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Under Lock & Key

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[ALKQN/PLF] [Campaigns] [United Front]
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LK Leader Calls for Unity

I am sending my revolutionary greetings to you in Black & Gold. I am an enforcer of the Latin Kings and I am extending an invitation to all Latino inmates to join forces with us to protect one another against all forms of aggression and discrimination. We should build solidarity and unity in a united struggle against this system of oppression. We must fight for our civil and human rights. I am encouraging you to unite with the ALKQN in our United Front against the capitali$t Imperiali$t United Slaves of Amerika. We should join MIM(Prisons)'s United Struggle from Within and start study groups.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade's support for United Front work against imperialism. This statement echoes the call to Build a United Front for Peace in Prisons, which was first initiated in 2011. A number of organizations and individuals have signed on to the United Front, and we encourage the ALKQN organization as a whole to take the leadership to a bigger stage and formally become a signatory to the UFPP. We believe that the politically conscious leaders of the ALKQN, including this writer, agree with the five principles of the UFPP: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence. And for the leadership of large organizations such as the ALKQN to come together and declare to the membership that these are core principles of their LO will send a powerful message to individuals and other LOs across the country.

For those interested in joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons, send your organization's name and a statement of unity to MIM(Prisons). Your statement can explain what the united front principles mean to your organization, how they relate to your work, why they are important, etc.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Upstate Correctional Facility] [Auburn Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 34]
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New York Prisoners Strike, Support California Struggle

16 July 2013 - I would like the brothers in the struggle to be aware that their movement is being felt all the way on the east coast. As you are aware I was last at Auburn Korrectional Facility. I was put in the box and given a 180 day sentence for rallying 22 other komrades on this end to go on a food strike in support of our brothers out west. It got so bad that 8 of us were held in the kamp's hospital and a court order was given to force feed us. I just got out of the hospital yesterday and I have restarted my strike along with the other 7 brothers I spoke of.

The pigs have violated our property and they have destroyed our books, including my Afrikana, Assata, and my Black's laws dictionary that my dad bought for me before he died. To make things even worse they destroyed my pictures, including a lot of my parents who are both in the essence now. I don't have any family outside these walls, so my komrads (and a deep seeded hatred of how these pink pigs treat us) are all I have.

I wanted you to print this in your next issue because I know how them brothers are struggling and they may think that they are in it by themselves. But I want them to know that they have some real militant brothers who have lost a lot now to join them in their struggle. There are only 7 others with me out of the 22 of us who put this thing into effect over here. The rest of my komrades have been scattered in other koncentration kamps. New York State has about 65 prisons from maximum security, which we are in, to minimums. What I do know is that we are on watch and soon will be whisked away where these pigs will fill us up intravenously so they can say they care. But we will continue our movement on y'all behalf until we hear or read that y'all have received the basic necessities in which you are fighting for.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While they are no doubt facing significant repression and conditions that merit struggle in New York, these comrades have stepped up to fight on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners in California. This prisoner and his comrades demonstrate the important principals of unity and self-sacrifice that are so critical to building the communist movement. While we frequently appeal to prisoners' self-interest in calling them to action, when this self-interest in aligned with the interests of the anti-imperialist movement, ultimately communists will act without regard for self-interest, in the service of the oppressed.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran SHU Sentiment Opposes CDCR Step Down Program as Hunger Strike Continues

29 July 2013 - The hunger strike seems to be struggling along. Corcoran Security Housing Unit stopped running yard for about a week. CDCR seems to be about to implement the "step down program" here at California State Prison - Corcoran SHU. And its so-called "conditional inactive release, monitored status" for guys who are being reviewed for inactive status by CDC DRB (review board). From what I've heard, guys aren't biting on the "banana-in-the-tailpipe" bullshit.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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CCI Prisoners Hunger Striking for Long Haul

29 July 2013 - On July 8th the hunger strike went as planned and continued until Friday. On Saturday 7/13 prisoners ate and also on Sunday. However, again on 7/15/13 some resumed the hunger strike [at California Correctional Instiution].

Medical personnel are coming by to check on us here hunger striking. We are not getting our weight taken nor blood pressure. Medical staff are just asking us if we're ok. A memo was given out before the strike saying we are able to get 2 appliances, a typewriter and other various items: shorts, bowl, tumbler, unlimited soups in canteen. But this stuff cannot be realized or verified as I haven't seen anybody get a lot of soups, radio/typewriter or cup and bowl.

