Prisoners Report on Conditions in

New York Prisons

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out 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.

[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Auburn Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 76]

JPay Emails Re: Conditions or Legal Issues Censored by NYSDOCS

no money no free speech

I just wanted to let you know some more of the tricks the system is implementing against me via the J-Pay E-Mail/kiosk system they have set up.

It seems that anytime I send an e-mail to my loved ones asking them to contact a Court and/or government official these e-mails show up blank, yet J-Pay says these messages are being held and/or censored by the prison for reasons of “third party contact” (SMH). Imagine that, I can’t even send an e-mail to my Power of Attorney to contact the courts on my behalf as my LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE!

What would they be trying to “censor” from reaching the courts? (rhetorical question).

In other (related?) news they are also using some device to “un-download” movies I purchase from this same system shortly after I lock back into my cell. This is causing me to lose the movie sometimes due to time restrictions on them, which is a form of consumer fraud.

Note that only here on my company in Auburn Correctional Facility, have the oppressors instituted kiosk privileges 1 day per week, when Directive #4425 clearly states 15 minutes daily. Also, due to Covid restrictions we don’t have visitation privileges, so these once a week e-mails are cruel & unusual due to the already strained circumstances.

I have been debilitatingly sick here twice already taking all precautions against such especially at the times I got sick. I didn’t leave my cell outside of showers, packages & visits for approximately 6 months.

By intentionally taking away in-cell entertainment you force one outside where the chances are higher of me getting sick. Because of prior retaliation akin to this, this seems the most plausible ploy. Let me know what you think.

In Struggle.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with our comrade in Virginia that there is a strategic effort to profiteer off prisoners and their families while increasing surveillance and censorship of prisoners’ communications with the outside world. The fact that you are losing movies you paid for, or others are being charged by the minute to read a book is just JPay profiteering off of control of data. It’s the same in the outside world where companies like Apple and Google lock you into a system where they can keep tempting you to spend more money and they decide what media you consume. Only in prison you have less choice.

Many prisoners write us asking to communicate on platforms like JPay, which we cannot do. These platforms increase censorship, surveillance and state control over what you can read or listen to. If we do not fight this, other states will join North Carolina in banning U.S. postal mail and materials like MIM(Prisons) study packs and resource guides.

[Abuse] [Sing Sing Correctional Facility] [New York]

Beatings at Sing Sing - The House of Pain

On Monday, 31 August 2020 the officers on the 7 to 3 shift beat a prisoner in A-Block that was locking on M-gallery. The prisoner could of been Spanish or white. The prisoner was beaten kind of bad.

On Wednesday, 2 September 2020 officers had beaten a prisoner that was in the block. That was B-Block. It was said they had broke the prisoner’s arm! The officers in B-Block is known to beat up prisoners that live in B-Block.

[Abuse] [Metropolitan Detention Center] [New York]

MDC Brooklyn Goddamn

Earlier this month, the city of New York and the world watched detainees at MDC Brooklyn freeze in their cells during the most recent polar vortex. People were in awe that this high-tec, modern-day dungeon – with both the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street in view as testaments to hypocri$y – would be so crass, so brutal, so inhumane.

No heat, no food or water as detainees were locked in their cells as a result of a power outage stemming from a fire. Crowds of people gathered outside witnessing people – not inmates, people – bang on windows, shouting and crying in horror, fearing for their lives, locked away and forgotten in the 9-story Sunset Park detention facility. There were reports from the inside of pigs shaking down (i.e., ransacking) cells, looking for contraband cell-phones – the only means of communications by which prisoners, locked in their cells, could communicate their predicament to outside friends, family, and supporters.

Shouting and banging on cell doors was met with fire hoses. Terrified family members of those inside with no recourse but to rush the building and plead with the officers were pepper-sprayed.

