Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Menard Correctional Center - Illinois

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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.

[Education] [Abuse] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois]
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Denial of education, failure of grievance system

I am thankful for the petition you sent me on how to create a campaign on this grievance procedure. A fellow prisoner has attached it to his 1983 as an exhibit to show that this institution is destroying and/or intentional misplacing (losing) our grievances. I want to unfold this recent incident that I am going through. I submitted a grievance regarding rehabilitation, but every time the counselor responds by telling me that the grievance sounds familiar but he doesn't remember receiving it. Here's what I am grieving:

Pursuant to my individualized efforts for rehabilitation I as a committed offender have submitted a massive amount of request slips to take vocational school of programs and also to the individual department of employment. I've put forth the efforts in submitting the said request slips since November (2011) until the above date of grievance. Each individual department of both vocational and employment has failed to acknowledge or reply to my request. Which by this failure I'm deprived of an adequate plan in my rehabilitation in accordance to the "United Code of Corrections."

By being deprived of such statutes, the prescribed sanctions proportionate to the seriousness of my offense has been violated and compromised by the failure to recognize the different possibilities in rehabilitation upon me as an individual, of restoration to useful and productive citizenship, in society being deprived of vocation and employment programs, only provides me with an oppressive treatment, which also promotes flaws and technicality in the Illinois Unified Code of Corrections. Powers and duties of the Dept which are provided by the law of Illinois, states clearly that the Dept has the power to: accept persons committed to it by the Courts of this State for care, custody, treatment and rehabilitations; and to "develop" and "maintain" programs of rehabilitation and employment to committed persons within its institutions. And to do all other acts necessary to carry out the provisions of the chapter; and to exercise all Rules & Regulations, Powers & Duties vested by law to the Dept. But yet and still I've been denied employment, which I am over the age of compulsory school attendance and I am physically capable of employment, and not occupied by any dept programs.

I've been deprived of being equipped with marketable skills and habits of work. There isn't any type of promotion or contribution to a committed person learning responsibility, but yet the dept does promote and contribute oppressive treatment. I personally have obtained this measure of oppressive treatment when I as a committed offender have no obligation, but to sit in my cell 23 and a half hours out of a day. And in comparison to segregation there's not too much of a difference with the general population.

Example: An individual that's in segregation has to stay in his cell 24 hours, 7 days a week and not be obligated to come out of the cell period. As the same to an individual in general population he can stay in his cell 24 hours 7 days all week long and not be obligated to come out the cell at all. The committed offender truly isn't obligated to do anything while he's incarcerated, but to sit and watch time pass by. The offender isn't obligated to go to chow, nor is he obligated to go to Chapel, neither commissary, nor yard, nor shower, he isn't obligated to have electronics, nor any type of books, paper, or pens or pencils, he isn't obligated to read any books, nor is he upon himself obligated to put in any request slips for any reason. The committed offender by law or any other means has never been compelled or committed to rehabilitate himself, but the Dept of Corrections, is that of obligated to the Unified Code of Corrections, by law, and the Illinois revised statutes, to rehabilitate the offender. To sit or be left in a cell approximately 23.5 hours a day is very much oppressive treatment.

How can I be held responsible for my rehabilitation and have to take an active part when possible, when IDOC doesn't offer me the necessary tools to do so? I've no funds to purchase my education, employment and/or rehabilitation.

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[Abuse] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois]
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Orange Crush, Sexual Abuse at Menard

Our voices are often suppressed by retaliation. Write a grievance addressing the crimes correctional officers are committing behind these concrete walls and you will find yourself on the wrong end of a bogus disciplinary ticket or a cell search that ends with your personal property (family photos, legal mail, etc.) being destroyed and your commissary both stolen and dumped out all over your cell. Have you ever seen what it's like when you dump multiple bags of instant coffee over your bed, clothes, TV and then pour soda over it? I have. The message was clear - what happens in Menard Correctional Center stays in Menard CC. And for ten years thereafter, I have kept my mouth shut. But you can only rape a man of his dignity for so long; for, eventually, fear be erased by disgrace.

So now I write these words for the world to read because what happened these last two days the world needs to see.

