Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Stateville Correctional Center - Illinois

Postage is one of our biggest expenses. Why not send a book of stamps or two to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140 next time you're at the post office? help out

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.

[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Bill Clements Unit] [Santa Rosa Correctional Institution] [Florida State Prison] [Jefferson Correctional Institution] [Coyote Ridge Corrections Center] [Richard A Handlon Correctional Facility] [Stateville Correctional Center] [Virginia] [Pennsylvania] [Texas] [Florida] [Washington] [Missouri] [Michigan] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 59]
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Censors in Their Own Words - November 2017

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in the United $tates free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targeting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.

Virginia DOC

The Chair of the publications review committee for the VA DOC, Melissa Welch, sent MIM(Prisons) a letter denying ULK 56, and then the next month the same letter denying ULK 57. Both letters cite the same reasons:

"D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.

"F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."

Pennsylvania DOC

Last issue of ULK we reported on the censorship of ULK57 in Pennsylvania. After sending a protest letter to appeal the decision we had a rare victory! From the Policy Office, PA Department of Corrections:
"This is to notify you that the publication in issue does not violate Department Policy. As such, the decision of the correctional institution is reversed and the inmates in the PA Department of Corrections will be permitted to receive the publication. The correctional institutions will be notified by the Policy Office of the decision."

If anyone in PA hasn't received ULK 57 yet, let us know and we will send another copy to you.

Pennsylvania SCI-Camp Hill

From a prisoner we were forwarded a notice of incoming publication denial for ULK 57: "create a danger within the context of the correctional facility" p.21, 24

The description quotes sentences that can't be found within ULK including: "PREA system strip searches for harassment in PA", "Black prisoners deserve to retaliate against predominantly white ran system", and "This is a excellent reminder of PA importance of fighting." They are making up text as reasons for censorship in Pennsylvania.

Texas - Bill Clemens Unit

A prisoner forwarded us a denial for ULK 57 "Page 11 contains information that could cause a prison disruption."

In March 2017, our study pack Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party was censored for

"Reason C. Page 9 contains information that could cause a strike or prison disruption."
This adds to the growing list of our most important literature that is banned in the state forever, including Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat and [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlan. We need someone with legal expertise to challenge Texas's policies that allow for publications to be banned forever in the state.

Florida - Santa Rosa Correctional Institution

A prisoner forwarded us a notice of impoundment of ULK 57. The reason cited: "Pages 1, 11, 14, 15, & 17 advocates insurgency and disruption of institutional operations."

We appealed this denial and got a response from Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator for the Florida DOC, reiterating the reasons for impoundment and upholding the denial: "In their regularly scheduled meeting of August 30, 2017 the Literature Review Committee of the Florida Department of Corrections upheld the institution's impoundment and rejected the publication for the grounds stated. This means that issue will not be allowed into our correctional institutions."

Florida DOC

Following up on a case printed in ULK 57 regarding Florida's denial of the MIM(Prisons) censorship pack, for no specific reasons. We received a response to our appeal of this case from the same Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator, named above.

"From the number of the FDC form you reference and your description of what happened it is apparent the institutional mailroom did not handle the Censorship Guide as a publication, but instead handled it in accordance with the Florida Administrative Code rule for routine mail. As such, the item was not impounded, was not posted to the list of impounded publications for any other institution to see, was not referred to the Literature Review Committee for review, and thus does not appear on the list of rejected publications. That means that if the exact same Guide came to any other inmate mailroom staff would look at it afresh. In theory, it could even be allowed into the institution. ... "The Florida Administrative Code makes no provision for further review."

Florida - Florida State Prison

ULK 58 was rejected for what appears to just be a list of titles of articles, some not even complete:

PGS 6 Liberation schools to organize through the wall (talk about the hunger strikes)
PGS 8 DPRK; White Supremacy's Global Agenda
PGS 11 Case law to help those facing
PGS 19 White and gaining consciousness

Florida - Jefferson Correctional Institution

Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles was denied to a prisoner at Jefferson Correctional Institution because "inmate has received a second copy of the same edition of this publication violating chapter 33-501.401 (16)(b) and procedure 501.401(7)(d)."

