Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Alaska Prisons

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

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[Organizing] [Anchorage Correctional Complex ] [Alaska]

Front Line Soldier Struggling to Teach and Organize

Being able to politicize this generation is one of the major problems I’m currently facing. To get one to become conscious of the real enemy is a struggle. Seemingly because battling within our own circles are somehow being rationalized and not frowned upon.

Within this last year my political consciousness has been awoken, and I now feel obliged to share this knowledge with all oppressed peoples. But getting them to really receive the messages I attempt to convey is hard as hell. And the fact that I now recognize that my people have become so complacent with being oppressed that its become the “norm” is extremely troubling. Being a gang member myself, one would think that my solid reputation would make my advancements credible enough to persuade those who know and respect me to at least be open-minded enough to hear the message first and conclude later. But my attempts oftentimes reveal the divisiveness in the oppressed and the true power of capitalist tactics.

Being able to continue to reach out and inform through all adversity and frustration is a necessity in the struggle to achieve communism. Understanding that being cast aside as “crazy,” “tripping.” etc. is a part of it all. The ignorant always criticize the unknown and misunderstood. It is up to us as revolutionaries to continue the fight against the current foundations of capitalism.

I am attempting to form several study groups and beginning to organize here in Alaska which seems to be uncharted territory. I need all of the help and guidance I can get. I am open to all forms of education for myself and others. For without knowledge we can never learn how to defeat oppression. I have and always will be a front line soldier. I’ve learned from first-hand experience that unorganized violence/force used against the police only achieves negative consequences. The most solid form of action for a single soldier is litigation. Every other action consists of numbers. That’s why organization is so important. United we stand, divided we fall. All power to the people!

MIM(Prisons) responds: Much credit to this comrade for standing strong in the face of criticism and hardship in educating and organizing others. Study groups are a great way to get people talking about new concepts and educating about revolutionary politics. We will be sending some lit and other materials to help with that work. Anyone interested in starting a study group where you’re at can contact us to get our guide to forming a study group, and also literature for your group to study.

This writer says litigation is the most solid form of action for a single soldier. And litigation is certainly one avenue for folks in isolation or otherwise unable to work with others.

If individuals can connect with MIM(Prisons), there are additional options. For instance, solo comrades can help with agitation and theory development, by writing articles and poetry, producing art, reviewing books, and creating study guides. These are all things that, when done through an organization like MIM(Prisons), can help to educate others, even if you can’t directly reach those folks yourself. Get in touch for guides to help you get started in any of these areas.

[Control Units] [Anchorage Correctional Complex ] [Alaska]

Solitary Confinement in Anchorage CC used to punish prisoners avoiding gangs

The Harmful effects of Solitary Confinement (or Segregation, as it is called in the Department of Corrections) is well documented and recognized. People held in Solitary Confinement suffer psychological effects that make it harder for them to control their behavior. Rehabilitative programming and mental health treatment could make Anchorage Correctional Complex and many other Correctional Institutions safer.

Putting people in solitary confinement does reduce prison violence, only in the way that Anchorage Correctional Complex, Alaska Department of Corrections allows the gang controlled General Population (GP) mods to force out people with certain types of alleged charges if they don't pay the gang protection charge (tax) of $500.00 a month or they are beaten up. People that are faced with a choice of adverse affects of gang related violence or solitary confinement usually choose solitary confinement over the Anchorage Correctional Complex sanctioned gang controlled GP mods.

People in solitary confinement segregation are deprived of the programming and social interactions that are needed to succeed and avoid recidivism upon release back into the community. Anchorage Correctional Complex, Alaska Department of Corrections can and should provide treatment, group programming, Religious services and opportunities for social interaction even in the most secure settings which will enable a more successful transition to the community.

Anchorage Correctional Complex (ACC) uses Administrative Segregation Protective Custody as punishment for these people that must request protection from people in GP due to the inefficient control by ACC officials oversight of GP gang operated and controlled mods at ACC. Administrative Segregation Protective Custody (Admin. Seg. P.C.) Adseg 5 people “cannot be guaranteed safe conditions” due to their status within the incarcerated community and therefore are the people that are segregated into solitary confinement as punishment by ACC officials allowing those people that are actually the agitators to continue to create unsafe environments, but they are free from punishment.

