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.
Just so you know, I'm in support of any list of demands, regardless of who presents them. And I support the ones you have outlined in your February 8th letter, especially the one that calls for an end to our torturous conditions. In fact, this is one of the issues I am about to under take with regards to our outdated and disfunctional ventilation system.
Just to give you some insight, when I arrived here in June of 2012 with temperatures that were averaging 90 degrees, which made for cell temperatures that exceeded 95 degrees due to the disfunctional ventilation. After conducting my own investigation, I learned that Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) does not have swamp coolers like most other prisons here in California have. No, they built this place with low grade air circulators, which are now 25 years old and are out of date especially in light of what is now called, "Global Warming." Last year we all experienced the highest temperatures ever recorded!
Now I must explain the second portion of this equation, how when RJD converted this yard to a level 4 Special Needs Yard, they covered the bottom of our cell doors, which normally had a 2" to 3" gap to allow for a natural flow of air; that gap is approximately l" now. Thirdly, RJD was one of the 1st of the "270" [the name of the design style] prisons built in California, and when they built it they did not put exhaust vents in our shower stalls, this has allowed steam and humidity to collect in our dayroom area, which in turn gets picked up and circulated into our cells. Additionally, all of the newer "270" designed prisons are equipped with three huge exhaust fans that are mounted on the dayroom ceiling. In any event, this old and out-dated system is creating a very dangerous living condition. I guarantee you, if everyone were to knock out their cell windows, front and back, at a cost of $90.00 each, they would get right and fix these air handlers! I'm going to assemble, and file a writ of mandate in hopes of getting the courts to make them replace these air circulators. In my exhausted 602, they admitted that they need to replace them but, that there was no money in the budget, and that statement alone might be the rope I need to hang'em in court! If not, the only other solution is kicking out windows.
Alright, I won't take up all of your time with the problems that we're experiencing here, but, I will tell you to take note of an article that was done by Paige St. John from the L.A. Times, Dated March 19, 2013 9:41 AM, which clearly illustrates what's going on here at RJD with regards to our medical and mental health care, check it out, its a good read. the article is entitled, "Experts say three prisons fail to provide adequate health care."
Prison officials here have told us that in the coming weeks CDCR representatives from Sacramento will be reviewing the case file/validation package of all those who have been validated as associates of an STG here at Calipatria to determine their current and future housing needs in accordance with the new SDP placement option chart.
This new policy and SDP is a sham! It does not address the core issues and only gives the illusion that if a prisoner jumps through all their hoops he/she could escape these torture chambers. The fact of the matter is that even if the prisoner is able to gain his/her release back to the general population, s/he will be walking on very thin ice thereafter. Any infraction could bring him/her right back to these torture chambers for an additional six years minimum. If a prisoner has already been through the SDP they will have to serve two years in step one, instead of the one year for first termers in the program.
CDCR might as well place revolving doors at the entrance of every segregation unit, because this is exactly what the new policy offers. Maybe its going to take the sound of thousands of hungry rumbling bellies before CDCR listens to reason and begins to write policies that are humane and fair.
MIM(Prisons) adds: California has been housing prisons in long-term isolation for years under the guise of gang (aka security threat group) validation. The conditions in these units have provoked a number of protests from prisoners, and this prisoner refers to the upcoming July 8 strike against torture in California prisons.
In 2011, when 12,000 prisoners went on hunger strike to protest long-term isolation, the CDCR asserted that they were already working on the issue. This SDP was what they were working on. Previously they offered "gang validation" to prisoners deemed to be affiliated with one of a handful of "prison gangs" within the system. This new policy expands the gang validation, and therefore long-term isolation torture, to all sorts of organizations that are deemed "criminal" or even just "disruptive." Keep in mind that if prisoners stand up against staff abuses, this is considered "disruptive" behavior and such prisoners face regular retaliation. While none of this is new, it is now official policy. This is their idea of reforming the system.
