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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Security] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 18]
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Special Needs Yards Revolutionary Fighting Fascism

I'd like to comment on special needs yards and the lack of revolutionaries therein. I am on such a unit, except here in Oregon they call them mental health units. Of course there is also protective custody but, I'm not addressing PC units in this letter.

I am a former racist skinhead who left the movement decades ago. Since then I began a movement to get others out of the white supremacist movement by educating them on issues of white privilege, aspects of class war and anti-imperialism. I was extremely successful and my efforts have been recognized at a national level. Someone needed to come forward to educate these misguided individuals. I did. Now I pay the price.

As the result of some robberies I was sent to prison. Almost immediately I was recognized and repeatedly attacked while staff lied and covered up a conspiracy to keep me on mainline knowing I had received several valid death threats. Finally I was moved to an institution where I could walk mainline and placed on a "mental health" unit. I am on such a unit because I am a revolutionary. Now I am in a system where often the line between the white power groups and the guards is blurred. In a white privileged and dominated imperialist nation what more could one expect?

Everyone in the Oregon DOC is too busy fighting one another to join together to accomplish anything and it is my experience that there are just as many rats and snitches on mainline units as there are in the "mental health" units here in Oregon. The mentally dead are everywhere. You find them not only amongst the ranks of snitches or rats but, also in those who are brainwashed into believing in the false theory of race or racial superiority.

It is not until whites of the lumpen can realize the privilege the color of their skin affords them in the united states and throw away the doctrine of race or racial superiority that we can join ranks with our brothers and sisters and truly become revolutionaries in the non-violent struggle to end oppression in the U.S. and the doctrine of oppressive imperialism our nation forces upon the innocents of the Third World.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is one of many responses we received to our article on Special Needs Yards prisoners. While we know that many snitches seek PC status in exchange for selling out their fellow prisoners, we also know that many prisoners get into these yards for legitimate reasons and that there are serious revolutionaries throughout the prison system. At the same time, there are plenty of snitches on mainline so we can't just generalize and avoid the PC units and assume our movement is safe. We must always be on the lookout for snitches who will betray the revolutionary struggle. At the same time we should always be on the look out for genuine comrades who will join and contribute to the struggle. We best achieve this by keeping politics in command. That means setting policies to address security risks that judge political line and practice, not state-enforced labels, rumors or persynal interests.

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[Nashville] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 18]
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Long line for ULK

I am at DCSO in Tennessee. One of my pod-mates receives your publication, Under Lock & Key, and it has attracted a lot of attention. The line to read it has become so long and complex, I decided to write to you and request my own personal subscription. I've always been interested in subversive politics and your newsletter gives me a lot to think about. Also I am willing to write articles for future publications in exchange for a chance to take part in your free book program.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Don't get stuck waiting in a long line for Under Lock & Key. Or worse yet, get moved to a new prison where you can't get at ULK at all. Write to us today to get your own subscription!

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 19]
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Black is Where the Heart is At


Black-on-Black crime,
I see it all the time,
Why come brothers hurting each other,
instead of loving one another?;
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.
Black-on-Black violence,
I see it steadily destroying us,
Why come Black people keep killing each other,
instead of helping and protecting one another?;
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.
Black people betraying themselves and each other,
Always disrespecting, lying, stealing and cheating one another,
Why come brothers can't work it out?
Psychological warfare, mind control and genocide is what
I'm really talking about;
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.
Brothers not wanting peace and reconciliation,
Only helping the enemy (racism, capitalism, and imperialism) to oppress the Black Nation;
Black love, Black reconciliation and Black redemption is what we work for and need,
Brothers and sisters join in and defeat our enemies.
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.
Black people wake up to what's really going on,
don't be deceived by the integrationist song;
In a white capitalist democracy,
A Black minority will never be accepted or treated equal by a white majority.
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.
Black unity, Black pride and Black power is what our ancestors loudly proclaimed,
Let us uphold this legacy and proclaim today the same darn thing;
This is what we owe our ancestors, future generations, ourselves and each other.
True commitment to the Black liberation struggle will allow us to do nothing other;
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.
Divided we fall, together we stand,
Black power and Black nationalism is our true call and demand;
And keep world liberation as our primary goal.
Let those present convey the message to those who are absent,
_______Every Black person ain't Black,
_______Black is where the heart is at.

Black people, rise and unite!