Washington state - Coyote Ridge CC

The invitation to and first assignment for our correspondence introductory study group was rejected by Mailroom Employee April Long for the following reasons:

"Advocates violence against others and/or the overthrow of authority.
Advocates that a protected class or group of individuals is inferior and/or makes such class/group the object of ridicule and/or scorn, and may reasonably be thought to precipitate a violent confrontation between the recipient and a member(s) of the target group. Rejected incoming mailing from MIM. Mailing contains working that appears to be referring to law enforcement as 'pigs' it appears to be ridiculing and scornful. There is also a section in mailing labeled solutions that calls prisoners to take actions against prison industries and gives specific ideas/suggestions. Nothing to forward onto offender."

A recent study assignment for the University of Maoist Thought was also censored at Coyote Ridge. MIM(Prisons) has not yet been informed of this censorship incident by the facility. The study group participant wrote and told us it was censored for being a "copy of copyrighted material." The material in question was published in 1972 in the People's Republic of China. Not only did that government actively work against capitalist concepts such as copyright, we believe that even by the United $tates' own standards this book should not be subject to censorship.

Washington state

Clallam Bay CF rejected ULK 58 because: "Newsletter is being rejected as it talks about September 9 events including offenders commencing a hunger strike until equal treatment, retaliation and legal rights issues are resolved."

Coyote Ridge CC rejected ULK 58 for a different set of reasons: "Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy and/or local facet/rules. Contains correspondence, information, or other items relating to another offender(s) without prior approval from the Superintendent/designee: or attempts or conveys unauthorized offender to offender correspondence."

Canada

We received the following report from a Canadian prisoner who had sent us some stamps to pay for a few issues of ULK to be mailed to Canada.

"A few months ago, on July 18, I received notice from the V&C department informing that five issues of ULK had arrived here for me. The notice also explained that the issues had been seized because of a Commissioner's Directive (764.6) which states that '[t]he institutional head may prohibit entry into the institution of material that portrays excessive violence and aggression, or prison violence; or if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that the material would incite inmates to commit similar acts.' I grieved the seizure, among other things, citing the sections on page 2 of ULK, which 'explicitly discourage[s prisoners] from engaging in any violence or illegal acts,' and citing too the UFPP statement of peace on page 3, which speaks of the organizational aim to end needless conflicts and violence within prisons.

"Well, I can now report that my grievance was upheld and that all copies of ULK were released to me, but not without the censorship of drawings deemed to portray or promote the kind of violence described in the above-cited Commissioner's Directive. It's a decision I can live with for now."

Missouri

We got reports from two people that the blanket ban on ULK in Missouri was removed and ULK 58 was received. If you're in Missouri and still not getting your ULK, be sure to let us know.

Michigan - Richard A Handlon CF

ULK 58 was rejected because "Articles in Under Lock & Key contains information about criminal activity that might entice criminal activity within the prison facility - threat to security."

Illinois - Stateville CC

ULK 58 was rejected because: "The publication appears to: Advocate or encourage violence, hatred, or group disruption or it poses an intolerable risk of violence or disruption. Be otherwise detrimental to security, good order, rehabilitation, or discipline or it might facilitate criminal activity or be detrimental to mental health. Detrimental to safety and security of the facility. Disrupts order. Promotes organization and leadership."


Read More Censorship Reports
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[Release] [Organizing] [Political Repression] [Stateville Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 24]
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Illinois Uprising Parallels California Hunger Strike

I have been a prisoner of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for more than 11 years and am scheduled to be released within the next 2 years. But with no family left in this world, no place to go, no clothes other than the ones on my back, and no support system established... the odds are stacked up against me way before I am even released back into society and the only thing that the IDOC is going to provide me with before releasing me back into the so-called "free world" is a $10 check.

I am really interested in the July/August 2011 issue of Under Lock and Key because there's an article in there about a prison strike [in California]. A lot of people around the world aren't aware that the prisoners at the Stateville Maximum Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois had a similar prison uprising in February and March of 2011. It was swept under the rug by then Director Gladys C. Taylor and Governor Patrick J. Quinn. This movement wasn't just a particular gang or a particular race orchestration, we all came together as one mass body (Blacks, Latinos, and whites) to protest the condition that we've been subjected to ever since the Richard Specs video leakage in 1995. In fact, I'm enclosing a copy of my adjustment committee's final summary for your entertainment.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner gives two examples of how the state will not serve the needs of the oppressed. When prisoners try to work together and quash beefs to do something positive they are targeted for repression (see below). Then, after over a decade in prison, people are sent to the streets with no resources or support. This is why it is only by building institutions independent of the imperialist state that we can begin to address these complaints.

