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Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Drugs] [Civil Liberties] [Texas]
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Study Group's Long Struggle; Face Drugs and Censorship

Revolutionary Greetings!

As you know, March 2020 TDCJ has made changes. No more greeting cards are allowed in, only ten photos at a time and more little changes, such as the only ones allowed to send money or ecom packages must be on your phone or visitation list.

They are trying to slow the drug market down. However no changes for good time work time or payment for our labor. Still slaves to the system imagine that. Anyway the study group I am working on hasn’t grown. We are three strong. It’s a start! We decided to post “Did you know”’s and “Just think about it” notes to get the attention of people. A lot of people are still stuck on K-2 and other drugs.

I deeply feel this is what they want to keep us from thinking, but never will I give up hope or educating men. We have a major fight on our hands and the battle is far from won. Not only are we fighting the oppressors but we must educate the masses. I read and studied a lot of material I still haven’t come to the understanding on how to influence people of the knowledge or political education or even a common platform that will help the Texas prison system. We all have been pushing peace so that’s a start.

We just now need to get rid of the Meth and K-2! Our unit just came off lockdown they had a surprise unit sweep, getting rid of a lot of K-2 and Meth only to see the prison block flooded again with that shit. Over 50 cell phones were found and pounds of K-2. No big changes cause it’s still here it seems like even more though. In other words they took pictures then put it right back on the streets.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In our survey on drugs in prisons conducted in 2017, 39% of respondents said staff brought in most drugs, and 78% mentioned staff as part of the problem.(1) From the ghettos of New York to the Iran-Contra scandal, drugs and drug money have been important tools of the oppressor in its war on the oppressed.

As this comrade points out, recent changes in mail polices to address drugs in prison are a joke, and only serve to limit support and education for prisoners. The results only reinforce the fact that drugs are being brought in by staff. Meanwhile, the lack of connection to family, community and organizations that are addressing social ills is counter to any goals related to rehabilitation.

This comrade is on the right track. Providing connection, meaning and hope through independent institutions like their study group is the best counter measure we currently have to the reactionary effects of drugs on the people. We want to hear more about the “Did you know” fliers. What topics and slogans are working to reach the masses that we could share with others? Let us know.

Notes: 1. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59.

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[Abuse] [COVID-19]
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Inadequate Hygiene Products for Coronavirus

Here in prison, they finally started letting us make phone calls after close to 3 weeks of being on lockdown. But since April 7th we have been on lockdown because of the virus. But Texa$ Telford Unit prison can’t give us any extra soap or cell cleaning supplies, we have got zero cell cleaning supplies. 2 man cell, 1 toilet, 1 sink. We only shower 3x a week, this is during a time when we are supposed to be washing our hands “in all” about a hour a day. We share 4 showers with 48 different people, so we get in the shower right behind someone else, a very small shower that does not get sanitized or aired out after each use. They didn’t even clean the showers for the first 2 weeks of lockdown. Now inmates are dying and even their own officers. Maybe it would have been a wise choice to take a little out of the 3 billion dollar budget and give us some extra soap to wash our hands with? We have to use our own soap to clean the plastic and metal phone after someone uses it (they let 2 people out at a time for phone). TX doesn’t have iPads so we can’t email or watch movies like some states.

In this capitalist world, if you can’t afford a computer or internet you can’t go to school now. So that’s the way greed works.

I don’t really have a study cell but I have had quite a few conversations with people and I let them know that socialism is for the poor and oppressed, like us prisoners, and some of these people want Trump to win and they are for the right. But they agree that socialism would actually be for the better of the people. They hang their head and agree.

P.S. Donation of 5 stamps

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 70]
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Former Cops in USW?

I note that MIM/USW expresses an inclusive philosophy when it comes to prisoners and victims of oppression. Does this mindset include former corrections officers, former police officers, etc. who are now incarcerated?

I ask this specifically because I’ve personally known of at least two former corrections officers who are now prisoners in PADOC. One is actually in the control unit I am currently housed in.

