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[United Front] [Campaigns] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 58]
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Nevada Call to Action and Unity

Over the past few months the United Struggle from Within - Nevada, has been hard at work, alongside groups such as the Reetboys and PLF/MISM, in a show of prisoner unity, building up a grievance campaign. Together, these groups, with their different ideologies, continue to lead a struggle for unity and peace within the NDOC.

We have had great success, and we now see open dialogue between and among groups which had previously been at odds with one another. This unity is coming in despite of our language, national, religious, philosophical, and/or ideological differences.

The USW-Nevada, alongside the PLF/MISM, Reetboys, and others, are now calling on prisoners at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), be you in general population or protective segregation, to stop the hatred and join in our current and ongoing struggle against the level system as it is employed at HDSP. Especially as it relates to the lack of programs, the inability to earn good time/work time credits, get parole, or be released. Prisoners housed at HDSP are being denied the very same opportunities given to every other prisoner at every other prison within the NDOC.

The grievance campaign has been ongoing, and over the past 2 months we have seen some 100+ prisoners file grievances on this issue. The response we have received has shown the attitude of the HDSP authorities. Namely that education, programs, and work are a privilege, not a right. This is being said despite the mission statement of director James Dzurenda, which states the following:

"The Nevada Department of Corrections will improve public safety by ensuring a safe and humane environment that incorporates proven rehabilitation initiatives that prepare individuals for successful reintegration into our communities.

"Vision – reduce victimization and recidivism by providing offenders with incentive for self-improvement and the tools to effect change.

"Philosophy – we will pursue our mission with integrity, act in a professional and ethical manner, be responsible for our actions, and raise the department to the highest standards.

"Goals – operate the department according to the best practices. Ensure the best use of department resources, educate stakeholders and customers, improve communication."

The actions being taken at HDSP, where the overwhelming majority of prisoners are denied work credits, programs, and any advancement within the level system itself, are contrary to this mission statement, the best interest of society overall, and the welfare of the inmates housed here.

Every day that we allow this to continue is another day that we will be forced to stay in prison. HDSP is denying us work time credits, which costs us 5 days a month, as well as education, which costs us 120 days for a GED, and 120 days for a high school diploma. While every other prisoner in any other prison within the NDOC earns these days, we at HDSP must do more of our sentences. For example, if you have a 12-48 month sentence, you will get out in approximately 912 days by working and getting both your GED and high school diploma. However, at HDSP, even if you do not receive a single notice of charges, the same prisoner would be forced to do every single day of that 4 years. Meaning the same inmate is required to do 548 more days on his sentence for simply being housed at HDSP. This number increases when you consider the days that can be earned by completing programs not available to prisoners at HDSP. Think about this number!

The United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), a movement underway in Nevada, alongside the United Struggle from Within, the PLF/MISM, Reetboys, and many national groups have joined together in a single voice to call for unity, and an end to prisoner-on-prisoner violence, and to join together in a struggle for change. Join this struggle for change.

The grievance campaign will continue into a civil complaint. We will attempt to get it certified as a class action filed on behalf of all inmates, but in order to do this we need every inmate to file the grievances, and then file the individual 1983 Civil Complaint. Towards this goal, we are including examples for each level of the grievance process, and will make available to all who have completed the grievance process an example 1983 Civil Complaint.

We have not only completed the grievances, but letters have been sent to the director and the warden of HDSP. We have also been able to, via a whistle blower, get our hands on OP516, which describes the level system, but is marked "no inmate access." We will make this available as well.

We will end this here, but before we do we would like to say that in order for change to occur we must stand up and fight together for that change. The reason that things have gotten as bad as they have is due to cowardice. We have become so individualized that we covet what little we have, and fear retaliation. When is enough enough? Let us build up a voice and fight, as a single, unified body, for what is just!

Contact USW-Nevada through MIM(Prisons), for more information about prisoner issues and the continued struggle: MIM(Prisons), PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140.

AR740 and the Grievance Process

Nevada has implemented an unconstitutional grievance process. This grievance process is outlined in AR740. It states that an inmate may file no more than a single grievance in a single week, and that no more than a single grievance issue may be raised in a single grievance. This, of course, is unconstitutional, and should be challenged. But we are still required by law to adhere to the grievance process, no matter how unconstitutional it is, if we want to get to court.

We know that many prisoners have trouble with the grievance process. We will go over the basic process here so that you will know exactly what to do.

Step one – Start to write kites to your caseworker, unit SCO, and every job position, requesting placement in work, or to join programs. Save these responses, and a copy of the original request to show proof.

Step two – Get an informal grievance from your floor officer, be he/she a porter or a bubble office. Also get at least a grievance continuation form. Fill out the grievance using the example given herein.

Step three – Fill out your name, cell number, institution, etc. and then sign and date the grievance. This should be done first so you don’t forget. The same needs to be done for the grievance continuation form. Leave the grievance number area blank.

Step four – Using your own words, write your grievance.

Step five – Tear off and keep the last page of the grievance and grievance continuation forms.

Step six – Put the remaining pages, folded together, in the grievance box.

Keep track of your days. They have 45 days to answer your informal grievance. If you have not received a response on day 45, proceed to your first level grievance.

When filing your first and second level grievances, follow the same instructions as above, but attach the copies of the grievance, and any responses you have, with the grievances.

It is important to proceed through all 3 grievance levels. You have 45 days for the informal, 45 days for the first level, and 60 days for the second level. Make sure you keep a copy of every kite, grievance, etc., you have. You want to build up as much evidence as possible, so always have your unit officer sign your kites, and keep a copy. Every week you should send out as many kites as possible requesting job placement or program participation.

Grievance Example

I am grieving the application of the level system as it is employed at HDSP as it relates to programs, work, and educational opportunities. This grievance is based on my due process and equal protection rights based on the future of HDSP to offer me any ability to earn good time/work time credits which is available to all prisoners within the NDOC but those housed at HDSP.

