Waking each day in my cell
is like living in hell
Getting a rude awakening by magic mike
on the mic
As we hit the yard, a group of pigs scan
If we walks in threes, we might get STGed
They say it's greener on the other side but I'll never know
Because they're not going to brainwash
me to say what they want to know
And they gave us a new enemy in our ranks
It's not a risk some of us are willing to take
Because they're threatening to take our dates.
But some can consider this paradise what I go thru
We can never forget our comrades slammed in the SHU
As they hate & taunt
We must keep our United Front
I write in response to the USW campaigns published in ULK 47. Please be advised, the grievance system is nationally governed by the United States Supreme Court Prison Litigation Reform Act. Although each state has its own format, a DOC failure to respond to a grievance at any stage is a failure of them to make the exhaustion remedies available.
Make sure in between stages to submit a simple delinquent notice if your grievances are not responded to. Make sure to do this twice, and retain copies. Then move through the stages and, if necessary, the delinquent notices will suffice if litigation elevates to court level. Also, a grievance rejected cannot be held by the exhaustion requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) because the rejection deemed the filing a non-grievable issue, therefore you have exhausted the grievance procedure and may proceed if necessary. Please see:
438 f.3d 804, 809, 812 (7th GR. 2006)
569 F. Supp 2d 398, 406-07 (D. Del 2008)
287 F. Supp. 2d 210, 212 (WDNY 2003)
231 F. Supp. 2d 341, 350 (D. Me 2002)
54 F. Supp. 2d 199, 206 (S.D. NY 1999)
MIM(Prisons) adds: Many people facing problems with the grievance procedures where they're held also do not have access to a copy machine, or their cells are tossed and all their documentation is sabotaged. This suggestion of notifying staff of delinquency twice, and keeping copies, appears like a good tactic if possible. We would also encourage subscribers to request the Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual chapter on the PLRA that we distribute for $12 or equivalent work-trade. If you can afford to buy the Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual outright (approximately $30), we can send you the publisher's order form.
The mere existence of the PLRA, plus all the little headaches that make it so difficult to exhaust all available remedies, are signs that the criminal injustice system in this country is a total joke. It's not designed for justice at all - it's designed to frustrate and pacify, and provide busy work for, the oppressed people who are subject to its control. In addition to trying to fight winnable battles through the courts when possible, we encourage our subscribers to get deep into political study and organizing, which gets at the core of this unjust capitalist system and all its organs of oppression.
The new hit single across California.
Available now @ Pelican Bay State Prison,
California Correctional Institution,
San Quentin State Prison,
Corcoran State Prison,
& Old/New Folsom State Prison.
Stand up for your rights now to get your free tickets!
The Soldiers of Bondage (S.O.B.) is a revolutionary communist organization with its members consisting of political prisoners within the Illinois Department of Corrections. The party was founded on 2 July 2011 in Pontiac Correctional Center Segregation. Current membership is very small, but, with the publishing of this study guide, it is hoped that the party will grow nationally in both numbers and resources. A Manifesto of S.O.B. will be completed soon and it will hopefully be made available to prisoners across Amerika.
The "Communist Manifesto" is the most important piece of political literature to the communist. However, due to the many oppressive conditions that plague the lumpen proletariat within the United $tates, many prisoners have problems with comprehending the "Communist Manifesto." For this reason S.O.B. felt it necessary to create a study guide that would assist prisoners in obtaining as much information as possible from the "Communist Manifesto." This study guide contains 184 questions as well as answers from the text.
After creating the study guide the next question to be answered was how to make the study guide easily available to prisoners. After some debate it was decided that the only real option was to go through MIM(Prisons). We are not sure if MIM(Prisons) will just send this out to prisoners who request it or if they will make it one of their official study group programs. Either way it will assist prisoners in the development of their political consciousness.
Remember that the only way to combat the oppressive conditions we are subjugated to is to become aware of the cause and solution of our oppression. It is the hope of S.O.B. that this study guide will help many become aware of these elements. As Karl Marx and Frederick Engels articulated within the "Communist Manifesto," the proletariat must emancipate itself. Amerika does not have a proletariat. However, Marx and Engels's edict is just as true for the lumpen proletariat: the lumpen proletariat must emancipate itself. You must liberate yourself from the oppression you suffer. Begin your journey to become the New Man by educating yourself. Education is power. Resist! Rebel! Defy!
In strength and solidarity,
Cadre (on behalf of S.O.B.)
