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.
This is the first article I have written for ULK. I was especially interested in writing about the topic above because, all too often, I have witnessed how the 'gangster' type are eager to dictate to others how their mission is to bring unity, yet their actions and attitudes are completely misplaced. For instance, if we are to fight oppression within the prison system, how is extorting other prisoners, assaulting others, et cetera, a means to that end?
I am not, nor would I ever become, gang-affiliated. In my opinion, if a person joins a gang, it is because they are too weak to stand up for themselves. Prison has become a daycare. Whites sell out whites, blacks team up with whites and babies have babies. What the hell? I've met pedophiles who are ranking gang officials, and snitches are free to roam as they please. Nothing makes any sense anymore and, just for the record, any gang which encourages a prisoner to extend their sentences or which demand that parents of children perform acts which result in them not being able to see them, that crap is no better than the lowest of the lowly.
The things gangs in Missouri do and continue to do are stupid and their actions bring upon us all the oppression. Gang members in Missouri, though they continuously spout the B.S. about solidarity, unity and integrity are, in turn, the cause and continuing justification for our being oppressed.
Instead of fighting for our right to not be abused by 'the system,' Missouri gangs are the tinder with which the fire under oppression is fueled. For every instance of stupidity by Missouri gang members, we, as a whole, lose an integral part of the overall voice with which we need to be able to defend ourselves from the wrongs of the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This author asserts that "if a person joins a gang, it is because they are too weak to stand up for themselves." We ask in return: why is it wrong to seek out others to help you defend yourself? Lumpen organizations arose, on the streets and in prisons, in response to very real threats to the safety of oppressed nation people. It is not realistic to think that, in the face of institutional violence and attacks, or organized violence from other groups of people, one should stand alone. And seeking this help and unity is not a sign of weakness.
However, we do agree with this writer that organizations that require their members to engage in anti-people activity, or which engage in actions that harm the general prisoner population, are not friends of the fight against the criminal injustice system. There are many different types of lumpen organizations and conditions vary in different areas. In some situations staying away from L.O.s might be the best practice for anti-imperialists. But at this stage, to organize the lumpen masses, we need to be building unity between lumpen organizations where possible, not perpetuating the fighting that the prison administration encourages. We regularly print articles in ULK from comrades in lumpen orgs doing just this sort of building behind bars. This is the leadership we need to highlight and learn from as most of our readers in prison are in or have been in lumpen organizations..
I am a prisoner at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri. I'm currently being held in solitary confinement for our May 12 uprising against the oppression and abuse inflicted on us by the administration and guards.
For months, the administration had been keeping us locked in our cells for 23 hours a day, in population! Using excuses of "short on staff," we are only allowed to either shower or call our loved ones for one 30-minute session per day. Our one-hour recs are cut to 45 and 30 minutes consistently. The inmate barber shop is closed. Visits are canceled. Guards are verbally and physically abusive.
Until, on May 12th at dinner chow (2 hours late) at 7:30 pm, 288 prisoners participated in a mass sit-in, in peaceful protest to all of the injustices. Instead of answering requests for talks with white-shirts, all officers fled both chow halls and kitchen, leaving us locked in, and grouped outside the windows and taunted us. The sit-in quickly escalated into the largest "riot" in Missouri history, consisting of a reported $4 million in damages, with the complex being taken over and held for over 7 hours. Inside, only 2 people were attacked before leadership and unity were established.
Countless abuses and injustices followed our return to custody, including: remaining zip-tied for 7-9.5 hours, forced to urinate ourselves, beatings, double-celling prisoners in single-man cells for a week with no mattress or bedding, less than 1000-calorie daily diet instituted for the entire camp for over 70 days, etc.
Through all this, the administration kept up its tricks of sowing hate and dissension amongst prisoners in population by blaming the 3-month lockdown on us by actually naming us to other prisoners in hopes of retaliation). Visits were canceled, no canteen, etc.
