Prisoners Report on Conditions in

North Carolina 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.

[Prison Labor] [Organizing] [North Carolina]
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North Carolina Labor Battle Advice

I hope these words surmount the many communicational barriers that have been put in place to suppress my voice. I'm currently being held at North Carolina's supermax facility. I came across issue 66 of ULK and I read where the prisoners of Pender razor-wire plantation are being exploited and seeking guidance and assistance in redressing this issue.(1)

North Carolina is home to 32 Correctional Enterprise plantations that exploit prisoners for their labor in the name of rehabilitation. As the komrade mentioned, these plantations are profitable enterprises that range from producing janitorial products to a metal plant in Polkton, North Carolina that makes industrial sinks for schools and contraband lockers for the police. Each of these 32 plantations produces goods to be sold to tax-supported entities such as municipal and county governments. So yes it's a fact that prisoners are being exploited and you seek guidance on how you and others can organize to redress this issue.

First and foremost, you must purge the fear you admitted to having, komrade. As the beloved komrade George Jackson stated, "Don't fear the specter of repression, for we are already repressed." The fear of reprisals is what keeps us in bondage. Yes we're held captive by concrete and razor-wire barriers, but it isn't the physical chains that keep us oppressed and exploited. It is the mental chains of ignorance and fear that impede us from liberating ourselves from under the rule of the enemy. Fear is our greatest hindrance. We have been conditioned to believe that the enemy's retaliation will be so brutal that any thoughts of standing up are neutralized by this fear. Nelson Mandela said it best: "In prison, no improvement happens without a reason."

However, you are correct that you must have assistance. You cannot fight this Hydra alone. North Carolina isn't known for its progressive political activity within these razor-wire plantations, nor are there any notable revolutionaries or political prisoners. Being the deputy minister of defense for the White Panther organization, which is an arm of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter, under the umbrella of the United Panther Movement, we have been on the front lines and working diligently to transform these slave pens of oppression into schools of liberation.

There are outside supporters here that are very loyal to the prisoners of North Carolina. They provide us with a local newsletter, FloodGates, to serve as a platform for us to network with others and express ourselves. They also organize outside protests and mass call-ins. As of now, we are focused on redressing the new JPay restrictions. You can receive the FloodGates newsletter by writing:

FloodGates Publishing
PO Box 15401
Durham, NC 27704

MIM(Prisons) responds: In ULK 66 we asked for input from other folks in response to the writer from North Carolina who asked what they can do to fight back against the extortion of money, both through their labor and petty fees. This writer offers some good thoughts about building a network both behind bars and on the streets. We work for Under Lock & Key to also serve as a resource to help with this organizing.

As we've discussed in our recent updated "Survey of U.S Prisoners on Prison Labor" in ULK 62, prisoners are mostly working for the state.(2) The examples given by this writer confirm that this is the case in North Carolina as well. This labor is subsidizing the state budget, but it falls far short of covering the cost of imprisonment. So we don't describe prison labor with the term "exploitation" which, in Marxism, means transforming labor power into goods to be sold for a profit. The goods being produced are for state institutions, and just offset the costs to run these institutions. There's no profit involved.

Instead, we say the prisons are extorting this labor. Basically the prisons are stealing it from prisoners, not giving them a choice about work, and paying only a pittance. Still, there's no profit.

Prisons are about social control and national oppression, not profits. The prison movement needs to focus on the anti-colonial battle, and the struggle against prison labor can be a part of this. We support the struggles many of our comrades are fighting against prison labor, because we are against extortion and imprisonment of the lumpen class and oppressed-nation peoples. This is one of many ways to weaken the criminal injustice system.

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[Campaigns] [Craggy Correctional Center] [North Carolina]
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Persistence is Key with Grievance Denials and Games

I remember the first grievance I ever wrote. The blanket I was given barely covered me. Really it was only half a blanket, having been shredded by other prisoners for whatever reason. I was new in prison and wasn't really pressed for conversation with officers, so I wrote a grievance.

