Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Arkansas Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. 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.

[Medical Care] [Prison Food] [Abuse] [Tucker Max Unit] [Arkansas]

Abysmal Conditions in Arkansas Department of Corrections

Whom it may concern,

I’m reaching out asking for help. The conditions here at Tucker Maximum Security Unit are horrifying. I’ve done wrote numerous letters to prison personnel including Director Dexter Payne, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Internal Affairs, Attorney General’s Office, The Department of Health And Human Service, Channel 7 News, and the FBI in Washington D.C. No one has investigated or corresponded to any of my letters. I don’t know if my letters are arriving at their destinations. Please send me confirmation correspondence. These are some of the horrifying conditions and/or treatment I have persynally encountered.

On 28 April 2023, I received a breakfast tray in East Isolation at approx. 5:57 am without a spoon. I’ve been here since 24 January 2023 and every tray always has a spoon. As I was eating the oatmeal I noticed a chunk of unknown substance under my oatmeal. It was huge with a foul odor. I had been hearing inmates stating that the kitchen supervisors will put harmful things in our food if we made them mad. When I noticed the chunk of unknown substance I was wondering “was that tray meant for me?” Then later that day I received my mail including a grievance I had wrote about the food preparations. In the warden’s response it stated that Building Major Mahoney counsel with the kitchen staff. That’s when I realized that the tray was specifically meant for me in retaliation for the grievances and some rude requests I’ve wrote. I was poisoned and had to see the prison medical staff about some problematic stomach conditions and receive treatment. Then on 16 May 2023 I had to go to St. Jefferson Regional Hospital in Pine Bluff, AR because of some problematic stomach conditions among other issues pertaining to the food process and preparation. Now I’m waiting to go back to St. Jefferson Regional Hospital to undergo a couple different surgeries that were scheduled by a doctor at that hospital. However, I have not been taken back to have the scheduled procedures carried out. Prison personnel are constantly rescheduling and/or refusing to take me back to be diagnosed and treated. Prison Medical Staff stated I was scheduled to undergo surgeries by the end of June, but I was never taken back to receive treatment. The procrastination can cause me a life-changing medical condition.

Another thing is the beverage container has mold, fungus, and slime build up. The orange juice and apple juice is always undergoing fermentation. The tea, kool-aid, and water always has a coffee taste like it’s being mixed with coffee. The water in my cell comes out brown sometimes. I’m assuming it’s lead from the pipes or radium. Maybe it’s sewage.

Then since 13 June 2023 and still continuing in East Isolation there’s a horrific amount of mosquitoes. Before 13 June 2023 there weren’t any mosquitoes, now there’s a horrific amount. There’s no way I should have to live with mosquitoes biting me in my sleep. I have been informed that I can contract a disease via a mosquito bite. That is a danger to my future health and well-being. I have rodents living in my cell door. Every cell in East Isolation has rodents living in their cell door. Along with the insect infestation, I’ve been housed in East Isolation since 24 January 2023 and I haven’t seen anyone deploying repellent. An investigation should be conducted to prove a repellent is being deployed and test the repellent to make sure it is repellent.

With the information here an investigation should be conducted. I will testify to any and all knowledgeable matters. You should see how unsanitary my cell is in East Isolation, it’s horrendous. A similar letter like this was forwarded to the wardens of this unit Warden Shiman, but corrective action was not taken and I’ve experienced retaliation. I’m asking for a surprise inspection and/or investigation into these matters. I will submit to a polygraph test. I request criminal charges be filed for me being poisoned. Sgt. J. Lee and I think the kitchen supervisor that morning was Ms. Relefore. The conditions and/or treatment here is horribly below constitutional standards. Therefore, I pray action will be taken. Prison personnel should be held accountable for their actions. If not then what’s topping them from violating policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and constitutional rights? Please help.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the forgoing is true and correct.

31 July 2023 Tucker Maximum Security Unit 2501 State Farm Rd. Tucker, AR 72168

[Civil Liberties] [Campaigns] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 75]

Victory in Battle for Stimulus Checks in AR

In regards to the article by a Texas prisoner “Stimulus Checks are being stolen by TDCJ-CID”, well Texas isn’t the only state with such tricks up its sleeve. Last week the great snake of Arkkkansas done the exact same thing, however, they turned right around & put the money back in prisoners’ accounts after being met with resistance by means of grievances. Quite often they’ll try to pull a caper simply just to see if they can get away with it. Point: Utilize the grievance process.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Right on to the comrades in Arkansas who stood together to grieve this issue. As we say, there are no rights, only power struggles. Just because the law says they can’t take your stimulus money doesn’t mean they won’t. A comrade in California has drafted sample grievances and raised the money to distribute them to comrades who haven’t received their stimulus money in that state. We’ve also been hearing from more comrades in Texas and in the Federal Bureau of Prisons who continue to fight this battle. Because we are getting so many requests, here are some FAQs from

Will the amount of my second stimulus check be reduced if I have overdue debts in prison?

