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.

[Aztlan/Chicano] [Police Brutality] [Colorado]
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Colorado Mourns the Killing of a Chicano by a Cop

Fort Collins Colorado - a 25-year old Chicano lumpen was killed by a cop today after what appears to be a robbery gone awry. The details are still unclear and prison censorship interferes with information gathering, but the news has sent shock waves reverberating throughout the Chicano lumpen prison population. One question comes to my mind, if being in prison isn't enough, since we are under a new brutally authoritative system in Colorado prisons, and now kkkops are killing us, where do we find relief?

And to the fact that Chicanos use violence against one another with the factions of various different lumpen groups, how do we use this new murder to bring revolution to the forefront in Colorado? With the minds and consciences in sadness, how do we really use this situation to unite?

Violence between all Chicano lumpen only justifies violence against us by the cops. My last article revolving around Mike Brown now pushes the genocide both external and internal to the forefront and should be used to remind us that our conditions are our responsibility.

Aztlán and the social responsibility for its liberation begins with peace between all lumpen Chicano groups. However shocking this incident is at the moment, I would like to take this time to express my deep condolences, sadness and solidarity to the homies, family and loved ones of this young comrade in the struggle.

Captive Chicanos: don't react with focoism, premature acts of violence against any guard will only continue to justify the use of force and violence against us by the state apparatus.

Revolution is our only option. To turn our pain into a force of revolutionary education, that will save our children and our comrades in arms.

Understand how the police state and the overall imperialist class holds an imaginative sway over us, by its use of things like patriotism and calls to social responsibility to our government. This is not our duty, our duty is to smash the internal divisions and unite. If we don't we all will not be safe. It is time to live for something more. Fight Back!

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Militarism] [Colorado]
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Building Unity Against Militarized Guards

Picture a 6-man goon squad, in full riot gear with a gun, a barrel of tear gas, and an electric riot shield. And now realize that this tactic is used on us prisoners any time we get out of line for any reason. This particular incident happened over a flooded cell, broken state TV, and covered window. Not only was a comrade gassed, the pigs shot him two times with 30mm rubber bullets at close range.

What we're seeing first hand is the militarization of prison guards, but it's also an attack upon our psyche. The gas, the riot gear, and the shock shield are all visual reminders of the pigs' control and what is supposed to result in our subservience. This action can take place at any time the pigs feel a threat to the order of the prison. What threats could we possibly cause behind a steel door in the presence of 6 fully armored and armed guards? When these situations happen the pigs turn off the vents so when they get gassed we taste it too.

I often spend long hours thinking about why such an awful use of force is ued for something so benign. In MIM Theory 5 it is said that one can't go on increasingly repressed by fascism forever. And while premature armed struggle is a hindrance, doing nothing at all is even more detrimental.

We spend more time fighting over small and insignificant bullshit, and we let the pigs take advantage of our disorganization. We fill our time checking our paperwork or fighting petty beefs, and the more we do this, the more important it becomes, until eventually it becomes a belief system that causes our own subservience. We need to look past what the DAs tell us and pay attention to what is happening right now.

There are many prisoners who love the United $tates, those who do not understand the evil it causes abroad, nor domestic slavery it's done here. For those who are struggling, keep engaged. It's our duty to fight injustice and racism, and unite. Unity is a deep concept. It's a constant struggle to help someone who's not from your own and it means reaching out being the first one to overlook what keeps us at one another and lets the pigs run all over our rights. If you're not doing something you're feeding the problem. Educate, teach, unite, fight back.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade underscores some important points that are part of the United Front for Peace in Prison. First there is the principle of Peace; we fight for peace while the prison guards stir up and perpetuate violence. "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

Second there is the principle of unity; we must build unity even when it means taking the first step to overlook differences. "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."

We call on all individuals and organizations to study the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles, join the UFPP, and build unity in your prison.

