Prisoners Report on Conditions in

California 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.

[Special Needs Yard] [United Front] [Centinela State Prison] [California]
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Programming Facilities in CA to Decrease SNY Population

Dear ULK,

I'm writing to ask for more info on the California prison system putting SNY (Special Needs Yard) and mainline together in order to show that nothing has changed and the prisons are still very dangerous.

What I do know is that it started a few weeks ago here at Centinela State Prison and we are hearing of widespread violence at every yard they are doing this on — the so-called 50/50 yards or Programming Facilities (P.F.S.). We have only heard rumors at this point. Of course the staff would never tell us outright, but they do give hints. Any help in this matter will be appreciated. A lot of us here at Centinela SNY yard are endorsed to San Quentin PFS yard. We would love to help stop the violence, but it's really mainline shot callers that will decide.

Most of us here on the SNY side want to do our time in peace. That's why we are put on this side. Anyway, thanks for any help on this matter.


A USW comrade reports: Here at Corcoran they're integrating yards. Now SNY/GP STG I & II are on the same yards, and being forced to program or be labeled program failures.


Legion of USW comments: June 2018, as predicted the CDCR is doing away with the SNY/GP mainlines in favor of undesignated program yards. Legion did the math on this problem years ago and was made a mad scientist preaching that Black God stuff.

This provides USW a unique opportunity to be at the vanguard of the battle field building bridges instead of barriers. The prols have an opportunity to become the change they want to see. We have to revise and revisit certain debates about what solid looks like. The future is now and we need to adapt our struggle to the new landscape.

Legion is calling all God Bodies into formation! There's no such thing as SNY or GP on the streets. You have factors and non-factors. We are factors; socially, politically and mentally. USW is where it's at. Let's crash the system!


Power to the People!

MIM(Prisons) adds: Early in 2018, the CDCR began transforming Level I, Level II, and, now, some Level III prisons into "non-designated yards", eliminating the divide between SNY and General Population. This began with the healthcare facilities and fire camps. According to CDCR, SNY was created 20 years ago, and now accounts for one third of the California state prison population.(1)

In a video message on the subject, CDCR Director Scott Kernan calls on California prisoners to focus on themselves. He calls for them to disregard "prison politics." While tapping into a real mass sentiment that is sick of some of the "prison politics" that leads to unnecessary beef and violence, this appeal to Amerikan individualism is misleading. The new Programming Facilities require prisoners to participate in the CDCR program. This is not really focusing on self, this is joining a group with strict guidelines. This path is a choice. And CDCR wants to make it the most appealing choice.

All humyns live in society. We cannot focus on self without also being part of a society and playing a role in it. For the oppressed, the support of the group is even more important. So prisoners must ask themselves if the CDCR program is the group that best serves their interests. We await reports from comrades inside as to the full implications of this reorganization. But we can look back to the "Step Down Program" implemented for SHU prisoners in response to the historic hunger strikes in 2012 and 2013, which coerced prisoners into accepting the oppressor's definitions of criminal.(2) The PFS have a similar focus on "programming," promising a more productive and quicker release in return.

We do not have the info to fully answer the comrade's question about what is happening in these non-designated yards right now. But we echo the call from ULK 62 for USW comrades in California, especially those in the 50/50 yards, to work to build unity across different groups in these dynamic conditions.(3) As Legion alludes to above, change is in favor of the oppressed, it is only up to us to seize the opportunities that each change offers. For this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity, California USW will focus on this issue of the "non-designated yards", and building peace and unity among these new conglomerates of people. For the next issue of ULK we want to hear about the successes and failures of this organizing, of September 9th, of the 50/50 yards and what it all means for organizing to end oppression on a systemic level.

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[Special Needs Yard] [United Front] [California] [ULK Issue 62]
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September 9, California USW Must Prepare Unity Between Mainline and SNY

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I'm writing on this topic a bit early because a lot of young brothers and sisters don't have true or real understanding regarding Black August and Bloody September. But for those of us who are politically aware, both months are rich with our blood, our struggle, and our resistance. As people who fight oppression during these two months as a peoples' movement we should focus our energies around the discussions and actions of George Jackson, the Black Panthers, Assata Shakur, Che Guevara, and any of the many revolutionaries who have set the stage for us.

We should push political education, progressive action, and the revolutionary history. We should most aggressively focus on the establishment of stronger security, because on 16 April 2018 the Department of Corrections and so-called "Rehabilitation" started a statewide weapons sweep of all California prisons to ensure that no weapons are on the prison yards when the state integrates mainline prisoners with SNY prisoners later this year.