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[Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Slavery in the Lone Star State

Forcing humans to work for free - a term better known as slavery - was abolished in America almost 150 years ago. Most know slavery still exists in 'less civilized' parts of the world, but to consider this abominable treatment of people to be ongoing in our country is unheard of. Perhaps it's because few know. Well down in Texas, the business of slavery is brisk. When told of this fact, the average American is certain to express shock and demand to know the details. Upon being informed that prisoners in Texas work for free, most are happy to let out a sigh of relief and lose interest in the subject. So, in essence, forced labor for no pay is tolerated. Because the ones involved are convicted criminals seems to make this practice okay.

But is this really okay? Shouldn't prisoners be compensated for their labor like everyone else is? Prisoners in other states are, so why not Texas? Shouldn't they be able to provide for themselves while in prison and their families on the outside? As a prisoner(or "offender" as we're called) in a Texas prison, I well know that if you're not fortunate enough to have someone sending you money to purchase items from commissary, you're SOL, as the state only provides the bare essentials. Concerning hygiene, once a week (if you're lucky), you get one roll of toilet paper, a disposable razor, tooth powder and soap. Maybe four times a year toothbrushes are issued. That's it! Deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, t-shirts, shower sandals, writing paper, etc., you gotta buy. Even a personal cup to drink out of and a bowl and spoon to eat with are not free. But how can you buy something if you don't have the money? For those who pay child support the fees don't stop when they become incarcerated. But how do you pay when you work for free? Something to think about.

In addition to maintaining the prisons themselves, offenders toil long hours in TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) sweatshops under the guise of TCI (Texas Correctional Industries), which manufactures everything from furniture to mattresses to cleaning supplies. Many of these products are sold to outside agencies and the private sector at a profit, not to mention the t-shirts, shorts, socks, thermals, shampoo and liquid detergent offenders make, that TDCJ turns around and sells to us through the prison commissaries. Considering their labor is free, it's safe to assume the state's profit margins are great. What Wal-Mart, or say, IBM, wouldn't give to have a complimentary workforce.

TDCJ officials will be quick to say that offenders may not receive actual money to work, but are paid with good time and work time. Not entirely true. Those serving sentences for aggravated crimes are not eligible for good time and work time (even though they work like everyone else). Nonviolent criminals such as myself do earn these time credits, but they are often not honored. So what's the point in even allowing them to be earned in the first place?

It's like working for someone who says they're going to pay you so much for your labor at the first of every month. You work all month for this employer and fulfill your end of the agreement. At this time, your boss says "Oh, I decided not to pay you. But keep working for free, maybe I'll pay you next month." For the most part, that is what's happening to prisoners in Texas. What a shame it is. With my earned time credits, I have five and a half years done on a three year sentence, yet I'm still in prison. My projected release date was February 1st of last year (when my total time credits equaled a hundred percent of my sentence), but it was still denied by the parole board - despite being a model prisoner. Rumor has it, the parole board often denies prisoners who stay out of trouble and demonstrate reform. Why? For "manipulating the system." So I guess those who act up have a better chance of getting out early. Perhaps I should start being a troublemaker, might help me make parole the next time I come up.

Many prisoners in the Lone Star State put in years, and decades even, of thankless free labor for the state. Upon release from prison they are rewarded with a bus ticket and one hundred dollars. Some of these ex-cons have no family and no place to go. How far can one get towards rebuilding a new life on a C-Note? In this year of 2011 I wouldn't say very far. A one night's stay in a cheap motel, set of thrift store clothes and a few fast food meals at the most. I suppose us in the big house can consider ourselves lucky. Those serving state jail time in such TDCJ facilities, must work for free also, and all serve their sentences day for day; but when released, they get not a dime. If they have no one to pick them up, they are dropped off at the nearest homeless shelter. Broke, unemployed, and with nothing but the clothes on their back, they're basically being set up for failure. What are the odds of them returning to crime? Great I'd say.

There's the saying, "Texas is like a whole other country." I agree completely when it comes to criminal justice. Not only do other states pay their prisoners to work, good time and work time is guaranteed. Is there a correlation between the Texas prison mass slavery operation and its high recidivism rate? Highly likely. This too is something to think about.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner points out some important facts about the labor situation in Texas. As we've reported elsewhere the labor situation in prisons throughout this country is similar to what's described here. But the prison system in this country is not the same as the economic system of slavery. Prisons are a tool of social control rather than a way of exploiting labor.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 18]
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Down with the Struggle


Hunger of the mind, to educate myself politically;
these pigs can bend me backwards,
but they will never break me.

