The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Prison Labor] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
expand

CCA Making Money in Texas

Prisoners in the belly of this dungeon prison, Allred Unit gulag, are confronted with the reality of unjust conditions and oppression. The prison administrators have continually ignored complaints about the poor quality of the food, conditions of confinements and the physical abuse of prisoners by the ignorant, intolerant, racist, poorly trained corrections workers.

Since their inception, they have been racked with serious use-of-force complaints and complaints about poorly trained corrections workers, lack of guards, and poor food facilities. Corrections Corporation of Amerika keeps prisoners fed and housed for $60 a day and still makes a profit.

A detailed 174 page after action report, prepared by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, noted the CCA's deficiencies and serious errors in administrating the prison dungeon plantation gulag. The disciplinary system here is totally unjust.

Food is a major cost for prisons. Outsourcing of food supply and preparation is one item many Texas prisons are attempting to implement to save money. Companies are cashing in on this cow, submitting low bids to feed prisoners, with poor food quality. The prisoners here on lock-down are pissed off at the poor quality of the food and the inedible meat-type products.

chain
[Organizing] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 8]
expand

Info About Work in WI: We Need to Keep Fighting

At this place there are 1050 prisoners. There are 2 dorms. Dorm B holds 55 prisoners and Dorm A holds 110. There are 2 cell halls, North and South, about 300 prisoners each. The hole holds 150 and stays packed to capacity. Intake holds about 100 and a medical unit about 40.

Approximately 300 have jobs at maintenance, yard crew, bath house, rec, school hallway janitor, rotunda janitor, dorm janitor, canteen, library, tutors, cell hall swampers, paint crew, wardens clerk, treatment center janitor, health service clerk, visiting room janitor, picture project photographers, the kitchen, and Badger $tate Industries, in which they are paid between 12 cents to 42 cents an hour plus 2 cents extra on weekends and holidays, and they work up to higher positions in wages.

Prisoners who go to school get 15 cents an hour - yea they pay them, if you can call it that, to go to school. And those who don't go to school or have a job get 5 cents an hour to sit in a cell, which adds up to about $4 every 2 weeks, not nearly enough to get a stick of deodorant and soap, especially once they take out 50% for child support or other court obligations one might have. Yes, I still have to pay child support while in prison, 50% of any earnings.

The pay ranges are: 12 cents ($9.60 every 2 weeks), 19 cents ($15.20), 24 cents ($19.20), 35 cents ($28) and 42 cents ($33.60). And Badger $tate Industries is separate from institutional jobs. 18 prisoners have those jobs and get from 79 cents to a dollar an hour. They make clothing for outside vendors and to sell to prisoners around the state. They also make the pillows and mattresses. People on the streets want this closed because BSI could provide them with jobs. Prisoners at BSI used to get minimum wage and up.

I see brothers I rotate with work around here to get basic necessities because they have no income or family support on the outs. And if I give a brother a bar of soap or something to eat it is viewed as an infraction and I will be written up for "unauthorized transfer of property" and the soap confiscated. We aren't allowed to do what is right here and help our fellow man. Divide and conquer. Just like they do with the jobs. Brothers will cut each others' throat for a higher paying job around here.

On the other hand, I hate the idea of working in a prison (or on a plantation) because it helps to fuel it. If we all protested by not working, the staff would have to cook, clean, etc. It happened during lockdowns before and staff hated it. But there are not enough brothers willing to sacrifice their only income for change. The wages have continuously gone down in the 10+ years I've been down and canteen prices have continuously gone up.

I know of brothers who made this little money to send it to their kids, etc, or pay for phone bills. So some work for their families. But if the 100 kitchen workers all stopped working that would cause a lockdown and the warden would want to know why they won't work. In 2002 I was sent from here to Supermax for inciting a riot against staff and the old warden here asked prisoners what it is that they wanted and these suckas said more rec, shoes with air bubbles, porn and cigarettes. But when they took the cigarettes in 2000 they didn't riot. They only got more rec and the staff took 1 pair of shoes (we used to be allowed 2 pair) but that 1 pair could have air bubbles if they could afford them. I got back here in 2006, 4.5 years later and realized that brothers sold us out.

