Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Michigan Prisons

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www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Civil Liberties] [Ionia Maximum Facility] [State Correctional Institution Frackville] [California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison] [Michigan] [Pennsylvania] [California]
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Censorship and Repression of Black August/September 9th Commemorations

On 12 August 2021, staff member Karber at Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan censored Under Lock & Key 74 for the reason: “Pages 8 & 9 calling for Prisoners to organize for uprising for an up coming date.” These pages featured our center spread on Black August and the September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. It is interesting that the oppressor sees prisoners coming together for peace and unity as an “uprising” and something that is deemed a threat to security (which would be necessary to lawfully censor any reading material in the United $tates).

On 7 September 2021, the staff in the mailroom at SCI Frackville in Pennsylvania disliked the same pages and censored ULK 74 for “Information on Page 8 Calls for Action (September 9).” In Amerikan prisons people do not enjoy the civil rights many Amerikans hold so dear. Their right to grieve or in this case to take an “action” is deemed illegal and punished. Banning peaceful protest and other such actions in prisons leads to violence.

Meanwhile a USW comrade in California reported,

“C.O. Solerio [a white female] emailed a Mental Health/Death Doctor a referral against me for displaying erratic behavior. I was exercising and calling cadence out loud ?? As is my custom, I commemorate Black August by demonstrating physical fitness and oratory skills, loud and proud, wherever I be. This year’s action continues to be opposed by C.O.s obsessed with social control.”

This comrade was in quarantine isolation, where ey could not organize eir normal group activities for Black August.

While the President offers up Juneteenth and Indigenous People’s Day as sanctioned celebrations, the imperialists simultaneously repress those trying to commemorate holidays that represent resistance to oppression. In case anyone was fooled into thinking that we’re all equal now.

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[Prison Labor] [Chippewa Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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Survey on Prisoner Labor: Chippewa Correctional Facility

  1. Chippewa Correctional Facility, Michigan

  2. A little less than a third of the prison population has a job.

  3. Manufacturing 30% Agriculture 20% Prison maintenance 55% including porters, kitchen crew, yard crew and recreation workers. Other 10% including wheelchair pushers, officer bootshiners.

  4. Manufacturing items are items that are made for prison inmates i.e. shoes, pants, shirts, coats and repair. Agriculture products are donated, not sold.

  5. Kitchen workers make, starting out, 17.5 cents an hour. Porters make $18-23 a month, yard crew makes $30-75 a month, factory workers $75-100 a month and garden workers make $35-75 a month.

  6. Prisoners all work for the state

  7. Prisoners work usually anywhere from 15 hours a week doing porter jobs opening 40 hours roughly as a regular porter or yard workers. Yard workers can work 50-60 hours in winter shoveling snow. Factory workers work 10 hours a day 5 days a week.

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[Drugs] [Michigan]
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Suboxone Warning from the MDOC

Here in the Michigan Department of Corrections(MDOC), like in any amerikan prison, we have drugs. We have weed, cocaine, heroin, even meth; but what we have the most of is not the drugs you get form your neighborhood dealer, no. We got drugs straight form the manufacturer the ones you get doctors to prescribe and then get a monthly “script” of 30 to 120. I’m talking about a drug who is so closely related to its hot older sister they’re basically twins. I’m talking about suboxone: subs, strips, strippers, orange slices, because they are orange and have the lovely smell of oranges coming off of them. Suboxone has become the number 1 choice in the drug trade: it dominates all others, even heroin. Impossible right? No, don’t even think. Its perfect small little paper thin strips that only take up maybe the length of a stamp and only need a 16th of it to get blown away. You can sell a 16th of a strip which is smaller than the whites of your fingernail. As much as real deal Big Poppa heroin is, it is nothing compared to “subs.” They are small – very potent – and are guaranteed by the manufacturer to get you high every time on a consistent basis. Anyone who was on the Dog or Heroin takes to it like a fat kid at the buffet line. It’s no surprise that this drug is used for heroin addicts to come off of heroin it is so close I honestly see people trading heroin addiction to sub addiction.

