The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out
[Organizing] [Anchorage Correctional Complex ] [Alaska]
expand

Front Line Soldier Struggling to Teach and Organize

Being able to politicize this generation is one of the major problems I’m currently facing. To get one to become conscious of the real enemy is a struggle. Seemingly because battling within our own circles are somehow being rationalized and not frowned upon.

Within this last year my political consciousness has been awoken, and I now feel obliged to share this knowledge with all oppressed peoples. But getting them to really receive the messages I attempt to convey is hard as hell. And the fact that I now recognize that my people have become so complacent with being oppressed that its become the “norm” is extremely troubling. Being a gang member myself, one would think that my solid reputation would make my advancements credible enough to persuade those who know and respect me to at least be open-minded enough to hear the message first and conclude later. But my attempts oftentimes reveal the divisiveness in the oppressed and the true power of capitalist tactics.

Being able to continue to reach out and inform through all adversity and frustration is a necessity in the struggle to achieve communism. Understanding that being cast aside as “crazy,” “tripping.” etc. is a part of it all. The ignorant always criticize the unknown and misunderstood. It is up to us as revolutionaries to continue the fight against the current foundations of capitalism.

I am attempting to form several study groups and beginning to organize here in Alaska which seems to be uncharted territory. I need all of the help and guidance I can get. I am open to all forms of education for myself and others. For without knowledge we can never learn how to defeat oppression. I have and always will be a front line soldier. I’ve learned from first-hand experience that unorganized violence/force used against the police only achieves negative consequences. The most solid form of action for a single soldier is litigation. Every other action consists of numbers. That’s why organization is so important. United we stand, divided we fall. All power to the people!


MIM(Prisons) responds: Much credit to this comrade for standing strong in the face of criticism and hardship in educating and organizing others. Study groups are a great way to get people talking about new concepts and educating about revolutionary politics. We will be sending some lit and other materials to help with that work. Anyone interested in starting a study group where you’re at can contact us to get our guide to forming a study group, and also literature for your group to study.

This writer says litigation is the most solid form of action for a single soldier. And litigation is certainly one avenue for folks in isolation or otherwise unable to work with others.

If individuals can connect with MIM(Prisons), there are additional options. For instance, solo comrades can help with agitation and theory development, by writing articles and poetry, producing art, reviewing books, and creating study guides. These are all things that, when done through an organization like MIM(Prisons), can help to educate others, even if you can’t directly reach those folks yourself. Get in touch for guides to help you get started in any of these areas.

chain
[Organizing] [Cummins Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 69]
expand

Organizers, Be Versatile and Watch What you Say

Every time I write MIM(Prisons), talking about what I've got going on, or what I'm trying to do, my moves are intercepted, interfered with, or I'm retaliated against. It's not wise to write to y'all and give the enemy the upper hand, or an advantage over me. If a person is in prison, then guess what? You're in the devil's back yard, where the devil says what goes. Common sense and history should obviously tell you that it's the police's jobs to police you. If you're dumb enough to open your mouth about incriminating shit, while you know that the spotlight is beaming on you, then you deserve the consequences. A lot of these people in Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) just don't got it in 'em to zip it. There's a time to talk and there's a time for silence.

Organizing tactics will vary, depending on why you're getting organized and what you're getting organized for. There's no "one size fits all" organizing tactic. You got to be versatile and able to adapt under pressure and constant changes. To be able to roll with the punches, in other words. Keep your eyes open.

Everybody isn't down. Everybody's not a rider, or a soldier. Not everybody cares, or is able to listen and see. You have to be careful who you're talking to, or what you're openly/publicly speaking about, in ADC. Ironically and paradoxically, getting assigned to a one-man cell is one of the only ways to dodge the bogus individuals in ADC, if you know how to do time in a cell. The cell-blocks in ADC are analogous to SHUs [solitary confinement]. The prison culture in ADC is twisted. Got to be ever-mindful of this while organizing in the ADC.

One of the main problems that I personally experience in the ADC is that the prisoners are over-friendly with the police/guards. It's accepted to befriend the police here, to pull them aside and whisper/gossip, or to kick it in the police's offices. The majority of the ADC prisoners don't even understand how to distinguish between a police and a snitch, or how to identify what "snitching" is and isn't. What's really troubling is that these gang affiliates allow police into their "gangs," which contradicts everything that they claim to stand for. They call the high-ranking police their "OGs" here, and they see nothing wrong with this. In my eyes that's an organized snitch-operation, with benefits.

They suck up to the police for scooby snacks. The dope fiend culture here is largely to blame. They believe that it's acceptable to cooperate with police for drugs, highs, money, etc. (That's the same as collaborating with police for time-cuts in my eyes.) They call collaborating with the police here "gangster moves," "OG moves," "shot calls," etc. Technically, the government is a gang, but not in the sense of a street gang, or a lumpen organization (L.O.). They're letting the government into their street gangs and L.O.s, which causes immense problems and struggles for people who are trying to get organized against government corruption, or imperialism.