A few days later I was brought a complete blanket! I felt successful having petitioned for something and seeing results. The system had worked right? Not so much. Along with my fresh blanket came the return of my grievance—unprocessed.

Granted I was new to prison and Administrative Remedy Procedure, I thought these actions were common. My issue had been resolved so no need to process my complaint, right? I don't think so! I let this one go and started educating myself on the ins and outs of this procedure.

Over the years I heard several opinions of the Administrative Remedy Procedure by other prisoners. Some saw it as "snitching" or "dry snitching". Nearly everyone felt it was just an opportunity for officials to retaliate against us. I witness incidents *daily* that are grievance-worthy, but prisoners refuse to file them for fear they will be harassed or transferred; and, well, the things do happen!

I was never scared or discouraged in filing a grievance myself, but I certainly understand why a prisoner would be. Many times officers are unified, so if you grieve the conduct of officer A, he will send officer B to aggressively search your locker or cell. Other reprisals I've witnessed include: transfer to a new cell, section of the prison and even a new prison altogether; verbal harassment by the officer(s) grievances were filed on, and by other staff in the facility; malicious infractions against the prisoner who filed a grievance and punishments that are far too severe as a result of that infraction.

My grievance activity really began in 2015. On April 27th I was assaulted by an officer after picking up a piece of candy, which he (the officer) assumed was contraband. As the officer placed his hands around my neck I swallowed the candy, which led to me being "dry celled".

I was required to defecate in a bag three times for inspection by the officers, but on the third occasion the officers forced me to make the inspection; without protective equipment, hygiene or cleaning supplies. To my benefit, everything was on camera!

I spent three days in segregation and when released was charged with "interfering with staff duty". The officer who assaulted me said I "led him away from his search" when I placed a piece of candy in my mouth. Also, upon returning to population, I bought a Policy and Procedures Manual from a prisoner in my dorm.

I familiarized myself with policy related to use of force, close observation (dry cell), and Administrative Remedy Procedure. I followed every rule, such as—grievances can only be written about one incident and one grievance must complete step two before another can be filed. Most of my grievances were accepted and processed with no problem, but staff violated their own procedures with nearly every one.

My first grievance was on the assault/use of force. It was assigned the routing number 4630-15-0065. When I started receiving responses by prison administration, not only were they delayed, but the routing number had been changed to 4630-15-0066! Of course the obstruction was worthy of a grievance itself, so I filed one about that too.

Just six days after my obstruction grievance was accepted, I was transferred to the most dangerous prison in North Carolina. Lucky for me I had alleged threats of transfer on grievances I'd written and I requested no retaliation such as institutional transfer as one of the remedies for my grievances. All of this aided and supported another grievance on a retaliatory transfer.

A separate grievance was written concerning the dry cell incident as well. Response to this grievance alone admitted fault for the officers' conduct. All others were covered up, denied or ignored altogether.

As you can see, one grievance led to events that required others. Grievance Procedure in North Carolina requires grievances be written within ninety days of an incident so in my case that wasn't easy; especially when staff delayed responses past the time limit.

Grievance responses come in three steps and each step has a timeline which must be met, unless extensions are filed. The entire grievance process, acceptance through step three, is supposed to take ninety days, but rarely does this happen. Some of my grievances took over two hundred days to complete and even then the responses would claim that incidents never occurred.

Not only were response delays an issue, but Grievance Policy itself was violated when officials I made allegations against gave the response to grievances; grievances were left void of date, signature and indications of acceptance or rejection. All of these violations warranted more grievances and sometimes "corrective action" was said to be taken. However, the violations continued.

In April 2018, I filed a §1983 suit about each of these incidents; from the use of force to the final grievance response. Several of my claims survived the Judge's review and are still being litigated, but *none* of the grievance violations merited a Constitutional Violation. In other words, the prison system can continue violating their own procedures and won't be held accountable.

