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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 69]
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NC Prisoners File 15,000 Grievances; Organizers Face Retaliation

In 2018, North Carolina prisoners answered South Carolina prisoners' call out coordinating amongst each other in multiple states alongside outside supporters, agitators and Anarchist Black Cross by organizing their POW movement (prisoners of the world).

Three prisoners [names removed] staged a peaceful protest with the support of over 300 prisoners and outside public supporters. They even hung signs on the prison fence made out of sheets. Meanwhile nearly 100 public protesters piled out of dozens of cars, vans, and SUVs, armed with bullhorns, signs, and drums in solidarity with the prisoners while perimeter guards trained loaded firearms at the prisoners and the supporters. Then prisoners submitted a list of demands:

  1. Establish parole for lifers who demonstrate rehabilitation
  2. End life sentences
  3. End all 85% mandatory minimum sentences
  4. End long-term solitary confinement
  5. Abolish article 1, section 17 of the constitution of NC which permits slavery to those convicted of crime through the 13th amendment of the U.$. constitution
  6. End $10 administrative fees for the guilty disposition of a write up or rule violation
  7. Better food with real beef
  8. Better health and dental care
  9. Allow prisoners to purchase JP4 players/notebooks
  10. End security threat group policies that restrict contact visits with their wives, children and fiances
  11. Fair wages for our slave labor
  12. End exaggerated censorship policies
  13. More meaningful rehabilitation and educational opportunities

The following day, on 21 August 2018, prisoners at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Raleigh went on strike, refusing to eat our work, followed by prisoners at Craggy Correctional Center. Then reports began flooding mainstream media that thousands of prisoners across the U.$. were joining the international prison strike in solidarity with the POW movement.

The organizers were then each transferred to separate super maximum security prisons and charged for inciting a riot with the exception of [name removed] who was sent to Butner, NC to a prison that is so violent and popular for 5-on-1 fascist beatings that prisoners call it "baby Guantanamo Bay." After 8 months of cruel and harsh treatment with reports of fascists putting glass in food and feces in another, prisoners [two names removed], with the help of public support, organized their national grievance day calling on all NC prisoners and any similarly situated prisoner in other states who are affected by this oppressive rule to join them and file grievances against their director in their state to end the oppressive rule that prohibits anyone in the public from sending a prisoner money unless that person is an approved visitor on the prisoner's visit list.

As a result of this new restrictive discriminating policy, many prisoners whose families are poor and of color, who don't have identification or transportation to visit a particular prisoner to show em support, now cannot send the prisoner any money. This has resulted in a scarcity of funds to go around resulting in an uptick of gang violence and rule violations. For example, prisoners who can't hustle for money due to no artistic skills or other lacking reasons and whose family can't send them any money for hygiene, food, stamps or phone time now are forced to have their families send money gram, western union, square cash app or greendots to pay inside drug dealers for K-2, CBD, marijuana, suboxone, heroine, or other drugs that they can easily sell in order just to survive.

So in response to this intrusive rule, on 21 May 2019 both men and women prisoners stood together in solidarity and sent in more than 15,000 administrative grievances against the NC prison director. Then on 1 June 2019 North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) reported receiving more than 100,000 phone calls and emails from angry families and supporters internationally backing up email servers and phone lines nearly causing their site to crash, urging the director to repeal his 5 February 2019 Jpay rule. One outside organizer spoke with the public affairs office and reported that "there was an ongoing investigation and the director will be looking into it."

Outside activists and supporters are reporting good feedback from the NCDPS, and folks behind bars. Also an art gallery in New York contacted organizers from itsgoingdown.org and is asking for NC-specific art around this extension of our POW movement and wants to get behind NC prisoners to support them.

With the 21 May 2019 national grievance day, in addition, prisoners are beginning to coordinate amongst each other in multiple states, and working with outside supporters; word of the coordinated action has now spread all over the country.

Supreme Court shut down Prisoner Organizing

For nearly 40 years, prisoners in North Carolina have avoided the political arena surrounding prisoner rights ever since the United $tates Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Jones v. NC prisoners labor union, inc. 433 u.s. 119, 129 97 S.ct 2532, 53 L.Ed 26, 629 (1977), preventing NC prisoners from unionizing, meetings and solicitation of membership.