There's no fixing this type of issue overnight. One individual can't tackle this issue single-handedly. I refuse to associate, in those types of ways, with the police, or snitches who work hand-in-hand with the police. These types of snitches are not concerned about making changes, and one of these undercovers will only put on a front, to infiltrate your organization and stir up chaos and confusion.

Like I said though, it really all depends on the direction that you're trying to go, in terms of organizing and unity. Revolution, or reform? Long-term, or short-term? What types of changes are you aiming at? Do you honestly believe that you can pop off a full-scale "revolution" from inside of one, tiny prison? A prison riot isn't a revolution.

My personal opinion is that if you're trying to reform the prison system with long-term changes, that litigation is the most efficient, or effective method. History shows that the most significant changes in the prison systems in America have come from litigation. Litigation, generally, doesn't work too well when trying to deal with short-term problems, or isolated incidents, mainly because litigation isn't instantaneous, it takes time. And it's doubtful that you can jump-off a revolution by litigating in a government courthouse, or by filing grievances. You have to first troubleshoot the most pressing problems inside of your facility, if you plan on reforming the prison system. And you must be able to think everything through, before you initiate a campaign.

I know from experience that single-handedly bucking on these police with physical force rarely accomplishes very much, except for giving the police a bogus excuse to press their foot down on your neck, or to exercise more control over you.

It's probably a good idea to begin by getting to the least oppressive position before trying to do what needs to be done. Prison is not the place. The odds are stacked too high against prisoners, inside of prison, for prisoners to be able to leave too great of an impact. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there's nothing positive that can be done. It's just that many prisoners believe that the solution is to try to wage, or talk of waging a real-deal war with America from behind bars, and this is madness — counterproductive non-sense. Your greatest weapon from inside of an American prison is a pen and paper, which typically doesn't involve getting 100% unity of prisoners. Another thing is that you're never going to get all prisoners to agree on every little thing, at all times, which gets in the way of organizing, or unity.

I believe that one of the best things that a person can do is just to focus on themselves first, before trying to build up the next person, which constitutes as "leading by example." Other people will see you doing positive things, or will listen to you speaking positively and they will often emulate, or mirror your actions. In order to change the world, you must begin by changing yourself. You must become the changes that you want to see in the world.

I've gotten good educational convos and occasional study groups going, to help others learn. The problem with that is, every time I get us organized on a positive tip like that, I always experience opposition, hostility, retaliation, interference or resistance from guards and/or prisoners.

One thing that does help me and has taught me a lot is radio talk shows like Ground Zero and Coast-to-Coast, (got to give them credit). Plus, these shows help me to do time easier, while learning. It makes learning fun and interesting. In a way, those talk shows are kinda like study groups. Because people can call in and give feedback. I think that it'd be an excellent idea to model study groups after the structure of these talk shows. To have an individual, with a particular expertise in a specific subject, prepare a speech, in conversation format, and then allow feedback and questions after the selected individual concludes their initial discourse. Then you can rotate new individuals to speak each session. The group can vote, maybe, to decide topics, speakers, etc. You can assign homework and self-study assignments for the down-time in between groups. Not everyone is going to want to be a speaker, which is fine, too. I fear simply speaking about starting a study group, because I already know how it goes. If a hater catches wind of such things, trouble isn't far off.

Another suggestion is, if you're in prison, with access to educational/radio shows, you can organize a group of people to listen to each show, and afterwards you can have civilized group discussions and debates on the show's topics, with feedback and questions. One step further is to get out of prison and start your own radio show for prisoner education. A station for prisoners to tune into, for prison news, discussion, education programs, contests, etc. I haven't done my research into that, but it wouldn't be too hard to do. The good part is that prisoners can listen to radio broadcasts for free. Books and some newsletters/mags can be expensive, or impossible for prisoners to obtain. Also, it'd be kinda hard for people to shut down the study group if it's done over the radio, huh? The prison guards can't "censor" it, because it's the FCC's duty to censor radio broadcasts, not uneducated prison guards. The FCC decides what's appropriate for American citizens to hear over the radio. True enough, radio-show hosts can deal with hostility as well, but at least the radio show isn't trapped inside of a box, while battling sadistic foes.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer starts off with an analysis of conditions in Arkansas that lead to the conclusion that it is impossible to organize in Arkansas, but ends this letter with some excellent and creative ideas about how to run study groups. And so we really hope ey will implement these ideas and report back on how they work.

