Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Michigan Prisons

Expand ULK. Send us $50 concealed cash with an address and we'll send you a stack of each issue for the next year. 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.

[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [Michigan]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Michigan

MIpetition.pdf
Click here to download a PDF of the Michigan grievance petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Legislative Corrections Ombudsman Office
PO Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
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[Censorship] [Organizing] [Marquette Branch Prison] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 63]
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Censorship Victories in Michigan; Battle Continues

"Cast away illusions, prepare for struggle." -Mao Zedong (1893-1976)

Comrades:

I am writing to update you comrades on new developments regarding my censorship battle at this prison. After 2 long and hard-fought battles with these reactionaries and their censors in the mail room, I finally received the latest ULK 60 a couple weeks ago.

Specifically, when I transferred back into this gestapo prison in October 2017, the censors were rejecting all ULK issues and MIM study materials sent to comrades under MDOC policy directive 05.03.118 (NN) (4) and (6), and giving us false pretense or rationale for its rejection, solely because of the political (revolutionary) content of the newsletter, contrary to PD-05.03.118 (D) which clearly states that prison censors are prohibited from rejecting incoming mail "solely because its content is religious, philosophical, political, social, sexual, unpopular, or repugnant."

Their excuse or pretext for rejecting MIM periodicals was because they claimed it advocated or promotes "violence, group disruption, or insurrection." See, "notice of package/mail rejection" and "administrative hearing report," enclosed herein is an example of the totally bogus rationalizations they use for censoring ULK.

The prison censors, particularly mail clerks J. Sanford and M. J. Dollar, had censored every MIM ULK issue sent to me and other comrades since October 2017. Not only were the issues improperly rejected, but the censors failed to conduct mail rejection hearings in a prompt manner as required by PD-05.03.118 (WW). More, I doubt if they were even notifying you (MIM) of the censorship or the reason why the newsletters were rejected, nor an opportunity to an appeal. Per MDOC policy, the prison censors must mail senders/publishers a "notice of rejection" anytime that an issue is rejected, which is a requirement under PD-05.03.118 (VV) so you can exercise your right to appeal the rejection to the warden.

Your right to be notified is a "due process" right, under the Fourteenth Amendment. Just for future references, if the prison censors fail to notify you of the illegal publication ban on your materials, your organization can sue for damages, including, but not limited to: (1) the suppression of your free speech; (2) the impediment of your ability to disseminate your political message; (3) frustration of your non-profit organizational mission; (4) the diversion of your resources; (5) the loss of potential subscribers and MIM supporters; among other violations under the First Amendment's free speech and free press clauses. It's easy money, since these reactionaries are voluntarily bagging it up for you, why not take it and help fund the revolution?!

With this in mind, you must be prepared to struggle with me in combating censorship in the future, just in case the censors get back on bullshit. It's only so much that comrades can do from inside the bowels of the imperialist beast where the terms of the struggle are defined by our oppressors. The facility head (warden) was upholding the improper rejections and subsequent appeals, knowing damn well it's illegal to ban publications solely because of its political content.

What this all boils down to, in the final analysis, is that they don't want us to learn political theory and critically recognize the situation that we find ourselves in, or the root cause of our oppression. They want us "politically dead," so that they can better control us and not have to worry about us transforming the criminal (lumpen) mentality into a revolutionary mentality and ushering forth the "new man" (within ourselves) to succeed the old, as both Malcolm X and Comrade George showed us we could through the process of study and self-reflection. The reactionaries and prisoncrats know that this sudden shift of revolutionary consciousness by the lumpen prisoners would create a "new situation," one that would no doubt threaten their control over us and make it possible for us to unite and move forward en masse against our oppressors, as Huey said, "with implacable fortitude."

