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.
by a North Carolina prisoner December 2016 permalinkRevolutionary Greetings,
I am writing to tell the story of the death of a prisoner here at Pender Kurrupt Institution in Burgaw, North Carolina. On the 20th and 21st of December 2016 a prisoner at this facility declared six (6) medical emergencies (which is where you state that you need to be seen by medical immediately) complaining about back pain. The medical staff continue to state that nothing was showing up on a one (1) month old EKG, and sent him back to the dorm with packs of ibuprofen. On the 21st along with the numerous medical emergencies, two (2) code blue were called about the prisoner (code blue is a emergency code for someone that falls out and can't respond on their own accord). Still the medical staff does not send the prisoner to the hospital. Around the hour of (2) two o'clock in the morning the prisoner is on the floor on his hands and knees attempting to get medical attention. To no avail he collapses on the floor dead. By the time the nurse responds she watches as another prisoner gives him CPR. The nurses stand and watch (20) twenty minutes before the ambulance arrives.
The dereliction of duty conducted by the nurses here is sickening. Pender is a medical facility that has had numerous deaths that go unnoticed by the civilian population, therefore no justice for the prisoner or their families. If you fill out a DC-602 (sick call appointment request) like I have you could never be seen or told that nothing is wrong. Who knows your body better than you? Understanding that we have inmates that abuse their medication as a pacifist escapism. With that said, prisoners need help with their chronic life threatening diseases with little to no care by the medical staff.
Comrades it's time to stand up and use our voice to contact the newspaper, news, congressmen etc. to change the intolerable, inhumane conditions we suffer in here. If that don't work, peaceful sit downs. Unite under the banner of M.L.M.
by a North Carolina prisoner December 2016 permalink[This comrade confirmed that there were still 40 people in the 1 Restricted Housing Unit at Albemarle Correctional Institution in 2016. This number has not changed since our survey conducted in 2008.]
What reasons are given for putting people in the Restricted Housing Unit? not responding, assumption, racism, or any little thing.
What is the biggest barrier to building unity where you are held? Officer and administration give special privilege to inmates to sntich and to side with adminstration.
by a North Carolina prisoner October 2016 permalink
I'm writing you from a federal jail facility here in Murphy, NC. We have been on lockdown for close to 3 months now. We are on lockdown for what another individual had done, what it is I have no idea. Since my arrival I have come into contact with ULK and value the information and its message. If possible can you begin my subscription?
by a North Carolina prisoner October 2016 permalink
As the comrade whom recently filed an civil case against NCDPS stated “there are no rights, only power struggles.” Currently a prisoner entrapped in the cages of North Carolina, I testify his comment as truth. Censorship within NC prisons has been expanded from safety examination to harassing and illegal.
Censorship has become as a tool to cover up the corruption, tyranny, and oppression. Not only outgoing and incoming mail, but also phone calls. When an incident of corruption occurs, these facilities will not allow prisoners to utilize commissionary to purchase stamps, envelopes, or paper. Following the stoppage of canteens, warehouse officers will cease the issuance of paper and envelopes for those of us who are indigent.
The continuous banning of ULK, and similar publications is a problem, but not our only problem. Those of us who are experiencing these conditions, we have to create a vanguard. And the comrades in Texas, California, and the like, we must create a voice. Where is the unity? Where is the solidarity. We have to construct a united front. It doesn’t only occur in North Carolina. Maltreatment of prisoners occurs all across Amerika. We must step up to cease these problems. Our sons, daughters, the future generations, we must fight so they aren’t subjected to these circumstances.
Censorship in North Carolina has risen to the point where it’s an impossibility for my loved ones to receive a letter. Censorship in North Carolina has elevated to the plane where legal documents are not reaching their intended destinations. NCPDS has become so oppressive to where there isn’t a law library in any correctional facility throughout the state.
NCPDS attempts to counter-attack, more appropriately worded as prevent, a rise of consciousness. The preventative measures began with stripping us of the tools which was used to enslave us: politics, economics, and jurisprudence. As the historic figure Fredrick Douglass wrote to Gerril Smith, the abolitionist, in his letter entitled "No Progress Without Struggle":
"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to the august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
Mr. Fredrick Douglass continues:
"Those who profess freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are he who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand."