There are significant barriers to our organizing work here in the belly of the beast where the wealth of imperialism is thrown around to buy off even the lumpen in prison. We need to rise to this challenge and think creatively about how to break people off from the system and channel their energy into fighting the criminal injustice system that is the cause of their misery. Creative study groups are one such approach. We welcome thoughts from others about what this comrade might do based on the conditions ey describes in Arkansas.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry]
expand

Dark Place

I’ve been trapped inside this building, I've been in since I was little
It's a riddle, but the foundation to it is turning brittle
When you're walking up the stairs, down the hallway, look to the middle
On the left, you'll see my doorway is leaning and full of splinters
From taking it off the hinges, Memories back to prison
A victim to those that sentenced, their sinister ways of lynching
Distorted image, through torn prisms, praying the governments lifting
And shifting, its hand from the neck of the oppressed, to relieve some of this tension.
chain
[U.S. Imperialism] [Venezuela]
expand

Book review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
by John Perkins
Penguin Group, New York, 2004

john perkins quote

I just read a very enlightening book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. It’s a memoir of a former manager of Economics and Planning at MAIN (Chas T. Main Inc.), a powerful corporation, where he worked with CIA agents and other economic hit men to impoverish and subjugate peoples and countries around the world. Plagued by a guilty conscience, he later founded Independent Power Systems and developed environmental friendly power plants. Yet he was still tempted by imperialism.

In his confessions, Mr. Perkins explains how the USA has seized power in Saudi Arabia, Panama, Ecuador and other countries. We try to avoid open warfare. Before we even send in the jackals (special forces, snipers and other assassins, etc.) we employ economic hit men to corrupt governments, destabilize local economies and destroy environments. A Bedouin hero likened the tactics we’re using against Islam to the tactics used to conquer the Native American nations. We cut down the trees and shot the buffalo. The foundations of indigenous culture collapsed, and we are now exploiting them, their farmland, their gold, and their oil.

“You see, it is the same here,” he said, “the desert is our environment. The Flowering Desert project threatens nothing less than the destruction of our entire fabric. How can we allow this to happen?” (p.130)

In order to defraud and blackmail and corrupt foreign governments, and prepare their countries for exploitation by American corporations, he traveled around the world, living in tents, jungle huts and five-star hotels. Some of the action took place in secret meetings here in the United States. I particularly enjoyed reading some of the conversations that took place in posh offices high up in skyscrapers near my home.

Economic hit men have been very successful in Saudi Arabia. When they fail, as they did in Ecuador, jackals are called in. They probably killed President Roldós of that country and President Torrijos of Panama.

If the jackals fail, as they did in Iraq, military intervention is undertaken directly by the USA government. The book sheds light upon our current aggression against Venezuela, although the author did not have a major role there.

In 1930, Venezuela was the world’s largest oil exporter. By 1973 (the time of the Arab oil embargo), Venezuela was wealthy and its people enjoyed excellent health care, education and low rates of unemployment. Within 30 years, American EHMs (Economic Hit Men) and the International Monetary Fund had changed that. The country’s per capita income was down 40% and the middle class was shrinking.

George Bush and the CIA orchestrated a coup, but their victory was short-lived. President Chavez returned to power and immediately initiated further democratic reforms. Bush began war preparations, but crushing resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan took priority and Venezuela got reprieve. Now, fifteen years after Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was published, Donald Trump is making moves to seize control of one of the world’s biggest oil reserves and other important natural resources, as well as cheap labor in a once prosperous country brought low by Amerikan imperialists.

Confessions is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how the USA invades, attacks, and oppresses people and starves children in the name of freedom; or why so many millions of people around the world hate us.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The writings of John Perkins are a useful exposé of the modern imperialist methods of subversion of other nations’ self-determination. United Snakes interventions stand in stark contrast to all the concerns over Russian influence in U.$. election outcomes.

Despite the obvious implications of the facts Perkins revealed, ey remains unabashedly embedded in the bourgeoisie. The solutions ey provides in this book include pressuring corporations to do good things, and joining organizations to get laws passed. Now it seems ey is promoting a series of trips to the Third World for rich people to engage in mysticism. Needless to say, we see much different solutions being called for by the stories in this book.

chain
[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Somerset] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 70]
expand

Educating and Fighting Grievance Denials in Pennsylvania

Until recently I was being held at SCI Somerset with 9 months hole time. During this time prison officials stole my commissary, denied me access to the law library (mini law library), discarded my legal materials, discarded my incoming mail, denied me legal phone calls (even when I had court within days of my request), and I was denied meals (trays), among other things. All in retaliation for my filing grievances about the many injustices and inhumane living conditions I and others suffered from.

After successfully challenging those things via grievance appeals to central office, these C.O.s started targeting other prisoners. Denying them showers, yard, meals, and giving their incoming mail to other prisoners. These guys reacted, as they should, but the way they reacted was counterproductive. So I taught them how to fight our oppressors using the grievance procedure for positive results and they were successful.

