Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Nebraska 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.

[Organizing] [United Front] [Tecumseh State Correctional Institution] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 46]
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Mother's Day Protest Against Permanent Lockdown

At the end of 2012, Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (Tecumseh SCI) made a drastic change. The administration decided to use a very poor excuse of violence to lock the entire yard down. I believe five fights happened in 24 hours, nobody got stabbed, cut or really messed up. They used this as a reason to lock the entire yard down. Everyone was only allowed to come out of their cells to eat meals, shower, and make one phone call per day. After months of this and many grievances, day room time became available, but any outside facilities like gym, ball courts, or ball field were slowly added on a rotating schedule. One hour you could go to the gym with your unit, then come right back; a couple days later maybe an hour at the ball fields then back. We no longer were confined only to our cells but could pretty much be in the day rooms all day except of course during count. Eventually it shifted to let us use the recreational facilities once per day, like ball field Monday morning, gym Tuesday afternoon, ball courts Wednesday morning, ball field Thursday afternoon and so on.

Recently they started a "wellness league" in which people who stay out of the hole for one year, and refrain from misconduct reports for 6 months to a year could be allowed to "walk the yard" for a few hours each day. This sounds good but there are administration loopholes. Like if their snitches got in a fight and went to the hole, as soon as the snitch got out of the hole they would be back out walking while the other person would be in the hole another half year and then have to wait another year just to be qualified to be on "wellness league." Of course any petty write-up would keep you off wellness league, and it was a cold day in hell if any homies could make it onto wellness league. And everyone else not on wellness league was stuck on dayroom and could access a "mini yard" attached to their building which was basically a fenced in half basketball court. That was life for a while.

Well Mother's Day this year the shit hit the fan. A last minute non-violent protest was set in motion. I say last minute because if a protest has any planning here the yard gets locked down cause snitches tell administration. So the protest started, simple walking around the yard refusing to lock down until our petitions and major complains were heard. However near the start of this a few prisoners got into it with a couple pigs. Of course we all complied when they said "get down." We cooperated when asked to show our IDs and when we were told we could get up we got up and continued marching to our protest.

Some protesters got locked in the gym so a plan to break them out to join the protest was set in motion. A short while later staff fired a live round with no warning into our group, going through one captive and hitting my good friend, and they both fell onto me. Our group was totally shocked. No chemical agents were used first, no "less than lethal," no pepperballs, and the guy who had the shot go through him was bleeding bad. We put a tourniquet on his wound to slow the bleeding, then as one huge group we carried him to medical, left him in front of medical and moved halfway across the yard so they would come out and get him.

Once he was safe the tension broke, the call went out, and the prison literally started to burn. Every single faction was on the same team, us versus the pigs. Staff got chased to the tower, everything that could be burned was burned, bulletproof glass burned, fences came undone, people got shot with less-than-lethal and lethal ammunition alike; only one more live round was fired that I know of. The entire prison banded together, offices burned, treatment files burned, office desks burned. If the glass couldn't be broken it was melted to allow access for other captives. We had total control of a whole housing unit, the gym, and half of another housing unit. We had the facility until the next morning when finally we surrendered.

Now, for the press, the administration is trying to say this was planned for months, because it was so exact in its execution, and that we burned down walls only to get "targeted individuals". Yeah right, they are saying we did all this so we could get two people? How ridiculous!

Our new director is from the Washington state prison system. He is the only one with a clear head. He says (in a memo sent to the whole prison) that he couldn't believe we didn't do this sooner with the lockdown and all, and never in his life has he seen such unity to get something like this done. The warden and even the governor now believe that the facility should permanently stay on lockdown, forever, allowing at most minimal day room time and mini yard time if you qualify for wellness league. Everyone else is to remain locked 2 per cell (was 3 per cell for a while until housing unit 2 became livable again) for 24 hours a day getting 20 minutes, twice a week for showers and telephone calls. I mean 20 minutes total, to shower and use the phone, once every 3 days. It's so fucked up out there.

Down here in the hole we live better than the people on the yard. We get at minimum 3 showers a week and at minimum mini yard 5 days a week. I assume I will be down here for a few years, hell a simple fist fight (my first in the prison) back in 2012 landed me 13 months in isolation. This one's gonna be years. And I'm not the only one. Some 240 people are getting charged. I don't even know how many of us are now stuck in the hole but we won't be going anywhere any time soon.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Prisons in the United $tates are populated with an inherent contradiction. As tools of social control targeting oppressed nation lumpen, the people locked up are easily shown the need for resistance and organizing against the criminal injustice system. The powder keg of oppression and abuse in many lockdown units is easily set off when people get together to turn their anger and pain into resistance. This contradiction between the imperialists' desire to control oppressed nations, and the actual conditions of confinement breeding resistance is just one example of how oppression creates conditions for social change.

