This is my end-of-year report on our MIM Grievance Campaign. We did one on the "unlocks" here, and we're currently working on the issue of showers. Due to the California drought they claim that we are still in a drought and therefore can only shower on Tuesday and Thursday. Even then there is no hot water so we are showering in ICE cold water. This is in spite of the fact that we are in a medical facility and most of us are older prisoners.
The temp has dropped to 34 degrees in the morning and we have been in these conditions now for over a month. Enclosed please find the grievances.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrades at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility have been pursuing these issue through 602 appeals forms and subsequent appeals. After receiving a response of "partially granted" there was no actual change in conditions and they began utilizing the grievance petition for California. They have done a good job documenting the process, citing case law of Armstrong vs. Brown and the 8th and 14th Amendment.
Comrades in California and other states can write in to get a copy of a grievance petition to use as an organizing tool to bring people together around conditions that are not being addressed at your prison.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation depicts the struggles
(if they can be called that) of Clark Griswold. It is Clark's quest to
have the perfect Christmas for eir family: spouse Ellen and children
Audrey and Rusty. Most of the first act of the film is dedicated to
comedically exaggerated petty-bourgeois scenarios in this vein: getting
the right tree, putting up the Christmas lights, shopping for gifts, and
trying to keep the peace among family members (much extended family
arrives in the form of both sets of grandparents, Ellen's cigar-smoking
uncle Lewis and senile aunt Bethany, and Clark's redneck cousin Eddie,
accompanied by eir spouse, children and dog). Christmas books and movies
have long been vessels for anti-capitalist messages, even if they are
tainted by idealism and economism: from Ebenezer Scrooge being
frightened into giving concessions to the proletariat in A Christmas
Carol(1), to the anti-imperialist solidarity of Whoville in How
the Grinch Stole Christmas(2), to the anti-militarism parable of
A Christmas Story(3). And a superficial "reading" of Christmas
Vacation suggests that it may not only follow the same paradigm but
even exceed these works and act as an inspiration for communist
revolution (spoiler alert: the climax of the movie involves the forceful
kidnapping of a member of the bourgeoisie). However, a deeper analysis
reveals that, despite occasional flashes of progressiveness and a candid depiction of the labor aristocracy, the film
does not provide useful guidance for revolution.
Throughout the movie, some potshots are taken at the bourgeoisie, but
nothing too substantial. Clark's next-door yuppie neighbors are depicted
as pretentious snobs, while eir boss is gruff and impersonal. But these
attacks on the bourgeoisie are based on persynal mannerisms, not
economic grounds. Clark is clearly a privileged member of the labor
aristocracy. Ellen doesn't seem to work, and Clark makes enough to
afford a couple of cars and a nice house, which ey bedecks with an
over-the-top lighting display. Clark does not even seem to work hard to
enjoy these things. In the whole movie, ey is shown at work in only
three brief scenes. And in none of those scenes is ey actually engaged
in labor. In the first, ey is chatting at the watercooler. In the
second, ey drops off a gift and unsuccessfully attempts to ingratiate
emself with eir boss. In the third, ey is sitting in eir office, looking
over some plans for a persynal swimming pool. So Clark does not appear
to work that hard, but ey does mention several innovations ey has made
for eir company, which seems to be a manufacturer of chemical food
additives although no manufacturing is ever shown onscreen.
Could Clark's mental labor as a chemist still be exploited by the
bourgeoisie proper? The answer appears to be no: Clark is planning to
pay for eir swimming pool with eir end-of-year bonus. Said bonus
represents compensation for the value ey has produced in excess of eir
salary and thus precludes em from being truly proletarian. Indeed, eir
entire compensation is likely funded by the manufacture of chemicals ey
has designed, presumably by Third World workers. Thus, Clark occupies
the classic position of a labor aristocrat: someone who may be slightly
exploited by the bourgeoisie, but who ultimately receives compensation
in excess of the value of eir labor, as a beneficiary of imperialist
superexploitation of the Third World proletariat.
As the film progresses, the minor and mainly apolitical subplots fade to
the periphery (after some technical difficulties, Clark's light show
wows the family and is never mentioned again), and a political thread
assumes prominence. As it turns out, Clark is really counting on eir
Christmas bonus. In order to expedite the construction of eir pool,
Clark has put down a deposit and written a check that eir bank account
can't cover. Clark is confident that eir performance will earn em a
sizable bonus, but that confidence begins to wane as the days go by
without word from the company. Finally, a messenger arrives on Christmas
Eve with an envelope. Before opening it, Clark, apparently on the knife
edge between luxury and financial ruin, expresses both eir anxiety
regarding eir solvency and eir hope that the check will be large enough
to not only cover the cost of the pool but also airfare to fly over all
the extended family present (ten people!) to enjoy it when it is built.
To much fanfare, Clark opens the envelope and finds that, to eir dismay,
it only contains a subscription to the Jelly-of-the-Month club, a gift
of nugatory value. Enraged, Clark launches into a tirade denouncing eir
boss's perfidy and angrily expresses eir desire to see eir boss tied up.
