As an anarchist prisoner, it has been said many times that one can learn a great deal about society by looking towards its prisons. Look towards its dungeons and there you will see in concentrated and microcosmic form the sickness of the entire system. And today there is something that is particularly revealing about the analogy between the prison and the larger society of which it is a reflection. For in a painfully real sense, we are all prisoners of a society whose bombastic proclamations of freedom and justice for all are nothing but meaningless rhetoric.
In our society today, we are surrounded by the very wealth and scientific achievements which hold forth a promise of freedom. Freedom is so near, yet at the same time it is so far away. This thought invokes in me the same sensation I feel while awaiting my release in prison in a few short months while enduring the conditions of the past 46 years of incarceration.
From my cell, I am eagerly awaiting to join the movement of my fellow comrades with the freedom of space which was taken from me while in captivity. The conditions in the here and now of all races on the streets bears a striking resemblance to the conditions in the prisons I have been in and at the present moment in my life. The wealth and technology around us tells that a free, humane, harmonious society lies near. But at the same time, it is so far away because someone is holding the keys and that someone refuses to open the gates to freedom. Like all prisoners, locked up with the ugliness of racism and poverty and wars and all the attendant mental frustrations and manipulations. We’re also locked up with our dreams and visions of freedom, and with the knowledge that if we only had the keys – if we could only seize them from our keepers, the oil companies, automotive manufacturers, all the giant corporations, and of course from their yellow belly protectors, the government. If we could only get our hands on those keys, we could transform these visions and these dreams into reality. Our situation bears a very excruciating similarity to my situation as a prisoner, we must never forget this. For if we do, we will lose our desire for freedom and our will to struggle for liberation.
This place destroys the logical processes of the mind if a man loses hope in humanity. A man’s thoughts can become completely disorganized. The noise, the madness streaming from every throat, frustrated sounds from the cells, from the walls, the guards’ keys, the iron doors opening and slamming shut, the hollow sound of a cast iron sink, a toilet, the smells, the human waste thrown, unwashed bodies of the mentally broken, the rotten food. Relief is so distant that it is very easy to lose hope. And the guards with the carbines, and their Maglite clubs and tear gas are ever present to preserve the terror, to preserve it at any cost.
This terror in prison life, the sociopolitical function of prisons today, is about a self-perpetuating system of terror. Prisons are political weapons. They function as means of containing elements in this society which threatens the stability of a larger system.
In prisons, people who are actually or potentially disruptive of the status quo are confined, contained and punished, and in some cases forced to undergo psychological treatment by mind altering drugs. This is happening. The prison system is a weapon of repression. The government views all races, especially the younger generation as potentially the most rebellious elements of this society today. And thus, the jails and prisons of our society are overflowing with our generation of all social genders. Anyone who has seen the streets and ghettos can already understand how easily a sister or brother can fall victim to the police who are always there en masse.
Tens of thousands of prisoners have never been convicted of any crime they’re simply there, victims – they’re there under the control of insensitive, incompetent, and often blatantly racist public defenders who insist they plead guilty even though they know their client is just as innocent as they are. And for those who have committed a crime, we have to seek out the root cause. And we seek out this cause not in them as individuals, but in the capitalist system that produces the need for crime in the first place.
The materially hungry must steal to survive, and the spiritually hungry commit antisocial acts because their human needs cannot be met in a property-oriented state. It is a fair estimate to say that somewhere around 90% of crimes committed would not be considered crimes or would not occur in a people-orientated society.
Someone recently asked me what my name is. I answered that I am a revolutionary. What is my crime? I was born a freedom fighter. How long have you been in? Since the day I was born.
My life revolves around resisting government and authoritarians who violate the rights of humanity and animals. I have been saved to uplift my people, the innocent and to be free to free all the beautiful people that are struggling along with me. All of our brothers and sisters must live and struggle together against the terrible realities of the fascist governments that try to imprison our society to elevate their political agendas to control our society.
My freedom was achieved as a massive peoples struggle that kept me united with comrades that kept me strong and with hope for my release from tyrant confinement in three months after 46 years. It was the people that seized the keys, young people, Black, brown, Asian, Native American and white people, students and workers. They opened the gates to bring more sisters and brothers to join the ranks of our struggle for freedom.