BEGINNING TO SUPPORT PP/POWs
Once correspondence has been established and you have sufficient knowledge and documentation of the prisoner, principled support should be safe to commence. One of the most difficult realities of being in prison is having to become dependent on others for almost every aspect of their continued political and personal life (especially when you consider the reason they are in prison is for struggling for independence). No matter what type of support you offer, from copying documents to sending books or magazines, to completing a job for them, it is important to keep on top of what you have committed to do and complete it in a reasonable and timely basis.
Some popular ways ABCF groups support PP/POWs is by organizing benefits, printing and selling merchandise, printing and distributing fliers and leaflets, all featuring the PP/POW’s we support. This raises visibility and awareness about the prisoners, who they are, the movements they came from and often explains the very reason why we do support work. When fundraising is involved, ABCF groups also use these funds to either financially support PP/POW’s, or to support the work we are engaged in.
However, it is necessary for supporters to contact the PP/POW’s who this support work focuses on. It is irresponsible and unaccountable for groups to start work on behalf of specific PP/POWs without their knowledge. It is ABCF policy to first receive sanction from the prisoners who will be featured in these activities. We can not proceed until we receive such sanction, and if they do not offer it, we can not proceed against their wishes.
If prisoners agree, it is also ABCF policy to describe our plans in detail and ask for input and suggestions. Making sure PP/POW’s are a part of their own support is crucial. Sometimes prisoners will give you the freedom to proceed without much of their input. But even still, it is ABCF policy to keep them updated on our progress and make them aware of all final decisions before we begin. Again, if funds are involved, details of what will be done with the funds raised must also be discussed before they are collected. Some prisoners will allow you to use all funds raised in your support work without sending them any portion. But they must be given their right to offer the money that will be raised in their name, for their commitments, and their sacrifices.
When producing merchandise to be sold, it is customary for the ABCF to offer a 60% to the prisoner, 40% to the support group split of the proceeds (funds raised after costs). For example, the proceeds of a pamphlet that costs .25¢ to make and sells for $2, is $1.75. A 60% – 40% split of $1.75 would be $1.05 (60%) to the prisoner, and .70¢ (40%) to the supporters. These same guidelines should be used when producing merchandise for any political organization.