While we know the whole system needs to be thrown in the trash, in the mean time we can at least do better than this. But it depends on prisoners organizing in unity to better the conditions of all prisoners. Work with MIM(Prisons) to support prisoner education and organizing.
Here at California State Prison-Solano, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has started a campaign to rush prisoners out to other states to be housed. As of last month, Inmate Classification has been rubber stamping the illegal move to out of state. The prisoner has no say in the matter whatsoever.
A few years ago Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, called for a state of emergency. Prisoners were shipped off to be housed in other states because California prisons were bursting at the seams due to over crowding, and no more prisons are being built here in California. However, last year the state of emergency was lifted and the prisoners who had been out of state were ordered to be sent back.
Governor Jerry Brown is under tremendous pressure by the three judge panel to relieve and reduce the prison population. He hasn't done anything yet. Governor Jerry Brown and his cronies will lie, cheat and even kidnap prisoners and ship them to other prisons out of state illegally. He doesn't want to release the terminally ill and sick lifer inmates, who cost the state millions of dollars. In this capitalistic country prisons are very big business, so this oppressive government doesn't want to let anyone out of prison. The situation is ripe for the oppressed nations to protest the harsh injustices that exist in these prisons.
Governor Jerry Brown and his cronies refuse to follow their own laws. This only tells me who the real criminals are. This is why it's important for the oppressed prisoners to unite under one common cause. We must apply the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in order to defeat the criminal injustice system. We can do better if all races unite, because united we stand, divided we fall.
Comrade George L. Jackson remarked: "settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here."
Hence, MIM(Prisons) can truly assist us in this noble effort. Giving us the pertinent tools of knowledge (books) to combat the Amerikan imperialist.
I send my greetings to the reader of this letter. Thank y'all for sending me ULK 30. As always, it was easy, mind-broadening reading. Although I understand and accept the realities presented by your info, it is discouraging to see that we of this line of thought are the minority. As obvious as all of the societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies are, the majority of people still hold on to the lie that Amerikkka is a fair, just, and free society. It's absurd and obscene.
I had filed a state court petition challenging the staff's abuse of the inmate appeal process here at California State Prison - Los Angeles County. The judge has issued an order for the prison officials to informally respond, and they in turn were granted an extension of time on responding. The good thing is that the petition was not summarily dismissed as is routine in the California state courts. Nevertheless, the facts, law, and evidence are strong in my claim. If given a fair shake in litigating I absolutely expect victory in the case.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade filed a state court petition in the same vein as the campaign for the proper addressing of grievances which is now three years strong. Many participants in this campaign are still circulating petitions in their facilities and mailing them to their respective wardens, prisoner support groups, etc. But others, like this comrade, have applied their knowledge of the legal system to push the campaign even further.
We hope the state court petition this comrade filed does have its fair shot at success in the courts, as these victories can contribute to the larger struggle of the oppressed in this country. Sadly, we know this is unlikely, and it is for the same reasons why Amerikans choose to ignore the "societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies" we report on in Under Lock & Key. Even though all Amerikans have at least some general idea of the terrible things this country does across the world and within its own borders, they receive so many great things from being Amerikan that they are willing to accept and even back those actions. We are in the minority in this country. Rather than stay discouraged, we should do as this comrade does and take that as a cue that we need to work that much harder and with more creativity in order to pave the way for revolution. And always keep in mind that we are in the majority globally.
14 March 2013 - Prisoners in California received a memo advising them of the expectations placed on them by the state in regards to the new expanded "Security Threat Group" policies. When thousands of prisoners across California went on hunger strike to protest torturous conditions in the Security Housing Units, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) asserted that they were already working on the issue. This was what they were working on. Previously they offered "gang validation" to prisoners deemed to be affiliated with one of a handful of "prison gangs" within the system. This new policy expands the gang validation, and therefore long-term isolation torture, to all sorts of organizations that are deemed "criminal" or even just "disruptive." Keep in mind that if prisoners stand up against staff abuses, this is considered "disruptive" behavior and such prisoners face regular retaliation. While none of this is new, it is now official policy.