Is the prison industrial complex not the contemporary plantations? Are those of us who are locked away in the penal systems of Amerika, denounced, then deprived of their rights? Dr. John S. Rock, an accomplished physician and lawyer, who was the first New-Afrikan attorney admitted to the bar of the United $tates Supreme Court said, "The greatest battles which they have fought have been upon paper."
We are stripped of our rights according to their principles, laws, and constitution. North Carolina this is the time to support each other, to unite and form organizations, on the inside and outside to voice against the oppression. You are not alone. For all of those whom are oppressed, we have one common objective: to end it! Comrades, please aid your assistance by advice.
The first step is organizing!
One for all, all for one!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We previously reported in ULK 52 on a former prisoner's lawsuit against North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) for censoring Under Lock & Key. Since that article we have not seen any updates on this front.
In the meantime, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services Nicole E. Sullivan recently responded to our appeal of the censorship of ULK 51. In eir response, Director Sullivan acknowledges that ULK has a policy against violence and insurrection in our newsletter, ey still says peaceful protest when no other administrative avenue has provided any relief is a threat to safety and order. The real threat to safety and order is the deplorable conditions of confinement that prisoners in North Carolina and across the country are forced to live in. It seems Director Sullivan sees prisoners as inanimate objects rather than people.
As ridiculous as this response is, we need a lawsuit to get NCDPS to budge on its censorship of ULK in the short-term. Getting ULK into the hands of prisoners is one major way we work toward addressing the long-term problems of oppression that NCDPS is able to operate under.
Also as part of our long-term strategy, we need to go beyond Frederick Douglass and the "prison industrial complex" analysis. While Douglass did provide inspiration for many, when it was time to decide between New Afrikan self-determination and integration with Amerikkka, Douglass affirmed eir loyalty to empire and was even appointed U.S. Marshall of the District of Columbia. This was at a time when others, including Harriet Tubman, were organizing separatist movements and independent institutions for New Afrikans, post-Civil War.(1)
We oppose the line that prisons are set up for profit (the analysis of the "prison industrial complex") because not only is it simply not true that the prison boom is motivated by profit from prisoner labor, it also glosses over the primary purpose of prisons: to control oppressed populations.(2) When we have our historical analysis ironed out, we will be better able to take on our oppressors and win!
A former prisoner of the state of North Carolina has filed suit against the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) for regularly censoring eir subscription to Under Lock & Key (ULK) without due cause. In December 2015, U.S. Marshals were ordered by the U.S. District Court to serve Cynthia Bostic and Fay Lassiter with the complaints. Lassiter was the Chair of the Publication Review Committee, who would send MIM Distributors a "letter to publisher" every two months stating that the latest issue of ULK was disapproved for delivery. Usually the reason given was "D Code" or "encourages insurrection and disorder."
Cynthia Bostic was the Assistant Section Chief of Support Services, who was in charge of reviewing these decisions. Every two months a volunteer legal assistant would write Bostic to appeal the censorship and she would respond upholding the decision. This went on for 3 years straight with every issue being censored, every appeal being denied, and no specific justifications being given for the censorship.
In an attempt to investigate the so-called "review process" our volunteer filed a public information request with the state and began shopping the case to some civil rights lawyers in North Carolina. It was around this time that our appeal was granted for ULK Issue 36. Yet, none of the copies sent to prisoners in North Carolina were subsequently delivered. Presumably the state just threw our mail away. So we went ahead and sent new copies of ULK 36 with copies of the letter from Bostic saying that this issue was approved. These too were censored! As most prisoners know, but some readers on the street may not, it can be a real battle just to get these people to follow their own rules and decisions. Like the comrade filing the suit stated in a recent interview, "there are no rights, only power struggles."
We want to commend this comrade for taking up this battle after eir release from prison. This is a shining example of carrying on the struggle for those ey left behind. And it shows leadership and self-reliance to come out and wage what will likely be an uphill battle against the state for basic rights. At the same time, the battle will be so much easier from the outside where one does not have to worry about constant harassment, mail being thrown out and being denied access to law books (North Carolina does not have law libraries in its prisons). The local report on eir lawsuit states that ey will be doing a fundraising campaign, and we encourage people to support em.
This battle is ongoing, as North Carolina continues to ban almost every issue of ULK statewide, despite the fact that Lassiter and Bostic are no longer involved in these decisions. Perhaps not surprising for a state that was recently told by a Federal court that its voting laws were illegal for disenfranchising New Afrikans. A lawsuit like this is needed to take the censorship struggle in NC to the next level. Bourgeois democracy will never guarantee the rights of the oppressed. But we can use lawsuits tactically to win battles when we are clearly in the right according to their own rules and principles.
