Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Pontiac 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.

[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Tamms Supermax] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 41]
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STG Validations to Justify Reopening of Tamms Supermax

The good old boys are at it again. These slipper suckers, who feed off other people's misery, are upset about the closing of Tamms Supermax in Illinois a few years ago. Rather than let Tamms sit unoccupied, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials have devised a plan to put pressure on the legislature to open up the 500-bed hell hole again.

Suddenly they claim we have a major gang problem here in Illinois. IDOC officials are rounding up all the Latinos who they can claim are a part of a security threat group (STG) and sticking them in administrative detention (A.D.).

Some guys haven't caught so much as a disciplinary ticket in years and were quietly toiling away in the kitchen or some other form of servitude. Next thing they know they're on a bus and sent to A.D. Some guys, after serving their segregation time for disciplinary tickets, found themselves in Phase 1 of A.D.

The common thread that binds these guys together seems to be that they are alleged members of an STG. It doesn't take much to validate someone as an active member these days. Most guys were members as kids, and their record preceded them to the joint. Some were identified by gang tattoos. And of course there is always that elusive confidential informant (CI), and only the gang intel officers seem to know for certain if the CI even exists. Personally I believe the correctional officers (COs) make up the CIs because the COs know that all they have to do is say the CI's identity is being withheld for the safety and security of the institution, and no one can or will inquire further.

These brothers sit with no recourse in the courts, stuck in limbo waiting in administrative segregation for some sadist to stop using them as a means to obtain a bigger piece of the tax dollar pie so they can re-open Tamms Supermax, and give themselves a pay raise for a job well done while they are at it.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Tamms Supermax opened in 1998. As 2008 approached many who opposed the torture chambers in Illinois formed the Tamms Year Ten campaign to bring attention to it and get it shut down. By January 2013, the unit was completely closed. This campaign was one of a handful demonstrating that the closing of control units is a winnable campaign under imperialism.

That said, almost as soon as Tamms was closed we are getting reports of increasing use of control units in Illinois again. This is why our Shut Down the Control Units campaign uses a specific definition of long-term isolation rather than just counting the prisons officially labeled as "supermaxes" as many bourgeois press do. The above example of pushing false gang validations for more or higher security prisons should not surprise us because prisons are a tool of social control for the imperialists, and that social control includes long-term isolation cells for anyone who challenges the system. The oppressed must organize to build power to change this.

This situation also provides a good example of how we know prisons are not run for profit. The government regularly uses funds to open control unit prisons, which are more expensive to run than lower security prisons. In 1999, MIM Notes reported "Tamms' budget works out to well over $34,000 per year to control each prisoner, not including the $73 million the state reports spending on building the dungeon. Tamms' cost per prisoner is more than three times the $11,006 estimated cost of living for a University of Illinois student at the Urbana-Champaign campus." The employees (COs and other staff) make out with nice high salaries (totaling $17 million at Tamms when it first opened), but these salaries, and everything else in the prison, is funded by the government, with prisoner labor offsetting some of the costs. The imperialists don't mind spending money to sustain their system of social control. It's money they got from the exploitation of workers in the Third World, and they will spend it freely to maintain their way of life and position of power.

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[Hunger Strike] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 35]
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Illinois Strike Ends Prematurely

Illinois prisoners hungry for justice
The 22 prisoner hunger strike at Pontiac Correctional Center that started at the beginning of October 2013 has ended, unsuccessfully, with prisoners being manipulated by the pigs to end the strike. One of the pigs' tactics was to not document prisoners who were on strike more than five days, thus causing some to stop striking. Others simply came off strike because the pigs "promised" to meet some of the demands that were being made. These demands included adequate sanitary supplies, programs for prisoners in long-term segregation, replacement of the current grievance officer, better recreation environment, etc. These requirements have yet to materialize and most prisoners who participated in the strike are scattered throughout the prison now. This separation was inevitable. For the pigs know in unity there's strength, so they reacted by separating us. But this will not stop the struggle. For each one will teach one and strengthen prisoner solidarity in the process.

The goal now is to continue to build unity and peace amongst prisoners so that next time we strike we will be more organized and prepared to struggle fully!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This report highlights some of the risks of getting ahead of the masses. This is at least the second hunger strike organized at Pontiac in the last year that we've heard of. So we do not mean to second guess the comrades' organizing choices there. But as these tactics show successes in some places, they are being imitated elsewhere. And it is important to assess your conditions where you are at, as you must gain more in terms of building peace and unity than you lose in the pigs moving people around and demoralizing the masses from engaging in future actions. The prison movement is on the rise, and by being smart it can continue to rise.

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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Illinois]
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Pontiac on Hunger Strike Again! Strikers join United Front for Peace in Prisons

2 October 2013 - Right now myself and 21 other comrades are on hunger strike. We started on Sunday 29 September 2013. Our purpose for the hunger strike is to bring an end to all the unconstitutional conditions that exist in segregation. These conditions include inadequate cleaning supplies, regular use of excessive force whenever they put prisoners in and out of cells, tampering with prisoners' food, denying prisoners access to recreational time on the yard, and failure to respond to grievances. We are also striving to receive new law library books because correctional officers destroyed the ones we had. We're also striving to get educational and other help programs for prisoners with long-term segregation time.

Most prisoners who are confined in Pontiac Correctional Center are here for staff assaults, and/or are labeled as "STG" (Security Threat Group) status. It is well known that Pontiac C.C. is a 'retaliatory facility' for prisoners with the above labeled offenses. That's why most prisoners who come here with a year of segregation time end up with five, six, seven years segregation time! This is all part of the oppressor's plan to keep places like this operating. That's why me and the other comrades on strike are writing local newspapers and organizations based around the country to receive some outside support.

Me and my comrades have embraced and accepted the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles and plan to propagate them amongst the prisoners here in segregation. We see the necessity of all five principles being put into use, as a means to unite and gain unity amongst prisoners here, and hopefully to help free some from the psychological chains of mental slavery.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Just last summer we received a report on a hunger strike at Pontiac Correctional Center for similar demands, and in February a similar strike was reported by others. Our information is limited due to censorship problems in Illinois, but we are working to get better follow up this time around.

The problems at Pontiac were exacerbated last winter after the closure of Tamms Supermax, which, for years, was the primary destination for jailhouse lawyers and prisoner activists. One comrade reports from "North administrative unit where it's a constant battle with our rights and living conditions. Since the closing of supermax Tamms, a lot of guys are now being housed in this unit wrongfully." As long as the oppressor nation feels threatened by the oppressed they will not give up their tools of torture and social control willingly.

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[Organizing] [Pontiac Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 27]
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Hunger Strike Kicks Off in Illinois

Illinois has followed in the steps of California and Virginia. On June 3, 2012 twenty-three political prisoners went on hunger strike together in protest of various administrative issues at Pontiac Correctional Center. On the same day I.A. interrogated all of the strikers in an attempt to frame the strike as "gang activity."

Pontiac Correctional Center exists in Illinois for the sole purpose of isolating prisoners from each other and the world. The vast majority of prisoners here are in segregation. As part of the administration's oppression against us we are beaten, unfed, given inadequate law libraries, isolated, and much more. All of this is being protested by the strikers. From Palestine to California and Virginia to Illinois the revolution against tyranny and despair, extortion and exploitation, oppression and capitalism is growing stronger.

In the name of revolution, solidarity, and struggle.

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