With the spirit of George Jackson, and the ideas of Mao Tse-Tung;
the heart of Che Guevara,
the revolution's about to start soon

Don't think you a gangsta, cuz you killing your brother;
call the next lady a bitch,
but you don't think of your mother.

You hanging in the streets, gangbanging and busting;
you killing for colors,
that shit is for nothing

You better start waking up, and think outside of the bubble;
join forces with each other,
and throw down with the struggle

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[Control Units] [Education] [Florida] [ULK Issue 20]
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Turning Control Units Into Universities

As we already know, control units are torture chambers where prisoners spend from 22 to 24 hours a day locked up in a tiny cell for long periods of time with a blinding light burning all day, with no educational or other kinds of programs and without proper medical and mental health attention. We are forced to live in here with the pigs oppressing us every day. These conditions are meant to break prisoners' mental states and spirit. They are oppression tools. Here I've seen prisoners give up and lose all hope, lose their mental states, harm, and even kill themselves. There's no doubt that these horrifying places affect the majority of prisoner's mental health. However, we can and should turn these torture chambers into our universities, for the betterment of ourselves and our oppressed comrades.

The first time I was placed in a control unit (here in Florida they are called close management units or CM) I did 2 years locked up in a tiny cell 24 hours a day. In my first few months I was wasting my time bullshitting, fighting and reading mind-killing fiction books. I was blind about the struggle - our struggle, oppressed against oppressor. Then, one day, a comrade handed me a book called "Last Man Standing" by Geronimo Pratt, a top member of the Black Panther Party. That book alone sparked the revolutionary in me and since then I haven't looked back. Then I met George Jackson, Mao, Lenin and Che among others. That's when I started shaping and organizing my ideals. When my family asked me if I needed money for canteen, I told them no. Instead I asked them to send me books on or by the above-mentioned comrades and I started studying full time.

Along the line a comrade gave me a copy of Under Lock & Key and I loved it. That boosted me up on the prison struggle. I started corresponding with MIM and after a while I began writing articles for them. The comrades at MIM(Prisons) supplied me with good and much needed studying material and I kept working hard on behalf of the struggle - our struggle. I've learned to discipline and organize myself in a way that I never thought possible. As I grew mentally and expanded my knowledge of the struggle, I shared it with others and helped awaken their consciousness.

I had access to nothing except what MIM(Prisons) sent me and my only opportunities to get out of my cell were when I had to see medical or mental health personnel and when we had recreation in a tiny dog pen and showers 3 times a week. Nevertheless, I refused all these. I thought - and still think - that by going to these I was throwing away time that I could use to study and put in work for the cause. I exercised and took bird baths in my cell. I studied even when the lights went out. I used a little bit of light that came in through the back window from a light pole that stood outside the building.

The pigs were used to going around doing their checks and seeing prisoners cuddled up in their beds doing nothing or just staring into space while talking to themselves. In fact, they like to see this because they know that they are breaking the prisoners' minds and fighting spirit. But they hated it when they walked by my cell and saw me sitting on the floor with all kinds of books, dictionaries, papers and pens scattered around me. They couldn't crack me, let alone break me, and that chewed at their insides. I wouldn't give them a chance. I was, and still am, going to fight them until the very end. If I can't fight them physically I will fight them with pen and paper by spreading the word of struggle and helping other oppressed people wake up consciously.

When I was close to being released to open population I told myself that if I started getting off track and losing my discipline I would return to CM on purpose to start disciplining myself all over again. When I was finally released in late 2009 people who knew me before wouldn't associate with me much because they couldn't relate to my new mindset. Fortunately I was able to wake some of them up and have them join forces in the struggle.

In my first prison, after my release from CM, I quickly formed a study group of nine comrades, of which the comrade who first introduced me to MIM(Prisons) was a part. However, the prison in which we were was extremely racist and oppressive and the pigs started targeting us. For being the group's spokesperson they considered me the leader and for that alone they ransacked and destroyed my personal property every time they got a chance, threatened me, then placed me in solitary confinement on false charges. Finally they transferred me to another prison.

At my next prison the pigs already knew about me, so as soon as I got there the searches and property destruction continued, but that didn't discourage me nor did it put a dent in my confidence. In a matter of weeks I had another study group going. But then, not even a year after my release from CM, I had an altercation with another prisoner who was a snitch for the pigs and was returned to CM where I currently find myself.

I have come to the conclusion that open population is not for me. It only takes too much of my study time. Study time that I need for when I get released back into society. Besides, in CM I don't have the pigs in my face all day. In open population there's a great chance that I harm one of them badly and catch more prison time. So I've decided to do my remaining 14 years in a solitary cell. This might be helpful for me, but it is not for everyone because not everyone understands and appreciates it like I do.