No prison official has come by to ask of what's going on or what, although a C/O came by and asked if we are hunger striking and if so what for. I haven't heard of anyone going to medical so far. Mail is going slow and only about a couple pieces a section are getting passed out.

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[Censorship] [Education]
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Does Censorship Encourage Recidivism?

Why does a political newsletter such as Under Lock & Key get denied on a regular basis, but so called urban novels and other related material is allowed in to flood the cell blocks? The answer is simple, political material is dangerous to the established system of injustice. By censoring or abolishing political material the door is open for a replacement and how convenient that the replacement consists of literature conveying tales of drug peddling, murder, deception, racism and other criminal activity. The system uses this replacement as a means to keep ignorant prisoners in a criminal mindset and out of a revolutionary one, because if the lumpen spent the time wasted reading replacement novels with revolutionary research and education, we as a whole would be one stepping stone closer to complete abolishment of the injustice system. Sadly the ignorant prisoner cannot in his mind put down such material because the tales described leap out to him in an enticing manner. This is why the system wins and continues to operate in a full capacity.

The censorship doesn't stop at just political material, education period is under attack. The mail room drones will use any excuse to deny material which they feel would encourage an individual to think for himself and question the tactics of oppression deployed by the injustice system.

I chose this topic because I feel the individuals who fill their minds with system approved propaganda are the ones who suffer most in the long term and need to be reached out to and have the system's hold on their minds broken. I truly hope the many comrades who read this understand my point and will reach out to the ignorant and build them into solid comrades instead of pawns played by the injustice system.

I close this with the following: education is what will deliver the captives from the chains that hold them, but knowledge is not limited to just politics. One must be educated all around in order to attack this oppressive system from all sides and angles, because without education we are everything they want us to be: dumb, ignorant, and harmless. In all reality censorship does encourage recidivism, and as long as the oppressed remain ignorant to the tactics the system has nothing to fear. I encourage all who read this to put down system approved urban novels and pick up an education based book or newsletter, sign up for all political newsletters and educate those around you. Form a study group and become a part of the United Struggle from Within. With unity and solidarity we can abolish the injustice system and we will break these chains of oppression.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we have documented extensively, prisons across the country regularly censor Under Lock & Key and other political literature and even letters that we send to prisoners. This comrade is right that this is politically motivated. Denying prisoners political education while providing them with trash to read is one way the prisoncrats try to prevent political organizing. We need the help of lawyers on the streets to work with the Prisoner Legal Clinic on the day-to-day battles against censorship.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 15 Hunger Strike Report from San Quentin

Day 15 of the Death Row SHU (adjustment center) hunger strike. Almost 50 participating and the administration is scratching its ass in frustration, using every dirty track in the book (operational procedure [OP608]).

After 3 days we're official hunger strikers. Within only 2 days we were getting set up to be declared "leaders" by a sergeant or lieutenant under the guise of negotiations. By day 5 the facility captain started sweating us. At this point our peaceful action shows potential to expose human rights violations due to imminent media attention, so prison officials hoping to cover things up deem this a disruption to facility operations while part of their clique forms an Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) which then threatens us with a Rules Violation Report based on their wild stretch interpretation of 15 CCR 3315 (a)(2)(L). This makes each of us a documented/validated participant in a Security Threat Group (STG) action (OP608, sec419 B.m.n.). If that fails to halt the advance of our struggle for basic human needs, CDCR's playbook then calls for an intensified sensory deprivation program to be implemented (OP608, Sec. 419 C/Sec. 815). All this clearly demonstrates CDCR's premeditated response to our peaceful action is the continuation of violent torture methods with malice under the guise of "security."

Course of action: everyone simply states they have nothing to say. Thus, nobody provides evidence of being "leader" or "an organizer" through individual testimony. The open letter with its list of demands speaks for itself in behalf of us all, participating or not, while our non-violent participation in the struggle is an action which speaks louder than mere words. We're simply allowing CDCR's twisted response to unravel, thus exposing their premeditated malice which they have reworded in the OP608.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran Conditions Worsen As Strike Advances and Many Stand Strong

11 July 2013 - As you well know we are demonstrating and will continue until demands or compromise is met!

As of now everything is running smoothly! All basic modified program - regular medical ducats, regular nurse/pill rounds, regular C/O security checks, nobody in my general area has complaints of negligent or abusive behavior.

Just got word of cell extractions being done to certain individuals in some buildings.

They've passed out CDC 128A forms regarding future discipline if behavior persists.

