Prisoners Report on Conditions in

High Desert State Prison - Nevada

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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] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada]
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Nevada Prisons Repression, Call for Resistance

Since early April there have been at least three prisoners shot, all in the head/face, and other shots fired resulting in lockdowns, two institutional lockdowns, and a number of pig assaults on prisoners including one in the seg unit I was released from and two on prisoners in the unit where I am currently housed. Most recently (last week) a Black comrade was assaulted in retaliation for exercising his first amendment right to expose pig misconduct. All of these assaults have been on Black prisoners by white pigs.

Amidst the above the food issue has been revived but has met textbook excuses - all of which boil down to:

  1. A prevailing sense of hopelessness among prisoners here
  2. A prevailing attitude of complacency among prisoners here and
  3. Fear of retaliation against prisoners here

The common factor? The state of mind of prisoners.

The Texas brothers demonstrated that victories are possible even with the grievance system, and history teaches us that: "In all ages and under all circumstances there will always exist abundant reasons not to fight but that will be the only way not to obtain victory." (Fidel Castro)

History teaches us that our victories are always the result of the work of a few against the many. It teaches us that we will never be a majority so we must fight that much harder and with greater determination and not allow few numbers and temporary failures to terminate the struggle. At this moment there are a few of us here fighting for proper food, proper medical treatment, and an end to staff abuse, assaults and retaliation and theft/censorship of mail. We are simultaneously trying to bring unity within the prisoner class. This will not happen today, but there is always tomorrow, as our Texas brothers so accurately noted in ULK 32, we are all fighting for tomorrow.

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[Abuse] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada]
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Nevada CO Targets Prisoners for Abuse

On January 1 a racist pig by the name of Yates assaulted a Black prisoner in the presence of his immediate supervising officer who did nothing to prevent the assault from occurring nor to stop it once it started. He then refused to call a Lieutenant, give the prisoner an emergency grievance, or request medical attention for the prisoner after Yates attempted to grab the prisoners arm through the cuff port and upon failing that, attempted to break the prisoner's arm by kicking the cuff port flap several times.

Since November this same pig targeted two other prisoners, both Black, one who's gone elsewhere. One, still here, is a diabetic and litigant who's problems arose over his prescribed medical diet. He's been the target of repeated and persistent provocation, retaliation, threats, disciplinary action and property confiscation by this same pig to the point where he can't leave his cell for shower or yard when this pig is on duty for fear of property loss/destruction. He and the prisoner assaulted on January 1 were told that Yates would starve them, kill them, watch them die and enjoy every minute of it and make their lives a living hell. Yates has also made it clear that grievances are useless, the administration has his back and if he did kill one of us he'd get a promotion and a pay raise.

This attitude is not uncommon at High Desert State Prison (HDSP). This pig and others routinely refuse emergency grievances or throw them away (or personally deny them!), refuse to call supervisors, leave prisoners in cells without property for weeks (for my first 17 days I had no property - not even anything to eat with), refuse to answer call buttons, and leave the heat turned off to torment us.

A few of us are fighting these abuses, but it is next to impossible to organize a group effort in part due to environmental obstructions in segregation and apparent apathy on the part of captives, which is seriously disappointing. This apathy is more pronounced (it seems) during the holiday season. This has always been a point of frustration to me: These are capitalist holidays celebrating the genocide and destruction of whole cultures. The first thanksgiving was declared by William Bradford (Gov of the Massachusetts Colony) to celebrate the Pequot Massacre - the murder of 700 plus indigenous people of all ages and genders. In Nevada we get better food (and adult portions) on their capitalist holidays and everybody puts on a happy face, I assume out of some misguided notion of respect for tradition. The rest of the year we're starved and treated like herd animals.

There are no holidays for the revolution nor for those devoted to revolution. It was on one of those "holidays" that the comrade above was assaulted. In hindsight, some racist pig assaulting a Black captive on a capitalist holiday is keeping in step with imperialist history.

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[Political Repression] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 29]
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Delayed Report on September 9 Protest and Repression

This comes to you long overdue from High Desert State Prison (Nevada). September 9 has come and gone and I have no information as to how it went except for what follows below.

On September 6 I was cuffed up and put in the most isolated unit at the prison. Several others were simultaneously moved to other units. I was locked up "pending disciplinary" for write ups I'd gotten for doing legal work. However additional charges had been filed against me on 8/29 for organizing a work stoppage/disruptive demonstration. I did not know this at the time.

On 9/8 another comrade was also locked up behind a matter completely unrelated to 9/9 as well.

On 9/9 I fasted in my cell. No one else on this tier did so. It's assumed they never got word, not surprising given the security level in this unit.

On 9/9 there was little notice of my fast and I heard no radio traffic which would indicate that anything was going on elsewhere in the prison. There was no discussion concerning anything irregular occurring.

On 9/21 I was served the second notice of charges.

On 10/5 I was found not guilty of the first legal work write up.