If you have no choice but to be in a control unit, don't waste your time bullshitting. Don't let these damn pigs break you. Turn the torture chamber in which you find yourself into your university. Read, study, and educate yourself. Subscribe to Under Lock & Key and other MIM(Prisons) material. If you don't have much material to study, whatever you do have study it over and over. You will be surprised by how much you can learn from reading the same thing over and over. I still have the first Under Lock & Key I ever read, which was given to me by that good comrade 3 years ago, and I still read it every once in a while. And every time I read it, I learn something new.

So comrades, wake up and get to studying. Show the pigs that you won't allow them to break you and that you are willing to fight, learn, struggle, and turn their torture chambers into your university. Just don't turn it into your mental and physical graveyard.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We're glad to see our work having such an impact on comrades in prison and we agree with the recommendations given for those in isolation. But keep in mind that control units exist in order to keep those who study away from the masses. A one-man university is nothing compared to running study groups and organizing sessions with a group of people. For those who are forced into isolation, Under Lock & Key is your connection to dialogue with the larger prison movement.

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[Gang Validation] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Fighting Gang Validation Laws

I just completed my fourth reading of a pamphlet I received from you titled "Shut Down Control Units in Prison," and I found it in step with my own thoughts on the subject.

Your interpretation on how prisoners are validated is right on point and I'm living proof of it, my validation was based on my being in possession of written materials and an image of a dragon. But the inept way in which I was validated isn't what made me go into a state of frenzy, it was the fact that after being in the prison system for 12 years, prior to my being validated, I had no idea of what the validation process was. As one who spent a great deal of his time studying the rules and regulations of the prison system, I can only guess that the reason I overlooked the validation process is because I became too busy fighting to make a difference in other areas of the prison system, but now that I'm in the grasp of the demon I'm going to alter the hell he has pulled so many into.

After spending about a year in the SHU trying to figure out how the hell I was validated, I rolled up my sleeves and started working on how to not only get myself out of the SHU, but the multitude of others around me. But I soon found out that a large number of prisoners in the SHU feel so defeated that they have given up hope and become content with being in the SHU. Some have even become proud of being validated and don't want to hear anything from me about what we can do to get out of the SHU.

One of the first cases that I started studying about the validation process is a case you wrote about in the pamphlet you sent to me which is the Castillo case. Now don't get me wrong the case knocked on the door of change, but it should have kicked down the door. An example of what I'm referring to is the rule change requiring that a prisoner has to be in possession of items such as written materials or symbols on their body before they are placed in the SHU. But what the attorneys who represented Castillo didn't ask the court to make a requirement of is that the CDCR must list the names of which written materials, tattoos and symbols are "gang related," because as we now know the CDCR can say anything that they want is a gang related item.

I've written to the attorneys who represented Castillo, and one told me that they no longer work on prison cases and the other one who you wrote about in the article told me that he wanted $5000 to answer my questions about the Castillo ruling. So I filed a 602-appeal, and to make a long story short my appeal was shot down due to my filing it too late, and although that door was closed another one has opened and I'll keep you updated on the outcome.

Another thing you wrote about prisoners being in the SHU that I agree with is how atrocious it is that a prisoner can be put in the SHU for a determinate term for committing a violent act, but a prisoner who has a tattoo, symbol or certain written materials in their possession will be put in the SHU without committing any violent action for an indeterminate term for a minimum of 6 years (this also is a stipulation that the attorneys for Castillo could have changed). In conversations that I've had with some Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI), they have agreed with me about the flaws in the validation process, but also said that it isn't their responsibility to correct it. I can understand why they would say it, so myself and other prisoners must pick up the baton and run with it towards the finish line of change. It's time for me to step down from my podium speaking about subjects you already have a full understanding of, so in closing I thank you for all that you are doing for those of us behind prison walls and I look forward to hearing from you again.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Check out our campaign against control units for more information on the fight against these torture chambers filled with people on false gang validations.

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[Culture]
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Language and Revolutionary Struggle

I am shocked by the stupidity of the Amerikan people to recognize the causes of this economic cri$i$ and the roots of the current covert and overt imperialist wars (i.e. massacres) against other native nations and majority-driven grass roots movements. But I am equally disturbed in what I see going on within Amerika. I don't believe there is any will by the Amerikkkan people to resist against this United Snakes of surveillance. Instead what we have is ridiculous groups like the Tea Party whose true fear is of Amerika losing its hegemony to rising Oppressed Nations.