Other Alaska Department of Corrections (AK DOC) Institutions have shown that mods for people specifically needing or wanting to get away from gang controlled mods and violence can be housed in separate segregated modular housing units but in a GP style, with programming and social interaction available to those people. ACC officials punish pretrial detainees who request to be separated from the gang controlled mods of ACC, by putting those people into Solitary Confinement, removing their ability for rehabilitative programming, Religious Services, social interaction and a real possibility of re-integration to the community.

ACC refuses to recognize that the people in the GP mods that are creating this situation are the real threat to the institution and are the very ones that should be removed from GP and put into Punitive Segregation. ACC refuses to acknowledge the punishing conditions that solitary confinement poses and are quick to say "if you don't like it, go back to GP", then they turn right around and say that "we cannot guarantee your safety in GP." Their very statements go to show their acknowledgement that they allow the gang operated and controlled GP mods here at ACC.

People in ACC Administrative Segregation should have the same conditions and privileges equal to the GP to the extent possible. ACC officials though, deny those privileges and conditions to Admin. Seg. people as a group punishment for requesting separation from the gang controlled GP mods. ACC officials claim that a Admin. Seg. P.C. GP Style mod will not work, although other AK DOC institutions use Admin. Seg. GP Style mods. ACC claims they can't mix minimum and closed custody classified people in the same mod. AK DOC P&P 808.09 says that "minimum and closed custody prisoners shall not be housed in the same cell, dormitory or modular housing unit," but ACC officials put minimum and closed custody pretrial detainees together in the same cells, dormitory, modular housing units as well as in the recreation yard where one officer oversees 20-35 detainees at the same time and ACC officials also put minimum and closed custody pretrial detainees in the Law Library with each other at the same time with a minimum of 4 locked doors between us and the nearest possible responding officer which puts minimum pretrial detainees at risk twice a day for an hour each time, from being locked in the Law Library with closed custody detainees. ACC Officials arguments denying Amin. Seg. GP Style mods are not sustainable in view of their practices of mixing and putting minimum and closed custody detainees together in situations every day that has the potential of the minimum custody detainees being harmed. ACC has two separate Admin. Seg. mods that they could separate minimum and closed detainees between the two mods with medium custody detainees filing in between the two mods. ACC officials refuse to consider this as an option.

Study after study has shown that long term Seg. can cause serious and permanent psychological damage. Pretrial detainees, especially those already diagnosed with mental illness are not supposed to be celled up with or housed with other pretrial detainees that do not have a mental health diagnosis. ACC officials do this all the time, creating the potential for harm to both those with and without mental illness.

It has been found in studies that severe negative effects can occur even after just a few days in solitary confinement conditions. Any time of solitary confinement beyond 15 days constitutes torture, cruel in-humane degrading treatment and punishment. The over-use of Segregated Solitary Confinement by ACC officials is bad for Public Safety.

People who are held in Seg. for substantial amounts of time are deprived of normal environmental stimulation and suffer symptoms such as anxiety, panic, withdrawal, hallucinations, hopelessness, paranoia and depression. This environment can also lead to the development of aggression and rage. These harsh confined conditions of sensory deprivation and lack of human contact have been shown to increase mental illness issues and lead to suicide and other self harm. The misuses of Seg. by ACC officials works against the process of rehabilitating people, thereby threatening public safety. Some of us have been in solitary confinement for 2-7 years here at Anchorage Correctional Complex. For myself, as of July 1st, 2018, its been 3 years in ACC solitary confinement segregation.

Rehabilitation programming and mental health care can make jails and prisons safer.

People in Seg. are denied access to the types of programming that is shown to lead to reductions in recidivism, Segregation conditions at ACC prevent people from sustaining or creating social bonds. The psychological effects of Seg. can be long lasting, preventing people released back into the community from adjusting to life outside of prison. The paranoia and social anxiety resulting from segregation means that people released into the community directly from segregation have difficulties adjusting and are at a greater risk of re-offending and are at a high risk for failure which is bad for public safety. I believe that the officials at ACC encourage failure for the "security" of their own job placement. Anchorage Correctional Complex officials have shown over and over that they have no desire to implement beneficial programming or social sustainment of mental well being in the people that are in their care.

Segregation is too costly to the people held in segregated solitary confinement that are harmed by ACC officials' actions and to the communities that these people are released directly back into. People in Solitary Confinement should have access to meaningful rehabilitative programming and treatment. ACC officials refuse to open up the Admin. Seg. mods, although at the minimum, they should be seeking ways to increase the amount of time that people in Admin. Seg. Solitary Confinement have outside of their cells and to offer enhanced in cell programming opportunities, out of cell therapies, skill building and social interaction with staff with staff and other pretrial detainees, which are for safe integration to society and the community at large.