Unlike your first stimulus check, your second stimulus check has greater protection from garnishment. Like the first stimulus check, your second stimulus check is protected from back taxes or federal and state debts. In addition, the second stimulus check is also protected from debt collection. That means that federal and state prison cannot reduce the amount of your second stimulus check to pay overdue debts.

Will the amount of my third stimulus check be reduced if I have overdue debts in prison?

It is unclear whether your third stimulus check will be reduced to pay certain prison fees or debts. We will update this page once we have more information.

What happens if my stimulus check was sent as a debit card instead of as a check?

The IRS sent a letter to prison officials that if debit cards couldn’t be processed at your prison facility, prison officials have to return the debit cards to the IRS fiscal agent at:

1007 North 97th Circle
Omaha, NE 68122

The debit cards will be voided and you will have to claim the stimulus checks as the Recovery Rebate Credit by filing a 2020 tax return or using if you don’t have a filing requirement.

[COVID-19] [Grimes Unit] [Arkansas]

N95s Still Denied at Grimes Unit 7 Months into Pandemic

Dear ULK,

After reading your ULK No. 71 and going over this with several prisoners in seg, as well as thinking hard about it myself, I’ve decided to write and let you know about the situation concerning N95 masks/PPE at Grimes Unit in Newport, AR, which is currently under the CDC guidelines / Arkansas mandates for prisoner safety but refuses to give these masks/PPE to all prisoners.

First off you got to write/fill out a sick call or request form to medical to see if you qualify, meaning if you have underlying health issues, age etc. Another qualification was if you was in a quarantined barracks while the Covid-19 infection was on the compound. If you do not fit the specified qualifications you don’t get a N95/PPE mask you get a mask fashioned out of our suits with elastic.

In one case I’m sure of, a prisoner tried to get N95/PPE mask, got denied, 3 weeks later caught Covid-19, then they issued him the mask. A little too late, don’t you think? To my understanding these were to be distributed to all prisoners to ensure that the spread was contained. Thank goodness that said prisoner recovered. This is how they do us, but in the media it’s all different. “They” are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of your family and loved ones incarcerated. SMH! BS! There is at almost all times 1,100 prisoners at this unit and still til this date only half are wearing or are “issued” N95/PPE mask. Anyways I though you could write this please and let people know it’s crazy here too.

Your Avid Reader, Cell 211

[COVID-19] [Deaths in Custody] [Cummins Unit] [Arkansas]

COVID-19 Stats From Cummins Unit, Arkansas

Revolutionary Greetings,

The COVID-19 coronavirus first appeared in late-March here when a guard was first reported as testing positive. By mid-April things started getting completely out of order here. The trays started coming erratically and became super shitty. The kitchen was basically shut down and the food quality became very poor and there was hardly anything on the trays. By the beginning of May we maxed out with 967 prisoners testing positive (Cummins unit houses about 1800), 51 guards and 9 dead (all prisoners).

The ACLU and the NAACP have helped prisoners file a class action lawsuit against Warden Culdager for her failure to act in a proper and timely manner in not quarantining prisoners correctly. Out of all their policies and rules either they had no contingency plan for something like this or they failed at following through with it. Everything has gotten mostly back to normal except the kitchen still seems to be milking the situation for all it’s worth. The trays are still horrible and missing a significant amount of calories and nutrients we are used to getting. Thankfully, I ducked and dodged the coronavirus all the way to the present, but no thanks to the warden.

In Struggle.

[Organizing] [Cummins Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]

New Location, Old Conversations, New Technique

Revolutionary Greetings,

This letter is to inform you that I have been transferred. My transfer was long overdue and now after those long years in Ad-Seg I should be getting released to population soon. I am now housed in a two-man cell after spending the last three years in a one-man cell because that’s the way the other units in Ad-Seg is set up. So that also is an adjustment I’ve had to make to my work-out/sleep schedule.

This is another of the Arkansas units that’s known for rampant drug trade and use, so I’m trying to prepare myself for combating the mindset that comes along with that among my fellow prisoners. I have been here now for two weeks and have not heard any revolutionary conversations, let alone any political discussions that were based on concrete research or facts. No one is talking about unity or anything of that nature.

I started a conversation with another prisoner about the going-on in Iran. I told him that I assume Chump assassinated Iran’s commander to initiate a war because of the upcoming “elections,” and the prisoner I was talking to started taking a defensive stance and the kapitalist mindset came out. You know the justification, “Oh, the economy is better than it has ever been!” When I asked him at what price has the economy got so great he got in his feelings and told me I sound like one of the Trump haters that have been trying to come up with anything to get him out of office! I then just changed the subject to the San Francisco 49ers taking the Super Bowl this year but he didn’t like that any more than the political discussion! Ha.