As someone who did almost 4 years there, who left behind many loved ones over there, it made my blood boil, and yet I was not surprised at all. Warden Quay, who didn't even have the minimal amount of human compassion to provide extra blankets is the same Warden Quay who shut down the mental health unit in February 2016 – transferring vulnerable people (I say again, PEOPLE – not inmates) afflicted with Schizophrenia, Autism, PTSD, and cerebral palsy to the overcrowded general population.

Yes, I remember in the winter time they wouldn't turn the heat on even when the electricity was working. I remember how we'd complain and they’d send a cop in to wave some fake thermometer around that always stayed at 60-70 degrees. Yup, vermin and scabie-infested MDC. I remember you. I remember the beat-up squad. I remember the retaliation against anyone who raise their voice in dissent, including myself who, upon sending out an e-mail about “gang-members” on the Bronx 120 indictment being arbitrarily rounded up and sent to the SHU, had my cell ransacked by the facility’s red squad.

Better not get sick at MDC, cause medical might kill you. Everyone knows that…. Yup, MDC Brooklyn Goddamn.

And this was happening well before De Blasio and other politicians expressed their faux outrage. Well before our oppression was trending on social media. (Disclaimer: by saying that, I do not intend to belittle the support of ordinary people who, from no fault of their own, had just found out about MDC through recent events).

But if you ask the average incarcerated person, they’ll say "Yeah, you know … jail is jail." And that's what it is. This is happening all over the system in places that you've never heard of before nor dreamed of going to. MDC Brooklyn is just in your face about it – smack dab in the middle of the liberal metropolis of downtown Brooklyn – just a few blocks away from the Barclay center (I was able to see it from my cell).

The support is appreciated and much needed to make sure you ask yourself the question, and this is most sincerely directed towards specifically the white liberals who were in awe of what they saw in their progressive city: Does it bother you because we're "innocent until proven guilty,” or does it bother you simply because we're human?

One thing's for sure, two thing's for certain: You don't reform oppression, you abolish it.

So, which side are you on?

[Abuse] [United Front] [New York]

Hope Is Not Lost

The first step(s) to move as a Revolutionary, all must know what to stand up to and fight for. Such comrades such as Che Guevara, Martin Delany, and H. Rap Brown (just to name a few) all stood for solidarity to instruct the masses on "Black Sovereignty". Nowadays, the Black movement must be reconstructed from the "inside." What I mean from the "inside", I'm referring to the mind because so many of those on the outside are still mentally incarcerated by the wicked oppressor. In the words of Steve Biko, "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed".

As those that's with in the "United Separation" movement—we believe in "salutation and friendship and stand firm with all our comrades that's locked and chain on these plantations across the United Snakes of Amerikkka. On these plantations (on the East Coast) such plantations are guarded by the Black Gloves. The black gloves are a group of slave masters transformed into CO's with tattoos of a black baby with a "noose" around his neck. These devils formed this group in Clinton Correctional Facility but has spread over New York State (Attica, Elmira) corrections.

Not so long ago in Clinton there was a finding of "human remains" under the floor in the gym where the teachers once stood. This was only discovered because the gym was being reconstructed. Also, those devils in Attica keep a ziplock bag filled with teeth that they show off to prisoners to instill fear, because they're known for kicking out teeth. What's more crazy is the "surf board"—that's when they hog tie a prisoner and sit on his back and "ride him" down a flight of stairs!

The United Separation has merged its presence alongside with the New York Bloods, who stand together as one in the fight with racism, imperialism, and capitalism in this enslave-system in the United $tates.

On behalf of all of us, we like to thank ULK, USW and the helping and teachings of MIM(Prisons). Also we would like to request any Revolutionary books and/or literature that can be an asset to the United Separation.

"The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man unless he understands this, he does not grasp the essential meaning of his life"—Huey P. Newton

[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [United Struggle from Within] [New York]

Downloadable Grievance Petition, New York

Click here to download a PDF of the New York grievance petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Acting Commissioner, Anthony J. Annucci
The Harriman State Campus
1220 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12226-2050

New York State Commission of Corrections
80 Wolf Rd, 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12205

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
[Organizing] [Abuse] [Five Points Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 58]

Defend LGBTQ from CO Attacks

I am reporting an act of solidarity. First we must remember what the word solidarity means. Solidarity is defined as: A feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc. (Merriam Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary).