MIM(Prisons) responds: First we want to commend this group for their hard work focusing on communist education amongst the lumpen. The extensive study guide they created took a lot of work. And their decision to undertake a project that is focused on bringing up the level of theoretical understanding of the lumpen suggests that we have a lot of unity around our principal tasks at this time. MIM(Prisons) knows little about the S.O.B. organization so we cannot comment on our relative level of theoretical unity, and until they publish a manifesto we can only say that the "Communist Manifesto" questions suggest we agree on the bought-off nature of the vast majority of the imperialist-country workers who now constitute a petty-bourgeoisie. This is particularly important as we read a book like the "Communist Manifesto," which was written so many years ago when the labor aristocracy was just a very small segment of the working class, and the workers in First World countries were still a part of the proletariat.
We look forward to work and political discussion with S.O.B. We hope these comrades in Illinois serve as an example for other USW study groups across the country. If you want this study pack, write in to MIM(Prisons). Tell us if you already have the "Communist Manifesto" or if you need a copy
There are two important tasks which imprisoned revolutionaries need to carry out. The first is to build public opinion for revolution. The second is to survive their imprisonment long enough so as to ensure a lasting impact on the revolutionary movement long after their release. For those not getting out, it's important not to give up, as your contributions to oppressed peoples' movements are still very meaningful. It is from these concrete classrooms that some of the most dedicated revolutionaries emerge, returning to their communities after years in prison. Therefore the need for political instructors to train these students is dire. As such, survival pending revolution should be an important part of any comrade's focus while imprisoned.
Survival pending revolution can mean figuring out how to navigate everyday prison politics in a manner acceptable to the prison masses. At its most basic this can mean doing no harm in the masses' eyes. Ultimately, the prison movement is a mass movement. How can we lead a mass movement if the prison masses cannot trust us because we are actively working against their own righteous interests? How can we claim to stand for liberation if we are responsible for oppressing others? In our interactions with the prison masses we must be like fish swimming in the sea, not only blending in with our environment, but becoming one with our environment.
The anti-imperialist prison movement is a mass movement, but if we don't have the support of the masses then we don't have anything. This is an important point that real revolutionary organizations have understood from very early on. The Chinese Communist Party understood this and so they created an eight point program which helped to address the needs of both cadre and masses within the wider scope of revolutionary practice. Decades later the Black Panther Party would incorporate this same program into its organization, re-working the points to the BPP's specific conditions:
Pay fairly for what you buy.
Return everything you borrow.
Pay for anything you damage.
Do not hit or swear at people.
Do not damage property or crops of the poor, oppressed masses.
Do not take liberties with women.
If we ever have to take captives do not ill-treat them.
Because prison can be such a violent place and communists are supposed to stand against oppression, comrades associated with the prison movement should make it a point to be best known as peacemakers rather than agitators, unless of course they are dealing with injustice at the hand of the oppressors. As such, the likelihood of injury is significantly higher amongst prisoners when compared to people on the streets, with one report citing that more than a quarter of state and federal prisoners report being injured since admission to prison.(1) These figures however do not account for prisoners who do not report injuries, so the real number is definitely higher.
Another common cause of injury in prison, which is often overlooked and under-reported, is the violence associated with prison sexual assault. According to Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) reporting, more than 1 million people have been sexually assaulted in prison over the past 20 years.(1) That's an astonishing 50,000 people a year every year for the last 20 years! Again this estimation by PREA is likely under-reported. Prison rape is important to prevent, not only for the obvious reasons but because with sexual assault in prison comes "an increase in other types of violence, including murder, involving inmates and staff, and long lasting trauma which makes it even more difficult for people to succeed in the community after release."(1, 2)
When it comes to substance abuse virtually all prisoners are addicted to something. Statistics show that 80% of prisoners abuse drugs or alcohol and that nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.(3) "Four of every five children and teen arrestees in state and juvenile prisons are under the influence of alcohol and drugs while committing their crimes, test positive for drugs, are arrested for committing an alcohol or drug offense, admit having substance abuse and addiction problems or show some combination of these characteristics."(3) This last point is very relevant to the lumpen in prison and lumpen youth because most prisoners started doing drugs and alcohol at very early ages, generally around the same time they start breaking bourgeois laws and getting into trouble. A hundred and fifty years ago social scientists like Marx and Engels started theorizing that breaking bourgeois laws was just another way for oppressed people to rebel against their oppressive conditions. Needless to say that this form of rebellion was not very effective, but it is as Frederick Engels termed "revolution in embryo."