However, those of us in confinement know the truth: in 2017, we had a mass race-riot of Browns & Whites vs Blacks, and less than 12 months later those same races, true those same prisoners, come together to fight in unity against oppression! Me and about 20 other comrades came together again in September 2018.
It is coming up on 6 months since our placement in seg and we are likely to receive another 90 days just for good measure, but we are still standing. There are 78 of us from the uprising in seg, and many of us belong to one organization or another. When we are released we will continue to spread and build on this unity that was formed under great oppression. We will carry this momentum to bring all prisoners together to face the true enemy!
We have seen and heard praise for our battle and victory in the struggle throughout other max securities in Missouri. There have been other uprisings that have followed ours at a couple mediums, (one was a race-riot, but with guidance and support those aggressions can be properly re-directed), and the administration is taking notice. The five principles of the United Front are taking hold in Missouri. We will do our part to learn, share, teach and uphold them as we struggle together in our war against oppression. I will do my part in not only spreading the message to mi raza, but others as well. Unity is the key! Viva la gente!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed some good discussion about these Missouri protests in ULK 65. This writer highlights what is most important about these sorts of actions: the learning by participants and observers about what prisoners can accomplish with unity. By building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, comrades in Missouri are building strength and unity, setting up the conditions for stronger actions in the future.
Vita Wa Watu! This is one essay on my tactics to recruit Brothas and Sistas for certain movements. Take the Day of Peace and Solidarity for instance. I sent out letters to those that have a Genuine Love for me and the Struggle and kept it real with them. I informed them that I would be fasting for the 9th day of September because it was a day that meant more to Oppressed and Lumpen than the Sabbath does to the Jews. I told them that that day is a day of Peace in the Prisons around the country and that it commemorated one of the biggest prison uprisings in the states, and also that it was the last day of the now annual prison strike.
Then I informed them that this Glorious Day meant that there would be no beatings, rapes, stabbings, or any violence of the Oppressed against the Oppressor and that it mean a lot to me if they would fast with me. I got a few confirmations and still awaiting others.
Also, I let the Brothers here in Ad-Seg know the meaning of this day. However, only one Soulja fasted with me. Nevertheless, the day was a success here at Northeastern Correctional Center. Stay strong, Comrades. I will join you again next year.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In ULK 64 we printed some early reports of actions on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity. We're happy to hear about this work going on in Florida.
And this is a good example of sharing your tactics for organizing and recruiting. The next issue of Under Lock & Key is devoted to this topic and we're seeking moreinput from readers about what's worked for you, and also what hasn't worked. We can all learn a lot from our practice and from the practice of others. Sum up your organizing experiences and send them in for ULK. See ULK 63 for our prior deep dive into this topic.
13 May 2018 — 208 prisoners of every race, background, group, organization, etc. said enough is enough! We came together and sat down in a peaceful protest. During dinner (chow hall) as usual the pigs not only violated our constitutional rights (First Amendment freedom of speech) but they also attempted to bully us by flex'n and threatening us. That's when our peaceful protest turned uprising. I wish y'all could have seen the way all the guards (C.O.s, Sergeants, Lieutenants, etc.) ran out the kitchen and chow halls. You would have thought they ran track! Who the cowards now?
For the first time in Missouri history we united. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity. In a matter of seconds we gained control of the kitchen, both dining halls, property room, canteen storage, the factory, forklifts, weapons, keys, phones, computers, etc. Well after a few hours the phones start to ring. Guess who's calling? The warden and highway patrol. For the first time they listened to our demands. They respected us. They feared our unity. They was at our mercy.
On our own terms we surrendered 8-9 hours later. After we got our point across.
Note: 90% of guys in our peaceful protest turned uprising have outdates ranging between a few weeks and 15 years. So only imagine if the outcome was the other way around. 90% of us could have been locked to the board (life without?).
