Democracy, Hypocrisy, the lies of the ruling class
Savery, bravery, attributes to the oppressed mass
We challenge what we're told
Because going hungry is getting old
They label us terrorists, trying to hold us down
But we communists will continue to gain ground
Every day 'til the trumpets sound
Then the continuous revolution will abound!
Here in Colorado there has been a push for solidarity amongst prisoners, particularly in units at Sterling Correctional Facility and Colorado State Penitentiary. I've been in prison for 5 years here in Colorado and have seen very little of this solidarity until now. Unfortunately, we here still have a long way to go.
Staff, who fear the trend of unity, have begun to sow seeds of unrest amongst certain groups. To do this, staff have resorted to spreading false rumors of sexual harassment, coupled with promises of "packs" and sexual favors for assaults on their intended targets. Staff's goal is to start a race war in place of the quelled tribal wars that have plagued this state for years. Unfortunately some prisoners have bought into this line of thinking, hook, line, and sinker.
In ULK 64 an article touched on this type of "damsel in distress" thinking in Colorado prisons. This type of thinking is grounded solidly in our own informal subculture that ultra aggressive, chauvinistic behaviors promote ones own reputation for toughness and overall appearance of being a convict. The reality is that we as convicts are entirely in control of what standards define "toughness" and "convicts."
While I fully agree that some recourse should be taken against those who commit sexual crimes against children, women, and others in general, I'm not sure that violent action is the best solution in most cases. And taking violent action against another prisoner based upon unsubstantiated allegations of a prison guard (who, rather than use prison disciplinary methods, sought retribution by bribing prisoners) seems entirely anti-convict to me.
Maybe it's time for us as prisoners in Colorado to re-evaluate what it is to be a convict in this state. I know in many states, prisoners who do the pigs' bidding, even the violent or illegal acts, would be considered stool pigeons for the man to control them.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We've heard about this awakening within Colorado prisons from a few folks behind bars, and also of the repression that pigs are using to try to quell that unity.(1) This comrade raises the important point that building unity requires a rethinking of how people interact with one another. We have to start by defining who are our enemies and who are our friends. The C.O.s are not our friends. As this comrade points out, their goal ultimately is to sow division. We also can't trust the state to tell us which prisoners are our friends. We need to look at their actions. Even those claiming to be revolutionaries may not be friends of the revolution if they are acting counter to the unity of the oppressed. Re-evaluating what it is to be a convict in Colorado is building on the budding lumpen unity in that state.
I am a prisoner at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri. I'm currently being held in solitary confinement for our May 12 uprising against the oppression and abuse inflicted on us by the administration and guards.
For months, the administration had been keeping us locked in our cells for 23 hours a day, in population! Using excuses of "short on staff," we are only allowed to either shower or call our loved ones for one 30-minute session per day. Our one-hour recs are cut to 45 and 30 minutes consistently. The inmate barber shop is closed. Visits are canceled. Guards are verbally and physically abusive.
Until, on May 12th at dinner chow (2 hours late) at 7:30 pm, 288 prisoners participated in a mass sit-in, in peaceful protest to all of the injustices. Instead of answering requests for talks with white-shirts, all officers fled both chow halls and kitchen, leaving us locked in, and grouped outside the windows and taunted us. The sit-in quickly escalated into the largest "riot" in Missouri history, consisting of a reported $4 million in damages, with the complex being taken over and held for over 7 hours. Inside, only 2 people were attacked before leadership and unity were established.
Countless abuses and injustices followed our return to custody, including: remaining zip-tied for 7-9.5 hours, forced to urinate ourselves, beatings, double-celling prisoners in single-man cells for a week with no mattress or bedding, less than 1000-calorie daily diet instituted for the entire camp for over 70 days, etc.
Through all this, the administration kept up its tricks of sowing hate and dissension amongst prisoners in population by blaming the 3-month lockdown on us by actually naming us to other prisoners in hopes of retaliation). Visits were canceled, no canteen, etc.
However, those of us in confinement know the truth: in 2017, we had a mass race-riot of Browns & Whites vs Blacks, and less than 12 months later those same races, true those same prisoners, come together to fight in unity against oppression! Me and about 20 other comrades came together again in September 2018.