Why is HDSP denying me any ability to program when Director Dzurenda has specified in his mission statement that: "The Nevada Department of Corrections will improve public safety by ensuring a safe and humane environment that incorporates proven rehabilitation initiatives that prepare individuals for successful reintegration into our communities." The mission statement then goes on to say the vision is to "reduce victimization and recidivism by providing offenders with incentive for self-improvement and the tools to effect change."

None of this mission statement is being applied at HDSP. In fact the level system denies prisoners any ability to program, educate ourselves, work, or any other means by which we may better ourselves, which, as stated by Director Dzurenda, is the goal of NDOC. Furthermore, not only are you endangering society by failing to offer rehabilitative programs to the 3,500 prisoners at HDSP, you are denying me due process and equal protection.

Every other prisoner, on every other yard, irregardless of level, is given the opportunity, even encouraged, to participate in programs. Meaning a prisoner serving a 12-48 month sentence on any yard other than HDSP, who works and programs, which is available to every prisoner, will do approximately 912 days of the 1460 days sentenced. The very same prisoner, housed at HDSP, receiving no writeups his entire sentence, will be forced to do the entire 1460 days. Meaning, HDSP is making prisoners do 548 more days on a 12-48 month sentence for no other reason than he is at HDSP. This is an unconstitutional violation of my right to due process and equal protection because any other prisoner, with my exact sentence, will be released earlier than I will, for no other reason that I, being housed at HDSP, am being denied the same access to programs available to prisoners on every other yard within the NDOC.

How can the NDOC justify telling prisoners who are begging for rehabilitative treatment that they do not deserve treatment, that this is a privilege, not a right? The warden and caseworkers at HDSP are refusing to help prisoners better themselves and are thus directly responsible for the recidivism rate, violence and crime that occurs at HDSP.

Why does HDSP see fit to deny drug addicts or sex offenders treatment? How will the community react when they find out HDSP is refusing to treat its prisoners, who are begging for treatment, and then releasing these people back into their community?

The fact is that HDSP houses approximately 3600 prisoners but work, education and rehabilitative programs, are available to only approximately 470 prisoners. That leaves 3130 inmates without any access to work, education, or rehabilitative programs. Which in turn means that I, and these 3130 prisoners, are being denied access to the very programs offered to every other prisoner within the NDOC.

Remedy Sought

  1. I want HDSP to offer rehabilitation programs to all 3600 inmates at HDSP.
  2. I want HDSP to review the mission statement of Director Dzurenda, and act accordingly.
  3. I want HDSP to stop punishing me and other prisoners for simply being at HDSP, and recalculate my days to include the 5 days a month due to the lack of work/programs at HDSP.
  4. I want HDSP to employ active, proven rehabilitation programs as a means/requirement for advancement within the level system, and not as a privilege.

For the remaining answers, on levels I and II of the grievance process, utilize this example, but formulate your response based on their responses to your grievances. Do not become disheartened by the denials. They will fight us on this.

Some further ideas for grievances

Others and I are also currently grieving the following issues. All of us should challenge them. They are, but are not limited to:
  1. The lack of proper hygiene supplies. 1 roll of toilet paper and 2 bars of soap a week is not sufficient. Furthermore, every other prison makes soap readily available, with 2 rolls of toilet paper.
  2. No cleaning supplies, and lack of time to clean cells.
  3. Toilet timers. No other prison requires inmates so long between flushes, especially when locked down in a cell, with another inmate, 22 hours a day.
  4. The grievance process. The new requirement of 1 grievance a week is unconstitutional and forces us to choose what issues to address. It thus directly effects our ability to access to the court.
  5. Supervisor Graham, and the law library. Supervisor Graham routinely denies access to the courts by refusing to make legal copies, confiscating legal work, and has written at least one false notice of charges.

If you know of, or can think of more issues, please feel free to contact the USW and let us know.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Download and Print] [United Struggle from Within] [Illinois]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Illinois

ILpetition
Click to download PDF of Illinois petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.



John Baldwin, Acting Director, 1301 Concordia Court, PO Box 19277, Springfield, IL 62794-9277

US Dept of Justice, Civil Rights Div, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, PHB, Washington, DC 20530

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

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[Ireland] [International Connections] [Hunger Strike] [Organizing]
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REVIEW:Ten Men Dead

Ten Men Dead: the story of the 1981 Irish hunger strike
David Beresford
Atlantic Monthly Press 1987

This book chronicles the period and events in Northern Ireland leading up to when nine members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and one member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) starved to death while on hunger strike inside Northern Ireland's notorious Long Kesh prison. While reading this book one may be tempted to draw parallels between the actions of imprisoned Irish nationalists and the actions carried out by prisoners in California who protested the use of solitary confinement and indeterminate sentences in the state's infamous Security Housing Units (SHU) in 2011 and 2013. However, there were qualitative differences between these two movements. Whereas one was revolutionary nationalist in nature and sought to ultimately eject British imperialism by linking the struggle behind prison walls to that of every oppressed Irish national on the streets, the other was of a reformist character and has lent itself to the preservation of the status quo; AmeriKKKa vs the oppressed nations. [Today, the hunger strikes by Palestinians in I$raeli prisons are similar in nature to the Irish strike. - editor]

While the British first invaded and began to colonize Ireland in the year 1171, the focus of this book is on more contemporary times so we'll start there. Having failed to wipe out Irish nationalism thru sheer military might the British government sought to switch strategy, and in 1972 initiated a new method of oppression called "normalization". Normalization was the policy devised to crush the IRA and other Irish nationalists by criminalizing the struggle for national liberation & self-determination. As such, normalization was also termed "criminalization". Criminalization required a four prong attack on the Irish people:

First local police and British occupation forces would cease to refer to the IRA and other Irish nationalist groups as political organizations with a political mandate. Instead Irish revolutionaries would begin to be labeled as "thugs", "criminals" and "terrorists".

