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.
I am writing to update you on comrades' struggles against the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) grievance process. I have been fighting against the inmate grievance process as employed by the NDOC for over a year now. Last week, the caseworker came to my door and informed me that all of my grievances had been rejected as improper grievances due to a new Administrative Regulation (AR740) regarding grievances, which among other things states that:
Inmates cannot state more than one claim per grievance,
Inmates may file no more than a single grievance in any 7 day period,
Those who violate these rules will face disciplinary action.
On this date, the case worker had over 300 grievances which were denied as improper. The NDOC has implemented this revised AR740 to circumvent inmate grievances so that they do not have to address our concerns.
I, and others, will of course, continue our struggle against the NDOC grievance process. If you or anyone else has any ideas on a path we should take to get this issue to court, I would appreciate it.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We do have a Nevada grievance petition for use by prisoners to fight the violation of First Amendment rights based on the AR740 rules. We will need someone from Nevada to volunteer to re-write this petition to cite the updated rules. But the bigger problem is that these rules were changed to essentially limit the ability of prisoners to file grievances, which of course is required if we're going to demand these grievances be addressed. This sounds like a case that needs to be taken to court, and perhaps would interest one of the legal advocacy organizations in Nevada. Short of that we are stuck fighting within their (arbitrary) rules.
This regulation change underscores our message that we're not going to beat the criminal injustice system at their own game. We can sometimes use their own rules and laws to gain small victories, but in the end the courts and prisons are set up to perpetuate the injustice system. We can only win by organizing independent institutions and dismantling this system.
Write to us for a copy of the old Nevada grievance petition if you can help update it based on these new regulations.
The Nevada DOC at Ely State Prison (ESP) is currently making changes. ESP is NV. Max. We are locked down 24 hours a day (23, but no one goes to the box they call a yard). It has been this way for years. In the past 6 months it has changed.
Unit 5 is now open. They get access to the big yard, store, and microwaves. Unit 6 is open, with the tier being opened up 9 rooms (both top and bottom) at a time. Unit 7, well units 7 and 8 are still locked down all day. We have porters who clean, but 7 s supposed to open up soon, wichin a couple months, with 4 cells being allowed on the tier at a time.
So ESP, which has been a total lockdown yard since the late 90s, is finally opening up again.
I am writing to inform you of the most recent form of retaliation. As I have written in the past, I have been fighting the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) over a number of issues. Two issues are now in the courts, but one deals specifically with the racist, homophobic, sexist and all around disrespectful actions of two pigs here at Ely State Priosn (ESP). SCO Mullins, and CO Wheeler. In February these officers searched my cell for four hours. They broke all my appliances, tore and threw away almost all of my books and other materials relating to communist thought. They have repeatedly gotten on my intercom and talked down to me, have called me a "commie pig," a "red", and nicknamed me "USSR." I doubt they know what communist thought is, more their ignorance allows them to utilize it as a tool of harassment.
ESP started allowing porters on 1 October 2016, the first since 2003 I believe. (ESP is locked down). Well my cellie and I got the porter job. We worked for 17 days. The first time we worked with SCO Mullins, we were fired and written up for making threats towards officers. Which did not happen.
My cellie and I were moved from our cell, but to another room in the same unit! Despite our many claims of harassment. All the harassment has been a direct result of our fighting the NDOC in relation to its use of racial segregation in housing, its use of the paging system for the law library, and the grievance process.
As a result of these false allegations, my cellie and I are now removed from the transfer list. I am looking at up to two years in the hole. My cellie will lose up to 3 years of good time (I have life without) so he will have to do 10 more years, instead of 7 more, and neither of us may ever be able to leave ESP.
This officer thinks he has won. However, all he has done is strengthened my resolve to fight harder. I would appreciate any information regarding case law dealing with retaliation that you or incarcerated comrades may have.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We applaud this writer's resolve to continue the fight in the face of very real consequences to eir work. Additional years in prison and long-term isolation are serious outcomes that will cause many to give up the fight. Even more, this comrade is doing the right thing by writing about eir experiences to expose the injustice, and reaching out to others for support and help. This sort of oppression can be an opportunity to organize and educate others. But the resulting isolation of course means limited ability to organize people. We invite our readers to share suggestions for this comrade.