Due to us striving so fast and hard we left administration not only confused but also emotionally off balance. Being that this never happened before in Missouri history they acted off impulse and violated every constitutional right you can think of. Which led to KC Freedom Project lawyers starting a class action lawsuit on our behalf against Missouri DOC. The media has been on fire regarding this.
Update? We still on lockdown! We still receiving brown bags (sack lunches). They say it was $3 million worth of damage. They making us do 1 year. We damn near 6 months in.
Administration is still up to their tricky ways. They have attempted to divide and conquer us by destroying all the guys' property that was in the hole and told them we did it. Also telling all the guys in GP it's our fault they are locked down still. So yeah the struggle continues.
By the way, there have been two other uprisings of this kind since we kicked it off. If we can unite here in Missouri where unity has never existed then any state can.
Another Missouri prisoner wrote:
It has been 13 months since the prisoners bonded together, Black, White, Native and brown (Chicano) and kicked off a riot at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, causing over a million dollars in damage. What did it accomplish?
Prison property got damaged that your families who are tax payers (and you too cause you pay taxes on your canteen items) are going to have to pay for the damages.
You injured one another with violent acts and all it accomplished is enemies, and lockdown of the prison.
Supposedly two housing units are to be cleared out for the creation of SHU units. They are supposed to lock up all the gang leaders and violent soldiers.
As of now, this is all just rumor, but every time Missouri prisoners show acts of violence via riots, the prison gets stricter. For example, the 1985 riot in the old Missouri State Penitentiary caused them to build a supermax housing unit.
When are we gonna learn that we are hurting ourselves more ways than one by these acts of violence? When I was advocating peaceful protests with demonstrations of how to shut the prison system down, nobody in Missouri wanted to participate. But you go off on your own and committed this no nonsense act of violence against your brother, your friends, your families, and jeopardized everyone.
It costs $85 million a year to keep the U.S. prisons up and running. The government is not producing this money to keep the prisons going. So where is the money coming from? Let's see now, in Missouri it's coming from Missouri Vocational Enterprise (MVE), the sign shop, the printing shop, the license plate plant (tag plant), the furniture factory, the chemical plant, information technology (IBM program), the braille program, the laundry, the cooled-chill plant (cold food storage), the shoe factory, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDot work release) and the newly implemented paneling factory.
The above-mentioned factories are multi-million-dollar industries per year. They are paying you pennies. So what a couple of these jobs pay between $150 and $300 per month. If you peacefully protest by refusing to go to work in these factories, either they are going to pay you at least minimum wage where you will be making at least $340 a week, or they are gonna bring in civilians to do the work, in which case the factories are going to have to be uprooted and moved because most civilians are not coming inside the prisons to work. So to shut down a beast like the U.S. prison system is to shut down their economy — that is, the very thing that's bringing them money to keep the prisons open is the very thing that can shut it down.
This just doesn't begin and end with the prisoners. The prisoner has to survive. He has to eat. So the people in the free world are going to have to support the prisoner financially. Family, friends, advocate organizations are all going to have to pitch in and support the prisoner financially. That means to stop working we have to buy food to eat. To stop using the phones and tablets, we need stamps, envelopes, paper and pens to write letters that cost money. So the free world must understand that for us to make these sacrifices, then society is going to have to make sacrifices to assist us.
So Missouri prisoners, society (family, friends, organizations, advocates, etc.), stop going about things the wrong way and do them like they should be done in order to get results.
I go home next year on parole, but I do not leave my fight behind. There is a bigger world out there, which means a lot more opportunities to fight. I am going to find resources and seek out that they join me in my quest to do away with this beast. I will need their support mentally, physically, spiritually and above all, financially. With this, Comrades, I hope to see you on the other side, working with me and supporting me from the inside and outside.