Second, criminalization would entail eliminating juries and diluting the rule of evidence in IRA and INLA trials to make it easier to obtain convictions. As can be expected the number of prisoners sentenced in Northern Ireland spiked from 745 in 1972 to 2,300 in 1979.(pg 19)

Third, criminalization required that Britain begin to pull its troops from Northern Ireland delegating national oppression to local police with special military and counter-intelligence training, thereby giving the public the impression that fighting the IRA was a law and order issue and not a war.

Finally, the linchpin towards normalizing Britain's 800 year oppression of Ireland would be the repealing of Irish political prisoner status known as "special category": special category was granted to captured IRA and INLA members. Prisoners granted special category were given preferential treatment. More importantly, however, from the IRA point of view the fact that special category existed was an admission of sorts that British occupation of Ireland was something to be contested, even by the Brits.

As in any struggle, the 1981 hunger strike didn't simply develop overnight, rather it was the product of a series of protests almost a decade in the making. When Britain announced an end to special category status in 1976, prisoners immediately got to work. For Irish revolutionaries the fact that they had been captured didn't mean the war had ended. Instead prisoners viewed Long Kesh as just another front line in the war for national liberation.

The struggle to re-instate special category was first sparked 16 September 1976, when a fight between guards and a prisoner broke out after the prisoner refused to put on a prison uniform while being admitted into the general population following a conviction on a terrorism charge. Prior to 1 March 1976, there was no such thing as terrorism charges being applied to Irish revolutionaries. Once in prison, IRA and INLA members were segregated from the general population. They were also allowed to wear their own clothes. Soon other IRA & INLA members began to refuse to wear prison uniforms which marked them as criminals. As a reaction to this resistance administration then refused to clothe prisoners who refused to comply leaving them confined naked in their cells 24 hours a day with only blankets to cover themselves.(pg 16) The "blanket" protest had officially begun.

Two years later, the "no wash" protest was initiated when special category prisoners were given one towel to wear around their waist on their visits to the bathroom while being denied a second towel for their faces. Rather than continue to be humiliated in this way prisoners refused going to the bathroom facilities all-together and were given chamber pots for use in their cells. Fights with guards soon followed however when guards refused to empty the chamber pots. These events then led to the "dirty" protest in which prisoners began throwing the contents of the pots out of their cells thru windows and tray slots. After windows and tray slots were covered prisoners began "pouring urine out the cracks and dispensing excrement by smearing it on the wall."(pg 17)

Wimmin also participated in the dirty protest after thirty-two prisoners at a Northern Ireland wimmin's jail were beaten by male and femals guards in a pre-meditated attack after prisoners attempted to defend themselves during a search. The search was for IRA military uniforms which the wimmin had worn in a defiant para-military parade held in violation of jail rules.(pg 20)

Afterwards prisoners began to organize more effectively when IRA leaders began to arrive in Long Kesh. In 1979 efforts by prison administrators to isolate IRA leadership backfired when top IRA figures were transferred to H Block 6. According to the author it was the equivalent of setting up an "officers training academy" inside the prison, as prisoners began to further develop "a philosophical and strategic approach" to Irish national liberation. (pg 18) Nine months later administration became alarmed with how prisoners had taken control of their new social conditions. They soon split up the "academy", but not before prisoners began to discuss hunger striking to protest normalization and an end to special category. However, outside IRA leadership was opposed to a hunger strike by prisoners on the grounds that the IRA's limited resources would be better spent on the military campaign against Britain instead of on building public opinion on behalf of the hunger strikers.(pg 21)

After much discussion the IRA Army Council and Sinn Fein the political wing of the IRA gave the go-ahead for prisoners to begin a ten man hunger strike to the death if their demands weren't met. However, the hunger strikers were prohibited from making any explicit references towards the re-instatement of special category or normalization in order to give the government some room to compromise. Instead the protest would officially be known as the struggle for the "five demands".(pg 27) The five demands the prisoners put forth were: "the right to wear their own clothing; the right to refrain from prison work; the right to have free association with other prisoners (a right implying freedom to separate from other paramilitary groups); the right to organize recreation and leisure activity — with one letter, parcel and visit allowed per week; and the right to have remission lost, as a result of the blanket protest restored. A suggestion that demands for the reform of the Diplock court system — the system of trial without jury and related dilutions of the rule of evidence — be included was vetoed by the external leadership as being too ambitious."(pg 27)

For the government to give in to the prisoners' demands from the IRA point of view would have meant a de-facto re-implementation of special category and a step towards repealing criminalization. Criminalization was turning out to be a very effective public opinion/smear campaign against the IRA and was having a real effect on how Irish Catholics were viewing the IRA:

"The phasing out of special category status in 1975 was an integral part of a new security strategy developed by a high powered government think-tank — which included representatives of the army, police and the counter-intelligence agency MI5 — in an attempt to break the IRA and end the fighting in Ireland. Known as the "criminalization" or "normalization" policy it was essentially an attempt to separate the Republican guerrillas from their host population, the Catholics; depriving the fish of their water to echo Mao Tse-Tung's famous dictum."(pg 15)

Once the decision to hunger strike was made it was decided that only ten of the most dedicated volunteers would be chosen being that they would be hunger striking to the death if the government refused to meet their demands. Leading the strike would be a young revolutionary named Bobby Sands. Sands was one of those "young Turks" deemed to be responsible for the "Marxist strain" that seemed to be spreading in the IRA at the time. At age of 19, Sands was made an officer in the Provisional IRA commanding one of the huts in Cage 11 where he was housed. According to the author, Sands "showed himself to be a prolific as well as a politicized writer: He read voraciously — his favorites including Frantz Fanon, Camilo Torres, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, George Jackson and of Irish writers, Connolly, Pearce and Mellows — keeping a fat growing pile of exercise books full of political analysis, quotations and notes. He was planning to write a book with it all, but they were destroyed in 1974 when the IRA in the compound burnt their huts in a dispute with the administration over rights and privileges."(pg 43)

Sands also contributed articles to the Sinn Fein newspaper Republican News, which he was able to smuggle out of the prison thru the use of couriers.(pg 46) Something else that was relevant about Sands, and which is worth noting here, is that he showed the correct attitude with comrades when it came to discussing revolutionary politics. Sands would push his comrades hard on the topic of political study. Whenever he lent someone a book he'd question them on what they'd learned, and if he didn't think they'd seriously absorbed the material then he'd insist they read it again.