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[Control Units] [Colorado]
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Colorado Segregation Targets Activists and Mentally Ill

Walls Closing In

The ever-growing bureaucracy in Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC), and the interpretations that are following from ego-filled guards is appalling. Rich Ramicsh, our new DOC director, has made strong statements regarding closing down the use of solitary confinement, more commonly known in Colorado as Administrative Segregation. Yet the implementation of these measures and the enforcement of policies is left up to the creative imaginations of the individual prisons' administrators. With no monitoring systems in place, everything that takes place beyond each prison's razor wires and concrete walls goes unnoticed.

A new form of punishment is known as the "Austere Living Environment." They take disruptive, aggressive and often mentally ill prisoners and house them in 12-man housing units, locked in single cells 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no TVs, radios, books or any form of stimulation. This means of oppression is just the beginning. Ad-Seg now is used as a means of retaliation, suppression, and rendition to those who are not just gang members, but those who speak out against DOC.

Prisons are public institutions, not fiefdoms. Why can't there be inquiries into the use of prison in non-violent crimes and investigations on the environments of prisons? Instead of tough on crime, let's get tough on human rights and abolish prisons.

Standing in solidarity with fists held high. Keep fighting my comrades.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This attempt to build new long term isolation units under different names is a game employed by prisons across the country to conceal their brutality and abuse. This Austere Living Environment in Colorado will do nothing more than degrade the mental and physical health of prisoners. We call on all prisoners to send us documentation like this on control units in your prisons and/or state. Write to us to request a survey you can complete. We compile this data for use by those in the movement to shut down these control units, but we also take this message further and point out the value of isolation units that target activists to the imperialist system. We work to free anti-imperialist voices so that we can organize a movement that will overthrow the criminal injustice system.

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[Control Units] [United Front] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 39]
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Colorado Organization Builds for Peace, Activists Locked up in Segregation

I am chairman of New Aztlan - the Young Brown Berets which works to promote the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. We are an anti-imperialist group which focuses upon militancy and revolutionary doctrine; our main audience is Chicanos and Native Americans, united in struggle to expose racist agendas in the injustice system. The term Young applies to those in our group who range from 18-30. We attract a lot of non-gang members and de-active members alike. We stand in the pursuit of self-determination, bridging the gap of racism and uniting all people for the cause of dignity, human rights, and national liberation of all conscientious people. We've opened up our work with all minority and resistance groups of all colors.

Due to political retaliation by the guards in Colorado prisons, I've been moved to solitary confinement, in Colorado's highest security prison. Recently, the DOC headquarters told the public that it will put an end to administrative segregation (Ad-Seg). The 23 hours a day spent in total isolation with a TV to babysit us is no longer going to happen. Yet, all it did was to create an even more complicated form of isolation. Ad-Seg has turned into maximum security, with 3 levels to progress into the general population. Class one writeups which carry potential street charges are now given for fights, and other actions that can be perpetuated at any time by any guard.

STG-affiliated members can be sent to Ad-Seg for no reason other than the notion of a perceived threat. Unity of any type threatens the prison system and any prisoners caught taking any action will be subjected to the cruel imagination of the guards. I was denied soap and all hygiene items including a shower for 21 days, all due to my proclamation of my membership as part of a community. It's ok, it's worth the time I've spent alone, in fact your ULK was revealed to me while I was in Ad-Seg.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The United Front for Peace in Prisons builds for peace and unity amongst the oppressed, with an anti-imperialist platform. As more and more organizations like this across the country sign on to the United Front, we are working to implement these principles on the ground. We know that in the early stages many who take up this struggle will face long-term isolation as they become very real threats to the violent, predatory ways promoted by the U.$. prison system. Yet, as more courageous leaders step forward a critical mass will be reached that make the state's tools of repression less effective. We offer study groups and individual study materials for our comrades behind bars, programs that are especially important for those locked up in solitary confinement with no other contact with the outside world. We urge our comrades to make good use of their time behind bars to study and build, whether in isolation or general population.