I received a letter from California Prison Focus in Oakland, it was almost one month 1ate! An obvious stall tactic. It was in regards to the 7/13 rally/march in front of CSP-Corcoran asking to let loved ones/friends know.

No weight checks or medical checks as of now (5:00 pm). Institutional procedure not being followed.

Thank you.

13 July 2013 - Day Six: No weight/med-health checks as of now. Man down response time was thirty minutes yesterday. Rally/march is active outside the walls!

Regular C.O./Sgt/Med staff checks have ceased. Most of us are single cell by choice and won't receive cellmates during demonstration. Nothing more we can do at this point. C.O./Sgt/Med staff definitely not following proper procedure.

Please contact my family if something happens to me.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Hundreds of people did rally outside of Corcoran State Prison on 13 July 2013 in the brutal heat to show support for the strikers inside. Those on the outside who want to support the struggle against torture in California prisons should contact state officials and voice your concerns and help spread the word through demonstrations and sharing information with others.

The reports above were delayed in reaching us, but is the most recent report we have from Corcoran. The latest from the CDCR is that 1,000 prisoners are still on strike in California early in week three. They reported over 12,000 who met their criteria for being on a hunger strike at the peak, and around 30,000 who participated on July 8th. They said only one prison had a significant work stoppage. There's no way for us to get any better numbers than these, but the drop in numbers correlates with the reports we've been getting from some. That said 1,000 people is a lot to take it for the long haul. Outside support continues to rally with more progressive groups and individuals signing on as supporters and making public stands with a coordinated one day fast being coordinated for the end of July.

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[Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Martinez Hunger Strike Ends with Partial Victory

On 07-19-2013 all MDF hunger strikers suspended their hunger strike. Below are the demands that were met by MDF command staff:

DEMAND #1 was granted in full. Classification shall tell you in writing what you are being held in Ad-Seg for as well as program expectations to be released from Ad-Seg.

DEMAND #2 Command staff is working to come up with a free time schedule that follows title 15 standards. One part of this that is granted in full is that all detainees will be given an opportunity to empty their trash can EVERYDAY.

DEMAND #3 had 3 parts. Two parts were granted in full. MDF medical/mental health staff shall no longer conduct ANY type of appointment on the intercom system nor at detainees’ cell door where private medical issues are heard by others in violation of medical privacy laws (HIPPA). The third part of allowing Ad-Seg detainees’ to reach medical triage on the phone systems, as all other modules do, is still being worked on with command staff.

DEMAND #4 Command staff informed classification to ONLY house mentally ill inmates on D-module as a last resort.

DEMAND #5 was granted in full. ALL MDF detainees’ will be allowed to purchase ink pen fillers from canteen. Also necessary photo copies will be made for detainees’ filing court documents. These will be implemented in a reasonable time frame.

It is in good faith that we suspend our hunger strike and that MDF command staff will continue to implement our 5 Core Demands. MDF command staff has been very open to our ideas. With the exception of DR. DENNIS MCBRIDE who tried to guide detainees’ into refusing water as well as food.
We hope all other hunger strikers can get some much needed relief on their demands. If this does not occur we will resume our hunger strike.
Special thank you to our loved ones on the streets, all organizations and media outlets who covered our struggle, as well as Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer- Welcome home & Dan Horowitz, Nicole, Lesli and Mikes sister.


MIM(Prisons) responds: See the original article announcing the Martinez demands where we address the shortcomings of their demands, which included segregating mentally ill prisoners. The victories here are small reforms riding on the coat tails of the central struggle here, which is to shut down long-term isolation. Control units were originally created to separate leaders from the general population. But this division has been two-fold in that now the interests of those in control units are not felt as dearly by those in general population. Even so, the last few weeks have shown a great level of consciousness among the whole prison population about the inhumane conditions those comrades in SHU and Ad-Seg face. We hope those who stood up in Martinez continue to support that struggle, which is really central to the prison movement itself. Without a prison movement, prisoners have no real means of addressing abuse, which can be so common in prison.

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[Gang Validation] [Abuse] [Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center] [Connecticut]
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Security Risk Group in CT is Arbitrary Punishment for Beliefs

In the Security Risk Group (SRG) unit in Connecticut they have taken toothbrushes that we were allowed to have, we only have one jumpsuit, and even if we're sweaty we are required to put the jumpsuit on. All prisoners are supposed to have 2 uniforms. We are denied religious services, we are denied schooling, and they have taken an electric socket out of the cell. We were denied library access even though this prison has one of the best libraries in the state, and we get no contact visits even though most prisoners have no tickets. SRG lumpen organization membership has tripled since 2005; 40% of the prisoners who come here are not really a part of any group but end up leaving a member. Some prisoners will get affiliated on purpose to come to the gang block to become a member. This unit is a hoax and a way for the pigs to get paid more.