When Sands first arrived in Long Kesh he was sent to a segregated area called the "Cages". The Cages was where IRA, INLA and other nationalists were sent to prior to the 1 March 1976 cut-off date for special category. Because the IRA as a organization never developed or held to one particular ideology that they believed or upheld to liberate Ireland meant that there existed different cliques and factions within the IRA that believed that different roads would lead to Irish liberation. This had a huge impact on the IRA and surely contributed to many of the set-backs and stagnations in the national liberation movement there. One example of this was how the younger prisoners housed in Cage 11 were looked down upon and called "renegades" by the older, more conservative "veterans" of the IRA who were housed in Cage 10 due to Cage 11's belief in a socialist road to liberation. The veterans in Cage 10 despised Marxism so much that they went so far as to stage book burnings of such works as Marx's Capital, The Communist Manifesto and The Thought of Mao Zedong. Cage 10 outranked the younger Cage 11 and considered ordering them to stand down after word spread that the Cage 11 presented a series of lectures called Celtic Communism.(pg 42) No doubt, that prior to these lectures the speakers in Cage 11 studied On the Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State by Freidrich Engels, which is a revolutionary study from a dialectical materialist standpoint of how property relations and the patriarchy influenced and shaped humyn society from the primitive stage of humyn development to civilization.

The struggle for the five demands would rage for six months while the British government publicly refused to negotiate with "criminals" and "terrorists". Behind closed doors however was a different story as the government reluctantly began to give in on the demands after public opinion began to shift in favor of the hunger strikers. International pressure also became a strong factor as one country after another openly condemned the Brits. Also, Guerrilla attacks and bombings on British occupation forces were not only sustained during this period but were stepped up. The five demands were finally met, but not until six months had elapsed and the last of the hunger strikers had died of starvation-related health complications. On 5 May 1981 Bobby Sands was the first to expire, but not before managing to become an elected member of the British Parliament, a seat he won while in prison for an attempted bombing.(pg 39) 30,000 people voted for Sands, thereby dispelling the government lie that the IRA had no support in Northern Ireland.(pg 332)

Conclusions and Analysis

Unfortunately, the author doesn't tell us what happened next, even though six years had elapsed from the time of the hunger strike to when the book was written. A new updated edition of this book would be great to explain how Ireland's national liberation struggle has played out. According to MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Revolutionary Nationalism, printed in 1995, the Irish struggle had greatly degenerated as IRA leaders began to opt more and more for the ballot over the bullet. The belief that bourgeoisie democracy and/or the imperialists will ever consent to the people coming to power, or give up peacefully thru a vote, the territories they have stolen and occupy is a pipedream. Bobby Sands being put up as a candidate representing South Tyrone Ireland in the British Parliament was only intended as a move to agitate around the five demands and no one ever really thought he'd win, not in the beginning anyways.(pg 72) That said, it seems that Sands' victory spurned on those within the IRA who were already looking to put down the gun in favor of taking up electoral politics. But as MIM Thought has continuously re-iterated: the oppressed nations will never be free to control their destiny so long as the imperialists hold a gun to their heads.

Maoists understand that there can be no peace so long as the imperialists hold power, therefore the only solution for the oppressed nations is to take up armed struggle once the conditions are finally right. Instead of looking to put more people from the oppressed nations into the imperialist power-structure, [email protected], New Afrikans, Boriqua and First Nation people should be working to establish a United Front to liberate their nations and towards the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations.

Revolutionaries should always strive to push for the best possible deal for the people without selling out the masses or trading out our socialist principles. That is the excellent and heroic thing about what the hunger strikers in Long Kesh did, even when the movement began pressuring them to quit the hunger strike or settle for one or two of the demands instead of the five they refused to budge. In the words of Bobby Sands:

"They wont break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we'll see the rising of the moon."(pg 73)

The peddling of multi-culturalism, the temporary success of globalization following the temporary defeats of socialism and revolutionary nationalist movements as well as the election of Obomber have created the notion that the struggle of the oppressed nations are irrelevant. Even back in 1986 the author of this book was pandering this idea when he said that the 1981 hunger strike "belongs more to humanity than to a limited Nationalist cause, no matter how ancient ... "(pg 333)

The reality of national oppression however contradicts the author's idealism, this is why the Black Lives Matter movement is so threatening to AmeriKKKans and why it has slapped post-modernism in its face, because it dredged up a reality they once thought distant and better left repressed — best to pretend like genocide, slavery and annexation never took place. Most importantly, however, because it signals the contradiction coming to a resolution and the smashing of empire. What the oppressed nations need are more national liberation movements, not less.

Another point worth drawing attention to is the false distinction the IRA made between political prisoners and "common criminals". We believe that is a bourgeoisie distinction and one that sets back both the prison movement and national liberation as they are inter-related. MIM Thought has consistently held that all prisoners under this system are political exactly because the system is political. One need only to look at mass incarceration in the United $tates and its many similarities to the criminalization policy that helped derail the IRA at a time when it was at its peak.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Learning History and Organizing Thru the Walls

When I first came to prison my whole perception of organizing in the streets changed. It changed due to education of history: history of other movements and how to organize the streets from within the prison walls. I do believe that prisoners can have a great influence on activists due to our struggles in here. But as the saying goes, a prisoner struggle today is the street's struggle tomorrow. The work which must be done inside these walls to help influence other organizations is education, strategy, and unity among all workers and oppressed people. But what I find is happening in the streets is that everyone wants to choose what battle is most important to their cause rather than finding a solution to all organizers' challenges.