The union formed in late 1974 with a stated goal of "the promotion of charitable labor union purposes" and the formation of a "prisoners labor union at every prison and jail in NC to seek through collective bargaining... to improve... working... conditions..." It also proposed to work towards the alteration or elimination of practices and policies of the Department of Corrections (DOC) which it did not approve of and to serve as a vehicle for the presentation and resolution of prisoner grievances. By early 1975 the union had attracted some 2000 prisoner members in 40 different prison units throughout NC.

The state of NC, unhappy with these developments, set out to prevent prisoners from forming or operating a union. While the state tolerated individual "membership," or belief, in the union, it sought to prohibit prisoner solicitation of other prisoners, meetings between members or the union, and bulk mailings concerning the union from outside sources. So on 26 March 1975 the DOC (now North Carolina Department of Public Safety - NCDPS) prohibited that activity.

Since prisoners were on notice of the proscription prior to its enactment, they filed suit in the U.$. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of NC. That was on 18 March 1975, approximately a week before the date upon which the regulation was to take effect. The union claimed that its rights of its members to engage in protected free speech association and assembly activities were being infringed by the no-solicitation and no-meeting rules.

The district court felt that since the defendants countenanced the bare foot of union membership, it had to allow the solicitation activity, whether by prisoners or by outsiders and held "we are unable to perceive why it is necessary or essential to security and order in the prisons to forbid solicitation of membership in a union permitted by the authorities. This is not a case of a riot. There is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that the union has been utilized to disrupt the operation of the penal institution." The warden appealed to the fourth circuit who also agreed with prisoners. The warden appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States who reversed the 4th circuit's decision.

The court deferred to the warden's conclusions that the presence and objectives of a prisoners' labor union would be detrimental to order and security in the prisons. The court held those conclusions had not been conclusively shown to be wrong in this view, and that when weighed against the First Amendment rights asserted, these institutional reasons are sufficiently weighty to prevail. In sum, the court's decision established that the institutional interest of the prison outweighs a prisoner's constitutional rights. The rulings in Jones, in hindsight, defined prisoners' status as "prisoners" and eliminated prisoners' rights to free association and essentially paved the future for correctional czars to place iron curtains between the First Amendment and prisoners with impunity.

Punished for writing a letter to organizers

Update: On 12 June 2019 and still claiming actual innocence as to why ey's in prison. Prisoner [name removed] was in eir cell writing organizers when a sergeant and two prison guards entered eir cell for a search. During the search one of the prison guards picked up the letter and began reading it. The prisoner was handcuffed and charged for inciting a riot for simply stating in his letter to outside supporters and organizers "thank you for helping put NC prisoners on the map and for giving prisoners a voice on May 21, 2019 and June 1, 2019 as we continue to bring our collective struggles to the battlefront. I look forward to the 2020 strike calling on all us prisoners to stand in solidarity to demand an end to slavery in prisons and to restore our freedoms."

At this time, this prisoner was scheduled to receive eir first visit in 11 years from eir sister who has no criminal record and who had been unapproved for no reason and was finally approved. Unfortunately, eir sister drove over 8 hours to visit and took vacation time plus a portion of eir husband's disability money to cover the expenses. What's worse is that eir son was just accepted at university which puts an even worse financial strain on the family. Meanwhile this prisoner remains in administrative segregation and faces another 8 month long-term lock up. While in lock up ey accused prison guards of putting feces in eir tea and poisoning eir food. Ey reported having diarrhea, vomiting blood, inability to hold down food, weakness, shakes, hallucinations, hot-cold sweats, stomach pain and dry heaving. Ey has since recovered after two weeks on a self-induced diet of milk.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are some important lessons in this report from North Carolina. First, the restriction on organizing and even just basic free speech of prisoners is pervasive. It takes the format of transferring or charging with crimes prisoners who initiate protests or even complaints against conditions behind bars. But it is also codified by the courts in rulings like the prohibition of union organizing. These laws and actions amount to telling prisoners that they must accept any and all oppressive conditions, that the so-called "rights" of U.$. citizenship do not apply to them.

