ABCF Constitution – Bylaws

The Federation is composed of the following formations. A brief description of each will be followed with a detailed explanation.

I) FEDERATION COUNCIL (FC)

The FC consists of a 5 member rotating Prisoners Committee, 2 elected delegates from each Branch Group as well as 1 elected delegate from each eligible Support Group.

II) PRISONERS COMMITTEE: (PC)

A rotating committee of 5 PP/POWs shall serve on the FC for 12-month terms.

III) BRANCH GROUP (ABC-BG)

The Branch Group is the foundation on which success of the Federation relies. There is a criteria an ABC formation must meet in order to be considered a Branch Group.

IV) SUPPORT GROUP (ABC-SG)

ABC groups without the desire, ability or resources to become a Branch Group, or any other group/individual wishing to support the aims and goals of the Federation.

V) CAUCUSES

Caucuses are internal groups that are formed to work upon or promote specific issues or agendas within the ABCF.

Purposes and Responsibilities of Formations

I. FEDERATION COUNCIL (FC)

1. Purpose: The FC is the decision making body of the ABCF. Each Branch Group elects 2 delegates to serve on the Federation Council. Support Groups who have been affiliated with the ABCF for 6 months or more may submit an application to elect a Federation Council Delegate. This application will be reviewed and voted on by the FC based on the demonstrated commitment and comprehension of ABCF procedure and policy. The FC delegates represent their branch and the Federation. They are a link between their branch and other branches. FC members must serve no less than 6 months in their local before becoming eligible to serve as a delegate.

The FC also consists of a Prisoners Committee (PC) made up of 5 PP/POWs who serve 12-month terms.

2) Responsibilities of the Federation Council:

  1. Voting on policy and proposals of the Federation.
  2. Confirming the legitimacy of prisoners claiming PP/POW status.
  3. Submit and help develop proposals.
  4. Encouraged to stay in touch with the FC and PC.
  5. Attend conference (with the exception of PC members). At the start of each ABCF conference, those FC members present shall decide if absent FC members shall be allowed proxy votes.
  6. Voting on Support Group applications (with the exception of PC members).
  7. The FC must communicate on a basis of no less than once per month.

II) PRISONERS COMMITTEE (PC)

1)Purpose: The Prisoners Committee is a tangible effort to include PP/POWs in their own support. In addition to having the ability to offer outside ABCF members with a unique insight to political imprisonment and the effects of our work in support of them, the PC also connects the primarily younger activists in the ABCF to the numerous years of political struggle many of them have been involved with.

While other PP/POWs should and do offer their perspectives and opinion to our work in an effort to inspire us, having a small representative body who take in all expressed opinions and participate in the voting body of the ABCF is both the most practical and manageable by an organization such as ours.

2) Responsibilities of the PC:

  1. Allocating funds of the Warchest Program to PP/POWs.
  2. Allocate Emergency Funds from the Warchest Program.
  3. Voting on policy and proposals of the Federation.
  4. Confirming the legitimacy of prisoners claiming PP/POW status.
  5. Submit and help develop proposals.
  6. Stay in communication with other FC members

3) Criteria for becoming a PC member:

  1. PC members must fall within the criteria of PP/POWs the ABCF shall support.
  2. PC members who do not come from the anarchist or anti-authoritarian community must make all attempts to try and respect and understand the autonomous based procedures and practices of the ABCF.

4) Election of Prisoner Committee Members: As previously mentioned PC members serve 12-month terms, at the end of which, new PC members shall replace their position on the FC. All members of the ABCF (including current PC members) are encouraged and welcome to nominate PC members to the FC. Ideally, this nomination will be after a period of general work and discussion between the ABCF group and prisoner. BGs and SGs should refer to the ABCF Guide to PP/POW Support for helpful hints on how to develop such a work relationship or discussion. The ABCF should make all attempts to maintain a well-balanced PC, representative of the different communities PP/POWs comprise (i.e. Black/New Afrikan, Women, Puerto Rican, Anti-Imperialist, etc, etc.)

Prisoner Committee terms are as follows: -Three new PC members are elected to the FC every May.
-Two additional PC members are elected to the FC every October

ABCF groups who wish to nominate a PP/POW to the PC should inform the ABCF of their nominee (who must have previously accepted the proposed nomination) in the ABCF Update two months prior to the time the Committee rotates. For example, if an ABCF group wishes to nominate a PP/POW to the PC for the May rotation (in which 3 seats need to be filled) they would nominate the prisoner in the February edition of the ABCF Update. Groups should be mindful that this means they should inform the PP/POW they wish to nominate of their intentions well before that February.

Should there be more nominations than seats available a vote shall be taken among FC members on who will be given the seats.

Those PP/POWs who have agreed to be nominated, but do not receive a position on the PC, will be given priority placement upon the following PC rotation. Said prisoners continued interest in serving on the PC is obviously a prerequisite to this condition.

III. BRANCH GROUP (ABC-BG)

1) Purpose: The Branch Groups make up the foundation of the Federation. Their purpose is to propagate and support the goals and aims of the Federation, form coalitions with other Political Prisoner support groups in their area, hold events fundraisers, etc.