In struggle—In solidarity
Arm raised—clenched black fist
MIM(Prisons) responds: A lot of folks talk about how hard it is to get people to unite behind bars. The prison controls everything from day-to-day comfort to release dates. And that's powerful incentive to conform. Then they introduce drugs and other distractions to pacify the population. They pay off snitches to keep an eye on activists. And they lock organizers down in solitary confinement. Still, faced with all these barriers, prisoners can and do come together to protest. Conditions at Crossroads CC were bad enough to inspire this action. And while the outcome wasn't all positive, the class action lawsuit and attention of the public has forced the Missouri DOC to admit that prisoners are suffering significant restrictions due to short staffing.
The comrade criticizing this action for its lack of focus and random acts of violence and destruction is right that often these sorts of actions lead to more repression. Though peaceful protests are also often met with increased repression. This debate over tactics in prison protests is one that should be happening within all prisons across the country. We hope the comrades at Crossroads will learn from this action and move forward in greater unity towards future actions that will be even more effective.
Focusing on the economics of prisons reveals the ridiculous scale of the criminal injustice system. As the writer above notes, it would be a significant financial loss to the state if they were forced to hire non-prisoners for all the jobs prisoners are doing. And this is financial leverage that prisoner workers can use to their advantage.
But to debate the value of this tactic we need to first be clear about the scope of prisoner labor. The state of Missouri 2018 budget allocated the Department of Corrections over $725 million. About the same as the previous year, which was up $50 million from 2016.(1) The state would have to allocate even more money if no prisoner labor could be used to help run the prisons, or produce products that are sold to generate revenue. But that prisoner labor is still a small part of the total cost of running prisons.
As we showed from data collected from prisons across the United $tates, in general, losing prisoner labor would add about 10% to the cost of running prisons. Prisons are mostly subsidized by states' budgets. The labor from prisoners just doesn't come close to covering that cost. So while there is definitely economic power in those jobs, shutting down prison industries won't shut down prisons.
We don't aim to just improve conditions. In the end we know the criminal injustice system keeps taking away rights, doing what it can to make prisons a place of suffering and complacency. But this protest showed the people involved that they have the power to take collective action. As the original writer notes, the prison can see their downfall in the unity of the prisoners. This lesson of the importance and power of unity is what will hopefully fuel ongoing organizing.
August 2018 — September 9 is expected to be big! No violence, everyone has agreed to be at peace. In USW we support!
We are upholding the five principles of the United Front here in Missouri. We've been effectively organizing, uniting, educating, etc. as a part of the program for peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. And as a result, prison violence has dropped dramatically. We thank you for giving us a way to transmit positive energy and reduce conflict among prisoners. We now have 5 maximum security prisons on board, helping to raise the consciousness of the confused youth and building unity amongst the older captives. As we focus ahead, we see a future filled with love, freedom, and peace. We pray that you will continue to help us transform our people so that together we can strengthen our organizing for liberation.
I received ULK 63! I was so glad to hear from you all. This issue really laid it all out for my guys, so I made 45 copies and passed them out, then instructed each member of UZI (United Zulu Independence Movement) to do the same.
Three days later I called a meeting in the gym to discuss in-depth what each bro had read in this new issue of ULK about UFPP. The responses I received were beautiful. The young Crips now believe that the lumpen in California, who they mimic, are seeking to unite instead of separate. They now see that the gangs are fighting against the oppressor.
Missouri is a slow state, so they were still set on fighting each other, until they witnessed me and my New Afrikan Tribe moving under the sciences of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. We trade evolutionary material, we speak about communism, we teach each other to use the law as a tool to build doorways to freedom, and now your newsletter just explained everything that I've been telling these young Crips about the need to stop the senseless gang bangin', riots, and territorial disputes on the yard caused by the COs.
Thank you! ULK Thank You! Now these bros see that the struggle is real. I have to get back to work. Will write more soon. Can't stop! Won't stop!
I was placed in administration segregation and stripped of my privileges (contact visits, phone calls, canteen, personal property, etc.) for the reason of investigation. A violation of my "due process" rights, as I am punished before being found guilty of anything. Other prisoners under investigation are stripped of their privileges as well. Investigation can last up to 6 months or longer. The investigator most usually takes as long as they want to speak to us. I was placed in housing unit 2 and the conditions are extremely hostile and cruel.