We can take inspiration from this oppression. While the threats and retaliation will scare some out of taking action, revolutionaries will understand that our actions must be effective if we have frightened the prison and legal system into enacting rules and policies to stop our organizing work. And so we must continue! These organizers in North Carolina are continuing in the face of serious repression, and providing an example of determination and perseverance for others.

Whether your work is focused on educating others, or directly taking on repressive actions by the administration, it can all contribute to building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. This United Front challenges the criminal injustice system through the unity of the oppressed behind bars. We need more stories like this one about the battles being waged. And for those looking to get involved, write to us for resources, educational materials, and support for your struggles.

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[Environmentalism]
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Red-Green Revolution Solid on Environmentalism, Cloudy on Political Line

Red Green Revolution bookcover
Red-Green Revolution
by Victor Wallis
2018 – Political Animal Press

Red-Green Revolution brings socialist theory into the 21st century. Wallis writes about the ecological crises that we face and very compellingly and comprehensively connects capitalism's drive to expand and exploit to the degradation of the natural world. In doing so he describes how the only way of saving the planet (and us) is for there to be social control of production as well as consumption (socialism). Merging the politics and economics of socialism with the need to preserve the natural environment shouldn't be an issue, but obviously it is. For the most part socialist movements don't always articulate the connection of capitalism to natural destruction, climate change, etc. (this shows in the way "green capitalism" movements seem to dominate the environmental movements, which Wallis discredits.) While environmental movements don't typically equate socialism with the solution to natural crises.

Wallis does an excellent job in joining the two, which should by now be a no-brainer. But it isn't, which is why this book is a necessary read. He begins by describing how the earth is used, subsumed under a system which uses it as a market. Market-driven incentives to exploit, expand, and profit make respect for natural limits minimal to non-existent.

"One can not expect people to be able to honor such limits until they are liberated from these drives." He could've ended the book right there on page 23. However, he continues to help us understand the totality and interconnectedness of the various aspects of ecology and socialism, further marrying the two.

This isn't the typical "appeal to people's conscience" environmental lit. It's got a blend of Marxist interpretation and is theoretical in its own right, as well as scientific and dialectical. Resting entirely on a materialist basis for socialist revolution, as it applies to ecology. Ecosocialism is the joining of the two. This is so very important, because it seems that the environmental movement is continuing to grow and even becoming more mainstream. Unfortunately, the more this happens the more it is kept within the framework of the capitalist system. "If a movement of this kind (ecosocial) is to grow, it must have theoretical underpinnings."(page 72)

Wallis truly does a great job of connecting most everything that has its "single issue" movement to the necessity of socialist revolution. From information/communication/education to agriculture/forests/fisheries to surveillance/repression/military to public health and health care services. Telling of how these things are operated under a capitalist market-oriented format and the subsequent effects allows one to further understand the totality of capitalism's domination of everything.

Regarding technology, the question of should it be democratically controlled or left in the hands of capital has its answer also in ecological concern, as Wallis articulates. He describes the various side effects and by-products that a lot of technologies (of which need for rests on no natural human need, but merely created by capitalism) produce and how they are detrimental to both the environment and human health. Which gives the answer to the above question: "The protection of human beings, not just as consumers but as involuntary recipients of particles with unknown properties, has become very much a collective responsibility. Hence the need for social control over production." (page 86)

In my opinion, one of the best points Wallis makes is in regard to the military actions. Rarely is this talked about how this is connected to environmental issues, but he does a nice job of doing so. Seeing how destruction, mass murder, displacement of populations, radiation caused by nuclear war, etc. all constitute environmental degradation, this should be easier to understand and unite against. He then connects these things to capital. "In the military sphere, the concentration of capitalist power has reached a previously unimagined level, where the agenda of global domination has become an article of consensus within the ruling class of the world's most powerful country" (page 87). Then in tearing down the commonly used pretext of "extending liberty" that capitalist empires (like the u.s.) use to intervene militarily into other nations affairs: "What unites the interventions, rather, is a pair of preoccupations central to the rule of capital, namely, 1) maximizing the sphere of corporate economic operations (now focusing especially on oil) and 2) blocking, punishing, and ultimately, destroying any attempt to chart an independent especially if socialist-development," (page 87) or what we would call "capitalist-imperialism."