Around 2012 is when I first heard of subs. In 2013, I saw the problems of them such as the quick money which they bring because of the easy ways their smuggled into the prison system. I saw how easily it was taken by guys who never had done things like heroin. Like the crack dealer trying his own stuff, these guys tried it too cause what do you do when you sit around making money all day and the only things you have to do are either get high or sell. Lots of people sell the strips but everyone does them. It don’t matter Black, White, or Hispanic: all of them.

The thing about strips that people fail to realize is that it is a drug: a drug to help people get “off” heroin. But because it comes from a doctor and is handed out at every rehab facility across Amerika, nobody thinks it is addictive. I’ve seen it and it’s just as bad no worse than crack or Heroin. I’ve even seen suboxone on T.V. being handed out to heroin addicted teens as an intervention. Doctors handing this drug out on T.V. says a lot about how people perceive this miracle drug. Just like how oxycontin and fentanyl became the miracle drug for pain which led to the opiate epidemic. That only trades who you buy the opioids from because when you ran outta oxycontin or vicodens, you could go to the dope man and get a blow pack of heroin for a fraction of the price. Now you can get it from the doctor no problem. Being an affiliated member of a large Latin organization, I’ve seen guys go from selling it making money to running around robbing Peter to pay Paul selling his shoes to finally getting knocked out because he has not paid his debts.

Not only does this drug slip past your normal “say no to drugs” defense; not only does it slowly take control of your measly life in prison. It lulls you into this docile scared state where you are no longer the proud man that held his head high and looked your problems right in the eye, but who is now feeling like scum beneath one’s shoe, and when people see the weakness in you they pounce. They pounce so hard and so fast. The homies I thought were giants have tucked tail and ran away thanks to strips: this miracle drug for heroin and opioid addicts. This drug that can be so lucrative in the prison system that is so lucrative to Big pharma has made our men – our brothers and our fathers – into cowards. This drug takes away your will to fight and stand tall and to me if that don’t scream to you that this government is trying to destroy the hearts and minds of the proletariat – the workers – who bleed for every dollar who get coddled by big pharma to take their opioids for pain and then their suboxone to get off the opioids. Then you’re a damn zombie and are now hopeless and what do you do with an animal that is beyond hope… bang!

It is my hope though that for your sake and everyone else’s that learn to see the sign of addiction and stop them. It’s important to have a hardliner stance on taking suboxone for any reason: it is a very addictive drug and should be treated as heroin is. And like heroin it should be avoided at all costs: this is the only way to keep you and your compañeros from falling victim to this dangerous drug.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We echo this comrade’s conclusion that drugs, like prisons, are being used for social control.(1)

As we wrote in ULK 59, discussing our survey results on drugs in prisons:

Our survey showed significant abuse of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. In the 1970s Methadone clinics, backed by the Rockefeller Program, became big in New York. The state even linked welfare benefits to these services. Yet, Mutulu Shakur says, “In New York City, 60 percent of the illegal drugs on the street during the early ’70s was methadone. So we could not blame drug addiction at that time on Turkey or Afghanistan or the rest of that triangle.”(2) Revolutionaries began to see this drug that was being used as treatment as breaking up the revolutionary movement and the community. Mitulu Shakur and others in the Lincoln Detox Center used acupuncture as a treatment for drug addiction. Lincoln Detox is an example of an independent institution developed by communists to combat drug addiction in the United $tates.(2)

Our 2017 survey revealed Suboxone as the latest scourge coming to prison systems in the northeast.(3) And it is making it’s way across the country. While it hit Michigan in 2012, it has just hit California in the last couple years. To document this shift we are asking our readers to submit to us your responses to the following brief survey. We especially want to hear from those of you on the West Coast, where suboxone was not being reported 4 years ago.

Drugs in Prison Survey 2

  1. Please rank the most common drugs/intoxicants in your prison and answer the following questions for each one:
  1. What percentage of people use this substance in your prison? You can use percentages or think of it in terms of if you picked 10 random people from the prison, how many of them would use the drug – 1 in 10? 5 in 10?