Taking Clark's words literally, Eddie slips out, locates Clark's boss
(conveniently, Clark mentioned the neighborhood ey lives in during eir
lengthy monologue), and kidnaps em. Bound, gagged, and festooned with a
large ribbon, ey is Eddie's last-minute Christmas gift to Clark.
There are several issues with this scenario.
First, the stakes are very low. The only thing really at risk is Clark's
bonus. Perhaps ey will have to live without the pool for another year.
Perhaps ey will be charged by the bank for a bounced check. Perhaps ey
will even have to forfeit the deposit ey made. But if Clark is low on
cash, that is a problem of eir own making. We are talking about a persyn
who probably spent over three grand just on the electricity for eir
250,000-bulb Christmas light display.(4) If Clark misses out on eir
bonus, what is the big deal? Ey might have to pawn eir lights and forgo
the spectacular light show next year. Eir family might even have to take
fewer of their legendary vacations. But it seems unlikely that they are
in danger of going hungry or having to sell the house or even the car.
Perhaps the aspect of Clark's misfortune which ey most keenly feels —
and which is most relevant to Amerikan audiences — is what it
represents. Denied an explicit share in eir surplus value (ignoring, of
course, that ey still receives a salary of international superprofits),
Clark is confronted by the prospect of eir potential proletarianization.
Scarier than any Ghost of Christmas, the spectre of economic forces
strikes fear into eir heart. Rather than act constructively, however,
Clark, true to eir petty-bourgeois nature, reacts by pointlessly venting
eir rage at eir family. Ey also attempts to ignore the problem by
frantically following family Christmas rituals (providing time in the
narrative for Eddie to complete eir mission with eir absence unnoticed).
The proletariat of the 19th Century may have had to turn to the hard
drug of religion — "the opiate of the masses" (5) — to cope with its
actual oppression, but in Clark's case, nothing so strong is required,
just what might be called the eggnog of the masses: a reading of "The
Night Before Christmas" and also a Tylenol, washed down by a few cups of
So, the stakes are low, but this movie is a comedy. Perhaps the events
depicted can be seen as a microcosm of the proletarian struggle. Would a
mere amplification of things produce a progressive view of international
economic exploitation? Sadly, no. Clark is a member of the labor
aristocracy, with an imperialist, petty-bourgeois, even bourgeois
mindset. Even eir most innocuous actions are tainted with oppression.
Eir actions throughout the film appear to be a re-enactment of
Amerikkkan history and atrocities, down to a roughly chronological
progression from European colonization to Amerikkkan imperialism in the
Pacific. The movie opens with Clark driving eir family to the woods to
chop down a Christmas tree instead of buying one, a handy metaphor for
Amerikkkan theft of the land from Indigenous peoples and destruction of
the environment, as well as a reminder that it was the timber of North
America that originally drew the English colonizers. Next, Clark moves
on to gender oppression. In "The Communist Manifesto", Marx and Engels
wrote that the "bourgeois, not content with having the wives and
daughters of their proletarians at their disposal... take the greatest
pleasure in seducing each other's wives."(6) In multiple ways, Clark
displays these bourgeois ambitions, although ey may be considered only
petty-bourgeois due to eir lack of success. First, while shopping for
Christmas gifts, ey flirts and leers at the female salesclerk. Later, ey
has a daydream about eir pool in which the the vision of eir family
playing is replaced by a fantasy of seduction by a womyn who the
soundtrack implies to be an Indigenous Hawaii'an, thus tying together
the gender and national strands of oppression.
Finally, there is Eddie. Despite eir simple appearance, Eddie is the
fulcrum of one of the biggest paradoxes in the film: is ey a force for
revolution or reaction? An uninvited guest, ey seems to be nothing but a
source of problems, but ey ultimately saves the day with eir actions
against the bourgeoisie. Is ey proletarian? Hardly. It is revealed that
ey has been out of work for seven years. Aha! Perhaps ey is part of the
lumpenproletariat. Even if that were true, ey would be part of the First World lumpen and receive a significant benefit from eir position as a resident of the imperialist u.$. Regardless, the facts reveal that Eddie is no
lumpenproletariat hero. First, the reason for eir protracted
unemployment is that ey is holding out for a management position — a
classic petty-bourgeois aspiration. Furthermore, ey mentions that,
despite having had to trade the home for an RV, ey still retains
ownership in a plot of land, a farm and some livestock. Ey is still petty boourgeois, then; one who, despite reduced circumstances, holds on
to a vestige of the family estate. In addition, another troubling aspect
of Eddie's past is offhandedly revealed. Ey mentions that ey has a plate
in eir head, provided by the VA. Therefore, ey is not just a passive
recipient but an active participant in imperialism: one who enjoys the
privilege of free healthcare in exchange for eir role in aiding Amerikan
war crimes. Despite this, ey does fleetingly provide the film with its
only sliver of appreciation for the destruction wrought by capitalism
and u.$. imperialism. While shopping, Eddie asks Clark "Your company
kill off all them people in India not long ago?", referring to the
Bhopal chemical disaster that killed an estimated 16,000 people and
injured as many as half a million more (7,8). "No, we missed out on that
one," Clark dryly responds, and the conversation moves on, presumably
because Eddie doesn't care. Meanwhile, Eddie causes a chemical disaster
of eir own; after emptying the septic tank of eir RV into the sewer,
subsequent scenes feature interstitial shots of a menacing green smoke
rising from the storm drain.
