Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Colorado Prisons

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

www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Organizing] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 69]
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Notes on Advancing the Struggle Inside: Unity – Colorado Unity

against all odds
by a Colorado prisoner and El Independista

First and foremost, we would like to thank ULK for being a platform to spread the message of prisoner united fronts and solidarity within these dungeons. ULK has been a big part of helping in reeducation and enlightenment. To us revolutionaries, who are the tip of the spear here in Colorado, ULK is a great tool. We hope this brief update gives encouragement to all of us conscious of our battle against capitalism, its social-control mechanism – mass incarceration – and use of prisons as modern day slave camps.

Here in Colorado, with hard work and much determination, many different groups have come to the realization of subversive tactics the state and badge engage in to divide and conquer. Exploiting gang rivalries, perpetuating violence by manufactured conflicts through "set-ups" of STG members, and at times, nation unrest. After years of watching the badge laugh it up, get pumped off the live action, replaying videos of their puppet mastery, enjoying their own pithy commentary for amusement, pursuing judicial redress (criminal convictions) for violence they made possible and encouraged, freely and gleefully using chemical warfare, tazers and non-lethal weaponry (for some reason these always seem to be headshots, although this is strictly against written policy!) — with the help of many different group leaders, violence between rivals, L.O.s has stopped, almost state-wide.

For us at the spear's tip, some critics recriminate and admonish – we've gone down in flames, being removed from population to areas sufficiently isolated; all our privileges (telephone, canteen, TV, visits, etc.) removed, subject to out-of-state transfer. The badge resort to textbook "cointelpro" tactics: spreading misinformation, rumors, delaying or stopping mail. Worker pigs, "porkers," trying to revitalize dessicated STG-conflicts to take the spotlight off of them. Any means necessary to escape the repercussions. But, out of the ashes has risen a mighty phoenix, one that has sent a cold chill down our oppressor's back.

We've demonstrated that real leadership is based in action, not handicapping our people, but rather in providing the knowledge, tools and freedoms to act. Setting examples of sacrifice, tenacity and hard work. Understanding that the struggle to change minds is hard even with the truth staring some in the face; some would rather desperately clutch at what's most familiar and be a stubborn hindrance to those of us conscious and progressing the movement. That is human nature, it will take patience. No matter how many obstacles, as long as you keep the big picture in your mind nothing else matters. Those of us answering the call must cherish that we will never know the comforts of the meek. It is a long, hard road, but we can be proud we are doing our part and did not look away. If we are not willing to risk the usual, we will have to settle for the ordinary. This would very much please capitalists and their contributors, were we to become subjugated.

Self-determination is our only path. Take up one cause (i.e. removing capitalism), make that one cause your life, think of it, dream of it, live on that cause, let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that cause, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success. Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. One or many defeats in battles do not constitute loss of the war; remember the big picture. Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. Of the latter there are two kinds who will tell you that you can not make a difference: 1) those who are afraid to try; and 2) those who fear you will succeed where they can not. (1)

We suggest, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong stumble, or where and how a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marked by dust, sweat, blood; who strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiasms, the greater devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least, fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be among those cold, sententious, timid souls who have never known victory nor defeat.

To those who, like us revolutionaries here in Colorado, understand and struggle for a united prisoner movement: We tip our hats to you all. The fight is hard, and well worth the effort, sweat, blood, deprivations and temporary setbacks. Change is happening, change is coming.(2)

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Trinidad Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
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Colorado Grivances Denied, Retaliated

I’m writing you after receiving your most recent letter on the grievance campaign along with two blank petitions.

In Colorado, aside from the informal, individuals have no other opportunity to verbally state their case to case managers, CPOs and/or affected staff. At no other time in the A.R. does it state that staff must or will speak with the offender concerning steps one, two, or three.

In this incident, staff improperly denied my informal without ever meeting with me pursuant to 850-04 IV B. 1.2.; although informed in the step 2 of this infringement of this procedural provision staff turned an indifferent eye and denied my grievance again.

There was a separate grievance filed on these denials and I’m currently awaiting a response to the step 2 and the question of why 850-04 IV B.1.,2. Were not followed by the responder and my then case manager who has since reassigned me, I believe because of the grievance I’ve filed on her as well.

