Sacrifice in Prison Struggle

Toxic Tom

From Prison Focus Issue 55

I wanted to share my viewpoint with all in the incarceration nation and the streets who struggle for their rights, respect and people. To clarify who I am, my name is Tom Fetters. In California Department of Corrections I was E04799 and I spent 1991-92 in PBSP (SHU). In 1994 I came to. Pennsyvania Department of Corrections on a drug manufacturing case. I spent 1994-2012 in P.D.O.C and maxed out. I spent 3 ½ years in the street and came back to P.D.O.C. with an armed robbery in 2016. At 56, I may not live out my current sentence.

I’ve been in struggle since 1985 with Earth First! Prison struggle since 1988. Yes, a politicized social prisoner, a paralegal, a move out soldier taking respect and dealing with it. I’ve spent decades slammed in RHU, SHU, SMU, units for those militant non-conformists who won’t accept oppression. Nothing comes easy to us, no quarter given nor asked for. So I know something about sacrifice. No government is going to yield unless it’s monkey wrenched by those it uses to keep its revenues flowing. In prisons, the federal and state captors are depending on what we are sitting on for their bread and butter. As long as the oppressed, the captives, the sheeple acquiesce and participate willingly in their own ongoing exploitation, the captors win. Resistance is the key. I said it in pen in 1991, and I’ll stand by it and reiterate it again. But resistance requires sacrifice, and old school convicts have the historical benefits of having come up in prison with strong collective solidarity. The new school needs our mentoring, guidance, support and strength. Entitlement attitudes make for wishy-washy, half-hearted attempts and have shown to be self-defeatist. Steps that can be taken to mount a significant collective struggle in prison 2018 are economic. Most prison systems have contracted out support services in most areas, yet still would not function without the labors and monies of those incarcerated and their families. Prison labor does everything, food clothing, cleaning, maintenance, clerical. Remember our American history of labor union struggles? Stop working! Sit back in your cells. The prisons will go on lockdown, but the captors have to do everything now. Stop buying commissary! Stock up on what you need for 2 weeks in advance. When the work stops, the spending stops. Stop using the phones! Write your family and friends, they love you and want the best for you. They will support you in solidarity.

File grievances so you follow PCRA requirements and exhaust administrative remedies. If the prison crats and captors try to ignore or intimidate you, you now have a supreme court decision that grants you to proceed in court without being shut down for not following PCRA requirements, see Ross V. Blake, 136 U.S. 1850. Believe me, with no one working or spending their money, the whole house of cards would collapse before anyone would have to file in federal court. Prison administrators would be busting their asses to speak to the prisoners, make concessions, make improvements, and try to re-establish a functioning system. What do you have to lose? Most prisoners do time in the hole year in and year out anyway. Many do life on the installment plan. Over time conditions have eroded and the gears of an industry that feeds on human misery continue their grind. Sacrifice! For your self respect, power and integrity as a prisoner. You have to give to get. Network with your brethren. Outline the issues you want to target. Set a date, get the wagons in a circle. 30 days. Nationwide, statewide, or your institution. Thank you.

In Struggle,
Toxic Tom

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