There is much more in this only 198 page book, so I will close with encouraging all to read this thought provoking book and appreciate Wallis' contribution to socialist and ecological thought. Bringing the two together is an absolute necessity. Capitalism enjoys (enforces) hegemony in order to continue to exist. Among the people and our movements there must also exist a kind of people's hegemony if we will ever abolish oppression. I think environmental concerns are a great possible unifying theme that can bring more into the broader movement.

Where the book falls short is that Wallis doesn’t commit to a clear political line. He speaks of change but offers no clear line of possible action to achieve it. The book is a good read in that he unifies socialist politics with the environmental movement. This is not always linked within revolutionary theory, and is more important now that climate change is a popular conversation even in mainstream politics. But the book is specific to ecosocialism only, and Wallis doesn’t take a position on important questions like the cultural revolution or the labor aristocracy. His breakdown is useful in bringing environmentalists into the broader movement. His political line though quite cloudy.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We need more communist voices in the environmentalist movement. MIM published a theory journal on the topic of Environment, Society, Revolution back in 1997, in which it put forward a clear political line for Maoism as the path forward to stopping the destruction of the earth by humyns. In this journal MIM argued that "only by putting proletarian politics in command will we be able to address the problems of oppression and the exploitation of the non-human world." Books like this one from Wallis help get people on the correct path fighting imperialism, but we need to get more literature out there about the practical questions of revolutionary organizing today and the best path forward to ending the imperialist destruction of the earth.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 69]
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Lock Up Your Mind

What makes a prison
Is it the walls and bars?
The guns and towers?

No prison is not that
Prison is for me
My mind lay to waste

When I was free
My mind was locked up
And took from me
By the world
That was before me

No you don't
Have to do a crime
To be locked up

The bad part
Is locking you mind up
That is the real crime
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[First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 69]
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Damus Agree: A Gangsta Uses Intelligence not Oppression

I want to touch base on the fellow Damu comrade April 2019 "Konfused Gangster Mentality" in ULK 68.(1) I am in total agreement with that author. We as Damus who are incarcerated as a whole are oppressing ourselves, people, and nation. For two decades I've been a Damu under the UBN and for the last 10 years the Damu nation has been watered down. Askaris not fully overstanding the concept of our way of life. There's no way we override oppression and in the same sentence we oppressing the oppressed.

Leaders of the Damu tribes are recruiting but not fully teaching. We bang 5 watts and I see so many askaris falling prey to the trick tyrants are creating. We as Damus must get organized and truly contribute to our Uhuru by any means necessary. I agree with the askari "Damu on Damu is a Double O Banga" not just beef within our nation but with others as well.

The United Front for Peace in Prisons is a structure for unity to stand against imperialism. Damus aren't oppressors, we are Black leaders, therefore we must lead ourselves, people, and nation. To the many Damus askaris in imperial-Amerikkka we must unite within our nation and come together to assist with those who are making changes. Oppression works by turning us against the oppressed, never against the oppressor. A gangsta is one who uses his intelligence. Peace.

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[National Oppression] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 69]
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Missouri Divides Prisoners with Racism

I read the article titled "Whites Can be Lumpen Too". I do not doubt that. But let me give you some insight on the race relations in Missouri's prisons.

The Caucasians are given job positions that allow them access to more resources, more mobility, more food and more canteen. While they turn around and make a profit off of New Afrikans and others who need what they have.

There is in particular one major racist "white" gang that functions in the Missouri Department of Correcions (MODOC) and this gang works directly with the C.O.s all the way up to the captains and case mangaers. This is not exaggeration, there is a couple pigz who have this gang's tattoo on their forearms! Yet the administration turns a blind eye to this.

So when it comes to unity how can you unite the population against the oppressors when half the population works for the oppressor and identifies with the shade of their skin over their prisoner status? They enjoy privileges like drugs, cell phones, food etc. that makes them feel closer to the staff than to the rest of the prison population.