Here in prison we sometimes get caught up getting a big head for fighting an issue which just caters to a person's selfish desires, rather than challenging issues which change the system as a whole. So we must learn to unify under one umbrella to tackle the issues we face.

My target audience will be the workers 'cause I believe they have power but don't know it yet. But the difference that contradicts working with workers is some are so caught up in consumerism so that they will not organize, or they don't want to lose their status so they will not wholeheartedly strike or fight for better wages. The lumpen can also be tricky to work with, due to a lack of resources.

We will have to build public opinion thru certain media outlets, hip hop culture, sports entertainers, and thru magazines. The contradictions to capitalism must be exposed so the targeted audience will have something to fight for. But to conclude, prisoners can help street LOs by building unity and overstanding each others' issues and combining theory and using science to challenge the system of imperialism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises an important point about needing to be able to look beyond our persynal issues and desires to the broader problems of the oppressed. This is especially important if we hope to unite beyond our local set. And we can certainly use cultural outlets to build public opinion and unity.

On the question of organizing workers, we've written a lot about the bought off nature of the vast majority of workers within U.$. borders and we see this as a material explanation for what this writer notes: they are caught up in consumerism and don't want to lose their status. These workers are earning more than the value of their labor because of all the profits from exploitation in the Third World brought back to this imperialist country. And so the workers here do understand that their status is valuable and profitable. They have the money to spend that allows them to get caught up in consumerism. As a result, we have seen throughout Amerikkkan history that these folks are not a force for progressive change. And organizing them to demand higher wages is not organizing against imperialism. This is one of the reasons we focus on organizing the lumpen as a group more likely to have an interest in revolution.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Stand Up Against the Pigs

Resist the Pigs

I usually don't weight in on stuff because most of my time is spent fighting the system, that's what I do. I don't like pigs and I don't like how these wannabe convicts be talking a lot of shit but as soon as these pigs pull out their pens and misbehavior reports they hide under their bunks!

I'm a transgender woman and I'm not scared of these pigs! I was working in the mess hall and the target of the most feared pig here and when I wrote him up all these wannabe convicts started telling me how I shouldn't fuck with him because he will retaliate. I said "fuck him I'm gonna keep doing me." Sure enough he retaliated and so did I. In the New York State Employees manual section 2.12, it states that they can't use abusive, aggressive, vulgar or obscene language, so whenever I heard him violate that rule I'd write his ass up. He retaliated by writing a false ticket on me. I got 7 days keeplock and then went back to work. Two days later I got fired and then I got threatened that if I kept writing grievances that they would set me up by giving me a new charge. I stopped grieving his ass and wrote to the Inspector General's office (ya ya!).

So, my question is this: why the fuck are dudes that have 15, 20, 25 plus years so scared to go at these pigs, but when a comrade owes them $3.24 they're ready to put a shank in the guy's back? Why when a pig disrespects you, you tuck your tail and run, but when a comrade disrespects you, you all of a sudden got a set of balls?

I'll tell you why a lot of these guys might do it. Because they know the pig will beat their ass all the way to the hole. But if they fight a comrade that shit will only last at the most a minute and then it's "get on the fucking ground before I blow your fucking head off!"

I've physically went at these pigs more than 5 times in the last 3 years and I've gotten 2 new bids behind it! I would've been home last year but there's a line that if crossed there should be consequences. I turned 10 years into 20. I'm not proud of that. Not at all. And I don't go around broadcasting it. But sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. If you don't stand for anything you'll fall for anything!

So, to all of my comrades, stand up to these pigs. I'm not telling you to go up against them with your fists, but don't just let them do what they want to you. Attack them by pen, fists, protests, or whatever! In the words of Malcolm X "By Any Means Necessary."

Peace Comrades!

P.S. - "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." - Rosa Parks

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides us with an important reminder that we can't just sit back passively and allow abuse to happen. And the criticism addressed at those who will fight other prisoners over bullshit but won't take on the pigs is right on. At the same time, everyone has to assess their own conditions and decide what response will work best and bring on the least suffering and retaliation. We need good comrades like this one to get out of prison, not double their time!

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[United Front] [United Struggle from Within] [Hunger Strike] [California] [ULK Issue 56]
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CALIFORNIA: Challenges and Reports

PIRU BLOOD

The decentralization of the prison population in California has helped make the voices of the oppressed harder to get out, as county jails step up repression in face of growing prisoner populations. At the Martinez Detention Facility in the Bay Area gang enhancements are being trumped up as a form of national oppression against [email protected]:

"We here, at MDF, Contra Costa County Jail, that are of Latin descent and not southsiders, are being held in Ad-Seg status now since 2010. And now even more unjust treatment is being added to us, gang enhancements just for being housed on this module, even if we don't ask to be housed on this module at time of arrest/booking. Classification, Administration and the District Attorney's office is using this module as an apparatus to get harsher sentences from the courts." - April 2017

Meanwhile, resistance has grown down south at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. A hunger strike began on 13 April 2017. As we go to press updates are a couple weeks old, but we know that about 30 people participated in the strike and that some passed out and were sent to outside medical facilities. The prisoners list 13 demands, including the end of long-term solitary confinement, restrictions on phones/visits and dayroom access.

Within the CDCR we're still seeing the unfolding of contradictions being created by the release of many from the SHU, who were once influential but are now older and less known, into a population that is younger and often in disarray. The Agreement to End Hostilities came out of the SHU almost five years ago, and it remains in a state of uncertainty. Many are still working hard on it, but it has not been universally upheld in these last five years. As a comrade reported in March:

"There were two recent riots here. One on the 3A yard here at Corcoran, the other at SATF Corcoran, on 3C yard. No one severely hurt, but it's hard to organize with situations like that."