Grievances are considered "protected speech", so my retaliatory transfer claim is active. While the delays and obstruction to my grievances and responses did "hinder" my litigation, they didn't prevent it, so any claims of access to courts were dismissed. I am still seeking justice and accountability for these grievance issues. I do plan to appeal on some grounds, but I'm still exploring that as well. It's clear that grievance procedure is protected, but Administrative Remedy Procedure is not a process that is? I haven't figured it out yet, but I will.

What I have learned is that our right to petition the government for redress of grievances is one of our most important retained rights as prisoners. It should be exercised often, and without fear of consequences or retaliation. I encourage everyone to study your state's policy and procedure and apply it to your grievances. Also study your state's Administrative Remedy Procedure, so you file and appeal your grievances appropriately. Most importantly, stay strong and stand up for your rights.

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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Scotland Hunger Strike Met With Retaliation

July 30th. I went on a hunger Strike to not only motivate but avoid a group demonstration charge. The next day eight more people in our pod went on hunger strike and two in another pod, followed by four other people who went on S.I.B. (self-injury behavior) and some floods occurred in opposite pods.

Outside supporters called down here at Scotland NC Correctional Institution all day until around 9:00 at night tying up the phone lines.

Captain Henderson's name was heard all day over the intercom. She had me and three other guys strip searched and placed in a holding cell to have a meeting where we asked for recreation five times a week, the 90 day phone call policy to be activated, food requirements to be met and access to more than one library book a month.

The next day the whole pod was searched and torn apart. They threw away our pictures of our family members—some of whom may have passed away—and took books, contact information and destroyed whatever they chose. One European guy who didn't participate in the strike was forced out of the pod and taken to medical. On the way there he was punched in the face. In receiving he was jumped by Sgt. Sims, Off. Veto and a few other staff members.

When the victim they attacked returned to the pod, they escorted him in a wheelchair. He was tied down and had red gashes and bruises on his face and body and they left him in his cell with nothing to wear but a pair of boxers, socks and sandals. He had been beaten with a nightstick and they refused to give him medical treatment or take pictures of any of his injuries.

DPS doesn't consider it a hunger strike until you refuse to eat nine meals. Then they will start checking your vital organs and observe you.

In February, I went on an eleven day hunger strike, only surviving from sugar pills the effects of which I had not been conscious of at the time. It’s only afterwards that I realized I was bleeding internally but still they have refused to give me medical treatment til this day as I complained on my recent sick call. They have blood samples and all.

The people on S.I.B. a.k.a. suicide watch are left in their cell with nothing but a spock a.k.a. turtle-suit with no blanket or mattress. I was in receptive on the same treatment and I have dates and times.

Overall our recreation request has been met. Everything else was probably a pseudo. We failed to address the main issue during the meetings, which is police brutality. Prisoners were being beaten there at least four times a day when I first arrived. I believe officials are a little more restrained now due to the outside support.

Due to the harassment of the prisoners in my pod from an official who called us snitches and b*tches for writing articles and filing lawsuits, I decide to sacrifice my freedom by accepting his challenge on behalf of my komrades. This was resolved in a George Jackson fashion style water gun that they sent me back to supermax for, with a felony charge facing 68 months to continue my webstar's studies.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 69]
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NC Prisoners File 15,000 Grievances; Organizers Face Retaliation

In 2018, North Carolina prisoners answered South Carolina prisoners' call out coordinating amongst each other in multiple states alongside outside supporters, agitators and Anarchist Black Cross by organizing their POW movement (prisoners of the world).