The point I was trying to make about who actually pays the price for Amerikkkan prosperity was completely missed and I was reminded of something I read in the essay “Intro to Neo-Colonialism” by Kwame Nkrumah, which we are studying in the University of Maoist Thought (UMT). Nkrumah states “In fact neo-colonialism is the victim of its own contradictions. In order to make it attractive to those upon whom it is practised it must be shown as capable of raising their living standards, but the economic object of neo-colonialism is to keep those standards depressed in the interest of the developed countries. It is only when this contradiction is understood that the failure of innumerable ‘aid’ programmes, many of them well intentioned, can be explained.”

The reason I brought the issue of “aid programs” up is because in the course of the conversation my fellow prisoner’s only grievance about Amerikkka was that these other countries (Iran, Russia, etc.) look at Amerikkka as weak, because after we go to war with countries in the Middle East we send them all kinds of “aid.” I started explaining the system of neo-colonialism and how none of these other countries are fooled into believing that the Amerikkkan government provides “aid” to these countries we’ve invaded out of righteous motives, but he couldn’t grasp my point.

It just goes to show how deep kapitalist ideology indoctrinates its multitude of “patriots.” Amerikkka has given you a life sentence in their machination of mass incarceration, but these dudes are still willing to argue for the monster’s “honor.”

It’s hard for me to see any future victories over a kapitalist system that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of our present day society that I can see why it’s so easy to become agreeable to the multitudes and just go along with the way the system is. Not myself personally, but so many others that I think should be on the side of the oppressed. It makes me question my own abilities in comparison to a Mao. Their essays and policies are so far-reaching and deep, and here I fail at getting a point across to a fellow oppressed prisoner, or as they say I can’t even preach to the choir!

Well, as I said I was touching base to let you know about my transfer and my current status on getting ready to get released to population, and I also wanted to give my thanks to my komrades in the study group and the study group facilitators for helping me get through my time in Ad-Seg, and the growth I’ve experienced.

If it wasn’t for this study group, among other things, I don’t think that I would’ve made it through with a sound mind. So thanks again and I look forward to struggling into the future with UMT and MIM(Prisons).

UMT coordinator of MIM(Prisons) responds: Before writing our response, we asked another comrade from UMT to respond to this article. We suggested a potential angle for responding.

“The main thing I was thinking to respond to (which does not need to be the thing you respond to, you can respond however you see appropriate) is that this persyn was not coming from a place of unity in the conversation with the other prisoner [more on the meaning of ”total unity” below - Editor]. Ey was trying to make a point, or win a debate. That technique is useful if there’s an audience of people who are coming to their own conclusions about the debate, hearing both sides. But for an individual conversation, I think we have to come from a place of total unity in order to help people see political distinctions. Again, you can respond however you see fit, I just wanted to offer that as an idea.”

In response, our UMT comrade sent some feedback:

“With respect to the article, I’d have to disagree with your statement that the author was not coming from a place of unity. It is very difficult for me to see how ey could’ve found a better way to struggle with that persyn according to what I read.

“The fact that ey even attempted to engage that persyn in a political discussion is proof enough for me that ey was attempting to unite with em. Furthermore, what is political struggle with someone like that if not a debate? While I don’t believe in showing people up who I’m trying to build with, I also don’t believe in being subtle or sugar-coating reality for the sake of sparing someone’s feelings. That would be liberalism, would it not?

“I once read a MIM article in which the author stated that a good teacher doesn’t assert the correct principles, rather they teach the correct principles. This is the model I always try to uphold when it comes to political struggle and I hope MIM(Prisons) still upholds it as well.”

I think there is a very subtle distinction between unity and discussion, versus division and debate, that i am still learning how to bring to fruition in our work. Of course there will still be moments of disagreement with our comrades, which is perfectly healthy to political growth. And there will be moments of frustration and conflict within a revolutionary organization and movement. I believe the goal in these recruiting conversations is in minimizing the conflict, while hashing out the disagreements, and holding the other persyn in high esteem and unity throughout.

With people we’re recruiting, there is some baseline unity that we can build on. Either you’re both prisoners, both have a deep hatred of capitalism or inequality, or you are working on the same campaign or project. Or as our UMT comrade says above, you are in a conversation at all, so there’s unity. That level of unity is a good starting place, for sure.

If we’re talking about helping people shift their deeply-held inaccurate beliefs which are reinforced by bourgeois propaganda daily; and empowering people to make a difference in their locality and the world; and asking people to take on the magnificent and difficult and self-sacrificing task of building revolution over the long-term while not cooperating with the pigs for their persynal benefit in the short-term, etc… then I believe a deeper unity is needed in order to break through all those barriers to catalyze this profound shift.