But let's get back to the action. When we left the
Griswolds, Eddie had just marched Clark's boss into the living room.
Ungagged, eir first instinct is to fire Clark and call the cops. But
after all of 30 seconds, ey has a change of heart. Apparently, all that
was needed was a brief speech by Clark with an addendum by Rusty that
withholding bonuses "sucks" to convince Clark's boss to drop all
charges, reinstate the bonuses, and add another 20% to Clark's bonus.
Clark is so overwhelmed that ey faints.
OK, seriously? If a 20% raise was all that was needed to address the
iniquities of capitalism, MIM(Prisons) would disband and recommend you
vote for Sanders instead. Actually, even that would be too radical.
Fight for 15? More like fight for $8.70. Also, some aspects of Clark's
boss's repentance ring false: ey calls Clark "Carl" and refers to em as
the "little people". Has Clark received a permanent gain or is eir
victory a tenuous and insecure one? We bring this up not to suggest
that Amerikan labor aristocrats are truly oppressed, just to point out
the vanity and futility of imperialism: despite afflicting so much
suffering across the Third World, it has failed to completely resolve
the contradiction between workers and bourgeoisie in Amerika.
Basking in their newfound affluence, however petty it may be, the
Griswolds are rudely interrupted by the arrival of the pigs. Usually not
motivated to do much work, the kidnapping of a member of the bourgeoisie
has kicked the pig machine into high gear, and SWAT teams storm the
Griswold home from every conceivable entrance, including several pigs
rappelling through the windows. (Some pigs even kick down the door of
the neighboring house; although this scene was probably meant to provide
some comic relief and comeuppance to the yuppies, it also wouldn't be
the first or the last time that property and lives were endangered by
pigs getting the address wrong). The deference of the pigs to the
bourgeoisie is further underscored by the arrival of the wife of Clark's
boss in a car driven by a persyn whose heavily decorated dress uniform
marks em as the chief of police. This persyn would also be identified by
most viewers, on the basis of eir skin color, as "black". In fact, ey is
the only non-white character with a speaking role in the entire movie.
This detail is significant on several levels. First, the fact that the
Griswolds live in Chicago, a city with substantial New Afrikan and
Chican@ populations, but appear to interact exclusively with white
Amerikkkans represents an likely-inadvertent, but nonetheless true-to-life, depiction of
the highly segregated nature of housing and employment in Chicago.
Second, we must wonder: what was the motivation of the moviemakers in
casting a New Afrikan in this role? It could be mere tokenism, giving
the sole New Afrikan actor a role that is effectively a chauffeur. Or
perhaps they were being ironic, casting a New Afrikan as the head of the
pigs, the institution that has perhaps committed the most violence
against New Afrikans in recent decades. One shudders to think that
perhaps they thought they were being progressive by casting a New
Afrikan in a strategically Euro-Amerikan role and creating the illusion
of an egalitarian, racially-integrated police force. The true
contradiction in Amerikkka is that of nation, not race. Hence, a persyn
who might be labeled as non-white can still, in some cases, manage to
join the Amerikkkan nation and rise to the role of head pig (or even, as
in the case of Barack Obama, war-criminal-in-chief); the situation in
this film, then, seems prescient of the modern-day prominence of sheriff
Clarke of Milwaukee, another midwestern town. Perhaps a Christmas comedy
is the wrong place to look for an inspiring depiction of New Afrikan
revolutionaries, but it is still unfortunate that all we have been given
is a bootlicker to the bourgeoisie.
Many people have been killed by trigger-happy pigs, and a kidnapping on
Christmas Eve seems like the kind of high-stakes situation that would
bring in the pigs with guns blazing, but the predicament faced by the
Griswolds is resolved with miraculous ease. After Clark's boss explains
the situation, everybody relaxes, although Clark's boss is still
admonished all-around for his idea of cutting Christmas bonuses (the
head pig even says that ey'd like to beat em with a rubber hose — a
seemingly progressive action that, due to its focus on individual
retribution, is actually little more than adventurism; and even that
idea comes across as an outburst that is never fulfilled). What about
Eddie's toxic waste spill? An errant match tossed by Uncle Lewis ignites
it, but the resulting explosion only serves to launch a plastic Santa
and reindeer into the air, creating the perfect Christmas tableau in the
sky and prompting a confused Aunt Bethany to spontaneously break into a
rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner". As the Griswolds and the pigs
dance to Christmas songs in the house, Clark stands on the lawn and
basks in eir achievement. "I did it," ey says. The perfect family
But for us communists, things are far from perfect. Any
potentially lumpen characters in the movie, who may have been teetering
between revolution and reaction, have, by the film's end, fallen firmly
on the side of reaction. Everyone else — the labor aristocrats, the
bourgeoisie, pigs — was already there. This movie is best enjoyed not as a blueprint for revolution but as a satire of the Amerikan way of life. It offers hints of Amerikan brutality both domestically and abroad, as well as a depiction of the manner by which government institutions become tools of the bourgeoisie. But most of all, it exposes the reactionary nature of the labor aristocracy: the decadence of its "workers", the hypocrisy of its "morals" and the futility of any "revolutionary" action among the beneficiaries of imperialism.