This new policy marks the continued decline of First Amendment rights for prisoners in this country. The state wants it to be illegal for prisoners to affiliate with each other for any reason. They want to keep them isolated in little cages with no contact with each other or the outside world. While many in this country still defend Amerika as promoting freedom, prisoners and the oppressed nations in general know that this "freedom" does not apply to everyone.
MIM(Prisons) joins in United Front with all prisoners in California who are now actively building resistance to these policies through the courts and through peaceful organizing and actions.
[Memo Passed out to prisoners 3/14/2013]
STATE OF CALIFONRIA(sic) CDCR 2260 (10/12) Attachment E
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION Advisement of Expectations
It is the mission of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to preserve public safety and provide offenders with opportunities to take responsibility for their lives and improve their chances of becoming productive members of the community.
The CDCR maintains a zero tolerance for gang and security threat group activities and behavior. Within the CDCR, prison gangs, street gangs, and disruptive groups are referred to as Security Threat Groups (STG). CDCR maintains a pro-active approach to STG management.
Offenders found guilty of violating criminal or administrative statutes shall be dealt with 'in a manner consistent with department policy. This shall include, but not be limited to, loss of privileges, increase in custody level, loss of work credits, segregation from the general population, and/or referral for criminal prosecution.
It is your responsibility to abstain from activities that assist, promote, or endorse any STG within or outside this facility/institution. Your responsibility includes familiarizing yourself with laws and regulations that govern STG activity including the Security Threat Group Instructional Memorandum, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Division 3, Sections 3000, 3023, 3314, 3315, 3323, 33,41.5, and 3378, and Department Operations Manual Chapter 5, Article 22. Some of which are outlined below.
CCR (Pilot), Section 3314, Administrative Rule Violations, states in part: (a)(3) Administrative rule violations include but are not limited to; (a)(3)(L) Security Threat Group Contraband: Possessing or displaying any distinctive materials, symbols, clothing, signs, colors, artwork, photographs, or other paraphernalia associated with any Security Threat Group; (a) (3) (M) Security Threat Group Behavior: Demonstrating or exhibiting any unique behaviors clearly associated with a STG that promotes, furthers or assists any Security Threat Group.
Examples of this behavior or activities include: *Active Participation in STG Roll Call; *Participating in STG Group Exercise; *Using hand signs, gestures, handshakes, slogans, distinctive clothing, graffiti which specifically relate to an STG; *In Possession of Artwork (other than self created and not original) clearly depicting recognized STG symbols; *In Possession of Photographs that depict STG Association. Must include STG connotations such as insignia, symbols, or other validated STG affiliates;
CCR (Pilot), Section 3315, Serious Rule Violations, states in part (a)(3) Serious rule violations include but are not limited to: (a) (3) (Y) Security Threat Group Directing or Controlling Behavior. Demonstrating activity, behavior or status as a' recognized member and/or leader of an STG, which jeopardizes the safety of the public, staff, or other inmate(s), and/or the security and order of the institution. (a) (3) (Z) Security Threat Group, Disruptive or Violent Behavior: Demonstrating involvement in activities or an event associated with a STG, which jeopardizes the safety of the public, staff, or other inmate(s), and/or the security and order of the institution,
CCR (Pilot), Section 3323, Disciplinary Credit Forfeiture Schedule, states in part (h) Division "F" offenses; credit forfeiture of 0-30 days. (h)(11) Harassment of another person, group, or entity either directly or indirectly through the use of the mail, telephone., or other means. (h) (12) Security Threat Group Behavior or Activity. (A) Recording/documentation of telephone conversation evidencing active STG behavior; (B) Communication between offenders regarding STG behavior or activities; (C) Directing Active Participation in STG Roll Call; (D) Directing Cadence for STG Group Exercise; (E) Wearing, possessing, using, distributing, displaying, or selling any clothing, jewelry, emblems, badges, symbols, signs, or other items with the intent to intimidate, promote membership, or depict affiliation in a STG; (F) In possession of self-created or original artwork clearly depicting recognized STG symbols; (G) In personal possession of STG related written material including membership or enemy list, constitution, organizational structures, codes, training material, etc.; (H) In personal possession of mail, notes, greeting cards, or other communications including coded messages evidencing active STG behavior.
