve taken Bridges to Life, Voyager, Peer to Peer, Job Skills, Over Comers, Tutoring, and at the moment I’m finishing Cognitive Intervention. My last infraction (case) was in 2014, six years ago.
The parole board here in Texas has its own agenda as far as who will be released and who won’t. When a prisoner comes up for parole, the prisoner can’t speak on his own behalf. No type of evaluation is conducted to see if the prisoner is ready for society. It’s all done through paper work. The board members review each folder for no more than 3 minutes and come to a decision. How can a proper review be done in 3 minutes? At the moment I’m on my second three year set-off. I am being set off for the same reasons over and over again. How can I be a continuing threat to public safety, if I’m not even going to be in the United States?
How can the parole board state that I’m a violent person? In 27 years of being in a violent environment such as prison, I’ve not even had a single fight. I have no type of violent infractions (cases) towards prisoners nor officers. That itself should show a pattern of change. There’s a lot of prisoners (who will be deported) being held in Texas prisons, under numerous set-offs, because we have no voice out there and the state can abuse its power and claim we’re not ready for society or we’re being rehabilitated, but what the public doesn’t know is that there is no rehabilitation here, there’s more drugs and corruption in this place than out there. The only reason we’re being kept is for the federal funds these prisons receive.
I humbly request that our comrades at MIM please help spread the word about the injustice that the parole board and its associates commit against prisoners who will be deported and have no voice to help them out there. I thank you very much for your attention to my letter. God bless each of you.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Concentration camps for migrants without U.$. citizenship are the one sector of the Amerikan prison system where private prisons have been widely used. This puts another level of financial incentive into the criminal injustice system as this comrade points out. In a system built on profit, and not people, there will always be injustice.
Meanwhile, the lack of rehabilitation is not unique to migrant camps. At this stage, we build or Serve the People Re-Lease on Life program to help our comrades transitioning out of prisons. But for many, like this comrade, they just aren’t getting out because of financial incentives, and the need to control oppressed people to prevent social change.
In every issue of ULK we indicate our alternative to this system (see p.2). We propose a system where the real criminals are imprisoned; the people who have stolen thousands of lives by locking up hard working people, or bombing their homelands. And a system where everyone has access to all the resources they need for rehabilitation. Even those outside of prison need to transform themselves for a new world based on a common humynity. We are all shaped by the current system. Check out Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett for a glimpse at what socialist prisons can be like. ($5 stamps/cash or work trade from MIM Distributors)
In early June, a book arrived here at this facility that was intended as a birthday gift from my family. The day the book arrived I asked the property officers if I had received any books and they responded “No,” despite the fact that my sister confirmed that the book had arrived. When I informed the staff that I had gotten my family to track the package the staff acted even more standoffish, dismissive and suspicious. I suspected this type of behavior from the staff was due to the very controversial information contained in the book, but still, knowing my rights and also the purpose of the First Amendment I would not tolerate it without taking necessary legal action.
Almost ten days after the book had arrived the only thing I was given was a ‘Notification of Publication Disapproval Form’ that was signed by the Warden. But I was told the book wasn’t here, correct?
The Warden, property office and mailroom clerk all stated falsely that the book contained “material that promoted violence, terrorism or criminal activity that violated state & federal guidelines.” I know this is not even remotely the case, being that I actually read the book in 2014 prior to my incarceration. Knowing this I was highly offended & saw the property officer’s actions and reasons for violating my First Amendment rights as not only an attempt to impede on my freedom of speech but also as an insult to my intelligence. The definition of ‘promote’ is ‘to advocate’ so I forced the staff to prove, legally, that this book, entitled The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders ‘promoted’ or ‘advocated’ ‘violent acts’ or ‘terrorism.’ Close examination of this book will prove anything but that.