My friends, you recognize the fact that the arbitrary censorship of ULK, a critical organizing tool that meets our educational and informational needs, is nothing more than a counter-revolutionary strategy by the prisoncrats to get ahead of the "revolutionary wave" and put down the new radical prison movement that is emerging. But, dialectical materialism teaches us that nothing can prevent this revolutionary process. The new always leap forth to succeed the old. In the words of Fanon: "The repressions, far from calling a halt to the forward rush of national consciousness, urge it on." So, understand the arbitrary censorship and political repression that a lot of us lumpen are facing, or will face in the future, by these reactionaries and their prison censors only expedites matters and moves the struggle forward to its ultimate conclusion. Therefore, cast away illusions and prepare for struggle against the prisoncrats' reactionary agenda to suppress political education among lumpen comrades (prisoners).

No doubt I will continue to battle censorship when it occurs on this end, but this must be a shared responsibility. We have to coordinate from both ends and concentrate our fire on this fascist agenda. There is pressure that can, and sometimes must, be brought to bear on the prison censors. Sometimes political pressure, in the form of telephone or email campaigns, should be exerted on the warden and the director about the censorship, demanding that the issue be corrected immediately or that the current prison censors be removed from their positions in the mail room. I believe we can wage a far more effective struggle against censorship this way. It will, at very least, give us a tactical advantage.


MIM(Prisons) responds: As some of our readers may have noticed, over the past year we've been able to step up the fight against censorship from the MIM(Prisons) side. Wherever our comrades behind bars are taking the initiative to appeal or protest censorship, we are also submitting letters of protest. We will always send you a copy of these letters, which are going to prison administrators and other relevant personnel. We agree with this writer that these censorship battles are most effective when it is a shared responsibility both from behind bars and on the streets.

So if you're fighting censorship of ULK or other mail we've sent, be sure to let us know so that we can support your battle with protests of our own. We won't always win, but we regularly have victories. And the outrageous rejections, as well as our victories, are reported in the "Censors in their own Words" articles we publish periodically in ULK and on our censorship reporting webpage. If you get notification of censorship, either from your prison, or from us, do your part to stop the prisoncrats from removing revolutionary education from the prisons by filing a grievance to protest the censorship. Put them on notice that you will not be silenced!

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[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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[Abuse] [Baraga Max Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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Formal Complaint, State of Michigan, County of Baraga

I, a 61-year old African American, confined in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), a resident at Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility (AMF), currently housing permanently in a stripped cell in segregation. I am writing this formal complaint on behalf of myself and others similarly situated.

This formal complaint is solely against michigan Criminal Justice System, and MDOC, and their Adminsitration and employees.

After returning to prsion August 30, 1991 with a 2 year to 20 year prison term for possession of powder cocain and crack cocain less than 50 grams. My basic information sheet indicated that my first out date with special good time was October 7, 1992 and my regular good time out date was December 23, 1992. And my special good time maximum out date was October 10, 2009 and regular good time maximum out date was July 13, 2013.

I was denied a parole release all the way up to 2013. Then while a resident at Alger Correctional Facility, on April 8, 2013 about 20 prison guards attacked me and beat up in bad shape. Then I was framed with two of the prison guards accusing me of assault and battery on prison employee. Then I wasn't allowed to have any witness testify on my behalf and I was not allwoed to give a statement on my behalf. No investigation was done on my behalf. The evidence of the video camera that were 15 yards away were withheld. The officers all twenty testified against me. The hearing officers found me guilty on both assault and battery charges. Then the two prison guards filed felony charges against me. The circuit court Judge appointed an attorney who wouldn't investigate the crime or call witnesses. I asked the judge to discontinue his services for lack of assistance. The next attorney refused to investigate also. I asked the Judge to discontinue his services and the Judge denied my request. I went to trial got found guilty and sentenced to 3.5 to 15, and 3.5 to life. The 3.5 to life was an illegal sentence. Then judge changed it to 3.5 years to 50 years. My first out date is July 21, 2017 and the parole board has already sent me an 18 month continuance in the mail without an interview.