Protests like this one in Nebraska are steps forward in unity and resistance. But as this comrade describes, no real change resulted, and the active folks are now in long-term isolation. As revolutionaries we need to figure out how to turn the righteous anger of the masses into organized protests that can help achieve meaningful change. Sometimes in prison we won't get anything more than a bit of publicity and a temporary outlet for anger, but we can do some things to increase the chances for success. This starts with building unity and educating people well before actions are initiated. We can run study groups behind bars, discussing the basics of political theory and then applying what is learned to conditions in the prison. And we need to build independent media to report on actions in prison from the perspective of the prisoners, so that we don't leave it to the pigs to interpret our actions to the public as "riots." This preliminary work will also help with follow-up after a protest. Even if something like what this writer describes is set off spontaneously, it will be important to have discipline and unity both during and after the action if we're going to effect any change within the system.

And for revolutionaries it is important that we help people see that we won't ever win this battle until we dismantle the criminal injustice system entirely. We need to draw the connection between the prison system and imperialism. While our current work focuses on prisons, we can't lose sight of the system that is behind the criminal injustice. Our education work needs to include these connections as we help raise the awareness of all potential future protesters and revolutionaries.

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[Censorship] [Nebraska]
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Nebraska Forces Prisoners to Overpay for Postage

Mail in Trash

There are many instances of postal fraud/institutional strong arm robbery occurring here. In the canteen , when purchasing a large sized envelope (6x9 or larger) the facility requires the purchase of two first class U.S. postage stamps or three first class U.S. postage stamps, two for 6x9, three for larger.

In the event that someone desires to mail fewer than the two or three ounces permissible with the two or three stamps and removes a stamp in order to not overpay for postage, he receives a misconduct report from the mailroom and often the mail is returned to the brotha's cell. The envelope is usually sealed and then cut open rendering it unfit to be utilized again.

Essentially, they're forcing us to overpay for postage under the auspices of Title 68 of the Nebraska Administrative Code. Specifically, Title 68 Chapter 5 Section(2) III (N) and III (C) "violation of regulations" and "possessing or receiving unauthorized articles." Of course they write the misconduct report so that removing the extra stamp is considered alteration of a canteen item and thus becoming an "unauthorized article." The "violation of regulations" is a result of the dubious unauthorized article.

What, if any, information or experience do you all have with this type of institutional criminality? Postage stamps are highly regulated. How can a state institution, or anybody for that matter, force an individual or collective to overpay for postage? And, how far reaching is this practice? How high does it go? How can we stop this?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good example of prisons denying prisoners' freedom of speech. It is difficult for prisoners to pay for stamps, and by forcing them to overpay, the prison denies valuable opportunities to send out mail. It is censorship before the mail is even sent out. We encourage Nebraska prisoners to get together to fight this policy. Send in your thoughts on how to best take this up as a campaign.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Nebraska State Penitentiary] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 36]
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Failed Nebraska Protest Demonstrates Importance of Studying Political Theory

Just recently we had an incident here at the prison. There was a boycott from eating and a refusal to lockdown, leave the yard, or go to our bunks. There were a few fires started and prisoners made it hard for officers to do count.

As good as it might have felt to buck the system, this "two day" short lived revolution seemed to be useless because there was no bottom line or demands, and they ended up putting us on more restriction than we were on before. They feed us 2 cold bag lunches for breakfast and dinner, no visits, no church, no club activities, no yard, no one works, no phones (now restored), no outgoing mail (now restored), no library or law library, and officers give you disciplinary reports for every minor thing you do (passing food, sharing books, talking after 10pm, etc.).

The outcome of this "lost cause" shows the importance of studying MIM's concepts and ideology. One thing it did do is show the oppressor that the oppressed do have the will and intent to stand up. But a revolution that's lead by emotions will never win.

Another issue at hand here is the refusal to let prisoners out on parole because one person who was let out murdered 4 people (he did his full time, no parole, and he asked for mental health help before he was let out but they refused him.) Now the system wants to make us do more time on our sentence (80% instead of 50%), and make it a longer wait to go to work centers. They haven't taken into consideration all the successful parolees and how broken the system is in preparing prisoners for society.

One thing we must keep in mind is that "a man who stands upon the corners of the paths and points the way, but does not go, is just a pointer and a block of wood can do the same."