Ironically, this all began through an advisement N. Bressan (my then case manager) gave me about getting negative chronos, a chroning arena that has no hearing for the potentially slanderous statement made by staff if he/she chooses to be less than truthful about the actions and/or statements of an offender.

I have documented each of the harmful acts by staff only to now be labeled a management problem, troublemaker, and non-program compliant.

Nancy Bressan, before having me reassigned, through coercions forced me to sign some extension papers and neglected to perform my reclass per 600-01 IV G. 1., b). Then, I believe, because of the grievance I filed on her on 2/17/19 she neglected to hold my monthly meeting nor did she meet with me concerning the informal filed, while claiming to have had a staffing meeting with me in the chronological record that never happened. In the informal response Bressan explains away the meeting claiming staff were not available and there was no reason for a reclass, but she did not comment on the acts of coercion claim.

Haven't had clear response as to who the warden is, I believe its suppose to be Soibhan Burtlow but some say she’s gone others say shes still here. I also believe they've been messing with my mail, but they have no read on (I'm not ST) and if they do they haven't spoken with me or sent me notice of such finding or change in my classification.

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[Organizing] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 68]
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Redefining Convict Culture

Here in Colorado there has been a push for solidarity amongst prisoners, particularly in units at Sterling Correctional Facility and Colorado State Penitentiary. I've been in prison for 5 years here in Colorado and have seen very little of this solidarity until now. Unfortunately, we here still have a long way to go.

Staff, who fear the trend of unity, have begun to sow seeds of unrest amongst certain groups. To do this, staff have resorted to spreading false rumors of sexual harassment, coupled with promises of "packs" and sexual favors for assaults on their intended targets. Staff's goal is to start a race war in place of the quelled tribal wars that have plagued this state for years. Unfortunately some prisoners have bought into this line of thinking, hook, line, and sinker.

In ULK 64 an article touched on this type of "damsel in distress" thinking in Colorado prisons. This type of thinking is grounded solidly in our own informal subculture that ultra aggressive, chauvinistic behaviors promote ones own reputation for toughness and overall appearance of being a convict. The reality is that we as convicts are entirely in control of what standards define "toughness" and "convicts."

While I fully agree that some recourse should be taken against those who commit sexual crimes against children, women, and others in general, I'm not sure that violent action is the best solution in most cases. And taking violent action against another prisoner based upon unsubstantiated allegations of a prison guard (who, rather than use prison disciplinary methods, sought retribution by bribing prisoners) seems entirely anti-convict to me.

Maybe it's time for us as prisoners in Colorado to re-evaluate what it is to be a convict in this state. I know in many states, prisoners who do the pigs' bidding, even the violent or illegal acts, would be considered stool pigeons for the man to control them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We've heard about this awakening within Colorado prisons from a few folks behind bars, and also of the repression that pigs are using to try to quell that unity.(1) This comrade raises the important point that building unity requires a rethinking of how people interact with one another. We have to start by defining who are our enemies and who are our friends. The C.O.s are not our friends. As this comrade points out, their goal ultimately is to sow division. We also can't trust the state to tell us which prisoners are our friends. We need to look at their actions. Even those claiming to be revolutionaries may not be friends of the revolution if they are acting counter to the unity of the oppressed. Re-evaluating what it is to be a convict in Colorado is building on the budding lumpen unity in that state.

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[Organizing] [Colorado]
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Colorado DOC afraid of Chicano unity

In Under Lock and Key 63 July/August I noticed the part of Colorado leaving Chicano activism. It is true and getting worse on censorship of books and any material that has to do with the concept of Aztlan, brown berets, native movements etc. With no good reason but the excuse of "stg" security threat group. STG is a homeland security term for a domestic terrorist and enemy of the United States. They are not too happy that all tribal violence has stopped and they can no longer have the ability to manipulate and get us up to get hurt or catch more time for violence. In the next couple of weeks I'll have a full detail report since statewide department of corrections in Colorado has us on lockdown for the only reason violence has stopped, which blows my mind.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Colorado State Penitentiary] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 64]
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Shower Power in Colorado

On 14 May 2018, after seven days of being on lockdown and receiving one shower, 6 prisoners at the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) in the Management Control Unit covered their windows in protest and demanded they be given showers. The administration argued that they had been taken off lockdown on May 12, and therefore were not due showers.