[Campaigns] [Organizing] [Alaska] [ULK Issue 58]

Alaska Grievance Campaign Update

I'm writing this letter to update you on my efforts and the outcome of the grievance petition. I filed my petition with the Department of Corrections Commissioner, the Alaska Lt. Governor and to the Department of Justice (DOJ). A few days later another captive and I were transferred to administrative segregation at Anchorage Correctional Complex – East, to the same module where captives who have violated DOC rules are housed. We have been told we are not being punished, however we live under the same punitive conditions.

A few days after our transfer I received a notice from the warden (she calls herself a "superintendent" but she is a warden) telling me that the petition I sent to the Lt. Gov. was forwarded to her to address. She denies all of my claims and tells me that if I still have issues that "the grievance procedure has a specific process to follow, including an appeal process, and the right to seek redress in superior court if the department does not rule in your favor." She then states that the Standards Sgt. is backlogged with grievances and asks for my patience. This letter was coincidentally dated the day before our transfer.

During our transfer our property was seized, was deemed excess and was denied issuance of even the most essential hygiene items. I have filed multiple grievances about this, but the tactic now seems to be to ignore all of my grievances. I have unacknowledged grievances that are over 3 months since filed. The DOC policy states it has 15 working days to investigate and respond.

Now they are retaliating even more by seizing my legal mail, reading and mutilating it. They use excessive force when outside cell by over-ratcheting handcuffs and ensuring we are cuffed whenever outside our cells. If our cell is not shaken down daily, it is every other day. We have been strip searched (unwarranted) at least 3 times. When we are given new clothing to change out, a gay guard glowers at our nakedness. Books that have been sent to me by books to prisoners orgs have been denied for absurd reasons like "contains book" or "unknown substance on book." More retaliatory measures than these have been imposed on me, however it has not stopped me. I still write letters to the Commissioner (who forwards them to the warden I am complaining about), the Lt. Governor, the Governor and any other state official that may listen. Including the ACLU. The ACLU has never responded to any of my letters.

Since being transferred to segregation it is difficult to disperse the grievance petition which I am sure was the reason for my transfer. I did however get it out to close to 60 or 70 people and I believe they will pass it on as well. I have also mailed a few copies to people I know in other institutions. These at first were censored. The reason given: "typed." I eventually had an officer mail them out (after several attempts).

I am not sure what else they can to do me at this point but I am not going to stop fighting.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade's story is a good example of why the grievance campaign was initiated. Prisoners across the country face this same problem with the grievance system of getting no response, or bullshit responses, and never getting grievances seriously addressed. The petition, which now exists for many states, is a simple demand that our grievances be addressed.

Of course we don't actually expect this petition will lead to victory over a grievance system that is purposefully set up to deny prisoners' attempts to demand their rights. But people like this writer are using the petition as an organizing tool; getting others involved in the fight and waking them up to their oppression and the importance of their role in fighting back. We have to combine this work with education about the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control under imperialism so that we don't mislead people into thinking petitioning will fix the entire system. In this way we can take on these smaller battles in the context of the larger struggle to build unity against imperialism.

Send us a self-addressed stamped envelope for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or a generic petition you can customize if one doesn't already exist.

[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Anchorage Correctional Complex ] [Alaska]

Alaska Punishes Grievances with Segregation

Another pretrial detainee and I were rolled up and put into punitive segregation for the grievances, appeals and letters that we wrote to the Alaska DOC commissioner and our state's Lieutenant Governor, in standing up for our rights here at Anchorage correctional Complex (ACC). Detainees here are afraid of the retaliation brought upon those that stand up for their rights.

Superintendent Jesse Self, Assistant Superintendent Sondra Thomas, Lieutenant Jason Hamilton, Segregation Sergeant Tania Enyard, and Standards Sergeant G. Helms have all participated in violating pretrial detainees' rights at ACC. Grievances take four-plus months to be processed, if they even get processed. Many request for interview (RFI) forms never see an answer either. Requests through proper channels like RFIs, grievances and appeals go to the ears and eyes of the deaf and blind officials that condone these atrocities of injustice to happen. If one makes too many, or too loud, complaints against the officials in charge about the conditions here at ACC, they are relieved of all legal and personal property and put into punitive segregation for up to three months, without due process.