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[Control Units] [Colorado]
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Wake up, Stand up and Speak up Against Control Units

There comes a time when a person in oppressed conditions must wake up, stand up and speak up about the conditions that we find ourself in. I'm being held in a minimum facility that's being run like a super max and I realize the social and psychological effects that this has on a person. Twenty two hours trapped inside a unit with no interaction with other prisoners, except in passing and chow, living in a dorm unit that doesn't have enough seats for everyone to watch TV, not enough restroom stalls, and the numerous mental states that a person has to deal with while living in this boiling pot of confusion, depression, and aggression.

A director of Colorado's Correction Department, Rick Raemisch, spent the night in an isolated cell as an experiment and he said it left him "feeling twitchy and paranoid." He also said he suffered mental anguish after spending only 20 hours in solitary confinement on 23 January 2014. Some of our brothers spend 20 months in these confined conditions, and some 20 years. Most people who get tossed into solitary confinement already have mental problems and these places are dumping grounds for the mentally ill.

There was a prisoner here in the Nebraska state pen who did most of his time in confinement. He told the staff that he had mental issues and that he needed help before he got out but they refused to help him. He told the staff that if he didn't get any mental health programming or help that he just might get out and kill someone, but they didn't help him, they just made him do his full time and tossed him back into society. Within 30 days he went and killed 4 people. This is just one issue out of many and our problems run deeper than just mental health and substance abuse treatment. There are issues that need to be addressed like political interest, job skill programs, and community development. The prison overcrowding issues needs to be addressed as well because this overcrowding is causing prisons to put these institutions on a modified lockdown status which is why our minimum institution is run like it's one big Ad-Seg.

So let's wake up, stand up and speak up, about these issues and conditions. Much love and respect to the brothers on the east coast, fighting in the belly of the beast, stay strong to my family in the Midwest and down south and to all my comrades on the West, go hard till ya go home.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Colorado Executive Director of Correction Rick Raemisch wrote an editorial in the New York Times about his experience in solitary confinement that this comrade describes. In this article he quotes Terry Kupers on the psychological effects of long term isolation.

He admits that "I would spend a total of 20 hours in that cell. Which, compared with the typical stay, is practically a blink. On average, inmates who are sent to solitary in Colorado spend an average of 23 months there. Some spend 20 years." But he still tries to justify the use of solitary confinement as targetting the "worst of the worst", those who "act up" when in reality it is often those who are politically aware and organizing that get slammed behind the isolation door.

Not only does Colorado have formal control units, but they also have Restricted Privileges units which are on lockdown 22 hours a day. Further, Colorado prisons, like those across the country, continues to refuse to address prisoners' grievances, a battle taken up with a grievance campaign in that state. We are not optimistic that Raemish's words will translate into fundamental change in the Colorado prisons. Until we eliminate the basis of prisons as a tool of social control, even the best sentiments of one executive director will not have a significant impact on the system.

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[Political Repression] [Colorado]
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Colorado Grievance Battle Leads to Punishment

Ever since Colorado prisons were mentioned in your previous issue of ULK concerning the grievance petitions, Colorado Department of Corrections has cut off our hobby work providers in favor of hobby items (colored pencils, paper, crafts, etc.) that are supposed to be sold on monthly canteen. They post these phantom hobby items on our monthly canteen lists, but won't actually sell any of it to us. The administrative regulations were created as smoke and mirrors to retaliate against us for grieving and petitioning (attempting to have a voice / be heard) for their inequities and injustices. So the hobby items simply don't exist in real life. It all looks good on paper when the auditors are here, but there's no one to put these pigs in check, hold them accountable. We have already grieved this issue in mass, what more can we do?