On May 12, the facility had been taken off lockdown for 10 minutes and as soon as the doors opened multiple prisoners began fighting and the facility immediately went back on lockdown not ten minutes later leaving prisoners without a chance to take showers since May 10th. Colorado's policy is that prisoners get a chance to shower every 72 hours.

At CSP each tier has 8 cells housing one prisoner each, 2 tiers per pod and 8 pods per unit. Six out of 8 prisoners all agreed to protest by covering their windows. Rather than allow the prisoners the human dignity of a shower, the cell extraction team was deployed, and a chemical weapon known as FOXISPRA Jet Oleoresin Capiscum (O/C) spray was applied. This caused several of the prisoners, including the author who has respiratory issues and is "O/C restricted" yet was still sprayed, to pass out. Apparently to Colorado DOC, being unconscious is considered resting. As usual staff tailored the reports to fit their needs, each prisoner was given disciplinary charges and monetary fines of $117, most of which was for one time use items that should have been split six different ways.

Sadly, the goal was not accomplished, however the 6 were allowed to shower to remove the O/C spray. The bright side is that solidarity such as this is on the rise in higher security prisons in Colorado, and this story has been circulating around the facility with high regard.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Building unity around common oppression is an important part of organizing behind bars. When people start to come together to demand their basic rights, they also start to see the power of this unity. Revolutionaries can build on this unity by helping folks to see how these individual situations of oppression are tied to the broader criminal injustice system. And making these connections we can start talking about what we need to do to fight back on a broader scale. Lots of people report their political awakening going back to persynal experiences of oppression, coupled with revolutionaries helping them see the ties to the broader system of oppression. United Struggle from Within comrades can play this leadership role by starting from where people are at and building with them.

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[Campaigns] [Colorado]
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Don't be mislead by Colorado's lies in AR 850-04 "Grievance Procedure"

Colorado's grievance procedure is designed to intentionally mislead the prisoners who have to follow it into believing that they have to comply with certain provisions, such as the relief requested, or face being barred from suit due to "failure to exhaust" administrative remedies which is required before any civil action addressing prison conditions can proceed in court, by the Prison Litigation Reform Act 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a).

Colorado's Grievance Procedure AR 850-04IV-E-3-C-2 states: "The grievance officer may deny the grievance on procedural grounds, without addressing the substantive issue, if the grievance is incomplete, inconsistent with a former step, incomprehensible, illegible, requests relief that is not available, fails to request relief, or in any other way fails to comply with the provisions of this regulation, when the grievance is denied for a procedural error, the grievance officer shall certify in the response that the offender has not exhausted the grievance process."

First, there are many conjectures that I could make as to whether this Administrative Regulation oversteps its bounds by diminishing First Amendment rights, however I won't do that at this time. What I will do is simply prove the claim stated in the opening of this paper by presenting a brief history of jurisprudence of 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a).

42 U.S.C. 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act reads: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. 1983 … or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted."

Once again: "(T)he modifier 'available' requires the possibility of some relief." When the facts demonstrate that no such potential exists, the inmate has no obligation to exhaust the remedy."

"Next, an administrative scheme might be so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking, incapable of use. In this situation, some mechanism exists to provide relief, but no ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate them. As the solicitor general put the point: when rules are "so confusing that no reasonable prisoner can use them 'then' they're no longer available" Tr. Of Oral Arg 23

"And finally the same is true when prison administrators thwart inmates from taking advantage of a grievance procedure through machination, misrepresentation, or intimidation. In Woodford v. Ngo, we recognized that officials might devise procedural systems (including the blind alleys and quagmires just discussed) in order to "trip up all but the most skillful prisoners. As [appellet] courts have recognized, such interference with an inmates pursuit of relief renders the administrative process unavailable. And then, once again 1997(a)(e) poses NO bar." Ross v. Blake, - u.s. - , 136 S.ct. 1850, 1959-60 (2016)

Essentially, if for any of these reasons the grievance procedure is made unavailable, the prisoner need only to exhaust the process, i.e. file all steps, remain consistent with your relief, and comply with time lines. In actuality this was decided in 2001, before Woodford or Ross in Booth v Churner, 532 U.S. 731; 121 S.ct 819(2001). In Booth it was decided that an inmate seeking a remedy outside the scope allowable in the procedure in Booth that was monetary damages, he must still go through the process and complete all steps. Once he has completed all steps of appeal, he has exhausted all "available" remedies, and when officials misrepresent that fact, we have 3 supreme court cases to show otherwise.