As advocates for the liberation of the world’s people from the oppression of capitalism and imperialism, i believe we have an obligation to learn how to communicate with people in a way that we can be most effective. And I’m not saying to throw out accuracy and facts for the sake of false unity. It’s about having discussions with (potential) comrades with unity as primary, even in spite of disagreement.

One way to picture this subtle distinction may be to pause at any point in a conversation and honestly ask yourself “is it blatantly obvious we are on the same team right now? or is it more like we are on opposing teams?” And ask yourself these questions from the other persyn’s perspective, and from an observer’s perspective, too. If the answer to this inquiry is that in that moment you are more in opposition than on the same team, then that’s what i’m talking about.

Another barometer to measure whether we’re coming more from unity or division, is to look at how do these conversations resolve? Are they resolved with greater unity and understanding, or, like in this letter we received, is the result that the persyn totally didn’t grasp the message?

One appropriate time for debate is in a conversation where you are distinguishing whether you even want to be on the same team with a persyn or an organization. These private debates can help clarify for ourselves our own view, the views of others, and help decide the best steps forward in terms of working together, or not.

Another time and place for outright debating is in public discussions. When others witness a debate, it helps the viewer clarify their understanding of the people in the debate, and helps clarify what views they are most aligned with. Under Lock & Key is a great public forum for these types of public debates.

And again, I’m not talking about letting things slide, or ignoring disagreements (that would be liberalism).(1) I’m talking about having conversations with people we are trying to unite with, coming from a place of deep listening. We have to, in a way, “allow” others to believe what they believe, in order to help them see something different. Not agreeing with them, but listening to them.

There are many conversational tactics and methods that can be used, and the effectiveness of specific language will vary persyn to persyn, culture to culture, situation to situation. Rather than a formula of things to say, i think cultivating one’s authentic commitment to developing with others is what signifies to them a deep level of unity, no matter the words. Developing this commitment (even in spite of our own persynal frustrations!), as well as the tactics that are effective, is a lifelong practice. You can use this approach with anyone, even people who hold differing views. And i think this approach is a precursor to people even listening to facts or points being made, which is a precursor to deeper unity, growth, and recruiting.

Comrades in Maoist circles have disagreed with this approach, and have said it’s too much focusing on subjective opinions and tone. And to that i would throw MIM’s “where’s the beef?” taunt back in our own face. Where’s our success? Where’s our results? If we’re outright debating people we’re trying to recruit, and simply trying to show them that they’re wrong, is that working?

I fully agree that viewing the world with the most accuracy as possible brings us power, which leads to effectiveness, and liberation. Sharing accuracy with others is extremely important to our work.

And I believe it’s subjective to behave as if we live in a post-subjective society, and that the most efficient way to liberate the world’s people is to go on unnecessarily dividing with people who could otherwise be our comrades. We can’t teach people to think scientifically by pretending they are already fully objective scientific thinkers.

While working toward a cultural shift where people can see and hear facts delivered in any tone and in any manner, i believe we also need to acknowledge that our culture isn’t there yet. It would behoove us to communicate with others with an awareness that this is the culture we’re speaking into. And in my view, there’s no harm to trying on different conversational techniques. Interacting with others from a place of profound unity (rather than just saying words or speaking one’s mind) is one i would recommend trying out.

I would even argue that being an objective scientific thinker isn’t about thinking scientifically 100% of the time – we are humyns after all, and part of being humyn is having subjective thoughts and feelings. Being objective isn’t about squashing those impulses, it’s about training ourselves to notice when we are approaching a question subjectively, and training ourselves to put that aside. Even long-time revolutionaries are subjective about things! We’re just also committed to developing our objective muscles. We can’t expect that quality of listening from people who have a lifetime of practice in all subjectivism all the time.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this technique, and i can definitely see how on the surface it sounds like liberalism or being wishy-washy. I believe it has been validated by all the seminal works i’ve studied on “how to relate to people” from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed to studying about Mao’s long march. That this view is in a minority in our organization is even further evidence of my lack of expertise in bringing this shift to our work. And, of course, maybe i’m wrong! Maybe head-on debate between individuals, in private, is the way to build unity, our organization, and our revolution.

I could go on even more trying to explain it, probably writing an entire book here. Instead i would love for comrades to try it out and let us know what they discover. If you come from a place of profound unity, deep listening and compassion in a conversation where you disagree with someone else, did anything shift in your relationship or organizing work with this persyn or people?