Funny thing is, he was made a “block worker” within days of arriving on the unit, which affords him privileges to the point that he is hardly ever in his cell and can pretty much do as he pleases in all regards, while the rest of us are 23 and 1 or 24 hr. lockdown and are EXTREMELY restricted in everything we do. So, just curious on your outlook on this.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Anyone can be a cop and anyone can be a revolutionary, no matter their background. In the United $tates we operate surrounded by enemies. So we must take proper precautions. We also believe that anyone can be transformed, but some people will take a lot more work. And without real power, people with strong anti-people ideas will not be worth our time to try to change right now.

This former C.O. sounds like a typical pig, and just because eir clothes have changed it doesn’t sound like eir mentality has. Just like a prisoner who is a rat for the admin, we look at a persyn’s political practice to see where eir loyalties lie. We wouldn’t consider either of these types of people to be members of United Struggle from Within, which works for the destruction of the Amerikkkan criminal injustice system, the end of the United $tates, and a world where everyone is free from oppression!

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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A Black Thought

Relegated to Amerika’s black belt blackballed
As black guards and black sheep in societies appalled
By me, a black god fallen from the black sky
A black swan while in flight who has forgotten how to fly
A black king riding mighty upon a black panthers back
As his throne because his throne has been plundered and sacked
My scepter a blackstoned black fist of black power
A black bishop prophesying spitting fire until the hour
A blacksmith doof the ascension of black slaves overriding the black box
The blackamoor educated in the school of hardknocks
In blue rage and black redemption a black leader of our days
Trained in zulu speak to strike aside the black’s chains
A black mamba moving swiftly across the plains of Kemet
Protecting youthful black diamonds from oppression’s strong net
I am George Jackson a black guerilla in the mist
A blacksmith forging iron amongst societies blacklist
I am Assata, an “extreme” black radical
The black messiah that J. Edgar Hoover couldn’t capture
Relegated to Amerikkka’s black bottom blackballed
As black death and black gangstas in societies appalled
By me, a black pearl risen from the black sea
The black child who in birth has remembered how to dream
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[COVID-19] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]
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Staff in Texas Prison Say "It's just the flu" and Ignore COVID-19 Precautions

Peace,

First of all I want to thank you all for the mental support that you have extended throughout this year leading up to my release. It was much needed and extremely vital, especially to my philosophical development. Thank you. I am dissecting and internalizing J. Sakai’s “Settlers” that I received from you. Definitely giving me a few “hmm” moments. And I’ve read so much non-conventional history that I’ve gotten used to the same perspectives in different packaging. So it is a refreshing read. I also received “Malcolm X Speaks” and I am sure I don’t have to expound on how much I’m enjoying it. I greatly appreciate it.

I have received everything you have sent. Surprisingly enough, considering how backwards and close-minded the state of Texas is. These officers are not heeding the cautionary guidelines pertaining to COVID-19. When I confronted the Captain and Sgt. they both tried to convince me that this is not as serious as the media portrays, and that the “regular” flu (oxymoron) has killed more. Obviously, they are too uninformed, or just too stupid to realize that the common flu may kill 30-40 thousand per year with a vaccine and without social distancing, but this has killed 60-70 thousand plus in just (4) months, with no vaccine and world-wide social distancing. They are Trump supporters so I’m not surprised. I’ve had a mask since February, but they handle our food and I am a G5 custody level so they have to escort me to the shower which is the only time I leave this cell. I have a mask on as I write this. Hopefully, I can make it out of here disease-free. Unless I’ve already contracted it and am asymptomatic. Who knows, these people are imbeciles.

Anyway, I will write again within my last (2) weeks.

In struggle.

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[Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Civil Rights Advocacy

My area of concern is Prisoners’ Civil Rights. I see all types of harassment! “Under color of state law” type issues are an ongoing problem in Texas prisons. But the thing that hurts me the most is inmates losing their line-class, custody level, and parole eligibility over a disciplinary report that consists of only one or two sentences.

