Fighting STG Status Using Courts and Elections
As a leader of United Struggle from Within (USW) and the Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) I have a lot of problems organizing with the lumpen proletariat because they don't want any trouble with the pigs and I have been transferred 10 times in this 8.5 years of my imprisonment, but the struggle still goes on! The Security Threat Group (STG) status is moving to every state complex in the empire.
I was reading Under Lock & Key No. 41 and it was saying in many articles by comrades that they are being put on STG status for no reason and they can not put up a defense and they aren't getting any yard time. This is both constitutional violations and human rights violations. The 8th amendment violation of cruel and unusual punishment; and the 14th amendment violations without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states:
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners approved by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council by resolutions 663 (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977:
Exercise and Sport
21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.
Information to and complaints by prisoners
35. (1) Every prisoner on admission shall be provided with written information about the regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of his category, the disciplinary requirements of the institution, the authorized methods of seeking information and making complaints, and all such other matters as are necessary to enable him to understand both his rights and his obligations and to adapt himself to the life of the institution.
(2) If a prisoner is illiterate, the aforesaid information shall be conveyed to him orally.
36. (1) Every prisoner shall have the opportunity each week day of making requests or complaints to the director of the institution or the officer authorized to represent him.
(2) It shall be possible to make requests or complaints to the inspector of prisons during his inspection. The prisoner shall have the opportunity to talk to the inspector or to any other inspecting officer without the director or other members of the staff being present.
(3) Every prisoner shall be allowed to make a request or complaint, without censorship as to substance but in proper form, to the central prison administration, the judicial authority or other proper authorities through approved channels.
(4) Unless it is evidently frivolous or groundless, every request or complaint shall be promptly dealt with and replied to without undue delay.
A lot of prisoners don't understand that they have a lot of political power if they know how to use it, like getting our families, friends and associates connected to the prisoner advocate organizations in their states because political power to change conditions of prisons has to start with us first because we are the ones doing time. Our people and citizens have power in their voting blocks with issues that can demand change in prisons' operations. Prisoners have to put their interests first.
People vote their Senators and Representatives into office at election time and they can vote them out of office as well. These are the people who are supposed to represent the interests of the people in the state legislature and the federal Congress. But if people don’t bring their issues to them how can they properly represent them? We prisoners must become politically conscious of the system of local, state and federal government.
A lot of prisoners don't know that this is the time for change in the prison system, the prisoner advocates movement is very strong right now, and states' governments are seeking ways to save money because it cost states a lot more money to run maximum prisons then lower security prisons. Prisoners are truly going to have to learn their Constitutional rights, because in order for a person to have any kind of rights they are going to have to learn them first. Then you can protect them.
It's a damn shame that the Afrikan nation's ancestors fought and died for their rights and in the 21st century the Afrikan nation has become ignorant of their rights and struggles that we have been going through for the last 400 years of oppression and exploitation. This subject matter of STG can be put in the form of a petition and then filed as a class action lawsuit against these corrupt DOCs for not having a system of redress for being placed on STG status, etc. Prisoners are going to have to stand up for their rights and fight this evil and corrupt system of the prison DOCs across the country, because this same STG system is put in place everywhere.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The 8th and 14th Amendment claims this comrade refers to were the heart of the recent lawsuit in California that ended in a weak settlement. So on the one hand this is right on track, but on the other the PLC must study and learn from what happened in California to do better in other states.
By knowing our legal rights and understanding the law, we can challenge abuse and corruption, both through grievances and then in the courts when the grievance system fails. This particular campaign against STG is important to the ability of the oppressed to organize and escape extreme torture, and is therefore an important one to continue. The legal battle is only a small part of our current strategy because the legal system is a part of the criminal injustice system overall and so it will never provide justice for the oppressed. Any legal victories we do have will likely require mass organizing before hand, and will definitely require mass organizing to enforce afterwards.
Ultimately, we won't change the system through the courts. Similarly we don't focus on elections because we know that the imperialists won't allow people in positions of power who really work in the interests of the oppressed. And the majority of Amerikans do have a vested interest in the existing system of oppression: they support "tough on crime" measures and don't want to see prisoners' conditions improved. So even if relatives of prisoners all try to vote for change, they are unlikely to even find good options on the ballot.
Amerika uses prisons as a tool of social control, and the lumpen who are targeted for this repression are a minority among the mostly privileged classes within U.$. borders. For this reason we will never fundamentally change the system by working within their elections and their courts. We can take up tactically winnable battles, like these that are connected to the basic rights promised in the U.$. Constitution. But we should not mislead people into thinking that anything short of a revolution is required for liberation of the oppressed.