1. Mao Tse-tung, Combat Liberalism, 1937.

[Organizing] [Cummins Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 69]

Organizers, Be Versatile and Watch What you Say

Every time I write MIM(Prisons), talking about what I’ve got going on, or what I’m trying to do, my moves are intercepted, interfered with, or I’m retaliated against. It’s not wise to write to y’all and give the enemy the upper hand, or an advantage over me. If a person is in prison, then guess what? You’re in the devil’s back yard, where the devil says what goes. Common sense and history should obviously tell you that it’s the police’s jobs to police you. If you’re dumb enough to open your mouth about incriminating shit, while you know that the spotlight is beaming on you, then you deserve the consequences. A lot of these people in Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) just don’t got it in ’em to zip it. There’s a time to talk and there’s a time for silence.

Organizing tactics will vary, depending on why you’re getting organized and what you’re getting organized for. There’s no “one size fits all” organizing tactic. You got to be versatile and able to adapt under pressure and constant changes. To be able to roll with the punches, in other words. Keep your eyes open.

Everybody isn’t down. Everybody’s not a rider, or a soldier. Not everybody cares, or is able to listen and see. You have to be careful who you’re talking to, or what you’re openly/publicly speaking about, in ADC. Ironically and paradoxically, getting assigned to a one-man cell is one of the only ways to dodge the bogus individuals in ADC, if you know how to do time in a cell. The cell-blocks in ADC are analogous to SHUs [solitary confinement]. The prison culture in ADC is twisted. Got to be ever-mindful of this while organizing in the ADC.

One of the main problems that I personally experience in the ADC is that the prisoners are over-friendly with the police/guards. It’s accepted to befriend the police here, to pull them aside and whisper/gossip, or to kick it in the police’s offices. The majority of the ADC prisoners don’t even understand how to distinguish between a police and a snitch, or how to identify what “snitching” is and isn’t. What’s really troubling is that these gang affiliates allow police into their “gangs,” which contradicts everything that they claim to stand for. They call the high-ranking police their “OGs” here, and they see nothing wrong with this. In my eyes that’s an organized snitch-operation, with benefits.

They suck up to the police for scooby snacks. The dope fiend culture here is largely to blame. They believe that it’s acceptable to cooperate with police for drugs, highs, money, etc. (That’s the same as collaborating with police for time-cuts in my eyes.) They call collaborating with the police here “gangster moves,” “OG moves,” “shot calls,” etc. Technically, the government is a gang, but not in the sense of a street gang, or a lumpen organization (L.O.). They’re letting the government into their street gangs and L.O.s, which causes immense problems and struggles for people who are trying to get organized against government corruption, or imperialism.

There’s no fixing this type of issue overnight. One individual can’t tackle this issue single-handedly. I refuse to associate, in those types of ways, with the police, or snitches who work hand-in-hand with the police. These types of snitches are not concerned about making changes, and one of these undercovers will only put on a front, to infiltrate your organization and stir up chaos and confusion.

Like I said though, it really all depends on the direction that you’re trying to go, in terms of organizing and unity. Revolution, or reform? Long-term, or short-term? What types of changes are you aiming at? Do you honestly believe that you can pop off a full-scale “revolution” from inside of one, tiny prison? A prison riot isn’t a revolution.

My personal opinion is that if you’re trying to reform the prison system with long-term changes, that litigation is the most efficient, or effective method. History shows that the most significant changes in the prison systems in America have come from litigation. Litigation, generally, doesn’t work too well when trying to deal with short-term problems, or isolated incidents, mainly because litigation isn’t instantaneous, it takes time. And it’s doubtful that you can jump-off a revolution by litigating in a government courthouse, or by filing grievances. You have to first troubleshoot the most pressing problems inside of your facility, if you plan on reforming the prison system. And you must be able to think everything through, before you initiate a campaign.

I know from experience that single-handedly bucking on these police with physical force rarely accomplishes very much, except for giving the police a bogus excuse to press their foot down on your neck, or to exercise more control over you.

It’s probably a good idea to begin by getting to the least oppressive position before trying to do what needs to be done. Prison is not the place. The odds are stacked too high against prisoners, inside of prison, for prisoners to be able to leave too great of an impact. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there’s nothing positive that can be done. It’s just that many prisoners believe that the solution is to try to wage, or talk of waging a real-deal war with America from behind bars, and this is madness – counterproductive non-sense. Your greatest weapon from inside of an American prison is a pen and paper, which typically doesn’t involve getting 100% unity of prisoners. Another thing is that you’re never going to get all prisoners to agree on every little thing, at all times, which gets in the way of organizing, or unity.

I believe that one of the best things that a person can do is just to focus on themselves first, before trying to build up the next person, which constitutes as “leading by example.” Other people will see you doing positive things, or will listen to you speaking positively and they will often emulate, or mirror your actions. In order to change the world, you must begin by changing yourself. You must become the changes that you want to see in the world.