When I first went to SRG in 2008 we went outside every day and had regular toothbrushes, visits 7 days a week, and this was at a supermax, Northern Correctional Institution. In September 2008 they moved the SRG block here to Corrigan. We had two uniforms. I only lasted 4 days and was sent back to Northern as a "threat member" (SRGTM Block). Slowly they took TVs, CD players and finally the revoking got so bad, they applied handcuffs on us during phase 1 of the SRGTM program (a lotta komrades including myself have a civil suit over it).

Both programs, SRG and SRGTM, consisted of 3 phases. Now they are combined so there's only one program called SRGMP (Security Risk Group Member Program) merging both programs and now there's 5 phases. Phase one and two are done at Walker Correctional Institution and phase 3,4, and 5 are done here. Due to the merger there are more rules and ways to threaten and make a komrade stay longer. This SRG hoax needs to be destroyed. There is no need for all this extra funding. Or to be punished for one's beliefs. As long as we are not breaking any of this country's man-made capitalist laws.

How are prisoners allowed 3 visits in phase 1 and 2 but only 1 visit in phase 3,4, and 5? We are tired of being experimented on! Would a letter to the governor and Department of Justice change anything? We will see. Connecticut SRG prisoners are not allowed to start petitions, we get tickets for it. All need to march to the capitol's front steps in Hartford, Connecticut and protest the oppression being put on political prisoners in this SRGMP. When we get political it makes it harder for pigs to explain why they're oppressing us or why they need this SRGMP.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have reported on this abusive treatment of prisoners classified in a Security Risk Group in Connecticut in previous articles. This ongoing pattern of abuse will require unity among the many prisoners being oppressed by the Connecticut Department of Corrections. Pushing prisoners into lumpen organizations is common in prisons, and it often keeps different lumpen groups divided and fighting each other rather than focusing their power on the real enemy: the criminal injustice system itself. This is the purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, to build peace among the lumpen and unity for the fight against the injustice system. We call on our comrades in the SRGMP to work with your organizations to join the UFPP and build the anti-imperialist movement.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Martinez Ad-Seg Issues Hunger Strike Demands

To: Sheriff David O. Livingston, Under Sheriff Michael V. Casten and All Martinez Detention Facility Command Staff, Deputies and Officials

From: Pretrial Detainees, Inmates, Prisoners and Civil Commitments housed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) in D-Module at Martinez Detention Facility

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE:
On Monday 8 July 2013, detainees housed in Ad-Seg will actively be taking part in the hunger strike being implemented statewide by prisoners, inmates, detainees (etc.) confined under unconstitutional conditions in California state prisons and jails.

Martinez Detention Facility (MDF) Ad-Seg detainees support the core and supplemental demands of our partners in Pelican Bay Prison Ad-Seg/SHU programs and we join them in opposition of their, and ALL, unconstitutional conditions of confinement in all California state prisons and jails.

MDF Ad-Seg detainees hereby also provide notice of our own 5 Core Demands to stop unconstitutional conditions of confinement blatantly enforced here at MDF.

CORE DEMAND 1

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice, and unofficial policy of placing detainees in Ad-Seg without any due process. Some detainees have been held in Ad-Seg indefinitely (over 5 years) without any notice, hearing or due process required by Constitutional Law. If a detainee submits a request or grievance on the issue, they receive a response from classification only stating "you are housed appropriately."

CORE DEMAND 2

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of locking detainees in filthy cells with no windows or light controls for 48 hours (or more) before being allowed out of our cell for 1 hour to shower, groom, use phone, exercise and inadequately attempt to clean our cells.

Detainees request that they be allowed out of their cells for at least 1 hour daily in the morning, afternoon or evening and also be allowed to shave daily as state regulations require.

Incorporated within this demand, detainees also seek a provision for a daily opportunity to clean their cells. Currently detainees are only allowed (every 48 hours or longer) a broom, dust pan, and a mop. They are not provided with disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, rags, or any other cleaning supplies to adequately clean cells. Detainees must also keep trash (from 6 meals) in their cells for 48 hours or more.

CORE DEMAND 3

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of daily holding medical and mental health appointments at the detainees' cell doors which allows all other detainees to hear the confidential medical/mental health issues. This is in violation of the "Medical Act and Privacy Rights." Detainees also seek the equal protection of a "TRIAGE" phone line as other MDF detainees on other modules are provided.