I have seen many prisoners including myself after being placed in handcuffs and shackles be mistreated and beat. This shit is real. I was done like this because I would not shut up a freedom of speech, which I supposed to have in the united snakes.
I have witnessed many other similar issues. Medical care, we are charged a $5.00 copay and it's very poor. Tylenol is a remedy for everything. I'm in long-term now, where no one's sick calls are being answered a lot of the time.
As to the grievance policy, the person has a good grievance a lot of times and don't get an answer. Pigs is very lazy and don't like doing their job. The food is not up to standard. You are given an ice cream scoop on everythinig. When you eat at home, try serving all your plates with an ice cream scoop for a week and you will have a good understanding of what a grown man's stomach feels like in here.
Strip searches are forced here in front of other prisoners, especially upon transfers in med custody, which violates a person to expose their body to other prisoners that can cause harrassment that is often homosexual. Personal property is searched and stuff thrown away without the prisoner being present. And prisoners' legal mail is read upon transfer in and out of being placed in the hole...
Please post this on to other places and people make copies. We need change and someone and many to reach out to help, besides listen. Please lead us in the right direction of hope.
As this missive leaves me in Revolutionary Spirits and with strong desires for emancipation I hope it reaches you in the same manner. I continue to battle the anti-literacy tactics used by these jackbooted fascist Pigs that use the word censorship as a tool to keep us deaf, dumb, & blind. The administration of these Razor Wire plantations, better known as the overseers, have the dictatorship to keep us from reading certain books and material that will liberate us from the continuing cycle of returning to these slave pens of oppression.
Nothing has changed from the tactics used in the 1900s til now, it's only hidden better. After the Nat Turner Revolt in 1831 legislation prohibiting the education of slaves was strengthened throughout the South. "In the words of one Slave Code... teaching slaves to read and write tends to cause dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion!" Any publication on the topic of conscious-raising is disapproved under the violation of Division of Prison Policy Section D.0109 (f) which consists of violence, disorder, insurrection or terrorist/gang activities against individuals, group organizations, the government or any of its institutions! We are given the option to appeal the disapproval, it’s then sent to the Publication Review Committee, and 80% of the time they agree with the first disapproval. The recent publications disapproved of mine are the new issue of Under Lock & Key, The Wretched of the Earth, and Huey P. Newton's To Die for the People! The Wretched of the Earth was approved [on appeal]. I’m still waiting on the approval of the other two publications.
The Commune here at this Razor Wire Plantation came together to form a hunger strike due to conditions we are burdened with, such as the high percentage of disapproved publications. We were promised that we would be allowed to receive publications if we agreed to end the hunger strike! I must say that lately books have been coming in that would not have made it past the mail room. Before the hunger strike I brought to the attention of the overseer that decides to allow us to have the books or material sent in, that there were books in the library of this Razor Wire Plantation that encourage racism, the hanging of Blacks, but those books are OK because they are in favor of the "overseer's" ideology. When brought to the attention of this certain overseer I was laughed at when I showed him the pictures out of a library book titled The Red Summer of 1919, where a Black man was being burnt alive while a mob of whites looked on with smiles on their face. I was asked by this overseer why would those pictures bother me so much when I’m not a man of color? What I should do was mind my business and order books other than the ones I been ordering was what I was told!
So I asked myself this question: is it possible for a white man to detest racism, oppression, repression, classism and capitalism as much as I do? Yes Racism is alive and well, but when you are a victim of classism it causes you to detest Racism! In today's time you don’t have certain communities among the proletarian class that's for one race only!(*) No, the poor live with the poor and the bourgeoisies live among the capitalists. The proletarian class and the lumpen are victims of poor education, which as we know is a pipeline to these Razor Wire Plantations. The educational system for the poor is a joke! (Angela Davis said: there is a distinct and qualitative difference between one breaking a law for one's own individual self-interest and violating it in the interest of a class or a people whose oppression is expressed directly or indirectly, though in many cases he/she is a victim). Poor education is another tactic used by the capitalist to be able to exploit the proletarian class! While selling their labor just to keep the lights on and food on the table there is no extra income for higher educational opportunity! So the proletarian class education system is the framework of the capitalist! The bourgeoisie gains their strength and stability from framework of poor education for the proletarian class. With proper education and educational opportunities the proletarian class could liberate themselves from the need to sell their labor to provide their loved ones with life's necessities! The capitalist know if this was to happen then the stronghold they have over the poor would be no longer!