We know first-hand what the power structure is doing — they're hoping that the yards all blow up. That would show that their jobs still matter and that we need to be in prison. This is their most outrageous move in years, and they've been feeding the disconnection of mainline and SNY for years as a tool of divide and conquer. The divide and conquer tactic has never been more effective than it is today.

As they say, a tree without roots is dead, and so is a people who are not rooted. Men such as comrade George, Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X started and enhanced their political line in prison as colonial criminals. Within these concentration camps and deep dark confines of Soledad Prison and San Quentin, the alchemy of human transformation took place. They all began to turn the cells they held into libraries and schools of liberation. As George said, to create a new world we have to be a representation of this new being, "The New Man", in words and in deeds, thoughts, and actions. This new man will be in his highest revolutionary form. So as they turned their cells into classrooms, so must we. And as they internalized the most advanced ideas about human development, so must we.

George stated that:

"I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao, and they redeemed me. For the first four years, I studied nothing but politics and economics and military ideas. I met Black Guerrillas, George Big Jake Lewis, James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Tony Gibson, and many others. We were attempting to turn the Black criminal mentality into a revolutionary mentality."

George and his comrades became living examples and inspirations of organized resistance for prisoners across the country. But on 21 August 1971, Comrade George Jackson and two others were murdered along with three prison guards in a gun fight inside one of California's maximum security prisons called San Quentin. For this reason, and many more, we hold bloody August as sacred.

Huey P. Newton was murdered 22 August 1989, in West Oakland on Tenth and Center, by a young drug dealer named Little Blood. He was a product of this system; the young hating the old, the light-skinned hating the dark. That's the same divide we have here today. I can get into the shit and kick up dust with the rest and the best. But I will not allow anyone to stop my hard work in being an organizer and educator. I've given twenty years to this mainline and SNY, so I'm going to push on. As Frantz Fanon stated in Wretched of the Earth, "There is no taking of the offensive — and no redefining of relationships." We know that the power structure wants us dead or locked up. So in case you didn't know, the revolution is on.

Power to the People Build to Win and glory be the Phunk is on the bald head man.

MIM(Prisons) adds: The California USW Primer explains how the split between SHU/mainline and SNY in California is at the heart of building a united front of prisoners in the state. All California USW comrades should have a copy of the primer as a guide for their work. Long-time readers of ULK will know that we have printed countless articles addressing this issue. Write in if you can use copies of some of these articles to help in your organizing for the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity this year. The campaign to build peace and unity between mainline and SNY will be coming to a head this year, and USW must play a leading role in guiding things in a positive direction as this comrade calls for.

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[New Afrika] [Principal Contradiction] [California]
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If Black Lives Matter, Don't Integrate Into Amerikkka

Co-written with Loco1 of USW

Who goes there? Calling on the keepers of the last grey stone. There has never been a time more appropriate for the gathering of the lost tribes of the dark world. However, is it real when we chant out "Black Lives Matter"? New Afrikans are launching the building bridges initiative of United Struggle from Within (USW) with the objective of reviving the Afrikan tradition of 'each one teach one'/'go a mile to reach one'. The most relevant topic that one comrade raises is to question "Does Black Lives Matter (BLM) when it is at the expense of the Afrikan identity?"

This subject will be covered by the New Afrikan anti-imperialist Political Prisoners over a period of time. In short revolutionary tracks this New Afrikan leader, alongside of all those who support him, will go in on the issues that face the BLM movement and what is to be done in order to paint a more clear picture for New Afrikans. This will be done in using language geared towards reaching prisoners, former prisoners and the righteous supporters of the anti-imperialist prison abolishment movement. We who are most affected by this principal contradiction within the United $tates; Oppressor Nation Integration (ONI) vs. Proletarian Nationalist Independence (PNI).

Jumping off the porch from the perspective of #If Black Lives Matter (#BLM) FREE LARRY HOOVER, FREE SHY C, FREE EUGENIE HARISON, FREE JEFF FORT, etc. FREE THE LUMPEN organizations and their leaders who for far too long bit the bullet for being the cause of the destruction of the inner city semi-colonies of the oppressor nation known as amerikkka. We who are truly the last hired and the first fired, we step to the plate speaking in plain language, asking the right questions. Like, if the CIA is responsible for all the drugs and firearms being circulated in the hood, why are we the ones who sit in prison since Black Lives Matter!?

We read publications, like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, that goes to describe the racial caste system of imperialist nations as the pit of class divides in the amerikkkas, but we go to the root issue of this class divide misinformation with the question of how could there be a class divide within an exploiter nation?

