We are currently [5 November 2013] on lockdown since 29 October 2013 and each housing facility on D facility is being thoroughly searched due to an isolated "threat to staff" and weapon being found here on the SNY yard.
On 26 June 2013, while being interviewed by Lieutenant C. Waddle concerning the improper cross-gender and group strip searches of transgender inmates, Lt. Waddle fabricated a spurious disciplinary charge of "illegal sex acts" with my cellmate, which Sergeant M. Jones wrote in a falsified report. Two days later I was placed in ASU [isolation] and given an additional RVR for simply notifying Lt. Waddle of specific transgender housing and safety concerns by her intentionally rehousing me with a homophobic inmate!
Black & Pink has led an advocacy campaign, with letters of protest to Warden M.D. Biter and CDCR Secretary Jeffery Beard, concerning the sexual harassment and retaliation I have experienced at Kern Valley State Prison.
When I filed a property appeal for items lost during the above incidents, I was subjected to more retaliation, a punitive cell search and RVR disciplinary action for "Falsifying records and documents," by Sergeant D. Williams and Correctional Officer Walinga. This also was witnessed by my cellmate.
I believe that things may improve in the immediate future as a result of my appeals, but I have suffered irreparable harm in my struggle for equality and liberation. 602 appeals are currently pending in Sacramento.
MIM(Prisons) adds: While all prisoners (both male and female) are in a position of subjugation that leads to gender oppression while they are locked up, gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners face additional harassment, abuse, and oppression. As we discussed in our review of The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, fighting gender oppression in prison is part of the battle against imperialism in general. We have seen some recent examples of growing awareness and unity around this struggle, and we will continue to publicize these battles and educate prisoners on gender oppression in general. For more reading on gender, write to us to request a copy of MIM Theory 2/3.
Of all the agencies and offices I filed the California grievance petition with, only the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation bothered to respond. They only issued form letters disclaiming any responsibility for further investigation, and simply redirected me back to the same dysfunctional process that I had complained of!
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is clear that the U.$. Department of Injustice and the CDCR won't back up their words to give administrative remedy to prisoners with actions when they discover the process isn't working. In fact, it's to their benefit if the grievance system is broken so that they won't have to actually deal with the problems that arise in the prison system. This ensures their control over oppressed nations peoples.
The prisoner who received these defeating form letters asked for more copies of the petition in the same letter. S/he recognizes that the response from the bureaucrats isn't the be-all-end-all goal of the grievance petition. We want to show that if we ask nicely for a solution, we will be given the brush off. We also want to use this petition to recruit others into doing political work, even if it's just sending out the petition to a few administrators. Hopefully this action will be a simple beginning to a long history of contribution to the struggle against oppression.
We currently have grievance petitions prepared for California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina, and Texas. If you're experiencing obstructions of your grievance procedure but your state isn't currently covered by the grievance campaign, consider modifying it to apply to your state! Write in for more info, or to get petitions.
In making a determination of what organizing strategy and tactical approach will be most effective in achieving the revolutionary goals of a political vanguard, we must first conduct a dialectical analysis of our strategic objectives. Thus, we begin our examination with an overall look at our political line. What are our general positions and our main objectives? Which of these should be given priority? What tactics will best advance the struggle for liberation, justice, and equality?
In the United $tates, the most oppressed groups are prisoners, First Nations, and sexual minorities/wimmin. Therefore, it is these specific groups to which I give priority and focus here. [We have excluded the author's analysis of First Nations to focus this article. - Editor] How can we better organize these groups? What tactics have worked in the past?
The Congress Report 2010 by MIM(Prisons) makes no mention of wimmin or LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Transgender, Queer) prisoners, or of issues and projects specifically affecting these groups.(1) As a transgender revolutionary feminist prisoner, and a USW comrade, I feel that the absence or exclusion of these oppressed groups from the discussion is of significant concern. Whenever MIM(Prisons) is confronted on the issue of gender, it merely refers to the old back issue of MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism. But what is being done now, today, in regards to gender oppression and the advancement of revolutionary feminism within the ranks of MIM(Prisons)?