The CDCR will review all criminal gangs and disruptive groups and assign a Security Threat Group level to each.
STG-I will consist of criminal gangs and/or historically based prison gangs that the CDCR has determined to be the most severe threat to the security of the institutions and communities based on a history and propensity for violence and/or influence over other groups. Based upon their individual threat, clandestine operations, and influence over other STG affiliates, inmates who are validated as STG-I members will be in segregated housing based solely upon their validation. Validated STG-I associates will normally remain housed in general population unless confirmed STG behavior or activities, some of which are described above, are present. If these behaviors or activities are present, the STG-I associate will be considered for segregated housing and placement into a five year step down program.
STG-II will consist of other criminal gangs such as street gangs or disruptive groups comprised of members and associates who may be determined to be in a subservient role to the more dominant STG-I type groups. Validated STG-II members or associates will remain housed in general population unless two or more confirmed STG behavior or activities are present. If these behaviors or activities are present, STG-II member or associate will be considered for segregated housing and placement into a five year step down program.
I have been provided a copy of this document.
Offender Signature CDCR # Date Signed __ | | Inmate Refused to Sign
Printed Staff Name Signature Date
Distribution: Original - Central File; Copy - Inmate
The fiance of a prisoner in Santa Barbara County Jail is leading the call to oppose a new rule banning all letters to prisoners. The Sheriff has restricted incoming mail to postcards only citing "security" reasons, as they always do. They say this, despite the well-established fact that ties to family and the outside world help prisoners rehabilitate and reduces conflicts. This is why we question how prison authorities define "security."
The rights of prisoners are limited in so many ways, making them a vulnerable population facing increased risks of violence, rape, suicide and many health problems. Even after release prisoners face increased rates of poverty and shorter life spans. Education, communication and integration with the outside world are important parts of any effort to rehabilitate those who are rightfully imprisoned.
MIM(Prisons) supports this campaign to allow prisoners in Santa Barbara County Jail to receive letters, just as we combat censorship in prisons across the country. Those facing censorship from Santa Barbara can provide public records to our online Censorship in Amerika Documentation Project.
Fifteen years of prison, so-called, life, and still I am surprised at times by the way these pigs are willing to sink to new lows.
This 602 appeals system at Corcoran is extremely scandalous. Not only have I received the 602 appeals of several other people, having to get their mail back to them by a transporter and fishing line, in 2012, 5 appeals I sent to my "counselor" (nothing but a plainclothes CO) to be referred to the appeals coordinator, had just disappeared! And yet the pigs still ask you to submit evidence to them with your appeal. Why? So they can throw it away? 2013 is not any different. We get a total runaround and boldfaced filibuster.
In the past months I have been 602ing the issue of the pigs only choosing English on these silly movies they play. They know I have an issue with a few court rulings associated to it, and the game this time was to wait a month with my 602 in their hooves and send it back to me one month to the day, unanswered or stamped or even declared "rejected" which they do for incredible "reasons." Now, when I refile, they will say I didn't "take action" within 30 days, as if they didn't sit on my 602 for a month. As if I didn't do anything.
The other issues include trying to get SHU inmates to be allowed chess and cards, like on the mainline. I have received 10 dirty trick filibuster moves from them. One appeals coordinator says I attached "inappropriate forms" in my appeal, my response was to show how the form I got came from another appeals coordinator!!! Then they say I have to resubmit the original appeal because the new one duplicated what they stamped as "rejected." So, I tore up parts of that and submitted them as proof that the original is torn up, "can't retrieve from sewers" I wrote. They will reject that too for some ridiculous pretext. I am collecting all of their confetti, to show to the new convicts and people on the outside who don't know yet, this system isn't broken, it is meant to work exactly as it is, that is against us, against our interests.
