The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Hays State Prison] [Georgia]
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Georgia Targets Goodfellas for Permanent Lockdown

I want to speak up about the Security Threat Group (STG) program in the Georgia prison system. They claim it's for gang members and people who pose a great risk to the system. Their validations are done based on hate and color and where you are from. The people in charge are validating prisoners who pose no threat to the system.

There is a group of prisoners in the Georgia prison system called the Goodfellas. They have their way of living just like any other brotherhood. But they're from the Atlanta area and the prison officials hate them and label them a security threat to the prison. Every other group can come to the Tier 2 program and go back to the main compound after doing 9 months in a cell. But these brothers who are Goodfellas can't get out and are forced to repeat these Tier 2 programs even after they have completed the program.

These young brothers are under great stress. They have been on lockdown for over 4 years with some going on 5 years. It's unfair and the prison will label anybody to keep them locked down.

Free all Goodfellas!
Stop the madness and bigotry in the state of Georgia!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've heard from others in Georgia about this arbitrary labeling of prisoners as Goodfellas and the use of the tier 2 program for long term punishment and isolation. It is worth pointing out that in the face of all this repression, and reports of thousands of prisoners in Georgia now being held in control units, we are seeing ever increasing levels of activism and organization in that state. We call on all prisoners in Georgia, whether you're part of a lumpen organization or not, to step up and get involved. With the rising tide of activism we have a chance to unite and make some serious progress, not just on small reforms that will make a few people's time a little better, but also on building the unity and political education necessary for a long term movement that can take on the criminal injustice system as a part of the anti-imperialist fight. Organizations in Georgia should join the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

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[Organizing] [Security] [California]
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SNY Warrior Down for Revolution

I would like to comment on an article titled United in California that was printed in ULK40. I am also housed on a Special Needs Yard (SNY), and it wasn't until I dropped out of the street gang that I was able to develop the spirit of resistance on revolutionary principles. The general population deems everybody a snitch on these yards, however, that is not always the case. I simply made the choice to walk away and no longer participate. I am housed around prisoners with some shady history but not everybody here falls in that category.

As a Chicano I work to help men on the yard get sober and educate themselves, and to go back to their communities and discourage their family and friends from joining gangs or selling/using drugs. It wasn't until I started down this path that I realized the true meaning of the term Chicano. It does not mean Mexican-American as the Webster's dictionary defines. It's a political term used to redefine one's perspective historically, economically, politically, and most importantly responsibility. A responsibility to the people!

I come from a place that produces warriors, so I don't play into the finger pointing that the system uses to divide us as a people - general population vs. sensitive needs.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We stand with this comrade in the debate over whether SNY prisoners can be trusted as revolutionary activists. We judge individuals by the work they do and the political line they put forward. We know there are a lot of people in SNY who have snitched. But we also know there are plenty of people in GP who can't be trusted. We don't let the pigs define who we trust by their housing categories, instead we hold all people to the same standards and require everyone to demonstrate their trustworthiness in practice.

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[Control Units] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 42]
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Unity Against Georgia Torture Units

I am currently housed in Georgia Department of Corrections's (GDC) Tier 3 program. This is the only Tier 3 facility in the state at this time. There are Tier 2 programs at every close-max facility in Georgia which means there are about 10 of these units altogether. These programs are sensory deprivation torture at its extreme.

There is no due process or even a set standard that GDC goes by to place prisoners in these programs. If you file too many grievances, don't get along with the administration at a camp, or if snitches and rats give information to staff about your activities that can't even be proven, Georgia will place you on the tier.

At Tier 3 there are "phases" to the program, but all prisoners for the first 90 days are locked in a cell with only a shower, toilet, sink, and bunk. All windows are covered with metal, and you are allowed no outside recreation for at least 90 days. During this period you are allowed no books, no magazines, none of your personal property except what legal work the facility deems necessary. There is no store call except stamps and paper (which are also limited), no phone calls, and no hygiene except state issue.

