Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Colorado Prisons

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

[Grievance Process] [Censorship] [Abuse] [Private Prisons] [Bent County Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 79]

CoreCivic Abuse Coverups

We have a lot of issues at this facility, especially with mail delivery delays (policy states the facility has 48 hours from arrival to deliver mail and 72 hours for packages; both can take over a week) and with unnecessary censorship. The Colorado Department of Corrections’ administrative regulations are clearly laid out regarding mail, but this facility often misinterprets or outright ignores those policies.

BCCF is a private-owned (CoreCivic) prison, and despite having a Private Prison Monitoring Unit (PPMU) assigned to monitor the facilities compliance, they more regularly choose to cover for the administration, for whatever reason, instead of holding them accountable in any way. In fact, the former head of PPMU at this facility recently “retired” from DOC and was hired by CoreCivic to a lucrative, high-ranking position (Chief of Unit Management) at this very facility. No potential for conflict of interest there, right?

The grievance procedure is a complete joke around here. Each step of a grievance can take up to 2 months to receive a response, although denying that any issues exist is hardly any sort of helpful response. By the time a DOC employee becomes involved, several months have passed and either they are lied to by facility staff, or they lie to the prisoner. Either way, nothing is done about any real problems.

In my 8+ years at this prison, I have experienced a variety of changes, including now having the third warden in that time frame. In the past year – about the time the current Chief of Security and Warden, and shortly thereafter, the PPMU/Chief of Unit Mgmt., arrived – the level of violence here has skyrocketed. During most of my time here this place had remained largely peaceful, if mismanaged to some degree, however, now that new “security protocols” have been implemented (such as creating two “compounds” from the one, making one dangerously understaffed compound the “High-security” compound), drugs have flooded this facility, despite all incoming mail being photocopied. We can’t even get photos from family anymore. The rest of Colorado DOC facilities are going through “normalization.” This private prison is only normalizing drugs, anger, and violence. With no programs and very limited rec, things will only get worse here.

I constantly encourage everyone around me who will listen to file grievances and write letters to public officials. Even if they do not solve issues in and of themselves, they create and build a record of the abuses at a particular prison, or in a state’s system. “Keep your copies!” Tell family and friends about all of the problems, change public opinion of “us” by being responsible, educated citizens who expect accountability from our government just like everyone else. When something is broken, government just pours more of its stolen money into the problem, never fixing anything (but getting more powerful in the process). We need to expose to the public what a waste the prison system is – in financial and human capital – and discourage anyone from supporting the expansion of such a broken system.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade’s strategy. We should not have false illusions about reforming the system through grievances or exposure, but we also must come together and practice diligence and build our skills in fighting abuses. By doing so we can build towards real solutions.

[Censorship] [Religious Repression] [Bent County Correctional Facility] [Colorado]

CoreCivic Facility Staff Creating Chaos and Violent Situations, Censoring Mail and Repressing Religion

Hello, I’m a little behind in writing to you all, but I’ve been very busy here lately. This CoreCivic facility is a complete joke, and I’ve been helping several other prisoners file grievances to expose the many First Amendment violations occurring here. Both mail rights and religious rights – amongst a plethora of others – have been under attack by the administration, creating a wide range of negative effects, including anxiety and animosity between both prisoners and staff, fueling addictive habits and behaviors, and out-right violence.

In the month of April, both Muslim prisoners celebrating Ramadan and Jewish prisoners celebrating Passover were openly discriminated against by staff, some nights not being fed until the middle of the night, if at all. Non-Muslim/Jewish prisoners were fed at a normal time, and Easter was not interfered with at all. The entire facility (well, one “compound” at an all-level 3 facility) was locked down for the entire period, and when prisoners asked to speak with a shift commander or other ranking officers, they were told by low-level (and low-class, low-intellect, low-moral, etc…) C.O.’s that no one was available and that they were instructed to ignore Jews & Muslims. Some C.O.’s even yelled derogatory things at prisoners locked in their cells, further exacerbating an already chaotic situation. Many grievances were filed in order to document these abuses.

The broader First Amendment issue here involves mail. All mail here has been photocopied (poorly) for nearly 6 months, despite the regulation clearly stating the policy as only allowing photocopying all mail for 3 months. The Security Chief here – a ___ if I’ve ever seen one – insists he can do anything he wants. I can assure you, security is being undermined by this policy.

First of all, the levels of violation here has skyrocketed in the past 6 months, far beyond anything I’ve seen in my 8 years at this facility. Although this is technically a Level 3 (medium) prison, most of the population actually have Level 1 or 2 points, and are overridden to a Level 3 due to length of sentence or other factors. However, “security” has been tightened to a degree that is so restrictive many prisoners are simply “snapping”.

No one can get a photo or card, much less a handwritten letter, from family or friends. No meaningful programs are available. Units are difficult to schedule. Rec is apparently optional and random. And now these clowns are separating the facility into a “high” and a “low” side, but the short-staffing here, not to mention incompetence, is making everyone act out. Not good for “security”.