I filed for an appeal and the court appointed appeal attorney refused to investigate my case and call witnesses. I have somewhat of the same problem with the court appointed attorney on the narcotic case that got me sent to prison. That attorney didn't investigate the scene of the crime or call witnesses, and he was absent at six of my court appearances, and even absent the day my trial was to start. I took a plea bargain for a 2 to 20 years because the attorney that stood in court for my attorney told me that I will be out on the streets in 90 days if I took the cop. Here it is 27 years later and i am still incarcerated after being framed with some trumped up felony charges.

I was facing a life maximum with the fourth degree habitual charge with the cocaine and crack case, and the assault and battery case also. The state is providing inadequate legal representation to defend felony cases. That's a prime example why about 95% of the felonies are resolved by way of plea bargains. Plus the courts are bullying the defendants with unlawful charges like habitual offender, consecutive sentences, high bonds, and the use of two numbers in the sentence. For instance, a 2 to 20 years is two different and separate sentences in itself. The 2 years is one term and the 20 years is another term.

I have spent approximately twenty years of my incarceratin in control units in level five (maximum security). Out of the 27 years I have been incarcerated twenty four of those years were spent in administrative segregation. At one point I did eleven straight years in segregation from 1998 to 2009 for a fake dangerous contraband infraction.

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[Organizing] [Kinross Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 52]
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Observing Sept 9 in Michigan

On the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity, I had a fast and did a lot of political study about the roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement by Comrade Chokwe Lumumba, Chair of the New Afrikan People's Organization who passed from this earthly life in May 2014. I also have been studying Under Lock & Key, Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons), and going over the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity study pack to keep me conscious of the ongoing war against imperialism and capitalism and the struggle that I'm going through with the prison system.

Ever since 9am we have been on a lockdown. The comrades in Level II in Kinross have done a protest because of the living conditions, the food, and no fans and heat, and this actually started on September 9. Prisoners walked out of their job assignments, so the unsecured Level I prisoners who work in the kitchen served the Level II prisoners brown bag meals. They have Level I and II prisoners on lockdown, but they let us go to the dayrooms, but we can't use the telephones or J-Pay machines. It's truly a surprise to me that they are starting to stand up and fight for their rights instead of fighting against each other.

We need collective solidarity and unity against the injustice of Michigan DOC corruption, because this prison system is corrupted to its very core. This is why we must educate ourselves and get with prisoners' organization in this struggle. We all know and understand that this prison system must be dismantled and abolished!

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[United Front] [Idealism/Religion] [Michigan]
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Response to ULK 48 on Islam and United Front Organizing

I received ULK 48, thank you. From 1998 to right after the towers fell in New York, I received MIM Notes, which were instrumental in my politicalization and capacity to be critical with information. Hopefully re-connecting with MIM will aid me in similar if not greater ways.

As far as the ULK 48, dedicated to the discussion of religious organizations in prison, I would like to add a few observations, critiques and opinions that may aid in better understanding what I consider, the functional limits of prison religious organizations.

I preface the following by stating that like many young, impressionable Black males who entered the Michigan penal system in the mid-1990s, I was heavily recruited by a non-orthodox Islamic sect. It was part religious, part Black nationalist, part civic, radical in the sense that it gave it to the grey and black as well as it took it, but the religious organization was mostly philosophically and ideologically backwards. No clearly defined political lines, no effort toward developing social change theory, and no revolutionary practices or principles cognizable to a revolutionary novice, let alone a seasoned agent for change.

However, the group did introduce me to books, which I fell in love with after spending four years in solitary confinement where there was little else to do besides read to escape the attendant activities characteristic of that environment. In the beginning, narrow nationalism and Islamic related literature is all I read. Far more lasting than any specific set of facts or pieces of knowledge obtained, reading provided me with the understanding of how to acquire knowledge on my own. I learned how to read an essay closely, search for new sources, find data to prove or disprove a hypothesis, and detect an author's prejudice, among other skills, that were not promoted during my K-12 educational experience.

