Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Arizona Prisons

Postage is one of our biggest expenses. Why not send a book of stamps or two to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140 next time you're at the post office? help out

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.

[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Arizona]
expand

Downloadable Grievance Petition, Arizona

Arizona Petition
Click to Download PDF of Arizona Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones inside who are experiencing issues with the 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 below, which are also on the petition itself. Supporters should send letters of support on behalf of prisoners.

Warden
(specific to your facility)

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

ADC Office of Inspector General
Mail Code 930
801 South 16th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034

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

Senator John McCain
4703 S. Lakeshore Drive, Suite 1
Tempe, AZ 80282

Representative Raul Grijalva
810 E. 22nd Street, Suite 102
Tucson, AZ 85713

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

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

*Petition updated January 2012, July 2012, December 2014, October 2017, and April 2019*

chain
[Legal] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 37]
expand

Fighting for Useful Legal Counsel in Arizona

end solitary confinement Arizona
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) picked up my pending case challenging inadequate medical services and unconstitutional conditions of confinement in 2011. We're expecting a trial date in 2015. We are attempting to force Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to change its policy and practice of housing the mentally ill in isolation for extended periods of time. State prison is extremely poor, prisons are understaffed and riddled with security flaws. I am an adamant critic and am vocal about its policies and practices, therefore the administration has made my life here in prison severely difficult.

I am also working on my criminal convictions. I've navigated myself through multiple tiers of appeals. I really had a hard time exhausting all my state remedies in the Arizona State Courts. It took me almost eleven years to figure out, but most recently I filed my first federal habeas corpus petition in Arizona Federal District Court. I am requesting that the federal court appoint me a lawyer to investigate the possibility of state judicial corruption against the Tucson Police Department and the Pima County Attorneys Office. Last week I filed a Writ of Certiorari. This is a petition to the United States's highest court; they only address issues involving "Constitutional magnitude." I'm asking them to resolve the Constitutional question that was left open in Martinez V. Ryan, 623 F.3d 731, 132S.CT1309(1023) of:

"Whether a defendant in a state criminal case has a federal Constitutional Right to effective Assistance of Counsel at initial-review-collateral-proceedings specifically with respect to his ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel-claim."

Because state law does not mandate Effective Assistance of Counsel during a convicted criminal's Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings (Ariz. R. Crim. P. Rule 32), I'm able to believe that prisoners in Arizona are being discriminated against because they're indigent and cannot afford effective counsel during their Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings. The United States Supreme Court only takes 3% of the cases filed each term, so the odds of them taking my case is nil, but imagine if they did. WOW, this would mean that a pro se litigant would have molded the law to conform to the needs of the oppressed here at the very bottom of society's heap. A person is only as big as his dreams.

Fortunately, it does not end there. A Section 1983 Civil Rights Action prohibits a state from discriminating pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that:

"No state shall... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the Law."

The clause is "a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike."(City of Cleburne V. Cleburne Living ctr, 4730 U.S. 432,439 (1985))

I am determined to build a strong campaign to gain Injunctive Relief in a class action seeking to remedy the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment violations caused by Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 32's past and continuing operations. Our actions, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of our conviction or sentence, therefore Section 1983 Class Action is the proper vehicle.(Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,82 (2005).)

If you feel you were denied Effective Assistance of trial council, and a Fourteenth Amendment right to effective assistance of Appeals Counsel for your Initial-Review Collateral Proceedings because either you did not have an attorney during your first Rule 32, or your Arizona R. Crim. P Rule 32 Lawyer was ineffective for failing to investigate Trial Counsel claims and/or other substantial right claims during trial, it would be important to draft out a notarized affidavit outlining the facts in your specific case and send them to the addresses below. If we're able to gain enough affidavits, then we could proceed to present these facts to a federal district court asking them to appoint class counsel and certify our case as a class action. All we can do is try! In Strength and Solidarity, Revolution!