It is coming up on 6 months since our placement in seg and we are likely to receive another 90 days just for good measure, but we are still standing. There are 78 of us from the uprising in seg, and many of us belong to one organization or another. When we are released we will continue to spread and build on this unity that was formed under great oppression. We will carry this momentum to bring all prisoners together to face the true enemy!
We have seen and heard praise for our battle and victory in the struggle throughout other max securities in Missouri. There have been other uprisings that have followed ours at a couple mediums, (one was a race-riot, but with guidance and support those aggressions can be properly re-directed), and the administration is taking notice. The five principles of the United Front are taking hold in Missouri. We will do our part to learn, share, teach and uphold them as we struggle together in our war against oppression. I will do my part in not only spreading the message to mi raza, but others as well. Unity is the key! Viva la gente!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed some good discussion about these Missouri protests in ULK 65. This writer highlights what is most important about these sorts of actions: the learning by participants and observers about what prisoners can accomplish with unity. By building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, comrades in Missouri are building strength and unity, setting up the conditions for stronger actions in the future.
In prison, it is considered to be a privilege to be a part of the general population (G.P.). And it is considered a punishment to be placed in a segregated housing unit (SHU). In order to compel prisoners to abide by the rules of the prison, this system of reward and punishment is put into place.
Here are a few key differences between G.P. and a SHU:
In G.P., you may get to come out of your cell for two to three hours a day. You live with a cellmate. You may have access to the gym and library. You may spend any funds you have on canteen items. You may walk to the chow hall, and you may walk to medical and any other program you attend.
In a segregated housing unit, you are in your cell for twenty-three to twenty-four hours a day. You may or may not have a cellmate. You have no access to the gym and the only books you have access to are the ones the librarian sends to segregation. You may only spend funds on legal material, stationary, and hygiene products. You have your food brought to your door as well as your medication, and your opportunity to participate in programs is limited.
Now, I shall elaborate upon this contradiction and give you the views of a politically conscious prisoner. Most prisoners are so uneducated and illiterate that if a topic doesn't show up on television, they know nothing about it. To be placed in segregation away from their "idiot box" would bring them unbearable anguish. They also cannot do without being able to get on the telephone, shake their loved ones down for money, and then spending it all on extremely over-priced canteen items. The young hip-hop generation cannot imagine having to exist without the support of their fellow gang members to boost their courage to oppress another, or trade hedonistic rap songs with one another.
Therefore, being placed in a segregated housing unit is terrifying to most prisoners. So much so, that they will tap-dance, bend over backwards and shine the warden's boots. Quietly suffering verbal abuse and humiliation from corrupt psychotic pigs. And when their frustration builds up, they will direct their anger at another prisoner, never abasing the iron hand oppressor.
Then there are those of us who do not care for rewards and punishments. We simply choose not to participate in the perpetuation of our own dehumanization. We choose not to assimilate into the machinations of the koncentration kamp. We don't care about snack cakes, sodas, and chips; we'd rather not be brainwashed by the Nazi programs; and we can do without the zombifying tel-a-vision. We find peace in the seclusion of solitary confinement where there are fewer distractions. Without having to be herded like cattle to and from to the chow hall and medical, we have more time to reflect, study and work toward our goal of state-less society.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Yes, we should try to take advantage of any opportunity do the best possible political work we can. For those locked in solitary, this means plenty of time to study and write and think. But we know this isolation has some very negative consequences for humyn physical and mental health.
Organizing is necessarily about interacting with other people. So while it's true that we run into lots of folks who are content to just sit in front of the T.V. and do their time, our challenge is finding ways to reach them. Isolating ourselves from the masses inherently makes us disconnected from them, and also isolates us from potential recruits who are mixed in G.P. and ready to jump on board. For those in seg, this comrade's advice about making it a good use of your time is well placed. But for those with contact with others, let's strive to make the best of it in G.P. too by building and growing the movement.
Statement of Unity: I, "Big Real," founder and president of F.A.T., willfully submit this statement of unity because the united front principles relate to our drive for education and our motto (Knowledge Is Power). Also, we use education to destroy negative outputs and increase positive aspects relating to peace and enlightenment.