Furthermore, all this has already been established, not only in the supreme court, but the 10th circuit and Colorado district courts. In Gandy v Raemisch, 2014 u.s. Dist. Lexis 43668, and affirmed by Gandy v. Barber, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 3285 (10th Cir. Colo., Feb 23, 2016). Here Anthony A. Decesaro, Colorado's administrative head over the grievance procedure and, step 3 grievance officer, concluded that because Mr. Gandy had requested "written acknowledgement of retaliation and compensation," which are prohibited as allowable remedies by AR 850-04, that "[He] have not exhausted [his] administrative remedies in this matter based on your failure to satisfactorily request relief allowable." The case goes on to say "The defendants (CDOC employees) cite no authority for the proposition that an inmate's request for relief that exceeds that available under the grievance procedure results in a failure to exhaust, and indeed, Supreme Court precedent establishes just the opposite. In Booth v. Churner…" "To the contrary, the record reflects that Mr. Handy timely filed [his grievance] as a challenge to his allegedly retaliatory transfer out of AVCF, properly pursued that grievance through steps 2 and 3, and thus fully exhausted it."

The failure to correct this misleading policy with so much solid evidence against it, in eluding first hand knowledge by the 2 most capable people in CDOC, Rick Raemich and Anothny A. Decesaro, more than 2 years later can only be seen as intentional. For prison officials to intentionally mislead prisoners in an effort to manufacture a way to defeat their claims in court is a violation of the 1st amendment rights to petition the government for the redress of grievances; access to the court. This is especially true because congress has made administrative procedures a mandatory prerequisite to suit.

What body of the United States government would violate such a fundamental right of modern and civilized society? Could they have some vested interest in preventing claims from reaching full litigation? Could it be to prevent the public from becoming aware of even worse infringements on society and humanity? One only needs to see what really goes on inside of an "MCU" or "SHU", then examine the fact that the prison litigation reform act bars damages for "mental pain and anguish," and that the u.s. military's most recent change in tactics is towards what's called "effects based warfare" aimed at taking actions to influence the way the enemy thinks and makes decisions. If it were illegal to practice psychological torture techniques on its slave citizens, where else would they be able to develop these tactics?

Addition to Grievance Campaign

Colorado's grievance procedure, AR 850-04 violates 1st Amendment rights by knowingly and intentionally misleading prisoners. Among other things, requesting a remedy that exceeds that available under the AR does not result in failure to exhaust as stated in AR 850-04. This has been clearly established in the District of Colorado 10th Cir Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court; please see: Gandy v. Raemisch, 2014 U.S. Dist Lex is 43668 (Dist Colo. March 31, 2014) affirmed by 10th Cir, Booth V. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 121 S. Ct. 1819(2001); and Ross v. Blake, - u.s. - , 136 S. ct. 1850 (2016).

This violates our right to access the courts under the 1st amendment. Please fix this policy immediately to consider grievances exhausted in accordance with these decisions.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Political Repression] [Sterling Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 64]
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Chicano Unity Leads to Lockdown

Thank you for your literature list. I am interested in a lot of the material more so on Aztlán/Mexico. As of right now they are censoring and denying the book [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Since a movement has started that has ended all brown-on-brown violence between two tribal groups we were put on lockdown because all violence stopped. Both groups were going to class, rec, sitting, eating together and staff did not like it and slammed us down. I only have a couple more weeks in this facility. As soon as I leave I'll put in an order and send money for the materials I need since for some reason this facility has stopped everything about Aztlán or Chicano revolutionary subjects.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is very inspiring news coming out of Colorado. The oppressors have always feared the unity of the oppressed. We take it as a sign of success that the prison felt compelled to respond to the unity of [email protected] with a lockdown. They expose themselves with these actions: prisons are not trying to reduce violence, they are just in place to implement systems of social control. Unity of the oppressed threatens that control. Keep up the good work comrades!