In the whole state of Georgia we are fed only breakfast and dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With no store call on the weekends, they basically enforce starvation torture on us. If prisoners try to resist in any way they are pepper sprayed or beaten. Guards slam prisoners' arms and hands in heavy metal door flaps, curse at us, threaten to not feed us, and then when they don't feed us they say we refused our trays.

We have to fight this. I have filed three grievances so far in the 50 days I've been here, about the illegal classification and the fictionalized classification standards. All have gone unanswered.

There are 200 prisoners all on Tier 3 at this facility. All over Georgia there are probably 5,000 prisoners or more facing these oppressive conditions. I am a white ghostface and I am introducing my organization to the precepts of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. None of our policies, laws, creeds, or codes go against what the front stands for, nor does it go against what the MIM stands for or believes in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Georgia's tier system is being used to target activists and anyone the prison wants to isolate. We have many comrades now locked down in isolation. If anything, the torture is breeding resistance and organization in Georgia. This comrade sets a good example, looking to educate and organize others, including any organizations that might join the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Coming together around the UFPP principle of Unity we can build a movement to take on long-term isolation units like they have in Georgia, as a part of the broader fight against the criminal injustice system.

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[Middle East] [U.S. Imperialism]
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Support the Palestine Petition

I write this in support and in reply to the couple articles regarding Support for the People of Palestine I recently read within ULK's September/October 2014 issue #40.

A little over a month ago, I awoke to a PBS early morning segment concerning the struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate themselves and their land from Israeli occupation and oppression. In this documentary I witnessed personnel of the Israeli military serve eviction notices to Palestinian people in Palestinian housing on Palestinian land, claiming to be taking control of the housing under the authority of the state of Israel. I also witnessed the recently built Israeli settlements being moved into by Israeli civilians as flustered Palestinian fathers, seemingly not 100 yards away on the opposite side of some sort of security fencing, had to attempt to explain to their children how it was no longer their (Palestinian) land, one even pointing to where his store used to be. Imagine trying to explain imperialism to a child who is barely old enough to tie his own shoes.

The United States and Israel, the Middle East's neighborhood bullies, seem to think it acceptable to propose 'peace' and 'tolerance' while they exploit a people and their land. They seem to think the victims should 'get over' the loss of their lands and the heartless slaughter and oppression of their people. When the victims wage armed struggle the oppressors scream "foul/self-defense" as if to say "why do you hate us so?" And in keeping with the bully analogy, of course, when a bully has historically, and is continuously oppressing a people, the bully always has to worry about retaliation. Israel has no moral ground in this scenario, at all. You stole their land and oppress their people, therefore the Palestinian people reserve the moral right to liberate themselves when and how they see fit. Trip off of this: while the U.S. feeds Israel arms as Israel takes Palestinian land, the U.S. condemns Russia for absorbing Crimea. On behalf of New Afrikans, I declare solidarity with the righteous Palestinian people!

And, of course, some Zionist Jews shall read this and cry "anti-Semitic," because to them such a claim trumps truth. Well, let me remind them ahead of them proclaiming such a factoid, the Palestinians are semites too! The definition of semite is "a member of any group of peoples (as the Hebrews or Arabs) of Southwestern Asia."

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[Lopez State Jail] [Texas]
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Texas Heat Continues to Kill

It is true the heat here is unbearable. In July of this year we had a prisoner die from the heat, shortly after coming from recreation. The guards said it was because he was old but everyone knew it was because of the heat. Sometimes temperatures reach 107 degrees inside. To punish us if we don't rack up or if we're talking shit or maybe if we don't got our shirts on, the guards turn off the fans in the dayroom and they don't unlock the igloos so we can put water in them, just so they can hit us where it hurts.

We file grievances on them and nothing is ever done. As of right now we still don't have normal recreation since summer just because someone died, but that still doesn't stop people from falling out inside the dorm. I alone have seen at least three people hospitalized because of the heat, who knows how many in total here at Lopez.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've been hearing from across the state of Texas that the heat is killing and injuring prisoners and the prisons are doing nothing to address the danger. We can expect relief from the heat as the weather moves towards winter, but this will only provide a temporary change to new problems, and the heat will come back next summer. For those fighting these and other dangerous conditions in Texas, write to request our grievance pack to help demand that our grievances be addressed.

