Prisoners Report on Conditions in

California Prisons

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. 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.

[Legal] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Tentative Victory on Clergy Confidentiality

The bastards concocted a local rule called San Quentin Death Row Operational Procedure #608, section 650. It voids clergy confidentiality, allowing the attorney general to compel testimony against only male, death row, at San Quentin. Females and anyone not at this prison are exempt. Non-condemned are exempt.

The rules in play are 15 CCR 3212, which creates the confidentiality of clergy in prisons in California. Then they want to have clergy compelled or allowed to rat on us, saying we are not good reborn bible thumpers, as we pretend... so kill us all.

I won it. Clark v. Chappell, CV 14 02637 ygr.

The new acting warden was told by the attorney general to feign surrender, and issue a memo voiding that rule. The problem is, the minute the federal court judge looks away they can re-instate the rule. It is an at whim rule, he can redo it. I am going forth to get not just a surrender but declaration that it is and always was discriminatory, undue process, unequal justice, and such. So we won the present day, and I will puruse the retroactivity to 1977, date it was put in place, to protect all the old guys.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Medical Care] [California]
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Basic Needs, Property Denied: Grievance Process Needed

I thought I'd share how it works up here in Ad-Seg. I trip on how I've been going at it since the end of September. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, from request forms, to 22 [inmate request] forms, to 602 [inmate appeal] and no good results. The appeals here are quick to catch a mistake and return it. First off, I am not a lawyer, second I'm a CCCMS mental health prisoner. But that does not mean anything here.

Anyhow, I wrote Sacramento, letting them know that I never wanted to do a 602 but it concerns my back brace and prescription glasses. And they're in my property at the property room. I had to pay for those 2 items in state and I needed them so I was OK with that. Now I'm just asking for what's mine and it's a need. I use a cane and have a vest. I bought some glasses from another prisoner who wanted hygiene, but I'm not supposed to do that.

Nobody listens here and the 602 process is meaningless. I don't know what else to do.


MIM(Prisons) responds: California was where the demand for grievances to be addressed began five years ago. It has since been taken up by comrades in a dozen other states. The focus is on petitioning state and federal officials responsible for the care of prisoners. In doing so, comrades are attempting to rally prisoners together as a group to defend their basic rights, like the ones the writer above describes; basic medical care and property rights.

But there are reasons why the arms of the injustice system are so unaccountable. Their central task is to control certain populations, and they must be given leeway to achieve that task. If their task was about justice, then obviously injustices like the ones above would not be tolerated. So we must rally together to ensure the rights of all are respected. Yet, ultimately, we must build a system that serves the interests of those who are oppressed and exploited by the current imperialist system that dominates our world. Petitions will not prevent these ongoing abuses.

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[Organizing] [International Connections] [California]
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MAC/IAC: Working for the People or Working for the Pigs

Many prisoners view the organization formerly known as the Mens Advisory Council (MAC), now known as the Inmate Advisory Council as servants of the people behind prison walls. Most of the people believing this fallacy are the new or relatively newer and younger prison population, and even some older prisoners who should really know better by now. However, for those of us who do know better we not only know the true limitations of the MAC but their true purpose within these walls, and so it's not for nothing that some of us refer to the MAC organization for what it really stands for: "Man Against Convict."

The original idea for what came to be known as the Mens Advisory Council can be traced back to the turbulent 60s and 70s inside of California prisons and the violent years that followed which included a relatively high number of staff assaults, prisoner-on-prisoner violence, and both peaceful and violent protests. The Council was initially conceived of by socially conscious prisoners as a way to not only encourage and develop dialogue between prisoners themselves to avert unnecessary violence between the white, [email protected], New Afrikan and First Nations, but also as a way to develop this same dialogue between prisoners and the prison administration. In this way then the precursors to the MAC were meant to function not only as representatives of the prisoner population with prison administrators, but as advocates of prisoner rights.

And for some years this precursor to the MAC org did what they set out to do, maintaining both a level of favorable and positive bias towards the prisoner population as well as enjoying a righteous level of credibility amongst prisoners themselves. Both the precursor to the MAC organization as well as the MAC itself tackled issues ranging from visiting policy and procedure, to basic hygiene and sanitation issues, to quantity and quality of food, to how our mail was to be properly handled.

As time went on however the MAC went from an organization representing the interests of the prison population as a whole to being co-opted by the powerful lumpen chiefs and representing their narrow and counter-productive interests, from which it was then taken and turned into an organization working in the interests of prison administrators. Today the IAC functions as an extralegal means for prison administrators to get from us exactly what they want, which is a highly passive and compliant prisoner population. As such, the MAC/IAC organization has become just another tool of the prison administration used to control us not unlike the tools on a pigs belt; like the pepper spray they use to gas us, or the batons they beat us with — just another tool.