It is interesting that much of adolescence is spent in almost continuous rebellion, as this is generally the stage in humyn development when people begin to become conscious of the world around them in ways not experienced before. The fact that lumpen youth engage in criminal behavior at such an early age says a lot about the ways certain groups in society begin to exhibit early signs of what can only be described as an early group, or class, consciousness. This is important to note because it shows that the lumpen realize where their place in society under capitalist rule is, and they actively begin to figure out how to fit in it.
The real take away here, however, is that many people who currently find themselves in prison first learned to survive and fit into their oppressive social environment by both developing and adapting many negative behaviors as a way of seeking positive reinforcement within negative situations. Unfortunately for the oppressed this positive reinforcement came at the expense of reinforcing negative behaviors which has of course landed them in prison. Learning to combat such negative behaviors means having to unlearn many of the traits that were previously thought socially acceptable and necessary. In essence, this means learning to undo and working against the lumpen lifestyle. A lifestyle that is not only characterized by violence, alcohol and drug abuse, but by anti-people activity in general. As dialectical materialists however we are confident that the oppressed nation lumpen can learn to combat such negative character traits using the methods of unity-struggle-transformation.(4) The hope of the oppressed internal nations depends on it.
I received the information on the study group/cells which I go over several times a night, then engage my neighbor here in Ad-Seg/SHU in good conversation. At times others quit talking, and conversation don't resume until directly after I am forced to sit down after standing on cold hard concrete a few hours. I have severe nerve damage from diabetes as well as this cement box environment. But I do hit the door at least 4 times a day to continue or expand the topics I read in past issues of ULK I have, or the more recent materials you have sent like "The Tyranny of Structurelessness" and "Commitment is the Key." I have got two young men reading many of my past issues of ULK that I have received from you and inherited from others over the years.
Forming an actual study cell on this 14-man section of the pod is hit and miss. The Security Threat Group Office has a very broad but vague description of who and what constitutes an STG member/group. And this being a highly militarized zone in central texa$ with Ft. Hood and an Air Force base nearby; many who discharged or were drummed out come to work here, with severe cases of hate toward prisoners in general. A few target anyone deemed anti-american or anti-capitalist.
What I see are quite a few who support the xenophobic racist Trump, even a few people one would not expect such as several black and mexican officers! I do not capitalize their race/color or call them New Afrikans or [email protected] because they are not to me, supporting a vile individual like Trump. I have attempted to find out why they support him. It's the rhetoric he spews that they believe in. More jobs, make america great, stronger military presence overseas, etc. Because of my reaction and comments I have lost meal trays come slop time, or been "forgotten" for medical lay in, rec or even shower time. Even my mail gets misplaced for days or given to the wrong person on another section!
Oh, an update on medical co-payment in texa$ and University of Texas Medical Board (UTMB) Healthcare. As of 1 February 2016 TDC prisoners are not charged medical copay for the dentist UNLESS it is for teeth cleaning. So texas comrades let it be known on your facilities. This came directly out of the mouth of UTMB Dentist of the Year for 2016 quoting the director of texas healthcare in TDC and the director of TDC dentistry.
As of April 2016, I am currently battling a new TDC move on medical copay. If you do win your initial grievance Step 1 or Step 2, they now go back on your records previous 24 months and look for things to charge for that were overlooked the first time. I have a grievance filed specifically countering that. When I hear a response I will inform all my comrades at MIM(Prisons).
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this comrade updating us on the medical copay campaign, and we are not surprised that TDCJ is going back thru medical records to see what they can charge for. It's just another example of the eternal dead end of reformism. As revolutionaries, we work on reforms presently so we can lay the groundwork for our more broad political organizing. We recognize the need for a complete change in the system that capitalizes off of humyn suffering, and we are always striving toward this goal.
Subscribers should keep sending us updates on the several campaigns we are supporting all across the United $nakes.
by a California prisoner March 2016 permalink[In January 2016, MIM(Prisons) received a report from a comrade in Kern Valley State Prison stating that the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) had been broken there. The incident included an attack by one group, and retaliation by another group against others not necessarily involved in the original attack. The original attackers reportedly ran to the state for protection. The prospects for peaceful resolution were not great. In response to this report, a comrade now working as part of the Free Speech Society sent us this update on efforts to reconcile the conflict in line with the AEH.]
All power to the people who do not fear real freedom!!!
In the aftermath of two small-scale race-based "isolated" incidents that occurred on B-facility in January of 2016 at Kern Valley State Prison, the Free Speech Society was able to successfully initiate a conflict resolution committee as a part of the inmate advisory council (IAC) that has been established at this prison.