As a result of this, the prison guards and prison officials conspired on a course of action and the result was they transferred me to a facility where they know I have multiple enemies, and labeled me as a gang member (which I’m not). This is a Restricted Housing Unit (RHU).

Throughout this entire ordeal I saw opportunity to start teaching those brothers how to put a stop to oppression and injustices they were subjected to before I arrived. I am proud to say we’ve made a couple victories; small ones, but victories nonetheless. The brothers are especially happy of the bigger trays in the RHU! We have more work to do, our battles continue.

chain
[Education] [Control Units] [Tucker Max Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]
expand

Sparking Conversations, Building Independent Institutions

First off I want to express gratitude and respect to the comrades that contributed to ULK 68. It has sparked some interesting conversations on the tier. And this dialogue is strengthening the unity; the only unity I’ve seen at this unit in the year and a half I’ve been here.

Here at Tucker Max Unit they have been keeping us restricted housing prisoners locked in our cells 24/7. We get one hour of yard every two weeks here at Gilligan’s Island due to “lack of security.” They recently re-opened their re-entry program and when they did so, they took officers off yard crew to go work the re-entry. They have made no effort in the past 3 months to replace these officers so re-entry is essentially running at the expense of our constitutional rights. Yard call is a constitutional right, re-entry is not. From my understanding they receive so much money per each prisoner enrolled in their programs, i.e. re-entry, substance abuse treatment, therapeutic comm., and in my opinion the biggest sham of all: the step-down program that restricted housing prisoners are being forced to enroll in. The parole board is notorious for stipulating the first three programs as a condition for prisoners to be considered for release. They reap double benefits thru this system. They get extra money for your enrollment in this program and they can release you with some semblance of rehabilitation.

We, the prisoners, know these programs are a joke. And when they don’t provide the rehabilitation sufficient upon release to hold it down and keep on top of our responsibilities then we become we the repeat offender. And the Dept. of Corruptions is right here with their paternalistic arms wide open, all the while telling us it’s our fault.

But to get another shot at freedom we’ll be forced back into the same programs. Spoiler alert: it’s not gonna work no matter how many times you take their programs, and that’s by design. They don’t want the programs to work. Why would they want us to stay out of prison? A requirement of these programs here in Arkansas is that you drop kites on other prisoners for shit as small as not tucking their shirts in, and if you don’t you’re considered as not “participating”. What the fuck does that have to do with a person getting their shit together and preparing for the responsibilities that weigh us down when we get out?

To boycott these programs would be ideal, knowing the money they rake in off of them. But far be it from me to tell the next man to not do what he’s gotta do to go home. But we can’t depend on these programs to be the substance of our rehabilitation.

So now that I’ve made the argument against their programs there are two questions to be addressed. How do we implement our own programs, and which programs should take priority? Well, as far as the programs that should take priority, we’ve got to implement those that build unity into community where everyone has a role, minus our egos. We must work together to come up with a format that has a higher potential of success when it comes to tackling the issues that perpetuate our carceral existence, and by “our carceral existence” I’m speaking of the shackles on our mind that even upon release from these dungeons into the free world, remain fast in place.

The Five Stages of Consciousness model in the Five Percent tradition will break these chains when utilized to the fullest, but so many of us only attain the base stage of consciousness or the second stage of subconscious and go no further. So many of us attain all this knowledge on our quest for truth, only to use it to know more than the next man. But how many of us are using our knowledge to help win lawsuits, win appeals, and other battles that build upon our independence from this paternalistic system? I constantly see pride and ego hinder all 5 of the United Front for Peace in Prisons points of unity, and keep a lot of prisoners from reaching out to others to build these independent institutions. It’s imperative that we tear these individualistic walls down and build upwards on community consciousness. We need examples of what these independent programs look like and how to build them.

The book Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett that MIM(Prisons) refers to in its response to “Fighting the System from Within” in ULK 68 sounds like a good place to find this example. The writer makes a good point in eir letter that if our people would come to work in these prisons that they could expose the deficiencies and ill treatment.

Which reminded me of a question a comrade asked me a while back pertaining to the “lack of security” I referred to above. The question was: why did I think that this place has such a high turnover rate? C.O.s get $17 an hour and Sergeants get $20 but they can’t keep them working here. It’s not like they work them especially hard. Myself, wanting to hold out hope in humanity answered that maybe once they started seeing this shit for what it really is, decide that they don’t want to be an active participant in the oppression of their community. Maybe I put too much faith in their moral standards? Even if my answer was right they are still actively participating by not exposing the things done in here. I also like how the writer put it that the “moral obligation is ours,” not just to end oppression, but to build a new system in its place. We the prisoners must champion our own rehabilitation and re-education, independent of our oppressors’ programs, no longer allowing them to determine our value and self/community worth.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer picks up on the theme from ULK 69 where we discuss building independent institutions. As this comrade points out, we can’t count on the criminal injustice system to provide us with effective programs for rehabilitation or release. And so we need to build these programs ourselves. One such independent program is this newsletter, in which we are free to expose the news and conditions that the bourgeois press refused to cover. An independent newsletter is critical to our education and organizing work.