Officers filing such reports are to give the full details underlying the facts of the whole situation. So this lack of detail leaves the door open for the officer to say anything they want at the hearing. It’s like they just hurry up and do a rush job on writing a case, then just make up the rest when the Disciplinary Hearing Officer calls the Charging Officer.

It’s wild! 95% of what the Charging Officer says is not mentioned in the report. So much for truth, accuracy and completeness of material information, right? The omission of detail – once the officer signs and dates anything – is falsification of records. And it’s like nobody sees it or even cares. Blows my mind! And these are the people the government hires to supposedly turn us back into society as rehabilitated.

I want people in prison to know their rights and use them. My group, called “Class Act” helps prisoners who are victims of harassment and mistreatment.

Write your grievances and allow 48 hours for them to be screened. Then, send a Request to the Unit Grievance Investigator asking for the case number and the investigator’s ID number. Keep your complaint alive. Request the status of your complaint. Let them know your complaint wont be swept under the rug. And inspire others to do the same.

I just started reading your newsletter and I want to be a member and receive your books for jailhouse lawyers. I’m in need of such material, or any helpful info you may have. Please put me on your list.

I’m white (lol). I need this plug of unity, I was very impressed by your newsletter. I am white, but I grew up in boys’ homes, jail and prison. So I’m looked at or I feel oppressed as a minority because I’m not down with the Supreme Race thing. I’ve never been a Gangster, but I’ve always been a thug. I’ve lived the Thug Life: sold drugs, done drugs since I was 15. I’m from the Hood.

If you can lace me up on your cause more clearly that would be cool. And I hope that my Civil Right Concern is an acceptable issue to be welcomed as a new Comrade. I’ll write more later this week. With much Love and Respect!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade into the forces of United Struggle from Within and our ongoing campaigns in Texas and across the country to have our grievances addressed! It’s very heartening to hear about people helping others with their grievances and putting in work to build unity using whatever campaigns make sense where they are.

The more you get exposed to MIM’s politics, we hope you and the people you organize with will continue to see the bigger changes we’re striving for. Right now, civil rights campaigns in prison are a tactical part of an overall strategy of building independent institutions of the oppressed, and public opinion in favor of socialism. Beyond just reforming prisons, we want a world without oppression! This means an overthrow of capitalism, which we can’t get just through civil rights campaigns and filing grievances.

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Typewriter Supplies Seized for Helping Others with Grievances

It is October 2019, and I am forced to send this hand-drafted communication due to an act of retaliation by the property officer, Ms. Scott, on this Ellis Unit. Ms. Scott took from me eight of my purchased commissary typewriter ribbons, two of which were staged in my typewriter, with two print wheels of different font sizings. Thus turning my $225 typewriter, which took me 9 months to save up for, into an expensive paper weight.

I wish I had someone out in the world who would/could call, advocating on my behalf for returning my personal property. It was taken in retaliation for my drafting grievances for prisoners subjected to the same by the property C.O., C.O. Scott. If I must litigate for my property’s return I will go all out.

Yes, I have it in my blood to help those in need of it. And I do just that when I can. I do the best I can with what I have; always studying and collecting viable information from every source available. That is one reason these guys come to me for advice and legal draftings. The administration is aware of this, and this is why they collusively have crippled my typewriter as they have.

They are forcing me to initiate a writing campaign to Congressmen seeking readings of my grievances against them in their violations [brought to the state by way of the 14th Amendment] of my 1st, 4th, 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Another one I am compelled to notify is the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice. There are no less than a dozen inmates on this Ellis Unit whose step two grievances are in severe default; being 60 days beyond the extension by the OGP (offender grievance program). Therewith voiding any certification bestowed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Agency’s Grievance System. Allowing us to circumvent the PLRA’s prerequisted administrative remedies so as to go straight to the federal court, because Texas has no court designated program that inmates might seek relief through.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is a dire need for people on the outside to do public advocacy work for our comrades inside, which is a need that MIM(Prisons) members can’t take on. To this end, MIM(Prisons) supports Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS) chapters around the country. Contact us to get involved!