Three prisoners [names removed] staged a peaceful protest with the support of over 300 prisoners and outside public supporters. They even hung signs on the prison fence made out of sheets. Meanwhile nearly 100 public protesters piled out of dozens of cars, vans, and SUVs, armed with bullhorns, signs, and drums in solidarity with the prisoners while perimeter guards trained loaded firearms at the prisoners and the supporters. Then prisoners submitted a list of demands:

  1. Establish parole for lifers who demonstrate rehabilitation
  2. End life sentences
  3. End all 85% mandatory minimum sentences
  4. End long-term solitary confinement
  5. Abolish article 1, section 17 of the constitution of NC which permits slavery to those convicted of crime through the 13th amendment of the U.$. constitution
  6. End $10 administrative fees for the guilty disposition of a write up or rule violation
  7. Better food with real beef
  8. Better health and dental care
  9. Allow prisoners to purchase JP4 players/notebooks
  10. End security threat group policies that restrict contact visits with their wives, children and fiances
  11. Fair wages for our slave labor
  12. End exaggerated censorship policies
  13. More meaningful rehabilitation and educational opportunities

The following day, on 21 August 2018, prisoners at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Raleigh went on strike, refusing to eat our work, followed by prisoners at Craggy Correctional Center. Then reports began flooding mainstream media that thousands of prisoners across the U.$. were joining the international prison strike in solidarity with the POW movement.

The organizers were then each transferred to separate super maximum security prisons and charged for inciting a riot with the exception of [name removed] who was sent to Butner, NC to a prison that is so violent and popular for 5-on-1 fascist beatings that prisoners call it "baby Guantanamo Bay." After 8 months of cruel and harsh treatment with reports of fascists putting glass in food and feces in another, prisoners [two names removed], with the help of public support, organized their national grievance day calling on all NC prisoners and any similarly situated prisoner in other states who are affected by this oppressive rule to join them and file grievances against their director in their state to end the oppressive rule that prohibits anyone in the public from sending a prisoner money unless that person is an approved visitor on the prisoner's visit list.

As a result of this new restrictive discriminating policy, many prisoners whose families are poor and of color, who don't have identification or transportation to visit a particular prisoner to show em support, now cannot send the prisoner any money. This has resulted in a scarcity of funds to go around resulting in an uptick of gang violence and rule violations. For example, prisoners who can't hustle for money due to no artistic skills or other lacking reasons and whose family can't send them any money for hygiene, food, stamps or phone time now are forced to have their families send money gram, western union, square cash app or greendots to pay inside drug dealers for K-2, CBD, marijuana, suboxone, heroine, or other drugs that they can easily sell in order just to survive.

So in response to this intrusive rule, on 21 May 2019 both men and women prisoners stood together in solidarity and sent in more than 15,000 administrative grievances against the NC prison director. Then on 1 June 2019 North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) reported receiving more than 100,000 phone calls and emails from angry families and supporters internationally backing up email servers and phone lines nearly causing their site to crash, urging the director to repeal his 5 February 2019 Jpay rule. One outside organizer spoke with the public affairs office and reported that "there was an ongoing investigation and the director will be looking into it."

Outside activists and supporters are reporting good feedback from the NCDPS, and folks behind bars. Also an art gallery in New York contacted organizers from itsgoingdown.org and is asking for NC-specific art around this extension of our POW movement and wants to get behind NC prisoners to support them.

With the 21 May 2019 national grievance day, in addition, prisoners are beginning to coordinate amongst each other in multiple states, and working with outside supporters; word of the coordinated action has now spread all over the country.

Supreme Court shut down Prisoner Organizing

For nearly 40 years, prisoners in North Carolina have avoided the political arena surrounding prisoner rights ever since the United $tates Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Jones v. NC prisoners labor union, inc. 433 u.s. 119, 129 97 S.ct 2532, 53 L.Ed 26, 629 (1977), preventing NC prisoners from unionizing, meetings and solicitation of membership.

The union formed in late 1974 with a stated goal of "the promotion of charitable labor union purposes" and the formation of a "prisoners labor union at every prison and jail in NC to seek through collective bargaining... to improve... working... conditions..." It also proposed to work towards the alteration or elimination of practices and policies of the Department of Corrections (DOC) which it did not approve of and to serve as a vehicle for the presentation and resolution of prisoner grievances. By early 1975 the union had attracted some 2000 prisoner members in 40 different prison units throughout NC.