Send your notarized affidavits to:


Arizona Prison Watch
P.O. Box 20494
PHX, AZ 85036

Middle Ground Prison Reform
139 E Encanto Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281

Arizona Justice Project
P.O. Box 875920
Tempe, AZ 85287-5930


MIM(Prisons) adds: Please note to not send your affidavits to MIM(Prisons). We do not have the resources to copy and mail your affidavits to the addresses listed above.

We commend this comrade on discovering loopholes in the legal system and attempting to remedy them to the advantage of the most oppressed in this country. We encourage comrades in Arizona to participate in this effort to provide more legal support to prisoners in the state (at least on paper).

And we must remember that our struggle cannot stop there. While a successful habeas corpus case may help a prisoner to be released, a release is only as valuable as what you do with your time when you've made it outside. A recently released comrade wrote of the challenges s/he will face after h parole, and the difficultes s/he will have in carrying out political work, even though s/he is supposedly now "free." The trend toward individualism of general legal counsel is one reason why the MIM(Prisons)-led Prisoners' Legal Clinic only works on issues directly related to expanding our ability to organize, educate, and build toward an end to illegitimate imprisonment altogether (i.e. communist society). We believe people should fight for their release, but that they also should struggle for the release of the world's majority from the chains of imperialism.

Related to the topic of carefully selecting our battles, we have written extensively on the limitations of focusing on fighting housing mentally ill prisoners in long-term isolation.(1) Some shortcomings of this strategy are legitimization of long-term isolation for not-yet-mentally-ill prisoners, and the fact that long-term isolation leads to mental illness in prisoners even if they entered isolation with sound mind and body. Of course we agree with the principle that mentally ill prisoners should not be housed in long-term isolation. But we take it further to say that no prisoners should be housed in long-term isolation, and we see no value in selling out some comrades on this issue in order to save others; eventually everyone held in long-term isolation will suffer mental illness. Abolish the SHU!

chain
[Medical Care] [Arizona State Prison Complex Lewis Morey] [Arizona]
expand

Health Hazard in Arizona

We can't get anything done around here like getting a toilet or sink fixed. There are 800 cells on this yard and in 5% of them these basic amenities don't work. We literally have to fill mop buckets of water to flush down waste. Three of these pods leak water from the ceiling on to the day room 24 hours a day. It's always flooded and this combination is physically and biologically hazardous.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we explained in ULK 34, prisoner health is a systematic problem. We have documented cases of lack of adequate nutrition or even safe uncontaminated food, brutality that leads to permanent physical health problems, contaminated water, medical neglect and other sources of health problems throughout the prison system. This problem with toilets and other leaking water is yet another example of prisons creating conditions that lead to significant health problems for the captives. Sanitation is a basic problem that we typically see in Third World countries, but this is just one of many examples of poor sanitation in Amerikan prisons. While individual cases like this could be addressed by the prison, we know that inadequate medical care and lack of basic sanitation are conditions the oppressed face around the world, and not something that imperialism has an interest in fixing.

chain
[Campaigns] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 26]
expand

Hatred from ADC and Grievance Campaign Update

Florence Grievance Petition Response

The grievance campaign is very well alive out here in Arizona. As a litigious prisoner of war, isolated behind closed doors, I am doing my part in disseminating the grievance campaign where I feel it can have its most impact. I have also imported its meaning into an actual grievance alleging a denial of my First Amendment rights and access to courts. If Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) does not follow through and respond to my grievances within their specified time frames, I anticipate filing a lawsuit. I am also seeking injunction relief, asking the court and ADC to consider how its grievances are handled when being delivered to prisoners. This is because I believe they should be handled confidentially due to the legal issues that are presented in these grievances.

Your most recent letter including an Unconfirmed Mail Form and letter to Director Charles L. Ryan, et al. regarding censorship was given to me yesterday [3 April 2012] with "please pick up your idiot form from you CO III" written on it. In addition, a cigarette hole was burned through the letter. This type of misconduct is extremely unprofessional, especially coming from a government entity claiming rehabilitation, justice, standards, and professionalism.

Unfortunately this type of unprofessional behavior seems to be an ongoing pattern of harassment against MIM(Prisons). I am requesting that an incident report be documented in this case, and that ADC conduct an internal investigation. Furthermore, I'm asking that they ensure that I am no longer harassed in the form of tampering with my mail, which is a Federal offense.