The book actually promotes the opposite – principles almost identical with those of the United Struggle from Within and MIM(Prisons). It promotes Peace, Unity & Solidarity between tribes, gangs and lumpen organizations. And it also depicts the violent, cold-blooded & terrorist acts committed by the FBI, the CIA & local police forces in Amerikkka. We call this domestic, or, homegrown terrorism, used to reinforce the fascist policies of the capitalist social order.
My first action to get my book was to file informal complaints & grievances for violation of my First Amendment rights as well as Operating Procedures code 803.2 on the rights of prisoners receiving publications. Operating Procedure 803.2 clearly states that if the Warden or property officer found something ‘questionable’ about any publication or literature sent to an inmate then the inmate is to be notified and consulted before the officer in charge of passing out property takes further action. Then the inmate is given three options:
Have the book sent home.
Have the book sent to the Publication Review Committee.
Have the book destroyed.
The primary issue is that I wasn’t allowed the liberty to explain to the staff what the book was really about & that I never gave them the consent to hold or send the book to the Publication Review Committee (or ‘PRC’), as they claimed they had done. So, in fact, code 803.2 was violated by the property officer and the warden who signed the Publication Disapproval form which lacked my signature of consent.
This is a perfect example of fascist style censorship and violation of First Amendment rights within the Virginia Department of Corrections (D.O.C.). As Operating Procedures Code 803.2 states, “Offenders at D.O.C. institutions should be allowed to subscribe to, order, and receive publications direct from any vendor – so long as the publication does not pose a threat to the security, discipline and good order of the facility and it is not determined detrimental to offender rehabilitation.” As I mentioned earlier, Potash’s book would reveal to the reader that it actually promotes peace, unity & solidarity between tribes, gangs and lumpen organizations (very similar to the Maoist-promoted United Front for Peace in Prisons policies).
I also talked to an institutional lawyer who was very helpful & who also agreed with me 100% concerning the book. He looked up the title of the book while I was on the phone with him and he quickly observed, in his own words, that this was a very “historical” and “political” work. Policy 803.2 clearly states “educational and historic publications are not detrimental to offender rehabilitation” and that when it comes to disapproval of literature, “this criterion shall not be used to exclude publications that describe such [violent] acts in the context of a story or moral teaching unless the description of such acts is the primary purpose of the publication. No publication generally recognized as having literary value should be excluded under this criterion.”
Point of fact, the so called ‘violent acts’ or ‘terrorist acts’ that the property officer tried to use to keep me from getting this book are actually committed by none other than Law Enforcement and also covertly ‘promoted’ by the intelligence community who controls the mainstream media and who work in collusion with the local police who, as we observe on the daily news, continue to beat, shoot and murder innocent men, women and children, which can only be described as very ‘violent’ and ‘terrorist’ acts.
After constant confrontation & inquiry the staff finally gave me my book on 3 September 2020, but still tried to use psychological manipulation to make it seem as if I were the one who had done something wrong. They said I had ‘raised hell’ and caused a lot of trouble about the book when all they had to do was give the book to me to avoid all this.
On John Potash’s The FBI War on Tupac Shakur & Black Leaders
The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders was written by an activist and investigative journalist John Potash. He describes and documents historic events in comparison with more current events and describes, using documents & eye-witness accounts, how the U.S. intelligence & FBI target, assassinate, harass and imprison all individuals & organizations (Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American) that ‘promoted’ & practiced ideas that were contrary to mainstream capitalist & fascist indoctrination that challenged the social order and the establishment’s chokehold on 90% of the world’s resources.
J. Edgar Hoover (former director of the FBI) once stated that the FBI must “stop the rise of a black messiah or anyone who could radicalize the civil rights movement”, “by any means necessary.” Meaning harassment, imprisonment and trumped up charges, destruction of public image or assassination. There are countless leaders; Black, white, Latino & Native American who met this messianic description and all of them fell under the cruel fate of COINTELPRO – including Mutulu Shakur, Afeni Shakur, Tupac Amarau Shakur and many of his relatives.