The brief flicker of revolutionary action that does occur is quickly
extinguished due to its limited scope and unsystematic nature. As Lenin
once said, "When the workers of a single factory or of a single branch
of industry engage in struggle against their employer or employers, is
this class struggle? No, this is only a weak embryo of it" (9). How
ironic then, that on the (probably mythical) day of Jesus' birth, the
embryo of revolution was delivered as a stillbirth. Let us look forward,
then, to December 26: the (real) day of Mao's birth. Beyond eir persynal
achievements, ey stands as a symbol of real revolution. A genuine
proletarian revolution, not a phony one led by Amerikkkan "workers",
promises real solutions to the real problems facing the world: an end to
the insatiable exploitation by capitalists, an end to the callous
destruction of the environment, an end to the violence perpetrated every
day by pigs. When that day comes, the workers of the world will unite
and we can sing the "Internationale" together.
Many prisoners have utilized the petition demanding their grievances be heard. The Commissioner simply forwarded the grievances to the person in charge of the grievance system, who wrote a letter to each prisoner that filed a petition. The letter informed the prisoners that they should file a grievance about the issue if they had a problem with the grievance system. Absurd, but true.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We responded to this comrade asking what they think should be done next to resolve this problem. Clearly, writing grievances isn't working. Writing to the Commissioner gets no results. Lawsuits can give some relief, but often only temporarily. And of course lawsuit victories come with the problem of enforcement.
Ultimately we believe we need to completely change our society in order to fix this problem. We try to contribute to lawsuits, but even more importantly we contribute to education and institution-building, so when our lawsuits fail we can still make progress in our struggle to a more just humynity.
The enclosed letter is submitted to you for follow-up to "Insulin Indifference Disables Prisoners".(ULK 57, p. 6) The publishing editor of that letter omitted the solution to that problem. Does anyone have time to comment on if mine compares to the grievance guides presently available? Or is my method in conflict with the advice in other manuals? I want to know how I compare with other grievance methods.
The problem in the article is a policy of no lunchtime fingersticks/insulin injections. The prison serves lunch so late it is outside the timeframe that a pre-breakfast shot of 70/30 insulin works for some diabetics within the prison.
For diabetics having this problem, immediately following lunch they may have symptoms of extremely elevated glucose, like hunger (even though they have just ate lunch), blurry vision, dry mouth, thirst, pins and needles (like tingling nerve pain), and frequent urination. In addition, at next fingerstick before supper their glucose may be extremely elevated.
"Extremely elevated" blood sugar is dangerous because it "can cause life threatening changes in the body within a matter of hours. An extremely high blood sugar level... And I am talking at least 300... can cause an imbalance in the delicate acid-based structure in the tissues of the body."(1)
So if you take 70/30 insulin (and your prison doesn't do lunchtime fingersticks/insulin injections) and you have the above symptoms, and/or if your suppertime glucose level is still over 300 several hours after lunch, then you should first try a medical request. Then, if necessary, a grievance explaining the problem. If filing a grievance (the formal step), then include the illustration of how extremely elevated glucose harms the body, located in the last paragraph of "Insulin Indifference Disables Prisoners." This way the warden, or other prison officials signing off on the grievance, cannot claim they were unaware of the damage that was occurring due to that they "are not medical professionals." (This is a popular excuse used by non-medical prison officials to escape liability in prison medical care cases.)
Two solutions to the problem are: 1. For the prison to start serving lunch earlier, or 2. For the prison to start providing lunchtime fingerstick/insulin injection, at which time you should receive a small dose of regular-type insulin, also called "mealtime insulin." Immediately following these two suggested solutions on your grievance, you should write "To do neither would constitute deliberate indifference."
In your medical request or your grievance, you should also explain that staff should periodically adjust your new lunchtime dose of regular insulin to determine exactly what amount is required to lower the residual glucose from lunch so it is at least somewhere between 200 - 300 by suppertime fingerstick. This will keep your glucose out of the danger zone between lunch and supper.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The problem with timing insulin injections with mealtimes is not lack of education or medical expertise. The problem of indifference is built in to the capitalist, white supremacist power structure. Imprisoned people, and oppressed nations in general, are not thought to need or deserve to have access to proper medical care. Prisoners' right to their eyesight or to keep all their toes is of absolutely no concern to the imperialist power structure. In fact, from the imperialist system's perspective it is probably better for prisoners and oppressed nation people to continue suffering, and be kept busy filing grievances. That way it's even harder to fight back.
We're glad this author wrote in with more details on what people could do to resolve the individual problems they are having with administration's approach to diabetes management. If we're talking about real remedies, though, and about fixing a problem, we need to acknowledge that capitalism and national oppression are the real cause of extremely elevated glucose levels. We need to struggle on our individual problems so we can be stronger for our revolutionary work. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture!