CORE DEMAND 4

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of improperly housing inmates with mental health issues among the non-mental-health-status Ad-Seg detainees. Currently all Ad-Seg detainees are subject to the behaviors, problems, actions and disorders of the mental health status Ad-Seg inmates which include:

  1. Loud yelling/banging all night, keeping detainees awake.
  2. Getting feces and urine thrown under detainees doors.
  3. Delusional actions/comments against or towards detainees.
  4. Spitting through detainee doors or on glass.
  5. Feces, urine, debris etc. in shower, hot water pot, on floor
  6. Breaking and/or destroying hair clippers/shavers, preventing other detainees from using for court, visits, etc.

CORE DEMAND 5

MDF Ad-Seg detainees demand Sheriff/Jail officials immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of denying all MDF detainees access to pens to submit legal work to the courts, nor copying provisions for our writs and other valid legal documents to the court. Also, there is no readily continuous access to a pencil sharpener which is often broken, preventing detainees from writing legal documents and/or sending letters to family and friends for weeks.

There are many more unconstitutional conditions of confinement here at MDF. Those are 5 of the most egregious which we present as issues. Detainees will be hunger striking to correct, beginning Monday 8 July 2013.

Detainees peacefully and respectfully request that Contra Costa County Sheriff Office engage in swift and prompt actions to correct these unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

- MDF Hunger Strike Representative


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we support the hunger strike going on in Martinez Detention Facility, we would like to warn against creating unnecessary divisions between prisoners. We have reported in the past that mental health status is greatly exacerbated by the conditions of imprisonment generally, and especially of long-term isolation. Often times these prisoners are put in isolation (or even imprisoned in the first place) because of their disruptive behavior stemming from their mental illness, which does nothing to improve their condition.

Not only does imprisonment worsen the condition of those who already suffer from mental illness, but it can, and does, induce mental illness in people who would otherwise not suffer from delusions, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sensitivity to light, noise, and touch, suicidal thoughts, etc. It is well documented,(1) and MIM(Prisons) has witnessed first hand, that the state uses long-term isolation as a tactic to specifically wreck the mental health of prisoners who are engaged in political work and organizing.

While we understand the impact that this disruptive behavior has on this contributor's ability to sleep and focus, we worry that a demand to send mentally ill prisoners "away" would lead to further isolation and deterioration.

Mental illness isn't caused by inadequacies within individuals, but is instead a symptom of all the irreconcilable contradictions in our society. Mental illness has systemic roots. Therefore, all short-term solutions to help people with mental illness in this country are just bandaids on gaping wounds. Reported in Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People's Republic of China, a book by Victor and Ruth Sidel, all mental health conditions in communist China under Mao were cured except for some extreme cases of schizophrenia, and those who had previously been suffering became productive members of society. Reasons for this turnaround include not only relief from stressors which had previously led people to mental illness — severe gender oppression, inability to survive or thrive, etc. — but also a flood of resources dedicated to mental health research and application which hadn't been possible before when society was organized based on the profit motive.

Around 1971, the Sidels wrote,

The methods currently being used to treat mental illness are collective help, self-reliance, drug therapy, acupuncture, "heart-to-heart talks," follow-up care, community ethos, productive labor, the teachings of Mao Tse-tung, and "revolutionary optimism."

They go on to explain in detail what each of these methods consists of.

Similar to how feudalism in pre-liberation China led many wimmin to suicide, it is clear that most mental illness is a direct result of our capitalist and imperialist society. The most stark example of this being the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by at least 20% of U.$. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars.(2) Hearing any account from a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, you can see that a large contributing factor to the PTSD is the unjust nature of these wars; killing for no reason. In People's War, the cause is just (self-defense) and the aim isn't to murder and intimidate, but to liberate the most oppressed and create a better world for everyone. That is quite a contrast.

We know it is difficult to organize in Ad-Seg, and we know it is especially difficult to organize with people who are in the middle of full-blown mental illness. But we still encourage our comrades to look for ways for prisoners to come together against their common enemy and to fight on behalf of the common good of all prisoners and oppressed people generally. A more progressive demand than number 4 above would be an end to solitary confinement for all prisoners. For more on our perspective on mental health, see Under Lock & Key 15 or MIM Theory 9: Psychology & Imperialism.


Notes:
1. Stuart Grassian, "Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement," Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 22:325 2006, p.325.
2. Veterans and PTSD

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