There were contradictions between many of the forces behind the original agreement and sectors of the prison population that still need to be addressed. USW comrades in California are still working on these contradictions to push for a more united peace. This should be a theme as we prepare educational campaigns for Black August and the Commemoration of the Plan de San Diego, which should both feed into this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. Send in your reports on these campaigns and the conditions for peace where you are.

Finally, we're getting a lot of requests for info about Prop 57 from readers in California. One comrade recommends contacting:
Initiate Justice
PO Box 4962
Oakland, CA 94605
The latest from CDCR is that if you are eligible you will be hearing from your counselor this summer.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [National Oppression] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [California] [ULK Issue 57]
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My Experience as an SNY prisoner

I am a Mexican National Citizen raised in the old ways of making business. Our word was always good to our dying last breath. In prison politics and Mexican politics, the word is meaningless. (Tell that to good Tio Colosio, who paid with his life for believing someone else's word.)

Well, after 20 years in a main line or so-called active yards, I made the transition to the SNY yard. Here, I found lots of brothers (i.e. comrades), that made the transition years and even decades ago. Fortunately, I escaped the usual brainwashing that my Chicano counterparts are exposed to in the schools and ghettos. So, I called quits, and came over to the bizarre world. I found that most of my new comrades lacked any type of political consciousness. Time after time they declined my attempt to read some of my literature. It did not escape my mind that I once was like that too. It took me years to awaken to the cruel reality of my imprisonment.

Anyway, my first celly was a white male. And I discovered what I have always known in theory: We are all ignorant, poor, and damned (regardless of skin color, creed, or gang affiliation). For reasons that are not pertinent to this essay my new celly only last me less than 24 hours. Nevertheless, he left a deep impression in my consciousness. He told me that on the line his shot caller actually put a hit on him, over a $50.00 pruno debt. So he had to assume the position and allowed his beloved celly, who was a few months short to go home. And he was stabbed about three times. That is how out of control the prison gangs are.

So that the readers know: The average Mexican National prisoner doesn't belong to cartels, or street and prison gangs. Most Mexicanos are unaware of the avalanche of prison politics coming their way. Without no shame I can say that had my counselor told me about my expected role to serve at the active yard I should have checked out right there and then. It wasn't meant to be, so I was set up, by a failed rehabilitation system. I was immediately classified as a "PAISA" or "BORDER BROTHER." This STG (Security Threat Group) is under the direct order of the Sureños Prison Gang (like to be ordered to do hits and follow gang's rules).

Unbeknownst to the Mexican, all of these violent incidents will be used by the Board of Parole Hearings ("BPH"). God forbid one has a stabbing ten years ago. They literally act the part to be surprised that these kind of thing happen in prison. Even a disciplinary citation over a stolen apple will be used to say that one is a danger to the free community. These pundits actually believe that these gulags are CENTERS of top notch rehabilitation. And that one insists in misbehaving!

My new celly is an elderly Mexican. He is respectful and knows how to do time. He too called it quits when he discovered the winds of change in the air. And before things took a turn for the worst, he made the best decision in his life. He became another "SNY." The environment here is more loose. The gang trip is over. I have not seen any acts of predatory behavior towards those that are too weak to defend themselves. Then, there are those that act out as straight protective custody; they believe that the c/o is their daddy or big carnal. They are loud and wear their pants half way down their butt. Still the talking with staff can also be seen at facility "C", an active yard. They came in to the program office and spend time with them (getting cozy with the enemy i.e. the oppressor).

I found out that if I kept to myself and mind my own business I can fly undetected. This wasn't possible in an active yard, because one is expected to put in work for the prison gang. The new prison gangs at this side, they pretty much keep to themselves. And do their fighting without asking for help. Those who do not want to engage in the new gangs warfare are left alone out of the drama. I have spoken to former Sureños and Norteños (youth and elderly), and many described themselves as "Mexicanos" born on this side. Many have realized that the Mexican National is not their puppet to be used and discarded. They all agreed that becoming "SNY" is the best decision that they ever took. Their new leaders are their families, patria, and raza.

Here, former shotcallers and gang leaders are nothing. They are one more slave among the thousands. Long are gone the days of blood money, glory, cell phones, and God ego trips over life and death. As for my own transition from an enslaved active prisoner to an "SNY" it was easy. I packed my belongings without raising too much suspicion. And at school I told the officer "that I wanted out of the yard." They pressured me to tell what I knew about the big fat sapos and those that are kissing their ass. I had nothing to tell them.

Even if I knew anything I would never tell them nothing. I am too old to become a state snitch. So, not all SNY prisoners become snitches. I have been told that sometimes the officers threaten prisoners by telling them they will be sent back to the main line. But, this wasn't my case. (For your information, the officers will never do that.)

For those that I left behind, stop and think about it, for a long time. Is it really worth it to give up one's life by running a fool's errand? What they are sending you to do to someone else's son they will do to you. The masters of manipulation's lost cause is not worth it to die or kill for. Screw their orders, they are not our parents, tios, or big brothers. They are playing God with your lives and freedom.

They are bloodthirsty sociopaths with our brothers' and sisters' blood on their hands. They are the oppressor's little brother; they help the oppressor to keep us in check. Go ahead and tell them to do the killings themselves. They can't really hold you up accountable for your word; that you gave up as a little kid. You did not know anything about life when they enticed you to join the gang. They never told you that by 15 you would be dead or doing life in the gulags.