I would like to take this concept even further. One can even liken a MAC rep to a neo-colonial ruler in the Third World who, thru their representation in government, gives the illusion of independence and a real self-determination to their compatriots; a nominal independence or a fictious level of power. This is not to say that the MAC/IAC never get anything done or accomplish anything for us. Quite the contrary, they do manage to accomplish a small victory from time to time. But prisoners get it twisted when they begin to believe that the MAC/IAC reps are there to serve or win anything for us. We must be clear about one thing here, the MAC reps accomplish nothing for us that the administration doesn't allow them to. In other words, in the battle for prisoners' rights, prison administrators do not lose to the MAC/IAC, rather they concede. Concessions in the prison realm are "necessary evils" to prison administrators as they are used to lend a level of legitimacy to the MAC/IAC org and hence continue their support from the wider prisoner population. Just like the system of neo-colonialism in the Third World, nominal leaders are allowed to govern and rule exactly because the imperialists allow them to, but these leaders must also have the support of the masses so that they may keep on ruling, or else the entire system collapses.

Surely there will be some who want to consider my allegations to be untrue, but it is hard to argue with my thesis when you see the MAC/IAC reps actively working against you. All you have to do is look closely at your MAC/IAC reps and ask them, what have they done for you lately? What oppressive and repressive policies have they helped the pigs peacefully implement and transition to with or without prisoners' consent? Not for nothing that a lot of the MAC/IAC reps are flat out hustlers and silver-tongued liars looking to swindle you out of your rights and privileges. Indeed if we look closely at these MAC/IAC reps we can see that they are messenger boys and running dogs to the administration because they have to be.

This is not to say that all MAC/IAC reps are bad. Of course there are some who actually seek out and take up these positions because they are truly interested in bringing positive change to the oppressed prison population, but these people are few and far between. These people however are also naive because they actually believe that they can bring real change to the prison environment thru steady reform, therefore they can also be some of the most convincing and legitimizing aspects of this oppressive prison apparatus and hence the most lethal to the prison movement for they will try the hardest to convince you of working within the system.

For those of you still not convinced of what I'm talking about, let's examine CCR Title 15, Article 3, Inmate Councils, Committees and Activity Groups 3230. Establishment of Inmate Advisory Councils:


(a) Each warden shall establish an inmate advisory council which is representative of that facility's inmate ethnic groups. At the discretion of the warden, subcommittees of the council may also be established to represent sub-facilities or specialized segments of the inmate population.

...

(2) The council shall operate only under the constitution and by-laws as prepared by the council's inmate representatives with the advice and guidance of designated staff and approved by the warden.

...

(d) Inmate advisory council representatives shall not, as a council representative, become involved with inmate appeals unless the matter affects the general inmate population and such involvement is authorized by the warden.

...

(h) A staff person at the level of a program administrator or higher shall be designated as the inmate advisory council coordinator.

(i) Facility captains shall be directly involved in council activities within their respective programs and may delegate specific aspects of supervisor, direction and responsibilities for council activities within their unit to subordinate supervisors.


Now let's look at what is described as the decision making process in matters of foreign policy on an international level and the general rules and concepts of how a strong nation (namely Amerikan imperialism) interacts and deals with weak nations (those in the periphery):

"The structure of a decision making process — the rules for who is involved in making the decision, how voting is conducted, and so forth — can affect the outcome, especially when a group has indeterminate preferences because no single alternative appeals to a majority participation. Experienced participants in foreign policy information are familiar with the techniques for manipulating decision making process to favor outcomes they prefer. A common technique is to control a group's formal decision rules. These rules include the items of business the group discusses and the order in which proposals are considered ... Probably most important is the ability to control the agenda and thereby structure the terms of debate."(1)

Foreign policies are thus described as
"the strategies used by governments to guide their actions in the international arena. Foreign policies spell out the objectives state leaders have decided to pursue in a given relationship or situation as well as the general means by which they intend to pursue those objectives....States establish various organizational structures and functional relationships to create and carry out foreign policies. Officials and agencies collect information about a situation through various channels; they write memorandums outlining possible options for action; they hold meetings to discuss the matter; some of them privately outside those meetings to decide how to steer those meetings. Such activities, broadly defined are what is meant by the foreign policy process.'"(1)

The Machiavellian implication of all this is all very apparent then, and one must be a special kind of naive to not see the resemblance between imperialist foreign policy and how prison administrators choose to deal with the prison population; the majority of whom come from the oppressed nation lumpen.

Amerikan imperialism is hostile to the oppressed global majority and their foreign policies are reflective of this hostility. Likewise prison administrators' dealings with the prison population mirrors Amerikan foreign policy exactly because prisons are extensions and tools of national oppression and social control, and so it is logical and to be expected that Amerikan foreign policy and the policy of prison administrators are two sides of the same oppressive coin. Whereas one deals with the oppressed nations on an international level, the other deals with the oppressed nations on a domestic level. Furthermore, as a matter of foreign policy U.$. borders are the structures used to keep Third World workers out and unable to gain access to their portion of wealth stolen by U.$. imperialism, whereas prisons are used to keep the oppressed nation lumpen in their place and away from this same global metropolis.