So I don't put my head on the chopblock any more because I know that most won't ride for a real cause for improvement such as more law library time (we only get 30-40 minutes a week, if lucky), better wages, better medical care. If the workers did stop working they have another prisoner that will fill that spot before the day has ended. Capitalism taught them individualism so most are for self and quick to say "I came in by myself, I'm go do me."

MIM(Prisons) responds: We get a lot of letters like this one from comrades behind bars who are down for the struggle but frustrated with the lack of support from their fellow prisoners. It is true that capitalism has taught prisoners individualism well. And the reality of Amerika is that citizens in this country have a material interest in preserving the system that is benefiting them. While prisoners are in a unique position because the very system that used to benefit them is now locking them up, it will not be an overnight transformation for people to see the connections with the capitalist system and move beyond individualist thinking. We know that most prisoners are not down for the anti-imperialist struggle. But we also know that their conditions leave many prisoners with open minds hungry for education. And so it is our job, both on the streets and behind bars, to provide educational material and food for thought to as many prisoners as we can reach. This is the purpose of Under Lock and Key. And we rely on conscious brothers and sisters behind bars to circulate it and spread the word.

In addition to many letters like this one, we also get many letters from prisoners who talk about how they pursued an individualist and selfish mentality for many years before having their eyes opened by something they read or by someone on the yard talking to them.

chain
[Prison Labor] [Florida State Prison] [Florida]
expand

Prison Labor in Florida's Control Units

In the Florida Department of Corrections there is a program called close management which is a control unit. It has 3 levels that you can be placed on and once you complete each level without any disciplinary reports you are eligible to move forward to the next level within six months. I am currently being housed on close management II here at Florida State Prison which holds about 1,285 prisoners. Only the prisoners who are housed on CM III are permitted to work, which is about 205 prisoners. And they are limited to certain jobs without pay, such as houseman and laundry, which is totally different from general population because there is only one job that actually rewards you for your labor and that's canteen. All the canteen operators who are employed by FDOC are paid $65 a month. Other than that one specific job the remainder of the jobs such as inside-ground, plumbers, law clerks, electricians and cooks are employed without pay.

chain
[Control Units] [Florida State Prison] [Florida]
expand

Unlock the Box Research in Florida

I’ve been housed at 3 of the 4 control units that are available and open to prisoners in the State of Florida:
1. Florida State Prison, 7819 NW 228th street, Raiford FL. 32026 (1285)
2. Charlotte CI, 33123 Oil Well Rd, Punta Gorda, FL 33955 (1500)
3. Union CI, 7819 NW 228th Street, Raiford, FL 32026 (1300)

I am currently being housed at Florida State Prison control unit. There are about 1,285 prisoners housed here. Only part of the prison is a control unit and that’s the main unit. Out of the 1,285 prisoners, about 750 are Black, 390 are Latino and the remainder are white. Prisoners are sent to control units in the state of Florida for a variety of things: assault, attempted assault, cell phones, escape, too many disciplinary reports, and anything else they choose. Because it’s said in Florida that close management isn’t a punishment, it’s a program. But we suffer daily in the control unit.

I don’t know when any of the control units opened, and I don’t know if they expanded them since they opened. However, the state of Florida is in the process of opening another one which is a Supermax control unit. The rumor is that the control unit is going to house thousands of prisoners and once you get released off of the supermax part it’s mandatory you spend at least 5 years on their compound. They are now transferring a few officers over to the new control unit. It’s also being said that you do not have to come out for showers or rec because it’s going to be a roll around shower head that steps in front of each cell door, and the back of the cell has a door that opens to a fenced in rec yards. That’s about all the information I have about this new control unit.

chain
[Censorship] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

XXL Just Wants Your $12.99

Revolutionary greetings, comrades. I consider myself to be a conscious brother. I'm also a realist. I can't help but notice that prisoners are writing in, complaining about issues that are minute. And/or of no interest to Us that are dedicated to and about the struggle (total liberation of Our people mentally, spiritually, and physically).

