Title: "Still" in Solidarity from Solitary!
Greetings Comrades. With another year for us to stand in solidarity during the National Prisoner Strike, I am often asked "why" I continue to strike and "what" it all means anyways? Does it really make a difference? With decades of Practice the U.S. Criminal "Injustice" System is very skilled at frustrating people to weaken movements towards justice, progress, and revolution. So I would like to take this opportunity to enlighten those in the dark about a few things -- mainly why we strike.
You see I first started learning about the struggles of being oppressed from my mother who single-handedly raised me and my siblings in a low-income household throughout my childhood. We were homeless a number of times and the system didn't provide any positive alternatives for us. Instead all the so-called programs they provided was to keep us dependent on them and remain in the revolving door of helplessness. I learned early that we were living in a broken system, so when I graduated from elementary to penitentiary, I realized that prison was an extension of that system. The inhumane treatment of inmates, lack of positive programs, and prisoner convict labor that's implemented by the 13th Amendment is another revolving door of helplessness and a pathway to this big house of recidivism. Since I can remember I've always had a natural rebellious reflex for injustices dealt to people so when I witnessed first-hand the oppression caused by the prison industrial complex, I knew I had to join the National Prisoner Strike Movement and help bring awareness. Despite my peaceful involvements, I've been placed on close management solitary for 18 months due to my solidarity but even so I continue to educate myself and strategize plans for the struggle ahead. I have come far in my journey of self-development and social awareness that I am confident I may someday be able to greatly assist in positive community efforts towards prison reform. The tremendously wonderful outside support I have gained has thus encouraged me to peacefully share with brothers on the inside. I believe that constant exposure to oppression is what leads people inside and out to make the struggle their own.
On the flip side, while most people understand and can comprehend the very conditions of oppression they still will show no signs of resistance to the ill forces of the oppressor. "What differences will it make anyways" is the common opinion. In prison, for example, it literally will be a couple of us who will stand up to injustices or if a C.O. blatantly disrespects and/or mistreats another inmate. In one way we are doing the whole prisoner population a service by defending people and not letting the gestapo get away with anything (*despite the retaliation obviously*). On the other hand we could be enabling peoples inaction because we're doing the work for them. They're thinking: "hard work never killed anybody but why take the chance." It is peculiar to me that most times the brother that is being disrespected or mistreated will not stand up for hisself, but will not hesitate to bring harm to the next brother if he even so happens to look at him wrong. When like-minded people like myself try to bring awareness to such inmates and try to impress upon them a particular concept or an idea, they become negative and close-minded. Some may even become argumentative and want to express their viewpoint in order to appear like they know what is correct.
To that my comrades, I say this: there are those who may feel inadequate in certain areas that they feel are too complicated so they may tend to act that way approaching them from angles of particular interest is something to think about. One major thing I would adapt about the approach would be to see these brothers as friends rather than adversaries. We have no interest in enlightening people without any opposition, and we certainly can't believe that people who are uneducated about the inner workings of the P.I.C know absolutely nothing. They might not be educated by bourgeois institutions or even in political philosophy or history, but imprisoned masses have a lifetime of experience in living oppressed in a fascist government and I am one of them. Rather than knocking people down to be receptive to our wisdom, let's help open people up and learn together through this tactic. You may very well pique their interest in a profound way, and help them become receptive and open-minded to knowledge and understanding about the revolutionary change. This is the greater reality for us who do not fear repercussions of being a part of the movement, because we believe prison reform...or at best a society without mass incarceration... is possible. On that note, here is why we strike! The ten demands are...
#1.) Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
#2.) An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
#3.) The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
#4.) The truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to death by incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
#5.) An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over sentencing and parole denials of black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white which is a particular problem in southern states.
#6.) An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting black and brown humans.
#7.) No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
#8.) State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
#9.) Pell grants must be reinstated in all U.S. states and territories.
#10.) The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pre-trial detainees, and so-called "ex-felons" must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
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