I am incensed and enraged that I am undergoing the same type of gimmicks that I have read about describing the state craft of "Israeli rejectionism" where only if you are an obedient Israeli can you get a license to drive or build a home or work on a farm: they "reject" all attempts at life outside their monopoly. They want to maintain jurisdiction over me.
The same gimmicks were employed in South Africa, under apartheid where we learn from studying the example of that tyranny, how it "thrives on details." Bureaucratic delays and technicalities employed ad infinitum to deliberately runaround any application or petition or appeal. The paperwork would not work if filed by a Black African. "I can't hear you, I can't see you, I can't say anything."
The courts will reject you too if you don't exhaust your administrative procedures. It's good for prisoners to get this runaround game out of the way as soon as they get here, to learn that, wherever one class of people is slave to another class whether in a colony or the pen, or on a city street, such gimmicks have to exist alongside of the oppression. And its vital to know the futility of trying to beat the pigs, at a game played by pig rules. And it guarantees an explosive response.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree that it is good to work through the administrative procedures for grievances even though they are set up so that most grievances will fail. This does teach prisoners a lesson about the game that is played by pig rules. But we can also use these rejections to educate others to fight the system on their own terms. This rigged grievance system is why United Struggle from Within initiated the grievance campaign in California, which has now spread to many other states. The petition is just one more way to put pressure on the criminal injustice system to play by their own rules. Some victories have been won with persistence. But we know that even with a systematic campaign we can not hope to fundamentally alter the criminal injustice system under imperialism. This is why the grievance campaign is just one small part of our larger anti-imperialist battle.
Currently all group segments here in the SHU at Pelican Bay are preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage scheduled for July 8th of this year. From what I gather, most are committing to ten days for now, although the Short Corridor Collective wrote a letter to the governor declaring an indefinite hunger strike until all five core demands are met. I've read that San Quentin's death row "adjustment center" is on board and even many female prisoners in California. So this one should be even bigger than the last two combined with all outside the walls brothers and sisters even more prepared than before.
Basically the prison administrators did not follow through with the positive changes that they said they were going to do during the hunger strike negotiations. Yes we were given beanies, allowed to order sweats, and we are allowed to purchase art supplies and take one photo per year if we remain disciplinary free. Plus they added a few food items to the canteen list. Those were all positive changes. However, besides that, the only thing that has changed is that they created the STG/SDP [requiring prisoners to go through a Step Down Program (SDP) to get out of STG, among other changes], which is not beneficial to anyone besides the gang investigators and the prison administrators. It's counter productive for us as it gives the prison administration an even broader range of prisoners who they will now be able to validate and place in the SHU. These are prisoners who before were not validated due to it being harder to tie them to a prison gang, like the whites and Blacks for instance.
The vast majority of us did not participate in the hunger strike simply to receive a bunch of miscellaneous crap, and since the prison administration did not follow through with their end of the hunger strike negotiations, the Short Corridor Collective has decided that another peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage is necessary in order to force CDCR to the table and make them follow through with their promises of positive changes. This peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage is to continue until they have met the five core demands or until the Short Corridor Collective has negotiated terms that are satisfactory and/or beneficial for all.
As far as the new STG/SDP is concerned, it's a straight joke that CDCR is actually attempting to push it out to the public that these are positive changes when they are in fact not. They are trying to go on a media campaign saying that seventy something people have been released and so many admitted into the step down program, but it is nothing but smoke and mirrors. It looks and sounds good to the public but in reality it's business as usual for the pigs.
Nobody is acknowledging the so called "SDP" so anybody that they say is in it is actually not participating in anything. Nobody has been transferred yet for step three or four to Corcoran SHU or Tehachapi SHU. They have not raised the limit on canteen for anyone or given anyone a phone call or anything. All they did was dedicate one channel on the TV for a bunch of fake rehabilitation videos that are old and outdated and that nobody even watches. So there is no step down program in our eyes and in reality, just the prison administration's story of one.
