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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 27]
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Hunger Strike Kicks Off in Illinois

Illinois has followed in the steps of California and Virginia. On June 3, 2012 twenty-three political prisoners went on hunger strike together in protest of various administrative issues at Pontiac Correctional Center. On the same day I.A. interrogated all of the strikers in an attempt to frame the strike as "gang activity."

Pontiac Correctional Center exists in Illinois for the sole purpose of isolating prisoners from each other and the world. The vast majority of prisoners here are in segregation. As part of the administration's oppression against us we are beaten, unfed, given inadequate law libraries, isolated, and much more. All of this is being protested by the strikers. From Palestine to California and Virginia to Illinois the revolution against tyranny and despair, extortion and exploitation, oppression and capitalism is growing stronger.

In the name of revolution, solidarity, and struggle.

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[Organizing] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 27]
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Appeals to Sacramento Politicians Lead to Improvements at KVSP

I'm reporting from Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). I've been engaged in the last 16 months educating our comrades to the increasingly aggressive tactics California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has taken in the course of systematically depriving us of every human and civil right a prisoner is supposed to retain. I've also been attempting to strengthen communication and, aside from a select few, have been met with complacency and apathy.

We few have organized effective communication with one another and have used creative strategies to combat certain conditions we've been experiencing. At first, utilizing the 602 grievance process was only met with rejections, so we took our well written 602s (grievances) that used Department Operations Manual (DOM), California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, California penal code, and U.S. law, and bypassed the lower level institutional coordinators and submitted copies to:

  1. Governor Brown, State Capitol, Ste. 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814
  2. CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, 1515 S. St., Ste. 330, Sacramento, CA 95811
  3. CA Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Capitol Bldg, Rm 4005, Sacramento, CA 95814
  4. Inmate Appeals Branch, Chief CDCR, PO Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001

And other relevant heads of department and politicians. The outcome has led to a spotlight shining down on KVSP administrative staff with official reprimands and supplemental memorandums and addendum. Warden M.D. Biter has been reprimanded to the effect of: stop superseding the DOM, CCR, and other applicable state and federal law, and to honor the CDCR 22 written request process that was formulated after the 2011 hunger strikes, and 602 grievance process. I've only been told this and cannot provide documentation, but it comes from reliable sources within administrative staff who are against the institution head's policies.

Ever since these reprimands have supposedly taken place, there has been a notable change in everything. Our 602s are being accepted for review, 22 forms are being answered within time limits, program has resumed on modified procedure, and our food is adequately proportioned. We've had no cases of staff misconduct, threats of any kind, or adverse retaliatory actions from administration, from January through today's date of 5 June 2012.

I've created a private law library of essential regulatory content and political value which has been utilized and facilitated by interested prisoners and we are accumulating knowledge.

These are still initial stages and our struggle needs lots of work, but even minor accomplishments are boosting morale. I encourage everyone to take the steps we've taken and stay strong and diligent. Keep records, daily logs, and file immediate complaints of misconduct.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner is setting a good example of how to push forward the legal struggle for basic rights. And this article provides some good advice for California prisoners working on the grievance campaign demanding that grievances be addressed. Improving conditions within which prisoners live and organize is an important step in the struggle against the criminal injustice system. We know these reforms will only bring short-term relief, as the system itself serves the interests of the ruling imperialists and so substantive change will not come until we overthrow imperialism. But these battles are important for both education and the successes they bring.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 27]
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Who Are We?

Who are we...
Peasants from the slums/
The ghettos, the streets
Where we love drug lords & hate bums/
Drug up & get numb/
Party to hide our embarrassment
Trying to live lavishly/
As the tears stream down
From momz face she's treated savagely/
But still we're lost & brainwashed
I can afford a ounce of weed/
But can't buy the baby shoes when in need/
I can slang dope to fend for the kids/
But can't teach them some respect
Cause the slave pen is where I live/
Who are we...
Some thugs & gangstas/
Or fakes & wankstas/
Oblivious & ignorant
Cold-hearted & impenitent/
Broken-hearted & belligerent
But intelligent & benevolent/
But we only show the malevolence...why?/
Cause where we from weakness only leads to violence/
Funerals, head shots/
Dead homes & dead cops/
Who are we...
Lovers & haters, givers & takers/
My mind says it's time
To change who we are/
From the only things being important is money, clothes & cars/
To cherishing our women instead of sluts, hoes & broads/
To being brothers instead of niggas/
To pullin good mass-movements instead of pulling triggas/
Selling dope is so old, only makes you hot instead of cold/
With ice, don't sell your soul cause it's a hellava price/
Revolution is the only solution/
The only resolution/
Fight for what's right/
Fight for your life/
A soldier, warrior, survivor/
A man, a woman, a sister, a brother, a rider?/
Who are you...