On 20 and 22 January 2016 I was sexually harassed by a male correctional officer. On the 20th we were on lockdown because of a fight. Right before the correctional officer was to go home for the night he came over my intercom and clowning my celly, but while laughing said "don't let me catch [X] with his boxers on backwards and [X] laying on his belly while you're (my celly) on top of him." After he went home I told my celly I felt uncomfortable as did he. After we came off of lockdown the same correctional officer called me to the bubble twice. First time he said [X] (me) that he was going to dog my celly (clown him), I told him no and walked away. The second time he called me to the bubble yet again saying "[X] ya should take your celly down through there sexually show him what it's like." I told the Correctional Officer he should not talk to me like that I'm not here to catch a PREA case. This officer knows that I'm a homosexual because it's in the computer my alternative lifestyle. My celly is Black, the officer is Black and I'm white.
On January 23rd I talked to Sargent Thompson and told her everything that happened and that I was afraid for my safety for telling on an officer, because he's going to find out if not through staff through prisoners. I also see Lieutenant McKeean told him the same thing. He asked my celly why he didn't write a grievance on him, my celly said he didn't want any problems. Come to find out my celly's uncle used to work here and his uncle is good friends with the officer. The correctional officer is Guice.
On January 29 I refused to lockdown for fear of my safety. Correctional officer Houck said Lieutenant McKeean said I wasn't going to get a bed move. So I told officer Houck I refused to lock down for my safety, as caseworker Faliszek told me I had a right to do. So Officer Houck handcuffed me and put me in the shower and locked the shower. Sargent Thompson came to the unit told me I'm not getting a bed move and told officer Houck to put me back in my cell. I told her this is bullshit, I'm afraid for my safety with everything going on with retaliation and all the sexual crap he's saying. She wouldn't hear any of it. Office Houck took me out of the shower while handcuffed with the gun drawn on me took me back to my cell, while telling me no one's going to believe you because you're a prisoner no one believes an inmate because you're all liars. Officer Houck said he doesn't believe me because he knows Officer Guice personally and knows he will never sexually harass anyone.
On 12 February 2016 my celly put his shoes on after the health and welfare count and then told me I had two options: 1. come down push the button tell the officer you're going to commit suicide, or 2. he's going to kick my ass. I told him why I had to do that he said which one was I going to pick. So I came down off my bed and pushed the button and told the officer that I was in fear of my life because I wanted to commit suicide, the officer in the bubble told me no and to wait til morning to talk to the nurse. This pissed off my celly so he tackled me like a football player. I fell and hit my head on the door he began to slap me several times in the face and then he stomped me with his feet in the face and neck. After he was done I kept hitting the call button, but the officer never answered the button. In the morning I went to chow I stepped out of line and told the officer I was in fear of my safety. He seen my face and asked what happened. I didn't say anything. The Officer Turner said me and my celly were having problems last night, Lieutenant Potter asked if my celly did that to my face and neck. I didn't answer and looked away. They knew it happened so they took me to medical then to the hole with a notice of charges for assault.
Most of the grievances I filed on sexual harassment and retaliation were locked by Associate Wardens. I then refiled in February 2016, they finally went through and went to the I.G. office and PREA. I finally saw the PREA investigator Steve LeMara on 9 June 2016 he said he believed me on everything.
I'm still missing grievances that are in the last level sent kites to the Associate Warden, Caseworker Elmor and Berrett, and to head Caseworker Russell. Still have heard nothing.
You never hear about Nevada and there's a reason why. Cover-ups, medical negligence, racial/social bias along with violence against inmates by COs, and let's not forget one of the worst parole and release systems in the nation. With lopsided, unfair sentence structures even according to statute, and unnecessary parole denials and completely unilateral discretion left to the parole board, which is screaming for reform. This is a culture and a consciousness up here but it will be their undoing.
Oscar Velasquez, a prisoner in Lovelock Correctional Center, committed suicide a few months ago and it's under investigation, a very slow, quiet investigation. Negligence played a huge part in this situation by COs and medical staff. Oscar gave the COs a suicide note on a medical kite. But protocol was broken because Oscar never made it to suicide watch in the medical unit. The next day Oscar was found dead and cold. Which meant COs weren't doing their rounds in a timely manner. Word is the suicide kite never made it to administration. This is being looked at by some other independent group, but it's been very hush-hush. A lot of the population believes the COs were fired but they weren't. They're on leave and being supported by their reps and lawyers.
A personal friend of mine and a lot of other brothas, Johnny Jordan or J.J., died in the uncaring arms of the Nevada medical system. While in High Desert Prison on an appeal trip, he also had a serious medical condition and was not given proper medical treatment. Which I'm sure was not very complicated, but just simply ignored. And it stems from the whole "oh well, fuck 'em" attitude most staff here have for prisoners.