In my life, my well-being has never been more threatened or in greater jeopardy than when being beaten and battered by hundreds of men, wearing orange and donned in full riot gear. Yes, I am talking about the Illinois Orange Crush during prison shakedowns.

The Orange Crush (OC) are guards in riot gear, tinted face-masks, no name tags - concealed identities armed with powerful wooden riot batons, mace, handcuffs, leather gloves, Kevlar vests, and military boots. As if their identities weren't already secret enough, we are also told, "Don't look at me, don't look up, put your head down, keep your head down." Even when our heads are down, straining our necks to bend as far as they can possibly go, these words are still yelled directly into our ears.

And this time they brought dogs! These large German Shepherds were loud, snapping their teeth with blood lust in their bark. They lined these dogs up and made us "walk the line." As if the intimidation of a few hundred militarized men busting us with their batons wasn't enough, as if being cuffed behind our backs and having our heads shoved down into our chests wasn't enough, as if their constant screaming into our ears wasn't enough, they also made us feel the fear of ferocious dogs as we were pushed past their blood-curdling cries to do us harm.

Yes, I was violently pushed, prodded, and poked with their wooden batons - riot batons that look like wooden ax handles. Yes, I was yelled at, directly into my ear canal at a level loud enough to cause physical pain. Yes, I was cuffed behind my back and forced to stand "nut-to-butt" in a highly stressed position with my head down for hours on end. Yes, I went two days without running water. Yes, the cell I live in was demolished and my property was both stolen and destroyed. But I can handle that. That is a part of doing time in Menard. We prisoners down here go through OC shakedowns once a year, sometimes more. However, what I cannot handle and what I refuse to keep my mouth shut about is the sexual abuse and molestation that took place this last go around.

On Friday, 15 April 2016, the OC came running onto my gallery, hooting and hollering like a bunch of hooligans and banging their riot batons on our cell bars as they went by. They were there to shakedown our cells. Every OC shakedown starts with a full blown strip search: lift the penis, lift the scrotum, turn around and spread the cheeks, then squat and cough. It's routine. But this time it was different. It started out normal: strip naked, lift the penis, lift the scrotum, but instead of "turn around, spread the cheeks, squat and cough," this OC officer told me, "split 'em." I asked if he meant for me to turn around and spread my cheeks. "No," he said, "split your balls." I looked at him to see if he was joking - eleven years of OC shakedowns and I'd never head of this before. He didn't flinch. So I grabbed my balls - one in each hand - and pulled them apart.

"No! Split them," he yelled. I looked at him confused. It was embarrassing. I was standing there naked, at his mercy, and being belittled. I mean, I already let him view my body underneath my penis and scrotum. Now he's telling me to split my nuts. I did not understand what he was saying, but I did know that my well being depended on my ability to comply. The more I tried to "split my nuts" (whatever that means, I still don't know), the less he was able to contain his laughter. That's when it hit me. He was playing games, entertaining himself with my nudity and getting a kick outta my shame. Then he told me to lift one nut up and pull the other one down. It made me sick. Under the threat of violence I was still being forced to molest myself. And still I had to turn around and spread my cheeks for this guy; still, I had to squat and cough for this guy.

After his heinous abuse of power, making me molest myself, I almost refused spreading my butt cheeks for him. Again, it made me sick to think what was going through his mind. But I did not refuse, because anyone in an Illinois maximum security prison, whose been through an OC shakedown before, knows that refusing to follow the orders of the OC leads to excruciating beat downs by multiple men. And in my case (I was naked and if refusing to let him look between my cheeks) it would have been a naked beat down that ended with the OC holding me down, spreading me open, and physically exploring my orifice for contraband. They would have said I was refusing to comply because I was hiding something in there and didn't want them to find it. These guys are brutal and in the name of "security" they get away with murder. Think of all the videos you've seen of cops beating, even killing, civilians out there, in the public's view. Now imagine how much worse it is in here, for us, when they are never held accountable. Perpetual abuse hidden from the public behind the very walls that keep us in.