Another example of independent institutions is MIM(Prisons)’s Re-Lease on Life program to help releasees stay politically active and avoid the trap of recidivism. This program isn’t yet big enough and is greatly lacking in resources, so right now we’re not very effective. But we have to start somewhere. And we work to connect with comrades like this writer to build this program on the inside and on the streets.

In the short term, anyone looking to build small independent institutions behind bars can start a study group. This is a good way to start educating others while also learning yourself. And you can build from there with anyone willing to sit down and study. We can support this work with study questions and literature, just let us know you’re interested!

chain
[Organizing] [South Carolina]
expand

Preaching Unity

I’m glad I haven’t sealed this scroll yet because I have something to bring to the table that I keep hearing and it is driving me nuts! We as “revolutionaries” are supposed to know and understand that one of the basic stratagems of the oppressor is the divide-and-conquer tactic. They highlight our differences and want us to think that we are all different. While differences do exist among people, those of us locked behind walls and convicted of felonies have only superficial differences. We are all under the foot of the downpressors, the destroy powers, the divine evils!

The “divide” can be so subtle and simple in its application that we sometimes fail to recognize it. If we listen to our speech and take note of how often we use the words “they” and “them” when referring to other prisoners we might be shocked.

Here in South Carolina, the administration will withhold a necessity and then make/ force/ coerce us to fight over it. For example, on Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) there are supposed to be 2 roll-around phones, yet “y’all” can’t get the phone upstairs because “y’all” broke it last time. Or on the yard, each wing is supposed to have a basketball, but of course we get only one and now the confusion begins.

A lot of times this so-called “other” may be one of your religious or organizational or ideological brothers. Even more, if we are looking to recruit, aren’t “they, them, and y’all” potential comrades? We are beating ourselves. They divide us in a million different ways and we defeat ourselves because we know all conflict back here is a potential disaster.

Remember, before you became aware, enlightened, educated, reformed, etc. or whatever designation you choose to put yourself in, you too were once unaware, ignorant, deaf, dumb, blind, and a savage in pursuit of happiness. You were the “other.” If there are any brothers in South Carolina reading this I ask that you live up to the principles you proclaim.

Respect!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade calls for exactly the unity we need to build the prison movement. And so we ask the logical next question: how can we build this unity in practice? Calling on others to see the importance of unity is one way. Are there campaigns we can wage that will bring people together? Study classes to hold? Cultural events to host? We look for ideas from others behind bars. What has worked for you to build unity?

chain
[United Front] [Minnesota] [ULK Issue 69]
expand

On Independence and Promoting the UFPP

peace in prisons

In ULK 68 we were asked to submit articles for the next five issues devoted to each of the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). One question asked "How can we build institutions of the oppressed behind bars?"

One sure way to achieve this is by direct exposure. As prisoners, we are all suffering under the same roof. Although there seems to be some issue concerning whites as not being considered as lumpen, this is surely just yet another example of the imperialists' subliminal divide-and-conquer tactic, set aside color, we are a race of inmates. But I digress, direct exposure: One of the easiest ways to build unity, and this does tie in to the statement above, is to universally teach.

And one way to do this is to sign up your fellow oppressed to receive information and education. Regardless if they read the material or not, by signing your brothers and sisters up to receive this publication, you are planting a seed. And the choice to water that seed lies in the receiver of the gift.

And by doing this, not only are you building the subscription list, you are also opening the door for people who may not have known of the possibilities of unity that UFPP can bring about. Although there are sure to be some that will not adhere to the education, there will be many that will. Being as we are all suffering, even the most hard-headed or ignorant still wants and needs solidarity, and can find this in Under Lock & Key.

The next question was "Why shouldn’t we just use the programs run by the U.$. government/police/prisons?" I may be interpreting this question wrong, but to me, in an effort of re-education, it is most beneficial to actually utilize programs run by the oppressors against them. We are at a distinct disadvantage here as prisoners, we lack funding, organization, means of communication, and sadly, education availability at large. This imperialist system of oppression has been deeply ingrained into society and has even bled into the foundations of our own prisons.

But by educating ourselves on the Rules & Regulations, and the Civil Rights and Constitutional Laws, we can effectively use their own words for our benefit. I personally have been raising lawsuits against the DOC in my prison for not following its own policies. My most recent success was in changing how the DOC's policy for "Step-Down Management Program" (SDMP) was operated.