The conflict resolution committee ensures the de-escalation of potential conflicts between various groups/formations on B-facility. As it constitutes a body of like-minded individuals that is both representative of the totality of the various groups/formations on B-facility, but also capable of resolving potential or actual conflicts in a responsible, positive, and expeditious fashion. In the past, Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) administrators, which is inclusive of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) headquarters in Sacramento, California have made errors in one form or another, by failing to ensure the engagement of the primary stakeholders that are representative of those groups/formations actually engaged in a conflict, nor has there been a body of "like-minded" individuals specifically tasked with resolving potential conflicts before they mature into actual hostile-based conflicts, whereby unnecessary disturbances become manifest, which jeopardize the safety and security of both prisoners and staff.
Per Departmental Operations Manual (DOM) 53120.5.3 (viz. "Special Concern Sub-Committee") the KVSP B-facility Men's Advisory Council will enact the Conflict Resolution Committee (CRC). The CRC is convened for the sole purpose of resolving potential and actual conflicts on B-facility whenever and wherever they occur, and effectively articulating these resolutions to the entire prisoner population, with special attention given to the groups/formations in conjunction with the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH).
Because appropriate representation is essential to the resolution of conflicts in an effective and responsible manner, the composition of the CRC will reflect prisoner representation from each specific group/formation who will in turn be responsible for engaging and positively resolving any subdivisions in these groups.
A basic outline of the CRC representative body will consist of a representative from each of the following groups/formations:
Bay area Blacks
Because of the sensitive nature of this special concern sub-committee, the CRC must have access to the units on B-facility, per approval of the facility captain. The daily activities of the CRC are designed to increase dialogue across cultural lines of every formation/group to promote a stronger foundation upon which issues can be put forward and resolved in a constructive manner. Communication and timing are essential components to preventing conflicts before they mature into hostile-based conflict. Therefore, CRC members must be able to talk to who they need to, when they need to. Our objective is to be proactive in resolving potential and/or actual conflicts within the general population. All prisoners are encouraged to relay any and all potential conflicts to the CRC so they can be resolved in an expeditious manner. The function and activities of this committee shall be to ensure equal and effective representation of the entire general population in the resolution of potential and actual conflicts on B-facility. The entire CRC body will abide by the by-laws of the Inmate Advisory Council (IAC).
MIM(Prisons) responds: What started as a report on the breaking of the AEH at one of the largest California state prisons, has been turned around to a testament of the practical work of the AEH. The release of comrades from SHU is at play here in ensuring that the AEH is upheld by the prison masses in a way that addresses the needs of the masses.
In short order, comrades at KVSP have put to work the tools at hand to address the contradictions among the people there in a practical way. This is an example that should be followed and repeated throughout the state and the country. All that said, in the long run we must caution against depending on institutions of the state to meet the needs of the oppressed. Conflict is not the natural state of the oppressed, it is created. And the history of CDCR is one of utilizing, encouraging and even creating divisions among the prison masses for its own interests.
When the Short Corridor Collective asked the CDCR to distribute the statement calling for an Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH), that was a correct tactical approach to working with the state. When the CDCR refused, it still strengthened the cause of peace and unity among the oppressed. In a recent essay a USW comrade lays out the history and current reality of the MAC/IACs in California prisons.(1) While their formation was based in the strength of the prison movement, they have since been used to undermine the movement, as the comrade argues, as a sort of neo-colonial force akin to U.$. foreign policy abroad. Meanwhile, another comrade in Pelican Bay who has been struggling to build peace reports that attempts to work within the MAC and within an approved Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group have both resulted in increased harrassment by staff who see unity as a threat.
Again, we commend the comrades at KVSP who have utilized the tools available to them to address a very dangerous situation, and we offer our support in those continued efforts. But we recommend that all those attempting to build peace in prisons study the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Independence is one of those principles, because without independence the masses do not have the ability to make decisions for themselves and provide real solutions.
An incarcerated mind is a waste
If all you do is watch TV and take up space
Open your mind that the real rat race
Is believing in something wrong
If society can't seem to get along
With those of us who choose to stand strong?