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 27]
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Retaliatory Transfer Results in Organization at New Prison

Recently I was transferred to High Desert State Prison in obvious retaliation for my legal and political activities. The state fostered the misguided notion that by transferring me they would:

  1. Undermine or silence the struggle at one prison and
  2. Silence me upon arrival at the other

This has proven an incorrect analysis.

Upon arriving in what is openly hostile territory it became apparent that the possibility of unifying the population existed due to the commonality of complaints. The result is that not only has the population become unified ideologically (i.e. the need for action) but they have actually mobilized toward that end.

Some of the common issues include:

  1. Absence of regular medical attention
  2. Denial/refusal of medication and mental health care for mentally ill prisoners
  3. Physical and sexual abusive behavior by the pigs
  4. Starvation-size portions of food
  5. Inadequate law library access
  6. Denial of access to religious accommodations
  7. Forced housing creating hostile, dangerous, and potentially lethal results

Thus far we have made progress on the medical issues and, to a lesser extent, the food. The pigs are suddenly not so aggressive as well. But we're fed children's portions — maybe. Some have, with just a little effort, taken up the struggle with the knowledge that it is a protracted struggle, but by working together and refusing to accept degradation we can cause change and we can make our lot more humane and ultimately more just.

I still have my parole problems, but if they insist on keeping me caged, then I shall make myself a cost-ineffective exhibit and I will make this zoo as oppression-resistant as I can.

[Update from 6/20/2012] We submitted a grievance petition tailored specifically to the Nevada system, which has been circulated and "signed on to" by several prisoners thus far with numbers growing. We will be organizing a similar campaign over lack of food and medical/health issues.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Security] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
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More Orgs Labeled "Security Threat" for Raising Consciousness

Recently I was informed that my naci├│n is now considered a Security Threat Group (STG) here in the state of Texas. Not because we are doing anything that's criminal, but because the system knows that we have the potential to make change possible for all, which they see as a direct threat to their institution. For years we have been around, but now they see more and more of us getting tuned in to our doctrine, becoming aware of the de-humanization of the system. So it seems that they want to slap us with this label. Recently in an article published in ULK there was a fellow Black Panther, who is here with me, informing you all that the Gang Intelligence staff have also classified them as an STG in the state of Texas.

All I can say to those manitos and manitas doing time representing [these groups]: there is nothing new under the sun! Keep underground not because we have a sense of guilt, but because by watching and studying history we made ourselves a threat and now the system is ready and waiting to take us out just like it does with so many others. The war on STG is real and the tracking mechanism they use is serious, inside and out.

¡Trucha! Always be aware and make the right decisions.

Remember, just because you are in general population doesn't mean that the future is going to be the same. This goes for all the lumpen class. Prepare yourselves for that ripple effect because the war on so-called STGs is going to get much more repressive.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that the prisons throw around the "security threat" label as an excuse to lock down conscious prisoners organizing against the system. We get many letters talking about this happening in states across the U.$. In addition, the "security threat" label is used to keep Under Lock & Key out of prisons. This censorship is so common that every issue of ULK finds many copies returned to us, in some cases banned from entire facilities.