I’ve gotten good educational convos and occasional study groups going, to help others learn. The problem with that is, every time I get us organized on a positive tip like that, I always experience opposition, hostility, retaliation, interference or resistance from guards and/or prisoners.

One thing that does help me and has taught me a lot is radio talk shows like Ground Zero and Coast-to-Coast, (got to give them credit). Plus, these shows help me to do time easier, while learning. It makes learning fun and interesting. In a way, those talk shows are kinda like study groups. Because people can call in and give feedback. I think that it’d be an excellent idea to model study groups after the structure of these talk shows. To have an individual, with a particular expertise in a specific subject, prepare a speech, in conversation format, and then allow feedback and questions after the selected individual concludes their initial discourse. Then you can rotate new individuals to speak each session. The group can vote, maybe, to decide topics, speakers, etc. You can assign homework and self-study assignments for the down-time in between groups. Not everyone is going to want to be a speaker, which is fine, too. I fear simply speaking about starting a study group, because I already know how it goes. If a hater catches wind of such things, trouble isn’t far off.

Another suggestion is, if you’re in prison, with access to educational/radio shows, you can organize a group of people to listen to each show, and afterwards you can have civilized group discussions and debates on the show’s topics, with feedback and questions. One step further is to get out of prison and start your own radio show for prisoner education. A station for prisoners to tune into, for prison news, discussion, education programs, contests, etc. I haven’t done my research into that, but it wouldn’t be too hard to do. The good part is that prisoners can listen to radio broadcasts for free. Books and some newsletters/mags can be expensive, or impossible for prisoners to obtain. Also, it’d be kinda hard for people to shut down the study group if it’s done over the radio, huh? The prison guards can’t “censor” it, because it’s the FCC’s duty to censor radio broadcasts, not uneducated prison guards. The FCC decides what’s appropriate for American citizens to hear over the radio. True enough, radio-show hosts can deal with hostility as well, but at least the radio show isn’t trapped inside of a box, while battling sadistic foes.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer starts off with an analysis of conditions in Arkansas that lead to the conclusion that it is impossible to organize in Arkansas, but ends this letter with some excellent and creative ideas about how to run study groups. And so we really hope ey will implement these ideas and report back on how they work.

There are significant barriers to our organizing work here in the belly of the beast where the wealth of imperialism is thrown around to buy off even the lumpen in prison. We need to rise to this challenge and think creatively about how to break people off from the system and channel their energy into fighting the criminal injustice system that is the cause of their misery. Creative study groups are one such approach. We welcome thoughts from others about what this comrade might do based on the conditions ey describes in Arkansas.

[Education] [Control Units] [Tucker Max Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]

Sparking Conversations, Building Independent Institutions

First off I want to express gratitude and respect to the comrades that contributed to ULK 68. It has sparked some interesting conversations on the tier. And this dialogue is strengthening the unity; the only unity I’ve seen at this unit in the year and a half I’ve been here.

Here at Tucker Max Unit they have been keeping us restricted housing prisoners locked in our cells 24/7. We get one hour of yard every two weeks here at Gilligan’s Island due to “lack of security.” They recently re-opened their re-entry program and when they did so, they took officers off yard crew to go work the re-entry. They have made no effort in the past 3 months to replace these officers so re-entry is essentially running at the expense of our constitutional rights. Yard call is a constitutional right, re-entry is not. From my understanding they receive so much money per each prisoner enrolled in their programs, i.e. re-entry, substance abuse treatment, therapeutic comm., and in my opinion the biggest sham of all: the step-down program that restricted housing prisoners are being forced to enroll in. The parole board is notorious for stipulating the first three programs as a condition for prisoners to be considered for release. They reap double benefits thru this system. They get extra money for your enrollment in this program and they can release you with some semblance of rehabilitation.

We, the prisoners, know these programs are a joke. And when they don’t provide the rehabilitation sufficient upon release to hold it down and keep on top of our responsibilities then we become we the repeat offender. And the Dept. of Corruptions is right here with their paternalistic arms wide open, all the while telling us it’s our fault.

But to get another shot at freedom we’ll be forced back into the same programs. Spoiler alert: it’s not gonna work no matter how many times you take their programs, and that’s by design. They don’t want the programs to work. Why would they want us to stay out of prison? A requirement of these programs here in Arkansas is that you drop kites on other prisoners for shit as small as not tucking their shirts in, and if you don’t you’re considered as not “participating”. What the fuck does that have to do with a person getting their shit together and preparing for the responsibilities that weigh us down when we get out?

To boycott these programs would be ideal, knowing the money they rake in off of them. But far be it from me to tell the next man to not do what he’s gotta do to go home. But we can’t depend on these programs to be the substance of our rehabilitation.

