IWW ~ A Union for Prisoners

By Sean Swain

— The majority of people in prison will get out and return to prison again. The prison system creates a class of people unable to successfully advocate for themselves, robbing them of necessary skills, catching them in a revolving door.

— Prisons are used for economic purposes. Prisons are a way to lock up the unemployed and to create desperate people to work rotten jobs at low pay. This serves the interests of the rich and powerful and it harms the workers and the poor.

— Prisons are used for political purposes. Prisons lock away the poor, those who are in favor of more “radical” solutions. Taking away votes and power from the poor communities, prisons ensure that politicians will be puppets of the war mongers and fear mongers.

— Prisons are used for demographic purposes. Black men are the largest segment of the prison population. Black women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population. Prisons are used to maintain racial inequalities.

— Children with at least one parent in prison are far more likely to go to prison also. Children of prisoners are the prison population of tomorrow. The cycle continues for generations.

–You cannot change this situation through a grievance process that doesn’t work… or through courts that are clearly against you… or through petitions to lawmakers who don’t care about you because you don’t vote… or through hungerstrikes against prison officials who want you to starve… or through letters to newspapers who have ignored this situation for decades…

We know what will happen if you DON’T join the Industrial Workers of the World. Let’s see what happens when you DO.

Prisoner membership is FREE. Join the Industrial Workers of the World TODAY!


Contact us by any means necessary to request membership!

By Sean Swain

–While the majority of prisoners committed crimes to end up in prison, we have to keep in mind that the extremely wealthy who control the “commanding heights” of the economy have created desperate situations that lead to crime. Poverty, crumbling schools, widespread unemployment and under-employment– these are all conditions created by a maldistribution of wealth and power. Prisons, then, are a way to punish those without opportunities; prisons punish those effected w a free pass to the wealthy who are the cause of crime.

— While the vast majority of prisoners commit crimes to end up in prison, we also have to keep in mind that government has criminalized just about every human activity. The U.S. has more criminal statutes than any other nation in history. As a consequence, selective enforcement of these laws in poor areas where police are most heavily concentrated serves political, economic, and demographic interests totally unrelated to crime or crime control. The more “radical” element who may pose a challenge to the wealthy and powerful is silenced and neutralized while more wealth and power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

— The prison industrial complex has created a kind of “third world colony” right here in the United States. Prison systems outsource prisoners for slave labor to major corporations for pennies per day. Prisoners perform data entry and work auto industry jobs that used to belong to free world workers. The workers left unemployed become the desperate criminals of tomorrow, getting locked up and getting their old union job back… in the prison factory… for pennies per day…

–Those in prison today are your neighbors tomorrow. Freed prisoners won’t live in gated communities with Fortune 500 executives; freed prisoners move in next door to you. As a practical question, do you want a fellow worker with community activism and labor organizing experience moving next door and using those skills to create a functional life, or would you prefer a bitter, desperate, unemployable criminal with no prospects and little or nothing to lose?

— The modern prison system is the government’s “canary in the coal mine.” All of the strategies and tactics for surveillance, crowd control, and population pacification have been perfected on prisoner populations before being employed in the free world. Mass surveillance including centralized monitoring via security cameras and the collection of communications meta-data originate in prison; response tactics such as the use of tasers and pepper spray, “kettling” unruly mobs, and formations of phalanxes behind riot shields all arise from corrections applications.Even the use of torture was employed on prisoners before going mainstream. How authorities have pushed prisoners is soon how authorities push the workers. So, the conditions that prisoners are allowed to suffer today become the conditions imposed on workers tomorrow.


Personal feelings about crime aside, the interests of workers and the working class are bound together with the interests of prisoners. In fact, those who truly would like to see crime diminish should work for prisoner-worker solidarity, empowering prisoners and expanding the labor market, widening opportunities and prosperity that pose as a real alternative to crime.

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Please contact us today to find out how you can get involved. Let us know if you can:

* Add people in prison to our mailing list
* Write letters to people in prison
* Make phone calls to state officials
* Typing and transcription
* Research various items for people in prison
* Donate money and or writing supplies (stamps/envelopes/etc)
* Reach out to other organizations and ask them to get involved
* Make phone calls to friends and family of people in prison
* Be a personal advocate for an individual person in prison
* Collect art, pictures from magazines, etc for letter writing groups
* Write letters to state officials
* Research various aspects of the prison industrial complex
* Read letters and identify certain data for letter writing groups
* Ask your friends and neighbors to get involved
* Let us know your ideas!!

Learn more about the IWW at www.iww.org