This writer gives good advice to be very careful about what information we reveal. We don't need more good comrades locked up in segregation just for their lumpen organization affiliation. Don't make it easy for the pigs. Don't give them any information.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 27]
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Revolution is a Legacy

The thoughts & rage for liberation that belonged to my forefathers
Run through my veins & pump through my heart which gets me farther
I knew within my heart even though I live here this place is not my home
This culture isn't my culture, the religion is even false
You misinformed us about the slave trade
I've read it all in your history books
You never once mentioned my people jumping ship & committing suicide
rather than be made slave & took,
Blind is the ways of most of my present people who think
we belong & should get along here.
Awaken the giant of liberation & face our oppressors with no fear
Dear forefathers thank you for the legacy that flows through my veins
I raise my fist for struggle & liberation
Power to the people who died for the same

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[Abuse] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [Virginia] [North Carolina]
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Solidarity from North Carolina to Virginia, Father to Daughter

Greetings from NC, I am writing to you to request that you send my daughter your newsletter. She is confined in a Virginia prison in Troy, VA. From what I hear there are men guards who regularly bully and physically abuse women there. My daughter has communicated to me that on one recent occasion, a male officer broke a female prisoner's arm.

In one of my letters I tried to send her information and addresses for resources in VA that could help them fight their oppression but due to their overbearing censorship of mail, she never received that information. Those women are on the verge of rioting to get justice for all of the persecutions and afflictions that are being perpetuated upon them by guards. All they need is a little push of inspiration to help them along. They need to know that there are thousands of us similarly situated who support them and who are comrades with shared agendas.

Please send her some literature to share with others and if possible to let her know her father and his friends (you) are behind her en masse.

The last newsletter received from you was Under Lock and Key, March 2012. We are finally off of lockdown here at Lanesboro prison and Captain Covington has been fired as well as our superintendent for destroying video footage of guards beating inmates.

If we all worked together and against the prison industrial complex as a team, we could accomplish and acquire so many rewards.

We appreciate your newsletter here at Lanesboro.

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[Control Units] [Apalachee Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Control Units in Apalachee Correctional Institution

I am currently housed in an administrative confinement unit in Florida's Apalachee Correctional Institution. The East Unit has two confinement buildings: Disciplinary Confinement (DC) and Administrative Confinement (AC). In DC we are on 24 hour lockdown except to take showers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 3 minutes to wash. Once you've been on DC for 30 days you are eligible for recreation outside for 3-4 hours on Saturday, but they only give us 1 hour, if that. We exercise in what's called a dog cage. It is 15x8 feet approximately.

Administrative Confinement (AC) Y Dorm houses prisoners placed here for security purposes ranging from disciplinary reports, protective management, or investigation. They sometimes use AC as a form of punishment just because they want to. You can stay back here up to 180 days. AC holds about 30-40 prisoners on each wing (1,2,3).

The cell is 6x10 feet with bars as the door. I can touch wall to wall with both arms extended. We rarely get recreation. It's infested with rats and ants which come in and out of your room throughout the day. Your toilet only flushes two times every hour, sometimes less. There's no central heating or air conditioning so right now it's summer and it reaches 100 degrees and we have to be fully dressed. They only have fans at each end of the hall and certain officers will turn them off as a punishment. The office has AC so it won't affect them. Here showers are also Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but you are in a cage with another prisoner which is dangerous because there's a possibility of rape. They give you a piece of a whole soap about the size of a credit card broke in half, if even that big. It's hotel soap and we only get one a week. We get toilet paper every 10 days, sometimes it takes longer. We are supposed to receive 2 rolls per inmate but they just give us one and if you run out, you're just out until next time.

This place is terrible. I wouldn't want my worst enemy here in AC or DC.


MIM(Prisons) adds We have been collecting statistics on control units in prisons across the country as a part of our campaign to shut down the control units. This prisoner's report is part of more general information he provided about the units in Florida. To help us compile accurate statistics about control units in your prison, write to us for a copy of the control unit survey.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Economics]
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World Bank serves United Snakes of Imperialism

world bank banquet
On 17 April, 2012 the Associated Press reported on the election of the New United Snakes president of the World Bank.(1) This article demonstrates the control that the U.$. has in the bureaucracy of this agency which serves as an administrator of neo-colonial economic policies within the Third World. Jill Yong Kim, a Korean-born U.$. citizen was elected by the 25 member executive board after he was challenged by the neo-colonial nations, which the author describes as "developing countries." His selection extends the tradition of Amerikans leading the World Bank dating back to the institution's founding in 1944.