The whole matter is that really, we just want a bigger slice of the pie, but at whose expense? If Black Lives Matter, why settle for being black? Why not consider oneself to be in solidarity with a nation of its own, separate and unequal to that of its previous slave masters (oppressors), when we in all actuality just want to replace the slave masters only so that we may become them; Police bullies, gossip columnists, fake doctors, tax agents and bill collectors. We ain't doing nothing but reforming the beast (exploiter nation) that we love to hate. So in essence, the same crackers we claim is at the root of our suffering, the same bleach we claim to be destroying our skin, we're putting it on. We have become the beast. So why do Black Lives really Matter? Not until Black Lives become Afrikan, they don't.

This is the objective of this build, to destroy the misinformation spread throughout the prison yards, and the New Afrikan neighborhoods, done so to keep those of us who really suffer as a result of the oppressor nation's strategy to keep them (the so-called criminals, gang members and terrorists) uneducated about national liberation, un-united with those who share a similar national hardship/oppression, and dependent on the bourgeoisie exploitation systems of anti-socialism.

It is most imperative for those who hold most dear to the identity of Black Lives Matter to go to the root of this idea and relay the foundation of the identity of ancestral reality. Fighting over class positions that translate into a bigger slice of the pie, stolen from us in the first place, will get us no closer to the national identity determination and independence we so rightfully hope for. Only, that hope is false if we fall into the trap trick that selling our soul by becoming integrationist with the pig state that we will achieve national liberation. Remember, the pie (the systems like welfare, social security, income taxes) the exploiters created off the backs of we the People and our natural resources. If Black Lives Matter, why is it a crime for Blacks to consider themselves Original People (True/Native Ameriqans) or Asiatic Africans? Moors or Maroons & Caribbs?

Why do those who proclaim leadership or stewardship for the Black empowerment identity find themselves enemies of the state, that their own so-called people work hard with to maintain their Black Wall Street? Since we're on the topic, what happened to Black Wall Street? Did it really disappear, or did it turn up in Chicago with Oprah Winfrey, Louis Farrakhan and the 'Occupy Wall Street Movement'? A lot of groups ain't gonna like how we are connecting the dots to expose those who are most in need of the truth, that is the root reason for voices of the truly oppressed not being heard by the international supporters of anti-imperialism. But, we don't have nothing to lose because we never sold out, so it doesn't matter who don't like us.

We speak the People's & Kinsfolk's language (Block talk) because we are amongst them that are traveling in the murky waters, struggling with an objective solely rooted in delivering the message of Maoist culture in a way the People and Folks will comprehend it.

Knowing that we cannot free our people of their psychological enslavement without first addressing the national identity of WE as a socialist people. USW works from a bottom up vantage. We build from the inside out. Concentrating on the communities around us to develop independent systems of education, communication, economics and control.

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[National Oppression] [California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison] [California]
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Race-Based Lockdowns and Grievance Denials in CSATF

So I'm at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility. Here, as Africans, we are constantly on race-based lock-downs. We just came up over the last weekend for one day and went back on on Monday 3/5/18 for weapon stock allegedly missing from another building, which has prompted another massive cell search on top of the one we just had on 10 February 2018. All 8 buildings were hit hard as a punitive measure to oppress people of African colors yet again.

There was a race-based lockdown motion filed in 2014 when CDCR was forced to stop race-based lockdowns for something that another person from another race had did.

I'm also having a lot of problems with Inmate 602 Appeals/Grievances being arbitrarily screened out, rejected and or canceled by an Hispanic Appeals Coordinator SSA Ramos. Even when the 602 filed by Africans have valid merits she screens them out or refuses to process them in a timely manner. Please find enclosed 4 forever U.S. postal stamps to enable you to send me a grievance petition/letter.

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[Abuse] [Racism] [California]
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Systemic, Implicit, Covert and Overt Bias

Here at California Correctional Institution (CCI) I've been housed on C yard in building 1 over 9 months. In all that time, and I was told for at least 2 additional years, this building has refused to hire any Black prisoners as porters. Correctional Officers have interfered with elections held to pick Black MAC/IAC (Men's/Inmate Advisory Council) representatives. Picking who they want over who the Black prisoners living in the building vote for, usually of the uncle Tom more effective variety.

I have brought this inequality issue up verbally and in the CDCR 22 form: request for interview. Verbally i've been told that i'm on the short list for over 90 days while all other races have been hired for that position in that time. I've been told that the fact that they've hired every other race continuously doesn't mean that they are personally racist, to which I responded by pointing out the obvious hiring practices having either racial bias or a selective preference. I've shown and proved that in the rules and regulations of the Title 15, Section 3041.1.(7) which states: "Ethnic balance, ethnic balance is achieved by having the facilities white, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and other identified ethnicities in the inmate population proportionately represented in the number of paid assignments at the facility." Even when written on the CDCR 22 form which never got a response from Clearborn nor Trye but carbon copies were sent to the Ombudsman Ms. Sara Smith who I met with on three separate times addressing issues consistent with these aforementioned issues, yet there is not change on the lines of inequality when it comes to Black prisoners.