In regards to the so-called reviews that they say they are doing, and the prisoners who are being released back out to the mainlines, this too is a sham, a way to sugar coat the story and make it look as if they are making changes when they are not. There is no reviews taking place here in Pelican Bay SHU, where I'm at, it's all just for show. All they are really doing is conducting the inactive reviews/gang status updates for those who have already been in the SHU for six years, that's nothing special. That's something that we all already have coming to us no matter what we do once we've been back here for six years.
The only thing that has changed is that Institutional Gang Investigations is now approving more people for inactive status instead of mysteriously coming up with bogus confidential memorandums. In my immediate vicinity I've seen around six or seven people get approved for inactive status, all southern Mexicans. I've also seen about four of them get denied as well so not everyone is getting kicked back out to the mainline. Those that were denied were given a new inactive review date six years down the line, so that means that they have to be in the SHU for six more years before they can again be reviewed for release from the SHU. So where is the change in that?
Like I said, it's all just for show, the only reviews that they are doing are the ones that they have to do and that's the six years inactive reviews. As far as Contraband Surveillance Watch, aka "potty watch", they are still using this unconstitutional method as a means of torture and intimidation. However, from what I've been noticing they have been utilizing it less than normal in the last year or so. I've only seen one or two people here and there when I pass by C Facility and D Facility "potty watch" cells while en route to the law library so that's better than them being overflowed at least. Although it shouldn't be allowed at all, because it is wrong and degrading. I speak from experience having been through it myself with my celly back in February 2011.
From what I've recently heard the "agreement to end hostilities" is holding here on Pelican Bay A and B yards and everybody is programming with no incidents of violence in a while. Yard visits, canteen and everything else is up and on track and each group segment is giving each other their respects. As a matter of fact northern Mexicans are starting to go to A yard now. After about a five year period of not being placed there by the prison administration, they are being housed in A3 from what I heard.
One more thing in regards to the peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage, you have to refuse food for at least seventy two hours before you are even acknowledged as being on a hunger strike and you're added to the statewide count of those who are participating. Also you can't order food nor coffee from canteen in July, only hygiene and stationary because if you accept food or coffee then you won't be counted as being on a hunger strike.
Recently the state of California has created what they call the step down program which those of us at Pelican Bay SHU have rejected. The strikes that swept Amerikan prisons in 2011 were initially kicked off with the intention of obtaining five demands, and the State has so far failed to grant the five demands. This July it will be two years since the prisoner population first mobilized around the five demands and yet the State has been making excuse after excuse to go in circles and drag things out while making more promises.
We have reached way deep for what little patience may be left in us as people who have suffered years and in some cases decades under the brutal torture of the State. And yet this patience was taken as weakness as all oppressors take patience or good gestures coming from the oppressed. We have attempted to resolve this issue with the brutal state through dialogue, and through agreements, to no avail. We now understand that like all efforts for dignity and humyn rights it will take struggle!
Everywhere in the world where the people fought oppression it was done through struggle, with selfless acts of sacrifice in some way. The law of dialectics proves that struggle, sacrifice and suffering produces justice, freedom and peace. One relies on the other in a unity of opposites and a perpetual contradiction and it is this contradiction that prisoners today find ourselves in and which created the conditions in which the 2011 strikes were brought to surface.
California, like all imperialist prisons and jails, has relied on brutal treatment in order to control its prisoners. It is living within a capitalist society that creates these prison camps, these concentration camps that capture our people, capture our youth and have us living under an occupied force, colonized not only physically but mentally as well. The fate of our nations within prisons relies on what we do today.
For the past few decades the movement for prisoner rights has been in a semi coma, many have been bought off with petit bourgeois ideology where everyone is looking out to come up and get money, too many seeking escapism in dope or alcohol, too many times do I hear prisoners talking about 'get rich or die trying,' but like dead prez said we need to 'get free or die trying.'
