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.
The state is tightening its control on free communication and association in prison systems across the country by imposing digital monitoring systems, and in some cases banning hard copies of mail. (see Comrade Uhuru’s article)
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has begun using a company called TextBehind to handle their mail and push people towards their digital communications platform. This allows the company to extort people to pay whatever prices they want just to send their loved ones a message, while the state gets to monitor every word.
MIM Distributors began sending mail to TextBehind last month only to have it returned unopened. It turns out TextBehind does not process letters from organizations, only from individuals. As an organization we would be required to set up a corporate account with non-public pricing schemes. In other words, as a member of MIM(Prisons) I cannot just put a stamp on an envelope and drop it in the mail for a comrade in NCDPS custody anymore. This is a blatant violation of our First Amendment rights to speech and association. At this time it appears that newsletters and books are still allowed through the prisons, but we will not be able to correspond with you directly, send you study guides or other information persynalized to you if you are being held by NCPDS.
Pigs Bring in Drugs, While Prisoners Mail Suffers
related news from a Wisconsin prisoner:
First thing first, I am still in Wisconsin. They are making all of us have our families and comrades send personal letters and photos to the Phoenix, Maryland PO Box (189) to inspect them for drugs such as K2, even though drugs, cell phones and other contraband items comes from the fascist pigs that work in these imperialist gulags. Newspapers, books, publications are still to be sent here.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2021 permalink
On 15 September 2021 twenty four prisoners declared hunger strike at Foothills Correctional Institution in North Carolina. By 2PM the administration locked up 3 comrades. Me and another comrade stayed fasting.
They only give us phone once a week; no yard in a month; and less than 2 hours of recreation per day. Basically we’re in segregation for no reason. I reflect on these b.s. measures, then I asked myself why and how does this opre$$ion end?!
“Why are the battles endless?! Why the Us vs. them?! Why is the Earth CRYING ?!”
There’s been a substantial amount of reports on increases in depression and mental health disorders in the United $tates due to the shelter-in-place orders. In September, Time Magazine cited a study that showed severe depression being reported by 5.1% of people, up from 0.7% before the pandemic. The common explanation for this increase is social isolation combined with uncertainty and fear. Yet we have a prison system that regularly uses more extreme forms of social isolation (for example no internet, and being locked down in a literal cage), uncertainty and fear and people often look at the people in these prisons as being mentally ill. In reality, we are seeing a massive experiment on the larger society that shows this is how most people react in the conditions we face in prison. So what does it mean to be mentally ill, if this is socially induced?
It means this place will drive you crazy. If not by having hardly any contact with the opposite sex, then by isolation in a small cell (including being allowed 3 showers a week and an hour of recreation outside your cell 5 days a week). This is not normal and causes abnormal effects.
As you sit in your dwelling long enough you become a different person. You may find yourself venting or doing things you normally wouldn’t do, like burning down your cell or town.
A person may go a period of time without speaking. An elderly self-disciplined person may stay quiet, longing, but when one does break their silence they will talk for an hour or two until they burn themselves out. This will usually occur once a day in conditions where there’s only one person to talk to, as it is an HCON (high) Control Purpose.
Others began to talk to spirits and demons. In some cases, this is stimulated by them making up stuff in their mind, but there are also diagnosed paranoid prisoners who scream every time the light cuts on and they open their eyes. They also fight demons.
Solitary confinement can also lead to suicide, as an escape. There have been people committing reactionary suicide, like Biscuit from the movie Life, when he ran across the gun line because he “couldn’t go on living.” Psychologists don’t even bother to get to know who you are or talk you through your problems. They either give you some drugs to experiment with or decline to help you altogether. They are unconcerned that abused children are liable to grow up with an attachment disorder which doesn’t necessarily require medication but does require TLC, which a half-dozen psychiatrists can’t provide for the 1200 prisoners here.
On Segregation we receive even less communication with our families who can provide that loving sanctuary and keep us sane, because we have no phone and only one non-contact visit a month (we should be able to receive more TV visits).
Our families mail is sometimes held for a month after it arrives at the prison. This creates depression by worrying about our families and why they haven’t written over the holidays, to later find out devastating news from our loved ones. Talk about fear and uncertainty.
Some people become anti-social in solitary confinement for different reasons. One reason may be that after so much chaos and falling out with people around them in distress, they began to fall back from everyone.
Others find themselves through self-discipline and block out all other worldly distractions to work on their goals.
Some stressed adolescents in solitary confinement turn towards music as escape and begin to sing lyrics at the top of their lungs, others find refuge and entertainment in woofing. With all this racket going on in Restrictive Housing, it will drive a perfectly sane person insane and into an insomniac.
