C. Landrum, The Rock v. 2 #2, February 2013
A PBSP-generated memo dated December 10, 2012, was circulated throughout the pods addressing both current and additional demands. How much more obvious can it be?! The state has essentially been stringing us along like a puppy on a chain, conceding and occasional crumb along the way in an effort to pacify and distract us, and ultimately dividing us into opposing camps. As convenient as it may be, let’s not allow ourselves to be further deceived with self-delusions of grandeur. These concessions are not victories to be celebrated without constraint, except within the most extreme limitation. They are in fact just merely some of the ‘rights’ that we have long been entitled to.
The overwhelming majority of those of us subjected to a life sentence of indeterminate sensory deprivation are for nonpunitive administrative purposes, and are therefore entitled to the same ‘rights and privileges’ as those in general population, so long as they do not pose a threat to the safety or security of the institution. Although this ‘right’ exists only in the abstract.
Our efforts to seek relief and improve the quality of our conditions by utilizing the administrative (602) and judicial (lawsuits) avenues available to us, time and time again both prisoncrats and judges alike have worked hand-in-glove using this excuse of safety and security concerns to perpetuate our oppression.
And now we are demanding more concessions in addition to those already insisted upon—none of which have anything to do with our most essential issues of eliminating our endless isolation. And prisoncrats respond to our growing demands not in their usual way with the expected “no”, but instead they are quick to string us further along on artifi cial hope cultivated with empty statements such as, “We’ll look into it”, “When the budget passes”, “At our next meeting”, etc., etc. And rather than adjust our course to meet the needs of our struggle, we mechanically apply the same rigid tactic, like a stencil superimposed upon the changing conditions of our needs, and make more irrelevant demands.
The state is all too willing to haggle over secondary issues with us, issues that will have no fundamental effect on our long term isolation. The more we preoccupy ourselves with these non-essential issues, the further we stray from the decisive issues of social-extermination. But of greater signifi cance, our success or failure, hinges upon our ability to distinguish the difference between a strategy and a tactic that supplements it, something we have failed abysmally to do. This is a necessity in order to formulate a correct strategy capable of meeting the needs that will bring us one step closer to eliminating social-extermination. So allow me to reiterate once again as we have done many times over.
A strategy seeks to abolish the source of a given phenomenon “internal cause”, whereas a tactic addresses the “external side effects” that manifest from an internal source.
How many times will it take before we come to our senses and internalize this simple, yet decisively fundamental lesson? How many more convicts must die unnecessarily in a pointless effort to alleviate a symptom while ignoring its source? Or will we continue chasing our tails until the prison masses become so psychologically exhausted and defeated that all confi dence in the collective struggle is depleted? Elevating the political consciousness of the convict masses is a safeguard that inoculates us against defeatism and the concerns currently raised, many of which are now raising their head as a result of initiating our struggle prematurely.
Although it may appear to be in good condition externally, a blown motor is incapable of being repaired with a new paint job. Our efforts to eliminate the validation policy as a vehicle to abolish socialextermination, is in fact a tactical issue that we have incorrectly pursued as a strategic solution. Eliminating the validation process—or program failure, the step down S.T.G. for that matter—only creates a new necessity for the state to simply manufacture a new pseudo-justifi cation for keeping us isolated and locked quietly away down a long, dimly lit corridor.
We failed to draw this lesson from the Castillo case, but we immediately identifi ed our primary mistake and addressed it in depth in our analytical and preparatory outline, the “Road Ahead and the Dialectics of Change.” But for reasons potentially self-defeating—infl ated egos, self-interest, feigned indifference, etc., this essentially decisive issue, and other pertinent ones, were consciously side-lined and ignored despite the pamphlet’s wide distribution [This pamphlet was also printed in a
past issue of Prison Focus – Ed Mead], and personal discussion with some of the current leadership. To consciously neglect the obvious, has and continues to cost us dearly, both in the lives of our fellow convicts, and in unnecessary and avoidable mistakes.