When it comes to recruiting, the tactics involved to build an organization are not as difficult as one thinks. As we all know, relations based on the same agenda and goals are fundamental in showing a common interest in the struggle. Yet, the key to building an organization takes something more complex but simple.
Light travels at the speed of 186,000 mps. This speed is way faster than the speed of sound. Instead of expressing your feelings on how people should follow, simply lead. Instead of being "heard," be "seen."
Moreover, a key factor is observation and analysis. Knowing when to act, how to act, and who to act around creates the best action. When the destination is desired, the express lane is always open and willing. I use the heat of the moment to build my team. Then observation and analysis will cultivate the positioning.
by a Massachusetts prisoner January 2019 permalink
It must be said with all sincerity that in a true revolution, to which one gives oneself completely, from which one expects no material compensation, the task of the vanguard revolutionary is both magnificent and anguishing. Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality. This is perhaps one of the greatest dreams of a leader: he must combine an impassioned spirit with a cold mind and make painful decisions without flinching one muscle. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealize their love for the peoples, for the most sacred kauses, and make it one and indivisible. They can't descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the places where ordinary men put their love into practice.
The leaders of a revolution have children who do not learn to call their father with their first faltering words. They have wives who must be part of the general sacrifice of their lives to carry the revolution to its destiny. Their friends are strictly limited to their komrades in revolution. There is no life outside it. In these conditions, one must have a large dose of humility, a large dose of sense of justice and truth. To avoid falling into extremes, into cold scholasticism, into isolation from the masses.
Every day we must struggle so that this love of living humanity is transformed into concrete facts. Into acts that will serve as an example, as a mobilizing factor. We know that we have sacrifices ahead of us and that we must pay a price for having the right to say that we are the head of the peoples. Each and every one of us punctually pays his quotient of sacrifice, aware of receiving our reward in the satisfaction of fulfilling our duty. Conscious of advancing with everyone toward the new man who is glimpsed on the horizon.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade writes about an important aspect of organizing work which is the dedication and approach of the revolutionary organizer. If we view the people with condescension it will come through in our work. And if this is our perspective we need to examine why we are revolutionaries and why we have this view of the masses.
One thing we want to point out is this comrade writes as though all revolutionaries are men, which is obviously not true. Where we agree about having love for the people in order to be a better revolutionary, we'd add that we also need to challenge our internalized sexism — the idea that wimmin are wives and supporters, but not fighters or leaders themselves. It will come through in our work.
On the author's point about only associating with other revolutionaries and doing only work that contributes to the struggle against oppression, there is certainly something to be said for not engaging with distractions, and staying focused on a primary goal. At this point in the struggle, for many this is unrealistic, especially for those living in imperialist countries surrounded by enemies. We have been raised in a culture that makes this transformation very difficult.
In our present reality, where we are not in a revolutionary scenario, fellow revolutionaries are few and far between. We should cultivate those political relationships, but some people will be the only Maoist in their town or facility. It's unrealistic to expect these folks to not socialize with anyone else. That just leads to burnout from political work, if you're not having your basic humyn needs met.
Even in a revolutionary situation, we see a role for people who do not sacrifice all family and friends, and give up everything in their lives except the revolution. We embrace revolutionaries at whatever level of commitment they can offer, while always pushing ourselves and others to greater commitment and sacrifice.
I want to provide y'all with an attorney's address that is seeking to help Texas prisoners who have been denied dentures, further causing irreversible damages, as well as pain and suffering.
Contact them directly:
511 Broadway St.
Houston, TX 77027
I know he's putting together a class action suit. I don't know if there's a deadline in contacting him or if he's only able to accept so many people, but if y'all can help bring awareness to Texas comrades I'd be very appreciative.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In September 2018 the Houston Chronicle broke a story about TDCJ denying prisoners dentures, and telling them to eat pureed food instead. In December 2018, it was reported that TDCJ will begin using 3D printers to make dentures for prisoners. We're not sure about the status of this class action suit, but we encourage readers who fall in this class to contact Attorney Kallinen directly.
While not directly related to our mission of ending oppression through the complete overthrow of the capitalist economic system, standing up for our humyn dignity in our present moment helps give us more strength to take on such a poweful enemy.
