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.