Considering the inescapable oppression of long term solitary confinement, it was inevitable that my attention would be turned to ideas and actions I could take to prevent future experiences of isolation, for myself as well as others. Trying to pray or wish my problems away proved extremely ineffective. I abandoned closing my eyes and hoping for a different reality when I opened them, rather quickly. But I do feel indebted to the group for leading me to books - prior to prison I had never read a book from cover to cover, or for more than entertainment.

After reading ULK 48, the first question that comes to mind is, do religious groups in Michigan prisons possess any power - real or latent - to stimulate and direct constructive social change? Or are they, too, victims of the overall U.S. capitalist structure?

While I'm aware that many people would answer these questions in many different ways, I observe that religion plays chiefly a cathartic role for the imprisoned. It provides an opportunity for followers to "let off steam," to seek release for emotions which cannot be expressed to administrators and guards without consequences. Prison religious organizations are social and recreational and a haven for comfort, no matter how illusory or temporary. Within these groups imprisoned people can assume responsibilities and authority not available elsewhere in the prison. For example, s/he can be the head of security, treasurer or public relations director. Only within the religious organization can imprisoned people engage in political intrigue and participate in decisions open to non-imprisoned people.

The potential power of religious organizations in prison is the ability to attract large numbers of imprisoned people. Although their ability to recruit is severely being challenged here in Michigan by the rise of street organizations i.e., gangs, whose numbers have skyrocketed in the last ten years. Among their more flagrant weaknesses is the fact that their potential strengths can all too easily be dissipated by preoccupation with trivial matters (e.g., did Moses part the Red Sea; did Jesus walk on water; what did Muhammad say about facial hair, eating pork, or what activities should be performed with the left hand?), and the desperate struggle for the empty status, bombast, and show of the prison world.

It is not inevitable, and virtually impossible to politicalize and transform members of these groups into social change agents when religious doctrines emphasize the idea of someone other than you/me/us possessing the power to change present reality: the instruments of escape, weapons of protest, the protective fortress behind which adherents seek to withstand the assaults of a hostile environment and within which s/he plans strategies of defiance, is prayer.

It is no wonder then why imprisoned people who have been politicalized tend to reject religious organizations as a multiple symbol of fantasy; and tend to regard prison religious organizations as basically irrelevant to challenging the hard and difficult realities of capitalism, white supremacy, police powers that can reach all the way into one's bedroom or a woman's womb, and so on.

That this is not more widely recognized by members of these groups may be in part because religious organizations are not an effective model of critical thinking. The fact that religious organizations are the most pervasive groups in Michigan prisons, and the fact that they do not play any measurable role dissenting or resisting the frustrating, oppressive, degrading experience of incarceration, are cruelly related.

If religious organizations are a powerful social force, either the facility, Central Office, or the State would severely restrict/eliminate them. The facade of power which these groups now present would be removed. Think about it, most religious meetings in prison go unsupervised.

Members of these groups hold on to the idea that an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present being will save them at some appointed time and date, while this being had neglected their other needs as human beings. The punishment of "crime" is a political act. It represents the use of force by the State to control the lives of people the State has defined as criminal. No concerted political efforts have been made by these groups to deal with the politics, i.e., the underlying causes of incarceration.

My objective is not to argue that religious belief and political consciousness are incompatible. Speculation on that level is pointless and irrelevant for the purpose of this discussion. However, the simple truth is that the trouble imprisoned people find themselves in, the sham and corruption, the class and race biases of criminal law enforcement, cannot be solved unless imprisoned people feel obligated to learn about systems of power, privilege and oppression, and also feel obligated to do something about them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is correct to point out that there are significant limitations to religious organizations, whether behind bars or on the streets. And ultimately only by targeting the underlying systems of oppression will we put an end to criminal injustice and imperialism. However, what this letter does not address is the distinction of some of the more anti-imperialist religious movements like Islam. As we argued in ULK 48 "Just as religion is today an outlet for many radical youth in the Third World, religion has been influenced by revolutionary politics in the context of New Afrika. In the 20th century we see a turn towards Islam by a number of New Afrikans who are searching for identity and liberation from oppression by Amerika." We do not push people towards religion, but at the same time we look to unite with those whose religion is compatible with or promoting national liberation. We have a good historical example of this united front in the Christian liberation theologists in Latin America who were a part of revolutionary national liberation struggles in that part of the world starting in the 1950s.