The concept of principal contradiction comes from dialectical materialism, which says that everything can be divided into opposing forces.(2) The revolutionary feminist struggle against patriarchy is by no means secondary to the principal contradiction in the world today between imperialist countries and the oppressed nations they exploit. Sartre has observed that: "if the feminist struggle maintained its ties with the class struggle, it could shake a society in a way that would completely overturn it."(3)
The struggle for gender equality also includes transgender wimmin and other sexual minorities. The situation of transgender prisoners, particularly, is so vexing to prison administrators that the National Commission on Correctional Health Care has drafted a position statement titled "Transgender Health Care in Correctional Settings," which reads in part: "when determined to be medically necessary for a particular inmate, hormone therapy should be initiated and sex-reassignment surgery considered on a case-by-case basis."(4)
Transgender females, especially in prison, are often discriminated against and sexually abused in much the same way as biological wimmin, but far worse. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) has introduced a much needed piece of legislation, the Prison Abuse Remedies Act (PARA), which would end the widespread impunity enjoyed by prison officials when inmates are raped on their watch. It would change the worst parts of the PLRA, which makes it virtually impossible for prison rape survivors to seek redress in court.(5) Attorney General Eric Holder and Justice Department officials are dragging their feet on implementation of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission's recommended "Standards for the Prevention, Detection, Response, and Monitoring of Sexual Abuse in Detention," the deadline for which passed in June 2010.(6) In the meantime, more than 100,000 adults and youth continue to be sexually abused each year while imprisoned.(7)
In failing to discuss these issues, MIM(Prisons) has missed a great opportunity to revolutionize these oppressed groups and link their struggle to the overall anti-imperialist movement. This is a strategic and tactical mistake on our part, in my humble opinion.
Wimmin and the LGBTQ community are oppressed groups and potential revolutionary classes nearly on par with oppressed nations, particularly within the criminal "justice" system, and MIM(Prisons) must raise their level of importance on the list of priorities at least to the level of national liberation struggles and prisoners' struggle. This is in line with the Maoist theory of United Front and the expansion of the anti-imperialist struggle among lumpen organizations, as well as internationalist solidarity. Wimmin and Queers of the world, Unite!
PTT of MIM(Prisons) responds: In a discussion of what the principal contradiction is in the world today, and what role feminism plays in that contradiction, let's first clearly define what a "principal contradiction" is:
"There are many contradictions in the process of development of a complex thing, and one of them is necessarily the principal contradiction whose existence and development determine or influence the existence and development of the other contradictions." - Mao, "On Contradiction"
Ending oppression is our goal. The struggle towards this goal in our current society is our "complex thing." It has many contradictions which are interacting with each other throughout the course of its development (we say gender, class and nation are the main three). Determining which contradiction is principal in the world today gives us a guide for how to organize and what issues to organize around. We determine which is the principal contradiction using a materialist (based in material reality) analysis of history. The principal contradiction is principal (and not secondary) because of the way its development will impact the development of other contradictions. We do not choose it, it is shown to us in history.
Establishing a principal contradiction is not a matter of deciding which struggles most affect us on a persynal or subjective basis. The principal contradiction is not the most subjectively important contradiction; it is the one we need to focus on because history has shown that it will bring the best results. As sympathizers with all oppressed peoples in the world, including wimmin and LGBTQ people, we hope to reach communism as fast as possible to minimize humyn suffering. But based on our study and analysis, we say that nation, and not gender, is the principal contradiction at this time in history, and we need to organize to push the national contradiction forward.
For example, and contrary to what Queen Boudicca claims, oppressed nations are far more oppressed by the criminal injustice system than biological wimmin. In 2009, men were 14 times more likely to go to state or federal prison than wimmin, while Black men were 6.5%[this incorrectly read percent] times more likely than white men.(1) The gender gap is bigger than the national gap, but in favor of oppressing biological men. To argue that bio-wimmin are more oppressed you're gonna have to base your argument somewhere else.
Our comrade does present here examples of the unique oppression faced by wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners in the United $tates. Yet, the form of solutions proposed are reformist at best and at worst the demands of the gender privileged. We must not focus on these examples of oppression in isolation, as a replacement for a scientific analysis of how development of the gender contradiction will affect other contradictions (namely nation) and our overall goals, as Queen Boudicca does.