MIM(Prisons) distributes a number of resources for activists in Texas prisons. We ask for donations to cover the cost to print and mail the materials. We can accept donations in stamps or money orders.
Texas Campaign Pack - $3.50
Sworn Complaint Form - SASE or 2 stamps
PD-22 Codes - $5
TDCJ Grievance Manual - $10
(These materials are also available for free online.)
We heard that TDCJ is changing its practice on the grievance manual and will start stocking it in the prison law library. Please send confirmation on this if you know!
by a California prisoner January 2019 permalinkMotivated by the Gods of California
At this moment in time, one of the greatest things that could ever be happening for the outkaste population of the U.$. of amerika, known as the convict prisoner, is happening right under the watchful eye of the exploiter state. Those who are least expected have begun demonstrating the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prison, at the first degree principle that peace is knowledge to the L1 cipher of the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths civilization class, hosted by the Ra'Star Far I Prison Ministries (RSF).
Peace amongst the 5% NGE is commonly referred to as an acronym that introduces the concept that: Proper Education Always Corrects Errors. A concept that the parents of RSF, 8PM embrace with the definition of Peace as it is made born-manifest to the universal cipher, of the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles:
"Peace is that WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."
As of late, leaders within, [at CDCR, CSATF, Delta] have begun concentrating on the key objective that they are to be organized into a united body of individuals. And so it be. From this determination it can now be seen more clear just what is needed of WE, the populations within populations of the close eyed massive dying giant. We need the Poor Righteous Teachers to unite in an organized fashion to offer scientific solutions to the problems of the exploited prison population.
"Unity is that WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure that any situation we face is done with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches, and fake communication to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."
Why do we need these Poor Righteous Teachers to unite? Because they are the only hope and last salvation in the upliftment of the original asiatic most oppressed [email protected] and New Afrikan nations. They are those most capable of giving those of WE, the rejected stone, what WE want. And what WE want is that to be FREE by the universal justice of equality, that is Internationalism, which exposes Us to attentions of those at, and like, the United Nations. Attentions that will make known the injustice faced by prisoners in the United $tates where it just doesn't matter how well we serve the time, the wronged is just-us, and we can never be right. WE want Internationalism so that WE can GROW.
"Growth is that WE recognize the importance of education and freedom to grow in order to build real unity. We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle. Everyone should get in where they fit in. Similarly, WE recognize the right of comrades to leave our organization if we fail to live up to the principles and purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons."
In California prisons, and free communities, it has been custom to remain loyal to learning systems and institutions of thought, all up to the point of destruction of self. Whether these systems be serving the groups that lay claim to, and reap economical tax-write off benefits, refusing WE who are claimed for, the opportunity of developing social equality, or not. This culture must be refined with the power of Independence. This Independence gives us the International attention we need to grow. And to grow is to be raised into social equality, so is the attention that comes with social equality, that of Internationalism!
"Internationalism is that WE struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people. While we are often referred to as minorities in this country and WE often find those who are in the same boat as us opposing us, our confidence in achieving our mission comes from our unity with all oppressed nations who represent the vast majority globally. WE cannot liberate ourselves when participating in the oppression of other nations."
Ain't no future in fronting systems that don't unite us. Systems that don't empower us with the tools to FREE ourselves without us having to step on all those who share a similar condition of poverty. Therefore the Gods of this L1 cipher will use our power to develop the independent social media networks that make freedom understood and born. We will invent economical opportunities that build and destroy the culture of defeatistism and abuse that is so prevalent amongst the imprisoned themselves.
I hear the sirens, see the lights; I still ain’t putting’ down this mic. No matter what we do we’re fucked, they’re shootin’ while our hands are up. Our government’s a web of lies that offers no protection; From these pigs, that’s killin’ kids and claimin’ “Drop Your Weapon”.
Every day its on the news – marches, rallies, different views. Everybody’s talkin’, but nobody wants to face the truth: “Protect and Serve”’s become the words that let a man destroy our youth. No justice from the jury booth, all they do’s just cut em loose. But kill the pig that shot your kid, they ain’t gon’ do the same for you. The field we playin’ on ain’t level – you get life, he’ll get a medal. Your protests ain’t been changin’ nothin’ – time to make them bury somethin’
I hear the sirens, see the light; an unarmed man done died tonight. No matter what we do we’re fucked, they’re shootin’ while our hands are up. Our government, a web of lies that offers no protection; From these cops that’s bustin’ shots and claimin’ “Drop Your Weapon.”