I am sending this envelope to the ACLU who is now representing me and several other prisoners in a class action lawsuit against ADC Director Charles L. Ryan as the Defendant. We are alleging inadequate medical and mental health services, which are unconstitutional conditions of confinement. I am hoping they can see the hatred that is rained upon us at the hands of this corrupt state. This lawsuit appears to be following the footsteps of Brown v. Plata. The ACLU is asking for injunctive relief, asking that all mental health prisoners be taken out of isolation.

I am including some addresses that can be helpful in gathering some momentum in our struggle. They are aware of the prejudice that we're currently experiencing. I'm hoping we can put this together and change Arizona's precedent to violate our First Amendment rights.


MIM(Prisons) adds:Strategically, MIM(Prisons) disagrees with legal battles that do not serve the rights of all prisoners such as the popular trend of getting "mentally ill" prisoners out of isolation. Doing this further legitimizes the use of torture against those who are mentally strong and are put in isolation for political repression rather than "ill" behavior. There are better ways to reform torture and reduce the number of people in long-term isolation.

Above is a letter from a staff persyn at Florence Correctional Center responding to a grievance petition that a prisoner submitted. The staff persyn tells the prisoner to talk to a Correctional Officer about his grievances, when the grievance petition clearly says that this has been tried, doesn't work, and something else needs to be done to protect the prisoners' rights to due process.

So far everyone who has responded directly to the many, many grievance petitions that have been submitted to various prison administrators all over the country have simply referred the petitioners to seek remedy from another entity. No one has taken responsibility for this issue, all the way up the hierarchy. Even when petitioning the United Nations for various humyn rights abuses, U.$. prisoners have been told to seek remedy within the United $tates "justice" system. We will continue to distribute and publicize the grievance petitions to further highlight this point. One prisoner reports to have seen some success in a lawsuit in Oklahoma.

Clearly justice, due process, and fairness will not be given to us just by making the authorities aware of the problem. Raising public awareness may help apply pressure for reforms to be made. But the most thorough remedy for an end to injustice is to organize against the conditions that allow this to happen. A government designed to protect people and not profits would jump at the opportunity to correct an injustice, especially against its imprisoned population. We know that a society like this is possible, because we've studied how socialism worked under the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong. We encourage everyone frustrated with the Amerikan administrative runaround to work with MIM(Prisons) to build for a better world.

chain
[Control Units] [Arizona State Prison Complex Florence Central] [Arizona]
expand

Conditions in Arizona Control Units

Currently I'm on a level 5/5 maximum security yard in Florence AZ called central unit, and here we only receive two meals a day, a sack breakfast with 6 slices of bread and 2 or 3 slices of some processed meat, maybe peanut butter, 2 slices of cheese and a state tea, salad dressing and mustard pack around 6:45 a.m. Then we get a hot dinner with small portions around 8 p.m. at night. That's 10-14 hours almost between meals.

We get recreation in single man recreation cages for two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and receive showers on the same day. The rec cages are filthy. Some filled with bird (pigeon) feces and have been swept out only once my entire year at this facility. We can only take one water bottle to rec with us, and we never see another correction officer until rec is over; which sometimes lasts 3-4 hours in the heat due to shift change or count movement.

We don't get any chemicals to clean and sanitize our cells (which are one man) or toilet and usually have to use our own store bought or indigent soap to do so, and for those of us without money that's a costly procedure. I've been sitting in this cell for a minute and this yard is fucked up. My ceiling is cracked and falling apart, my paints peeling and these pigs always say "I'll put in a work order" and we never hear from them again unless we stay on their asses. These pigs got many convicts scared to act in any way (unless it's a racial offense) and scared to lose their good time or eligibility to go up in phases, or get STGd.