SDMP for a long while was basically an extended disciplinary segregation sentence, served after completion of your actual discipline sentence. In Minnesota, the law had been that no prisoner could be subjected to more than 90 days of loss of good time for a single disciplinary offense, and the court ruled this to also mean that a single disciplinary offense could not result in a sentence of more than 90 days of disciplinary segregation.

The Minnesota DOC retaliated by the implementation of a program that they claimed "is not punishment," keeping prisoners in disciplinary segregation-like environments years after their actual discipline sentence was completed.

As a right of the U.$. Constitution, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law. And this program sought to deprive prisoners of property and liberty, with no due process. This was illegal. Thankfully, prison officials made placement on the program ungrievable, so there was no need to exhaust grievance remedies at all, and we could file suit directly according to Prison Litigation Reform Act standards.

Now, if you are on this SDMP, you actually get Ad-Seg privileges. The next step is fighting for no SDMP at all.

The last question was "What should be our priority for new independent programs?"

First and foremost: Education. It has been long proven that by forced ignorance of the majority, the minority can safely rule. By educating ourselves, we can defend ourselves.

Second: Promotion. By spreading the message of Unity to all available ears, we will find those who will listen. The pigs seek to silence us, so the more of us who hear the truth of peace and solidarity, the more our message will spread.

Third: Solidarity. We need to acknowledge that there is no other race in reality other than the human race. To accept and use other imperialistic-created class names or distinctions serves only to take away from our true mission. By this I do not mean to disparage your ancestry, or your own personal heritage or ethnicity. I mean only to convey the truth our universal brotherhood of humanity, by washing away castes, sets, class, etc. We are all in this together, all for one, and one for all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade calls for unity of all behind bars. And we echo that call in the United Front for Peace in Prisons and all of our organizing work. We want to encourage this comrade to go deeper in eir analysis around distinctions of class and nation. We vehemently agree that race is a made-up concept that only serves the interests of imperialists to keep us divided from each other. At the same time, in looking at material reality through the lens of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we see oppressed and oppressor nations, and we see exploiter and exploited classes. Talking about these distinctions isn't a problem for our work. It's when people take on these distinctions as part of their identity and in an chauvinistic manner that it's a problem.

So for example we wouldn't call for unity with the imperialist bourgeoisie because we know they have no basis for uniting with us. Similarly, while we call on all prisoners to unite against the criminal injustice system, we recognize that there is a very real historical basis for the vastly disproportionate number of First Nation, New Afrikan and [email protected] prisoners. And this national oppression provides a material basis for national unity to fight against the oppressor nation which has benefited from imperialism and national oppression. We can't just wish away these distinctions because they exist with years of reinforcement through economic, educational, and cultural oppression. So we must consciously address this reality. Only with this honest assessment of conditions can we build unity across nations and classes behind bars.

chain
[Abuse] [Control Units] [North Carolina]
expand

The Criminal Injustice System Works for the Jailers

It’s August 2019 and people say that the Criminal Justice System doesn't work. I beg to differ. I've come to believe that it works just fine, just like slavery did as a matter of economic and political policy. How is it that a 16 year old in North Carolina who can't get a job can suddenly generate $54,750 (which equates to $150 a day for prison upkeep) when trapped and inducted into the Criminal Injustice System where architects, food and medical providers, masons, carpenters, electricians, painters, correctional officers, administrators and a myriad other skilled trade workers get paid with guaranteed job security?

Just like the era of chattel slavery, there is a class of people dependent on the poor and on the bodies of all of us who are behind bars. All throughout the Criminal Injustice System, the policies of the police, the courts, and our prisons are a manifestation of classism, racism and dishonesty which governs the lives of all of us. Then you have prosecutors. They are like nasty little rats with quivering noses that have invaded our court systems with full impunity across the country feeding thousands of human bodies into the bowels of the razor-wire plantations without the slightest remorse for the hell they are sending us to, where slavery is mandated.

No matter how you look at it, involuntary labor is slavery. You see, the United $tates didn't abolish slavery, they just transferred it into their prisons. So last year on 20 August 2018 with the help of outside human rights activists, prison abolitionists, anarchists, and other public supporters who did a peaceful demonstration in our prison parking lot, I, [Prisoner A], alongside [Prisoners B, C and D] all organized together with hundreds of other prisoners across North Carolina and questioned these policies by assembling peacefully and petitioning our government for a redress of our grievances.

As a result, we were all labeled as rioters and Security Threat Group individuals and sent off to super max prisons and thrown into solitary confinement where we were subjected to all sorts of mistreatment: glass was found in [Prisoner D's] food, I was poisoned and never receiving any treatment, [Prisoner B] was sent to the Rehabilitative Diversion Unit (RDU) program where he is currently being brainwashed. [Prisoner C] got out of prison. I finally got out of solitary hell after spending 8 long months of sensory deprivation and losing 53 pounds only to face more repression and mail censorship that resulted in me receiving another 6 months for simply writing and organizing the 21 May 2019 National Grievance Day complaining about the new discriminatory JPay policy that limits who can send a prisoner money.