The state of NC, unhappy with these developments, set out to prevent prisoners from forming or operating a union. While the state tolerated individual "membership," or belief, in the union, it sought to prohibit prisoner solicitation of other prisoners, meetings between members or the union, and bulk mailings concerning the union from outside sources. So on 26 March 1975 the DOC (now North Carolina Department of Public Safety - NCDPS) prohibited that activity.

Since prisoners were on notice of the proscription prior to its enactment, they filed suit in the U.$. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of NC. That was on 18 March 1975, approximately a week before the date upon which the regulation was to take effect. The union claimed that its rights of its members to engage in protected free speech association and assembly activities were being infringed by the no-solicitation and no-meeting rules.

The district court felt that since the defendants countenanced the bare foot of union membership, it had to allow the solicitation activity, whether by prisoners or by outsiders and held "we are unable to perceive why it is necessary or essential to security and order in the prisons to forbid solicitation of membership in a union permitted by the authorities. This is not a case of a riot. There is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that the union has been utilized to disrupt the operation of the penal institution." The warden appealed to the fourth circuit who also agreed with prisoners. The warden appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States who reversed the 4th circuit's decision.

The court deferred to the warden's conclusions that the presence and objectives of a prisoners' labor union would be detrimental to order and security in the prisons. The court held those conclusions had not been conclusively shown to be wrong in this view, and that when weighed against the First Amendment rights asserted, these institutional reasons are sufficiently weighty to prevail. In sum, the court's decision established that the institutional interest of the prison outweighs a prisoner's constitutional rights. The rulings in Jones, in hindsight, defined prisoners' status as "prisoners" and eliminated prisoners' rights to free association and essentially paved the future for correctional czars to place iron curtains between the First Amendment and prisoners with impunity.

Punished for writing a letter to organizers

Update: On 12 June 2019 and still claiming actual innocence as to why ey's in prison. Prisoner [name removed] was in eir cell writing organizers when a sergeant and two prison guards entered eir cell for a search. During the search one of the prison guards picked up the letter and began reading it. The prisoner was handcuffed and charged for inciting a riot for simply stating in his letter to outside supporters and organizers "thank you for helping put NC prisoners on the map and for giving prisoners a voice on May 21, 2019 and June 1, 2019 as we continue to bring our collective struggles to the battlefront. I look forward to the 2020 strike calling on all us prisoners to stand in solidarity to demand an end to slavery in prisons and to restore our freedoms."

At this time, this prisoner was scheduled to receive eir first visit in 11 years from eir sister who has no criminal record and who had been unapproved for no reason and was finally approved. Unfortunately, eir sister drove over 8 hours to visit and took vacation time plus a portion of eir husband's disability money to cover the expenses. What's worse is that eir son was just accepted at university which puts an even worse financial strain on the family. Meanwhile this prisoner remains in administrative segregation and faces another 8 month long-term lock up. While in lock up ey accused prison guards of putting feces in eir tea and poisoning eir food. Ey reported having diarrhea, vomiting blood, inability to hold down food, weakness, shakes, hallucinations, hot-cold sweats, stomach pain and dry heaving. Ey has since recovered after two weeks on a self-induced diet of milk.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are some important lessons in this report from North Carolina. First, the restriction on organizing and even just basic free speech of prisoners is pervasive. It takes the format of transferring or charging with crimes prisoners who initiate protests or even complaints against conditions behind bars. But it is also codified by the courts in rulings like the prohibition of union organizing. These laws and actions amount to telling prisoners that they must accept any and all oppressive conditions, that the so-called "rights" of U.$. citizenship do not apply to them.

We can take inspiration from this oppression. While the threats and retaliation will scare some out of taking action, revolutionaries will understand that our actions must be effective if we have frightened the prison and legal system into enacting rules and policies to stop our organizing work. And so we must continue! These organizers in North Carolina are continuing in the face of serious repression, and providing an example of determination and perseverance for others.