At Polk Correctional Institution in North Carolina on supermax (or HCON, High Risk Security) we don’t go outside because the officials will trash your cell, steal your property, fully restrain you with your hands behind your back connected to chains around your waist, and leave you in a recreation cage with giant brown recluse spiders, all to deter you from going outside again. Similar tactics are practices here at Central Prison.
The air in the building is insufficient for a human being to breathe at times and I’ve experienced shortness of breath. Compare that to wearing a mask that you can easily remove if you choose.
Comrades at that camp have developed bone marrow cancer, and there is probably cause to expect that this cancer may have been caused by the contaminated water they were working in. There was also strong gasoline type chemicals in the food that was being served at the time.
Right now at Central Prison our lunch consists of one bologna and cheese sandwich, 2 crackers and a 2oz (1/4 cup) of fruit with a juice packet every day. Dinner’s no better, and staff will fight and curse you if you speak out, because they have PTSD and other disorders themselves from war, childhood and other experiences. In this way, mental health patients (the staff) are responsibly for the well-being of other mental health patients.
There’s a mental health program called T.D.U. for patients on RHCP (Restrictive Housing Control Purposes) that they can send you to where you can slowly earn privileges like television, canteen, phone, being allowed to come out of your cell, but they never send any New Afrikans to the programs.
By contrast, RHCP pods have 16 cells each, and I have never seen more than 5 non-color people at a time in any pod. At HCON there are four blocks each with two tiers that hold 12 cells each. I have never witnessed more than 2 non-color people on any tier at a time during the 2 years I spent there.
If a non-colored comrade gets in a scuffle on the yard at Central Prison, they may receive a week or two in segregation, but a negro will receive 12-18 months on RHCP. Right now, we are receiving more time at Central Prison on RHCP than prisoners at Polk CI on HCON who spend only 10 months on HCON, but after they do their HCON at Polk CI, Polk may hold them for 6-12 months on RHCP.
Some people haven’t been guilty of any charges to be placed on RHCP or HCON, so Classification will lie and forge paperwork (no due process). They are con artists who don’t follow their own laws.
The ill-treatment we receive from the institution only creates more PTSD and brings unnecessary bad energy towards people. Workers should be focused on taking care of their families and not risking their lives to oppress others for no gain, but of their master’s amusement.
This room becomes our life. At Polk CI on HCON our cells have showers with food being delivered to their doors, and some guys never want to leave. Some people aren’t going home and to some poor men on the street, incarceration provides 3 meals a day. In the County jail I’ve seen people live in the hole and refuse to leave on numerous occasions.
Solitary confinement is the only place I’ve seen a man smear shit everywhere including his face, and eat shit sandwiches. Tell me this is normal and something you see people do. Thankfully they finally sent this particular prisoner to the mental hospital where he may get some help (and not get thrown in a cage for sleeping in some bushes on public property because he’s a poor New Afrikan man who was stripped of his assets).
Comrades, we are not ourselves behind the door, so I’ll leave you with the words a knowledgeable man left with me:
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2020 permalink
Comrade Tag: I fasted from 7PM on 8 September 2020 until 5PM on 9 September 2020. I did drink water though. It was intense, it was the first time I’ve ever intentionally fasted. In the streets I wouldn’t eat for a day or 2, but I had alcohol, weed, etc. to sustain me.
It was eye-opening for me. Like, “Damn, people go through this for the cause all the time!” I need to tighten up. Self discipline for me and food is poor. I write, stand up against oppression, and help educate people, but food is so essential to survival. Not eating for me is like not living. That’s why I decided to fast.
My stomach complained a lot at first, but after awhile it stopped. I had a goal in mind, so it followed my lead. My thoughts tried to scatter, but I focused on explaining to guys why I fasted. Also, more causes were brung to my attention.
All in all the day was a success! The feast with Comrade L was supportive. Ey is new to being aware and learning about the struggle. I explained my appreciation for eir support. Thank you for sending ULK No. 57, it was a great read and perfect timing. Thanks again for your time and support.
Comrade L: Hello, my name is [Comrade L] and I participated in the September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. This is the first time I’ve fasted in relation to prisoner awareness. I did this to show my support and to have something to do.
I’ve done a few things this year to further our causes here at Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution. This 11 hours (6AM - 5PM) helped me to think about what I do. I feel a little more aware of what others have had to go through so prison could be better.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Also, I feel good when I broke the fast with Tag NC. Ey said I should write my feelings so ey could send it with this letter today. I hope you are happy with my support.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Adult Correction is hard at work exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to further oppress disadvantaged people. Its first big moves were elimination of visitation and Christian religious services. Then, concerned about overcrowding (which DPS has previously denied) and lack of social distancing, a judge requested DPS to tell the court how its acting to keep prisoners in different pods, dorms and units apart. Then things really got crazy.