Uniting with organizations that do not share our political line entirely is part of united front organizing. We focus on the principal contradiction, and unite with others who agree with this goal, while retaining independence to make clear where we disagree politically. In a united front led by communists religious groups can be important allies. But we should always be clear that true equality for all people will not be achieved through belief in a higher power or any other unscientific mysticism.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Michigan]
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Fight Security Threat Group Policies in Michigan

This article is about the Michigan Department of Corruptions (MDOC) and the status of Security Threat Group (STG) that needs to be challenged and abolished because it violates prisoners' human and civil rights. The Constitution has been violated by the MDOC, and this new policy is discriminatory, biased, ambiguous in its language, and contradicts other policies in place.

I am going to analyze the STG policy to show the human and constitutional rights violations. With the MDOC the number one thing is "security," and everything else comes later. Before any kind of policy changes take place, there is supposed to be a "Notice of Memorandum" posted in all the housing units 30 days before it goes into effect, and prisoners have the right to challenge the new policy. This procedure has been completely stopped. First look at the STG policy.

Prison policy statement:


"Effective monitoring of Security Threat Group (STG) activity assists in the prevention of violence and ensures the overall security of the facility. The strategic intelligence gained through monitoring is critical to understanding the group dynamics involved in the introduction of contraband, escape plots, and violence related to disputes, debt collections, and other STG influence activities. Prisoners who are identified as members of a STG shall be managed in a uniform manner in order to provide a safe and secure environment for prisoners, staff and facility operations."

Prison policy definition:


"Suspected STG member: an offender who has not been designated as a STG member but is being monitored as a STG associate, is connected to and/or interests, is with known STG members, is involved in STG related activity or is in possession of STG materials."

Now compare it to the Constitution and United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners from Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by resolution 663 C (X-XIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 31 May 1977.


"Guiding principles
* The prison system must not aggravate unnecessarily the suffering inherent to a prisoner's loss of self-determination and liberty.
* Prisoners could utilize all remedial educational, medical, and spiritual forms of assistance to treat the prisoner's needs and facilitate his return to society as a law-abiding member.

"Education and Recreation
* The ongoing education of prisoners is to be facilitated, and schooling of illiterate and youthful prisoners is to be considered compulsory.
* Recreation and cultural activities are to be made available."

Prison policy: Removal of STG designation FF

"Each STG coordinator shall review the cases of all prisoners designated STG I or II in their facility at least annually to determine whether the STG designation should be removed or modified. This review shall be documented in the department's computerized database."

The removal from STG designation status sounds real good but in reality this isn't happening because this policy is written but not put into practice. The STG coordinator is refusing to even answer prisoners' requests. This is wrong and should be corrected as soon as possible. All prisoners designated STG should challenge this policy and have their family members get involved with this fight because this is a bold policy and it needs to be abolished.

Comrades we need to take out time and build universities out of these slave plantations and study and understand the law. We also need to understand that the DOC is an oppressor and they are always thinking of new ways to oppress prisoners. So we are going to have to step our game up to fight them at every step. These STG policies are to oppress prisoners. The MDOC has created separate STG housing for prisoners up north, called Earth East and West, just like in California's Security Housing Units.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are seeing a growth in so-called Security Threat Group policies in prisons across the United $tates. Pretending to be keeping the prisons safe from "gang" activity, these policies are used to target politically active prisoners. People with influence on the yard, who are successfully organizing others to fight for their rights end up getting "validated" as a security threat. And the vague policies and definitions of STG members allow prisons to use these policies to target whomever they like.