  2. Are there certain groups, nationalities, agegroups, etc that seem to prefer this substance?

  3. If you have been in that system for more than a year, have you seen the use of this substance increase? or decrease? or stay the same?

  4. What are the health impacts of this substance on the population?

  5. What are the social impacts of this substance on the population? (ie. more fighting, more passivity, more/less socializing, more/less community, what activities would people likely be doing if it weren’t this drug)

  1. Are there conditions on prisoners abilities to receive suboxone? For example, do you have to attend any other treatment like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) classes for the duration of your prescription?

  2. Are suboxone doses generally lowered over time, or can patients stay on suboxone for as long as they want?

  3. Have you seen effective efforts by prisoners to organize against drug use and its effects? If so, please describe them.

  4. Would you be interested in implementing a revolutionary 12 Step program that is focused on transforming ourselves to serve the people and transform society?

Notes: 1. see the book Drugs As Weapons Against Us by John Potash.
2. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key 59: The Drug Issue.
3. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Opioids on the Rise Again Under Imperialism, Under Lock & Key 59: The Drug Issue.

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[Abuse] [Grievance Process] [Hunger Strike] [Legal] [Medical Care] [Baraga Max Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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Torture and Abuse of Hunger Striker at Baraga Max Correctional Facility, Michigan

[Text of a Grievance Form to the Michigan Department of Corrections]

I am coming to you because I am experiencing discrimination, retaliation, and cruel and unusual punishment here at your Facility. These violations of my constitutionally protected rights revolves around me exercising my First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and seek redress from the prison by engaging in a hunger strike pursuant to Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike”.

On June 11, 2020, A/Sgt. Larson informed me that he has orders to conduct a strip search on my person and to move me to observation cell #1-144 under the authority of A/ADW S. Niemi. I voiced my complaint to A/Sgt Larson that moving me to an observation cell has no merit because I am already being strictly monitored and closely observed every 15 minutes by a qualified “prisoner of assistance” (POA) per the likes of A/warden K.Taskila. I then went on to state that nowhere in Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike” does it state that a prisoner engaging in a hunger strike shall be placed in an observation cell. With this being duly noted, I told A/Sgt Larson that I am being specifically discriminated against and unfairly singled out for exercising my First Amendment Right to peacefully assemble and seek redress from the prison by engaging in a hunger strike pursuant to Policy Directive 04.06.120 because no one else who has ever engaged in such activities were forced to submit to the type of punishment that I am being forced to endure simply for exercising my rights. A/Sgt Larson stated in response: “I know, but at the end of the day, I still have a job to do and orders to follow if I want to keep my job.” I stated to A/Sgt Larson that I will not comply with the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi until I’ve had a chance to speak with A/ADW S. Niemi in person. At this time, A/Sgt Larson stated “okay” and walked away from my cell door.

Approximately 15 minutes later, a member of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) showed up to my cell door dressed in full tactical gear to warn me through intimidation that his team is authorized by Deputy Warden D. Peterson to deploy the use of chemical agent against my being in order to make me comply with the orders that were given by A/ADW S. Niemi. I stated to this member of the ERT that I comply with the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi only if I am afforded the opportunity to speak with him in person first. I then went on to reiterate that moving me to an observation cell simply has no merit because I am already being strictly monitored and closely observed every 15 minutes by a qualified POA per the likes of A/warden K. Taskila. I also voiced my complaint that forcing me to strip search also has no merit because it is not directly related to any legitimate penological interests nor does my behavior warrant any suspicions. I stated to this member of the ERT that forcing me to strip search in front of a bunch of men is excessive and is strictly intended to harass, intimidate, and punish me for exercising my First Amendment right to peacefully assemble and seek redress from the Prison by engaging in a hunger strike pursuant to Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike”. Additionally, I state that the orders given by Deputy Warden D. Peterson to deploy the use of chemical agent against my being to make me comply to A/ADW S. Niemi’s orders is an act retaliation, excessive force, and discrimination because no one else who has ever exercised their First Amendment right to hunger Strike has been forced to endure the humiliation of being forced to strip search without cause and forced to move to an observation cell with extreme lighting to disrupt sleep patterns and without any electrical outlets to watch television. The member of the ERT stated that he agrees with me that I am being punished but he doesn’t have the authority nor the rank to override the orders of his superiors. I ended our conversation by stating that I would like to speak with A/ADW S. Niemi and Deputy Warden D. Peterson in person as they are both the issuing parties of these discriminatory and retaliatory orders. The ERT member stated “okay” and walked away from my cell door.