I got a message to all the tweakers, tecatos, potheads and boozers. Wake Up! Can't you see you're doing exactly what the oppressors wants you to do? So why are you giving them the satisfaction? With all the cameras rolling 24-7, you think they don't know what you're doing? Newsflash: You ain't that slick, buddy.
"All I had to do is drink a lot of water to flush out my system." I overheard one drug addict say when he came back from medical, for a drug test. "My piss came back clean even though I just used in the morning."
It's a miracle! We must run and tell the others! Now it's safe to puff puff, cough cough, & slam slam! As long as you hydrate and drink drink (a lotta water), you could pass pass (the 'drug test'), no problem. Your passing grade might be a D- but at least you didn't fail, right? Wrong!
Let's face it, water or no water, your urine is dirty. I know it, you know it, and the porkchop-patrol most definitely knows it. They just don't care. Besides, lucky for you, there's never enough room in the "hole." Five segregation singleman cells for a facility that houses 650 prisoners equals "no vacancy".
It's like you have to schedule an appointment, make it onto a guest list, then wait for about a month, in order to make it into the hole. But if the COs really did their job this whole place would be empty.
Literally, there would only be about 20 people left in each dorm. That's how bad this epidemic is. But fear not my drug-addicted friend, the pigs have bigger fish to fry. Or at least that's what they want us to think.
Extremely violent prisoners get top priority over minor drug offenders. But if you've been locked up as long as I have, then you'd know that extreme acts of violence are mostly over a minor drug debt. Common sense tells me, "get rid of the drugs and the violence shall cease." I have a hunch that the "system" could stop the drug flow at any time. But, looking at it through their eyes, why ruin a good thing?
Figuratively speaking, drugs are the oil that keep the oppression machine running. Sobriety is the monkey-wrench that'll break this bitch down. So put the word out, we need more wrenches. Staying clean is the worst thing we could do to these puercos.
Think about it for a second. Imagine if we obliterate the drug trade in prison. Most of these facilities would go out of business. Half the staff would start filling out applications at Mickey D'z, and Walmart, at the end of their shifts. But instead, most of us wanna keep on getting shit-faced; letting the enemy win with its foot on our necks. Wake up!
The enemy loves getting us high. Because it leads to a lot of drama, and drama is the safety blanket that keeps the oppressors warm at night. It gives them job security and a fat bank account. Meanwhile, all the users and dealers turn against each other while the pigs kick back and laugh. Don't worry, though. They're gonna let you keep using and selling on one condition; as long as y'all keep fighting and snitching, stabbing and pinching.
Don't get my words twisted. I'm not implying that you could keep on using, and abusing, and not get caught. Because every now and then, like once in a blue moon, they make an example out of somebody. But from what I've seen, their victim is usually the most humble junkie on the block. Yeah, this dude gets high but he's cool. He pays his debts, and doesn't bother nobody. But for some reason, the puercos got it in for him. He already got a few "dirties," and has an appointment at the "hole."
"But what about that trouble-making tweaker?" There's 1 in every block. "How come he doesn't ever get called for a random drug test, and go away?" I ask myself.
Lord knows this trouble-making tweaker is not low key. He's a dead beat and proud of it. His drug debts are stacking up, and on top of that, he's starting fights in the open; all in front of the cameras. And
still, the hooras act like they don't see him. They treat him like a model inmate.
It's like the pigs are watching in the wings, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Instead of nipping the problem in the bud, they wait for the problem to get smashed out, stabbed, or removed from the yard. Only then they jump into action.
But don't think they're gonna swoop in like some superheroes. No. They take their sweet time, sometimes just stand there looking; waiting for the "victim" to get nicely bruised up. Only then, they bust out the cuffs and add charges.
"Come on, you guys are not even doing nothing!" I once heard a pig say to a boo bop squad while they beat a tweaker. "You gotta hit 'em harder if you want me to stop it!" Then he laughed, I laughed, and half the yard laughed. But it wasn't funny. And his sick sense of humor cost him his job, cause I didn't see him after that.
But that's what he gets for letting things get out of hand. And all that - the beating and the firing - could've been avoided if his co-workers would've done their job properly in the first place. But why ruin a good thing?
Wake up amigos! It's time to stop entertaining these hooras. It's time to put down the needles, and the pookies, and get our minds back.
Whether in prison or out in society, drugs constitute a major problem. In particular, for our Latino and Black communities, drugs represent a deceiving allure for youth. Power, status, authority, advancement, the all-mighty dollar - the "American Dream." In reality, drugs are just another trap to maintain our communities in an oppressed state unable to progress.
For us, drugs generally lead to a ruined life, prison, or death. There aren't many other avenues available. For those who've fallen into the drug illusion and find themselves in prison, the question is how can we help them escape drug's allure and stop the oppression of our nations?
Obviously, the system (controlled by capitalists and their contributors) has no inclination to help oppressed nations. Having to chase the American Dream through illicit methods or escaping our harrowing reality by using drugs is far more conducive to continuing a capitalistic state than providing viable means of community improvement. So we have to first recognize that no help will come from the top. Where does that leave us?