The question is, do we continue to be locked in oppressive conditions or do we finally stand up and demand our dignity? More and more of our youth enter these concentration camps lining up right behind us and walk in sync to the slaughter house known as SHU or hole. So many of our "privileges" have been taken by the state. Many times our loved ones out in society suffer from traveling to see us, paying outrageously for phone calls or goods and yet we sit and accept it. This has gone on far too long. Our patience has run out, we have grown old, our health is beginning to fail us, our sanity under such cruel and decrepit conditions is at stake and there is no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. So we must make a spark that creates our own light at the end of the tunnel!
We have given the prison until July 8, 2013 to meet all five demands we listed in 2011 and if they are not granted by July 8 then our hunger strike will continue on that day. We will demand to be treated as humyn beings, we will not be tortured any longer.
What we learned from 2011 was the repression that will come from such a non-violent protest and many ideas have since come to the fore. Many lessons were learned since the last strike, lessons that will make us stronger next round. But we call on all those oppressed to use July 8 as your rally cry and to use this historic day to bring attention to your suffering, to your torture and to your oppression. And so we ask all to join us on July 8 as once more we hunger strike in unity for all prisoners, not just in the United $tates but around the world.
United we can accomplish anything, so long as we act as one. We need to remember that our oppressors act as one when they create harsh laws and throw away the key. They act as one when their sticks are breaking our heads and when we are placed in torture conditions. It doesn't matter their background or nationality, their sticks and boots feel the same on our bodies. So let all prisoners also use this unity in a united front where every dungeon forms their own demands on July 8 to better conditions wherever you're at.
There are still a few months until this date comes, and it is better to have time to get your mind right and be prepared. California has begun to develop peace zones in all prisons and jails where no longer are prisoners at each other, oppressing each other. Instead we are promoting peace and creating peace zones in all facilities. Now, instead of warring on each other, prisoners in California are beginning to find ways to better their living conditions. They are looking to the true oppressor and developing a more revolutionary culture in all prisons, jails and youth facilities. It is only by creating a more revolutionary environment that real change can come from not only our prison conditions but also in our relations with one another behind these prison walls. Let us create these safe zones and look to those who are also held captive as struggling against the same oppressor.
I am writing to express my concerns with your paper. I am 100% for a true United Front. I do not judge people by the color of their skin. I am white and I'm proud of the fact. I come from Oakland CA and in school was a target just because I was white. My family did not have money.
In a story in ULK 26 May/June 2012 you claim that poor whites searching for identity turn to white supremacist and we find our identity in the false belief of their supremacy in the color of our skin. Well my friend, I refute your belief and you're just way off the mark. I came up in Oakland, CA in the 60s, 70s, 80s when Oakland was at war most of the war was drug war, but in the 60s and 70s there were political wars and protest from the Blacks. There was one movement after another.
I for one never claim that I am better than anyone because I'm white, but growing up in Oakland, because of my white skin I was jumped. In spite of that, to this day I do not judge people by the color of their skin as you clearly do.
Now about ULK 24, 2012 page 3 concerning Special Needs Yards (SNY). I came into the system in the 80s and sure there was no such thing as SNY back then, they called it PSU. CDCR has always housed child molesters, rapists and snitches and they programmed on the GP yards for years, and for the most part we ran them off the yard. SNY was not put in place for that kind of people, SNY was put in place for prisoners who got sick and tired of killing each other. The system back in the day was run by a bunch of older guys who kept the youngsters in line. Well you had a bunch of kids coming into the system, yes more Blacks and Latinos, who were in search of an identity. They would join these prison gangs not knowing what they were getting into. Then you had a lot of kids on the streets looking at the drug dealers with all the money, cars, houses, women, so they joined up with their gang, then they come to prison for drug charges and as soon as they hit prison they have to prove themselves.