Just last night me and six other comrades in the wing were having a discussion about Amerika, Russia and China's military bases spread throughout the Caribbean when we were constantly interrupted by a Caucasian prisoner banging on eir door. I am open to the idea of unity amongst all prisoners but the MODOC has done a thorough job of segregating us prisoners and forming a caste system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Our response to the comrade who wrote "Whites Can be Lumpen Too" agrees with this writer. It's no coincidence that white guards have racist tattoos or that white prisoners enjoy special privileges from these guards.

This country has a long history of national oppression. It started with the European settler nation, which has always been mostly petty bourgeois, bringing in oppressed-nation slaves to build the infrastructure of this country. The history of this national oppression continues today in a slightly more subtle format. The result for whites as a group is greater wealth, better education, better housing opportunities, better jobs, and on and on. And so even poor whites who aren't currently enjoying these privileges can look around and see that their peers, people who look like them, are doing well. And they identify with these folks, aspire to their wealth, and have a realistic shot at getting there. This is in contrast with the lumpen from oppressed nations who look around and see lots of folks just like themselves in the same shitty conditions.

Whites can be revolutionaries if they choose to go against their national interests. And it makes it easier for prison staff to set up white prisoners as the privileged group, helping keep the rest of the population in check by getting in the way of organizing and unifying. Organizers need to recognize these conditions and unite those who can be united; in this case the oppressed nations.


Related Articles:
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[Organizing] [Jefferson City Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 69]
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Youth Ready to Stand Up for Change

Today a lieutenant pig walked to the cell next door and the prisoner explained to the pig that ey was in Ad-Seg for assaulting another prisoner. The high ranking pig said "as long as you don't assault staff we're cool." And then ey walked away. I had to use much mental discipline to overcome emotion; understanding that this same misguided emotion has kept me and my comrades in these Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) Ad-Seg torture chambers for years.

Our kites are ignored, we have practically no access to grievances and it is only those strong in self-discipline who abstain from physical retaliation. Tactics I have often used to no avail.

There is a strong revolutionary presence in this Jefferson City Correctional Center Koncentration Kamp. Young comrades who, like myself, are gang affiliated yet well-studied and ready to stand up for a change. All we lack is an effective strategy that can truly unite us all. All I lack is the knowledge to properly form a United Struggle Within.

I am open to corrections, ideas and strategies from comrades and political prisoners more experienced and advanced than myself.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is providing an example for all, by contributing regular work writing and producing revolutionary art. We have sent em lots of letters and other material, but it appears to be largely censored. So, much respect for staying active in spite of this censorship. We print this letter to encourage others to speak on this topic. By sending in regular reports on your organizing you can contribute to United Struggle from Within's knowledge of conditions on the ground and strategizing efforts. There is much to learn through practice in action.

On our side of the bars, MIM(Prisons) offers revolutionary education classes (study groups), political literature, and resources to help form study groups behind bars, and other organizing guides. But this support isn't that helpful if we can't get it past the censors. This underscores the importance of our battles against censorship.

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[Censorship] [MORGAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 69]
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Choose Your Words Wisely - ULK Censored in Tennessee for L.O. Language

I would like to inform the supporters, comrades and my fellow brothers throughout the world, plus also in the "Amerikan Prison System," that we must be watchful of our message that we are attempting to give and spread to those who very well needs it. The ULK article that was titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" was deemed to be a threat to the Morgan County Correctional Facility. So it was rejected by the mailroom staff. This decision was upheld by the "Security Threat Group" coordinator, and by the final decision of the head warden.

The article was said to be written by a supposed gang member who has ties to the Bloods street gang. It was said by the prison officials that the way the word “confused” is spelled as "Konfused." But also that the word "Damu" that's a part of our Afrikan native people spoken language, that many of our slave ancestors spoke called Swahili. This was brought to the land of Amerika by the Afrikan slaves, who spoke Swahili and also many other Afrikan language dialects.

Even today across the great land of Amerika, you can hear Swahili spoken throughout many major cities as common language by "Afrikan Amerikans." Many may greet one another in such of a way for all to hear. "I love you Damu of my Damu!" Let me translate "I love you Blood of my Blood!" Because for we as Afrikan Amerikans we share something in common. That our people was stolen, kidnapped and then shipped across the Atlantic, during which millions of people died while being transported.