They never took you to a funeral and told you: that is you in a few years. They never took you to the gulags to visit those who are buried alive. Have they told you that an early death or lifetime in prison was your future? Odds are that you would have run away ASAP. Thus, at the age of 20, 30, or even 60 years old, one must truly awaken to the reality of our predicament and analyze the contradictions of one's slavery. So that we can shake off the old chains that bind us to a lost cause. One must evolve and think outside the box. It is the 21st Century, our families need us out there.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Lumpen organizations (LOs) in the united $tates are usually organizations of the most economically marginalized of the oppressed in this country. Elsewhere comrades have spoke about the difference between the Neo-Colonial Lumpen Organization (NLO) and the LO. The experience of the above comrade reflects the practice of the NLO. But the LOs in general have both capitalistic and collective/nationalist aspects to them. And those that embrace the collective aspect (usually in a revolutionary nationalist way), can evolve to become Political Mass Organizations (PMOs).(1) So while we struggle with comrades in LOs to move in the direction of becoming a PMO, the above story is a common one in California as SNY has come to represent one third of prisoners in recent years.(2)

This comrade also touches on the national question and national identity in Aztlán. The fact that those of Mexican descent born within U.$. borders are so likely to identify as Mexicanos speaks to the national contradiction between the Amerikan settler and the colonized territory of Aztlán. As this comrade also recognizes we refer to those born north of the U.$.-Mexico border as [email protected] The recognition of a [email protected] nation deeply connected to, but separate from Mexico, was the outcome of the struggles of revolutionary nationalists and communists in the 1960s organizing Raza in the southwest. For those interested in this topic you should check out [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group. This book is available to prisoners for $10, or work trade.

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[Abuse] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 57]
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CCI Programs Cut, Money Wasted

Revolutionary Greetings Comrades @ MIM & ULK with a special salute to UFFP.

Californian Correctional Officers' beginning career wages are the highest in the U.S. at a whooping $48,000, with the prospect of earning nearly $80,000 annually when reaching the top pay grade.(1) They receive 640 hours of training, and an 8-month probationary period for each and every new recruit. I don't believe the average citizen who pays taxes would approve of how they don't run the daily prison program on a regular basis. In essence getting paid well for clocking into work just to sit in office areas and do nothing until it's time to clock out.

I'm writing this specifically in relation to practices at California Correctional Institution (CCI). Today is 18 April 2017 and a part of our program has been taken for no given reason 71 times just this year since January, not including a 9-day facility lockdown for the misplacement of one set of tweezers. The tweezers were lost in PIA [job site], which disrupted college courses and furthered this lockdown culture. I've spent 7 years on Level 4s where violence was a regular occurrence and those yards received less lockdown and program cancellations than this peaceful low-to-no violence yard. With a month plus of complete lockdown if one calculates partial lockdown, plus 9 building lockdowns where the rest of the yard is programming yet Building #1 Correctional Officers have decided not to run program without a given explanation. I feel tax payers would like to know how their money is being spent, many of them making far less than these Correctional Officers to do much more.

One has only to think about the mental and physical effects that are rooted in being locked in a 6 by 8 by 9 feet cell with another human for over 16 hours a day for months, even years, at a time under the pretense that the Department of Corrections is using the rehabilitation model, which was initiated in the 1930s and states that it is a model of corrections that emphasizes the need to restore a convicted offender to a constructive place in society through some form of vocational or educational training or therapy. (Cole, Smith & De Jong, "Criminal Justice in America 8th Edition." 2015, pp 328, 362) This is one of my college courses this semester and all previous citing is from the textbook.

Isolationistic practices are shown to have double negative effects on captives in regard to their social skills and behavior. This is due to the unnaturalness of long periods in isolation, captives become more agitated when expecting program i.e. readying themselves to go out of cell for yard, dayroom, school, and self help then without notice they cancel program without saying nothing. This is unique to CCI because at all other prisons the building COs let population know there will be no program. I write this even after talking to Sara L. Smith, Ombudsman, in person and 2nd Watch Sgt. Bart about this ongoing issue. Both responded it would be dealt with, yet two days in a row partial program has been cut with three in-house COs i.e. 2 on the floor plus one in control booth.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Under capitalism, the criminal injustice system is primarily concerned with enforcing the conditions that allow for profit. For colonized nations, this means repression and imprisonment to maintain the colonial relationship. Therefore, reforming people is rarely the focus. And how could it be, when there are no efforts made to address the causes of anti-social behavior in the first place, which include the dog-eat-dog culture of capitalism?

Unfortunately, the settler nations (like Amerika) are so bought into this system of oppression that they have little concern for the $80k a year their tax money might be paying some CO to sit around. That is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the bombs being dropped on Syrians right now. One Tomahawk missile, made by Raytheon Co., costs $1.59 million.(2) In the U.$. attack on a Syrian air field a couple weeks ago (6 April 2017), they used 59 Tomahawk missiles. Yet, according to multiple polls, a majority of Amerikans supported that attack.(3) And they have a long history of supporting huge military spending to kill people around the world. We find it unlikely that they will be moved by the money being spent to keep a large, idle lumpen population in prisons. It is up to those affected by the criminal injustice system to do something to stop this madness creating more madness.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 56]
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Thoughts on Unity and Alliances

I believe that having alliances with lines that are military minded is somewhat dangerous to the united front. First and foremost, I do believe in armed struggle, but building public opinion on imperialism and moving toward communism as the ultimate goal to end all oppression is key. Some lumpen orgs or nationalists might criticize MIM(Prisons) on their line. But truth be told we must study the history of the Cultural Revolution in China, which gives us the best way to move toward socialism, ending in communism. It also allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Amerikkka targets lumpen orgs, and nationalist groups. So alliance with a militia group might jeopardize the united front. And once the imperialist policies place everyone in one basket who they feel are a threat, they will place them in prisons or worse eliminate them as what happened to many BPP members in the late 1960s. So, I must say comrades, that MIM(Prisons)'s approach with study groups and challenging all comrades to study history and dialectical materialism prepares us to use public opinion to change the minds of the lumpens and all those who are oppressed.

What good is guns if you don't know who the enemy truly is? By enemy I mean, just going up against amerikkka's army is not enough. The enemy is the system which must be changed. Guns with no vision or discipline is suicide to the united front. The best weapon in the struggle is unity, and armed struggle is also important. But each one teach one is the method to awakening the masses on how capitalism destroys lives.

