Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Michigan Prisons

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

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

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

[Abuse] [Pine River Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
expand

Toxic Water at Pine River in Michigan

I know the water here is severely polluted here from the big PBB (fire retardant) scare back in the day, when some knucklehead mixed it into feed. The state, in another brilliant knee-jerk reaction, had all the PBB-tainted cattle slaughtered and buried here in St. Louis right next to the river. So naturally all the local water is toxic. Plus, a nearby abandoned chemical plant, formerly owned by Velsicol Chemical Co, is leaking chemicals into the ground water and river from rusting barrels, vats and unmarked buried areas on the 52-acre grounds.

This plant is one of the country's largest Superfund clean up sites, known as the Pine River Superfund clean up, and the EPA has already spent $51 million removing and hauling away sediment from the river bottom and running the water through a high tech treatment plant. Estimates in 2004 were for $100 million to finish the job but the Superfund is out of money and the containment, known as non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) is still oozing into the river and they don't know the exact source. They say this NAPL is composed of 82% DDT, and a host of other toxic chemicals including chlorobenzene, a known carcinogen. (See Greg Nelson, "Pine River cleanup funds secure for now," and "Task force seeks origin of 'cocktail,'" The Saginaw News, c. 2004; and Brad Heath, "Delayed toxic cleanup puts public at risk," The Detroit News, 8/9/2004, p1A&7A.)

All the staff claim they drink the water and there is no longer a problem but you'll never actually see them drink the water. We, however, have no choice. I'll probably arrange to have a sample smuggled out and tested like I did in '94. Yep, that one was toxic. Horrifying yet not surprising at all.

chain
[Political Repression] [Kinross Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Punitive transfers in Michigan

My transfer was the inevitable response of Kinross Correctional Facility's (KCF) administration to my aggressive pro-prisoner stance as an elected prisoner representative. Apparently, the KCF administration felt threatened by the performance of my duty, as a member of the Prisoner Benefit Fund (PBF) Committee, by addressing the removal and destruction of PBF purchased books from the KCF library by Librarian Debra Herbig and the theft of several large spools of cable and numerous cable junction boxes, intended for the upgrade of our cable TV system, by the head of maintenance.

I was not alone in this as my fellow prisoner rep and PBF Committee member was similarly transferred. Said transfers were retaliatory and punitive, as the prisons we were transferred to are notoriously rotten prisons. Moreover, the KCF administration did not want to deal with the other issues we raised, such as the flagrant exploitation of our labor power (we paraphrased the similar demand of the Attica State Prison rebellion), the horrifying conditions in KCFs segregation unit, which clearly constitute torture, and the purposed scheduling of our PBF fundraiser during the Ramadan fast.

chain
[Gender] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Rising incarceration rates of women and the destruction of family and community in Amerika

In the midst of Amerika's soaring prison and jail population, quite possibly the country's only real growth industry, what is often overlooked is the destruction it is wreaking on family and community. For all their polemics about "family values," no Republican or Democratic presidential candidate bothered to address, or even "spin" the subject on any level. This alone should be enough to alert any person of good conscience to the fact that something is afoot and to the distinct probability that these acts of omissions add up to a purposed agenda of the state and the powers it represents.

As of June 30, 2006, there were 2,245,189 persons incarcerated in the united $tates. That is 1 out of every 133 Amerikans and the highest per capita incarceration rates in history. This is a 2.8% increase over the previous year, and this rising incarceration rate has been rapidly accelerating since the 1960s. This trend is accompanied by an increasing racial disparity, with 4.8% of all Black men, 1.8% of all Hispanic men, and .7% of all white men in the united $tates incarcerated. Most alarming, however, is the 4.8% increase in the incarceration rate of women, as compared to 2.7% for men, for a total of 111,403 in prison as of June 30, 2006, with Black women incarcerated at nearly 4 times the rate of white women and more than twice the rate of Hispanic women. (See Bureau of Justice Statistics, [ul]Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006[/ul], NCJ217675 (June 2007)).