Historically laws against rape have expanded, not combatted, gender privilege. Similarly the development of leisure time related medicine has largely benefited the gender privileged at the expense of the oppressed. The use of drugs related to depression and mood is a means of adapting to an oppressive system, or being forced to submit as is more clear in the prison environment. That said, we would encourage comrades to utilize antidepressants as a last resort if they are unable to put in work without them. The initiation of hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery could play similar roles as psychological aids to cope in an oppressive world. But when we are considering strategic battles on behalf of the oppressed, shutting down control units, for example, will have a much bigger influence on mental health while also developing the anti-imperialist struggle for prisoners as a group.
Under capitalism and imperialism, it is impossible for us to determine whether hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery are objectively medically necessary for all time or just useful as a crutch for people who are justifiably maladjusted to an imperialistic world. Sex has long been defined socially and not biologically for the humyn species. Under communism, when gender oppression is eradicated, and gender ceases to exist, will people still want to change their biology? These are questions we cannot answer until we get there. For now we encourage everyone who has a poor self-image and an unsatisfactory sex life to recognize these as products of capitalism and join the struggle toward world liberation.
There is a thorough analysis of how the gender struggle impacts our struggle for communism, and it is contained in the 208 page magazine titled MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism. While not new, it has a more updated assessment than Sartre, specifically in regards to the gender aristocracy. Queen Boudicca claims to have read and to uphold MT 2/3, but misses a main point that the struggles of First World wimmin generally lead to more national oppression here and throughout the world. Examples include the lynching of Black men as a trade for more gender privilege for white wimmin; the forced drug testing on Third World wimmin directly leading to an increase in the availability of birth control for First World wimmin; and the failed pseudo-feminist movement which has had no positive impact on the gender struggle for the majority of wimmin. It is true that we recommend MIM Theory 2/3 as the best starting point for why nation trumps gender as the principal contradiction.
Although nation is the principal contradiction in the world today, it still may be possible to organize wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners under the MIM umbrella against their own material interests as Amerikans. We believe that prisoners hold the most revolutionary potential within the United $tates, which is why we organize them. If Queen Boudicca is subjectively inspired to organize wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners specifically, then we would support h organizing these populations around MIM line. There are many roles to play in our struggle toward liberation and communism, and MIM(Prisons) can't fill them all. As a revolutionary feminist organization, MIM(Prisons) aims to end gender oppression as part of our struggle for communism, and we would welcome any group into the united front against imperialism that is willing to accept the political leadership of MIM Thought.
Queen Boudicca accuses MIM(Prisons) of not publishing articles about the issues she raises. Yet we have printed letters from this author in ULK, and dozens of other articles addressing gender issues from a uniquely Maoist perspective. In particular, our article from ULK 1 discusses how imprisonment rates of Black men make them more gender oppressed than white wimmin in the United $tates today. And ULK 6 is focused on gender and tackles everything from gay marriage to pornography to the effect of prisons on the family structure.
I'm writing in response to your Unlock the Box survey. in my 22 years of incarceration in California prisons I've spent over 13 years in control units.
While I cannot provide accurate statistical analysis that you request, or much historical background concerning some of these control units, I can at least tell you my personal observations from first hand experience.
California State Prison - Sacramento (aka New Folsom) Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU): I was first placed in this ASU in September 1991 for "inciting" (i.e. participation in an institution food strike protest by writing to the ACLU). The ASU back then consisted of A-facility, housing units 5,6, and 7 (with 8 sometimes used as overflow), with 64 cells in each unit at double cell capacity (except in isolated cases of "single cell" status).
I would say at least 50% of the control unit was, and usually is in any control unit, Latino, the other 50% is divided by varying degrees between Afrikans and Europeans, with a small percentage of "others" (i.e. Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc.). The most common reasons for ASU placement include assault on other inmates or staff, drug possession or trafficking, gang affiliation, enemy or safety concerns, weapons possession, or conspiracy investigations. Sometimes inmates are sent to ASU based on bogus confidential information or some other fabricated reason as a form of retaliation by prison officials.
As far as I know, this unit was first opened in 1985 or 86 as a Security Housing Unit (SHU) during the statewide crackdown on prison gangs. It has since been expanded to include a psychiatric Services Unit (PSU) in housing units 1-4 and a stand alone ASU building behind B-facility, with ASU-EOP in A-5, and ASU-CCCMS in B-4.