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[Religious Repression] [Arkansas]
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Director of Arkansas Department of Prisons Lies Under Oath to U.S. Courts

The hard line confederacy (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) attack on prisoner's religious rights to hair and beards while incarcerated has led to a blatant case of perjury in the State of Arkansas, in an attempt to justify this religious repression.

In an effort to deny a prisoner his right to a beard as a Muslim, magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe, U.S. District Court, ruled that while a prisoner has a right to his religious practices under the Religious Land Use/Institutionalized Person Act (R.L.U.I.P.A., 42 U.S. Code § 2000cc) the prison could overwhelm his constitutional rights if there was a credible, reasonable 'security penological necessity' to trample those rights.

In quick order, the District Judge rubber stamped this, once Ray Hobbs, the director of the State of Arkansas Department of Prisons, stated in a sworn deposition that he personally was aware of one single example of one type of dangerous contraband being smuggled, concealed in a prisoner's beard. (A long laundry list of horrors, which the state claimed 'may' be hidden in a quarter inch beard but not, presumably, elsewhere on the body, included cell phone SIM cards, knives, drugs, and homemade darts).

The U.S. Supreme Court will now take up this case. Last term, this court ruled (by the five right wingers) that corporations have religious rights that trump women's civil rights. ("Hobby lobby" case). Now, the same lawyers who argued for the corporation in that case, to create civil rights for non-living corporations, will press the prison's case to deny religious rights. The lawyers are specially appointed by the court that will hear the case. No one dares complain, after all, since to do so would be to attack the judges you hope will rule in your favor, as "biased."

In a bizarre twist discovered after the lower courts ruled based upon the sole example of a dangerous, and in this example deadly, razor blade smuggled in a prisoner's beard, perjury most foul was exposed. And it was dripping off the lips of none other than director Roy Hobbs, top good ol' boy in the Arkansas department of corruption.

Roy Hobbs swore that a prisoner named Steven Oldham smuggled a razor blade within his beard, and when the opportunity arose, he proceeded to commit suicide with that very razor blade. My goodness. How simply awful, and of course, how clear it is that beards are a deadly threat to security.

The magistrate, district and circuit judges all agreed.

Let's peek behind the perjury veil.

As was well known to Roy Hobbs, prior to and during his part in the conspiracy to defraud the courts, the razor that dealt the lethal wound was a bright orange plastic single blade item purchased by Arkansas Dept. of Corruption. This molded plastic unit with a steel blade encased within it was not ever suspected of being smuggled, hidden, or illicitly possessed. It was handed to the prisoner by prison staff, with orders to shave off his beard.

The lying director, desperate to manufacture even one tiny example of any kind of 'beard smuggling' to justify his blatantly racist attack on the religious rights of persons who, in the southern states, face a lot of this special treatment in prisons, had knowingly concocted this 'boogie man'. It worked. Only if the razor had been used against a guard would the fantasy incident have carried more weight with the tsk tsking judges all the way to the country's supreme court.

Roy Hobbs did the usual finger-pointing maneuver when caught red handed committing perjury, he blames everyone in the world for misleading him into stating he knows for a fact that which any cursory investigation reveals as false. In California, where I reside on death row, penal code §125 declares that when a person states under oath that which he does not know to be a fact, that is identical to knowingly lying. Even if the 'fact' happens to be true. That means, in this state at least, Roy Hobbs was guilty of perjury for stating as fact this 'razorblade in the beard' lie, even had it been true. Which of course, it was obviously not.

The country's highest court is now reviewing whether the 'security claim' by the prison director is sufficient to overcome a prisoner's religious rights. Even when the single faked security claim was blazingly criminal perjury. This should be an opportunity for the high court to write the rules about what level of proof of flat out corruption prisoners may use to destroy the court's own rule about how prison officials get deference when they shriek "security!"