It has been said many times before, prison is a microcosm of society and it is time we begin to actively engage in this society. Marxist philosophy holds that we are all products of our environment and just as our environment has the power to influence and mold us, so do we have the power to influence and mold this same environment. We shouldn't be relying on individuals or small cliques of people to speak and act for us. We should rely on ourselves and our sheer numbers to bring change. Therefore, it is time that this whole business of MAC/IAC reps be done with and put to an end. It would be a positive qualitative development for the prison masses to begin relying on themselves. Individuals don't make hystory, the masses do.


Notes:
1. International Relations, Goldstein and Pevehouse. Pearson Longman publications, p.139.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [California] [ULK Issue 45]
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The more things change, the more they stay the same

As early as October 2012, the administrators of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have relentlessly advocated to the public how the step-down program (SDP) is an improvement upon the gang validation policies/practices that previously existed. But history informs us that any mantra of change being presented by the powers that be means more of the same, literally.

On a day in March 2015, I was the sole prisoner transferred out of Corcoran SHU via special transportation, as the warden issued some type of "special order" for me to be housed at CCI Tehachapi SHU. I have yet to see this "special order." I'm not going to get into the litany of horrendous living conditions that exist here at this point and time, however, I've witnessed countless prisoners be issued bogus rule violation reports (CDC 115 RVRs) and then coerced to start over and repeat the step that they were just in. This subjects the prisoner to being interned to indefinite solitary confinement status once again, as there are no mechanisms in place that would prohibit and/or prevent this process from reoccurring. It's nothing more than the same old barbaric and dehumanizing gang validation policies and practices.

For example, the most prominent reason for prisoners being issued CDC 115 RVRs is because their name has been found in a "kite" that was written by another prisoner. Not only is this contrary to our primary 5 core demands from the mass hunger strikes, in relation to behavior-based "individual accountability," but it is also contrary to the new SDP policy. In particular, CDCR memorandum dated 9 August 2013 states in part on page 4:


"At times this information includes a list of names or other personal information being found in another offender's possession that has some nexus to STG activity or behavior. During the DRB reviews, the offender whose name is simply on the list (versus the individual being in actual possession of the list) will not be held accountable for the contents."

But wait, it gets even better my people. While at Corcoran, counter-intelligence officer S. Niehus searched my personal legal property in February 2015 and stole ("confiscated") my legal exhibits for active legal cases under the false premise of it being gang-related contraband. In my first level 602 appeal interview with Institutional Gang Investigator Sergeant Pierce, he told me:


"Corcoran's litigation office has confirmed [your] active legal cases and that the confiscated materials were indeed legal exhibits for said court cases, but he is going to retain possession of them, as CDCR has deemed the materials to be gang-related contraband per CCR Title 15 Section 3378."

It can't be both ways! Either they're legal exhibits or not. This type of subjective rationale makes it fundamentally impossible to challenge these bogus allegations of gang activity, because no sooner do we get evidence that refutes these ridiculous allegations, it is then stolen under the falsity of being gang-related. How is this not more of the same old policies and practices? But more importantly, how can we win under these circumstances? It is imperative that the people send letters and emails to M.D. Stainer, Susan Hubbard, Scott Kernan and others in CDCR's headquarters in Sacramento, California to voice your outrage on this contradiction.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In the meantime, we will also fight from the angle of publicizing these abuses via our independent media resources (Under Lock & Key and prisoncensorship.info). We also fight injustice by offering educational materials and study groups to raise the political understanding of anyone with an interest in putting a permanent end to false imprisonment, torture via inhumane long-term isolation, and an oppressive state and military which tries to bully the entire world. The more we understand our oppression, the better equipped we will be to fight against it effectively.

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[Gang Validation] [National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 44]
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New Afrikan Prisoners Retaliated Against by Institutional Gang Investigators

Here at a torture unit known as the Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU), we New Afrikan freedom fighters and other entities are getting retaliated on by the fascist Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI). IGI and their cronies seem to think that attacking those who were hunger strikers and at the forefront of the prison movement is gonna distract us from our main objective in challenging this oppressive system. They are holding onto our mail for months at a time, giving out petty disciplinary cases after cell searches and calling miscellaneous items contraband, such as extra laundry, or wire we use to make our digital channels come in clearly and radios without static.

Due to the outside support we received for the collective solidarity we expressed on the inside, we've received but a few items we requested in our yearly packages and canteen purchase. The legislators gave the administration an earfull of how they mistreat us in the SHU, and how mental torture is much worse than physical torture and solitary confinement must be abolished.

The retaliation is a given, and just this past week I personally had some books sent back to the sender and was told they promoted racism and violence. Well, I filed a grievance against the sergeant they sent to my door because his actions were racist. The reading material was in fact about anarchism, and they have allowed the white/European inmates to have literature on this very same subject. I was also referred to as a racist because he saw pictures of a few Black Panthers on my wall, and asked why do I read racist books of the past. I just looked at the sergeant standing before me and shook my head. How can a New Afrikan be a racist considering all the things that have happened to my people in previous times, and are still happening around the country?