The state has recently implemented new control units in some prisons called the Behavioral Modification Unit (BMU), which I don't have much information on at this time. Additionally, most level 4 prisons have built separate "stand alone ASU" facilities which are modeled after Pelican Bay SHU to impose maximum sensory deprivation. In fact, these control units are worse than Pelican Bay SHU because of the deprivation of inmates televisions.
I was unable to finish reading ULK10 because I was motivated to begin this letter as a contribution to issue 12: Health Care. The front page article "Brutality Leads to Death" by a Texas prisoner describes an almost identical incident that happened here at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF, in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU).
On September 13, 2009, a prisoner's death occurred here in ASU Housing Unit 6, Cell 128. This prisoner died of a drug overdose, which is being blamed on one of the PM med nurses who was apparently fired and escorted off the grounds. At the same time, they are investigating another prisoner suspected of selling drugs to the prisoner. It should be noted that this unit has video surveillance security cameras.
The fact is, on August 4, 2009, a federal judicial panel found that the entire California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) was in violation of the Eighth Amendment rights of prisoners, that the prison health care system was inadequate and constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and that denial of adequate medical care caused at least one unnecessary death per week. In addition to the federal take over of the prison health care system, CDCR was ordered to reduce prison overcrowding by 40,000 prisoners within the next couple of years.
The most recent prisoner death can only be viewed as a criminally negligent homicide, caused not by the nurse or prisoners, but by the inhumane conditions and treatment we are subjected to every day in these disciplinary segregation units. Prisoners are stripped of all personal property and thrown in an empty cell without basic human necessities, are denied prescribed medications on a regular basis, and are ignored by custody and medical staff when they bang on the door and scream "man down" in the case of a medical emergency.
I have been confined in this ASU for nearly a year, because I "refused to double cell" with a non-compatible, sexually violent predator, a known rapist! As a Jailhouse Lawyer, I am currently pursuing two federal civil rights lawsuits for inhumane treatment, denial of due process and sex discrimination under patriarchy.
The relevance of the ongoing legal battles, deaths of prisoners, and prisoner resistance in relation to the larger anti-imperialist struggle is not lost on me. With all the hoopla about Obama's health care reform proposals in the liberal corporate-controlled media, one can't help but read between the lines and separate the real from the BS.
Let's keep it real, this health care reform will not include prisoners. Additionally, right-wing Republican legislators in congress are already raising a ruckus about inclusion of immigrants. Why not talk about the California prison health care crisis in these national debates? Or the billions of dollars being wasted in the imperialist Iraq war? Money used to commit mass murder to protect the rights of U.$. oil companies should instead be used to solve the economic and health care crises caused by capitalist greed and medical neglect in this country, and in the prison industrial complex! Revolution, not reform, is the only way to stop the oppression, mass murder, and health care neglect under U.$. imperialism.
The program of MIM(Prisons) promotes the "elimination of all oppression - the power of groups over other groups" and "independent institutions...to provide...medical care." Additionally, the MIM Platform states "Abolish the Amerikan prison system...prisoners who do not represent a violent threat to society will be relased." These are steps in the right direction. And so is the struggle against patriarchy and gender oppression!
I'm a 40 year old transgender prisoner activist. I've been held prisoner by the state of California for 20 years, including 10 years in Pelican Bay SHU and am currently confined to Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU), awaiting transfer to Tehachapi SHU for the past year.
I was initially placed in ASU for "refusing to double cell" and put in disciplinary segregation for objecting to random housing assignments with sexually violent predators because I am a transgender female on hormone therapy. I was placed in punitive, inhumane conditions, simply for exercising my constitutional right to personal safety.
Subsequently I was charged with "battery on a peace officer" for spitting on the lieutenant in ASU. Then I was physically assaulted by Correctional Officer Llamas, who falsified a report charging me with "battery on a peace officer" because I stuck my arm out of the food port on my cell door; he pepper-sprayed me and twisted my arm for demanding to see his supervisor.
I am an experienced jailhouse lawyer and am currently pursuing two federal civil rights lawsuits: 1) concerning medical neglect at Pleasant Valley State Prison, and 2) inhumane conditions and sex discrimination at RJDCF-ASU.