In reality lumpen organizations are important behind prison walls. They can provide needed protection and a base for education and organizing. But some engage in activities that harm other prisoners. While fighting STG validation policies in general we need to work to educate these groups about the importance of turning their focus to building peace among prisoners so that we can unite in the fight against the criminal injustice system. This is the important work of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. And through the UFPP we will build the power to successfully challenge these STG policies that are being used to torture our comrades behind bars.

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[Gang Validation] [Baraga Max Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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False Gang Validation in Michigan

I've been designated as an STG II "gang leader" since 13 March 2006. The Michigan prison system does not have a real gang problem, 85% of the gang designations are bogus, and there is a complete lack of insight on culture and religion in the minds of these pigs.

At this facility, Baraga Max Correctional, there are a total of seven level 5 units. Three of the seven are Ad-Seg; "the hole." Each unit has eighty eight prisoners. Of the 264 prisoners housed in Ad-Seg, 85% are Black/Brown. Of that 85% nearly 3 out of 5 prisoners are designated Security Threat Group (STG) prisoners. The prison administration does not issue special clothes, or name tags, or special housing units, or recreation yards for STG inmates. Yet, the prison administration penalizes non-STG inmates for "socializing, working out, and generally being around STG inmates"!

More importantly, as I stated above, these pigs are not truly qualified or educated in gang culture to be given the power and authority to destroy and oppress and label anybody STG. In order to do this they must be well in tune with what is a gang sign, who is a gang member, what particular banner, colors, words, and origin of things and they are not! The truth is, the state, Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), has a financial incentive to put and keep as many Black/Brown prisoners on STG as possible because by doing so, the MDOC can then claim they need more money for more weapons, shock cuffs, taserz, and convince the state legislators that these so-called level 5 facilities need to stay open. These rural prisons employ thousands of pigs, and have brought great economical wealth to the parts of the state where these pigs had no other means of employment. So by keeping the STG numbers sky high, the state makes it look like they have a real gang problem.

Now, for prisoners like myself who are designated the highest stage of STG, which is Step II, and are labeled a leader or enforcer of a gang, the prison considers school to be a privilege not a mandatory aspect of prison. Not even cell study is allowed. Why? Are not gang leaders in need of education? Are we so dangerous in our small concrete graves that we might spark revolution through the contents of math, history, art and science?

For those fortunate enough to have an out date and who are able to see the parole board, policy states that prisoners must have a GED or be in school to make parole. So, where does that leave thousands of prisoners in the MDOC who are designated STG with a parole date, but without a high school diploma or GED. This is called executive oppression.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisons across the country are using gang validation as an excuse to fill and expand prison control units. By manufacturing or exaggerating a "gang problem" they are able to justify requests for expanded funds and facilities. At the same time, this "gang problem" can be used to keep prisoners who are considered troublemakers, often the most politically advanced and active behind bars, from access to education and away from others who they might educate and organize. These are all reasons why we must fight to shut down prison control units, while explaining clearly why gang validation is a tool of social control in Amerikan prisons.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Censorship] [Michigan]
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Michigan Uses Control Units to Punish Activists

I've been confined in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) 23/1 lockdown for a mysterious dangerous weapon which was claimed to be found in my cell. I am considered to be a leader of a Security Threat Group (STG) and my political views and my choice to pursue activism, and communism, has unlawfully become an institutional justification to deny my access to you, to educational reading material, and more importantly I've been buried alive in a seg unit.

I'm escorted with full body restraints and a dog leash as if I am an animal. The administration claims that MIM(Prisons) is a threat to the order of the facility, yet no hearing officer has ever been able to point out or identify any indirect or direct word or words that encourages, promotes, or glorifies violence. On the contrary, oppression and injustice of any kind is not accepted or welcomed in the MIM(Prisons) publications. Anyone or any organization that fights for justice, fights for fair treatment in and out of the prison system, and anyone that opposes a system built on oppression and slavery will be considered an enemy of the state. I will not abandon MIM(Prisons), nor my constitutional rights to pursue education, equality, justice and freedom as a human being.