MIM(Prisons) responds: These conditions, which amount to nothing short of torture, in prison control units are common across the country and a driving force behind our campaign to shut them down.

chain
chain
[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [Legal] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [Arizona State Prison Complex Central Unit] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 18]
expand

ADC Claims No Obligation to Honor U.$. Constitution

Due Process

As our readers already know, MIM(Prisons) runs political study groups with our comrades behind bars. And as some of you know, and have experienced, the state generally finds our non-violent, non-law breaking, communist study in poor taste. In October 2009, a study group assignment for the pamphlet "What is MIM?," which included other participants' responses to the previous assignment, was mailed to a participant held in Arizona. This study group assignment was censored because allegedly it "may be obscene or a threat to security" generally, and "promotes racism and/or religious oppression" specifically. Yes, this is coming from the state that is fighting the federal government in court to be allowed to use the color of one's skin as probable cause for investigating immigration law violations.

Our comrade imprisoned in Arizona appealed this decision, and MIM(Prisons) wrote to the prison administration to request an explanation as to how this study group assignment could "promote racism and/or religious oppression" without even mentioning races, nationalities, or religions:

"It is truly fascinating that your mailroom staff could find the promotion of racism and/or religious oppression in this document. Nowhere in the letter are the following words even mentioned: religious, religion, christian, muslim, baptist, KKK, white, mexican, latino, asian or arab. The word "black" is written once in the context of a reference to the Black Panther Party's education programs. How can you even talk about religion or race enough to speak against it if you don't use any of the above mentioned words?" - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant

No attempt has ever been made by Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) administration to address this point. ADC General Counsel Karyn Klausner offered her opinion: "I have reviewed the materials sent by MIM Distributors and find the decision to exclude the publication due to content 'promoting racism and/or religious oppression,' was appropriate." She gave no explanation of how she came to the conclusion that it was an "appropriate" violation of Constitutionally protected rights. In a later letter Ms. Klausner clarified that with this statement she didn't mean she was "upholding" the censorship in her official capacity as General Counsel of the Office of the Director of ADC, just that she agreed with it on a persynal level.

Instead of explaining how the study group mailing in any way promotes racism and/or religious oppression, ADC administrators then began to rely on their policy of violating MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech and association to censor this study group assignment:

"There is nothing in case law that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal a decision to exclude its material on an administrative appeal level. . . You are not entitled to a forum within the prison system." - ADC Director, Charles Ryan

Director Ryan clearly had not investigated the matter on the prisoner's end either. He claimed that our imprisoned comrade had not appealed the decision to censor, yet s/he had, on multiple levels, and submitted requests for the results of these appeals.

"You claim that MIM Distributors has no rights to appeal the censorship of their mail. While we are not lawyers, and may have put too much weight on the Procunier case, we still uphold that we have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights according to federal law. As employees of the state you may not deny anyone their rights to free speech and association arbitrarily and without due process. In fact, if you read Thornburgh v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401, which you referred [COLLEAGUE] to, you will see that its procedural protection was provided because the publisher was notified of the censorship and given the right to independent review. A number of U.S. Court of Appeals decisions have upheld the right of the publisher in such instances (Montcalm Publ'g Corp. v. Beck, 80 F.3d 105, 106 (4th Cir.), Trudeau v. Wyrick, 713 F.2d 1360, 1366 (8th Cir.1983), Martin v. Kelley, 803 F.2d 236, 243-44 (6th Cir.1986) )." - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant

And ADC's response?

"You assert that 'MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech' is not being respected. The Arizona Department of Corrections is obligated to respect, within the confines of legitimate penological interests, an inmate's constitutional rights. It does not follow that ADC is likewise obliged to do the same for an independent distributor such as MIM." - General Counsel, Karyn Klausner

It is apparent that the ADC believes themselves to be exempt from the legal straitjacket of the United $tates Constitution, which they don't see as having an application in the 10th Circuit. This isn't surprising coming from an institution whose administrators believe that one can promote racial and/or religious repression without ever talking about race or religion!

Amerikans like to pretend they hold no political prisoners, yet political repression is an integral part of the U.$. injustice system at every step. In our struggle for a world without oppression, MIM(Prisons) works to build public opinion for national liberation struggles amongst prisoners through our newsletter Under Lock & Key, our free books for prisoners program, and our study groups. Within prisons, there are two primary ways in which the state enacts political repression: through physical torture techniques such as solitary confinement, forced drugging, beatings, starvation and murder; and through the control of the spread of ideas, which also includes solitary confinement as well as the censorship of mail, and outlawing oppressed nation organizations.