Seriously when we look at the practices of racism in prisons in the era of civil rights we see the exact same mentalities at work, the "slow change" and "just wait" mantras for black opportunities, equal treatment and even now blacks are double that of whites in unemployment in this country and sadly this is also true for black prisoners in building 1 on C yard at CCI.

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[Political Repression] [Civil Liberties] [California] [ULK Issue 61]
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CDCR Uses Prop. 57 as Leverage Against Prisoner Organizing

It has been brought to my attention that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) is trying to propose changes to family visiting regulations. By using Proposition 57 as leverage to divide the masses, this policy is discriminatory towards our comrades who get family visits. This policy does not reduce violence, and/or decrease contraband and/or promote positive behavior and/or prepare you for a successful release or rehabilitation as claimed in the CDCR proposal.

In a recent announcement of proposed policy changes to the telephone system and family visiting eligibility, the CDCR issued the statement: "All inmates are encouraged to continue with positive programming and to not participate in any mass strike/disturbance. These types of disturbances impact the many programming opportunities for rehabilitation and reduction in sentence afforded by Proposition 57."

This new policy is trying to discourage the masses from using their constitutional right to peaceful protest, by pitting those working for sentence reductions under Prop. 57 against those organizing for justice and change. CDCR is back with their reactionary divide and conquer ideals. CDCR is a functional enemy of using the word rehabilitation. CDCR will never produce justice or correctness toward their captives. So I ask this question to the masses: Does Prop. 57 support us or does it help CDCR maintain and expand a repressive system against captives?

CDCR is abusing Prop. 57 and using it as leverage and against all organizing activity. This direct or indirect association of Prop. 57 to family visiting and discipline of prisoners promotes confusion and non-justice. The people who voted for Prop. 57 did so with the intent of trying to do justice to correct a broken system. They intended to return humyn beings to their families.

Without justice, there is no life in people. Without justice, people do not "live", they only exist and that's good for CDCR. (Wake up comrades!) I have one message for CDCR, "Where there is justice, there is peace."

[Proposition 57 was passed by California voters in November 2016. Its main purpose is to make it easier for prisoners with non-violent convictions to get a parole hearing, and allow prisoners who are not lifers or on death row to earn good time and earlier release through programming.]
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[Abuse] [Legal] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 60]
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Only Snitches & Privileged Getting Good Time in New Folsom EOP/GP

culture

I've come to recognize here at California New Folsom State Prison, that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated and the condemned.

Prisoners housed at New Folsom EOP/GP mainline are being denied the right to earn good time/work time credits, and therefore can't get paroled or released. We are being denied the opportunities and support which are given to every other prisoner and at every other prison within California.

The 4th and 14th Amendment declares that "equal protection of the law" cannot and must not treat prisoners differently then others without reasonable and probable cause. People who are eligible for an earlier parole hearing under Senate Bill 260 and Senate Bill 261 pc 3051 (Youthful Parole) shall and must earn credits toward reducing time on their new parole date, not their original parole date or false reported date.

Snitches are benefiting. Lifers are getting time knocked off such as 9 to 10 years due to reasons of Prop 57. It doesn't even matter to them because they still will be labeled as lifers by the CDCR/DOC. Also those with money and/or are white have been benefiting.

Without dehumanizing or snitching or becoming SNY, we want to secure the Prop 57 rights granted us under law. We continue to struggle not to be set up and framed with charges. Many of us have caught fake cases because we've stayed silent and solid.

Please send us advice and materials so we may continue to organize.


CA USW Council Comrade Responds: The only thing I can say is that CDCr made promises that they're not living up to, once they let us all out of SHU. I can attest to the truth of the above statement. You will get privileges if you go SNY, as I met a few people while in Ad-Seg that were going SNY so the board can release them. They're not releasing anyone who has the gang label or STG label on them.

What I can say is that anyone wanting material concerning Prop 57 can write to: Initiate Justice, PO Box 4962, Oakland, CA 94605. This is the litigation team that's fighting for the changes in the regulations so that people can get parole.