So I did what I had to do to survive. I let that pervert look inside of me. After this long nauseating moment of naked and forced self-molestation, I was cuffed behind my back, and again, under the threat of physical punishment, I was forced to strain my neck down, and herded to the chow hall. In the chow hall I, along with other prisoners, stood for hours, subject to the constant violence of being shoved into the backs of other prisoners. We were literally and physically forced to stand with our penises pushed into the butts and the behind-the-back cuffed hands of the men in front of us. Every time we pulled our penis off of the man in front of us, we were shoved back into him and yelled at, "If your cock's not in his ass, you're not close enough."

I cannot, will not, keep my mouth shut about this, lest I become a shell of the man I am today. These words are for the thousands that were abused in the same way. The OC should stand for "Outta Control" for this Orange Crush needs to be prosecuted and punished.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 24]
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Fighting Back in Menard

Here at Menard, a prison within the Illinois Department of Corruptions, the prisoners have said "no more." We now are making a full and united front against the swine who confine us.

We have tried for years to voice our objections in a peaceful and civil manner to the hierarchy of this morally bankrupt system. However, these pigs refuse to listen. In fact it has now become completely and utterly impossible to exhaust any and all grievances with any kind of legally sound argument within its body, thereby stopping a prisoner from presenting any claim in any court.

Here in the segregation unit they have gathered together a group of sadistic pigs who torture at will. The head and ringleader of these cowards seems to be Officer Davis. The hierarchy put in cameras to curb the abuse. The piggies found blind spots, where prisoners' blood stains the concrete, and those responsible are allowed to hide.

There have been at least five severe and bloody staff assaults here in a row. The brass in their state capital keeps asking, why? Why, because you have left us with no other course of action. We have become intolerant of the consecutive abuses. We have finally found ourselves in a corner with nowhere to turn. I see no end to the bloodshed. Even after these pigs put those they believe responsible in extreme isolation, it continues!

Defiance and refusal to submit to these pigs has become a movement within itself. It has become much too large to squash. When things attain a certain size they become permanent. One can dredge a lake, but not an ocean.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter illustrates an important fact: when people are pushed into a corner, tortured and given no option of running away and no peaceful way to fight back, they will be forced into a violent response. It is ironic that the prisons are constantly censoring MIM(Prisons) as a threat to the security of the institution when it is their own policies and practices that threaten the safety of staff and prisoners the most!

We do want to point out that there is an alternative to short-term violence against the pigs. We need broader organization among our comrades behind bars so that they are not taken out one by one for fighting back. While we cannot judge individual cases of desperation, we know that the long battle is one that requires the building of unity and the education of our allies.

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[Abuse] [Stateville Correctional Center] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois]
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Widespread corruption in the IDOC

I have been fighting my criminal case for 16 years now and you could not possibly imagine, let alone fully comprehend the unbearable, deplorable and inhumane conditions prisoners endure on a daily basis at the States Maximum Security facilities in Illinois. In addition to having to exist in such a grim and cold reality, prisoners must function under a constant heightened sense of alert in anticipating prisoner upon prisoner, prisoner and staff, and staff upon prisoner assaults. The unwritten protocol, and attitude of prison administrators/staff are a "fuck you convict demeanor" and prisoners are mistreated, harassed, disrespected and provoked so badly by prison guards, prisoners are often left with no other alternative but to take matters into their own hands and brutally assault prison guards. What is most disturbing is the reality that prison guards themselves often instigate, provoke and engage prisoners in physical confrontations, and only the prisoners are criminally prosecuted, because no one wants to acknowledge the heinous, and criminal activity of prison guards.

In some instances prison guards have not only engaged prisoners in physical confrontations out of holding a revile towards prisoners, but in order to gain financially by filing civil actions, seeking promotions, days off, and politicking with prison administrators. The grievance procedure is a complete joke, because the very prison officials who oversee the grievance procedure do nothing more than lie, deny, and make every effort to conceal the egregious abuses of prison guards against prisoners, due to the liabilities involved, and simply because most prisoners are completely ignorant as to how to expose such abuses. I am what is stereotypically referred to as a jailhouse lawyer, because of the various Federal Civil Rights Actions I had or am currently pursuing against the corrupt prison officials/employees of the IDOC.