Whether your work is focused on educating others, or directly taking on repressive actions by the administration, it can all contribute to building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. This United Front challenges the criminal injustice system through the unity of the oppressed behind bars. We need more stories like this one about the battles being waged. And for those looking to get involved, write to us for resources, educational materials, and support for your struggles.

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[Campaigns] [North Carolina]
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NC Grievance Complaint Denied by Inspector General

I attempted to participate in the grievance campaign complaint by submitting the form you provided to me to fill out and submit my querimony to the following: The North Carolina Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction – Secretary of "corruption", Mr. Erik A. Hook on April 12, 2019 without any response and the enclosed letter from the office of Inspector General on April 9, 2019. And I did not expect nothing less from either agency.

Enclosed letter dated May 2, 2019

Thank you for your correspondence received April 26, 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of the Inspector General, investigates allegations of misconduct by employees and contractors of DOJ, as well as waste, fraud and abuse affecting DOJ programs or operations.

The matters you raised are outside our investigative jurisdiction, therefore no action can be taken by our Office. Please be advised that we have not retained any copy of your material and any additional material you submit regarding this matter will be destroyed.

Of course, if you have new information that involves other allegations or issues regarding DOJ employees, contractors, programs or operations, please feel free to submit that information to us.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to review your concerns.

Sincerely,

Office of the Inspector General
Investigations Division

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[Organizing] [North Carolina]
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POW Organizers Declare National Grievance Day in NC

On Feb 5, 2019 NC prison director Kenneth Lassiter sent out a memo that now limits who can send prisoners money through Jpay. Under this new restrictive policy, only the approved visitors on the prisoners visitation list may send him/her any money. As a consequence, many prisoners who are from out of state or who’s visitors are elderly or impoverished or disabled who do not receive visits can now no longer receive money from their loved ones, friends or supporters on the outside. Just one example of unfairness is thousands of Latinos who are incarcerated and either don’t speak English or who’s family member does not reside in the United States are unable to receive money to purchase food, hygiene cosmetics and health products. Additionally, many of us have lost visitation privileges with our approved visitors for a myriad of illogical reasons which in turn has caused us to be ineligible to receive money from that prison. This is just another exaggerated response from correction czars drunk on their own undeserved power over others. Its bad enough that we are censored to death over who and what we can write or what we can read without some pederast fascist trying to control free societies sympathy and charity for others.

So in response to this oppressive rule, prisoners in North Carolina are organizing what we are calling a “national grievance day” and calling on all prisoners in NC as well as prisoners in other states with similar Jpay rules to file grievances on their directors of prison on May 21, 2019 and regardless of any response received, appeal it as far as it can be appealed. The only remedy we are seeking is to abolish this counter productive rule.

Once everyone has filed grievances, inside POW organizers have coordinated with outside public supporters and organizations from itsgoingdown.org and www.atlblackcross.org who plan on caravaning to Raliegh, NC on June 1, 2019 alongside the Blueridge ABC chapter armed with drums, bullhorns, picket signs and camcorders to record and protest our cause.

Additionally, we are asking supporters and family members to blow up the NC DOC public affairs phone numbers on June 1, 2019 by calling them and expressing their dissatisfaction with the Jpay rule. The DOC numbers at the PAO is 919-716-3700 919-716-3727 919-716-3733 919-716-3713. Supporters and family members are also encouraged to send emails and letters to the director asking him to abolish this rule at [email protected] or by mail to: Director of Prisons, 831 W. Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27699.

We are hoping that with thousands of grievances from prisoners flooding their administration alongside negative emails, letters and phone calls followed by hundreds of public protesters on June 1, 2019 that we can beat back repression by attacking on all sides. Family members and friends of incarcerated persons are encouraged and invited to stand with us on behalf of their incarcerated loved one during this public event. All letters welcome.