Moreover, the Washington DC-based Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP) statistically analyzed prison population trends in all 50 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and projected the total prison population, not including jail, will increase by 192,023 to 1.7 million between 2007 and 2011. That's three times the growth of the u$ population and an overall increase of 13%, comprised of 12% for men and 16% for women. (See PSPP, [ul]Public Safety, Public Spending, Forecasting Amerika's Prison Population 2007-2011[/ul]).

As shown by these statistics and projections, '07 through '11 are going to be lucky years for the prison industry but not for the persons included in and affected by them, particularly, women and their families. To argue that these numbers point to some accidental anomaly would strain the bonds of credulity past the breaking point, as they represent nothing less than the achieved goal of state repression of so-called minority communities in Amerika, with said goal encompassing the destruction of family as well. "Minorities" first, then everyone else.

These statistics serve to reveal and confirm the long-term pattern of intentional destruction of community and family in the ghettos and barrios of Amerika that already struggle for existence under a virtual police siege and occupation. The state has come to recognize that, with most of the men incarcerated, the women, our mothers and daughters, are still carrying on - the glue holding family and community together - so it has set about to eliminate them via incarceration. The final stage in the planned destruction of women's continued ability to resist the state's destruction of their families and communities.

This plan includes redlining by insurance companies and a direct attack on home ownership by refusing to offer reasonable mortgages in "minority" communities and, instead, offering subprime and adjustable rate mortgages, with women much more likely to be saddled with a bad mortgage than men, a good credit rating not withstanding. Further, with only starvation-wage employment available to them, many of these women are forced to subsist on welfare. The December 1, 2007, New York Times reported that almost half the states refuse to pass on the money collected for child support to the families on welfare, with most of the remaining states only passing along $50 per month, in spite of studies done of a Wisconsin experiment that showed "when support payments were fully passed along to mothers, more fathers came forward and paid...and were more likely to establish lasting patterns of payment and connection with their children." Of course, incarcerated parents are usually unable to pay any child support.

Families have little chance to survive intact with the men locked-up and the women financially hamstrung. However, chance has been removed from the equation by the state-administered death blow of locking up women wholesale for minor drug and property crimes. Imagine, if you can, that you are an oppressed nation woman trying to survive and hold a family together in the face of this flagrant state repression. Pretty scary, yes? And even scarier if you are one of the 12 million immigrants trying to do so. Patriarchy and white privilege uber alles! The state keeps its foot on our necks by using the age-old tactic of divide and conquer. Divide the community, then divide the family and all that is left are isolated individuals whose existence is completely state-mediated.

With family and community in the advanced stages of disintegration, all that remains are the children - alienated and utterly deprived of meaningful family and community upbringing. Children with fathers, and now mothers, in jail or prison. Children driven into foster "homes," juvenile detention facilities and even adult jails and prisons. Children rendered functionally illiterate by an educational system that is steadily being pried from the hands of our communities and handed over to state control. Children born and bred in a world where the driving premise is everyone for themselves and devil take the hindmost. Children artfully molded to "be all they can be," which sadly amounts to the brainwashed cannon-fodder of the Amerikan imperialist dream-death machine.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that imprisonment of men is a direct blow to families, particularly oppressed nation families, and that the incarceration of increasing numbers of wimmin means increasing devastation to families. It is true that the imprisonment rate of wimmin is rising faster than that for men, but in absolute numbers there are still far more men locked up every year and prisons are still primarily used to target oppressed nation men within U.$. borders. Also of note, for the first time since the penitentiary replaced the poor houses over a century ago, we are seeing whole families locked up in detention centers along the border with Mexico. Migrant men, wimmin and even children are probably the fastest growing group in u$ prisons.