2) Responsibilities of the Branch Groups:

  1. Consistent support of Federation goals and projects.
  2. Fund raising.
  3. Propaganda distribution.
  4. Elect 2 members to Federation Council.
  5. Submit bimonthly reports to the Federation.
  6. Encourage formation of Support Groups (ABC-SGs).
  7. Encourage and aid existing SGs to become BGs.
  8. Undertake locally determined initiatives that further the objectives of the Federation.

3) Criteria for Becoming a Branch Group: To open a branch of the ABCF the formation must meet the following criteria:

  1. Each Branch Group must commit to raise a minimum of seven hundred dollars ($700) per year to the WarChest Program. A year shall be defined as a typical calendar year ending on December 31st. Branch Groups who fail to meet their obligation to the Federation will be up for review and subject to relegation to a Support Group by the FC.
  2. Members of formation must have a minimum 12-month history of ongoing consistent prison-related work they can present to the Federation, as well as 6-months experience within the ABCF as a SG (if meeting the criteria and approved by the FC).
  3. Formation must have maintained an active mailing address for at least 12 months.
  4. Any member of a BG or BG as a whole that, without reasonable cause, ceases to maintain contact with any ABCF formation for a period of over 4-months shall automatically cease to be in the ABCF. Members or Groups who are dismissed for lack of contact may reapply for membership at the discretion of the FC.

IV. SUPPORT GROUP (ABC-SG)

1) Purpose: The purpose of Support Groups is to both strengthen the Federation and strengthen the Support Group. By networking with the Federation, the Support Group links up to PP/POWs and those in the prison movement who can offer the Support Group aid, knowledge and experience.

Support Groups strengthen the Federation by spreading and supporting the goals and projects of the Federation and possibly becoming a Branch Group.

Four types of Support Groups can be:

  1. Newly formed ABC groups. After 12 months of meeting BG criteria, a SG can be admitted as a Branch Group (if meeting the criteria and approved by FC).
  2. ABC Formations that do not wish to be a Branch Group or do not have the resources or capabilities to become one.
  3. Individuals (especially those in isolated areas) who wish to support the Federation.
  4. Groups and individuals, who don’t consider themselves anarchists, but support the goals and programs of the Federation.

2) Responsibilities of Support Group

  1. Support Groups not willing/able to become a Branch Group must commit to raise a minimum of two hundred ($200) per year to the WarChest Program. A year shall be defined as a typical calendar year ending on December 31st. Support Groups who fail to meet their obligation to the Federation will be up for review and subject to expulsion by the FC.
  2. Support Groups not willing/able to become a Branch Group must submit work reports to the Federation no less than every 6 months.
  3. Undertake locally determined initiatives that further the objectives of the Federation.
  4. Support Groups who have been affiliated with the ABCF for 6 months or more may submit an application to elect a FC delegate. Applications will be voted on by FC (excluding PC). A decision will be reached based on the SG meeting and exceeding SG minimum requirements.
  5. Any member of a SG or SG as a whole that, without reasonable cause, ceases to maintain contact with any ABCF formation for a period of over 4 months shall automatically cease to be in the ABCF. Members or Groups who are dismissed for lack of contact may reapply for membership at the discretion of the FC.

4) Starting a New ABCF Group

Any group or individual wishing to join the ABCF as a SG needs to submit an application in the form of a report of their activities to the ABCF.

This application can be printed in the ABCF Update, or be sent to ABCF collectives separately should the application be submitted between publications. Upon reading the application, ABCF collectives having anything to report in favor of, or in objection to the applicantĀ¹s approval will forward comments to ABCF listserve within one month. Should any group, without reasonable cause, fail to submit any report in favor of, or in objection to the applicants approval within one month, the said group forfeits its opportunity to do so.

Should there be any objections or points to consider to the applicant, discussion shall be settled in the ABCF Discussion Bulletin between the ABCF and the applicant until:

  1. The FC and applicant reach consensus over any objection, in which case the applicant is approved
  2. The FC denies approval based on the legitimate objections of ABCF collective(s)
  3. The applicant retracts the application

Should there be no objection, the FC must inform the applicant and all ABCF collectives of their approval and the group shall be officially recognized as an ABCF collective in the following ABCF Update. It is appropriate for a newly admitted ABCF collective to submit their first work report to the Update in which they are introduced, to inform the ABCF and Update readers of their activities.

V) CAUCUSES:

1) Purpose: Caucuses are internal groups that are formed to work upon or promote specific issues or agendas within the ABCF.

All members of the ABCF are empowered to create caucuses within the ABCF if they feel there is a specific area of interest they hold or an issue they want to develop within the Federation. Caucuses within the ABCF will use the listserve to publicize their work and they may engage in email discussion, chat rooms, snail mail, newsletter production, study groups as well as caucus meetings at semi-annual ABCF meetings or any other activities which they feel will further work of the caucus. Caucus activities are expected to fit within the ABCF’s mandate and not compromise the Federation By-Laws or Tactical Unity explained elsewhere in the Constitution, but they need not be sanctioned or approved of by the ABCF as a whole.

Criteria for becoming a Caucus:

  • A caucus must have two members or more.
  • A caucus must provide a report in the ABCF Update every 6 months.
  • All caucus activities must be in addition to all ABCF activities.

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