Let's see what pretzeled logic and tortured theories the rat pack at the supreme court come out with. The only evidence of any security risk was conspired criminal perjury. Roy Hobbs keeps directing Arkansas' prisons, rather than occupying a cell in a federal penitentiary.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The entire criminal injustice system, from police to prisons, is set up to serve the interests of the imperialists running the government. So it's no surprise that false evidence is sufficient to deny prisoner's rights. This case is unique in that the perjury was actually exposed. Unfortunately, the courts don't serve up justice, and so we can expect little from them in defending the rights of the oppressed. The imperialist courts will never lead to liberation for the oppressed. We must continue to expose these cases to educate people about the systematic nature of injustice as we build an anti-imperialist movement that can overthrow the system that relies on injustice for its very survival.

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[Security] [Organizing] [California]
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Unity with SNY Threatens Credibility

This is a comment on the United in California article from ULK40. It is crucial MIM(Prisons) recognizes SNYs work or have worked with the prison administration against other prisoners. While as Maoists we know no oppression is overcome until all oppression is overcome, we can't possibly ask anyone affected by their actions to turn around and work with them. Would Mao have worked with Deng Xiaoping? I don't know Saif [the author] but the idea that there are "some good strong comrades" on SNY is not a convincing argument to administer against the overwhelming evidence of SNYs helping pigs at every opportunity. Even if it's by his exposing himself as a "leader." You're a man not a "leaf" if you can't hold on to the branch and fall, I can accept that, but we'll keep climbing without you.

While I don't promote violence against SNYs and in fact wish them well in any anti-imperialist work. I would strongly advise anyone against incorporating any SNY inmate into any work that may lead to repression from any government entity.

SNYs should keep using MIM(Prisons) as a guide in their work. But in promoting unification of SNY and "mainline" convicts in general terms MIM(prisons) blurs a crucial line. SNYs can challenge their SNY status administratively. I am a General Population inmate. Do you have "sensitive needs?" I don't. I can be housed around anyone, accept people who don't want to be around me, i.e. people with "sensitive needs."

Being scientific in our assessments of individuals involves being honest. SNYs work to reinforce the stigma that all GP convicts are inherently violent by allowing the administration to use them to say "if this inmate is housed on a GP line it may jeopardize institutional security." This stigma in turn imposes harsher restrictions on GP inmates and SNY inmates reap the benefits of the distinction....jobs, rehab programs, vocation, education, conjugal visits, etc. are given priority on SNYs, especially on the level IV yards.

MIM(Prisons) should analyze the SNY/mainline distinction in the same manner as oppressed nations within the U.$. It is my personal assessment that SNYs chose to work with the administration against other prisoners. They get to the SN Yards and realize that "no, the administration is not your friend" and then want to whine about it. Their issues are distinct from ours and while there are issues with the administration that are shared on both sides, I would not risk my standing with other GP prisoners by helping someone who is likely to have hurt them.

SNY/GP unity is not possible. The promotion of this idea undermines MIM(Prisons) credibility on GP yards. UFPP doesn't rely on this theory because SNYs chose to not be housed with us. So theoretically they can continue to uphold the principals on those yards, while we do ours.


MIM(Prisons) responds: For those new to ULK, we have explained our line on SNY in the movement in more depth elsewhere. We completely understand the reactions that many have to our position on working with those in SNY after the torture that so many people in California have gone through at the hands of the state prison system, with the complicity of many who went to SNY. Yet, practice seems to be proving our line correct both in terms of the contributions that SNY comrades make to building USW, and the direction that the CA prisons system is going overall. We do not take this question lightly, nor does working with SNY comrades mean we take security lightly. If this issue is important to you, please write to us to get a more extensive discussion of this topic.

The above comrade's contribution to this long-stading debate over the role of SNY status in the pages of Under Lock & Key is a unique perspective because unlike most anti-SNY writers, s/he advocates that SNY prisoners can do good anti-imperialist work, as long as they do it separately. The argument that SNY prisoners cannot be trusted or united with is based in the idea that all SNY prisoners have debriefed and sold out comrades on GP. But we know that debriefing is not required to get SNY status. This writer is correct that the administration plays SNY against GP, but we can't let them dictate who we work with. We must make that decision ourselves based on each individual's work and political line.