There is a rodent infestation due to trash not being cleaned and food, juice, coffee and milk cover the floor most of the day or longer. The mice live in the hall and the utility closest between cells. (This rodent infestation is rampant in all housing units and the chow hall).
We are forced to live in cells with individuals who many times do not get along with each other, mostly on purpose. As of 8-17-18, many convicts request protective custody (PC) to get out of these hostile cell arrangements, but due to the overcrowdedness of the administration segregational housing units, these is no where else the inmate can be placed. If an inmate refuses the same cell he came out of, he is punished with a conduct violation and disciplined.
Convicts, including myself, are forced to sit on an iron bench with our hands handcuffed behind our backs, attached to the bench, as well as our legs shackled to the bench with no alternative. The handcuffs and shackles are so tight that our hands and ankles result in bloody incisions and bruises. Mostly, medical refuse to check on the prisoner’s health and well-being. By policy, medical is supposed to check prisoners in handcuffs and shackles to make sure they're not in pain. They refuse to comply or look past the fact our wrists are bleeding. We are refused all meals and water as well while on the bench, and are limited bathroom breaks, sometimes resulting with inmates urinating or defecating on themselves.
Once inmates per unit request PC, the correctional officers refuse to pull other inmates, in possible danger, out or they maliciously pepper spray them. This is a denial of our rights to PC and 8th Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. These units hold 72 inmates each and there are 3 of them in 2 houses.
Convicts in need of PC were determined not to live in cells 24 hours a day with people who may cause them problems or harm. Prisoners "rode" the bench for over 144 hours (handcuffed and shackled). August 23, 2018 seemed to break convict's spirits.
On 8-23-18, around 3:00 p.m., up to about 6:00 p.m., the Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) came and proceeded to brutally assault inmates. All this is on cameras in housing unit 2 A, B and C wing at above time. Benches, holding cages and some showers were full of convicts awaiting compatible cells.
I was standing in a holding cage, 2C, face and chest exposed (due to the designs and patterns on cage) under PC awaiting a compatible cell. SCCC Correctional Officer (CO) Benevitez and Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) CO Ousley told me that the JCCC officers "had something for me". (I had been convicted of 1st degree assault on correctional officer in JCCC; received 20 years; currently appealing) JCCC Officer Talest (referred to as Bull) then came to my cage and maliciously emptied about 3 small cans and 2 big cans of pepper spray directly into my face. JCCC, SCCC, Ozark Correctional Center, as well as other correctional officers take me to the ground, handcuffed me and proceeded to brutally assault me. About 10 officers or more, all of them 180 to 250 pounds, struck me with closed fists in the facial and body area, stomped and kicked me, elbowed me, twisted my toes and ankles, twisted my fingers back tearing ligaments, choked me and drove their knees into my back. CO Davis ran from nowhere to join the assault.
Inmates claim the officers were screaming, "This is what you get when you fuck with JCCC". Officers then "hog tied" me, picked me up by my throat and ankles and carried me to Housing Unit 2A (H.U. 2A was flooded with sewage water due to broken toilets and sprinklers). Officers then threw me on the ground by cell 106, pulled the inmates out of 106 and picked me up and threw me to the concrete floor in 106. They then proceeded to beat me and shove my face and nose in water where I could not breathe. They punched, kicked, and stomped all parts of my body, especially my facial area. They twisted my finger and emptied a can of mace into my buttocks area. One officer urinated on me, they took my restraints off and left, whooping and hollering, "That was for Officer Post" and "don't fuck with JCCC". They then left me in a pool of bloody sewage water. I was denied any medical assessment. Nurse Courtney, who was working, told me, "Fuck your medical assessment, I hope you die". I did not receive a conduct violation to support their use of force assault.
