Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Colorado Prisons

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

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

[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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[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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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Colorado State Penitentiary] [Colorado]
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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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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Political Repression] [Sterling Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
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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.

Note:
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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[Organizing] [Colorado]
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Much Work Still to be Done in Colorado

This is in response to ULK 52, page 18, "Building Peace and Unity in CO." This is an untrue statement. There might be individuals on peace. But that is all, the majority is still the same. Colorado lacks a gang structure to call a treaty like that. Let alone a revolutionary mindset. Colorado/the man, learned from other states how to repress gang structure. And how to ultimately control the gangs and the entire system. Through divide and conquer strategies within the gangs, the same gangs, not just different gangs against different gangs.

This is accomplished by privileges and by conforming to their standards. A lack of discipline for a group's goals. And the way they breed juveniles' minds in their juvenile facilities to show who the authority is, and snitch programs to confront one another. Brainwashing. With the exception of few, but not enough to enact any kind of movement for gang or revolution. I heard a quote "the most common way a people loses their power is by thinking they have none at all." That is the majority mindset out here in every aspect.

I became conscious recently. I have been educating myself as much as I can to politics, history and different cultures. Empires are the power through history in every culture. As a conscious man it was not my choice to be born oppressed but it is my choice to struggle against it. Knowledge is power, to change yourself and your surroundings. That is what needs to be attained and given to the people. Especially the children. So that generation changes the situation. So it becomes not a choice but the way of life, while always knowing that there will always be forces to try to destroy that life, but no matter what to continue on. I educate who I can and always will now. I find it hard to change a man's way of thought but I try. Knowing that thought was created for his destruction.

I am stuck in some of my ways also. Change takes time. Being stuck in prison is also a hindrance. Something that destroys life and choice. Always a created struggle. That is what I figured out in these studies. You need a pure mind to enact a change. And that is our children, they are pure. A sponge to gain all the knowledge needed to ultimately find the true meaning of life watch as peace of mind, happiness, love, family. To teach them what needs to be done so they can have that, along with their family and people.

I hope one day to become one of a million instead of one in a million. Ho Chi Minh said "when the prison doors are open the real dragons will fly out." I am a dragon full of rage for the oppressor, love for my people, knowledge to be spread and flames to be unleashed on our enemies. The day my wings will open to fly out and accomplish all these things. I have love for all oppressed people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade starts off disagreeing with what someone else wrote about building unity in Colorado, but in the end argues that change is possible and that we need to educate and build for unity. We agree there is much work to be done, but we must build and educate in whatever situation we can. In the case of our comrades behind bars, this means doing the work that is often hard and slow to overcome the brainwashing of a lifetime of education and build unity against the criminal injustice system. For those who have become conscious, it is our duty to share this with others. It is not enough to just understand oppression ourselves. One good way to get started is by forming a study group where you're at. We can supply some information on how to do this along with study materials. Write to us to get started.

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[Education] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 52]
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Building Peace and Unity in Colorado

Every day we study the 5 principles, but we lack materials which is one of the reasons I'm writing, in hopes of getting what we need. As of now we are a very young group of men who have come together and are spreading peace, unity and internationalism. Here in prison we have brought two rival gangs to peace: the Sur 13 and Norteños 14 have now made a treaty with each other and have stopped killing each other. We are now speaking with some of the Muslims who may be willing to join "Black Hawk" so we are practicing growth and peace.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides an excellent example of building peace through a United Front organization that focuses on education. Rival organizations that fight each other behind bars or on the streets are serving the purposes of the oppressive system which seeks to keep us distracted and fighting each other rather than focusing our energy on the real oppressors. With this peace treaty we anticipate a growing powerful movement in Colorado against the criminal injustice system.

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[Homelessness] [Colorado]
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Colorado's War on the Poor

A Colorado Springs city council will vote to approve a city ordinance that will fine $2500 to all homeless who are found laying or sitting in front of a business. Many who support this claim that it provides better safety for the community and will increase the property values of stores and restaurants in the area.

A few days prior to this the town of Monument, Colorado successfully blocked the building of a methadone clinic in the area, arguing that it would cause a "decrease" in property values and bring a new "wave of crime."

For me, I see this in two ways. Number one, as the richest country on earth, we all still see that basic human needs, such as food, housing and clothing are privileges and one has to choose to engage in the so-called free market to attain these things. The very contradiction in this not withstanding, when one isn't able to have a job, is homeless, begs for food and maybe on drugs, the number one solution is to enforce their way out of it. Place the homeless in jail, that's smart. Let's not develop independent programs that view these homeless as humans that need healing to be a strong part of society.

The methadone clinic run off is a disgrace. Methadone is to help people get off heroine, the fact that a higher crime notion can be spoken of here is a joke. People act like when methadone clinics, or homeless shelters arrive in their communities that a wave of crime will suddenly appear. Why is it easier to jail us, rather than to have compassion and tolerance? Well in a capitalistic based class society, homelessness and addicts are contradictions in the system. Of course they can say that we're lazy, or choose to be this way, but according to economics, we are not choosing anything.

Lastly, social sicknesses can't be blamed upon individuals, and using jails or fines to remove a section of the population will only force that population to move elsewhere. One day these cities in Colorado will have to deal with the homeless as humans, with human and civil rights, until then the class struggle will continue.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is correct that homelessness and drug addiction are problems of capitalism. Opium (which heroin is made from) addiction was a widespread problem in China before the revolution. The Chinese Communist Party attacked this problem by eliminating the supply and offering people engaged in distribution alternative employment. This approach attacked the problem at its root. And by giving people employment and health care they had both the resources and the incentive to stop using drugs. This communist approach values all humans and sees the potential contribution everyone can make to society, rather than writing off some as the dregs who have no hope for anything better in life.

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