The author asks if Mao would have worked with Deng Xiaoping, as an example of working with enemies. And Mao already answered this question: yes. Deng was kicked out of the Communist Party of China and readmitted under Mao's watch. Communist China's prison system was focused on re-education, not punishment and ostracization. People who betrayed the revolution or took actions that harmed others were locked up to study and learn from their mistakes. This is a revolutionary model that we should emulate, even while we don't hold power.

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[Religious Repression] [Political Repression] [Northwest Florida Reception Center] [Florida]
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In Isolation for Influence as Muslim Leader

After being transferred here to Northwest Florida Reception Center - Annex, I have been faced with a number of confinement injustices. First of all I have written a number of grievance to the warden about food service. We have received breakfast trays with roaches crawling in them. If you report it to these pigs they don't do anything about it. In confinement with no food items we are left with no choice but to eat the three trays that they give us even if they are infested with roaches. That's just one small example of the conditions here.

And recently we had a peaceful sit down. No one posed a threat to security, and no one was injured. It happened after Ramadan, a month of fasting for the Muslims. It all started when we were going to the chow hall to eat lunch. The pig called out one brother for talking in line. That’s when all the brothers were getting disruptive, and as Imam (Islamic leader) my job is to calm them down. So, as I was calming them down, the pig called me out of line for talking. Once I stepped out of line 22 other comrades set out of line, along with me, which led to the situation I am in confinement for. The pig saw the other 22 comrades join me and he panicked. They saw that I had influence where comrades move on my move. And they don't like that.

Previously I had to speak to the Assistant Warden, because someone snitched to the pigs about my leadership. And he told me that "no inmate runs this prison", and that if my name came up again he was "going to get rid of us" referring to the Muslims. And that's exactly what happened. I am going to close management with no prior disciplinary reports. The prison administration says that I don't deserve to be in general population because I am disruptive to security.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Control units are often used to isolate leaders in prison, even when those leaders are involved in keeping the peace. This is because the prisoncrats don't actually want peace. The prisoncrats frequently encourage violence between prisoners, because that provides an excuse to lock more prisoners on higher security units, and because it prevents leaders from organizing unity against the criminal injustice system. So when they see an Imam with influence the prison moves to isolate him. This use of close management in Florida mirrors the use of control units for social control throughout the Amerikan prison system. Our best weapon is our unity. We need many leaders so that the isolation of one will not cut off our work.

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[Spanish] [ULK Issue 42]
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Amerikanos se Alegran Mientras el Militarismo de U.$ Amenaza Vidas Amerikanas

La propaganda de conflicto esta a niveles altos en los Estados Unidos, aparentemente no se ha tomado ninguna lección positiva del 11 Septiembre 2001. Se tomó por lo menos una década para que los Amerikanos perdieran interés en la Ocupación de Afganistán e Iraq por el EE UU Esto contribuyo a que casi dos-tercios de Amerikanos estuvieran opuestos al empuje de Obama para invadir Siria hace menos de un año. Ahora, por lo menos dos-tercios de la población esta de acuerdo con Obama en controlar el gobierno de Siria más bien que las Cabezas de periodistas Amerikanos se mantengan pegadas a sus cuerpos.

El militarismo se conduce con un sistema económico que esta construido alrededor de la producción de armas y requiere guerra para mantener su demanda. Embarques de armas han incrementado recientemente para I$rael, Ucrania, Siria, e Iraq en donde EE UU ha reasumido campañas de bombardeo que están destruyendo cientos de millones de dolares en valor de equipo militar Amerikano ahora en las manos del Estado Islámico. Cada golpe que se hace de cualquier lado en esa guerra es un dar para negocios Amerikanos.

Entretanto, Russia ha sido muy claro que no va a permitir que Ucrania se una a la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN - North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO). Los Estados Unidos y Russia son los poderes nucleares mas grandes del mundo. Aún así Obama esta empujando a Ucrania para que se una a la NATO, y el sentimiento Amerikano anti-Russo esta aumentando apoyándolo. Conflicto abierto con Russia solo incrementaría enormemente el ya inaceptablemente riesgo de un catástrofe nuclear debido al militarismo.