For years I have gone out of my way or have attempted to compel other prisoners to either pursue civil actions, bring such matters to the attention of public officials, news organizations, or law enforcement, because the horrendous abuses prisoner are subjected to daily throughout the IDOC is un-fuckin-believable. I have seen the news reports about the abuses of prisoners in Iraq, and Guantanamo and such prisoners are treated with dignity, in comparison to how we are treated in American prisons daily. I don't require some lawyer, judge, or politician explaining to me as to how the system works, because I certainly have enough life experience to realize how fucked up, corrupt, and racist are political, economic, and judicial structures truly are.

I was housed in the very same cell location as prisoner Leezer, just several months before this prisoner was murdered by his (Leezer's) cellmate. In fact, just several weeks before Leezer's murder, I personally forwarded a correspondence to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Warden, Director, and various news organizations, including the Chicago Tribune, about how prison administrators were deliberately, and recklessly endangering the health, and safety of prisoners, by housing prisoners two men per cell, despite such celling assignments being specifically designed to house one man per cell. I stipulated in said correspondence that such double man occupancy in a Maximum Security Facility has already lead to literally hundreds of well documented incidents of prisoners brutally assaulting their (prisoners) cellmates, due to prison administrators simply throwing anyone, and incompatible prisoners in the cell together.

To add insult to injury, despite hundreds of prisoner upon prisoner cellmate assaults being well documented, the great majority of such prisoner upon prisoner cellmate assaults go largely unreported and undocumented. I can't remember too many nights going by where I haven't heard body blows being struck, due to prisoners being involved in physical confrontations with their cellmates. One of the greatest contributing factors to prisoner upon prisoner cellmate assaults is prison administrators at the Stateville CC deliberately placing, and mandating that rival factions of gang affiliates being placed into the same cell together. No prisoner can be housed in a cell with another prisoner involved in the same or similar gang affiliation, so rival gang members who are killing themselves out in the streets are being forcibly confined into the same cell together in the prison system, and I'm dumbfounded that there isn't a prisoner/cellmate murder every few days.

I myself have been thrown into the segregation unit on several occasions for being involved in physical confrontations with my cellmates, cellmates which prison administrators themselves (prison officials) had me placed into the same cell with. In one instance I was given six months in the segregation unit @ the Menard CC for being brought up on charges of assaulting my cellmate, despite my numerous requests for a cell change/transfer. Due to the massive overcrowding issues plaguing the IDOC, prisoners who should never be placed into a cell with another prisoner under any circumstances, such as predators, which has only led to further instances of prisoners being savagely assaulted or even raped by their cellmates.

The most horrific factors pertaining to these matters is that, prisoners often go out of their way to avoid such altercations by requesting cell changes, filing grievances on the matter or even claiming their cellmates as enemies, yet prison administrators refuse to follow their own rules and regulations and simply don't give a fuck about prisoners assaulting themselves because it is simply the norm and an accepted practice. The only time any real fuss is ever made regarding physical confrontations is when prisoners are involved in physical confrontations with prison guards, because in these instances prison administrators really have to go out of their way to cover their asses.

These prisons are being run as if it was the medieval era. There are virtually no real educational or job training programs. Illinois State law mandates that prison officials afford prisoners at least one hour of cell activity daily, which often refers to recreational activity, yet prisoners are left to sit and brood within these cages for twenty three and a half hours a day with only a fifteen minute break for lunch and fifteen minutes for dinner. Prisoners are basically supposed to be afforded at least one hour of recreation/yard activity every day, but here at Stateville prisoners are only being afforded access to the prisons yards twice a week, and with the numerous lockdowns which often last for weeks, if not months, prisoners are lucky to obtain recreational activity several times every few months.

The meals served at these institutions are beyond repugnant and sickening. Many prisoners simply don't have the means to have relatives/friends forward funds on a regular basis and prisoners often rather starve than consume the road kill served to prisoners in this dungeon. The Stateville CC receives millions in funding from the state in order to serve prisoners proper diets, yet the food service supervisors receive large bonuses to curtail cost, which often means searching for the worst garbage to feed prisoners. Much of the good food that's supposed to be served to prisoners is often siphoned off/stolen and diverted to the officers kitchen, where prison guards enjoy free meals at the expense of the State of Illinois. How in the fuck the State of Illinois is subsidizing every meal which a prison employee consumes while on the clock/working is beyond me, especially considering the tremendous budget deficit the state is currently facing. It is simply unsustainable for the state to cover the cost of feeding every one of its employees, in addition to having to feed the entire prison population. The cost for feeding every employee here at Stateville alone is well in the millions of dollars every year, and this is taking place throughout the IDOC.