Recognize the lies they spit; now realize the realest shit – The problem’s not in the city hall, it’s in the things we teach our kids We kill over bandanas. We’ll die about our banners. But when the cops come through our block, we disappear like phantoms Kill brothers over lit, the color of their Fit. We stand our ground til sirens sound, then we get shook and dip.
I hear the sirens, see the lights; it’s time this dawg got in the fight. When we come together they’re fucked; soon they’re the ones whose hands is up. I’ll unravel all these lies, I don’t need protection. I got my mic aimed at the pigs, I ain’t gon’ “Drop My Weapon.”
The year 2019 marks not only a new beginning, but a goal for unification for us all. As of January 2019, Governor Jerry Brown of California steps down, leaving $150 million of debt for the cost of death row, and more than 740 men and women seeking clemency. As well, the state of Georgia, which houses the largest prisoner population in segregation, looks to include another generation to their 5,000 offenders on lockdown.
In order to understand the problem of mass incarceration, and develop a solution, we first have to understand the facts from the myths. First, contrary to popular beliefs, the states actually lose money on the overall cost of prisons. States like Pennsylvania, for example, are undergoing critical budget crises in which it costs more to house you than it costs to send you to college. Almost $1 trillion annually is the cost of incarceration. So if it costs so much to house us, why not just let us go?
Second, releasing offenders from prison will not fix the debt of operating prisons, because prisons operate on a fixed scale, which doesn't really change with the number of residents. It's roughly $21,000 to house a prisoner, but the state doesn't save that if you're released.
Third, incarcerating individuals doesn't reduce crime. Between 2010 and 2014 the total state prisoner population dropped 4%, with California contributing to 62% of the total for the country. This dropped overall crime rate by 1%. However, the now-increasing rate of incarceration has more than doubled the crime rate.
This being known, the United States still incarcerates more people per capita than any other country, at a cost of more than $50 billion. Yet there has been little decline in the total amount of people incarcerated or amount of prisons. If we hope to fix this problem, we must first create a solution. The solution is to stop the incentive of incarceration! Even though the states lose money with prisons, the employees enjoy the financial gain. Many lobbyists are proposing to close prisons, but are opening prisons? Since most debt is subsidized to the state, the prison's main source of revenue is us! By funding the prisons we are keeping ourselves locked up. If we refuse to spend money in the prison, we can expect the prison to change.
This year marks the beginning of "Greatness Nation United" (GNU). We are the voice of the tired, the angry and defeated. I am inviting all youth to join the Greatness Movement, where we refuse to fund the prison's commissary, prison packages, or any JPay service. If you can't go completely without commissary, then once a month spending the lowest possible amount would impact as well. How is it possible we can sacrifice our freedom for imprisonment but won't sacrifice "a few store goods" for your freedom? Change comes in numbers. I challenge all of you to being greater than your circumstances this year. Greater than your situation.
To everyone reading, we are greater than incarceration, only together can we achieve.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer sums up some important facts about the economics of incarceration. The facts about prison expenditures above can be found with background information in our article on the U.$ Prison Economy(1), published last year. And as this writer explains, releasing individual prisoners doesn't have much of an impact on the overall cost of incarceration as long as the entire prison is being maintained. The main cost is the prison itself and the staff running it. And when prisoners are released the number of staff are not generally reduced unless the entire prison is shut down.
This comrade suggests a plan for action that will impact the prison financially. The idea of boycotting prison spending is one of the few areas where prisoners have some potential power. To spend or not to spend is discretionary. Of course the prisons can try to starve people to force them to buy supplemental food for survival. But it is still an area of power for the prisoner.
Given the $1 trillion in overall burden of prison costs, or just the $261 billion in direct criminal injustice system expenses, how much impact can prisoners have with a boycott? Have others found this effective at forcing change in the past? When we organize actions against the criminal injustice system, but it's always good to think critically about our potential impact as we build new and better tactics in this battle.