Los últimos 15 años han probado que el militarismo del EE UU no se puede parar con el movimiento Amerikano anti-guerra. Mejor dicho, revolucionarios en los Estados Unidos se deberían de enfocar en empujar la lucha por la liberación nacional de las semi-colonias internas en solidaridad con el Tercer Mundo. Campañas como la que apoya a Palestina por prisioneros de California son positivo para construir anti-militarismo en los Estados Unidos.

Actualmente los medios y políticos del Occidente promueven la linea de que el Estado Islámico es la amenaza más grande hacia la paz mundial. Están lejos de la marca. Ese papel siempre se ha mantenido en las manos de los Estados Unidos y su industria militar.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Tamms Supermax] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 41]
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STG Validations to Justify Reopening of Tamms Supermax

The good old boys are at it again. These slipper suckers, who feed off other people's misery, are upset about the closing of Tamms Supermax in Illinois a few years ago. Rather than let Tamms sit unoccupied, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials have devised a plan to put pressure on the legislature to open up the 500-bed hell hole again.

Suddenly they claim we have a major gang problem here in Illinois. IDOC officials are rounding up all the Latinos who they can claim are a part of a security threat group (STG) and sticking them in administrative detention (A.D.).

Some guys haven't caught so much as a disciplinary ticket in years and were quietly toiling away in the kitchen or some other form of servitude. Next thing they know they're on a bus and sent to A.D. Some guys, after serving their segregation time for disciplinary tickets, found themselves in Phase 1 of A.D.

The common thread that binds these guys together seems to be that they are alleged members of an STG. It doesn't take much to validate someone as an active member these days. Most guys were members as kids, and their record preceded them to the joint. Some were identified by gang tattoos. And of course there is always that elusive confidential informant (CI), and only the gang intel officers seem to know for certain if the CI even exists. Personally I believe the correctional officers (COs) make up the CIs because the COs know that all they have to do is say the CI's identity is being withheld for the safety and security of the institution, and no one can or will inquire further.

These brothers sit with no recourse in the courts, stuck in limbo waiting in administrative segregation for some sadist to stop using them as a means to obtain a bigger piece of the tax dollar pie so they can re-open Tamms Supermax, and give themselves a pay raise for a job well done while they are at it.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Tamms Supermax opened in 1998. As 2008 approached many who opposed the torture chambers in Illinois formed the Tamms Year Ten campaign to bring attention to it and get it shut down. By January 2013, the unit was completely closed. This campaign was one of a handful demonstrating that the closing of control units is a winnable campaign under imperialism.

That said, almost as soon as Tamms was closed we are getting reports of increasing use of control units in Illinois again. This is why our Shut Down the Control Units campaign uses a specific definition of long-term isolation rather than just counting the prisons officially labeled as "supermaxes" as many bourgeois press do. The above example of pushing false gang validations for more or higher security prisons should not surprise us because prisons are a tool of social control for the imperialists, and that social control includes long-term isolation cells for anyone who challenges the system. The oppressed must organize to build power to change this.

This situation also provides a good example of how we know prisons are not run for profit. The government regularly uses funds to open control unit prisons, which are more expensive to run than lower security prisons. In 1999, MIM Notes reported "Tamms' budget works out to well over $34,000 per year to control each prisoner, not including the $73 million the state reports spending on building the dungeon. Tamms' cost per prisoner is more than three times the $11,006 estimated cost of living for a University of Illinois student at the Urbana-Champaign campus." The employees (COs and other staff) make out with nice high salaries (totaling $17 million at Tamms when it first opened), but these salaries, and everything else in the prison, is funded by the government, with prisoner labor offsetting some of the costs. The imperialists don't mind spending money to sustain their system of social control. It's money they got from the exploitation of workers in the Third World, and they will spend it freely to maintain their way of life and position of power.

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