We have first-hand knowledge of drugs and an in-depth comprehension of our communities and cultures. What must happen is that those on the outside reach into the prisons and pull our people out from beneath the crushing weight of drugs. Building grassroots organizations focused on supporting those in the gulags overcome addiction. Not only addiction to using but to selling drugs as well. Connecting prisoners with outside sources for support, employment (once released), and most important of all, guidance. Many stuck in the gulags feel capitalism's oppression but have no idea how to combat it. Feeling hopeless to progress legally, many are seduced by drugs. Any guidance should be aimed at building consciousness, alternative avenues, and awakening a revolutionary spirit to pull people out from under the gulags.
The most important aspect of such grassroots organizations is that they're from among our own barrios. Their members live or lived where the struggle is deepest. They're connected in a way no outsider organization can ever be. All of this is good in theory, but does it actually work?
The BPP (Black Panther Party) gave us a perfect example when they educated their barrios while feeding their gente. From outside we must educate those inside, feeding them and providing alternative means of overcoming oppression. It must become clear that chasing the American Dream — a piece of the capitalist pie — isn't to our benefit. Our people are oppressed and gaining part of the pie does nothing to bring us closer to equality.
When capitalism is finally supplanted, revolutionary organizations with this kind of focus will provide the infrastructure for our new society. For the capitalists, you selling drugs is preferable to you fighting the system's oppression. You consuming drugs is more desired because you're escaping reality. Whether you sell or do drugs, you remove yourself from the necessary revolution and only contribute to the oppression visited upon our communities. And, if drugs don't ruin your life or kill you, there's another place for you. Capitalists call it the Department of Corrections, we call it the Dungeons.
Drugs are a powerful temptation. Not just for those who become addicted to using them, but also for those selling them. Many overdose or die due to drugs. Besides death and ruining your health and life, often drugs lead to prison. Once in the dungeons, drugs become an even larger problem. Although drugs represent a bigger problem behind bars, they also mean the potential for a more substantial revolutionary impact.
Drugs are taken and sold in abundance behind bars. Prescription medication, street drugs, homemade wine and beer are present in almost every gulag (varying in quantities and qualities). Drugs are sold for
the same reasons in the dungeons as out in society. They're taken for many of the same reasons, but predominantly for escape. Whether aware of this or not, most, if not all to some degree, in prison turn to drugs to make being a prisoner a little easier to live with.
Drugs contribute to many conflicts. Yet, their real impact is on prisoner resistance. Instead of analyzing the system, debating theories and strategems, building awareness and a united front, most are content
to accept what is given and whatever is ordered; so long as they can shoot up, snort, pop a pill, or drink reality away.
They're a part of prisons, just as they're a part of our barrios, and for the same reasons drugs pull us from our communities and land us in prisons. It's when we find ourselves in the dungeons, when reality hits us between the eyes, that we hold the greatest potential to help ourselves, our communities and defeat capitalism. Behind bars there's a choice to be made: continue to be a puppet, or become self-determinant.
If you're addicted to using drugs, become addicted to something useful: exercising, studying, teaching, etc. If you're addicted to selling, talk to other revolutionaries who understand the larger picture of the wider struggle oppressed nations face. Through study, research, inside and outside guidance (see, Notes on Advancing the Struggle: Outside), one can go from capitalist contributor to self-determinant.
A main problem or obstacle is prison culture. As I stated earlier, many are willing to be content as long as they have their distractions. This escapism is one of the main causes of the lack of resistance to jailer
domination. Most feel hopeless to effectively resist or lack any idea of how to begin. They feel that without other remedies, they might as well enjoy a little drink or high. Their lack of political consciousness is to blame, because they play unwittingly into the puppeteer's game. Once confronted with the reality of drugs and that you're nothing more than a pawn for capitalism, you've got to ask yourself at what price do you value your life? Are you without self-respect? Is it more important to
escape reality or to make efforts to stop the oppression in our barrios, which continues in the dungeons? Is your dignity that cheap that capitalists can buy it for an hour or two of good feelings?
The dungeons can be the fire that burns you or that strengthens you. But, it's a choice that must be made and revolutionaries must be active in guiding others towards this decision, towards answering these questions. For me and other revolutionaries the answer is simple: my dignity is worth more than their security.
There are certain things that I have zero toleration for. But I still try to be an overall understanding and wise guy, especially towards those individuals who are younger than I, and who face/faced similar or identical struggles. I have MIM(Prisons) to thank for helping me to acquire knowledge and information, which I have used to overcome my lifelong resentment and fear of "sexual predators" and "sex offenders" (SOs).
I have faced sexual abuse as a young child, and throughout various points of my life, and have been forced to undergo all the intricate and complex issues ramifying from such things. Initially, these same SOs were the main individuals that I struggled against, held intense hatred for, and who I held zero toleration for and towards, without any question or afterthought involved into any types of factual, evidential or considerational circumstances of their cases/charges, etc. I agree entirely with the ULK 55 articles concerning "unity with sex offenders" and unifying with sex offenders. I have developed brand new beliefs about such things thanks to MIM(Prisons)'s ULKs.