There are issues specifically relevant to wimmin prisoners, most obvious is placement of children in foster systems because wimmin are typically the primary caregivers for children. While men may be able to rely on their wives to care for their children when they are locked up, and single men are unlikely to have custody of children, the reverse is not true for wimmin. But the loss of connection to their families and particular children has devastating effects on men and their children as well.

Groups and individuals who claim to value family and community should be working with us to stop the growth of prisons in Amerika and set up programs for family contact where they do exist. These attacks on families are some of the reasons we can still talk about oppressed nations existing within u$ borders. As long as these conditions exist there will be groups of people whose existence demands the end to imperialism and white power in this country.

chain
[Civil Liberties] [Michigan]
expand

Keep your mouth shut and avoid the ever-expanding exceptions to Miranda

Inside prison I'm constantly reading cases where the defendants lose because they couldn't keep their big fuckin' mouths shut, either before or after the much-vaunted Miranda warning. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966).

Based on the 5th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, Miranda extends our well-known, seemingly little-used, right to remain silent, as in "I'll take the fifth," outside the courtroom. In other words, ya'l can't be compeled to incriminate yourselves during police investigations in which "your freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way..." Id. at 467. This used to be interpreted by the courts to mean that upon arrest you must be given the Miranda warning, or else anything you said, or resulted from what you said, must be suppressed, that is none of your unwarned statements, or evidence resulting from them, can be used against you at trial.

However, not so much anymore. Back in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court radically limited Miranda when it held that the failure by police to give Miranda warnings does not require suppression of the physical fruits of an arrested suspect's unwarned but voluntary statements. It seems, the dummy, errr suspect, voluntarily told the police the gun they found was his before the warning and his conviction stands. United States v Patane, 542 US 630 (2004); also, Hibel v Sixth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., 542 US 960 (2004) (defendant's conviction for refusal to identify self did not violate his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination).

That ain't all folks, as the Supremes have been chipping away at Miranda for years, mostly by narrowing the definition of what constitutes an arrest or being in custody. Maybe it's just me, but when I'm surrounded by armed thugs I just know I'm under arrest and in custody! Unfortunately, that ain't necessarily how the U.S. Supreme Court sees it, as it has repeatedly found that not every violation of Miranda requires suppression of the evidence. See Harris v New York, 401 US 222 (1971); New York Quarles, 467 US 649 (1984); and Oregon v Elstad, 470 US 298 (1985). This trend was emphasized when the court held that a California state appellate court did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law (i.e. Miranda) by finding non-custodial status, given the debatability of status. Yarborough v Alvardo, 541 US 652 (2004); Cf., Fellers v United States, 540 US 519 (2003) (police violated 6th Amendment by deliberately eliciting information from defendant, during post-indictment visit to his home to arrest him, absent counsel or waiver of counsel, regardless of whether officers' conduct constituted an "interrogation"); Missouri v Seibert, 542 US 600 (2004) (Miranda warnings given mid-interrogation, after defendant gave unwarned confession, were ineffective, and thus confession repeated after warnings were given was inadmissible at trial.)

No doubt, it is a "settled principle" that "the police have the right to request citizens to answer voluntarily questions concerning unsolved crimes," but "they have no right to compel them to answer." Davis v Mississippi, 394 US 721, 727, n. 6 (1969). Therefore, ya'll have to quit volunteering to incriminate yourselves and others. Also, you tattletales (i.e., snitches, informants, etc.) should know that when you do incriminate others to get out of your shit, then you more often than not incriminate yourself. It al boils down to this: When encountering the police, or any other armed terrorist enforcers of the state, just shut the fuck up.

chain
[Religious Repression] [National Oppression] [Michigan]
expand

Michigan repression against First Nations

Greetings brothers and sisters at MIM(Prisons). I salute you all for your revolutionary work in educating/liberating the minds of the world’s incarcerated. I am another hostage being held for profit in the Marquette Branch Prison max facility and student of communist thought. I’m presenting you a paper I wrote for my group in light of my studies and reflections on Native American history. I hope it may be of use to you to shed a new light on early American colonization and evoke discussion and further study as it has in my circle.