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[Abuse] [Lumberton Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Infraction for Organizing Study Group in NC

On Sunday April 7th, 2019, the prison administration blessed me with an infraction for trying to assemble a group study regarding the materials you forwarded to me; plus, for having all of the state prisoners names I submitted to receive Under Lock & Key. And unfortunately I cannot file a grievance to challenge. The [material] alleged to have been found on my bunk at 6:30AM—in the dark. (Hum). I will keep you appraised of the grievances procedure scheduled for April 17, 2019. I am totally pissed off.

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[Organizing] [Alexander Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 66]
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Writing Campaign Works

I have been fighting for better conditions in my current prison since I got here in June 2017. Tell the prison masses they have to write en masse to their unit managers, warden and director of prisons in their state. It's free!! There is no excuse.

The easiest thing to do, which I did, is to write up your declarations and remonstrations using carbon copy paper. Make 2-3 copies for each block/pod in every unit. Pass them out to comrades in those blocks, so they can encourage/force/persuade the masses to take 15 minutes to recopy and post it out. Done.

The first time I initiated these shots the warden called me to his office for a meeting with him, the unit manager, and assistant warden. He stopped the early counts, the 9 p.m. count, and turning off of phones. This sh!t works. On the second salvo he initiated recreation seven days a week. We are still pounding.


MIM(Prisons) responds: More reasonable hours for count, more contact with the outside world, and more recreation are all related to our anti-imperialist struggle, even though they may seem like petty reforms. Better sleep makes us mentally sharper, for writing, self-control, and creativity. Interaction with the outside world can give us motivation and positive social contact. And exercise (especially outdoors) helps with our physical as well as mental health.

We'd love to analyze a little deeper the benefits of running a campaign like the one described, because it's not just good for changing conditions. The people who are copying the letters and seeing results are at a special place in their recruiting. They might not be ready to initiate a campaign like this, and they might not even identify as part of "the struggle." But they have some interest in this work and are putting in some (albeit relatively small) effort.

At this stage, the best thing we can do for them is help set up "easy wins." They probably aren't dedicated enough to remain committed after a big setback. So asking them to put in a ton of effort for no reward is just not realistically going to inspire them to stay engaged. Whenever we can devise campaigns or activities that give this positive feedback to the people participating, with minimal effort, we should jump on those projects. These folks might not have learned the relationship between working hard and reward, so we can help teach that association. "Without directly experiencing the connection between effort and reward, animals, whether they're rats or people, default to laziness."(1)

Also keep in mind that all is not lost on the folks who are not participating, and are watching the campaign from the sidelines. Like we wrote in our response to "Sack the Sack Lunches," this type of campaign can help spark people's interest, just by witnessing and experiencing the results. Let's not condemn these folks for not participating, and instead let's try harder to inspire them with our successes, and then help them with easy wins when they are ready to participate.

In some states like Texas, where even indigent mail is restricted to 5 letters per month, it's not free to write to these administrators to change conditions. There are plenty of excuses (or reasons) why people can't engage in this type of campaign. Still, whenever possible, we agree that we should be pushing campaigns like these. It just means we have to get more creative in developing them.

Note:
1. Angela Duckworth, Grit, Scribner: 2016, Ch. 11 "The Playing Fields of Grit."
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[Prison Labor] [Pender Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 66]
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Standing Up Against Work Extortion in NC

Myself and two other prisoners currently being held at Pender Correctional in North Carolina have founded a band of like-minded brothers that are fed up with the way the state and prison systems have found a way to excuse slavery. They are preying on people's downfalls, and use them for their own gain. In North Carolina there is a lot of overcrowding and the only way to get on good time is to work, which saves them money, not having to pay prisoners minimum wage. This work also makes income for the prison at their enterprise plants, where prisoners work for 40-55 hours a week for $10.50-$21.30 in pay (for the week). They have the workers making officers' uniforms, chemicals, working farms, making eye wear, and a laundry service that not only cleans prison clothes but also hospital and rest home clothes.