We are also being moved around the yard to the different buildings, and we hear it's only due to the warden wanting to place mentally ill inmates in the left side of the building and those who are not on medication to the right side of the building, but this is so they can revalidate those who the Departmental Review Board might be considering kicking back to the mainline, and to disturb think tanks we have been able to put together throughout the prison diaspora. We who have been buried alive in these concrete tombs (Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Tehachapi SHUs) will stand firm in our principled discipline and continue our revolutionary studies, because we have a world to win. We will not let our oppressor's strategies and tactics stop our movement or break our momentum. In true liberation and struggle I encourage all to show solidarity until all oppressed are free.

Dare to Struggle
Dare to win....


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we agree with what this comrade wrote above, we want to expand on this topic. Racism is the ideology that arises from national oppression: a way of seeing certain groups of people as inferior based on their alleged biological differences, or "race." National oppression is the system that engenders racism, a system where one nation has power over other nations. New Afrikans are an oppressed nation within U.$. borders, and so this discrimination based on race by the guards is no surprise (and something our comrades see all the time behind bars). But a persyn from an oppressed nation could be racist (though not in the way that the prison guard claims). We see racism manifested as incorrect ideas about Mexicans by New Afrikans or New Afrikans by Mexicans, for instance. Or oppressed nation people thinking white people are oppressors because of some biological deficiencies.

Despite the utter lack of scientific evidence that race exists, Amerikan academics have succeeded in replacing discussions about national self-determination with ones of race and multiculturalism. This has led to the popularization of lines such as "Black people can't be racist." One video from the Ferguson uprisings has gotten a lot of promotion by white nationalists trying to show how ridiculous the protestors were because they accuse a reporter of being racist because he is white and claim that they can't be racist because they are Black. While we cannot win over the white nation as a whole, by being more scientific and more correct in the line we put out there we can better win over those at the margin who will be turned off by illogical statements. The revolutionary movement needs to work on educating people on incorrect ideas about racism and the material definition of national oppression. This will both help us recruit the support of others as well as be more successful in everything we do because of our own greater understanding of things as they are.

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[Gang Validation] [California]
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Validated: Targeted for Repression

Who denies that New Afrikans (Blacks colonized in Amerika) have been viewed and treated as a "Security Threat Group", and consequently subjected to varied forms of repression by a myriad of state and non-state reactionary pigs since our enslavement here? Who denies that this country's "laws" or judicial system (e.g., police, prosecutors, judges, prison guards, etc.) has been and continues to be used as a weapon of oppressive domination of our people? I assert that the actual function of "law enforcement" - as particularly applied to our neo-colonial context - is to beat, harass, humiliate and kill, i.e., to contain and control. On an ultimate level, this is the actual purpose of those who operate in law enforcement.

We can see this evidenced in the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre of New Afrikans in the Greenwood district, the 1920 Ocoee, Florida, the 1923 Rosewood, Florida massacres, and the list goes on. The historical pattern is that those who embody the Amerikan judicial system/law enforcement functioned with the primary aim of our domination in exploitation as remains the case in 2014, even under Eric Holder as the Attorney General.

What's most important to grasp and take to heart is that as a group/nationality New Afrikans are in fact a "validated" population as a result of being calculated to represent a serious political threat against the white male power structure. Naturally, as we constitute a diversity in terms of political tendencies and hence threat assessments, the validation process is pursued and applied in varying forms. Even as all forms of the validation process (e.g. disciplinary techniques in the military, corporations, universities, law enforcement, industries, NBA, NFL, Wall Street, etc.) are ever geared towards our containment and domination.

"Classifications which are frequently encountered in social science literature of the European American variety frequently reduce people to categories like the 'aged,' 'the schizophrenic subjects,' 'the culturally deprived,' etc. Such categories, which are initially nominal are invariably treated in some qualitative fashion resulting in an ordinal classification based on superordinate-subordinate arrangement. The necessity to refer to people involved in psychological studies as 'subjects' is clearly instructive about the goal of such studies which is to subject. This is the value of the 'valueless' European American experimental methodology." - Dr. Naim Akbar

Here in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr), prisoners are designated via terms such as "contaminate," "subject," "disruptive groups," "security threat groups," "E.O.P.," "CCCMS," etc. In the larger society, New Afrikan gang members and even political organizations are designated as "domestic terrorists," "security threat groups," etc. In each instance what those individuals/groups whom are designated by one-or-the-other terms have in common is the status of being classified, i.e. a procedural identification for purposes of categorization and monitoring techniques for state repression.

This is the essence and actual political function and primary objective of what is referred to and defined as "validated." In penological terms to be "validated" means that a prisoner has been found or confirmed via investigation to be an affiliate of either a prison gang or disruptive group. The "stamp of approval" (rubber stamp) is exacted without sincere consideration and nor recognition of a prisoner's supposedly accorded "due process rights." In the final analysis, the validation process is fraught with legal indifference and profound official bias since it is CDCr's penological interests which are ever paramount.

Although a prisoner has a right to appeal, the end result of such futile pursuit is most predictable since this amounts to "appealing" to another part of the monster which is dead-set on punitive measures immersed in authoritarian arrogance. I stress political function, since from the beginning, in the case of New Afrikans, ours is a relationship based upon institutional domination in terms of the racist prison system. As is often said "war is an expression of politics by other means," so too, "prison is an expression of politics by other means." The prison system is an element of protracted war against our people ever with the aim of subjection.