Potash describes Mutulu, Tupac & Afeni’s efforts to create peace between the Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Black P. Stone Rangers, Latin Kings & Young Lords and also to convert them into political organizations that would serve the communities that they exist in. This program is a direct influence of Huey P. Newton & Bobby Seale’s strategy that was used to create the Brown Berets, Chinese Red Guard and the Young Lords.
Potash also details the predatory and very cold blooded nature of the ‘Far Right’ neo-conservative, fascist & capitalist powers in the U.$. and how the intelligence community utilizes informants and undercover agents to harass, spy on, falsely accuse, set up, imprison & assassinate leftist revolutionaries or any musician, actor or politician as well as business person associated with revolutionary organizations or movements, that promote peace & unity rather than violence.
After reading & examining closely, for the second time after seven years, I feel an obligation to quote and cite John Potash’s work as well as all the revolutionaries he worked with before and after this book’s publication.
In Chapter 21 (pp. 101-104) Potash describes what is called ‘Penal Coercion’, which is a way to break down certain prisoners psychologically, physically & spiritually.
“They found that the U.S. Department of Corrections had a ‘Special Services Division’ to carry out operations on prisoners. Researchers working from divergent groups, such as the Bureau of Prisons and Amnesty International, described several particular prison tactics as akin to both torture and brainwashing and referred to them as ‘penal coercion’.”
“A 1983 Amnesty International report on torture presented CIA-designed techniques outlined in Biderman’s Chart of Coercion – 8 general penal coercion methods prison officials used to psychologically tear down individuals in order to manipulate them. These methods are isolation, monopolization of perception, induced debility, threats, occasional indulgences, demonstrating omnipotence, degradation, and enforcing trivial demands.”
One of the most tragic & ironic cases of this is that of Afeni Sakur’s son – Tupac Amaru Shakur. Tupac was targeted the same way his mother was – five assassination attempts, constant harassment from so-called law enforcement and incarceration under false charges. He was practically sentenced to ‘Death Row’ for his revolutionary work, forcing him, after FBI ‘penal coercion’ into a corner after which he finally gave in and went against his better judgement and signed with Suge Knight on Death Row Records, a label whose symbol & trademark was a man sitting in an electric chair. This label promoted drugs, sex, violence and ignorance and no higher social causes whatsoever – going against all Tupac & his family of activists stood for. Potash writes, “Tupac’s jail conditions also helped influence Tupac to finally sign with Death Row Records.”
“Tupac finally stopped rejecting Time Warner’s request to sign with its subsidiary, Death Row. Tupac had spent 10 months in jail. The appeals court refused Tupac’s 1.3 million bail offer for those many months that he waited for his appeal trial, but within days of Tupac’s September 1995 signing with Death Row Records, the Court of Appeals accepted virtually that same bail offer and released Tupac.”
“…Years of accumulated evidence supports that the FBI orchestrated the murder of rap icon Tupac Shakur, and that they used similar tactics to murder other leftist black leaders. Thousands of pages of U.S. intelligence documents reveal how the FBI and other intelligence agencies have waged a war on black leaders. The U.S. Intelligence targeting of Tupac and his Shakur family provides a window into intelligence targeting of leftist black leaders from 1965-2005. U.S. Intelligence (Defense, CIA, FBI and police intelligence) historically opposed leftists – those working to make changes in society to gain more equitable sharing of wealth and resources. The CIA’s leadership, the directors of intelligence agencies until 2001, were comprised of the wealthiest American families. Their founders also saved thousands of Nazis [after the end of WW2] and put them to work on intelligence projects.”
So be watchful of all correctional officers, deputies, staff and prisoners because the capitalists of the ‘criminal culture’ that is fueled by drugs, sex and violence has captivated the minds of the 85% (majority of oppressed masses). And they have no real loyalty to any higher social causes and they will sacrifice anyone, and anybody, to keep whatever they gained from capitalist society and for whatever material or position they are trying to acquire. No matter how low they are on the pyramid, as Paulo Freire writes, “the oppressed class subconsciously emulates, imitates and identifies with their oppressors.”