MIM(Prisons) responds: Often we face repression when we speak up against oppressive conditions and for basic rights. There are a few things we must do when this happens. First, publicize what's going on. Under Lock & Key is a good place to expose the prison's tactics. Second, use this opportunity to educate others. Spread the work in your prison about what's happening and organize others around the oppression. Third, continue the fight. Grievances aren't working: try the grievance petition to protect first and fifth amendments in Colorado. It's exactly situations like this one that led to the grievance campaign that MIM(Prisons) is helping to spread across the country. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state.

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[Campaigns] [Fremont Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
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Grievance Campaign Update in Colorado

I have received a response from the Warden - Ms. Susan Jones - who was only temporary (we've had three wardens in the last 6 months here at Fremont Correctional Facility) and it was a two paragraph "toe-the-CDOC-company-line" statement of how CDOC has a solid policy for grievances and all are addressed all the time. Basically a complete lie, as it did not raise serious awareness for our issues here at FCF.

However, there have been at least 30 inmates who filed the Colorado Petition that I know of for a fact, and only a few of us actually got a response, the identical B$ response that CDOC is doing the legally right thing, BLAH BLAH, BLAH, and that these matters have been addressed. Well, they literally have done nothing, and now with another new warden, all petitions were also reported to the U.S. Attorney General's Office as per the petition design, so at least somebody outside Colorado's corrupt system got the same message. I have not received a response from them, nor has anyone here that I know of.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is building off the grievance campaign that is spreading across the country. The petition for Colorado was designed for exactly the situation described here: prison administration ignoring prisoner's grievances while pretending they are following policy.

This campaign is part of the United Struggle from Within organizing work to gain some basic protections for prisoner's legal rights. We know that under the existing criminal injustice system we will never have broad sweeping change. But as long as we live in a bourgeois democracy, and not a fascist state, we can win battles holding employees of the state to their own rules. And the rights won through grievances create space for prisoners to organize and build the anti-imperialist movement. Write to us for a copy of the petition in your state, or to create one if it doesn't exist.

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[Organizing] [Control Units] [Colorado]
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Restricted Privileges in Colorado is Another Name for Control Unit

I am writing from a prison in Colorado. Here they have special units called RP or Restricted Privileges. These units are 22 and 2 lockdown. They will put you in here for anything they feel is right. Like being fired and having reasonable excuses for missing work. Also for not admitting guilt to your crime when your case is still in appeal. They want you to admit to your crime so you can take their classes and be in compliance. I'm in a camp that houses persons with a sex offense. 85% of this camp has some sort of a sex crime. They will violate you and put you in RP if you do not participate in a group, but they are understaffed and so it takes years if not a decade to get into these groups.

In this RP we are limited to almost everything. We are called last for chow, which usually interferes with our two hours out a day. Also they let us only look through a preselected book cart with books that are not rotated out. They keep us from the library here. This keeps us from learning and making copies. Our yard time is limited as well. We get one hour out, once a week. Even people in the hole get one hour out every four days. Our visits are restricted to a two hour visit on a Thursday afternoon. My family lives out of state so a visit is impossible. Also they turn off our phone time so we are unable to call home or friends. And lastly they restrict our mail.

Their grievance process is impossible here. You properly file step one, two, three and still they tell you "you failed to follow the proper grievance steps." If somehow you do make it through their grievance process, and you fill out all the forms properly, still there is nothing done.

I'm trying to create here a strong offense and a powerful defense. Educating others and myself about ways we can stop this injustice. This is supposed to be "the land of the free." Well we all know it's not. I, however, shall stand strong and fight till the better end. I shall stand till we overcome! I shall fight for peace and inform all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This story of lockdown and lack of effective grievance procedures is echoed across the country throughout the criminal injustice system. It has become acceptable in this country to lock people up in long-term solitary confinement for years, and then to deny them any legal recourse to even enforce the prison's own rules and policies. United Struggle from Within has initiated the grievance campaign to demand our grievances are addressed. But this is just one small part of the larger fight to do away with this system of injustice. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state or to help modify a petition to the laws of your state if we don't yet have one.