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Censorship] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 63]
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Colorado Fears [email protected] Activism

I'm reaching out to bring awareness to Colorado's state prison system's "off record" policy to keep Chicano inmates in fractional warfare/oppression. Colorado has been plagued with the same brown-on-brown violence and ideology as California's systems for the past 30 years. Only recently has an awakening transformed the "gang banger" mentality of the masses into a revolutionary mental state in the liberation and struggle for Aztlán. This has been met with all levels of repression such as out of state transfers to secret locations, MCC (Colorado’s new politically correct name for SHU/Ad-Seg STG lockdown where inmates can only come out of cell every 72 hours to shower, etc.)

On June 14, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán was denied by the publication committee for the following reason: "material which poses a potential threat to the safety and security of the offender population or DOC employees, contract workers, and volunteers by advocating facility disruption or non-compliance with prison rules or regulations." The truth of the matter is it was denied because it was coming to me at the specific time period when the Chicano masses in Colorado have decided to stop being the puppets for capitalistic racist oppression of a system which actively has aided and facilitated the destruction of our people by putting our lives in danger in numerous ways. The following are small examples of these conditions.

Putting rival members in pods where they are sure to be assaulted so severely that death or attempted murder are likely scenarios. Opening cell doors of rival STGs while inmates are cuffed and shackled to tables, so that they may be assaulted etc. This has been the norm for years. Now that we have risen above the tribal mentality in an effort to educate and raise awareness to the racist genocide of our people that the system has manipulated us into doing with our own hands we are being slammed in cells, censored, and oppressed even harder. I'll be surprised if you ever receive this letter.

Currently I am in grievance procedures over books. Any material that may help or contacts to further our struggle would be greatly appreciated. Once I finish the grievance process I will send copies of all material on the issue. Thank you for your time. In solidarity with the struggle to end oppression and liberate Aztlán.

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[Organizing] [Denver Women's Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 55]
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Victory in Colorado Womyn's Prison Fight for Rec

I would like to update you on my lawsuit I was preparing against Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) due to one egotistical officer in recreation: Lieutenant Ross.

I think MIM(Prisons) printed my story, but due to Denver Women's Correctional Facility (DWCF) not allowing us ULK anymore I can't be sure, but I did get feedback from several readers.(1) And now DWCF allows us to go outside and walk during any weather like the men do.

So thank you for printing my fight and thank your readers for writing and supporting me. I have not had to put forward the lawsuit, but I am thankful for the MIM(Prisons) grievance petition. I sent it to the Executive Director. So thank you for the form, it really helps putting the fight against CDOC in better written terms than I would have been able to do on my own.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides an excellent example to others. From eir work fighting injustice and consistency in providing updates about the progress in this battle, to staying in touch in spite of the censorship of ULK going on at DWCF. While a victory to get all-season and all-gender access to rec is just a small battle in the overall fight against imperialism, it will allow activists in DWCF more opportunity to talk and study with others and to stay healthy. We hope everyone there will take advantage of this opportunity to build for the next battle, which may need to be a fight against censorship so we can get revolutionary materials in to our comrades at this institution.

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1. a Colorado prisoner, "Why Won't Wimmin Fight for Their Rights?", July 2016, ULK 52.
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[Prison Labor] [Colorado]
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Stats on Colorado Corrections Industries Use of Prison Labor for Private Companies

"Colorado prisoners at the Skyline Correctional Center who start out at $.66 a day, milking about 1,000 goats...

Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI) "employs some 1,600 prisoners at 17 facilities, generating around $65 million in annual sales. Haystack Mountain is just one of many small- to mid-sized businesses that benefit from prisoner labor; the company began purchasing milk from prison goat dairies at the Skyline facility in 2007...

"Thanks to the grapes harvested by Colorado prisoners, Abbey Winery won a silver medal for its Juniper Valley Chardonnay at the 15th Annual Grand Harvest Awards in California. Haystack cheeses are sold to various high-end stores and restaurants, including Whole Foods, a national grocery chain.

"Kathy Abernathy of Arrowhead Fisheries, which breeds, packs and ships tilapia though CCI, sees the program as a way to 'help an inmate improve his life.' The CCI fish farm has been expanding and produces trout, catfish, koi and goldfish. Quixotic Farming also buys tilapia from CCI for less than a dollar a pound, which they then resell to retailers like Whole Foods, where it is sold for up to $12 a pound...

"The prisoners participating in such programs are underpaid, prohibited from unionizing and sometimes work under the threat of disciplinary action if they refuse."

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