In pre-fascist Amerika, we are still promised certain rights under United $tates laws. While we recognize that U.$. law will never lead us to communism (a world without oppression), we still need to fight for more room to organize and educate for revolution. Fighting against the censorship of revolutionary literature is vital to maintaining the connection between the inside and out, which may make the difference between being turned on to communism or not for many people. For those already turned on, we need to fight against censorship so that we can continue to build our revolutionary understanding.

Like a MIM Distributors Legal Assistant mentioned above, we are not lawyers. We do what we can to protect our Constitutional rights from the outside with the resources we have, and we rely on prisoners to fight to maintain their rights from the inside. If there is a lawyer who wants to get involved with this specific incident in Arizona, or with anti-censorship work in general, get in touch!

You can browse incidents of censorship here.

chain
[Campaigns] [Legal] [Arizona]
expand

No Experience Necessary

I received the Prisoners' Legal Clinic letter dated 4 October 2010. I am very glad to see that we're making excellent progress in bringing our ideas together to develop an energetic foundation. MIM(Prisons) has been faithful in their constant commitment to battling oppression. Therefore, I'd like to continue to contribute to this movement and participate in its progressive legal work.

I am obligated to challenge the inhumane conditions of confinement. I wouldn't go so far as indicating that I enjoy doing the litigation part, because it is very confusing. But I have a strong desire to change things for all of us who are oppressed.

I have been in solitary confinement for eight years, and because of the economic crisis around the world, Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has been susceptible to providing sub-standard conditions. Thus I am currently litigating three §1983 federal civil rights complaints. I am hoping to bring my complaints to the courts in an effort to change policy and procedure, but I'm afraid that significant change comes from the legislators, who of course engineers these illegal laws that keep us further oppressed. I understand the real solution is socialism, and the only way to obtain it is in pieces.

I am currently setting the paper trail (framework) to the censorship repression I am experiencing at this time. The policy seems to be used as a safeguard to hinder the process of my studies. Furthermore, it's denying me my Constitutional right to freedom of speech (First Amendment). So I am hoping to be part of these grievance petitions and censorship campaigns.

I am in the process of distributing the grievance petitions to the proper officials out here in Arizona. I have the copies ready to be sent out, but like a comrade in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic said,

"I cannot see how the DOJ would be willing to assist us when it's likely their office is instructing, or giving guidance to, the institutions' appeals coordinators to screen out legitimate grievances at all cost, in an effort to frustrate our access to the courts."

I agree with this comrade. I basically think our grievance petitions go unheard anywhere we address them. But I think if we are going to get any consideration outside the court, it'll be through Senators or legislators. If you can suggest some things that would be a blessing to me, I have no experience or knowledge. But I'm extremely motivated and I must try. Because once I can't try any more, at least I can say "I tried." So sign me up.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Many people are afraid to start making change because they don't know where to start, or they are intimidated because they have no experience. This comrade's attitude toward learning something new is one that we would all do well to adopt.

We agree with h assessment that there are levels to change, with overthrowing capitalism being the only way to eliminate the source of these abuses. Even if new laws are put in place that make it harder for prison administrators and employees to obstruct the grievance process, their effect will be limited without independent power from organizing the oppressed. One reason we support reform of the grievance process is because it makes more space for this valuable organizing work.

If you would like to get involved in the campaign for the proper handling of grievances, write to MIM(Prisons) or follow the campaign page link below.

chain
[National Oppression] [International Connections] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 17]
expand

Private Prison Scandal in AZ Legislature

ALEC structure

By aligning Amerikans' immediate interests with their long-term interests, the militarization of the U.$./Mexico border has become a machine that will not likely slow down on its own. This machine is propelled by the imperialist politicians, imperialist businessmen (often the same people), and the Amerikan labor aristocracy. This collusion of interests at a time when Amerikan hegemony is fragile spells danger for the oppressed nations, in particular for Aztlán.