On 10/6 I was convicted of the work stoppage/demonstration write up. I was given 180 days disciplinary segregation, a class B state time referral and referred to the parole board for revocation/rescission of parole.

A letter received informed me that, in fact, few people from my former unit participated in the fast and this evidences a successful oppressor strategy: divide and conquer. They calculated (apparently correctly), that if they removed the perceived organizer and driving force behind the action that the witnesses to that removal and the remaining parties would be dissuaded and intimidated and abandon the action. Excepting a few loyal comrades, this was apparently correct.

This is a common and timeless strategy. Unfortunately it is successful all too often. There remains a few who spoke for the many and (as far as I can tell) I was the only target of retribution. I can live with that!

2013 is not far off and I will be again one of the few speaking for the many, if that's what it takes.

For those who stood by us and our comrades country-wide, respects to all!

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 27]
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Retaliatory Transfer Results in Organization at New Prison

Recently I was transferred to High Desert State Prison in obvious retaliation for my legal and political activities. The state fostered the misguided notion that by transferring me they would:

  1. Undermine or silence the struggle at one prison and
  2. Silence me upon arrival at the other

This has proven an incorrect analysis.

Upon arriving in what is openly hostile territory it became apparent that the possibility of unifying the population existed due to the commonality of complaints. The result is that not only has the population become unified ideologically (i.e. the need for action) but they have actually mobilized toward that end.

Some of the common issues include:

  1. Absence of regular medical attention
  2. Denial/refusal of medication and mental health care for mentally ill prisoners
  3. Physical and sexual abusive behavior by the pigs
  4. Starvation-size portions of food
  5. Inadequate law library access
  6. Denial of access to religious accommodations
  7. Forced housing creating hostile, dangerous, and potentially lethal results

Thus far we have made progress on the medical issues and, to a lesser extent, the food. The pigs are suddenly not so aggressive as well. But we're fed children's portions — maybe. Some have, with just a little effort, taken up the struggle with the knowledge that it is a protracted struggle, but by working together and refusing to accept degradation we can cause change and we can make our lot more humane and ultimately more just.

I still have my parole problems, but if they insist on keeping me caged, then I shall make myself a cost-ineffective exhibit and I will make this zoo as oppression-resistant as I can.

[Update from 6/20/2012] We submitted a grievance petition tailored specifically to the Nevada system, which has been circulated and "signed on to" by several prisoners thus far with numbers growing. We will be organizing a similar campaign over lack of food and medical/health issues.

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[Religious Repression] [Lovelock Correctional Center] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 26]
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Religious Repression and Retaliation Against Grievances at Lovelock

Pursuits of justice for religious rights are maliciously being hampered and restricted within the Lovelock Correction Center (LCC) in Lovelock, Nevada. Prisoners fighting religious repression are becoming victims of retaliatory transfers to the maximum security High Desert State Prison; a facility reputed for physical abuse, assaults, and beatings by its staff. High Desert State Prison has been and continues to be a deterrent to and punishment for filing grievances and lawsuits against the misconduct and constitutional violations being perpetrated and committed by LCC staff.

In 2009 six prisoners housed at the LCC were transferred to High Desert State Prison after filing grievances against Lovelock staff for destroying the worship place of their earth-based religious practices.

In 2011 a single individual was also transferred to HDSP for his pursuits against the Nevada Department of Corrections in relation to his Jewish practices and the LCC law library conditions.

Most recently, on March 6 2012 SAMAEL lost a member after he was transferred to HDSP. This prisoner had recently filed suit against several Lovelock CC staff in response to religious discrimination and abuse. Threats of retaliation and actual events of retaliation are an ongoing and increasingly recurring tool of intimidation and abuse used by the Lovelock staff as well as at other Nevada institutions. Toleration of such actions must be eliminated and opposition must arise from the ranks of all voices willing to scream justice! Justice! Justice!

SAMAEL speaks out and calls for aid against retaliation. One's voice may be heard, but many will cause revolution! Let your voice join in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is another good example of the failure of the grievance systems in Amerikan prisons, which pretend to offer prisoners a way to fight for their legal rights and hold prison administrators to their own rules. In reality the grievance process often only serves to identify the "troublemakers" who expect prisons to follow their own policies and are willing to speak out when this is not done. Then grievances can be ignored and prisoners filing them punished for their efforts.

Even though this is how filing grievances plays out in many circumstances, we also know from our own experience that “playing by the rules" occasionally leads to significant improvements, although often temporary, in our ability to organize for our ultimate goals.

While our movement is too weak to take on the oppressors in armed struggle to overthrow the underlying causes of the corrupt grievance systems, we must continue to use legal means of redress to make and keep space for our movement to grow. This is why we have supported a grievance campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. We have petitions for the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. Write to us for a copy, or if you are in a state without a petition volunteer to modify a generic petition to meet the legal requirements of your state. To get involved, see USW campaign info here.

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