Now SNY came into play when people like myself said, wait why are we fighting each other and letting the system take more and more of our rights away from us, so they check in to PSU. But word got around on the GP yard that you can do your time without fear of death so SNY was formed. CDCR said OK that we now got these prisoners that want to drop out of the gangs, that's a win win for everyone. It took me until 2004 to check into SNY. I heard all races there stand as one. I said great. I think SNY has about 65% of the prison yards now, and about 80% of SNY prisoners stand as one voice, with 20% not ready or able to let go of the GP ways.
I can state I never had to debrief, I never had to tell on anyone, I am no sex offender. My position on sex offenders stands: they are still considered seriously damaged people that I myself stay away from. This person that sent you his BS about all SNY prisoners are weak and come to this side for better treatment is wrong.
I was in Corcoran as an SNY in the SHU and we all engaged in the hunger strike, we all signed numerous grievances and complaints to the administration, and as you know we didn't get all we requested but we did change things for the better. Yes CDCR needs to change its stand on SHU prisoners and I think this year will see more change.
Now when my SHU time was over they sent me to Ad-Seg pending transfer. Ad-Seg is a mix of SNY and GP. It was SNY prisoners who took the stand and boarded up, no GP took the stand but they enjoyed the outcome of our SNY work. We got our 3 showers each week back, we got hot meals with canteen.
We prisoners here in SNY do not get more privileges than GP. Our program is the same as GP except that they're locked down more because of the nonsense they're not willing to let go of. There has not been one lockdown since I got here six months ago, and that's because we still have guys who have disagreements but we don't try and kill each other, there are fist fights but it ends there.
So the program is the same, but we get more of it because we stand as one people and our fight is not with each other, our fight is to get out of prison as fast as we can. The way to shut down prisons is to not have prisoners to fill them. And the way that is done is for all prisoners to change their thinking, change their outlook on life and become better people no matter what color you are.
If prisoners would stop killing each other because of the color of their skin or where they're from there would be no need for SHU or Ad-Seg.
So before these so-called GP prisoners call all of us weak they need to think about the real facts. SNY in the next five years will be the new GP and these prisoners who want to hold on to the nonsense that keep them in prison will be locked away.
On this side of SNY we ask to be treated like humans and in most cases we are. When we stop fighting each other and put the paperwork in to bring back the programs needed to better our lives, then change comes.
I think we have the same goal in mind, unity and peace. I am willing to work to bring unity and peace to all prisoners no matter the color of your skin or where you are from. With dedication and determination we can change the system and make it work for us in a way to end business as we know it today. We need to reach out to those that will listen and work with us to bring down the number of people in the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: First, we will address the question of unity and the interests of whites. We have always maintained that whites can be revolutionaries and can act in the interests of the oppressed. But we make statements about groups of people and their material interests. This individual white persyn may in fact really be willing to fight for the interests of all people, but whites as a group in the United $tates have demonstrated their material interests are aligned with the imperialists. And historically they have gone for fascism over revolution (See Sakai's book Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat). Examples of one white persyn in Amerika who claims not to judge people by skin color is not relevant to this scientific analysis. This is not about judging people for the color of their skin, it is about understanding the history of nations and national interests. We don't like Obama better as a President because he is Black, he's still the leader of the biggest terrorist government in the world. Nonetheless, we call on all white people to unite with the movement against national oppression both in the U.$. and globally, and we know some whites will be on our side.
On the SNY debate we have more unity with this prisoner. We agree that there are many individuals in SNY who are part of the anti-imperialist movement, fighting on the side of the oppressed, and not snitching or betraying people. But this letter goes too far in posing SNY as better than GP. Conditions are different in each state and even within states in each prison. We need to judge the actions of individuals rather than making sweeping assumptions about "all SNY prisoners are snitches" or "all GP prisoners are fighting each other."
We also do not agree that "If prisoners would stop killing each other because of the color of their skin or where they're from there would be no need for SHU or Ad-Seg." We maintain that control units are a tool of social control, not a legitimate punishment for prison violence. And so we do not blame the prisoners for the system that confines them and in fact encourages violence. We know that many prisoners in the SHU are locked up for their political organizing, not for violence. We should not perpetuate the myth of legitimacy around these control units.