National Public Radio (NPR) released a report this week exposing financial and political connections between the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and those behind Arizona's oppressive SB1070 law.(1) The law, which is still under judicial review after being put on hold, legalizes racial profiling and empowers state police to enforce federal immigration laws in the process. The scandal, now being denied by the bill's sponsor Senator Russell Pearce and others, is that they passed the law to increase their income and the profits of their corporate backers.

Without SB1070, CCA was getting an estimated $117 million a year from the federal government for imprisoning migrants. Meanwhile, Wackenhut/G4S, the next largest private prison company, has a $76 million a year contract to bus migrants around the border for the U.$. government. Of course, both of these sums are chump change compared to the $3.6 billion budget for Border Patrol in 2010.(2) All of this is federal money going to the oppressor nation to do its thing — oppress.

The essence of what is going on is Amerikans getting paid a lot of money to make sure Amerikans get paid a lot of money. That's why the border exists and why it must be militarized. If it is not, the masses whose labor value has been stolen and exported to the United $tates would come here to benefit from the fruits of their labor. Without closed borders, we can't keep the wealth inside.

The NPR report exposes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization of state legislators and powerful corporations that get together to draft and propose laws (see figure above). The companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend such meetings with those who make the law. And according to NPR, the number of legislators who sponsored SB1070 was almost unprecedented and 30 out of the 36 received contributions from prison companies or prison lobbyists in the 6 months following SB1070's passage. Meanwhile, two of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's top advisers are former prison lobbyists.(1) All of this makes CCA's and Sen. Pearce's denials of corporate influence look silly.

None of this is new to CCA, which was founded in Nashville, Tennessee by former chairman of the state Republican Party, Tom Beasley and his former roomy from the U.$. Military Academy at West Point, Doc Crants. Initial investors included the governor's wife, Honey Alexander, and the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Ned McWherter.(3) Ever since then, their business model has relied on close political ties just as most military, defense and security business does. Apparently, CCA agrees with MIM(Prisons)'s assessment that migrants are and will continue to be the fastest growing prison population in the United $tates. But while we are fighting this trend, CCA is doing all they can to foster it.

When imperialism reaches the point where the arms of oppression are major sources of profiteering, and the people are dependent on these operations for their paychecks and standards of living (i.e. where oppression and the oppressors' financial interests become one in the same), we will see the national contradictions within imperialism heighten rapidly. This leads to increased repression both in laws and in actions but also the opportunity for raising consciousness and resistance among the oppressed nations. Even those Latinos who supported imperialist politics had to think twice about the Arizona law as it could impact their persynal safety if they visit that state. The imperialists expose their blatantly chauvinistic goals with these reactionary laws and the alliances that create the laws and it is our responsibility to point out the contradictions and organize against imperialist national oppression.

chain
[Legal] [Censorship] [Arizona]
expand

Advice on Censorship Fight in Arizona

I am a Jailhouse Lawyer of the High Rolla Jailhouse Law firm. I was appointed by the chief Jailhouse Lawyer of the Jailhouse Law Firm to aid and assist the MIM(Prisons) Legal Clinic. I have reviewed the Prisoner's Legal Clinic letter dated October 4, 2010. Upon review I have taken the opportunity to offer my legal experience to assist MIM(Prisons) in responding to the statement made by the Director of Arizona's Department of Corrections.

According to the Director of Arizona's Dept. of Corrections, he states Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 369 (1974) was overruled and your reliance on that case is misplaced. The Director of Arizona's Dept of Correction further states that there is nothing that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal a decision to exclude its material on an administrative appeal level and you are not entitled to a forum within the prison system.

The Arizona Dept. of Corrections Director is partially correct and partially wrong. Basically what the Director is telling MIM(Prisons) is that it does not have an entitlement to use the prison grievance system to appeal administrative decisions. The Inmate Grievance System is a forum within the Department of Corrections for prisoners to avail themselves of if they are dissatisfied and wish to appeal an administrative decision. This system is for use by prisoners, not publication companies. The Director is correct, in that there is no case laws that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal on an administrative level. If MIM(Prisons) wishes to challenge the administrative decision of the Director to exclude its publications, the proper forum would be for MIM(Prisons) to file a §1983 Civil Rights action in Federal Court, or to provide the prisoner with the appropriate arguments, case laws and legal authorities and have the prisoner himself file the appeal by going through the Grievance System and then the Administrative Law Court.