A lot is to be blamed for this. Like letting political pundits and the co-opted media determine the topic and language of social debates. And don't get me started on the media's go-to military West Point grad analysts who are supposedly going to give us a fair and truthful analysis. All we hear is terror terror terror, national security security security, austerity cuts cuts cuts, and planned protest protest protest.

To hell with the debate over Republikkkan or Democrat$. I'm ready for the revolution. A revolution is what we need to uproot the military industrial complex. A revolution would make the imperialist monopolies U$ currency paper worthless. A revolution would accomplish all that is needed. Yet our potential comrades are bogged down in appeasing Saturday or Sunday protest while the CEOs and corporate board members are out on their yachts. We're stuck in de-centralized legal battles while the political establishment appoints and upholds outrageous U$ supreme court decisions which undermine dozens of hard fought legal battles.

I could elaborate all century about the genocides, entrapments, and swindling business that this police state has committed but that is of little use to us enlightened few. Tactics, strategy and the execution of both is what we should focus on. The execution of tactical and strategic methods will vary depending on your individual prisons and predicaments within those bars of oppression. I myself am very limited in the activism I can contribute to the revolutionary movement because I'm in solitary confinement for the next three years (minimum). But through obscure ways I can talk with others. I use this channel of communication to convince and discuss current, past and future events.

I never discuss or answer anything in the language of the oppressor. What justice does it do us to use the term "bailout" when it's really a robbery? What justice does it do to call a Saudi fighting in Afghanistan a foreign fighter or terrorist and then on the contrary call an Amerikkan soldier fighting there a liberator or patriot. What justice does it do us to call a hungry man who takes from the oppressive rich a criminal and then on the contrary enable U$ exploitative foreign policy by calling it national interest. When we talk in the language of the oppressor we legitimize the frivolous arguments that ignorant amerikans have been partaking in since the consolidation of the modern media establishment that sponsors this imperialist empire.

So please comrades be more conscious of your choice of words when debunking this "amerikan dream" myth. This imperialist hegemony is in judicial, information, and economic cardiac-arrest (I wish I could say the same about the military). Propaganda is in full swing and the best tactical defense and offense is that of dialectical historical materialism. DHM is more than just 19th century literature It's a social and political science developmental pattern that serves as the best kryptonite to capitalism and this so-called democracy. So lets all convey our messages as revolutionary comrades and not as stupefied soldiers.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade makes a good point about the importance of language in shaping our discussion about politics and current events. We need to use every tool at our disposal to expose the imperialists. However, we do not agree that Amerikans are "stupid" for not recognizing the causes of the economic crisis, or that the media is to blame for this. While the mainstream media is certainly serving the imperialists, Amerikans are going along with it because it is what they want to hear. The vast majority of Amerikan's have been bought off by imperialism and are paid more than the value of their labor with superprofits brought home from the exploitation of Third World. This gives Amerikans an economic interest in sticking their heads in the sand and supporting imperialism. It's important that we understand the classes within U.$. borders so that we know who has a material interest in revolution and what demands we should be rallying people around. For a more detailed case study of Amerikan wealth, see the MIM(Prisons) article on the U$ housing market printed in ULK17.

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[United Front] [Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 18]
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To Unite or Not to Unite, That is the Question


With whom shall we unite?
As Maoists,
and as materialists,
one focus in this imperialist country should be on the economic interest of its various segments in order to determine with whom we should or shouldn't fight.
Tactically speaking,
An enemy of my chief enemy is as fate would have it a friend to me.
Sometimes permanently,
many times temporarily,
it depends on their particular ideological and political stance you see.
The grave consequence of revisionism in the heart of imperialism is a subtle yet vicious schism between imperialist country so-called communist workers and the revolutionary practice of proletarian internationalism. Such division born of revisionism threatens the success of one revolutionary socialist mission. It puts us in a dire position which psycho-socially translates into an unhealthy state of nihilism and terminates any possibility of an anti-imperialist united front. It puts one's enemy forces in a position to win but to begin with as dialectics teaches, it is the internal contradictions within our own camp that is the determining factor in making our foes into the triumphant champs.
So these contradictions must be speedily resolved.
They must be solved and we must consciously involve ourselves in their resolution beyond the limited subjective confines of our egotistic idealistic minds.
In short order,
we must refine our scientific use of the materialist method of analysis if we are to successfully persist in the massive work of building an expanded revolutionary united front.

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