Two of the most recent serious attack/gross incompetence incidents happened at High Desert, which is really under the microscope for piling up bodies for years and sweeping it under the rug.
About two years ago a CTO, aka a "Cadet Trainee Officer" gunned a prisoner down and killed him while handcuffed. He has since been sentenced on two counts of manslaughter; not murder of course, that's for us. What happened was during showers in the hole two prisoners started to scuffle while handcuffed. Instead of pulling them away from each other, the CTO was ordered to shoot and he just unloaded on them, killing one with fatal wounds to his head and chest area.
At the same prison, a prisoner was stabbed while being escorted by COs, if you can believe that! This was more recent, but also little publicity was spread about this. There was more press involved in the shooting death.
Along with these incidents, blatant and unpunished racism and bias in this state is so open it's ridiculous. I'm talking about assemblymen and women, COs, Sgts and representatives alike, it's everywhere.
Keep an eye on Nevada, these mothafuckas fly so far under the radar you rarely hear about things like this. They rarely make the local news and almost never make national headlines no matter how gross or serious it is. The censorship in this state is designed to keep Nevada's public in constant fear and prejudice of convicts. Bulletins are always going up on TV about this or that wanted person, this murderer or that sex offender. "Call secret watch and turn this person in," they'll say. But you rarely ever hear or see in Nevada: this human being was murdered by a cop, by a CO, by this sadistic cowardly butcher who's been anticipating the chance to take a human life!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade reports on something we hear more and more these days: prisoners dying from negligence and abuse at the hands of prison employees. And of course these murders are covered up rather than punished. This is one of the reasons why an independent press like Under Lock & Key is so important. We need a way to spread this news and organize people to fight back. The mainstream media and politicians are all in service of the capitalist system that set up this criminal injustice system so, as this comrade points out, our appeals to them are going to be purposefully ignored. Send us your reports about abuse and neglect. Even if they don't make it into the print version of ULK we will publish them on our website.
I'm asking you to share the news on Nevada State prison medical here at Lovelock has a rep of giving the wrong meds, and since 2015 to now 5 have died, but 2 just died this year. I was also a victim of the meds problems. I had 2 man downs and was charged because of the mandowns. They have killed 2 of my friends, and 2 of my friends they received the wrong meds and one is at the medical prison today. And as for me, the nursing staff I begged and begged in front of COs, and the LT to please help, saying something's wrong, but they retaliated against me, because the nurses said I was faking for more state food.
When they found out there was a med problem, I was offered the low sodium diet, when I stated my meds are fixed and I don't need the diet, but because of the retaliation I lost legal mail, bottom teeth, a lot of prison property, and now my kidney and liver is bad and they (the nurses) said mistakes will happen.
You asked for updates regarding the grievance petition in Nevada. I have actively spread this petition (along with the food petition) around throughout the state, making well over 200 copies of this complaint and petition. However, from experience, only those who I personally engage, having in-depth discussions with, sign it. Out of the approximate 200 I mailed throughout the state, I received only 11 back.
I have had limited success with grievance campaigns, that is, getting fellow inmates to file grievances on particular issues, such as the inmate assault grievance I've enclosed. However, the response from any grievance is less than desirable.
Currently, it is taking more than 2 1/2 months to receive a response to an informal grievance, when per AR and OP they have only 30 days; 3-4 months for a first level grievance response when they have only 45 days; and up to 6 months for the second level grievance, when they have 60 days to respond. I am still waiting for a response to my security threat group (STG) grievance challenging the Nevada Department of Corrections's (NDOC) STG policies, which was due 18 December 2015.
No matter when the grievance is returned the response is the same. The grievance is denied. I and other comrades have actually been called liars in response to our grievances.
Our current stance, in provocation from the pigs here in Nevada is to simply follow the outdated illegal worthless grievance process only to reach the courts. Comrades in Nevada currently have grievances in on the following issues which they plan to take to court.
A religious equality complaint helping certain nature-based religions fight discrimination
Racial segregation within the NDOC
The diet and food preparation/service
The grievance process
The NDOC STG policies
The access to the law library
The treatment of transexuals
My cellmate and I, aiding many individuals in the fights mentioned above, as well as two separate complaints filed, one of which is for the STG policies, are now facing blatant retaliation. We have been denied access to the phone by unit pigs for almost 6 weeks despite regulation which says we should have access once a day; we have been denied showers and yard on multiple occasions; and our food portions have become so low as to be obviously meant to starve us. And our cell has been searched repeatedly with my communist materials being thrown away, posters/fliers/literature being ripped off the wall and thrown away, and all of our hobby craft being confiscated and disposed of. It has become so bad that we both have such a belief that we are being set up that all of our property is packed away and we are waiting to be moved to the hole. This is all in response to grievances being filed. But as I explained to the pigs in our last confrontation, no amount of harassment will stop me from standing against them.