Take for instance the problem with censorship. True, it's a problem that needs attention. However, complaining over magazines such as Vibe, XXL, and King is ludicrous. These publications don't give a damn about these concentration camps we're housed in. As long as that capitalistic business receives our $12.99 they are straight. Let's support those that support us such as MIM(Prisons).

Also comrades, we're all held in an institution that breeds injustice. We're all aware of this fact. OK, let's start fighting this beast with the resources we have. Educate yourself with the law. Know how to attack the grievance system that's a part of this corrupt system. We have to have comrades on the outside that are willing to harass these slave-holders and let them know that you have family/friends that care and are wiling to fight until justice is done. Without that we're on our own and must unite and fight until justice is done. We must want for our brothers/sisters what we want for ourselves.

Texas is one of the worst states to do time in. We have no phones, don't get paid a red cent to work, and we damn near make everything that's sold in the commissary. However that can't break the spirit of a warrior who is dedicated to uplifting my people.

The time is now to unite.

MIM Responds: This comrade is right to assert that the publishers of Vibe, XXL, and King probably only care about their dollar. We've tried communicating with Harris Publications a number of times about the racist censorship of their magazines in amerikan prisons but have still received no response. MIM(Prisons) is against all censorship in prison and would align with the publishers of magazines like XXL, if they were interested. So far they haven't been, but we will still uphold these as examples of the racist censorship policies in u$ prisons.

chain
[Prison Labor] [Texas] [ULK Issue 8]
expand

Texas Prisoner Forced to Work for No Pay

In Texas, every general population prisoner is required to work. They either work in the service of prison upkeep (i.e. maintenance, food service, field labor, support service inmate, etc.) or they work in one of the various factories owned by TCI (Texas Correctional Industries).

TCI is not part of the state. It is not part of the prison system. TCI is a private conglomerate which contracts with the state for prisoner labor. They operate metal fabrication plants, stainless steel works, meat packing plants, furniture factories, computer restoration plants, and many others throughout the 130+ prison units around the state. These industries do indeed provide products which the prison system needs for itself, but these products are also sold to other states for their prisons and jails at prices greatly marked up. The profits come from the fact that the prisoner labor is free.

Texas prisoners do not get paid for working.

Now there are a couple of pilot programs which started a couple of years ago, that do pay their workers a tiny bit. But these programs employ less than 1% of the 150,000+ prisoner population, and there are no plans to extend or expand these programs.

When general population prisoners in Texas attempt to involve the U.$. Department of Labor, OSHA, or other labor organizations concerning the exploitation of prisoners, we are told that prisoners in Texas "volunteer" to work, and are therefore not entitled to any support. They fail to mention that if a prisoner refuses to work, he is subject to disciplinary action, loses commissary and recreation privileges, has his good time credits taken away, gets locked up in administrative segregation - all of which has a negative effect on chances for parole. So the Catch 22 is: either work for free, or suffer the consequences.

Oh, they tell us that our good time credit is our pay. But good time only affects non-3G prisoners. It means nothing to the rest of us.

Furthermore, the extent of embezzlement within TCI is outrageous. The managers and department heads, even the foremen, are ripping off the tax payers with their thefts. I personally have witnessed many such incidences. For example: the maintenance department receives a new pump which it does not need at the time, so it is put into storage. Three weeks later I can't find that pump. A month after that, the supply truck delivers another pump which has the exact same serial number as the first.

Another example: just before Thanksgiving, the meat packing plant receives a truckload of frozen turkeys. The plant closes on Friday evening, and come Monday morning there are 120 frozen turkeys missing. The official ruling is "inmate theft." But no prisoners are at the plant on weekends.

And again: the stainless steel fabrication plant makes the round circles which are used for the seats we sit on at the chow hall tables. I saw a bill for 24 of those seats, the price? $40,000 for 24 one foot circles of stainless steel.

The factories build all the bars, the bunks, the toilets and sinks, the steel doors, etc., using prison labor. Then TCI sells all that to the contractors who build the new units at an unbelievable mark-up. The contractor then builds the prison, and sells it back to the state for an even more exaggerated price. Meanwhile, briefcases of cash keep changing hands. How else do you think the state gets away with telling the tax payers that a new prison costs $64 million when the outside of that prison is all pre-fab, and the inside is all prisoner built? Where is the oversight? Where is the accountability? The nature of bureaucracy allows these things to go on. Hell, they learned it from the feds, there's no one left to tell. Those officials who are supposed to look out for these things just take their share too.