Indeed just as the U.S. government employs covers (e.g. "humanitarian aid," "fighting terrorism," "spreading democracy") to legitimize its politics and practices in Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Congo, Mali, Sudan, Ukraine, etc., the same is true on a domestic level as regards the covers employed to legitimize the state's repressive policies and measures (i.e. stop and frisk, ten-twenty-life, three strikes, mandatory minimum sentencing, anti-terrorism act, war on drugs, war on gangs) directed against the New Afrikan and Latino(a) communities and oppressed nation people in general. In the case of the New Afrikan and Latino(a) communities the pretext used is "working to make the streets safe" via targeting our youth/warrior-oriented groups with "Gang injunctions," "Prison Gang Validation," "Behavioral Modification Units," etc.

As in the case of their recently conceived repressive tactic referred to as the "Step Down Program," merely one element of an ever-adaptive strategic program rooted in our control, the paramount aim of the state's obvious subterfuge is our subjection to forms of reorientation/indoctrination which operates in total conformity with their dictates, i.e. socio-economic, cultural, security and political imperatives.

"(I)t is the government which gets to define what a 'security threat group' is. According to a national survey conducted by the Department of Justice in 1997, the Department of Corrections of Minnesota and Oregon named all Asians as gangs, which Minnesota further compounds by adding all Native Americans. The State of New Jersey DOC lists the Black Cat Collective as a gang. The Black Cat Collective is my free foster son along with two friends who put on Afro-Centric cultural programs in libraries."(Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Vol.39)

The above komrad goes on to point out that "the government considered the Black Panther Party a 'street gang' under their loose meaning they employed." As we're aware, it is the convenient policy of oppressive and exploitive governments to define and designate especially oppositional radical political forces/individuals (e.g. Mau Mau, RNA, Hamas, IRA, BLA, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, Yaa Asantewaa, Winnie Mandela, Steve Biko, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, etc.) by an array of self-serving propagandistic pejorative terms including thugs, hoodlums, savages, terrorists, and mass murders, so as to demonize them and discredit their socio-political causes. This common tactic of attack via de-legitimization measures is currently being employed against our Black Riders Liberation Party based in Los Angeles.

In California prisons, on the classification Chrono we're referred to or identified as "subject." As a validated prisoner/captive I am treated as and considered to be what they call a "contaminate." I've already listed other official terms in which the state employs to conveniently designate those from the ghettoes. Thus, we discern that the necessity to refer to people as mere "subjects" is also a penological methodology in society and prison. Why not the "oppressed," "colonized," or "exploited"? Because the appropriate and applicable designations would not only operate to accurately identify and classify First Nation peoples, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, New Afrikans, etc., but they'd also work to indict the white male supremacist capitalist-imperialist system. Yes, to a large degree the saying: "He whom defines reality...has the power," is accurate and this is the reason the labeling process is so important to our political adversaries. Classification procedures function as a method of identification with the intended aim of targeting/profiling individuals/groups who are perceived to constitute a "threat to the security" of institutional operations as they're not in conformity with the dictated program.

Once labeled via the classification process the individual/group is made subject to all sorts of political repressive tactics. This even applies to those individuals/groups defined as "gangs" and engaged in criminal activities whether confined to prisons or that of society since it is the "power relation" which is the ultimate crux of the matter.

As is well known, Pelican Bay State Prison as a "model" of repressive control was built along the lines of Marion, Florence, and other maximum security prisons and its authoritarian methods are being implemented across the country in other tombs of gloom. As the "subjects" of these punitively-geared penological settings we are experimented upon (e.g. sterilization, SHUs, suppressive measures such as tear gas, pepper spray, tasers, block guns, E.O.P., CCCMS) As a method of instruction I often explain to brothers that our relationship to the prison system (classification committees, disciplinary hearings, SSU, ISU, IGI, parole supervision) is rooted in and motivated by politics in the sense of alien authority being exercised over us and against our interests.

The fact that one can penalize via some prison official ought to inform us of our subordinate status since it is obviously others who are making the final decisions which negatively impact our lives since they are in a superior position of power. So, for those who have a naive tendency to think in terms that somehow politics is limited to the political process (e.g. voting, referendums, policies, etc.) it must be grasped that the very nature of our relationship with CDCr is actually one based upon politics. Logically, this especially applies to the larger macrocosm or society in terms of our peculiar neo-colonial relationship with the U.S. Empire.

In CDCr, the terms used to define and classify the nexus between prison gangs and disruptive groups (now redefined and reclassified as "Security Threat Groups"), are "subservient" and "subordinate" since the disruptive groups/street gangs are said to be "inferior" to, and thus under the dictation of, a prison gang whom prison officials perceive as the "worst of the worst." The "dictation" goes to program expectations - i.e., rules to abide by on pain of punishment - and general agendas as well as ideological patterns. This attitude and perception, of the nexus between prison gangs and disruptive groups, presumes that those of the latter groups cannot or are not given the latitude to think for themselves nor to govern their lives in their own interests.

