Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Arkansas Prisons

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www.prisoncensorship.info 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.

[Religious Repression] [Arkansas]
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Director of Arkansas Department of Prisons Lies Under Oath to U.S. Courts

The hard line confederacy (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) attack on prisoner's religious rights to hair and beards while incarcerated has led to a blatant case of perjury in the State of Arkansas, in an attempt to justify this religious repression.

In an effort to deny a prisoner his right to a beard as a Muslim, magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe, U.S. District Court, ruled that while a prisoner has a right to his religious practices under the Religious Land Use/Institutionalized Person Act (R.L.U.I.P.A., 42 U.S. Code § 2000cc) the prison could overwhelm his constitutional rights if there was a credible, reasonable 'security penological necessity' to trample those rights.

In quick order, the District Judge rubber stamped this, once Ray Hobbs, the director of the State of Arkansas Department of Prisons, stated in a sworn deposition that he personally was aware of one single example of one type of dangerous contraband being smuggled, concealed in a prisoner's beard. (A long laundry list of horrors, which the state claimed 'may' be hidden in a quarter inch beard but not, presumably, elsewhere on the body, included cell phone SIM cards, knives, drugs, and homemade darts).

The U.S. Supreme Court will now take up this case. Last term, this court ruled (by the five right wingers) that corporations have religious rights that trump women's civil rights. ("Hobby lobby" case). Now, the same lawyers who argued for the corporation in that case, to create civil rights for non-living corporations, will press the prison's case to deny religious rights. The lawyers are specially appointed by the court that will hear the case. No one dares complain, after all, since to do so would be to attack the judges you hope will rule in your favor, as "biased."

In a bizarre twist discovered after the lower courts ruled based upon the sole example of a dangerous, and in this example deadly, razor blade smuggled in a prisoner's beard, perjury most foul was exposed. And it was dripping off the lips of none other than director Roy Hobbs, top good ol' boy in the Arkansas department of corruption.

Roy Hobbs swore that a prisoner named Steven Oldham smuggled a razor blade within his beard, and when the opportunity arose, he proceeded to commit suicide with that very razor blade. My goodness. How simply awful, and of course, how clear it is that beards are a deadly threat to security.

The magistrate, district and circuit judges all agreed.

Let's peek behind the perjury veil.

As was well known to Roy Hobbs, prior to and during his part in the conspiracy to defraud the courts, the razor that dealt the lethal wound was a bright orange plastic single blade item purchased by Arkansas Dept. of Corruption. This molded plastic unit with a steel blade encased within it was not ever suspected of being smuggled, hidden, or illicitly possessed. It was handed to the prisoner by prison staff, with orders to shave off his beard.

The lying director, desperate to manufacture even one tiny example of any kind of 'beard smuggling' to justify his blatantly racist attack on the religious rights of persons who, in the southern states, face a lot of this special treatment in prisons, had knowingly concocted this 'boogie man'. It worked. Only if the razor had been used against a guard would the fantasy incident have carried more weight with the tsk tsking judges all the way to the country's supreme court.

Roy Hobbs did the usual finger-pointing maneuver when caught red handed committing perjury, he blames everyone in the world for misleading him into stating he knows for a fact that which any cursory investigation reveals as false. In California, where I reside on death row, penal code §125 declares that when a person states under oath that which he does not know to be a fact, that is identical to knowingly lying. Even if the 'fact' happens to be true. That means, in this state at least, Roy Hobbs was guilty of perjury for stating as fact this 'razorblade in the beard' lie, even had it been true. Which of course, it was obviously not.

The country's highest court is now reviewing whether the 'security claim' by the prison director is sufficient to overcome a prisoner's religious rights. Even when the single faked security claim was blazingly criminal perjury. This should be an opportunity for the high court to write the rules about what level of proof of flat out corruption prisoners may use to destroy the court's own rule about how prison officials get deference when they shriek "security!"

Let's see what pretzeled logic and tortured theories the rat pack at the supreme court come out with. The only evidence of any security risk was conspired criminal perjury. Roy Hobbs keeps directing Arkansas' prisons, rather than occupying a cell in a federal penitentiary.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The entire criminal injustice system, from police to prisons, is set up to serve the interests of the imperialists running the government. So it's no surprise that false evidence is sufficient to deny prisoner's rights. This case is unique in that the perjury was actually exposed. Unfortunately, the courts don't serve up justice, and so we can expect little from them in defending the rights of the oppressed. The imperialist courts will never lead to liberation for the oppressed. We must continue to expose these cases to educate people about the systematic nature of injustice as we build an anti-imperialist movement that can overthrow the system that relies on injustice for its very survival.

