Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Baraga Max Correctional Facility - Michigan

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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.

[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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[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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[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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