Approximately 15 minutes later, a group of ERT members, accompanied by the presence of A/Sgt Larson, showed up to my door and stated that they are authorized to deploy the use of chemical agent against my person if I do not comply with the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi. I told A/Sgt Larson and the members of the ERT that I will not comply with the orders to strip search unlawfully and move to an observation cell until I am afforded the opportunity to speak with A/ADW S. Niemi and Deputy Warden D. Peterson. As I began to reiterate all of my complaints of retaliation, discrimination, and cruel and unusual punishment, A/Sgt Larson acted with excessive force by deploying two (2) rounds of chemical agent against my person. As the chemical agent overwhelmed my ability to breath, I had no other option but to submit to the humiliating and groundless strip search in order to leave the saturated confines of my cell and reach fresh air.

After I was forcefully removed from my cell (1-129) and placed in a restraint chair (even though I was not showing any signs of aggression), I was taken to the nursing station to be evaluated by a medical professional. The evaluation only consisted of checking my vitals, nothing more. I was then placed in an observation cell (1-144) without being given any access to a proper eye washing station to clean the chemical agent out of my eyes. I was also denied the opportunity to take a shower by the medical professional, members of the Emergency Response Team, and A/Sgt Larson alike; which hindered my ability to properly remove the chemical agent from my skin. Due to the deliberate denial of treatment in this matter, I was forced to endure the adverse effects of lingering particles of chemical agent in my eyes and on my skin which continued to inflict me with pain up to two (2) days after the incident took place.

I am now being forced to dwell in an observation cell which has no power outlets whit obstructs my ability to watch television, and which is constantly illuminated which disrupts my sleeping patterns overall. Nowhere in Policy Directive 04.06.120 “Hunger Strike” does it state that a prisoner shell be placed in an observation cell while he is engaging in a hunger strike (Policy Directive 04.06.120 is attached and marked as Exhibit A). Nor does it state that a prisoner engaged in a hunger strike shall submit to a strip search that doesn’t serve a legitimate penological interest. Therefore, the orders given by A/ADW S. Niemi and Deputy Warden D. Peterson were strictly intended to maliciously and sadistically cause harm.

[… the grievance goes on to state specific claims of the violations of this prisoner’s rights, asks for relevant video documentation and requests that staff involved be punished, that the prisoner be transferred for fear of retaliation and that he be awarded financial compensation.]

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[Censorship] [Thumb Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 70]
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No Postage Stamps Allowed on Michigan Mail

Our most recent censorship notice came from GOA T. Bates at Thumb Correctional Facility in Michigan. The reason our mail was censored? “MAIL - WITH LABEL AND POSTAGE STAMP”. So you can send mail to prisoners in Michigan as long as you don’t put a postage stamp on it. Do they understand how the postal service works?

Of course they do. Violations of our First Amendment rights for illogical reasons is common occurrence here in these United $nakes. There are no rights that we don’t stand up for and defend. Right now we are behind on fighting censorship battles, and we could use your help in increasing the pressure on such egregious cases as this.

See our prison censorship database for examples of protest letters, and our legal/caselaw page for existing court precedents. Please email us any letters you send, or let us know about any phone calls you make. We are eager to help people, especially friends and family of our subscribers, join in our anti-censorship efforts!

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[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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