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[COVID-19] [Pack Unit] [Texas]
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Coronavirus Has Entered Pack Unit

As you might know, there is pending litigation in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) here at the Wallace Pack Unit in Valentine v. Collier 4;20-cd-01115 over the COVID-19 virus, under-protection from this virus.

Well, as of today (15 April 2020) it has infiltrated this unit due to the fact that staff here has not done their job.

This class action lawsuit is being handled by Edwards Law Firm and has been assigned the same judge that handled the Cole v. Collier case.

  Edwards Law Firm
  Attn: Scott Medlock
  1101 East 11th Street
  Austin, TX 78702

I can keep you updated as needed so that all my brothers and sisters are aware that staff has failed in protecting us in prison once again.

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[Theory] [United Front] [ULK Issue 70]
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Build Unity with Queer Prisoners

First of all I would like to say that I truly admire the work that you all are doing. Even though I am somewhat new to the cause, I know that I am definitely headed in the right direction. At this point, I don’t feel qualified to contribute any articles that would be worth publication. There is so much that I would like to learn from you so that I will be in a better position to write for ULK. I am a teacher and a writer at heart and I definitely plan on providing you with work contributions in the future. In the meantime, I will offer a few comments on an article found in ULK 56. The article is titled “Building Unity Through Talk”, by Soso of MIM(Prisons).

Being incarcerated for over 13 years, I have seen what hatred and division does to prisoners. What I love about MIM(Prisons) is the fact that you all not only encourage peace & unity among prisoners, but you also labor to help them to see the bigger picture of what’s going on “behind the scenes.” Oppressed nations are frustrated and they don’t realize why they are so upset. MIM(Prisons) helps us to see that the real problem is found in the overarching imperialist system rooted in capitalism, not each other.

The article speaks about contradictions with the enemy and contradictions among the people, and it goes on to describe the best way to deal with both. “When we run into problems with people who should be our allies,” the article states, “we need to start from [the] desire for unity.” If oppressed nations would stop and take a moment to see that the system is designed to bring disunity among the people, and that this is really a divide-and-conquer strategy used by the bourgeoisie to ensure their continued ability to exploit the proletariat, only then will we see how important maintaining unity is when it comes to revolutionary struggle.

As a bisexual man in prison, I see other oppressed nations attacking the LGBTQ community (verbally and physically) as if we are the enemy. But as this article rightly points out, the marginalization of queer and trans folk is actually characteristic of imperialist oppressors and the patriarchy. The more oppressed nations are able to see that there are certain mindsets that are counterproductive to revolutionary struggle, the more they will be able to channel their energies in a positive direction that will lead to true change. I believe the greatest strength of MIM(Prisons) lies in its push for unity, peace, growth, internationalism, and independence (otherwise known as the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons).

I can’t help but to notice that this country is slowly moving in a more socialist direction, and I believe that is because people are starting to become disillusioned with the imperialist agenda. Unity and education is the key to keeping the momentum going, and anything that undermines that unity needs to be identified and exposed for what it is (which I believe MIM(Prisons) does a good job at). Thank you for the work that you do and I look forward to studying and struggling with you all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade demonstrates that it doesn’t take special training to contribute articles that are worthwhile. By analyzing the conditions where ey is at, ey offers some universal observations around the topic of unity.

While we certainly hope the efforts of building public opinion for socialism are paying off, we think it’s unlikely that this country is actually moving in a socialist direction economically, as this author states above. With the coronavirus having an undeniable impact on capitalism’s status quo, it is a good opportunity to continue pushing for socialist change.

History shows us that to put an end to capitalism we will need a revolution. It won’t be a slow move towards socialism, but rather a violent revolution to overthrow capitalism. The capitalists won’t give up without a fight!