The employees of the IDOC are paid on average $45k a year and many of the Lieutenants and Majors receive salaries well beyond $80k a year, yet the state of Illinois is picking up the tab to feed these welfare recipients for every single meal consumed.

It is a social scientific and statistical fact that crime is driven by poverty, yet the overall prison population is literally cat down into these dismal tombs for years, if not decades to do nothing more than stand by idly, engage in further gang activity and only to be released ten times worse off than when entering the thunder dome. And despite 95% of the prison population ultimately returning to society, nothing is being done to actually better, education and train prisoners to become productive individuals. Upon release prisoners need to be able to provide for themselves, pay the bills, and be able to support our families. When you have a prison system allowed to function in such a cesspool of waste, corruption and mismanagement as the IDOC it is no wonder that so many prisoners return to the streets to continue to engage in gang activity, selling drugs, victimizing individuals and even murdering others, because it's all a prisoner has been instilled with and after years of being tormented degraded, and dehuamized, I'm stunned that a prisoner upon release has not driven back to one of these prisons to stalk, hunt down and brutally assault or murder one or more of these prison guards for the unspeakable evils that prisoners are subjected to regularly at these concentration camps.

I myself have various litigations pertaining to the overall prison conditions, retribution, etc which I have been subjected to and even despite my litigations prison guards/officials have made me a prime target for all manner of retribution. I possess a tremendous amount of statistical and legal documentation further supporting and proving my claims.

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[Control Units] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois]
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Illinois: Down with Menard's seg quota

Menard Correctional Centers Segregation Unit consists of one abnormally large cell house, which has the capacity of 490 inmates. Menard had only one major incident this year and there's hardly anyone getting into trouble. So in order to justify using so much space for segregation, the staff issued quotas for each population cell house on how many inmates they need to send to segregation. So the staff sets out to find reasons to place inmates in segregation.

During quota filling time, correctional officers exaggerate disciplinary reports, by writing tickets for "intimidation and threat" because an inmate stared at them too long. Or they charge people with "gang activity" when six or seven people are standing in a small group on the yard. Oftentimes, they can't exaggerate tickets so they talk loudly and curse at inmates to provoke a verbal or physical response. If all else fails, they will utilize the Internal Affairs Confidential Sources procedure, which uses inmate trustees to lie on gang members. Law advocates say that the inmates are planning some outrageous security threat, so that they can lock them in segregation anywhere from 30 to 60 days under "investigative status." I encourage any and all inmates to remain dormant to force the staff here to open at least half the segregation unit's building to the general population, and at the same time neutralize Menard's Segregation quota procedures.

RAIL and MIM respond: The prisoner is correct to expose the everyday injustice as prisoncrats use their power to fix their stupid mistakes. Like this prisoner, we also do not encourage prisoners to fight the pigs since they are currently armed and dangerous. The demand to reduce the size of Menard's segregation unit is a correct one. Segregation brings with it such increased suffering for prisoners as sensory deprivation, reduced yard time, highly restricted contact with other prisoners if any, denial of the ability to work, and tighter controls on visitation. All this is in addition to the loss of good time from tickets, forcing prisoners to serve longer sentences before getting the opportunity to parole.

As we point out in every issue of MIM Notes, the size of the U.$. prison population is too big and growing, with more prisoners per capita than any government since Stalin's during World War II and more Black prisoners than Apartheid South Africa. While we work to bring down this system in its entirety, for the short term we look to fight winnable battles that we can win by legal means. Bettering prisoners' conditions now is a good thing. Any honest persyn can see that getting the Menard Correctional Center to stop manufacturing charges against prisoners is a positive reform that deserves support. To express your views to the Warden, write or call (please send MIM a copy of any correspondence):

Warden George Welborn
Menard Correctional Center
711 Kaskaskia Street
Menard, Illinois 62259
Phone: (618) 826-5071

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