Officers then came and put my enemy (who I had requested PC from) into the cell with me. I then declared PC and they refused to pull me out. My enemy then held the food port, stuck his head out with my PC note at med pass to get me pulled out. I then went to "ride" the bench. During a restraint check, nurse Christine G. refused to check my restraints, denied me medical attention, and quoted from the "Bible" Romans 13:4 "It is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evil doer". When nurse Barker came in, I declared a medical emergency for broken nose and broken fingers. She claimed, "Broken bones is not a medical emergency". My face was drenched in blood. Later, I declared a medical emergency for chest pains. I can't remember what nurse seen me, but she checked my vitals and said I was "OK". I told her about my injuries and she said, "So what". I was finally placed in cell 113 with a guy named Ben.
My injuries include possible broken nose, torn ligaments in my hands and finger, and I'm extremely traumatized. Prisoner [X] was standing in a holding cage in 2C (his whole body and face exposed due to design and pattern of cage) maliciously maced intravenously, pulled out the cage and beat ruthlessly by about 10 officers. His injury included a broken toe.
Prisoner [Y] was in 2C-240 and was maliciously pepper sprayed, pulled out the cell and his legal materials twisted.
Prisoner [Z] was in 2A-202 maliciously pepper sprayed and ruthlessly beat by about 10 officers. The main instigator was CO Applegate of SCCC. Not sure of his injuries, but when I seen him he looked like the "Walking Dead". Face, arm, and elbows black and purple.
These attacks were organized by Warden Jeff Norman, Michelle Buckner and Conrad Sutton. Other prisoners were attacked as well.
After these brutal assaults, some inmates were bullied into living with incompatible prisoners. The pigs have 3 TV's in the wings and are turned on if we are "good". The same movie is played over and over all day long. The movies usually portray the imperialists oppressing and slaughtering the proletariat. It was used as a brainwash mechanism to control the feeble.
On a bathroom break, I was slammed to the ground on my jaw by CO Callhoun. I was then written up for a 19.1 (Creating a Disturbance). Everyone under PC felt there was nothing they could do and went back to their cells. I stayed on the bench. On 9-1-18, I was taken to Housing Unit 1B-122 for 2 2's (guard assaults). The violations claim I slipped a handcuff and assaulted 2 officers by striking them numerous times in face and body with closed fists and knees. When in actual reality COI Riggs, COI Karr and Serge Herndon assaulted me. COI Riggs striking me in face with closed fist. I went one week in nothing but boxers and socks. No mattress. By the grace of Yaweh one convict got a sheet to me. Mail room staff Keli Ann Burton has been confiscating all his outgoing and incoming mail. I'm under "Security Orders" and denied medicals sick cell essentials, cleaning supplies, and told at all meals to lay face down on my bunk with arms behind my back and legs crossed to receive a "Suicide Bag" of food, while I'm not suicidal.
Us convicts ask for the administration to resolve certain issues as follows:
Relief of overcrowding in administration segregation (Ad-Seg) units by:
—limiting investigation to 45 days.
—letting individuals out of Ad-Seg after their disciplinary segregation terms are
—Ending long erm Ad-Seg (which is used in Missouri as punitive in addition to disciplinary segregation).
Access to incentives found in other Missouri Prisons for those assigned to long-term indeterminate Ad-Seg confinement and those placed under investigation.
—Possession of personal property (appliances, books, clothes, etc.).
—Ability to buy food items from canteen and all hygiene products.
Access to privileges to those placed under investigation
—Ability to use the phone at least 3 times a week.
—Allowed contact visits at least twice a month.
If you would please support us convicts by expressing these claims to the Missouri Department of Corrections, we would greatly appreciate it. Also, expose our sufferings and 8-23-18 to the media, Fox 2 News, Channel 5 News, WNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC and mainstream newspapers. Myself, as well as others, will keep pushing. Some of us are litigating 1983's.
I'm a politikal prisoner warehoused at the State of Missouri's most repressive slave plantations (Crossroads Correctional Center). It's name (Crossroads) alone sounds like a cemetery and it does literally feel like one.