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[Organizing] [Colorado]
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Colorado DOC's New Tool

As a high ranking member of a Lumpen Organization (LO) I encourage all LOs in the Colorado State slave system to organize and unite with the MIM(Prisons) United Struggle from Within (USW). These pigs in the CDOC have taken a page from B.F. Skinner and created an Incentive Program in all Level 3 & 4 yards. This program allows participants more rec time, pod time, DVD player and movie rental for their cells and the privilege of eating before all units. It is clear staff goes out of their way to make sure General Populations know these are "specially privileged." In turn they have to sign a contract agreeing to not participate in any Security Threat Group (STG) related activities, including organized protest, staying write up free, and working any "facility needs job," i.e. kitchen, janitorial, etc., in the event of a lockdown.

This is a classic divide and conquer technique and an insurance policy against peaceful protest, i.e. hunger strikes, work strikes, etc. I encourage all prisoners in the Colorado slave system who are participating in this program to re-evaluate their position. Giving up your morals for simple comforts by entering this program makes it impossible for those of us who want to fight imperialism and injustice for all of us. Any kind of peaceful organized protest against injustice and imperialism will be ineffective because these program participants will mitigate the effects of such protest for these pigs.

At first the program was not being taken advantage of by prisoners so the pigs employed the carrot and the stick technique by decreasing GP's privileges in order to make this program more appealing. Those who openly protested the programs existence were systematically removed from GP and put in Ad-Seg.

The effect of this program is already apparent. The pigs have become more brazen in their actions against us as a whole. There is no fear of any type of retaliation for their actions, and because each prison organization is split by some of its members participating in this program, no organization has any structure. This program is not to help you comrades. Wake up! Look at the long term and don't follow the carrot.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisons attempt to divide and conquer prisoners using many tactics. Privileges are one very effective tactic in buying the complacency of some prisoners. We need to be aware of the impact this has on our ability to organize protests and take action. Educating all prisoners about the big picture of the Criminal Injustice System and its connections to imperialism is an important component in the fight against these potential divisions. Those prisoners who understand the broader context of their day-to-day oppression will be less likely to take small privileges as a buy off in exchange for their silence and inactivity.

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[Prison Labor] [Fremont Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
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Protests in Colorado Win Some Improved Conditions

Fremont Correctional Facility (FCF) was recently supplying labor energies (human cattle) to 2-3 other correctional facilities within the Canon City Industrial Corrections Complex to cook, clean and do maintenance (and previously build) these maximum security facilities, and paying us very low wages. We were driven back and forth daily to maintain these other facilities, which included daily strip-outs and other various degrading experiences.

Due to administrative budget cuts and pressure from passive resistance labor strike movement protestors, FCF prisoners will no longer be forced into working and maintaining those job assignments as of (approximately) 21 February 2012. But, those facilities are opening up for "incentive" living units: single cell occupancy with a TV. Hobby work items such as color pens and pencils are also being added to the monthly catalog canteen and we are no longer in need of special "hobby permits" in order to obtain those items.

On the down side, I was just recently released from "punitive segregation" and am being charged $122 for two bursts of OC [pepper spray] that were sprayed on me and fogged my domicile, and which also saturated an FCF library book, for which the library has charged me $29.95 to replace. I am also being charged for lost and/or destroyed (missing) bed sheets, not accounted for with my personal and private property withheld from me during my wrongful stay in punitive segregation. I was occupying my domicile sanctuary in protest against administrative corruption and for the inalienable rights to vote on all matters concerning my liberty interests.

Also while in punitive segregation I had mailed out many letters to other comrades within the facility and many of those letters were never received and CDOC did not notify me or the addressees of their interception.


MIM(Prisons) adds: These local protests that lead to improvements in conditions for prisoners are a good example of what is possible with greater unity. We stress the importance of building a United Front for Peace in Prisons to expand our ability to fight for legal rights while building a broader movement to educate and organize the prison population for fundamental, revolutionary change that will bring an end to the criminal injustice system in its entirety.

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