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[Censorship] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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First Class Censorship in California

Censorship is often associated with editors of major news media sources such as The National News or The New York Times, but there is a face of censorship functioning with total immunity and blessings from the Postmaster General in Amerika's public institutions. The antics of this menace are adversely affecting the lives of at least 2,000,000 citizens in California alone.

Recently it came to my attention that prisoncrats at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) regularly trash-can, delay, and deface legal documents, spiritual materials, submissions to media outlets, personal correspondence, and other mail sent to various publications, media sources, and individuals. Defacing includes stamping the body of these manuscripts with big red blocks of ink, rendering them illegible, and otherwise useless for their legal, spiritual, and personal intent.

Currently California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) warehouses over 160,000 captives representing an average of 11 other friends, family and contacts that they correspond with; therefore, nearly 2 million (1,760,000) are being subject to oppressive techniques of prisoncrats who are boldly executing a campaign of censorship with an arbitrary, malicious, and political agenda designed to undermine the captives efforts to maintain family/community unity and liberate themselves from the evils of ignorance. As a first termer captive surviving my 42nd year, I have observed several patterns in the pigz who squander long work-hours committing malicious acts of censorship/oppression.

The first observation is the geographical location which acts as a shield from public scrutiny. While the prison experience in the United $nakes of Amerikkka today is such that one in every eleven men will be imprisoned during his lifetime. (For Black men, the figure is disproportionately higher - more than one of every four.) Yet most new prisons (koncentration kamp$) are built not in Black communities, but in white ones, usually rural white ones. A century ago, when most prisoners were white and many had lived on farms, this might have made sense. But not anymore. Today, most prisoners are Black (49%) or Latino (18%). Typically, they come from the cities. Sticking them in the boondocks, where family members have a hard time visiting, where pigz have likely never encountered anyone like them, almost always leads to problems, often violent ones. Yet this is where Amerika builds prisons.(1) Due to location, captives are forced to rely primarily on written correspondence to maintain and build strong family relationships.

The next observation is the general profile of those who commit such malicious acts. On average the pigz working in these rural isolated kamps are typically ultra-conservative, middle-aged, marginally educated, white men who have little-to-no prospect for employment beyond being prisoncrats/oppressors. An interesting paradox to note is that in spite of their lack of higher academic learning, they earn an average annual wage which rivals that of most teachers and health care providers. While the state has an unemployment rate of over 7%, HDSP, like many kamps, purposely does not hire a full workforce; therefore, creating a scheme to reward certain fractions of pigz with overtime hours and rates; resulting in them working excessively long hours. These prisoncrats generally have a hostile attitude towards Blacks and Latinos - particularly those Blacks and Latinos who are cultured, politically conscious, and strive for strong family/community unit. These oppressors actively seek out night shifts where they are designated to search outgoing mail for contraband when given probable cause; however, to have probable cause is the exception. Without probable cause, these pigz openly express a passionate disdain for the relationships their captives have with family/community. With malice, they seek to destroy these relationships by defacing, delaying, and throwing away their personal, legal, and spiritual mail.

Consider an incident on 16 February 2015 when an elder captive in A-section became the victim of a brutal attack via several reactionaries acting as agents for certain pigz who were attempting to suppress the litigation of the elderly captive pursuing his rights to seek access to the courts for human rights violations. While packing the victim's property, a prisoncrat was observed throwing away large volumes of the victim's legal and spiritual documents. This man was sent to isolation while none of the oppressors' agents were subject to the same procedures. On 9 February 2015 this writer became the repeat victim of legal/business mail tampering when an envelope from friends beyond the walls was delivered without a letter inside. Previously this writer's minister sent a tax letter and form in response to my donation, which had been defaced with red blocks of ink lettering stamped on the body of the enclosures.

The aforementioned policies and practices may appear to be mere acts of personal mischief of pigz, but the series of reports on www.prisoncensorship.info demonstrate that this is a systematic pattern of abause. The latent effect has far broader implications than the receipt of one piece of mail. It's interesting to note that while it's the intent of these prisoncrats to disrupt and break down the family nucleus and community ties, the stated objectives of CDCR is exactly the opposite to the degree it reports to encourage reform via affording prisoners to develop strong family and community ties.

There are at least three ways the larger community should respond effectively to this form of oppression. 1) Write the Post Master General (cc to Warden) and serve notice how this practice is adversely affecting you as a free-citizen emotionally/personally, spiritually, and legally. 2) File (save) any legal, personal, spiritual, business, and artistic images you have received that have been defaced in this way that could possibly be used as evidence of unnecessary defacement. 3) Be willing to give your material, moral, and legal support to any who have dared to file a meritorious claim. Be advised the prisoncrats will attempt to justify their actions by citing safety and security, which is actually a euphemism for oppressive and malicious actions with the intent of suppressing communication between family and community.