Most of us allow ourselves to be controlled because of fear of losing something. This fear is what the bourgeoisie uses against us to control us. These chains must be broken for emancipation to take place! It starts with the necessities of solidarity.
Being in solidarity among the proletarian class means building strong relationships and strong communities of resistance. We must get back to the foundation of movement building, which is about building relationships and sustainable communities while breaking out of the confines of single issue organizing. Our accountability lies in what we do within our own communities. Focusing on our communities compels us to understand First World privilege (i.e. if you reside here you’ve got privilege). On the contrary privilege is layered by histories of slavery, colonization, patriarchal control, etc. Our solidarity struggles must therefore find ways to address these inequalities within. This involves listening and learning from the struggles of the proletarian masses. This would take the kind of inter-communal solidarity that Huey P. Newton had in mind.
Comrades, it starts with us held captive within the gulags of these Razor Wire Plantations. How, you ask? Turning these Slave pens of oppression into Schools of Liberation! The Science of Revolution must be spread to the masses of the communities! The help of Revolutionary intellectuals is a must because the key to the people’s unity is Revolutionary Consciousness! Instead of wasting time on who is right and who is wrong, instead of not being in solidarity with the next person because of their skin color, we must come together and spread the Science of Revolution to the unconscious. Theory is made to be advanced; nothing can stay the same because the capitalists strategize ideas to continue to control change every day. When one advances the theory of Marx, Lenin, or Mao it is not in disrespect or disregard of these great Revolutionists. Lenin said: "without Revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." We must focus on our communities. If our own communities are not strong enough to stand up to neoconservatives, then the work of those who promulgate war without end, the dictatorship of the free market, and the stealing of indigenous land will be made all the easier! With no unity among us then we are weak and not a factor! There are many organizations, groups, and cadres with different ideologies but have the same goal in mind! As long as we fight amongst ourselves then we are allowing capitalism to live!
The future of our emancipation lies in our hands people. So as I bring this to an end, I ask that you really think about our own Liberation and the well being of our communities as well as the future of education for the youth. Frantz Fanon said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission and fulfill it or betray it." What’s your mission?
MIM(Prisons) adds: It is timely that comrades are organizing actions to protest censorship of educational materials by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), as we just learned that a lawsuit will be going to trial on the same issue. Comrades on the inside and outside are making moves that culminate five years of consistent paperwork battles between MIM Distributors volunteers and NC prisoners on one side and NCDPS prisoncrats on the other.
Those locked up in North Carolina recognized those efforts as our subscribership expanded during periods of time when Under Lock & Key was completely banned in the state. But prisoners did receive the protest letters sent by our volunteers and those letters circulated, sparking even more interest in ULK. As efforts build on both sides of the fence, MIM(Prisons) will continue to support and promote this campaign against illegal censorship and political repression. As this comrade argues, this is an important battle because it contributes to our efforts to make revolutionary science accessible to the oppressed masses.
* While we agree with this comrade's points about education and censorship, we do not seem to agree on our analysis of class and nation in the United $tates. In recent analysis, published in part in Under Lock & Key 51 we show that the class make up of different nationalities in the United $tates are different and that segregation of communities is on the increase. We stand in solidarity with the comrades' actions in North Carolina across national lines for their common interests as prisoners. And while this is an example of class preceding nation, we believe that nation overall is the principal contradiction in this country. This is partially because class contradictions are so weak in the richest country in the world. And recent events around police brutality and prison abuse have shown us uprisings that are very homogeneous in their national makeup. And this is where we see the most radical fractures in our society.
by a North Carolina prisoner February 2016 permalink
I passed out some of your grievance complaint forms. I can't speak for anyone else because i haven't had a chance to follow up, but i turned my own in immediately. The way they do grievances here is ridiculous. If your complaint has enough merit its either refused for some exaggerated reason, it goes missing somewhere along the line, or its answered with some obscure reply and ignored. I've even had grievances tell me i was wrong and then they fixed the problem to make me look like a liar! Just recently they changed the entire process. It's all computerized now, which means we don't get carbon copies of anything. They're supposed to 'mail' us copies of the paperwork but that doesn’t always happen. I have a tort claim in on the Department of Public Safety now for some of my property that was lost and I had to file the initial grievance three different times before they actually 'received' it. That’s not the only time that's happened.
