Maryland prisoners organize a union

November 24, 2020

From the November-December 2020 issue of News & Letters

Jessup, Md.—I am located at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) in Cumberland, Md., where the administration is corrupt and constantly push a master/slave authority and oppressive state within the prison. Their rules and policies are constantly forced on the prisoners, but never properly followed by administration and administrative staff (C.O.s, nurses and medical providers, and case management), until their cards are pulled.

Then they become “professional” to cover their tracks, use loopholes and recite the Code of Maryland Regulations to excuse making fraudulent rules and policies that are not in the handbook. They want to accommodate staff and cause turmoil within the prison to control the population.

We are starting a Chapter of the Maryland Prison Labor Organization (MPLO) within NBCI to better our conditions as prisoners until we can fully overcome the Prison Industrial Complex and abolish prisons. While the prison system is still up and running, we need to agitate, mobilize, campaign, promote consciousness, and, as an inside organization, work directly with outside organizations to achieve prisoners’ rights and better living conditions.

We want to survive the manipulation, no-choice psychological thinking and psychological trauma, the neglect as wards of the State and as human beings, as well as excessive police brutality.

I am sending a copy of our blueprint to help us reach seats of power to gain access to better laws and policies. We want to propagate and publicize what the prison system truly is and promote the abolition of prisons due to their corruption, unbearable sentences, slave mentality, and the harsh state of living conditions mentally and physically.

If your readers have any information on contacts in Maryland, Washington, D.C., etc., to help our demands get met for the survival of prisoners please send it to me. We hope to gain further support for the development of Maryland Prison Labor Organization NBCI Chapter.

Struggling in Solidarity Together,

—Maryland prisoner

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Maryland Prison Labor Organization (NBCI Chapter)

The Maryland Prison Labor Organization exists for the purpose of defending and preserving the rights and dignity of the incarcerated working-class men and women who are confined to correctional facilities within the State of Maryland.

Maryland’s incarcerated workers contend daily with abusive staff, inequitable compensation, unsafe or unsanitary working environments, arbitrary termination, inadequate healthcare, poor diet, and inhumane conditions of confinement.

As a collective and as a class, we find this set of circumstances unacceptable; therefore our mission is to amend these circumstances by securing social and economic justice for the thousands of imprisoned laborers who have been exploited by Maryland’s Department of Corrections, and who continue to endure such exploitation as a consequence of the labor arrangement that persists behind the walls of Maryland’s correctional facilities.

We are conscious of the fact that the labor we provide is critical to the orderly and efficient functioning of the Department, and as a result of the aforementioned realities, we, the members of the MPLO, seek the following changes to the current labor arrangement within this state’s prisons:

1) Higher wages.
2) Equitable Good Conduct Credit Compensation.
3) An end to Arbitrary Adjustment and Reclassification.
4) An end to Oppressive Conditions of Confinement, including Excessive Restrictive Management Systems, overcrowding, and Abuse by Guards and Administration.
5) An end to malicious social engineering practices that are designed to cause friction, foment conflict, and incite violence among incarcerated citizens.
6) An end to collective punishment.
7) Increased access to economically relevant vocational and technical skills training, including that which is currently made available by the DLLR. We also seek access to state-sponsored college education.
8) Increased access to cognitive programs currently available at the prison.
9) Higher quality food and more sizable portions.

For the reasons mentioned herein, the Maryland Prison Labor Organization is hereby established for the benefit of its members, and for that of the entire incarcerated working class within the State of Maryland.

—Commissioned 19th of May, 2019.

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