And what have I learned in all of this? I've learned that any time you restrain a person from going where they want to go, its an act of violence. Anytime you bully and mistreat someone by placing them in a cell 23 hours a day, it's an act of violence! I've also learned that it's not the inhumanity of the cruelties prisoners face in prisons on a daily basis or inhumane conditions: the cold, filth, callous medical care, tasers, unnecessary chains, pepper spray, beatings, excessive censorship, dehumanizing strip searches, extended and excessive isolation in solitary confinement for simple things like writing, or the robbing of our trust funds of $10 each time a prison guard accuses us of a rule violation that are criminalized; it's the complaining about our conditions of confinement that's made criminal. Right now there are tens of thousands of humans living in enforced solitary confinement cells in U.$. prisons.

Over a decade ago when news broke about what was going on in Abu Ghraib, President Bush stated "what took place in that prison doesn't represent the America I know." Unfortunately, for the more than 2.5 million prisoners and undocumented immigrants and the rest of us living in U.$. prisons, this is the Amerikkka we know, our family members know, and the anarchists and prison abolitionists know. Furthermore, prisoners have got to wake up and realize that the entire executive branch of the U.$. government seems to sanction torture in our prisons and all of the repression and disrespect that we endure on a daily basis from prison guards is unacceptable. It is imperative that prisoners continue to organize and to write about their experiences and complain to folks on the outside so that the public can realize what's happening to people in U.$. prisons. There are watchdog organizations that expose, ridicule and punish Internet and school bullies and there are laws against bullying. The prison guards are also supposed to observe these laws.

The conditions and practices that men, women, and children can attest to here in North Carolina are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In addition, most U.$. prisons practices also violate dozens of other international treaties and clearly fit the United Nations' definition of genocide. Aren't you tired of being told where to sit? What to eat? Who you can socialize with inside and outside of prison? What you can watch on TV? What you may read or what you can write about or to whom? Of being denied basic dignity based on race or class? Aren't you tired of your bodies being examined, exploited and used through dehumanizing and invasive strip-searches on the whim of a prison guard or a jailer?

Prisoners have got to continue to organize and alter the very core of every system that slavery, racism and poverty has given birth to, and particularly the Criminal Injustice System. The entire prison system must stop violating the rights of men, women, and children in North Carolina! We must effectively eliminate solitary confinement, the restriction of our civil rights, their devices of torture, family-run prisons, and all forms of sentences of "death by incarceration" or sentences that are overly burdensome, oppressive and too lengthy that financially benefit the government instead of victims of crime!

It's plain to see that many victims could be better served by working out an honest agreement with those disingenuous persons who have wronged them, and that prosecutors have a lot of undue power to decide whom to criminalize as well as what cases are or aren't priority. Of course these mutual agreements will not be ideal in every case, but failure to account for social context is such a crucial aspect of what's wrong with our current system. We need to put context first and resolve each dispute in its own way rather than just applying a rigid legal formula.

I think the call for universal basic decency and respect towards all living creatures as well as towards prisoners is a powerful message that's made more powerful when people share their stories of mistreatment. Each of our personal and individual struggles are one of many, but when we as prisoners stop focusing on the color of one's skin, or what he or she is in prison for, and all join hands, that's when we can get our freedoms back and that's when we can all win.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is right on when ey says that prisons do work. It's all about understanding the real purpose of prisons. Amerikkkan prisons are not meant for rehabilitation, they are meant for social control. The author speaks of the child prisoner who is "generating" $54,750 per year. This is another purpose of prisons: distribution of profits stolen from the Third World to First World workers. All those workers in the criminal injustice system are parasites, earning good wages to further this system of social control. Those wages come mostly from state budgets. And those state budgets are just a redistribution of wealth. Imperialist wealth. Which is taken from the Third World through exploitation of workers and theft of natural resources.

This redistribution of super profits is a side "benefit" of the criminal injustice system. The focus is social control, particularly of oppressed nations. That social control wouldn't be complete if prisoners were allowed to study, communicate and organize freely. In fact, there is a contradiction inherent in the United $tates prison system. Locking up people as a means of social control puts these people in close contact, with lots of time on their hands, which facilitates organizing and studying together. So the prisons turn to greater repression behind bars to try to stop these activities. That's exactly what this writer is fighting against. We must demand an end to solitary confinement, an end to censorship of prisoners' mail, and access to a real and effective grievance system. These are small goals in the context of the larger fight against imperialism. But they are goals that will bring real progress for our comrades behind bars. Progress that will allow the prisoners to organize and educate and build.

chain
[Censorship] [Minnesota Corrections Facility Oak Park Heights] [Minnesota]
expand

Fighting Minnesota Censorship Games

Okay, so yesterday I received a "Notice of Non-Delivery of Mail or Package" of a publication you sent to me that was stamped out of California on 20 August 2019. It did not properly follow MN-DOC policy or any law, even though DOC Policy Number 103.220 specifically says all employees must follow *ALL* United $tates Laws.