The state’s capacity to isolate us indefinitely stems not from any one specific policy, be it program failure, the validation process, or the S.T.G step down program, etc., but from the fact that sensory deprivation facilities exist. So long as the SHU, Ad-Seg, Stand-Alone, ASU, Z-Unit, etc., remain intact as they currently do, one excuse only needs to be replaced by another in order for the state to perpetuate the continuity of its subtle practice of social-extermination.
As litigation neared the judicial conclusion of the Castillo case, the CDC feared a potential defeat, and so like candy, began to hand out indeterminate SHU terms for having served prior SHU terms and failure of program, i.e., “program failure.” Although, when we ultimately failed to secure a fundamental victory and overturn the validation process, program failure demonstrated to be an unnecessary alternative to substitute the validation process and perpetuate indefi nite isolation. And it was at this particular point of development that the state immediately refrained from its substitution practice. The lesson we failed to draw from all of this was likely the most obvious as well! The CDC never entertained the notion of reducing the SHU population. They would simply manufacture a new excuse, should circumstances necessitate. But as we addressed, this proved unnecessary as a result of their victory and the validation process was suffi cient to continue the slow and subtle practice of state-sanctioned social extermination.
We initiated our current struggle with a repeat of the same mistake for the second time. And now, remaining fatefully loyal to the continuity of our practice, we secured both a victory, and a defeat simultaneous, as a result of pursuing our fallacious tactic for a third time! We eliminated the validation process, although failing to eliminate social-extermination, we instead inherited the CDC’s latest excuse used to isolate us indefi nitely—the STG step down program.
Forget the pseudo-justifications used, be it program failure, validation, the STG step down program, or any potential excuse, eliminating one label will only insure its replacement by another label. These excuses and justifi cations that are manufactured by the prisoncrats and the labels they use, are side-effects that manifest from an internal source, that being the isolation units. We must transform the isolation units from within and eliminate their capacity of sensory deprivation, and in doing so, we would render all of their excuses—old and new—both obsolete and impractical. We must appeal to the international community of the U.N., and the domestic community, and in a political context challenge our legal and human rights, according to those established by the General Assembly of the U.N.
Social intercourse with others is a necessity to feed, clothe, shelter, and procreate, in order to perpetuate our species. Seeking out the company of others is a genetic drive programmed within our DNA, and in the process of social intercourse, our personalities as distinct individuals is shaped and molded, giving us our identities. To socially isolate and deprive us of social contact is to dehumanize us and destroy our identity as distinct personalities. A life of both social isolation and sensory deprivation is an unnatural state of existence artificially imposed upon a essentially social animal. Such conditions of social isolation amounts to nothing less that “social-extermination”—keeping us alive biologically as living, breathing, empty vessels, devoid of all social content—a socially engineered lobotomy.
This is as much of our human right as it is a phenomena of political economy, and only in the political theater can this be fought effectively. Only in this political context is there potential to resuscitate and cultivate our identity, and politically collective identity. We must establish our ‘right’ to social intercourse, which would serve as the vehicle to install tables (two), phones, exercise bars (designed and fabricated by convicts), cellies , etc., day-room (8 man minimum) to facilitate social-intercourse. “Limited association” must be our primary demand!
So much has been left unaddressed. It would require another pamphlet to address all of the relevant issues, ideological, economic, a philosophic guide forming strategic and tactical matters, participation of general population and its interests, the role of S.N.Y. and solid yards, weights, family visits, minimum wage, and other possibilities. But what’s absolutely necessary is an adjustment in our current in our current course. And if necessary, we should consider pursuing the demand for “limited association” with a small, politically conscious, and dedicated, group of volunteer H. strikers (ten, fi fteen, maybe 20?) to proceed in pairs until expiration if necessary with a replacement pair on standby. Media outlets, public, etc. could be provided with pre-written statements, interviews, photos, etc. with the initiation of each pair. This tactic would not only allow us to present to the public a human face on our struggle and develop support, it would prevent the media from diluting itself between several thousand others who at this stage participate more from a sense of obligation than political conviction—a trend that we must also struggle to reverse.