If you are one of the lucky ones that gets to go to a minimum camp and go out on work release to work an outside job, they charge you $150 a week for room and board. Hold on, that's double dipping. They get paid by the federal government to house us. Then they write us up for every petty thing they can, such as too many clothes, disrespect, profanity, etc. and take $10 from us each time. They also invented a way to charge us every time we receive money from our family.

We decided that we won't go for it anymore, but we are limited to what we can do while we're in here, for fear of retaliation. We're already suffering because we refuse to work. We are building steam every day by spreading the word. We need help from someone that knows the best ways to organize and lead. So can you please help us with advice and resource list and materials to pass out? Also we could really use law books to help further some various lawsuits we have filed and need to file. Please help in any way you can. We are a band of your fellow brothers seeking guidance. Thank you for your time!


MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades organizing against the extortion of their labor are setting an example for others. Getting like-minded people together and coming up with a unified plan of action is an accomplishment in and of itself. We will send some materials, grievance petitions and other resources that may be useful. But we also call on other prisoners to respond with any advice you have for these organizers. What can we do to have the best chances of success? Are there problems these comrades should look out for? This is the dialectical process that revolutionaries use, summing up our practice to learn from successes and failures. And sharing that learning with others makes an even bigger impact. Turn your own organizing failures into successes by learning from them and helping others to avoid the same mistakes.

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[Abuse] [Tabor Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Fighting False Charges for Staff Negligence

I am waiting to see the D.H.O. for an 'A' charge. I could go to the hole for several weeks, so I'm writing to you now. The following may be published.

On November 4, Ms Jackson, a unit manager, refused to allow this political prisoner to go to work. The record does not clearly reveal whether her violation was racially motivated or relation for the victim's First Amendment activities. It subjected him to possibly being fired or written up for a Rule 25 violation, so he filed a grievance. A step One response was due but not received on November 24.

On November 8, the guards again abandoned their post at the pod sally port so I was unable to go to work. I waited a quarter hour in the designated location. Frederick Shaw, of the same race as Jackson but not me, showed up for "work" a couple of hours late. Instead of giving me a pass per policy, he wrote me up!

Gwenda McDuffile was assigned to "investigate." She gave me a statement form and stared into space and played with a computer mouse while I tried to defend myself against unknown allegations. I later was formally charged with three "offenses."

I was given two charges because of lies in Shaw's statement: a B3 for interfering with a locking device (the block slider?) and a B2.5 for being in an "unauthorized" area (the cell block instead of my assigned job location). The D.H.O. properly dismissed them but continued a more serious 'A' charge for investigation.

Frustrated by my refusal to plead guilty, McDuffie had written me up for writing a statement. Having some knowledge of constitutional law and State policy, I had briefly stated what I knew about McDuffie's "investigation" (she stared into space and played with a computer mouse) while not expressly contradicting my statement. McDuffie concluded, without citing any statute, rule or precedent, that my allegations could expose McDuffie to criminal liability.

I saw the D.H.O. again. The D.H.O. explained that a defense statement about a non-resident employee even if true and made in good faith is punishable per policy by a $10 fine, 30 days in the hole, 60 days sentence credits, 50 hours "extra duty" (slave labor), loss of three "privileges" for 90 days, and $10 trust fund withdrawal limit for 90 days. I know I also face added custody points and probable "demotion" back to close custody.

Officer Grainger was assigned to investigate McDuffie's write up. McDuffie's prior investigation having been unauthorized and otherwise in violation of state law. Although artfully worded, his report tended to corroborate my reports and proved that McDuffie's allegation was a lie. It further showed that I had been denied due process of law by collaborative efforts of McDuffie and Sgt. Gerald. The D.H.O. continued the case again, indicating that he would be discussing Gerald's illegal interference with an assistant warden before leaving the building. Such ex parte communications are unprofessional if not illegal, but common in North Carolina.

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