I am in prison for selling drugs and armed robbery; but since I've been incarcerated I have stopped all stealing/thievery and I don't mess with any drugs. So I believe that even if a sex offender is guilty of their crimes, I think that it's actually possible for changes in these individuals to manifest, with sufficient circumstances. I did not believe that before reading ULK 55 and I loved the insight in this same issue addressing the issue involved with not being able to go off the state's/fed's jacketing alone.
For one thing, those same fed/state officials are often involved in fraudulent/fabricated bullshit/schemes, lying, conspiracies, etc. So their word alone is never to be trusted or relied upon. Their essential nature is to assume false masquerades undercover, utilize deceit/manipulation tactics, cheat, lie, rob, etc., so that they can win. During my lifetime they've hit me personally with all of those tricks, plus some, so I know firsthand how it goes. They're often all about setting people up and bending their own rules to get ahead, or to win, and so forth. There's no end to the madness.
Even so much as simple socializing with SOs has been alien to me, but I'm taking steps in the direction of overcoming old habits involved with interacting with these types of prisoners. Only through MIM(Prisons) has this been possible for me. The only catch is that I don't wish to live in a cell with one of these individuals; but I think that I could try to do so under certain circumstances. My main concern (if and when all of my previous inhibitions were/are done away with) is still present, which involves me being targeted by prisoners/staff for such an interaction with SOs. I'm not saying that I fear any adversity. They can't do anything to me that hasn't already been done to me, other than killing me. But, with the way that things already stand, as for my work and projects, I already face a substantial amount of retaliation and opposition coming from every possible angle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is difficult for all of us to overcome our past and look at things objectively when we have intense subjective experiences that cloud our judgment. We know that sexual abuse is particularly traumatic and has a very strong impact on most people's perceptions. So it is no small thing that this comrade is working to overcome subjective fears and instead evaluate people objectively when they have been labeled as sex offenders.
We agree wholeheartedly with this comrade's analysis that people can change. It's not an easy process, but even those convicted of anti-people crimes that they really did commit can wake up to their mistakes, educate themselves in revolutionary politics, and take a stand on the side of the oppressed. It takes courage to admit to one's errors, as it isn't easy to overcome ego. But this is part of the process of criticism and self-criticism that is so vital to any revolutionary movement. We applaud this comrade for setting an example of pushing our struggle even further, after ey had already given up eir own anti-people and self-destructive acts.
Peace: I believe in order to have true peace among prisoners we must first war with ourselves and conquer the oppressor's mentality that divides us; unify for a common cause and subdue the petty issues that divide us.
Unity: We must come together and collectively make sound decisions and be willing to do anything to be about our goals; we need education, skills, jobs, housing upon leaving jails; we must realize that the beasts will never rehabilitate us. It's counter-productive to our cause. United we must stand or continue to fall one by one.
Growth: We must stop degrading and persecuting our fellow convicts; snitch, sex offender, thugs, etc. is all victim of a system that is designed to lock us up and throw away the keys; it's not justices, it's just us, poor, uneducated, addicts or dawgs trying to eat from the master's table.
Internationalism: All oppressed people around the globe must unite and struggle for the same cause, strive to liberate and eradicate any and all who abuse any people for race, color, status, etc. Earth has too much wealth for any human being to go hungry or without housing or medication and treatment; we must fight within and outside the system to make it better; destroy in order to build.
Independence: We must unite and unite our community; vote and become police officer, judges, etc. Enough of singing "we shall overcome," and lighting candles and talking; the youth should stop waiting for a leader and strive to become one, that way the system can't kill the head to stop the body.
This is a brief description of United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) motto and what it means to us. We don't have much, very little or no money. We are rich in spirit and strive to be soldiers of united front. We call ourselves soldier of war, for it's a daily battle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades in Connecticut have taken up organizing in that state and we're very happy to be working with them. We want to expand on the point of Independence. We agree that we need the oppressed to become leaders, and ultimately this will include playing all the important roles in society. However, getting oppressed into positions in the police force and elsewhere in the criminal injustice system today won't change anything. It will just put a few more dark faces on a white system of national oppression. True independence isn't putting a few formerly-oppressed people in positions to serve the system. True independence is taking over the system so that the oppressed are running it in the interests of the oppressed. "Destroy in order to build," as this comrade says. At that time the police and judges will serve the people and not the oppressors, and we will fill those roles with people from the oppressed community.
"We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already 'united' — in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know 'we need unity' — but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence.
"We cannot wish peace into reality when conditions do not allow for it. When people's needs aren't met, there can be no peace. Despite its vast wealth, the system of imperialism chooses profit over meeting humyn needs for the world's majority. Even here in the richest country in the world there are groups that suffer from the drive for profit. We must build independent institutions to combat the problems plaguing the oppressed populations. This is our unity in action.
"We acknowledge that the greater the unity politically and ideologically, the greater our movement becomes in combating national oppression, class oppression, racism and gender oppression. Those who recognize this reality have come together to sign these principles for a united front to demonstrate our agreement on these issues. We are the voiceless and we have a right and a duty to be heard."