Oftentimes mail, when it is actually allowed (even the copies) is misdelivered to the wrong cells, or even the wrong units/pods. This creates an entirely different security problem, exposing the names and addresses of prisoners’ families to other prisoners, who aren’t always decent people. Not to mention the obvious exposure of sensitive information in letters or other mail (I’m sure some snitch would love to get a hold of my ULK!) All of these “security measures” are ostensibly intended as a response to the “spice epidemic” in prisons, however, nothing is being done about the minuscule percentage of prisoners receiving contraband. The mail room is more busy photocopying and searching for what might be the shadow of a nipple in a magazine or photo than they are looking for drugs. Isn’t the purpose of a mailroom to look for actual dangerous contraband? So why do they get a pass on not finding the actual dangerous contraband supposedly coming in?! BTW, nothing at all is being done about the cops who actually bring drugs in; don’t worry, they’re blocking all the mail…

These are just a couple of examples of the many issues here at BCCF. CoreCivic is a cancer that needs to be cut out of the tumor that is the mass incarceration system. Eben though Colorado DOC has a “Private Prison Monitoring Unit” (PPMU), the head of that unit at this facility recently got bought off (officially – he’s been carrying water for CoreCivic for years) and is now the Chief of Unit Management here at BCCF. No conflict of interest there, right?

[Afghanistan] [China] [U.S. Imperialism] [Militarism] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 76]

Occupation of Afghanistan was about Resource Extraction

The latest issue of ULK (#75) was very informative. The article on Afghanistan was a good review of many of the issues.

One you did not mention and that is one of the reasons that China is sending money is that of the mineral resources of the country.

About 8 years ago I had a teacher who applied to work as an analyst for the CIA. As part of his application he did a report on Afghanistan. He found out why the U.$. invaded the country. There are large deposits of copper and lithium ore. The U.$. soldiers were to protect the Chinese workers who were building the railway that would transport the ore into China for processing.

Just like Spain, France, etc. in the 16th and 17th centuries, the U.$. government was in another country to steal its natural resources.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Certainly, natural resources continue to be a major impetus for imperialist foreign policy and war. The gas lines through the Caspian Sea were also a key concern in the region at the time.

Your description of the roles of the Amerikans and Chinese in Afghanistan is emblematic of the relationship between the two countries ever since the capitalist roaders took over in China in 1976. Today contradictions have heightened as Chinese capital has become more developed and therefore needs to exert its interests independent of the United $tates. Meanwhile the Amerikans have begun looking at bringing production and supply chains of basic goods a little closer to home after becoming dependent on the labor of Chinese proletarians. These contradictions playing out demonstrate why inter-imperialist conflict is the rule.

Related Articles:
[Police Brutality] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 75]

Pigs In Denver Get Huge Payout For Assault and Perjury

Any pig that enjoys punishing citizens who even think about resisting arrest or even ‘looking funny’ at him should move to Corruptarado (as we call this state) and go work for the Denver Pig Department.

Per an 11 August 2021 article in the Denver Post, “Denver paid $1.1 million settlement to police officers fired after beating unarmed man, records show,” two pigs that severely beat a 23 year-old Latino man in 2011 were fired, but as part of the ‘deal,’ were paid thousands of dollars in exchange for agreeing to never work for a pig department ever again.

But wait. The pigs sued, claiming they should have not been fired. After a ten year battle, the Colorado Supreme Court allows this Colorado Court of Appeals ruling to stand. A ruling for the pigs.

So … one of the pigs got $420k, and the other got almost six hundred grand from the City and County of Denver. City officials said “We are acutely aware that this result means that the officers essentially escape the consequences of their conduct.” Ya think?

No doubt pigs around the country smile when they read of this decision. Maybe many of them will now be sending their job applications to the Denver Pig Department, home of the pigs with 007 licenses to kill.

Notes: Schmelzer, Elise “Denver paid $1.1 million settlement to police officers fired after beating unarmed man, records show” Denver Post, August 11, 2021.

[COVID-19] [Fremont Correctional Facility] [Colorado]

COVID-19 cases in Colorado, No Known Deaths

In the prison where I am [Fremont Correctional Facility], about 64 people are in the quarantine. No deaths so far as we know. At the Crowley prison (CCF) there are more than 50 confirmed cases, and the place has been locked down for more than a month. This is from letters from two of my friends there.

According to a 13 July 2020 press release: Buena Vista Correctional Complex has tested 1058 prisoners, with 36 positives and 3 staff positive. Colorado State Penitentiary has had one prisoner test positive after several staff did, and testing of the population has begun. Arrowhead Correctional Center had 2 staff test positive, and has also begun broad testing.

[Organizing] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 69]

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)

[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Trinidad Correctional Facility] [Colorado]

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.

[Organizing] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 68]

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.

[Organizing] [Colorado]

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.

[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Colorado State Penitentiary] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 64]

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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