Notes:
1. Jospeh T. Hallinan, Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, Random House, 2003, pp. 28-29.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We echo this comrade's call for people both behind bars and on the streets to fight the censorship going on in California prisons. For year's all mail from MIM Distributors was banned in California prisons, and that ban was overturned by coordinated legal efforts and appeals. But censorship has not ended, it is a constant power struggle to maintain basic First Amendment rights for the oppressed. Mail is particularly important not only for maintaining family and community ties but also for political education and organizing. This is why activist prisoners find their mail specifically targetted. It's not about security, it's about social control. Grieve every incident of censorship and join the California campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. Write to us for a copy of the grievance petition.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [California]
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It's Phase Two, We're All Goin' to the SHU

The January issue of ULK really grabbed my attention with its front page article Agreement to End Hostilities is Main Struggle in CA. As my last article to ULK can attest, there is a whole lot going on in CDCR right now with the SHU lawsuits pending, a court order for CDCR to release people to manageable levels due date on 2/28/15, STG "phase two" pilot program blowbacks, and a general sense of what almost seems like panic among the prison bureaucracy. It's starting to look like CDCR just might have bitten off more than it can chew and the hogs are starting to realize that the tax payer gravy train isn't endless and everyday more and more people on the other side of these electric fences are waking up to the fact that they have been lied to and stolen from by the very people they have placed their trust in for years.

As MIM points out, although it's nice to hear that finally after years and years locked in the torture units, people are starting to be moved back to the mainline, we all have to take heed and remind ourselves that it's just more of the smoke and mirrors that these prisoncrat cowards have been hiding behind for decades. Although they are finally going to acknowledge international laws regarding "long-term" isolation, the SHU torture units remain open and as I can personally attest, still being held and threatened with SHU placement, the pigs are far from being done with using torture units and are currently, and as quietly as possible, filling those same SHU beds with new "STG members and associates."

It is simply a change in official CDCR stratagem. Now everybody they cannot outright "classify" as a "gang member or security threat" they now simply label as an "associate." That way we are all eligible for SHU placement under the terms of the new "phase two of the STG pilot plan" and they can peddle to the public how CDCR "no longer holds prisoners in long-term isolation" per international law. It's a twisted game of musical SHU beds and no one in CDCR, regardless of SNY placement, or non-gang member status, or even an absence of disciplinary write ups, is immune from catching a SHU term. The way the pigs look at it they can cover up their illegal torture programs to the public while carrying on with business as usual by keeping the SHU units constantly full with large numbers of "new gang members/STG associates." All they are going to do now is rotate us in and out at will. I even heard an unconfirmed rumor that they are currently opening up more ASU (Administrative Segregation Units) at prisons in order to accommodate the coming influx of torture victims while maintaining the lie that they will not build anymore SHUs in California.

The orchestrated riot that I was found "guilty" of back in July 2013 is an example of these new "phase two" programs at work. The pigs are using prison yard politics, or better yet what they think are our politics, to pit prisoner against prisoner and place everyone on their STG lists. Once they have "official, confirmed STG activity" placed on every prisoner's file, they are able to pick and choose who they deem a dissident and send them to the gulag units for up to 6 years at a time. As I like to say, "it's phase two, we're all goin' to the SHU." And with this new system in place, they don't have to worry about wasting time with all that "validation points" nonsense that they apparently had in place before to separate the "gang members" from the average prisoner in order to "keep the prison yards safe." In fact, with the new phase two STG program, they have streamlined the SHU placement process so although it might appear that they are releasing those that they have held in the gulag for decades, they are also quietly setting the stage for their eventual return along with all of us "Associates."

It appears CDCR has spent at least some of their stolen money on a think tank along with prison litigators in order to conceive and implement this new STG program as well as getting it written up in the official Title 15 for the Operations of Cali prisons. So although it is pleasant to read that a lot of those long-term political prisoners are being "released" to mainline prisons, we all need to make sure we see these events in the proper context. These pigs care for nothing but money and power and want to be able to steal as much as they can with the least amount of effort. If they are being forced to release those SHU prisoners in order to appear just and in accord with international law, you can bet they are going to do whatever they have to do to confirm their hegemony over the prisoners.

We cannot let up the pressure until all the SHUs/ASUs are closed, prison population levels are in check, and the illegal conviction rates that these corrupt courts maintain in order to keep CDCR growing like the malignant cancer that it is, is overthrown. Let's not start celebrating and discussing setting up a "round table" "powerhouse revolutionary structure," quite yet. Just as the swine are taking a fresh look and stratagem so shall we. We must remember that the end hostilities agreement is a great weapon against the pig dominance and they will do everything in their power to destroy it thus, the orchestrated riots they are staging in increasing fury.

I suggest we all take it up a notch and all start refusing to be placed in a double cell environment. Imagine the chaos that would ensure if CDCR was actually forced to proper prison capacity limits. As of now, under section 3005(c ) of the Title 15 inmates that refuse to double cell will be punished with SHU placement, (I know first hand, as of now I am pending a SHU term for this very violation among other things), yet the "sting" of this punishment for a non violent "crime" is worse than it appears to be. With phase two SHU prisoners quietly, but quickly being used to fill those SHU beds left vacant, they would physically not have the SHU torture cells to punish all of us and set their "example of proper behavior." They might have the guns, but we've got the numbers, which becomes glaringly obvious when all prisoners, of all demographics, stand together on an issue. History has shown, it's the only thing that will without doubt, force their hand. Let's not wait until phase two is fully implemented. Let's act now with a pre-emptive attack on their cute little "rehousing plan" and start refusing cellmates! Much love and respect to all in this struggle.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's call for a collective response to put an end to torture in Calfornia prisons. However, we print h suggestion of refusing double celling only as an idea, which others have brought up as well. We are not advocating the use of this tactic at this time.