Up to this date, I have only received one issue of Under Lock & Key (May/June 2019, No. 68) and mail with information on "Poetry Writing Guide", "Second Introductory Letter", "Writing Articles" and "Invitation to Join Introductory Study Group 1(27)".

I have not received any other "Notices of Non-Delivery" for anything else. So if you have sent any other materials you should be aware that not only have I not received it, I never received a notice that you had attempted to send anything to me, which consequently means you most likely did not receive any notification of censorship.

This facility is and has been illegally retaliating against me for filing a civil suit against the mail-room staff and prison officials. And even though in all Supreme Court rulings they have held that I cannot be punished for filing a complaint about prison conditions to the Courts, I was given disciplinary segregation for filing a lawsuit in the Tenth Judicial District Court, in Washington County, Minnesota. This facility constantly opens my legal mail without my consent, and refuses to send sealed legal mail to Equal Justice Initiative Center for Wrongful Convictions, The Legal Aid Society, The Innocence Project, The Exoneration Project, The Lewisburg Prison Project, and will open the sealed envelope, tape it shut, and send it back to me with one of their "Notice of Non-Delivery" saying it was "Sealed in violation. NOT legal mail as addressed." The names of the mail-room staff responsible, along with the officials involved are: S. Henry, N. Leseman, Lt. Jason R. Hills, Assistant Warden of Administration Sherlinda Wheeler, and Warden Jeffrey Titus.

I just recently had to deal with these same people illegally censoring the newspaper "The Abolitionist" published by our comrades Critical Resistance. The mail-room sent me their little "Notice" and just like the one for your mail, it said "Risk to security of facility" and offered absolutely nothing else as to what in it allegedly was a "risk." So I appealed and sent a letter to Critical Resistance explaining the issue. In response to the first level appeal, Lt. Jason R. Hills claimed that "the publication contains things in violation of DOC Policy" and failed to cite anything else as is required by law. I appealed again, and have yet to get a response.

But Critical Resistance did respond, letting me know that they had not been notified by the facility, and sent a second copy of the newspaper. And guess what? Nothing in the publication violated policy at all. I sent a "kite" to Lt. Jason R. Hills with all the titles of the articles and asked him to please enlighten me as to which one had supposedly violated "DOC Policy." Obviously, he did not respond.

Anyways, if you could please take action on your end, we can hit them from two fronts for this illegal censorship and retaliation, and if you could notify Minnesota Public Radio, and other news outlets in Minnesota as to this illegal conduct, I believe it will prove as an ultimately versatile United Front against these people actively attempting to oppress and repress me. I only have numbers/addresses for the St. Cloud Times, Kare 11 News, and Fox 9 News: St. Cloud Times: 320-255-8757, 320-255-8775; Kare 11 News: 763-546-1111; Fox 9 News: 952-944-9999.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have sent this comrade more mail than what is noted above, which was apparently censored. This includes several political theory magazines. And we received no notification of this censorship. This violation of policy, and in fact violation of law, is common in prisons across the country. Prison administrators routinely deny mail without bothering to follow their own rules about notifications and required justifications. The censorship is typically targetting political literature, but has also extended to dictionaries, bibles, and textbooks. Retaliatory censorship is alive and well in Amerikkkan prisons.

This comrade is setting an excellent example of both documenting the problem and fighting back. When we receive notifications of censorship we always alert the affected comrades behind bars. And we need prisoners to do the same for us. In addition, all rejections need to be appealed. And if you can send us your appeals and information on the censorship, we can follow up with appeal letters from our side.

This multi-prong attack on the censorship can sometimes win small victories. Occasionally we will actually get the mail in. But even when we lose the appeals we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention, and this sort of politically-motivated censorship won't just slide by without protest. And getting other organizations to stand up and protest too is important to building the strength of our voice in this battle.

Fighting censorship is only a small part of our larger fight against imperialism. But as our movement gains strength the criminal injustice system will use repression of all sorts to try to stop us. It's particularly important that we fight censorship because this is the primary way that comrades behind bars can stay in touch with the movement beyond their cellblock. Without mail, prisoners don't even have access to study materials. So we take this struggle seriously. And we call on lawyers and paralegals on the streets to get involved. We need legal support to help with these battles.

chain