I bring it up because i saw that you were asking for an update on it in the last ULK. Any other questions you have I'll be happy to answer. Till next time.
by a North Carolina prisoner December 2015 permalink
I'm a prisoner serving time in Rivers Correctional Institution(RCI), which is a GEO, Inc. prison. It's supposed to be low, but looks like a level five penitentiary.
I'm writing to inform my comrades in Pelican Bay that us comrades on this side of the country in North Carolina RCI are suffering from the same torture tactics in the Restricted Housing Unit(RHU). Yeah, that's the new name of the SHU in here. The difference between our torture tactics is the RHU staff walks by the prisoner cells to press the button on the cell doors every 15 to 20 minutes, 24/7, so 80 times a day.
by a North Carolina prisoner November 2015 permalink
I am writing to inform you of the work that I have been doing here at Tabor Correctional Institution in Tabor City, North Carolina. I am currently housed on Intensive Control (ICON) and I've been spreading the word to a few people in my block. One of the brothers in my block was the real confrontational type who would try to start arguments with different guys simply because the block was too quiet. Usually I would ignore his antics because I understood his cry for attention and fear of having to look in that proverbial mirror, i.e. being alone with his own thoughts. One day after hearing him verbally attack another comrade as well as just cursing out officers without cause I reached to him by calling him on his childish and misguided ways. At this time he told me he never got involved in the conversations that myself and a few others often had because he didn't know anything about it. I then told him the easiest way to learn about it was to ask questions, which led to me sending him two issues of Under Lock & Key. Now this same young brother is a part of these conversations about the various degrees of prison struggle. He is also a member of the Soldiers of Revolution (SOR).
I founded the Soldiers of Revolution (SOR) while housed on ICON. I did so after witnessing the relentless ongoing cycle of gang violence within the North Carolina prison population. I became a member of the Bloods organization in 1998 and in 2015 I renounced my position as a member of that organization to found the Soldiers of Revolution.
I founded this organization because of the gang violence but also because of the constant oppression the prison population endures with no one to teach them how to go about overcoming the oppression. I saw that while many gang members claimed to battle oppression they failed to do so because they were perpetuating it. I understood that they didn't know how to begin the fight against oppression because they were never educated on the many levels of oppression. So SOR was created to educate the masses as well as to be the voice and vanguard of the politically ignorant prison population in North Carolina.
SOR is a political organization founded on the principles of mass political education of all oppressed nations, the battle to end oppression, and peace within the prison population to end gang violence. We stand united in the face of oppression and fully understand that the first step to breaking the cycle is to initiate proper political education. Since we understand the importance of political education in regards to the struggle to liberate the oppressed nations, we have study groups and issue class assignments to further the desire to be politically conscious and active.
SOR is not a gang nor gang-affiliated, though some members are former gang members. As we are primarily a non-violent organization we do not condone or support gang bangin' in any fashion. We do not wish to perpetuate the lifestyles and stereotypes that plague many oppressed nations. We do not adhere to the doctrine of oppressing others to further our own cause. We will offer our assistance and stand united with other political organizations of the oppressed nations but we will not be ruled or governed by anyone but SOR.
MIM(Prisons) responds: SOR is doing important work pushing forward the political education and unity of oppressed nations, and underscores a point that is important for activists: oppression and violence are learned behaviors and we need to work hard to help humynity unlearn these terrible habits. We can't expect this change to happen overnight. In fact we know from the experience in China and the USSR that even after a socialist revolution a new group of people (many of whom were oppressed before the revolution) will attempt to take power for personal gain. This is not surprising since the individualist elements of the culture of capitalism will not be wiped out overnight.
The Chinese initiated a mass fight against the ongoing idological holdovers of feudalism, which they called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, as they worked to create a culture of socialism. Everyone was encouraged to study politics and freely criticize their leaders. This vigilance is the only way we will eventually eliminate the culture of oppression and violence which permeates every aspect of society and pulls the lumpen into anti-people activities like bangin'.
Each individual who belongs to a lumpen organization needs to assess your own situation to decide whether it is best to stay in that organization and struggle from within to build the anti-imperialist movement, or if you need to leave your organization to push forward your revolutionary organizing. There is a place for all of these organizations in the United Front for Peace in Prisons, where we can all come together to oppose prisoner-on-prisoner violence and build unity among lumpen organizations.