The conditions of my people are a direct reflection of the bigotry and intentional misuse of authority by the government of the United States of Amerika. The prison system in Michigan took college courses out of the prison while claiming not to have money.

By classifying someone (as an STG) the state receives more money from the government. Once a prisoner has been given the label of a "gang member" the prisoner has to remain in maximum security (level 5) where the prisoner has to go 3 years misconduct-free before the STG Coordinator will interview the prisoner and determine if s/he will be let off of STG. The problem is 85% of prisoners classified as STG aren't gang members, and have been classified STG because the system uses it as a disciplinary scare tactic to flip prisoners against each other, and as a way to justify "selective treatment" towards prisoners who refuse to accept oppression, corruption, injustice, racism, etc.

MIM(Prisons)'s publications stand as a lifeline for freedom fighters in prison and therefore MIM(Prisons)'s publication has been placed on the prison's restricted list. I can not find the words that will truly capture the magnitude of my appreciation for you and the supporters of MIM(Prisons). But please understand that I will never surrender to these legalized criminals clothed in the fabric of the department of corrections.

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[Mental Health] [Michigan]
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September 9: We Need to Remember This Day

never forget Attica September 9 1971
Each and every prisoner should remember this day as the anniversary of September 9, 1971 because of these comrades and freedom revolutionary fighters, who fought and died in the prison uprising at Attica to fight the oppression, exploitation, abuse and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

A lot of rights and privileges prisoners have today came about through these warriors and true liberation soldiers at war with this corrupt DOC throughout this country.

It's necessary we reconstruct our thoughts on imprisonment of New Afrikans or Latino Nations. In reality the reason there is so little discussion or debate concerning this topic is because far too many of us are engrossed and trapped in major media for our information. Simply by investigating alternative news/information, we would find factual information on various experiments being conducted on our New Afrikan prisoners across the country. Prisoner modification specialist are performing massive "biological" and "chemical" experiments illegally and daily on New Afrikans, for the sole purpose of controlling their minds. For example, a large number of New Afrikan prisoners were forced to undergo electro shock treatment under orders of a Dr. Martin Groder. The same Groder who in 1962 gave a seminar on brainwashing prisoners and, according to Jessica Mitford's article "Kind and Usual Punishment," the treatment only targeted New Afrikan prisoners, because they were labeled as trouble makers for refusing to follow rules which stripped them of any thought of humanity, viewing themselves as less than human. (Truth Telling Report of 2007 by Bro. Najee J. Ingian. Aldaurum Publishing, St. Louis, MO. Aldaurum pub.)

Ever since the rebellion at Attica, the Department of Criminal justice has been coming up with ways and ideas for controlling prison populations. In the state of Michigan, MDOC instituted tasers to control prisoners and they have a lot of snitches feeding the pigs information and many prisoners are getting cases and put in the hole or transferred to other institutions, and there are no communications throughout the prison system to other prisoners. In addition, if your people from the outside send you a message, if the inspector catch it, your pay will be closed down for months at a time.

Many rights and privileges the comrades at Attica and others fought and suffered and died for are being overturned by the MDOC. I will extend honors to all the comrades of the Attica rebellion and other prisoner's struggles throughout the United $tates. All I can say is fight on, struggle on and all you have to lose is your chains!

USW leaders I want to thank you for standing up strong behind the enemy lines and working to educate the lumpen because I know these comrades are very hard headed and think they know everything. But being upright, independent and fearless, against all odds and not fearing the outcome of whatever, this is what a true USW is all about. So free your minds from the control of the belly of the beast! We got to continue and strive, struggle and fight in this world revolutionary war that is going on against oppression, exploitation, racism, sexism and injustice and demand freedom for all prisoners throughout the world. This is truly a day of solidarity and every September 9 is a day of remembrance for all comrades in every prison throughout the world.

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