Another CA USW Council Comrade Responds:

First, I don't think we should waste our time organizing around these reforms because we are not a reformist org, we are a revolutionary org. Secondly, according to Prop 57 guidelines, everyone who hasn't served a SHU term is eligible for good time/work time credits, however they are not retroactive but only go towards the remainder of one's sentence. So if you've been incarcerated for 20 years and you still have 5 years left on your sentence you will only be able to be awarded good time credits towards your remaining 5 years. As soon as Prop 57 was enacted, case records began re-calculating everyones sentence who qualified. The entire process took about four or five months here.

Also, according to Prop 57 people who fall under any of the Youth Offender laws SB9, 260, 261 & 262 cannot receive earlier parole board dates than that which they already qualified for under the various State Bills. The only thing that changed is your MERD (Maximum Eligible Release Date). For example, under Prop 57 my MERD went from 2030 to 2028 but under SB261 my parole board date dropped from 2030 to 2021 at the soonest but no later than 2023.

For more information on Prop 57 people can write to the San Quentin Law Office which sends free legal materials to prisoners or they can contact Initiate Justice, Lifer Support Alliance and many other reformist orgs. By the way the final regulations on Prop 57 already came out and NOTHING CHANGED! But what else could we expect from CDC? Fuck reforming the system, smash it!

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[Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 61]
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Prop. 57 Benefits: Serve the People, Don't Condemn Them

This is a response to the recent article on Prop. 57 organizing. While I understand how this could be a tool for comrades to organize with, at the same time there are plenty of programs here at Folsom that are doing the whole time reduction program. For example, there are a few of my homies that have gotten 1/4 of their time knocked off after GED/College degree. And they are not white, rich, or snitches as the headline suggests.

Now one thing that we can definitely push is for youth offenders to be able to fit the criteria of Prop. 57. Because that is definitely something us under SB260-261 do not fit into. Not to say that the carrot of reform is something we bit into with high hopes, but it can most definitely be something to put into motion.

I just feel the headline stating that only snitches and privileged are getting good time in New Folsom EOP/GP could be a turn off. It will move/push people in the wrong direction. We can use this, let's just not label solid comrades snitches on paper when organizing.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this comrade for this criticism and correction. While we did print a couple responses from USW comrades in ULK 60 citing instances of good time used to favor certain prisoners, we should not paint with such a broad brush to imply that anyone getting good time is in that boat.

It does seem that access to info on Prop. 57 is also imbalanced. As we are still getting people asking for information, while others say the state is on top of it. Strategically, we seek to build Serve the People programs where we can provide for the needs of the masses better than the state. Prop. 57 is not a place we can do a better job than what the state is doing. Providing books that serve the interests of oppressed nations, for example, is. We agree with this comrade that we cannot hope for reformism to change things, but we can fight for winnable battles that help us move in the direction of revolutionary change.

Addendum: The politics of Prop. 57 also overlap with the focus of this issue of Under Lock & Key. The CDCR tried to exclude anyone convicted of a crime that required being registered as a sex offender from Prop. 57 benefits. But only certain crimes in the sex offender classification are also classified as violent felonies in the California Penal Code. In February, in a suit brought by the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws, a judge ruled that the CDCR was overstretching the law, and that limits on Prop. 57 must be applied only to those convictions deemed "violent" in the California Code. (16 February 2018, Seth Augenstein, California's Prop 57 Sex Offender Release Regs Are Void, Court Rules)

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[Abuse] [Salinas Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 60]
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Group Punishment Lockdown Continues at SVSP

5 January 2018 — I am writing to inform our allies that D Yard here at Salinas Valley State Prison has been on lock down since 18 December 2017. The reason claimed is that "somebody stole a piece of metal." All cells have been searched and all prisoners signed papers stating that they have no knowledge of any stolen metal. Yet we still remain on lockdown even after the cops found no weapons or metal in cells or on prisoners.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 60]
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Grievance Campaign at RJDCF on Access to Showers

This is my end-of-year report on our MIM Grievance Campaign. We did one on the "unlocks" here, and we're currently working on the issue of showers. Due to the California drought they claim that we are still in a drought and therefore can only shower on Tuesday and Thursday. Even then there is no hot water so we are showering in ICE cold water. This is in spite of the fact that we are in a medical facility and most of us are older prisoners.

The temp has dropped to 34 degrees in the morning and we have been in these conditions now for over a month. Enclosed please find the grievances.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrades at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility have been pursuing these issue through 602 appeals forms and subsequent appeals. After receiving a response of "partially granted" there was no actual change in conditions and they began utilizing the grievance petition for California. They have done a good job documenting the process, citing case law of Armstrong vs. Brown and the 8th and 14th Amendment.

Comrades in California and other states can write in to get a copy of a grievance petition to use as an organizing tool to bring people together around conditions that are not being addressed at your prison.

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