All conscious, political & revolutionary prisoners, within and without, in prison & at home; the intelligence community has perfected the art of utilizing the informant and the undercover agent for decades and has been proven to be their most valuable asset, used to assassinate (as in the case of the late Nipsey Hustle PBUH) and bring down countless revolutionaries. Be wary of all people (inmates and staff) who become super defensive and ultra-sensitive when you are critical about the current social order and the establishment. Most likely they are either active agents, informants or have friends & family members who work for Law Enforcement, the CIA, FBI, or U.$. Military – three institutions that are interlocked in the same criminal network.
All of our great leaders and revolutionaries; Black, white, Latino, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern or Native American, have all pointed to the same facts and for this, like Tupac Amaru Shakur, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Clarence 13X, Marcus Garvey, George Jackson and Geronimo Pratt, they were harassed, imprisoned unjustly, or assassinated for it. Peace be upon them, for they are the true prophets and messengers of this age, and it is only men & women like them who will lead us into the new age of Revolutionary Transcendence.
It’s beautiful that now there’s a better connection with us who are in this new sentence to a slow death due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions of free society. The majority of these in-prison cases are caused by nurses and pigs and other free-world staff who choose not to wear masks, either in here or out there. It’s not our fault we catch COVID-19 when we can’t go no further than the yard gates unless we’re being escorted to the prison medical facilities, an outside hospital, or to other yards or prisons. We’re not the ones who are the cause of the spread of the disease inside these prisons, but we’ll get a Rule Violation Report (RVR), which extends our sentence, for not wearing a mask from a pig who isn’t wearing one themselves.
Also now there’s no programs for us prisoners to even gain any good time kronos like attending CGA, AA, Anger Management, GED classes, or college classes. The chapel isn’t running either but the chaplains still show up to collect their check. Prisoners don’t have a way or avenue to stay out of trouble, unless they are really doing nothing. Myself and other prisoners have been harassed by the pigs for group exercising together even while using social distance procedures. CDCR ain’t working on helping us prisoners rehabilitate, we’re doing it our damn selves.
Medical facilities on the yards won’t even do a check up on individuals like myself, but they will call you up to draw your blood for testing, for COVID or not. On some straight vampire shit but us, who are the vampire slayers, the N.G.E. School of Carthage, slay the vampires by the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles, which are:
Peace WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression.
Unity WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity.
Growth WE recognize the importance of education and freedom to grow in order to build real unity. We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle. Everyone should get in where they fit in. Similarly, we recognize the right of comrades to leave our organization if we fail to live up to the principles and purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.
Internationalism WE struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people. While we are often referred to as “minorities” in this country, and we often find those who are in the same boat as us opposing us, our confidence in achieving our mission comes from our unity with all oppressed nations who represent the vast majority globally. We cannot liberate ourselves when participating in the oppression of other nations.
Independence WE build our own institutions and programs independent of the United $tates government and all its branches, right down to the local police, because this system does not serve us. By developing independent power through these institutions we do not need to compromise our goals.
As we build and live by these Principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, we destroy the monster that imperialist/capitalist governments have created with this U.$. prison system.
I’m writing to ask if there is a way to receive the grievance petition for Texas. As for here all grievances are answered the same. The lawsuit that was in federal court due to COVID-19 was thrown out for not exhausting administrative remedies. Also here at this unit we are not allowed to wear N95 masks. We do not have any rights here.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is commenting on the fact that grievances are constantly denied in Texas, like so many prison systems in this country. Yet, without the proper paper trail of going through all levels of the grievance process, your lawsuits are deemed invalid thanks to the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act(PLRA) of Bill Clinton. Before the PLRA there was actually a semblance of checks and balances applied to conditions in U.$. prisons. Since then that has not been the case, and abuse and humyn rights violations occur daily, unchecked. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped bring that to the attention of the general public.