The second issue my comrades and I have come up against is confused and misguided lumpen who are being led astray by a couple black supremacist capitalist who are claiming to be MIM members. These individuals are running a store where they are charging people time and a half for goods, and for whites and hispanics they are charging double time. So we have had to confront this issue, and while being clear that we do not speak for the MIM, that we as communists do not support any form of racism, be it white supremacy or black supremacy as all racism is a product of class society and leads only to divisiveness and distrust, and that no communist would ever run a store in which he charged time and a half or double time. And that drew racial lines as a means of determining rate of exploitation. Many people had become confused by these long-time "communist revolutionaries" who preached communist theory, but acted capitalist. We have since addressed it and most now see it for what it is. One is word, one is action, communists support word with action, while these individuals were playing at being communist revolutionaries while they were/are in fact the largest extorters in prison because even other stores here run by other inmates charge only time and a half. We took a very quick and decisive position against these extorters after giving them ample opportunity to explain their actions. And now their actions are being seen for what they are.
Anyway, comrades, I thank you for the three copies of MIM Theory. I have been passing them around to a number of individuals. I would also like to add, I applaud issue 48 of ULK. I have not seen a single issue of ULK or any article, book, etc. ever cause so many to debate and discuss issues. While this issue was dealing with religion, I saw those debating it discussing race relations, subjective and objective realities, the racial orientation of communist principles (i.e. why MIM and other communist groups focus so much on blacks and hispanics and discount, ignore, or openly hate whites), etc. So this is perhaps the greatest issue of ULK we have yet to see because it has given us so much to discuss and develop amongst ourselves. While it was meant as a "religious" issue, we found it to be so much more! Great work!
Enclosed is a grievance, and over 10 people filed the exact grievance. All of us received the same response. I started this campaign with another comrade, and both of us have now been threatened with hole time for "petitions."
Update from 2 March 2016: As I explained in my previous letter, the pigs are retaliating against me and my cell mate. I detailed how the pigs destroyed my cell, etc. Well less than a week after this incident, the pigs once again searched my cell. This time they were in the cell from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. while we remained handcuffed in the shower.
They broke much of our property ranging from my glasses to my TV, threw away thousands of our legal papers, photo albums from our friends/family/children, and threw a stack of legal work in the toilet. When we returned to our cell, all of our property was dumped on the floor, mixed together, etc. We demanded that the Sergeant be called with the camera; this was denied. We requested a grievance; this was denied. It took us 3 days to finally get the grievance.
This attack however only made us more determined in our struggle against these pigs. Enclosed is my response to the Prisoner-Led Study Group Questionnaire.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides a very good example of putting theory into practice, and adjusting for local conditions, by taking the grievance campaign and making it relevant for eir situation. Further, we commend the actions taken to clarify that people claiming to stand for communist ideals are fakers if they are not putting those ideals into practice. We do want to clarify that MIM(prisons) doesn't "hate" white people. Rather we hate the system of national oppression that puts the white nation in a position of power over other nations. But we embrace as comrades any white people who join the revolutionary struggle to overthrow white supremacy and global imperialism.
I would like to let you know of a situation that occurred on 1 December 2015, at Ely State Prison in Nevada. A white corrections officer (CO) was taking a Black prisoner to yard in handcuffs. CO Edwards is a known racist pig, and while taking this prisoner to yard he slammed his face against the sally port door. When the prisoner went to his knees, CO Edwards then slammed his face on the ground. The reason given was that the prisoner "turned his head too fast."
The prisoner was taken to the hole. But it caused us to unite. Nevada has become a highly individualized state. No one wants to get involved with any struggle. But yesterday a comrade and I pushed the issue, and we got a large number of prisoners to file grievances. We filed them as AR340 misconduct complaints against the pig Edwards, which are supposed to be sent to the Inspector General's office.
It was nice to see us united. I will keep you updated on this issue.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is doing the hard work necessary to build an anti-imperialist movement: repeatedly trying to inspire others to come together to fight injustices. Even if the action is small at first, the unity around this one incident helps to build unity around bigger issues. People learn through action, even if that lesson is that the oppressors are far more powerful than us right now. We still have to take the opportunity to offer information about the criminal injustice system, why we take on these battles, and how they fit in to our longer term goal of putting an end to the oppressive system of imperialism.