However, MIM(Prisons) should notify the Director that it is fully aware of the fact that it does not have the right to appeal on an administrative appeal level. MIM(Prisons) should notify the Director that it is fully aware that it is not entitled to a forum within the prison system. MIM(Prisons) should notify the Director that it was only making an effort at an informal appeal or request for the Director to reconsider its decision. Because contrary to what the Director stated Procunier v. Martinez 416 U.S. 396 (1974) is still applicable in part. Just as prisoners have a first Amendment Right to receive and send mail, so does publication companies and publishers. When the complaining party is the prisoner, then Turner v. Safely 482 U.S. 78 (1987) is the applicable standard, however when a publisher complains that its first amendment right has been violated then Procunier v. Martinez and Thornburgh v. Abbott 490 U.S. 401 (1989) is the appropriate standard.

I say all that to say this, if the Director cannot show that the restrictions placed on mail received by a prisoner is rationally related to a legitimate penological interest, then the Director's reliance on Thornburgh v. Abbott and Turner v. Safely is unsupported and misplaced, then the correct standard would be Procunier v. Martinez. The United States Supreme Court clearly held in Thornburgh v. Abbott, that prison officials could reject incoming mail if it was deemed detrimental to security, but if no such penological interest is involved, the Director can not rely on this case nor Turner v. Safely to justify its restrictions on incoming mail. The question is now "Is there a legitimate penological interest to justify its restriction of the MIM(Prisons)'s Under Lock and Key??" The only way to force the Director to answer this question and identify the penological interests involved is to file a §1983 Civil Right Action against the director making him accountable to the Federal Courts. The prisoner has the additional alternative of the Prison Grievance System which we know is unreliable. At this moment my advice and suggestion to MIM(Prisons) is to challenge these censorships from a different angle. From my research dealing with a recent line of cases i.e. Beard v. Banks 126 S.C.T. 2572 (2006), Overton v. Bazzetta 539 U.S. 126 (2003) Ramirez v. Pugh 486 F. Supp. 2d 421 (M.D. Pa. 2007), Brittain v. Beard, 932 A.2d 324 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007). The Courts seem to be interested in whether the regulation challenged promotes rehabilitation. Recently the term "Rehabilitation" has been used by prison officials to uphold prohibitive regulations and thus far have been successful. It would be a strategic legal maneuver to argue that such restrict regulations actually discourage rehabilitation, and expert testimony from a psychologist or sociologist would help to support this argument. This would be a more strategic angle to strike from.

MIM(Prisons) also was inquiring about cases concerning prisoner's rights to read newspapers as well as write for them and concerning inmate to inmate correspondence. Well I do not know right off top a specific case that involves prisoners rights to read newspapers as well as write for them, but there is a case that states "prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of a third party," I don't think it's what MIM(Prisons) is looking for though.

I do know as far as inmate to inmate correspondence is concerned, that the United States Supreme Court held in Shaw v. Murphy 532 U.S. 223, 121 S.Ct. 1475 (2001) that a prisoner who was working as a prison law clerk claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when he was disciplined for statements he made in a letter to another inmate in which he gave legal advice. He was disciplined for violating a prison policy prohibiting insolence and interference with due-process hearings. The court found that inmates do not possess a special First Amendment right to give legal assistance to other inmates. If they did possess such a right, it would mean enhancing the usual protection given to inmate to inmate correspondence. Thus his letter, regardless of its content, was subject to the same regulations as all other letters sent between inmates. At least as far as South Carolina is concerned inmate to inmate correspondence is only allowed if the inmates are immediate family members or if the inmates are involved in a joint legal action and the correspondence is related to the legal action only. SCDC Policy 10.08 Section 18.

chain
Go to Page [1] 2 [3] [4]