This is why USW comrades have written grievance petitions in over a dozen states to appeal to various state overseers to restore a semblance of justice to these prison systems. While the victories have been isolated, it has led to concrete organizing around concrete conditions faced by prisoners as a class. These injustices demonstrate the bad faith of the current system that offers no real solutions for the oppressed.
For every male prisoner locked up in the state of Pennsylvania, I pose some questions:
Do a prison have the right to deprive you of food?
Do a prison have the right to deprive you of a shower?
Do a prison have the right to deprive you yard?
To determine when you can see your children and how long you can hold your children?
Every prison in the state of Pennsylvania allow gay prisoners inside of each prison to hold hands/hold each other, have make-out sessions and have intercourse. The Department of Corrections in the state of Pennsylvania even sell bras/panties, makeup, provide hormone injections and sex changes.
Why can’t we hug/hold/kiss our girlfriends and wives for more than three minutes on a visit?
Why don’t we fight for conjugal visits?
Do the prisons have the right to talk however they want?
Brothers, they don’t respect us nor treat us like human beings because under the 13th Amendment, we are slaves. Under Dred Scot v. Sanford, no black man has “rights that a white man is bound to respect” and blacks shall never have rights under the Constitution. Under Plessy v. Ferguson, we are cattle.
That is why correctional officers in the state of Pennsylvania do all these things to us and why police officers in society can kill us with little to no consequences.
Brothers, the female prisons in the state of Pennsylvania still have everything and much more, that we allowed the D.O.C. to take from us, men. Two female prisons fought to be treated like human beings and won through pain and sacrifice.
This goes beyond our personal dislikes, gang colors, religious perspectives and individual wants. Ask yourself, if two female prisons can accomplish it, why can’t 3 or more male prisons do the same?
We at SCI-Albion believe we have the power to accomplish it, so on 1 November 2020 we are hunger striking. We are not helping the D.O.C. get rich off of this oppression so we are not spending money on commissary/cable/bake sales. WE will be doing more but can’t go into that here.
We are a group comprised of Muslims from America and the Middle East, Christians, a Pastor, G.D., Loc’s, Damus, Kings, Netas, neutrals old and young. Blacks, Latinos and whites.
Here in Freedom, Love & Prosperity we promote unity and love. With the freedom to be ourselves and stop the oppression of all peoples including those in the LGBT community. We believe we are all one! We believe every one has the potential to prosper and beat oppression. We do not promote violence but awareness through group and social activities. We believe love is the ultimate goal in order to achieve unity of all minds, souls and spirits.
The Maryland Prison Labor Organization (MPLO) exists for the purpose of defending and preserving the rights and dignity of the incarcerated working class men and women, who are confined to correctional facilities within the State of Maryland.
Maryland’s incarcerated workers contend daily with abusive staff, inequitable compensation, unsafe or unsanitary working environments, arbitrary termination, inadequate health care, poor diet, and inhumane conditions of confinement.
As a collective and as a Class, we find this set of circumstances unacceptable, therefore our mission is to amend these circumstances by securing social and economic justice for the thousands of imprisoned laborers who have been exploited by Maryland’s Department of Corrections, and who continue to endure such exploitation as a consequence of the labor arrangement that persists behind the walls of Maryland’s correctional facilities.
We are conscious of the fact that the labor we provide is critical to the orderly and efficient functioning of the Department, and as a result of the aforementioned realities, We, the members of the MPLO, seek the following changes to the current labor arrangement within the state’s prisons:
Equitable Good Conduct Credit Compensation.
An end to Arbitrary Adjustment & Reclassification.
An end to Oppressive Conditions of Confinement, including Excessively Restrictive Management Systems, Overcrowding, and Abuse by Guards & Administration.
An end to malicious social engineering practices that are designed to cause friction, foment conflict, and incite violence amongst incarcerated citizens.