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[Medical Care] [Deuel Vocational Institution] [California]
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Outbreak of Rashes from Contaminated Water at Tracy DVI

Here at Tracy Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) the water has been contaminated. It is rusty red and black and contains pesticides that come from surrounding farmland which soaks into the water that DVI tries to filter for our consumption.

Prisoners have been breaking out in rashes with hives all over their bodies. Medical staff say this is a reaction to the contaminates within the drinking water. On 19 February 2015 the California Department of Corrections/Tracy (DVI) handed out to each prisoner 1 gallon of purified water in response to this medical crisis.

Seems to me, this dirty water is just another way to wipe out prisoners or to just save a lousy penny for the California Department of Corrections' pocket.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The water at Tracy has been notoriously bad dating back to before 2009. The CDCR has also had major problems with the safety of water at Kern Valley. It's realities like this that put the interests of U.$. prisoners closer to the Third World proletariat than the oppressor nation who sees unlimited clean water as a given. The oppressed experience ecological destruction first hand, in the form of things like lack of clean water. As comrades struggle for clean water at DVI, we should push this in the context of a revolutionary ecology that recognizes the inherent destructive nature of the anarchy of production under capitalism. We cannot keep pushing the problem onto other nations, as eventually we all will suffer these results of ecological destruction.

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[Prison Labor] [Environmentalism] [California]
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CALPIA - Building Better Lives for a Safer California

As a prisoner I see this slogan almost every day while being housed in prison. It's the slogan stamped onto the inner sole of every pair of PIA shoes. Shoes made ultra-cheap due to the quality control that doesn't even exist. This is yet another way the state is saving a buck on our comfort. When I first came to join the PIA, prison issue were brown hard bottom boot, which they gave every convict coming out of reception. Those boots not only provided PIA workers with a job but also others prisoners with one as shoe shiners.

You might be thinking wow, what a low position. But if so, that's only because you weren't here. The shoe shine, if he mastered the art, got plenty of business and made however much he was willing to commit on working for. His customers were not only convicts, they also were Correction Officers usually of high rank and they paid well. Now PIA, by cutting cost and operating with the use of low grade, no quality materials, have wiped out several in-prison work assignments and legal hustles or trade exchange. Those boots were made out of leather and so there were leather hobby shops where prisoners were taught how to make belts, wallets, medallions, use special machines and recycle the unusable scraps from the boot line. Creating income, gifts for family, and educating prisoners on how to use their resources.

Now we have low-quality, low-top generic canvas shoes that they expect to fall apart within 90 days when you can get a new pair creating only more pollution and waste. No one benefits from these PIA show factories except those who work there, and I'd be willing to bet someone is lining their pocket with tax-payer money through building these contracts with under-the-table industries who supply such low grade materials. Another bad effect is due to the fact positions at these factories are low in volume. It establishes a classism among convicts, with PIA and private contractors being the highest source of income legally in the joint. Their workers became the ruling class as far as prisoners economics are concerned, with them averaging $100 a month compared to the top culinary assignment at $37 monthly, deducting 55% if they owe restitution before they even receive it.

Ask yourselves what is 45% of 9 cents an hour or 45% of 23 cents an hour? Then there's the poor non-employed convict who is the on the bottom when it comes to privileges by grand design of whom when it's time to unite and stand against any form of oppression are usually always down, with nothing to lose. On the other hand the slave class is divided amongst prisoners, the majority of this class talk about doing something to make a change in conditions, pay, treatment, but when it's time to peacefully demonstrate by striking at work they simply won't go that far. A smaller number out of the slave class will, knowing this is the only process towards change that works. The majority of the slave class are youngsters who enjoy the movement their job provides and don't want to rock the boat. Now the PIA working prisoners by no means will write in solidarity with the convicts in any class including their very own but will both encourage a strike for equal pay and treatment in the hopes of moving up, and others will report it directly to their masters the Correctional Authorities in the hopes of building a stronger rapport and gaining favor.


MIM(Prisons) responds:This comrade gives us a glimpse at some of the contradictions facing prison organizers at the PIA prisons in California. While there are some parallels between the prison system and slavery, we have critiqued the use of the term "slavery" to refer to prisoners. This comrade's description talks about how the prisoners are pawns in a system that is becoming ecologically wasteful, and likely benefitting bureacrats. The wages, while minimal, also play a role for the state in helping control and divide the population via petty economic interests. Battles for higher wages in U.$. prisons can be progressive in putting pressure on the economic viability of oppression. But generally, prison unions that represent the interests of all prisoners must focus on more pressing and common problems.

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