The UFPP sets out five principles: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism and Independence. If you have a group interested in joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons, send us your organization's name and a statement of unity explaining what the united front principles mean to your organization. And tell us how you're building peace where you're at.
6 September 2017 – I am writing this letter to inform you of the recent adverse reactions of offenders to a new batch of a K2-styled substance. About a month ago a new batch of “2uece”, “K2” or “tune” arrived on the unit. I was in the prison chapel and overheard a conversation that 9 people that day had been taken away in an ambulance. A few days later I saw 2 people fall out at work in the kitchen after smoking it. The user will experience temporary paralysis, unable to move or even speak. Users will watch their “friends” pass out, then laugh at their friends and continue smoking the same K2. Another prisoner bragged to me of his smoking prowess. He said, “I already had 3 people who smoked this shit with me get stuck. They think they can smoke like me.” Later that day after having that conversation, that offender collapsed, unconscious and was rushed to medical. He may have died for all I know.
Then the next day as I was leaving the shower area, they shut down the hallway for an emergency and they were carrying 2 paralyzed prisoners to sickbay (medical). I personally have seen more than 20 people carried away in stretchers this past month. I would estimate well over a hundred people have been transported to the hospital due to this new K2. I further estimate 1/2 the entire unit are users. About 80% of the people I work with smoke. Unlike other products such as ice cream, that might get contaminated with listeria and recalled, with this so-called “2uece” there is no recall. People will continue to sell it and smoke it, and there will be more adverse reactions. Shame on the local media for not reporting this! Shame on TDCJ for not locking down the prison, instead being more concerned with the Estelle Unit textile plant profits!
MIM(Prisons) responds: In our survey of ULK readers about drugs in prison, K2 (Deuce, 2euce, Spice, or synthetic marijuana) stood out as the most popular drug. While in the chart below, other drugs aren’t too far behind in number of mentions, K2 was often highlighted as the #1 choice, with one Texas prisoner stating that everything else there is now irrelevant. Suboxone was the other one that really stood out, because it was less familiar and being reported a lot. Suboxone is actually used to treat drug addiction to opioids, but has more recently proven to be addictive itself even though it does not have the same effects on your body that opioids do.
The states of California, Nevada, Colorado and Georgia differed from the rest of the states in not really mentioning K2 or Suboxone. Instead in those states the combination of crystal meth (ice, sk8), heroin and alcohol were popular.
Many of these drugs are a serious health risk, and we address opioids in a separate article. However, K2 seems to deserve special attention right now due to the prevalence and risk. The risk is partially due to the variability in what you are getting when you purchase “K2”, as the comrade alludes to above. While it is referred to as “synthetic weed” because of the receptors in the brain that it acts on, it is very different from weed with very different effects. In the prisons where it was reported as easiest to get, our respondents reported death from drugs at their prison 50% of the time. In contrast, the prisons where K2 was not listed among drugs easiest to get death was only reported 19% of the time. This difference was statistically significant. While this correlation does not establish a definitive link with K2 as the cause of excess deaths, anecdotal responses like the reports above and below seem to indicate that is the case. In the last two years, news stories about group overdoses from bad batches of spice have become frequent. Our correspondents talk about people being “stuck” when they are on K2. This drug can be completely disabling and can lead directly to death.
The K2 epidemic is not limited to Estelle Unit, but is across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) system, where our respondents consistently listed it as the most common drug. As the map above shows, the problem extends to many other states.
A comrade in Larry Gist Unit in Texas reported on 14 September 2017:
“I want to file a lawsuit against the Sr. Warden and American Correctional Association (ACA) who pass the Unit Larry Gist inspection because the speaker communication do not work and about 7 to 10 prisoners died smoking K2 from heart attack and other sickness. Speaker communication is very important and maybe if the speaker communication had been working 1, 2 or 3 of the prisoners that died could have been saved.”
A comrade at Telford Unit in Texas reported on 23 August 2017:
“My brothers in here have fallen victim to K2, which is highly addictive. They don’t even care about the struggle. The only thing on their minds is getting high and that sas. I mean this K2 shit is like crack but worse. You have guys selling all their commissary, radios, fans, etc. just to get high. And all these pigs do is sit back and watch; this shit is crazy. But for the few of us who are K2-free I’m trying to get together a group to help me with the struggle.”
We had a number of surveys filled out in Texas, all of which put the majority, if not all of the blame for the drugs entering the TDCJ on staff. Prisoners are a vulnerable population due to the degree of control that the state has over their lives. The injustice system leads to a disproportionate number of people in prison with substance abuse histories. It is completely irresponsible and tragic that people are then put in conditions where there is an epidemic of dangerous, unregulated drugs when they enter prison.
Under a socialist society, where we have a system of dictatorship of the proletariat, with those in power acting in the interests of the formerly oppressed peoples, individuals responsible for mass deaths through negligence or intentional actions will be brought to justice. Prison administrators who help bring in drugs known to kill people need to face the judgment of the people. These deaths are easily prevented.
In the meantime, we commend the comrades at Telford Unit who are starting to organize support for people to stay out of this epidemic that is affecting so many Texas prisoners. It is only by building independent institutions of the oppressed, which serve the people, that we can overcome this plague.