I attend, along with several other brothers, the “Native American traditional ways” service, and recently when we finally came together meaningfully to build, and to the dismay of the institution, asserting ourselves, our 1st and 14th amendment rights have come under attack. Not that we have any faith in a constitution that still sanctions slavery, but our struggles should raise some alarm in certain communities, specifically Native American, since this is an age-old war in suppressing native traditional ways and customs. We sought to resolve our complaints through administrative remedy; letters, grievance etc. But this is the enemy we’re dealing with and they control the entire grievance process. The same fascist agents that interrupt our service with remarks such as “we speak English in America” addressing brothers praying in their native tongue. We are regularly released from our cell-blocks late and often can not conduct formal service. When we tried to obtain basic allowable items to conduct service in its proper manner, the chaplain decided to confiscate our sacred feathers – brothers has to search for new ones on the yard!

These petty tyrants further prevent attendance with intimidation, if you make any request to attend service you will first receive a visit from a “gang” worker who will inform you that the service is conducted by gang members, and that if they participate they’ll likely be placed on a security threat group (STG) investigation. And for those already on STG, they are also urged not to participate under threat that they will not be let off the designation since attending religious service is a form of gang activity.

We’ve been reaching out to the local nations here in the U.P. for outside support but sadly we have yet to see a trace of Native American solidarity. Nevertheless our circle is strong and we come together weekly to exchange cultural, intellectual, spiritual, and revolutionary seeds. We have debates, discussions, essay assignments, and give oral presentations etc. We hope to have a relationship with MIM(Prisons) and will keep you updated with our affairs and material from our revolutionary thinkers.

chain
[Control Units] [Michigan]
expand

THE STG PHENOMENON

i can remember first reading about the above policy and practice in the California prison system employed against captives who were identified as "gang" members. After being so identified, captives would be tossed into Administrative Segregation or an SHU [Segregated Housing Units]. Here they would languish until they either "paroled, debriefed, or died." I recall thinking how diabolical this scheme was. How it could be used - twisted-to be a tool of political repression.

I was still in the fetus stage of my studies when I first read about the situation in California prisons. I hadn't then realized that the repressive policies and practices were designed form the start to neutralize political activism behind the barbed- wire. The disguise of `fighting "gang" activity' was used for legitimacy. If exposed to the public, the people would support it. Who doesn't want an end to the high rate of crime and violence that is commonly associated with "gangs"?

Since my first exposure to STG ("security threat group") policies and practices in the California prison system, I have learned that it has spread to prisons across the u.s. And as of December 16, 1996, the state in which I am held captive had enacted its own political policy: 04.04.113, "Identification and Management of Security Threat Groups and Members."

Comrade George [Jackson] taught Us that "Power responds to all threats. The response is repression." Have We learned from history? COINTELPRO, NEWKILL, etc. If We are not prepared to deal with the Paper Tiger, then it will force its claws deeply into Our efforts at educating to liberate.

STG can be defeated. We ain't got to be forced into a corner with Our only option being to either debrief, to denounce Our political associations, or fact repression. However, the only chance We got to defeat STG is to end Our isolation. We got to reach outside these kkkoncentration kkkamps into the communities from which We came and of which We represent in our organizing and educating efforts. When the Paper Tigers attempt to attack, We got to have an outside base of support. Do Our people on the outside know Us? Do they know what we care about? Or, will they be left to believe whatever spiel the Paper Tigers wish to say about Us? If because We have no roots on the outside We are left vulnerable to unbridled repression, it is no one's fault but Our own!

Myself and others in Michigan want to expose the STG Phenomenon. However, We want to do so based on how it has spread across the u.s. We are asking for captives from any state in amerikkka that has some form of STG policy and/or practice to forward information and documentation to Us.

chain
Go to Page [1] 2