After weeks of foolish experiments in the overcrowded dining hall, Greene Correctional Institution stopped letting us eat there at all. All meals are now served on styrofoam takeout trays. The pigs have less “work” to do. The partial lockdown didn’t stop there, though.
The yards are now closed about 19 hours/day. Yard time is the only opportunity we have for distanced socializing. Now its limited to less than 1.5 hours/day for each dorm, two or three dorms at a time. The rest of the day we’re locked up in concrete tombs, suffering from vitamin D deficiencies. Lack of fresh air and vitamin D is compromising our immune systems, increasing our risk of dying of COVID-19.
Disingenuous DPS paperwork has placated courts, which have never been known for integrity or common sense. Any reported isolation is a crude ruse effective only when someone chooses to believe it and ignore the evidence. Despite published rules, prisoners float from dorm to dorm, tattooing each other, buying, selling and taking drugs, bartering and trading medical supplies and contraband, gambling, and extorting weaker, elderly, infirm and handicapped prisoners. Guards pretend not to notice the crowds in the dayrooms, bathrooms and showers.
DPS has now “resumed” (it never really stopped) shipping victims between prisons. New arrivals come straight to regular population. They are not quarantined.
Guards and another non-resident personnel come and go. They are not tested. By now, its a near certainty that some of them carry SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Just recently, the national grievance petition that I drafted got published in several newspapers. Then our cell block got raided multiple times, and cellphones were confiscated. Well the C.O.’s put the searches off on my organizing and blaming me for the raids. As a result, a XXXX gang member stabbed me 5 times in the back with an ice pick. I am recovering fine but it just goes to show how far these fascists will go to shut me up.
Next, I would like to update you on these petitions. So on 8 May 2020 citizens in Raleigh, N.C. did a vehicle protest blaring horns, marching with signs in front of Central Prison in Raleigh & prisoners on the inside went on a 3 day hunger strike and refused to lock down at the facility.
On 9 May 2020 many protests broke out at the Neuse Prison inside and outside demanding N.C. prisoners’ human rights.
On 10 May 2020 women prisoners at NCCIW also protested on the inside while dozens of cars blared their horns outside of the prison in solidarity and marched in front of the prison until local police from two agencies were dispersed to break the crowd up.
Prisoners are tired of being restricted from writing to other prisoners of the opposite sex. Tired of paying $10.00 for prison rule violations, restrictions on who can send us money, life sentences and all the b.s. time we are being sentenced.
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:
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.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2019 permalink
It’s August 2019 and people say that the Criminal Justice System doesn't work. I beg to differ. I've come to believe that it works just fine, just like slavery did as a matter of economic and political policy. How is it that a 16 year old in North Carolina who can't get a job can suddenly generate $54,750 (which equates to $150 a day for prison upkeep) when trapped and inducted into the Criminal Injustice System where architects, food and medical providers, masons, carpenters, electricians, painters, correctional officers, administrators and a myriad other skilled trade workers get paid with guaranteed job security?
Just like the era of chattel slavery, there is a class of people dependent on the poor and on the bodies of all of us who are behind bars. All throughout the Criminal Injustice System, the policies of the police, the courts, and our prisons are a manifestation of classism, racism and dishonesty which governs the lives of all of us. Then you have prosecutors. They are like nasty little rats with quivering noses that have invaded our court systems with full impunity across the country feeding thousands of human bodies into the bowels of the razor-wire plantations without the slightest remorse for the hell they are sending us to, where slavery is mandated.
No matter how you look at it, involuntary labor is slavery. You see, the United $tates didn't abolish slavery, they just transferred it into their prisons. So last year on 20 August 2018 with the help of outside human rights activists, prison abolitionists, anarchists, and other public supporters who did a peaceful demonstration in our prison parking lot, I, [Prisoner A], alongside [Prisoners B, C and D] all organized together with hundreds of other prisoners across North Carolina and questioned these policies by assembling peacefully and petitioning our government for a redress of our grievances.
As a result, we were all labeled as rioters and Security Threat Group individuals and sent off to super max prisons and thrown into solitary confinement where we were subjected to all sorts of mistreatment: glass was found in [Prisoner D's] food, I was poisoned and never receiving any treatment, [Prisoner B] was sent to the Rehabilitative Diversion Unit (RDU) program where he is currently being brainwashed. [Prisoner C] got out of prison. I finally got out of solitary hell after spending 8 long months of sensory deprivation and losing 53 pounds only to face more repression and mail censorship that resulted in me receiving another 6 months for simply writing and organizing the 21 May 2019 National Grievance Day complaining about the new discriminatory JPay policy that limits who can send a prisoner money.