An end to collective punishment.
Increased access to economically relevant vocational & technical skills training, including that which is currently made available by the DLLR. We also seek access to state sponsored college education.
Increased access to cognitive programs currently available at the prison.
Higher quality food and more sizeable portions.
For the reasons mentioned herein, the Maryland Prison Labor Organization is hereby established for the benefit of its members, and for that of the entire incarcerated working class within the state of Maryland.
I am sincere and stand by when we say Black lives matter, but I think we should say and believe that all life matters. I am in a political/race-driven prison just like in California and Texas. We say Brown Pride, White Pride, Black Pride, then White Power and Black Power. We should take all race out of it and be power to the people!
I am 50% Mexican and 50% white and in Juvenile D.O.C. it was mostly Black and Mexican. My last name is [white-sounding] so I got jumped every day for years with a couple of the other white kids. If we are to fight hurt, pain and suffering of being oppressed and rejected. But it’s hard when we are surrounded by so much hate. I only know my dad on that side of the family, the Mexican side, hates me and disowns me cuz my mom and dad was never supposed to happen.
We only admit there’s a problem when it surfaces. I got sprayed by the cops a couple months ago for no reason, filed my grievance, but don’t have no help nor know how to take further actions. It sucks that it takes people to die to get action. …
If each one of us did what was right it would be all good, but you can’t change the people that want to look at every one else instead of being a solution. I will be the solution whether anybody is watching cuz all life matters!
MIM(Prisons) responds: Since the uprisings in response to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, we have received many letters echoing the slogan “All Lives Matter.” Like this comrade, they are not doing so in opposition to “Black Lives Matter” but in solidarity based on similar experiences.
We want to commend this comrade for standing with all oppressed people, and with Black Lives Matter as a movement despite eir experience being jumped by New Afrikan youths while in juvie. It speaks to the unity of the oppressed, that ey could see past that experience and not paint a whole group as eir enemy, when those who have lived much more privileged lives are quick to paint whole groups based on something they saw on TV.
In today’s globalized culture it is sometimes hard to have conversations that are limited to one audience, and as a result other audiences are often offended.
In case any of our readers are unaware, the phrase “All Lives Matter” became popular among cops and white nationalists as a rejection of “Black Lives Matter.” The implication is that “Black Lives Matter” somehow means Black lives matter more than others, when on the contrary the slogan was developed by New Afrikans who just wanted their lives to be given the same respect and value as others, specifically as euro-Amerikans. The less forgiving implication is that people who say “All Lives Matter” just want to keep Black lives in a position of less value.
In contrast to this mainstream narrative, every letter that we’ve got so far from prisoners who are white or Raza, stating “All Lives Matter” seem to be coming from a genuine place of respect for all lives. But you all should know what the implications of the saying can be.
We agree with this comrade that race should not be brought into politics, as race is a baseless concept. So why do we talk about whites, and New Afrikans and indigenous and all these other groups of people so much in our writing? Well, we are talking about nation – a group of people with a common culture, language, territory and economy. While integration is greater than previous points in this country’s history, there are still independent New Afrikan, [email protected] and countless First Nations within this prisonhouse of nations that is called the United States. And until these nations are liberated from imperialism, from the United $tates, there cannot be justice here.
What about euro-Amerikans? In prison, euro-Amerikans will generally experience life as an oppressed persyn. Certainly there are hierarchies, and there are white supremacist groups that work with the pigs, etc. But most of our “white” readers are feeling more oppression than your average persyn walking down the street in the United $tates. That is why we see uniting the imprisoned lumpen on a class basis as an important project that is primary within the prison movement, while recognizing the national contradiction as primary in this country overall. To highlight this class unity, we prefer the slogan “Prisoner Lives Matter” to demonstrate what all of our comrades are facing in the Amerikkkan gulags, where you can be murdered for nothing like George Floyd was.