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade raises a very important point about how we must learn from our failures as well as our successes. And in the case of this protest, as well as many other spontaneous acts of resistance in prisons across the country, the lesson is often that we need to do more to build our level of political knowledge and study theory and strategy so that we can formulate the best approach to our local situation. There is an organizing strategy called focoism that attempts to promote and utilize the spontaneity of the masses to launch a revolution. There is a long history of spontaneous attempts at protest and the focoist strategy of revolution around the world that show us this approach generally leads to more repression, not to victory for the oppressed. We have a responsibility, as revolutionary leaders (and this extends to all readers of Under Lock & Key) to learn from this history and apply these lessons to our work today. MIM(Prisons) has a lot of literature on spontaneity, focoism and organizing strategy. Write to us to request study materials on this topic.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Tecumseh State Correctional Institution] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 21]
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Fighting the System is Dangerous

As mentioned in prior writings by comrades, the struggle, especially for those incarcerated, must encompass not merely a study of history but an application of those strategies that in some way benefit the cause as a whole. One aspect of such application are the legal remedies which can set precedence for many who may need such standards in proving the wrongs done by prison officials. However the opacity and cover-up culture of prison industry in some instances allows for these same freedom fighters to unknowingly sacrifice their very lives for the sake of the many. Here at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in a rural part of Nebraska this fact remains ever alive.

We are still mourning the death of a prisoner who has on several occasions successfully challenged institutional policy, winning both injunctive and compensatory judgments. In the process he made enemies, invoking the wrath of those running this warehouse. And although this comrade was in phenomenal physical condition he somehow experienced an aneurysm and mysteriously died. Some have postulated his diet of tuna was the cause, other more conspiratorial minds say he was murdered because of his success in exposing questionable actions by those officials. I myself have chosen to accept the latter.

I mention this with regards to a legal battle I will enter very soon pertaining to a number of constitutional rights that have been violated. This struggle is real in every sense of the word and unfortunately requires its martyrs, without which one would not perceive the seriousness of our collective struggle.

The constant study, comprehension and application of the tenets of independent thinking, which will always remain applicable to our situation, must continue for substantial change to occur.

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[Control Units] [National Oppression] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 18]
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Isolation for Symbolic Drawing

As of this writing I've been confined to a special management unit because, of all things, a drawing. The artwork however is not the problem, but what it supposedly represents. From a larger standpoint the censoring of such work is another form of passive cultural destruction. What they can't control they restrict. What they don't understand, they tend to fear. And of course the "they" I'm speaking of are those upholding Amerikan values of whitewashed virtues.

The drawing was one I chose to adopt because of its high symbolism and esoteric meanings. But because this symbol was first used by the Nation of Gods and Earths (Five Percenters), a branch of the Nation of Islam, which is deemed a "security threat group" within penal institutions in six states, I was also branded a threat. I have no affiliation with that organization or any gang. I don't adhere to the NOGE's or NOI's religious dogmas. I do however share in their militant outlook and agree, for better, with what they've done to reeducate Black youth to the realities of this system. Because of this they, and anyone even duplicating a representative symbol of such organizations, are deemed a threat.

I must assume the motivation behind the government labeling a peaceful, cultural religious organization as a gang can be found in a real warranted fear of this group's objectives. To name just a few: its obvious work in enlightening individuals about this police state, its very successful strategy in reducing the recidivism rate, and most importantly empowering youth to be leaders and conduits of true culture in their families and communities. These priorities, and numerous others, are something to fear, especially when privatized institutions can prospectively lose millions annually.

The programming of the masses through corporate-owned media propaganda has not been done haphazardly. Sensationalism, violence, stereotypes and desensitization through repetition of crime and cop shows has not only controlled opinion but has thoroughly turned people into mindless robots, keeping the rich in control, middle class happy and poor discontented but helpless. Any organization that exposes this government for what it is and directs its energies to providing and teaching what true responsibility is to a community, is one I'd gladly be a part of.


MIM(Prisons) responds:
We agree with this prisoner that the criminal injustice system has a real reason to fear any organization that is educating people about the prison system, working to reduce recidivism, and organizing oppressed nations. These organizations threaten their use of the prison system as a tool of social control. And it is true that the media plays a major role in promoting imperialist policies to the Amerikan people. However, this is not the only reason the masses are passive. Amerikan citizens are acting in their economic self-interest when they play the role of happy robot and accept imperialist policies. See our article Amerikkkans: Oppressing for a Living in ULK 2.

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