One thing we want to clarify about this article is who is the proletariat and who is exploited, because this is a very common point of confusion especially among our new subscribers. Where this author is discussing oppressed nations in prison succumbing to divide-and-conquer tactics, and helping oppressed nations realize capitalism’s main interests is in exploiting the proletariat, we want to clarify who is the proletariat. For the most part the oppressed nations within U.$. borders are not exploited and not proletarian. Many people in oppressed nations belong to the lumpen (that’s who is locked up in prison and hustling on the streets), labor aristocracy, and even the bourgeoisie. Some migrants are in the proletarian class, and some people are in the semi-proletariat. For the most part people in oppressed nations in U.S. borders are not proletarian and are not economically exploited.

We have a lot of study materials about different classes and their roles in capitalism and imperialism. Simply send us a work-trade and a request and we’ll get something out to you about it!

We also look forward to continuing to develop with our newer comrades! We’re inspired by letters like this every day.

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[Culture] [COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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Individualism Equals Hunger

Have you ever wondered why there is such an abundance of food here on earth, yet people are still going to bed hungry and starving to death? The following is a brief report on what is happening with the food and how I tie in individualism.

I relate individualism with pure selfishness and greed. Here are a few statistics in regards to food waste: “An estimated 25% of the world’s food calories and up to 50% of total food weight are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. In rich countries most of that waste occurs in home, restaurants, or supermarkets.”(1)

We see that half the world’s food is wasted by consumers in the more developed countries. I see a problem as mentioned in the three areas as overstocking to fit the needs of expediencies and conveniences. This of course creates poor food distributive practices.

It is said that “consumers in the developed world could reduce waste by taking such simple steps as serving smaller portions, eating leftovers, and encouraging cafeterias, restaurants, and supermarkets to develop waste-reducing measures.”(2)

Once again here is where individualism shows its appearance. We live in a world that for the most part doesn’t care about eir fellow humyns’ real living conditions. As long as the individual continues in eir life of luxuries what is it to em how much food ey throws away?

Once we as a society can learn to care about one another and become more altruistic, no longer viewing one another as a possible profit, then we can have a society built around a more harmonious and genuine comradeship. We can erase the cut-throat capitalist market that only seeks to exploit humyns worldwide. Once this system is done away with we will see a world without hunger and starvation.

I am a true believer in internationalism, seeing that we are united world-wide regardless of the pigment of our skins. We cannot be blinded by nationalism playing both blind and deaf to the sufferings of our fellow humyns across the globe.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This article takes on new meaning in the time of coronavirus, where mandates to stay home are in effect around the globe. Where some people are hoarding food items due to their individualism and fear, others are going without.

Petty-bourgeois people who are used to having every possible food item available to them, and oftentimes with two-hour delivery, are facing some form of food scarcity, many for the first time in their lives.

For many people, it’s simply unsafe to go shopping for themselves, and people are relying on their family and neighbors to bring them food. In the United $tates it is private delivery drivers and grocery store workers who are providing these life necessities during this time. And they are often doing so while facing dangerous situations because the individualistic behavior of their customers is unpredictable.

Meanwhile, there are parts of the world where the state is providing food packages to the homes of people so they can stay in. And these aren’t even socialist countries.

Whether it comes to deciding what precautions to take during a pandemic, or deciding how to avoid wasting food, we cannot rely on a culture that puts individual choice first to do a good job. The United $tates currently has more people with coronavirus than any other country, including China where it began and where there are many more people. This is in large part due to our individualist culture.

And while this comrade’s call is very relevant today, we must disagree with the blanket condemnation of nationalism. The national contradiction is coming to light as it always does during crisis; from New Afrikans dying disproportionately in the United $tates to dire situations developing in the Third World. That is why in calling for the world to come together as one, we must be calling for an end to sanctions and embargos, a halt to military operations and debt forgiveness to the exploited nations of the world so that they can have a greater degree of national autonomy in meeting their peoples’ needs in this pandemic.

Individualism is a cancer to society, with or without a coronavirus. Hopefully COVID-19 helps illuminate this to people, and gives them a vision of what society could be like when we work together for the benefit of all of humynity.

Notes:
1. May 2019 issue of National Geographic, Pg45 #FutureFood
2. May 2019 issue of National Geographic, pg 46 #FutureFood

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