I have been in punitive segregation for only three days and I had to practically beg to get law library access once, for an hour. Under Alaska law we are to be allowed law library access at least seven hours a week. I may end up writing more grievances and appeals from punitive segregation than I have written total in the last two years. Of course, that depends on how long they keep me here in punitive segregation.

On your grievance campaign, I rewrote the copy that you sent me and I will try to get a version of it sent your way. I have not heard back from any of the officials that I sent it to. I sent, on my behalf, copies to Alaska DOC Commissioner Dean Williams, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, and the Department of Justice in Washington DC.

So many Alaskan pretrial detainees and prisoners do not know that their rights are being violated under both the U.S. Constitution and the Alaska Constitution. The guards run over them and their rights, stomping them into the ground. I am not legal knowledgeable, although I'm learning more all the time. I am trying to put together a lawsuit on my own behalf against officials of Alaska DOC. I have read enough to know that administrative remedies must be exhausted, and the lawsuit must be written correctly to be kept from being screened out of court. I have the grievance and appeal process down fairly good, it's the court filing that I was working on before being put into punitive segregation. I'm not beat, they have only slowed me down.

I share your publications with anyone and everyone that I can. I can't keep much in my possession anyway, so I write down what I'm interested in and pass on your publications. Thank you for the informative publication.

[Download and Print] [Abuse] [Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Alaska]

Downloadable Grievance Petition, Alaska

Alaska Petition
Click to Download PDF of Alaska Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Director April Wilkerson
Alaska Department of Corrections
PO Box 112000
Juneau, AK 99811-2000

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*PDF updated October 2017*
[Censorship] [Goose Creek Correctional Center] [Alaska] [ULK Issue 44]

Alaska Update on Literature Censorship

As of January 2015, my access to copies of MIM Theory magazine in Goose Creek Correctional Center has been curtailed. Several days ago I was given a notice from the prison's mailroom that a "booklet" had been sent (it was MIM Theory 2/3) from "a vendor who is not on the approved list." Though this vendor approval policy was instituted DOC-wide in Alaska about two or three years ago, at every other facility I've been in, including two pre-trial jails, magazines and periodicals such as MIM Theory were exempt and I received every issue previously sent. So, apparently, there is only a problem at Goose Creek. I sent a request to the mailroom to consider the copy of MIM Theory a zine, with a denial coming back. My next step was to send a request to the security sergeant. The response from this officer was different. Now, apparently, I'm being denied because the pages of the magazine are "discolored" and therefore the conclusion is that the copy is "second-hand" and "used." Even though any "discoloration" would likely be because the magazine is 20 years old and printed on newsprint, it is still denied because used books are not allowed.

As of about a week ago I wrote a cop-out back saying that the copy is not used nor second-hand, but rather a back-copy — an issue that was kept in stock and never put into circulation. I made the analogy that it is the same as if I had ordered from Time a back issue of their magazine. I also pointed out that the sender is the same entity as the original publisher/distributor and hence the copy is obviously not used. I'm still, as of the time of this letter, awaiting a reply back, but thus far it's not looking encouraging. I also did ask that MIM Distributors be placed on the Approved Vendors List.

I intend on pursuing the matter as far as is necessary. I have not exhausted all avenues yet. I'm curious to know if anyone else has had similar issues regarding the specific reason I'm thus far being given for the withholding of the issue, and what remedies were taken.

MIM(Prisons) adds: In our experience with this particular reason for censorship, it is a coin toss whether the administration will submit to logical reasoning on whether to allow the magazine in. We don't have a specific recommendation on how to handle a claim that a magazine is used when it simply isn't. Often times we need to send in another copy of the magazine that hopefully looks newer, or that arrives on a day when a more rational mailroom staff persyn is working.

Censorship battles are particularly important for the prison-based revolutionary struggle because of the educational focus of our work right now. Our only option presently is to work with prisoners through the mail, and the political literature that we send in is the main way we spread information about political theory, history and current events. When our mail is cut off we lose a critical tool in our anti-imperialist organizing work. This comrade's reporting of censorship battles, and h work fighting the censorship, is a good example for others. A lot of mail we send out is returned back to us, and frequently mail is rejected without any notification as to why. We need people to appeal all cases of censorship, and notify us each time censorship happens. We can support these appeals with our own letters of protest, but only when we know the censorship is happening. Many of you receive Unconfirmed Mail Form letters from us asking you to tell us what mail you received. We appreciate all the responses to these form letters, and it would be even better if everyone kept us up to date on all mail received so we don't have to send out these forms. Remember, every time you write you should tell us everything you've received since you last wrote.

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