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[Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 34]
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Day of Peace Protest in Arkansas

For the annual day of peace we pulled together approximately 70 prisoners scattered around the institution. We avoided the cafeteria at all costs and kept our contact with the pigs at a minimum. We had a lot of cats who faked or simply broke weak because of their watered down hearts, but as a whole we are proud to say that you can add Arkansas/Varner unit to the list of participants.

Next year we're going to expand with a stated goal of at least a thousand participants crossing all lines toward producing unity among the poor and oppressed is a struggle that we must take step-by-step, making small gains with each step until we've achieved our goal.

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[Censorship] [Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 18]
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Keeping Rules a Secret Makes them Easier to Break

First and foremost I hope this letter reaches you. Officer Sherry A Conrad over in the mailroom has been opening and reading my legal mail. She has also confiscated every legal document I have tried to send to you, along with the letters I've written to you about her. I used the prisoner grievance system against her and ever since then she has used retaliation against me. She has written 3 major disciplinary reports on me about my mail; one of these major disciplinary reports was concerning a letter I wrote you. I appealed this major disciplinary but Warden Jimmy Banks has violated my due process rights and refused to answer my appeal.

Under Lock & Key was also confiscated and sent to the Unit Publication Review Committee for "illegal discrimination, violence, verbal or sexual abuse or inflammatory attitudes towards any racial, sexual, age, handicapped or individuals or groups." I appealed the decision of this committee but it also has been refused to be answered. Now Warden Jimmy Banks and Law Library Officer Ms. Smith are refusing to make copies of my legal documents so I can mail them to you and the United States District Court to file a claim against them.

I've also requested the Administrative Regulation and Directives of the Arkansas Department of Corrections so I could send them to you and the court but I've been denied access to these by Warden Jimmy Banks. Warden Banks does not want us to have these Administrative Regulations or Directives because he or his officers at the Varner Super Max Unit do not follow the Administrative Regulations and Directives. So many of our rights are being violated by Warden Banks and his officers, it's not even funny.

This is the good ole south, "the good ole boy system" and they will do everything it takes to keep the public, media, or any other group or organization in the dark about how prisoners are being violated in the Arkansas prison system. The prisoners in Arkansas will not stand or stick together, write grievances, or write the public, media or any other groups or organizations out of fear of major disciplinaries or retaliation used against them for doing so. If a prisoner writes a grievance, public officials, media or groups or sticks together to take a stand against the ADC, they are placed in the Super Max under false charges, written major disciplinaries that will keep them from being released, are placed in the hole without any of their property, and the list goes on and on.

If a prisoner keeps on doing these things to stand against the ADC then the officers will use all kinds of force on the prisoner and make the reports look like the force was justified. I have been held in the Varner Super Max for one year under false banding together, escape, possession of tobacco, and possession of cell phone charges. Now they are using retaliation against me by confiscating my legal and personal mail and writing me major disciplinary reports for the mail they confiscate when I've broken no administrative regulation, directives, policies or rules. They are also refusing me law books, legal copies, and administrative regulations and directives that I need. I've been told by the Warden himself that I'll never be released from Varner Super Max into population.

I know many prisoners who want to write your organization but they have seen everything that has happened to me and others who have written letters about the ADC and they are afraid. I refuse to just lay down and go quietly away. I try to stay in the law books, and follow all rules, policies and regulations. A lot of prisoners come to me for legal advice and I try to help all I can. I'm working on filing a big claim of many violations against Interim Director Ray Hobbs, Warden Jimmy Banks, Officer Sherry A. Conrad of the ADC in the United States District Court.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This account of retaliation against prisoners who fight censorship and other illegal actions in prisons should strengthen our resolve to get Under Lock & Key in the hands of all prisoners who can receive it. We know receiving ULK can be a risk, which is why it is important that our subscribers share. But if you're not organizing, then nothing's gonna change. Those on the outside willing to help with these legal battles can aid us both in fighting censorship and exposing the criminal injustice system. As long as the state is not following its own rules, there will be countless legal battles to take on.

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[Prison Labor] [Abuse] [Arkansas]
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Grievances in Arkansas

Here in Arkansas state prisons we have a terrible grievance procedure. The administration and pigs call it an "informal resolution" and it is a joke. I have enclosed the front page so you can check it out.

In Arkansas we receive no pay for the jobs we perform, but at Christmas time the state places a big $6 on our books, averaging out to about 1 1/2 cents per day. In the mid to late 90s I ran one of the unit's cabinet shops and would often work 12 hour days, 7 days a week for that $6. Purely slave labor in my opinion.