Now when we are attempting to speak to brothers, sisters, supporters, plus comrades through the ULK, we must choose and use our words wisely in our articles, so the law enforcers won't be offended. Because here at Morgan County CF they have a long history of being taught to be racist, prejudiced, biased and abusive by assaulting prisoners while being in restraints. Yeah they're country boyz here at this facility. They don't want prisoners awoken and told what they should be doing against their oppressors. Because that would mean that these coward "Correctional Officers" would be getting their ass kicked left and right when they do things to us in a wrongful act.

And last, but not least, it was said by the STG coordinator here that he didn't like that the article titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" used the word pig to describe law enforcers. I myself thought it was funny, because this same STG coordinator at MCCF, he has witnessed his co-workers partake and possibly himself also in one or two of the foul acts I mention above.

Now we know that this is an ongoing problem that's not confined to the prison system; it also is happening in our streets of Amerika. The law enforcers are killing unarmed black males at an alarming rate as they did in 1950s thru the 1960s when our true brothers and sisters known as the Black Panthers became aware of the problems and began to form a movement to deal with them.

If you are affiliated with a gang my brother, keep your gang slang, your dissing ways toward another gang out of the ULK. Because these swine are always looking for ways to stop such articles and paper from entering into the prison systems. And that goes for being straight forward when it comes to speaking on dealing with the law enforcers. And being behind enemy lines without the system knowing that it has been infiltrated by us in all forms. Then more damage can be done against who we are fighting. This simple, but effective technique has been used by the oppressed through the world.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a difficult question for those of us working to expose the criminal injustice system. We want our publication to get in to our readers behind bars. We also want to print the truth. And we want to use language that inspires and empowers our readers. This truth and this language sometimes leads to censorship. We try to walk the line, always printing the truth, but choosing our language carefully when there is an alternate word that means the same thing and can prevent censorship. We can be thoughtful about what words we put out front.

We also need to take on these censorship battles and use them to expose the prison system, and the lack of free speech under imperialism. Like this writer, we need to appeal censorship when it happens. And when you appeal, if you inform MIM(Prisons) of the censorship we will also write an appeal as distributor of the publication. Even if we don't win these appeals, we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention to their rule breaking. Often the words and articles they cite as reason for censorship wouldn't pass a review by the courts. We need to remind them of these laws. If you don't have a copy of our guide to fighting censorship, write in to request one.

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[Censorship] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 68]
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How to Fight PA Mail Policies

In the article "Pennsylvania Digitizing Prisoner Mail" in ULK 65(1) Soso points out that PA's new policy will restrict prisoners to purchasing books directly (after the publication is first approved by the DOC). By enforcing this policy the PA DOC is implementing a state-run monopoly on reading material within its prisons. The obvious reason for this imperialist act is to further censor prisoners' reading material.

Illinois comrades have heard our brothers' cries for help. This policy can be fought, but it will take time and dedication to prevail. Crofton v. Roe, 170 F. 3d 957, 961 (9th Cir. 1999) is a case finding that a regulation that only allowed a prisoner to receive publications he ordered and paid for directly bore no relationship to the interest of screening for contraband. You'll need to Shepardize this case to find cases from your Circuit that support this judgment.

What does this mean? It means that you can combat the current policy denying third parties to order you books. That might seem like a small victory compared to the digitization of your mail and pictures, but any victory against the state is a victory for the people. Unfortunately, due to the security concerns regarding drugs being smuggled into the prisons through the mail, it is unlikely that this policy will be overturned by any court. The only method left for this issue is direct action in protest of the policy which garnishes public attention and support (i.e. the mass hunger strikes in California in protest of the SHU which resulted in the abolishment of indefinite placement in the SHU). In Solidarity!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We hope that this PA mail policy will be challenged in the courts. Although MIM(Prisons) does not have the resources (or lawyers) to do this from the streets, we print this letter to support our jailhouse lawyers who are working on this battle. At the same time, this writer makes a good point that we are unlikely to win these legal battles entirely. We can sometimes gain some small victories, that allow us things like greater access to educational materials in prison. But we need to keep in mind that political power only comes to those who take it. The imperialists and their courts will not give up this power without a fight.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [ULK Issue 68]
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Don't Defeat the Gangster Mentality, Embrace it!