The institution is still on lock-down from a riot that took place 5, 6 months ago where no one was injured but millions of dollars in property damage occurred.
The conditions that led up to the rioting still exist today and are even worse today. Basically, we are locked down in our cells all day and none of our daily needs are met. For example, they transferred me here last week as a punishment from another camp and placed me in ad seg despite me not having any conduct violations (write-up). They refused to bring me my ad seg allowable soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste for six (6) days, but gave the other transfers theirs the same day.
So, I sent my case worker numerous kites requesting grievance forms, which she denied me. I'm on high blood pressure medication, which I should have received the first day I arrived, yet medical staff continues to ignore my request. When I arrived here, they gave me another prisoner's used and dirty underclothes and bedding when everyone knows that you're supposed to be issued new underclothes and can be issued used outer garments. Again, I sent my caseworker a kite for a grievance complaint and a legal request form to order prison policies and legal case law to challenge these conditions and was again denied.
I'm on a certified religious diet meal plan, yet they refuse to recognize it at this camp despite having documentation proving that I'm on the diet plan. (Please note: A white prisoner next door to me receives his CRD-meal 3 times a day).
We are dealing with gangsters here. Gangsters who have been allowed to do whatever they feel like doing and outside of what prison regulations mandate without being challenged or corrected. And if you bring attention to this abuse of authority, they calculatingly and systematically isolate you and target you with more abuse.
Please send me something to read, i.e. newsletter, prisoner resource guide, anything that will keep my spirit and mind up.
I'm writing because I have received my first issue of ULK, and I am going to tell you about how I became who I am, and what I am. It started in 2010 at South Central Correctional Center with a brother by the name of Supreme. At that time I was 21 years old and didn't want to hear a thing from no one cause I thought, "you can say what you want but it don't mean a thing if you can’t show it." I never used to listen to nothing until he started talking to me and on top of that he was showing it to me. So I can see that it was true.
Once I started to see what he was showing it all came to me and I said to myself "this is a brother I can believe and count on when I'm in need, and need help against the pigs." Because at that time I was having problems with the pigs and they were giving me hell back to back and I didn't know what to do about it. He saw it and started helping me and showing me how to go at it with them. I saw what he was showing me was working, so now I'm a believer. He's an older brother and I respect him a lot for what he did.
I have had a lot of guys tell me things and couldn't show it. They say "look at the message and not the messenger," but sometimes the message don't mean a thing if you can't show it. I had a guy tell me one day, "yeah man we all should write some letters to people outside. I don't think it's gonna work but we can do it anyway." See! That right there told me a lot, that he didn't even believe what the fxxk he was saying, so why should I believe that would work?
Now I listen to the ones that show and tell and I make sure I do the same. I never feed anyone bull because I don't let anyone feed me bull. And I have a lot of brothers that show and tell. One, a political prisoner, does a lot to help all of the brothers that he can. So I give a lot of love to brothers like him and Supreme.
I liked the whole issue of ULK 62 for May/June and I am letting a lot of other brothers read it too. I have read some of your ULKs in the past but I never had a chance to write to you guys and it seemed like noone ever heard of your paper. I realized that there are a lot of guys in prison that are not doing their job, the job of educating other brothers. So now that is why we have a lot of b.s. where everyone is against each other. We see this again and again in all of Missouri prisons. I don't know everything, and I'm still learning, but as I go on I try my best to help all of the other real brothers gain knowledge.
I know just as well as you know that we have a lot of guys that are faking and trying to bring the movement down working with the pigs. I can tell you a lot of dudes don't like me because I tell it like it is and I don't hold nothing back for no one. A lot of these guys are just all talk, they act like they are something they are not, but see they don't like that I'm about all of that and some, I practice what I preach. I want to help all of the brothers that I can and I mean it and I show it too. So guys don't like me because I show and tell for real! I want to thank you at MIM(Prisons) for your time and allowing me the chance to talk with you all and the reading material you all send me to help me more. I'm still growing.
