Holiday greetings to workers behind bars

January 2, 2023

New Year greetings to our readers behind bars!

The Militant will continue to tell the truth about the conditions you face and keep getting news about the struggles of working people worldwide into your hands. 2022 was quite a year! Millions took to the streets to defend themselves.

From the Ukrainian people’s courageous defense of their nation’s sovereignty against Moscow’s invasion, to working people inside Russia who are protesting the war. From working people and youth in Iran standing up to assaults by government thugs, to thousands of workers here who are using unions to strike for better wages and conditions. From truck drivers in South Korea demanding rates that make it possible to work safely, to working people in Mongolia protesting runaway prices and government theft.

This bodes well for forging a movement and a party capable of leading our class to replace capitalist rule with a government of workers and farmers.

There are still almost 2 million people locked up in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile “correctional” facilities, 186 detention centers, and 82 jails on Native American reservations. In addition, there are military prisons and prisons in U.S. colonies like Puerto Rico. An increasing number of women are behind bars, many for drug offenses, another sign of the decay of capitalism.

U.S. prisons are the true face of the capitalist criminal “justice” system, organized to intimidate working people and demoralize the incarcerated.

New mail rules allow prisoners to receive only scanned (often poorly) copies of letters from their loved ones. Authorities often prevent prisoners from getting literature of their choosing.

Some 8% of prisons are now privately run, where the drive to maximize profits gives the bosses an even greater incentive to impose inhuman conditions.

“The jailers want to destroy you. They want to break your physical, moral and mental integrity,” explained René González, one of five Cuban revolutionaries who spent over a decade in U.S. prisons on FBI frame-up charges.

In the face of growing opposition to solitary confinement — a blatant violation of the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment — some states have begun to restrict its use. But many are still kept in cells the size of parking spaces, 22 hours a day on average. Almost 1,000 prisoners have been in solitary for a decade or more!

The use of the death penalty has dropped from a peak of 98 executions in 1999 to 17 in 2022. The fight to end these inhuman practices continues.

As the class struggle heats up, the ruling class will increasingly turn to barbarous methods. Its message to working people: Stay in your place or face the consequences!

Mariia Shemiatina and Boris Shevchuk got a firsthand taste of U.S. capitalist “justice.” Fleeing Russia to avoid imprisonment for opposing Moscow’s murderous assaults on Ukraine, they requested asylum here. Instead, immigration cops shackled them and sent them to isolated detention centers where they were locked up for months, mistreated by guards and denied adequate medical care until they were finally released on bail.

The U.S. government doesn’t care about the presumption of innocence. More than 97% of those charged with federal criminal offenses are strong-armed into plea bargains, making a mockery of their constitutional right to a trial with a jury of their peers. Defense of these basic freedoms is at the center of the class struggle today.

To the U.S. rulers all working people are part of a “criminal” class. Capitalist morality is the law of the jungle: every man for himself — values that are alien to working people. Every Militant reader, no matter what side of the prison walls we are on, can join in increasing the self-confidence, discipline, solidarity, fighting spirit and class consciousness of the working classes.

Our success is measured by what we accomplish together. That starts with educating ourselves. The Militant is proud to offer reduced-rate subscriptions to prisoners. Books by revolutionary working-class leaders published by Pathfinder Press can be ordered at the special prisoner rate of 50% off. You can also urge the prison librarian to order them.

Introduce the Militant and books to your family and friends. Encourage them to bring solidarity to union picket lines and join protests to support the people of Ukraine and Iran.