Take pride if you don't fit in
Now you are ready so let's begin
Allow me to introduce you to this struggle
This campaign against capitalism
One can't do it alone
We must come together
And build the corner stone
Of this new order
Complete with revolutionary tones
We must become equal
The conflict between our people
Is a mistake
This separation is what "they" count on to keep us oppressed
The continuation of our suffering only persists
If we don't resist
So I ask the reader to take a stand
And see things for what they truly are
And not this fantasy land
We can have our own weapon so stop being complacent
Seek and find
The potential of a unified people
What we can create from these ruins of a slave nation
Unlock, break the binds
Of an incarcerated mind
In 1987, the Guajardo v. Estelle case, modifying the correspondence regulations in the Texas prison system, was finalized. One of the results of Guajardo was prisoners with less than $5.00 in their trust fund accounts were considered indigent, and thereby entitled to five one-ounce First Class correspondences per week, and unlimited legal and privileged correspondences.
Circa 1998, Jason Powers, attorney at law, with the firm Vinson & Elkins, contacted me informing me the state had filed a motion to vacate Guajardo pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Powers solicited my assistance in defending plaintiffs' objection to State's motion. Obviously, the plaintiffs failed to prevail.
My concern regarding recent constrictions in indigent correspondence procedures is: Since vacating of Guajardo, indigent prisoner correspondence has been reduced from the 5 personal letters a week and unlimited legal correspondence, to 5 personal and 5 legal correspondence per month. This, when the indigent requirement has remained less than $5.00 since 1978, never being adjusted per the inflated dollar.
As such, I intend to commence a petition campaign directed at State Senator John Whitmire, State Committee on Criminal Justice, demanding not only that the 5x5 weekly indigent correspondence regulations be reimplemented, but that the standard of indigence required be adjusted to reflect a realistic inflated dollar. So fly this by your grievance writers and gauge their thoughts on the matter.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The reduction in indigent prisoner correspondence envelopes has a direct impact on prisoners' ability to stay in contact with family, fight legal battles, and engage in political education and organizing. The criminal injustice system wants to curtail these activities as a part of the goal of social control. As revolutionaries we support campaigns to expand access to correspondence, as we know this is critical to our ability to reach our comrades behind bars. We look forward to input from other grievance campaign participants about this new tactic in Texas.
Another campaign that is active in Texas is the right to access to a law library. We also recently learned that the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook has been banned across the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice as of October 29, 2015. Texas is continuing a long history of assault on oppressed peoples in that state, and the only way we're going to be able to overcome the new (and old) tactics developed (and re-instituted) daily is to overthrow the state apparatus that makes it possible. Obviously Amerikkka's government system has got to go.
I am responding to your call for campaign updates concerning the grievance petition for this state that another very talented, gifted, and capable comrade put together to address all of our concerns and conditions in Florida. I, personally, think it is a very ingenious, adequate, and brilliant piece of legal work, and believe it sufficiently addresses all of Florida prisoners concerns and problems they might have been experiencing with the grievance procedure in this state. My hat goes off to the 'rade who established this and I offer or extend a firm, tight, and clenched fist salute for hooking this piece up.
The first time I put this petition into effect in Florida was at Dade Correctional Institution in March 2014, about the officials there not acknowledging, not sending me a receipt, trying to ignore or disregard, and not answering certain grievances. The Asstistant Warden for Programs, Mr. J. Williams, called me out personally to his office and told me if I ever had any of these kind of problems again, to just come up to his office personally and if any other staff member asked or tried to stop me just tell them that he sent for me or told me to come up there and he would cover for me - and then he would personally hand deliver to me a copy of the receipt and log number or account for whatever the discrepancy was to make sure that I got a copy of it and received a response to the grievance. Needless to say, I didn't have any more problems or didn't have to do this anymore and all of my grievances were responded to in a timely and legitimate manner.
I also received a letter from the Office of General Counsel, for the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), acknowledging receipt of said grievance petition and informing me that he was looking into my allegations and directing the grievance coordinator in Central Office (Tallahassee, FL) to investigate it.
Since that time, I have also shared a copy of this petition with various other prisoners for their review and use to solve, initiate, investigate or inquire into their problems with positive results. However, as you know, I have also recently just re-filed this petition again at my present facility (Wakulla Correctional Institution) concerning another issue and am currently awaiting their reply, response or reaction. Will, again, keep you posted and updated.
So I would like to encourage, promote, motivate, inspire, and advise all prisoners in the state of Florida who are experiencing any kind of problems with the grievance procedure in this state, or who are not having their grievances acknowledged, receipted, accounted for, and answered to please send for their copy of this much-needed petition. A firm, tight, revolutionary clenched fist salute to the author of this grievance petition in Florida.
MIM(Prisons) responds: You can write to us for a copy of the Florida grievance petition, which is also formatted for many other states. We encourage everyone using these petitions to send us your feedback and experiences. We need to know how this campaign is evolving on the ground.