So now that I’ve made the argument against their programs there are two questions to be addressed. How do we implement our own programs, and which programs should take priority? Well, as far as the programs that should take priority, we’ve got to implement those that build unity into community where everyone has a role, minus our egos. We must work together to come up with a format that has a higher potential of success when it comes to tackling the issues that perpetuate our carceral existence, and by “our carceral existence” I’m speaking of the shackles on our mind that even upon release from these dungeons into the free world, remain fast in place.

The Five Stages of Consciousness model in the Five Percent tradition will break these chains when utilized to the fullest, but so many of us only attain the base stage of consciousness or the second stage of subconscious and go no further. So many of us attain all this knowledge on our quest for truth, only to use it to know more than the next man. But how many of us are using our knowledge to help win lawsuits, win appeals, and other battles that build upon our independence from this paternalistic system? I constantly see pride and ego hinder all 5 of the United Front for Peace in Prisons points of unity, and keep a lot of prisoners from reaching out to others to build these independent institutions. It’s imperative that we tear these individualistic walls down and build upwards on community consciousness. We need examples of what these independent programs look like and how to build them.

The book Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett that MIM(Prisons) refers to in its response to “Fighting the System from Within” in ULK 68 sounds like a good place to find this example. The writer makes a good point in eir letter that if our people would come to work in these prisons that they could expose the deficiencies and ill treatment.

Which reminded me of a question a comrade asked me a while back pertaining to the “lack of security” I referred to above. The question was: why did I think that this place has such a high turnover rate? C.O.s get $17 an hour and Sergeants get $20 but they can’t keep them working here. It’s not like they work them especially hard. Myself, wanting to hold out hope in humanity answered that maybe once they started seeing this shit for what it really is, decide that they don’t want to be an active participant in the oppression of their community. Maybe I put too much faith in their moral standards? Even if my answer was right they are still actively participating by not exposing the things done in here. I also like how the writer put it that the “moral obligation is ours,” not just to end oppression, but to build a new system in its place. We the prisoners must champion our own rehabilitation and re-education, independent of our oppressors’ programs, no longer allowing them to determine our value and self/community worth.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer picks up on the theme from ULK 69 where we discuss building independent institutions. As this comrade points out, we can’t count on the criminal injustice system to provide us with effective programs for rehabilitation or release. And so we need to build these programs ourselves. One such independent program is this newsletter, in which we are free to expose the news and conditions that the bourgeois press refused to cover. An independent newsletter is critical to our education and organizing work.

Another example of independent institutions is MIM(Prisons)’s Re-Lease on Life program to help releasees stay politically active and avoid the trap of recidivism. This program isn’t yet big enough and is greatly lacking in resources, so right now we’re not very effective. But we have to start somewhere. And we work to connect with comrades like this writer to build this program on the inside and on the streets.

In the short term, anyone looking to build small independent institutions behind bars can start a study group. This is a good way to start educating others while also learning yourself. And you can build from there with anyone willing to sit down and study. We can support this work with study questions and literature, just let us know you’re interested!

[Abuse] [Medical Care] [East Arkansas Regional Unit] [Arkansas]

Brickley's Unit denies healthcare and grievances, creates dangerous conditions

Below are 10 stated facts of oppression here at Brickley’s Unit of ADC:

( 1) there is no air conditioning in cell-blocks, isolation cells, or several population barracks.

  1. Sleep deprivation is constant in cell-blocks, isolation and population due to the excessive heat and non-stop noise. Yet in population everyone is forced to work monday-friday without pay under such conditions - - else they will receive a disciplinary and lose their class, privileges, visits, phone, commissary and eventually receive isolation time for refusing.

  2. There are only 2 shower-heads to each barracks in population, yet shower times are between 4:30pm and 10:30pm. If caught taking showers out of that time frame, one is subject to disciplinary action.

  3. Obtaining proper medical attention is hard in population but even harder in cell-blocks and isolation. Once seen, after the initial $3.00 copay fee from the previous sick-call, the nurse/doctor will only prescribe you the cheapest and bare minimum of medicines so as soon as that expires, if your problem persists, one has to pay another $3.00 copay fee to get those meds renewed. Also, since I’ve been in the cell-blocks and ISO, I have received other peoples’ medicine at pill-call instead of my own several times.

  4. Mental-health doesn’t care what happens to inmates here at Brickey’s. Over 20 people have allegedly killed themselves or died smoking (K2) over the past 3 months of me transferring here. I myself was and still am having problems with my mental-health medication. Despite me writing several requests to mental health, writing grievances and overstating to my case manager that I need to see the psychiatrist because my meds weren’t working. Nothing has been done about it, that is why I locked myself down. Since then, every time one of the mental health people make their rounds I verbally tell them the same thing, yet to no avail. I even spoke to classification about this ongoing/worsening issue, yet they keep trying to release me back to population despite that I’ve written and verbally stated due to my mental health state, until I see the psychiatrist again and be placed meds that actually help me, I am a threat to security and don’t need to be in population. They don’t care! Also, every time they try and release me/force me to go back to population and I don’t, I receive another disciplinary.