The nature of capitalism ensures that the abuses of prisoner labor and the rape of tax payers in Texas will continue unchecked while the imperialistic standards thrive.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an excellent exposure of the prison labor conditions in the state of Texas and the benefit that private industry is getting for this free labor. The stories of corruption ring true across the whole federal government. See our article on Halliburton/KBR and Blackwater to see parallels in the military industrial complex.

We only disagree with the author in their assessment that the tax payers in Texas are being raped. While it is true that the State is paying ridiculous prices for goods, this is no different than the state paying high salaries to guards: these things actually work to ensure good jobs for those working in the service to imperialism. And the vast majority of taxpayers in Amerika are benefiting from imperialism so we can't agree that they are being raped. The criminal injustice system is helping to prop up the system of imperialism that benefits the taxpayers, and a little more money exchanging hands to enrich another imperialist institution (TCI) does not change this situation.

This article referenced in:
chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina]
expand

The Day Before Tomorrow


Sacred memories painted black on
brokeness of hard times canvases.
Mirrored images of many men confined
who remind me of me in memory.
Souls tear stained with blood of
our ancestors past.
Injustices pain like rain falls forming
puddles around ankles like shackles.
Unwritten script fist clenched against
bad experiences within the penal system.
Too many talented dreamers behind
prison fences.
Prison Central is confinement of the mind
Black life in eyes still shinning but dimming
He went from living to merely existing.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina]
expand

Solitary Confinement


Mental purgatory trapped inside the
matrix
hells aging heaving grabbing at me.
Suicidal mind battles fictional characters
trying to hold on.
I believe I can fly touching the
sky inside my mind zone.
I rather die before I submit to
genocide systemized legalized lynching.
Judicial homicides of the black
strong and gifted.
Invisible teardrops manifested
Obama can't change this.

chain
[Abuse] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

Excessive Force in North Carolina

Check this out, there are a lot of issues of excessive force jumping off here at this spot with this renegade white Sgt named Deno. He has been dumping whole cans of pepper spray on prisoners when pulling them out of their cells. He then takes them to the mop closet and beats them up.

Guys are writing Prisoner Legal Services about these incidents but no internal investigations are being done by these people. They only send longass questionnaires and after all is said and done their response is always the same "we find no cause to investigate your complaint any further." Nobody comes to see these guys physically all busted up and stitched up.

This Sgt Deno messed up this one guy's eyes so bad with dumping too much pepper spray this guy's vision is permanently altered. He is presently seeing an eye doctor. He has been prescribed medication for his eyes but it's been 3 weeks and counting and this nursing staff still haven't given it to him.

chain
[International Connections] [Illinois]
expand

Canadian Denied Transfer Back Home

I am a Canadian citizen incarcerated in a prison of the Illinois Department of Corrections since December 1999. I am trying to get transferred to a Canadian prison but the transfer coordinator of the IDDL denied my requests for the last six years. They don't even tell me how long I have to stay in the U.S. The only hint I got is that I have too much time left to do to be transferred right now, and I know this only because I wrote to former Governor of Illinois Mr. Rod Blagojevich. I even wrote to President Barack Obama on his inauguration day about my transfer to a Canadian prison but he didn't even bother to answer, much less to do something. I also wrote to some Illinois state and federal officials but they didn't do anything either.

This is just another example of American imperialism. The U.S. likes to swing its weight with citizens of other countries incarcerated in this country by not allowing them to return to their home country, while the U.S. wants to have its citizens incarcerated abroad return home. There is a treaty of prisoner exchange and transfer between the U.S. and Canada, but the U.S. usually does not honor it.

There is nothing left for me to do but stay and suffer in U.S prisons among foreigners. Where is the day of equality among nations with mutual respect? Canada is more humane to its prisoners. The U.S. is far behind for human rights that it claims to promote around the world.

chain