Here they shut out our lights at 10:30pm and turn them on again as early as 3am, leaving them off only 4 1/2 hour, and this is usually done 7 days a week.

The food we get us usually not fit for human consumption. Very often the hamburger meat and chicken are spoiled, but most of us can't afford to go to the commissary store and must eat it.

Our grievances often get "lost" or "misplaced" if they have factual info about a staff member, especially if a few individuals write them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This problem with grievances is not unique to Arkansas. For this reason United Struggle from Within initiated a grievance campaign this year. If you are filing grievances about any issue and they aren't being handled properly by staff, consider becoming a part of this campaign and spread it to your people inside.

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Arkansas]
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Psych torture in Arkansas

Here in Arkansas we don't have the types of problems they do in other states. They did years ago. Now it is subtle psychological conditioning (that neither the guards/staff/inmates realize they are a part of).

Most of the units in Arkansas were built by inmates - they received a slightly better living environment for their efforts - only because the inmates on construction created less problems for one another, not even realizing that their efforts were creating problems for many more in the future. Had we not built these warehouses for the state to store us, Arkansas would only be able to house half this many people.

After reading the most recent ULK, I must say that I have been telling these Arkansas inmates we need to quit working for the longest, they do not want to lose Good Time (we don't get paid to work in Arkansas). I've tried to explain that if staff billed inmate jobs we would cause a strain in resources and would cause many non-violent offenders to be released early. It also appears that many are not grasping that the officers also are part of the oppressed peoples. In Arkansas, prisoners are racially balanced and most officers are colored.

I filed suit against the county for not feeding us properly. I have now been transferred to a facility with minimal law resources.

MIM responds: We do not agree that the prison officers are part of the oppressed people. While they may be from the oppressed nations, they are not a part of the oppressed peoples. They have been bought off and are working for the oppressors. They are in one of the professions most overtly working for the imperialist system. This means their interests are no longer aligned with their oppressed nation.

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[Organizing] [Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Arkansas Uses Contraband to Control Prisoners

I am writing to let you know that all the articles in the July 2009 issue of ULK I agree with. I am a prisoner housed at Varner Supermax in Arkansas and we have it hard here too. The system here uses some brutality as a means to keep us apart. But mostly they use material things (rings, watches, drugs, cell phones, women, etc) as a means to have us at each others throats.

I mean really if the DOC didn't want any of this to get in their prisons then it wouldn't. But they allow it because they are getting kickbacks and it keeps prisoners at each other and not focusing on the real issues. As long as we are at each other then we can never unite and as long as we don't unite then we can't stand for the greater cause. This allows them to treat us like beasts and do as they please.

Here in VSM we are living in filth. Our cells are so nasty. We aren't being given any brooms or mops. Our cells flood every time we shower in them. We have to take a couple paper towels sprayed and clean our whole cell. But we are too busy down here hatin' and trying to get each other knocked off, all for a dollar, that we ain't trying to bring this to the outside attention.

We just can't give up and lay down. Use your grievance systems, write letters, and do what you have to do to let it be known how we are being done. Pushing paper works.

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[Prison Labor] [Arkansas]
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Prison Labor in Arkansas

I received the ULK issues 7 and [https://www.prisoncensorship.info/ulk/8]8. There are many issues that come to mind reading them. We here in the Arkansas department of Corrections receive good time for work as follows: for every day Class IV=0, Class III=10 days, Class II=20 days, Class I=30 days. When you arrive at a unit you begin "hoe squad" at Class II for an initial 60 days. Each 30 days you receive 20 days good time, then if you get put up for classification you get Class I and a job change. Hoe Squad is working cotton fields, corn fields, etc. with a Texas Aggie Hoe. Once you get Class I and a job change you get 30 days for every 30 days you work.

If you get into any trouble during your stay you are automatically taken back to class IV, and each time 365 days good time is taken whether you have it or not. Somehow you have to try to get that good time back or you don't ever see a parole date. Imagine losing 3 years good time your first 6 months incarcerated and then trying to get back what you don't have.

No prisoner is paid any funds for their jobs, whether it be in the fields or in the buildings, maintenance, clerks, fire and safety, cooks, laundry, etc. We are held in sub-standard conditions, charge us for medical treatment, and our entire funds are $6 per year per prisoner for Christmas and 1 razor, 1 soap per prisoner per week.

We need OGs of all sets to come to the realization that once incarcerated we are the enemy. Unification is a must. Peace needs to be condoned and even guarded by one another. Shot callers need to unite. Get your boyz together, choose decisions and then roll on together - all of us.

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