  5. I am currently in a cell that leaks through the ceiling and outside wall onto my mat and table when it rains. In population, several barracks downstairs always flood when water comes under the outside doors during rains.

  6. Ants, roaches, mice and spiders are a major problem with the kitchen and cells.

  7. In the cell-blocks and in isolation cells, drinks are served 2-3 hours before every meal. By the time food is served, it is usually cold from sitting around waiting to be served. Also, when the drinks are served they are hot or lukewarm a lot of the time and there’s always things floating in it. Our water in general is dingy brown and often stinks.

  8. It is very hard to get paperwork back here (especially grievances). Once grievances are finally obtained, written and ready to be signed by a Sgt. or above, they will often walk right past your cell without signing them even when you ask them to. Also, mail is an issue in general - - as far as one receiving it from the outside world. My mail has been lost several times since I transferred here.

  9. Most of the TVs are busted out in every cell-block, preventing inmates from watching mandatory news or institutional movies.

[Abuse] [East Arkansas Regional Unit] [Arkansas]

ADC lockdown denies basic rights

Currently housed in a maximum security unit in Arkansas, where laws, rules, and procedures are governed by those of higher stature and officials who have previously passed laws. So why are those rules and laws constantly being overlooked and not abided by, by the staff, wardens, and directors of the Arkansas Dept. of Corrections?

We are on lock down twenty-four/seven, and being on lock down twenty-four/seven, by federal laws and statutes, we are allowed yard/recreation of some sort five times a week, five days a week here at Tucker on Restrictive, Ad-Seq, and Punitive ISO. We are not getting that. For the past three or four months, we have been getting an hour out, sometimes two hours a week. Is this not violating our 8th amendment constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment? There should be no reason at all we shouldn’t get yard/rec.. At least an hour out of our cells we are required to receive, especially when staff are available to take us out. This is just one issue we have been having here at this unit.

If we don’t follow the rules or ADC policy, we take punishment such as disciplinary, shakedowns etc. Filing a grievance here does no good, so the smoke blows in every direction, but not in the direction of justice. There gots to be a remedy, a way, a path for us on lockdown to get the things we are entitled to. Small things like receiving toilet paper, soap & toothpaste, cell cleanup, barracks cleaned, the list goes on. I know we put ourselves here by committing a crime, that still doesn’t allow the ADC at this unit to neglect us of what we are required to receive! Maybe MIM(Prisons) can help us find the proper direction or procedure to take as a body of those being neglected. Do you have available literature to read & take action? Thanks.

[Censorship] [North Central Unit] [Arkansas]

Arkansas censoring letters longer than 3 pages

I am an inmate at the North Central unit in Calico Rock, Arkansas. About six months ago they started a new mail policy to stop people in the free world from sending drugs through the mail. When this all started we were told to notify our peoples about this new policy which consisted of letters to us being no longer than 3 pages, one sheet, both sides and one side of another, or 3 sheets front-side only.

The letters are copied and originals are shredded immediately, this includes photos which one photo counts as one page. They shred it not caring if it has any sentimental value to you or not. It comes down to us receiving 2 sheets of paper, 3 sides for literature or a photo and one side to copy the envelope.

If a letter comes to the mailroom for you that exceeds 3 pages, that night at mail call you will receive a return mail notice at which time you are told to supply a stamped envelope to the mail room so they can return all of your letter back to sender. You get none of it. If you do not supply them with an envelope to return your mail to sender, then after 30 days your mail is destroyed leaving you wondering aimlessly what was written in your letter.

In my own experience as of lately an old girlfriend from 35 years ago has found me somehow, and has decided to write me. She leaves no return address, only her initial and the letters postmarked from Illinois, where I was born and raised. Since she’s not leaving a return address I have no way of contacting her and letting her know about this policy. It’s pretty cool having someone still thinking about me after so many years. Guess I’ll never know what was written cuz her letters will be destroyed without me ever being able to read them.

Isn’t this totally against what the First Amendment stands for? I can understand them trying to alleviate the problem of drugs coming in, I can deal with them copying the letters even though we won’t be able to smell the scent of a woman after she sprays our mail with the scent of her perfume, but to limit the amount of pages we’re allowed to receive is just against our rights. Is this legal and can you help me with this issue? I want to end this letter by saying I really enjoy reading your newsletter please send more, and everything you do and stand for is awesome!

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