Gangster mentality can mean different things to many. A gang is a group of people with a common goal. I must emphasize that all words/concepts are subject to connotations that don't necessarily have good intentions. Gang/gangster therefore carry negative and positive connotations, like other words like socialism, anarchism, communism, etc. It has been MIM(Prisons)'s aim to educate us about these ideas through the proper usage of science.

With this in mind, I consider myself a gangster. Since I believe in the idea of working with others towards a common goal, to me it is not about "defeating this gangster mentality," it's about embracing it and re-directing it towards the "Shining Path." We have a common enemy, and resolving our minor contradictions doesn't necessarily mean that we have to defeat our gangster mentality. This kind of language is what causes rejection from the lumpen organizations(L.O.s) in many cases. This is the language that is used by state-financed organizations and Christian groups/org.

I understand that MIM's direction is different, but those who pick up ULK and glance at it may see this language and will put ULK down. My approach has, and will continue to be, one that politicizes the gangster mentality. This is where you will find the most dedicated comrades, and, because they are respected they find themselves in a position to make real changes that erase that divide among different gangs and further our struggle in the right direction. It is about learning and teaching about our minor contradictions and working to overcome these minor obstacles.

In ULK 67, USW 11 wrote about how the state of Washington is doing whatever it can to depoliticize prisoners, and how among those places where you find the gangster mentality is where you find the most resistance against the state.(1) When L.O.s understand the power they have working collectively, things begin to change and form. After all, gangs are in contrast with the individualistic mentality in the United $tates, and are a response to the socio-economic conditions we face in and out of prison. It's a way to survive, in a place where the capitalist and oppressive system emphasizes individualism.

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[Release] [ULK Issue 68]
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Fixing Credit is One More Challenge for Releasees

I'm writing about a problem that I've been dealing with for the last two years of my incarceration. If you all have any information that will help me, please send it or put me in touch with someone who can help.

Basically I had a normal life before I was incarcerated. Meaning I had bills. Due to my incarceration I fell behind on all my bills, ruining my credit.

I've found information in the library to run my credit report and contact my debtors. But the mail room here will not allow me to send out anything that has to do with finances. They advise me to appoint a power of attorney.

My problem is this, how does DOC expect us to be "rehabilitated" while incarcerated, but won't allow us to do for ourselves? I'm going to be released to society with terrible credit, no money and no means (legally) to provide for myself. And I'm certainly not the only one. This system is creating a cycle that turns DOC into a revolving door. And does nothing but add to the paychecks for the state.

Everybody doesn't have family out there to provide for them. So I thought I could try to handle my own business but I'm being held back. I read the policy and it basically states that as a prisoner we are not allowed to sign financial contracts or start/conduct business via mail or phone.

So I'm reaching out to see if any other prisoners are having this problem. If so has there been a solution? Because I have several ideas on how we can help ourselves to have the funds to start over once released. But how do I implement them with the restrictions applied by DOC? Hell I don't even know if they'll let me send this out asking for help.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade describes just one of many problems releasees will face as soon as they hit the streets. Usually thinking about your credit is not the first order of business for a released prisoner. But this can have a big impact on your ability to find housing and set up basic services (which require credit cards). There are ways to rebuild your credit rating, but it's slow and one more problem to add to the difficulties of life on the streets with a prison record. And as this writer points out, all this adds up to a revolving door of recidivism.

We don't have any easy ways to help fix this credit problem, or the bigger question of how to set up businesses from behind bars. However, we hope that our comrades with release dates or finite sentences will start thinking about this well in advance. If you have someone on the outside who can help square up your delinquent bills, it's never too early to ask for help. And if your prison allows you to send mail out to those billers directly, you might be able to work something out with them to defer the debt.

If anyone else has ideas to help folks hitting the streets to deal with these sorts of financial challenges, write in to share them. We want to help our comrades hitting the streets to ease their transition as much as possible. This is critical to making it possible for releasees to continue their political work on the streets. We need an army of former prisoners building independent institutions of the oppressed, to support new releasees.

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