The neo-colonial nations contend they need a greater voice in the World Bank.(1) This is evidence that the UN dominated bureaucracy does not take these "Developing" countries interests seriously. Underdeveloped nations struggle for positions of power within these agencies to better influence the policies which are geared to (under)develop their economies. They are bureaucratically smothered by the developed nations (led by the UN) because more developed nations equals less super profits for the imperialists. Hence, the World Bank is founded on the need for underdeveloped countries. In reality, these other countries are only given a voice in the UN to the extent that they can't use it to change the status quo.

The associated press reports: "The World Bank raises money from its member nations and borrows from investors to provide low cost loans to developing countries."(1) This bourgeoisified spin of propaganda purposely hides the fact these loans to the "developing" countries intensify under-development by systematically refusing to fund serious industrialization programs.(2) Instead, these loans are granted for purchase of surplus food from the imperialist nations home markets attached with obligations to pay the money back with interest. If the U.$. controlled World Bank was truly interested in providing "aid" to underdeveloped countries they would grant loans that are geared towards developing agricultural industry which is aimed at consumption needs for the population and to establishing institutions within these countries that produce native modern technicians and engineers who were free to use their expertise within their own respective nations.

Without programs like these, "aid" to a neo-colonized state is merely a revolving credit, paid by the neocolonial master, passing through the neo-colonized state and returning the the neocolonial master in the form of increased profits.(3) Over half the century of the World Bank developmental "aid" to the Third World has accomplished nothing more than creating a comprador class of native exploiters who rely on imperialist agencies and forces to keep the oppressed nations in their place while robbing the national treasuries for their own wealth and privilege. Together the comprador class and imperialists work to exploit the oppressed nations with institutions such as the U.$. run World Bank which in its pure form is an imperialist front to finance oppression in the Third World.

Notes:
1. San Bernadino Sun April 17, 2012, pg B6
2. Daniel Fogel, Africa in Struggle: National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution Press San Francisco, pg 121
3. Kwame Nkrumah, Neo Colonialism: The Highest Stage of Imperialism, New York: International Publishers, pg XV (introduction)


MIM(Prisons) adds: For an example of World Bank economic practices that keep countries under the imperialist thumb, see our article on the Middle East and North Africa.

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[Release] [Security]
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Release Plans and Politics with Friends

I have received ULK24. I love the article by release coordinator of MIM(Prisons) Overcoming Release Challenges. It goes into detail on the "Post-Release Plan" you all sent me. A comment on the time management is that it's true that time is critical, but as we do something like traveling to and from work or to see our parole officer, lunch breaks on the job, we communicate with people. This may not seem like much but one conversation on the basics can change lives.

My backpack will go everywhere with me. And this backpack will be stuffed with the best zines, newsletters, etc. If I pass a store, I can place some on the counter: hand them out to "passer-bys." We should take advantage of every little opportunity with limited time. These "little" things will hold some over until more time frees up or until they get into the habit and get settled.

And another comment is on "the personal vs. the political." I agree with MIM(Prisons) on security issues but on the attempt to preventing the destruction of relationships with friends and family in the name of the struggle, I don't agree. I say this to say if they can't accept me for who I am, then they're not real friends nor real family. This doesn't include telling them of more clandestine activities, but in telling them of your position and what you fight against imperialism. Your friends and family should want you to fight injustice. Not saying that they are obligated to do the same in order to be my friend - No! Everyone has a role in the struggle and some peoples' may be more radical than others.

These challenges are paramount and needs to be tended to fully. The only way to go is up because we're at the bottom; we can't get any lower.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade on the importance of advantage of every minute to do some revolutionary organizing. And there is nothing wrong with talking in general about political views with friends and family if you think there's a chance they might be interested (if you have an FBI agent in your family you'd be a fool to talk to them about anything). But you have to be careful about what you share. What happens when they start asking questions about details on what you do just because they are curious. And when your friend is angry with you for something and decides to go tell the cops about your activity, you've just put yourself in danger unnecessarily. We encourage people to keep their discussions of politics on the level of theory with people you know, until they demonstrate a real interest in getting involved in something. There are plenty of strangers out there we can talk to about politics without fear that they can use it against us: there is no lack for people to educate and organize.

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