December 7, 2015 was the first time in 29 years down a prison weapon was used on me, and I'm supposed to be angry at the "inmate(s)." Instead I believe questionable prison officials using prisoners affiliated with Security Threat Groups and Disruptive Groups at this unnamed institution told them it was "open season" on me because of my "dirty paper work" that brought prisoner to prison. And since prison officials can't shut me up because of my first amendment, freedom of speech, they turned to prisoners to do their dirty work by intentionally setting me up to be attacked by other prisoners.
I was being brought to a hospital while prison officials were dismantling my property as well evidence I was going to use against prison officials.
The last paragraph of the court order reads: "if the Plaintiff prevails in this action, the court shall enter an order pursuant to WRS 12.015 requiring the opposing party to pay into the court, within five (5) days, the costs which would have been incurred by the prevailing party, and those costs must then be paid as provided by law."
Then on the fifth day a prisoner who, in 29 years has never had a weapon used on him, never been a security problem, all of a sudden is being brought to a hospital!
It is time to hold state actors accountable for the mistreatment they do to all prisoners of any race no matter what they're in prison for today. I have never been a snitch even though prison officials are spreading a rumor that I was. Nevada inmates have to come together to not allow the prison officials to get the prison population fighting each other instead of seeing the truth. To all Nevada prisoners of any race, let us break this chain of hatred going into 2016 and fight with the pen against those who keep us chained up, use the First Amendment. Do not allow the adverse actions taken by prison officials to be the prisoners' downfall.
Three days from now, after serving 15.5 years for technical violations at parole, I will be given $28, the pet end of a leash and a ride to Parole & Probation. Upon "release" from prison and "re-entry" into society, two of the "expectations" placed upon me will be to:
contribute to my own continued oppression in the form of a $50 monthly parole supervision fee and,
contribute to the oppression of others in the form of mandatory employment resulting in apportionment of part of my wages (taxes) to finance the capture, imprisonment and torture of segments of the civilian population.
These "expectations" are enshrined in a parole "agreement" which I must sign prior to being "released." As a condition of my "release" I am coerced into participating in my own oppression and that of others. If I fail to participate, I will be re-captured and returned to captivity and the torture that entails.
I have been asked many times since the news broke of my parole a few weeks ago if I am happy or excited. I have spent the last 15.5 years in prison for actions which were the result of anti-oppressor activity which would have landed no one but a parolee in prison. I will leave prison visually incapacitated due to deliberate medical neglect which has left me almost completely blind — I am an artist by trade. I am being "released" now only as an attempt to conceal the state's malfeasance which has resulted in my imprisonment for 4 years and 24 days past my mandatory release date. The sudden attempt at damage control is due only to the efforts of an attorney and journalist who recently became involved in my situation. Upon "release" I will be separated from my family, friends, brothers and sister, comrades who will remain confined and tortured, some for the remainder of their lives. I will enter a society which has applauded and financed my, and my people's, captivity and dehumanization; a society which has my destruction and the destruction of all others like me as a cornerstone of its existence. A society weaned on blood, misery and intolerance and the wanton exploitation of humyn and environmental resources to benefit a few, while espousing "liberty and justice for all."
As a bi, two-spirit, "ex"-felon and anti-capitalist on parole in what is quite possibly the most corrupt and anti-humyn state in amerikkka, I can look the pale, unblinking masses in the eye and state proudly and unequivocally: No, I am not fucking "happy." No, I am not fucking "excited."
This is nothing but a bed move to a different facility with a bigger yard, better canteen and a few more privileges (mostly for the privileged, which I am not).
What enthusiasm I do have is limited to, and derived from, the increased capacity for resistance in the continued struggle due to better options and resources.
On January 2 I will enter minimum security land (i.e. amerikkkan society) and my struggle for equality and freedom will continue unabated at the gate.
My respects to all who are left behind.
MIM(prisons) adds: We have written about the challenges released prisoners face on the streets. This comrade has a long history of political activism, and this increases chances of staying active on the streets. But dealing with the challenges of life as an "ex-con" can quickly consume all the energy that might otherwise be put into anti-imperialist work. We at MIM(Prisons) have been working to build a Re-Lease On Life program to help prisoners stay active on the streets. Get in touch with us if your release date is coming up in the next year.