Keep on fighting the fight, never give up. To all the brothers and sisters of the struggle: a warrior never gives up. Freedom is what we make it.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This article is especially interesting to us because it's easy for such a long-term project as ours to sound like what this comrade is criticizing above. "[W]e all should write some letters to people outside. I don't think it's gonna work but we can do it anyway."
We write letters to prison administrators to defend our right to send prisoners our literature, and a lot of the time it doesn't go anywhere. We run the grievance campaign, and often times we're just sent in circles between the Inspector General, Ombudsman, and the warden. But we're not discouraged. We already have strategic confidence in our work, because we've studied enough history to know that what we're doing today will pay off in the long term. Engaging in the endless bureaucracy is tolerable because we already understand how it relates to the big picture.
However, this comrade's skepticism underlines the importance of how we recruit new people. Our strategy ultimately is to build unity and confidence among the oppressed masses. Busy work (sending letters just to send them) does not have this effect. Even if we don't expect an immediate positive response from admin, if people just see us as wasting their time and resources, it's going to discourage them even more and cause them to distrust us.
Part of encouraging people is in picking battles that are winnable. Part of it is in framing these battles as a piece of our larger struggle. Part of it is in showing historical successes and broadening people's vision. And part of that is relating our goals to the perspective and values of the people we're attempting to recruit.
Revolutionary greetings of love, dedication and resiliency to all freedom fighters and fearless front line generals, soldiers and warriors who dare to struggle and sacrifice for liberty, freedom and equality from behind the walls, fences and cages of genocide and oppression. As we continue to raise awareness and lift up our voices so that we may be heard on the issues of systematic racism and economic exploitation in the criminal justice system, as well as prison slavery, police killings and brutality. We continue to see an evil and determined enemy dig in its heels in the name of white supremacy.
I am a Missouri prisoner who has been imprisoned for 32 years. I am educated with a paralegal degree. With my credentials, I have a legal clinic of 10 comrades. We have taken it upon ourselves to do separate booklets of individual civil complaints such as: censorship, religion, cruel and unusual punishment (prison conditions) etc. We will be sending those to MIM(Prisons) upon their completion. We have made censorship our first priority, and already sent this one in to MIM(Prisons).
However, we only have an ex-amount of time in the law library, so we have to copy case-law (hundreds of them) and take them back to our cells and work on our booklets. Our resources are limited and we need help! So if any of my comrades know of places that will send "unlimited" printed caselaw to us, please contact MIM to pass the message on.
MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are setting an example of how to make your work impact more than just one persyn. Many can benefit from concise information on how to fight specific legal battles. The first guide created by this group, fighting censorship, is a good example of this as it ties directly into a problem that the revolutionary movement behind bars faces regularly — the censorship of our literature. Under Lock & Key and other lit that we send in is often rejected and our only recourse is grievances and legal challenges. Because of the critical role that revolutionary education plays in our organizing work, we prioritize this legal battle. And we distribute a censorship guide to all who have our lit rejected.
We have a few cautionary notes to those working on this legal project and others who are interested in taking up similar legal work. First, there are many guides already out there for prisoners, so anyone putting time into this type of project needs to start by making sure you're not duplicating work.
Second, as with our anti-censorship work, it's important that we tie our legal work to our revolutionary organizing. There are many legal battles that prisoners are fighting, but these can be a distraction from the larger struggle if we don't tie them to the reality that the legal system isn't going to make real or substantive change for us. We might win a few censorship battles, but we'll never effectively stop censorship through the imperialist courts. We use the censorship struggle to highlight the hypocrisy of imperialism and underscore their fear of revolutionary education, while making some room for us to reach people with politics.
We need to be organizing people to use legal battles as a part of the larger campaigns that the movement prioritizes. We can attempt to use the courts to our advantage, but our goal in the long run is to dismantle the imperialist courts and replace them with a system of people's justice.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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."
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."
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."