What this comrade describes happening in Illinois is also playing out in California in the second phase of the hunger strike. Both examples show the potential for organizing against oppression when prisoners are united. This is why we are working to build the United Front for Peace in Prisons which unites around the 5 principles of peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence: "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."

Final Summary Report
Click to Download PDF


THIS REPORT IS THE RESULT OF AN INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER INTELLIGENCE UNIT, INTO A CONSPIRACY TO ORGANIZE AN INMATE DRIVEN PROTEST AT STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER BY OFFENDER XYZ AND OTHERS. DURING THE COURSE OF THE INVESTIGATION APPROXIMATELY 110 INTERVIEWS WERE CONDUCTED AND 30 CELL SEARCHES WERE CONDUCTED BY STATEWIDE INVESTIGATORS. THE INVESTIGATIONS UNIT WAS ABLE TO OBTAIN FIVE COPIES OF THE DETAILED LETTER THAT WAS BEING CIRCULATED IN THE INMATE GENERAL POPULATION REGARDING THE PROTEST PLANNED TO TAKE PLACE BEGINNING MARCH 1, 2011.

THE PROTEST LETTER BEGINS WITH THE FOLLOWING: "THIS MEMO IS FOR THOSE HERE IN STATEVILLE WHO ARE READY, WILLING, AND ENTHUSED WITH ANTICIPATION TO RISE TO THE OCCASION TO LEAD US AND USHER IN A NEW ERA. THUS CEMENT OUR NAMES IN HISTORY..." THE PROTEST LETTER IDENTIFIES SEVERAL ISSUES THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BY ADMINISTRATION AND LISTS THEM. THE LETTER GOES ON TO SAY AFTER THE PROTEST AND GRIEVANCES HAVE BEEN FILED THEN THE INMATES WILL REQUEST THE WARDEN ISSUE MEMORANDUMS DETAILING THE CORRECTIVE ACTION THAT WILL BE IMPLEMENTED. THERE ARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR ALL INMATES TO STOCK UP ON COMMISSARY BECAUSE BEGINNING MARCH 1 THE INMATES ARE NOT TO SUBMIT ANY COMMISSARY SLIPS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE FOOD TO GO BAD. THE LETTER THEN INSTRUCTS ALL THE INMATES TO BAN THE USAGE OF THE PHONE FOR ONE WEEK, NOT GO TO RECREATION FOR ONE WEEK, AND FILE GRIEVANCES ON ALL ISSUES STARTING MARCH 2011. THE LETTER THEN INSTRUCTS THE INMATES TO HAVE NO CONTACT WITH THE POLICE, IA OR ANY STAFF BECAUSE SILENCE GIVES THEM POWER AND WILL STRIKE FEAR. THE LETTER THEN REQUESTS THE INMATES TO HAVE THEIR PEOPLE ON THE OUTSIDE TO PROTEST WITH PICKET SIGNS IN FRONT OF STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER.

WHILE CONDUCTING A SEARCH OF CELL XXXX INVESTIGATIVE PERSONNEL CONFISCATED HANDWRITTEN DOCUMENTATION IN XYZ's PROPERTY DETAILING EVENTS OF THE PROTEST. THE DOCUMENTATION WAS FIVE PAGES TYPED AND ONE HANDWRITTEN PAGE.

DURING AN INTERVIEW XYZ CLAIMED OWNERSHIP OF SAID DOCUMENTS. XYZ STATED THIS DOCUMENT WAS BEING PASSED ON THE GALLERY AND HE KEPT IT. XYZ ALSO STATED THE PROTEST IS GOING TO HAPPEN AS SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 1, 2011.

ON MARCH 1, 2011 THE INMATES AT STATEVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER PROCEEDED WITH THE PROTEST AS INDICATED IN THE PROTEST LETTERS THAT WERE BEING CIRCULATED IN GENERAL POPULATION. STATEVILLE WAS PLACED ON RESTRICTED MOVEMENT DUE TO THE INMATE PROTEST.

OFFENDER XYZ WAS POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED BY INSTITUTIONAL GRAPHICS

...

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

FINAL

1 Year CGrade
1 Year Segregation
Revoke GCC or SGT 1 Year
3 Months Audio/Visual Restriction

This article referenced in:
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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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