And what have I learned in all of this? I've learned that any time you restrain a person from going where they want to go, its an act of violence. Anytime you bully and mistreat someone by placing them in a cell 23 hours a day, it's an act of violence! I've also learned that it's not the inhumanity of the cruelties prisoners face in prisons on a daily basis or inhumane conditions: the cold, filth, callous medical care, tasers, unnecessary chains, pepper spray, beatings, excessive censorship, dehumanizing strip searches, extended and excessive isolation in solitary confinement for simple things like writing, or the robbing of our trust funds of $10 each time a prison guard accuses us of a rule violation that are criminalized; it's the complaining about our conditions of confinement that's made criminal. Right now there are tens of thousands of humans living in enforced solitary confinement cells in U.$. prisons.
Over a decade ago when news broke about what was going on in Abu Ghraib, President Bush stated "what took place in that prison doesn't represent the America I know." Unfortunately, for the more than 2.5 million prisoners and undocumented immigrants and the rest of us living in U.$. prisons, this is the Amerikkka we know, our family members know, and the anarchists and prison abolitionists know. Furthermore, prisoners have got to wake up and realize that the entire executive branch of the U.$. government seems to sanction torture in our prisons and all of the repression and disrespect that we endure on a daily basis from prison guards is unacceptable. It is imperative that prisoners continue to organize and to write about their experiences and complain to folks on the outside so that the public can realize what's happening to people in U.$. prisons. There are watchdog organizations that expose, ridicule and punish Internet and school bullies and there are laws against bullying. The prison guards are also supposed to observe these laws.
The conditions and practices that men, women, and children can attest to here in North Carolina are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In addition, most U.$. prisons practices also violate dozens of other international treaties and clearly fit the United Nations' definition of genocide. Aren't you tired of being told where to sit? What to eat? Who you can socialize with inside and outside of prison? What you can watch on TV? What you may read or what you can write about or to whom? Of being denied basic dignity based on race or class? Aren't you tired of your bodies being examined, exploited and used through dehumanizing and invasive strip-searches on the whim of a prison guard or a jailer?
Prisoners have got to continue to organize and alter the very core of every system that slavery, racism and poverty has given birth to, and particularly the Criminal Injustice System. The entire prison system must stop violating the rights of men, women, and children in North Carolina! We must effectively eliminate solitary confinement, the restriction of our civil rights, their devices of torture, family-run prisons, and all forms of sentences of "death by incarceration" or sentences that are overly burdensome, oppressive and too lengthy that financially benefit the government instead of victims of crime!
It's plain to see that many victims could be better served by working out an honest agreement with those disingenuous persons who have wronged them, and that prosecutors have a lot of undue power to decide whom to criminalize as well as what cases are or aren't priority. Of course these mutual agreements will not be ideal in every case, but failure to account for social context is such a crucial aspect of what's wrong with our current system. We need to put context first and resolve each dispute in its own way rather than just applying a rigid legal formula.
I think the call for universal basic decency and respect towards all living creatures as well as towards prisoners is a powerful message that's made more powerful when people share their stories of mistreatment. Each of our personal and individual struggles are one of many, but when we as prisoners stop focusing on the color of one's skin, or what he or she is in prison for, and all join hands, that's when we can get our freedoms back and that's when we can all win.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is right on when ey says that prisons do work. It's all about understanding the real purpose of prisons. Amerikkkan prisons are not meant for rehabilitation, they are meant for social control. The author speaks of the child prisoner who is "generating" $54,750 per year. This is another purpose of prisons: distribution of profits stolen from the Third World to First World workers. All those workers in the criminal injustice system are parasites, earning good wages to further this system of social control. Those wages come mostly from state budgets. And those state budgets are just a redistribution of wealth. Imperialist wealth. Which is taken from the Third World through exploitation of workers and theft of natural resources.
This redistribution of super profits is a side "benefit" of the criminal injustice system. The focus is social control, particularly of oppressed nations. That social control wouldn't be complete if prisoners were allowed to study, communicate and organize freely. In fact, there is a contradiction inherent in the United $tates prison system. Locking up people as a means of social control puts these people in close contact, with lots of time on their hands, which facilitates organizing and studying together. So the prisons turn to greater repression behind bars to try to stop these activities. That's exactly what this writer is fighting against. We must demand an end to solitary confinement, an end to censorship of prisoners' mail, and access to a real and effective grievance system. These are small goals in the context of the larger fight against imperialism. But they are goals that will bring real progress for our comrades behind bars. Progress that will allow the prisoners to organize and educate and build.
by a North Carolina prisoner August 2019 permalink
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.
by a North Carolina prisoner August 2019 permalink
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.