Once the American people become self-reliant and help their fellow man and stop supporting this economic monster (capitalism-imperialism) then hopefully through public opinion and democratic centralism we can achieve the goal we all want which is communism.

As for snitches, there are different levels of snitching. But I will not allow a person in my circle who I know has the tendencies to crack under pressure. I mean those individuals who work for the prison administration, receiving goods in order to cause chaos. They would go so far as telling prison officials that you are sharing revolutionary material and having your books confiscated.

Even on the outside you have to be careful aligning with rats who will jeopardize the united front in order to demoralize and cause dissociation. But as long as those who represent the militant side of fighting oppression can agree that we must use strategy and wait for the right time to strike the imperialist monsters, I'm all for it. But if militants feel as though focoism is their aim, I'm all out. Educate the poor and oppressed first, to show them the real enemy. And there needs to be a change in habits and consciousness so that we will not allow materialistic ideology to control us.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the risks of allying with those who are engaging in military actions now. We agree with em that focoism is not the right strategy. But the value of a united front is that we can disagree on this point of strategy in terms of the right time for armed struggle, but still unite in our fight against imperialism. We can work with these organizations while struggling with them over these points if such struggle seems fruitful. We do not need to have complete agreement on points of strategy in order to work together in a united front. We would also want to keep these groups at arms' length for the simple fact that advocating armed struggle now is a known tactic cops use to wreck a movement from within.

But beyond the question of uniting without complete theoretical agreement, this writer is arguing that it is too risky to unite with focoists because their premature military action could bring down the whole united front. This is certainly a risk we need to consider. Groups within the UF have the autonomy to act independently of the group, and so some may engage in actions that others disagree with. While we wouldn't automatically exclude focoists from a UF based on their political line, this comrade is correct to warn that we need to stay vigilant about actions that present a risk to our work and to our organization.

At the same time, resistors of all stripes, even those who aren't focoist, bring down repression from the state. Even anti-imperialist academics and people working in electoral politics are harassed, and murdered, by the state when their words are too effective. One could also argue that the frivolous security practices of other groups will jeopardize the UF. We have to find a balance between putting ourselves out there, and getting the work done.

We can't make up easy rules to answer to this contradiction. Instead everyone has to evaluate alliances based on the circumstances and current situation.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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ACA Review a Joke, Support Prisoners Organizing on the Ground

This is an open letter to all you advocates and activists who are at war with the prison system. The American Corrections Association (ACA) has done their two-stage, once in a decade, onsite prison review beginning in January 2017 ending in March 2017. They've posted memos to the effect of talking to prisoners and performing audits to better use monies towards treatment and rehabilitational programs. Well at California Correctional Institution (CCI) this is a joke, especially of the level 3 yard where there is no accountability on safety issues.

There are no cameras on yard nor in buildings that would hold Correctional Staff to a higher level of accountability on the lines of brutality waged against prisoners. This brutality is covered up too often by collusion between Correctional Officers in reporting of incidents which comes down to their words against prisoners' with no physical evidence to support because there are no surveillance cameras. This is a black site operation, period. There exists no accountability when it comes to enforcement practices. Correctional employees are given full discretion and are supported fully by a Gestapo Culture with no checks and balances from outside authorities. This is including the ACA, who only talked to 2% of the prison population, and those were selected by this administration, i.e. Correctional Staff.

There is no accountability on the running of programs, which means anything from dayroom, yard, school, vacations, or even jobs. At the same time there is no program and no movement, prisoners walk to medical lines, walk to chow, go to self help groups, etc. No matter what the weather is they are required to walk to and from just to lock themselves back into their living quarters, i.e. cells. The ACA didn't assist prisoners to get assignment cards for going to college classes onsite nor through mail even though they know these participants miss at least 9 hours a week from yard and dayroom, at the same time providing assignment cards to prisoners in GED courses. Though the institution is making money from these new college onsite classes of which I myself am in, earning 6 credits for 2 classes this semester and enrolled in both summer and winter courses. Yet, I am not able to go outside on the weekend to get fresh air so I now get outside rec and fresh air less than my brothers and sisters in the SHU. The American Correctional Association is there for a waste of tax payers' money.

Blame is put on the prisoners for most that continues to occur here to be absolutely honest, because most of them fail to study the rules, are rule breakers and have terrible conduct creating negative attention. Once more I must state in complete truth, that all levels of staff have treated me with respect, I haven't gotten any write up, never assaulted on any level by any level of Correctional Staff. Quite the opposite has happened to me. I've initiated my own services, I've signed up and am currently going to college, I had constructive conversations with all levels of Correctional Staff. At the same time I've read the Title 15 and re-read it several times complying with every law and rule. I've communicated with complete respect at all times with prisoners and prison staff of all levels and walks of life.

This is written for the purpose of exciting advocates to get involved with pro-social programs in person, to let them know that the ACA and many other organizations are rip-offs and monies would effect more positive change if and when it goes directly to the prison and prisoners who are willing to take advantage of all pro-social programming. That those who are doing the work to create better futures by learning in college or vocational skill learning should receive beneficial treatment and be allowed to go to yard on weekends and holidays even days that they are off. We need advocates to sound the bell for us ensuring that we are treated with favorable treatment, so that we are not being punished for attempting to get ahead.

A Socialist and Conscious Comrade

MIM(Prisons) responds: We've been watching the great progress of organizers at CCI with interest and excitement over the last year. But playing by the rules does not generally pan out so well for prisoners across the United $tates engaged in postive organizing along the lines of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). In one recent example, the United Kage Brothers have been denied the ability to form an official organization by the CDCR at Pelican Bay State Prison. And this is why the UFPP stresses INDEPENDENCE as one of the 5 principles. If local staff are supportive of your efforts that is great. And there is plenty reason for them to be supportive of a safer work environment. But we also must not build or organizing in a way that is dependent on the whims of the state, which has a general principle of opposing the organizing of the oppressed.

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