I am currently in the Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU). It's similar to the SHU. The COs think since we're diagnosed with bi-polar, antisocial, major depression and whatever that they can just oppress us. Well, they learned on 4 September 2017 that we're not just a bunch of crazies.

It's hard to get 10 comrades to stand together as a whole so when a member from the LGBTQ community got jumped on and 30 comrades refused to leave the classrooms I was shocked! I asked a few of them "why did you stand up for one of mine?" Some of them said they were tired of the COs putting their hands on us, and some of them said the COs went too far. I thanked these comrades for standing with me and my LGBTQ family.

So, I'm sharing this because in the July/August ULK (No. 57) a Nevada prisoner weighed in on "Fighting Gender Abuse." As comrades we need to stand together in this way more. You shouldn't care who or what the person is, who cares? If s/he is in the same struggle as you then you need to help him/her. In the long run by you helping them you'll be helping yourself.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a great example of people coming together behind bars. And the writer highlights the important point that we need unity across different groups and individuals. This imperialist system has created some major divisions between groups of people: based on class, nation and gender. And these divisions are found in prisons as well.

In prison, class tends to be less relevant as prisoners are forced together as lumpen, at least while behind bars. But the national oppression that is so fundamental to imperialism's power and wealth creates national divisions. Within the United $tates (and around the world) oppressed nations are encouraged to fight one another and even to form sets within a nation to fight, so that they won't come together against the oppressor nation.

Gender oppression is a bit different behind bars than on the streets, with prisons segregated by designated biological sex. One of the most common manifestations of gender oppression we see is against non-heterosexual prisoners (or those perceived as so). Uniting against this abuse starts with people, like those described above, recognizing that this abuse is wrong, no matter who is targetted. We can take it to the next level by proactively combatting gender oppression among prisoners as well as by the guards. We need to defend our comrades against abuse, and educate our allies about why gender oppression is wrong.

[Organizing] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 56]

Solidarity Protesting Food Tampering in New York

I write with news of what I believe to be progress by a few comrades and I here at Clinton Correctional Facility on 27 February 2017. Me and 7 other comrades staged a peaceful protest in response to gaolers playing around with me and my neighbors' food.

Each comrade refused to return their empty food trays until my neighbor and I received new food trays that wasn't tampered with (my neighbor was a diabetic and needed to eat). Lieutenant Durkin came around to see what was going on and he seen the seriousness of our solidarity and brought us new trays. (Protest over right? But you know these pigs.)

After me and my neighbors' trays were collected these gaolers decided that they were not going to pick up the trays from the comrades who initiated the protest, in order to use this as their own excuse to deny them showers for the night, and to use these trays to extract them from their cells to inflict abuse.

These pigs tried to offer my neighbor and I showers but we refused unless everyone had their right to a shower, and we continued to press to speak to higher authority.

That only led to higher authority getting tired of our solidarity and want to teach us a lesson by summoning the "Extraction Team." These pigs pumped gas into my cell and the cells of three others, and invaded our cells in units while we were incapacitated by the gas, and beat us one by one. We are in the SHU and on complete lockdown and posed no threat to those cowards.

I was taken to an outside hospital in Malone, New York after the assault only because these pigs thought they broke my ribs. But I won't break, not even bones comrades, not even bones.

These cowards put us on deprivation orders and took all of our in-cell property and left us with just a bare mattress and pillow for the next 5 days (February 27 - March 4). They also took our sweaters and socks and cut the heat off at night in below-freezing weather.

I organized a mass letter to the Superintendent and that's when we started to get our property and water back. The cells were never cleaned after the gas was pumped in and I burned my eyes a few times some nights laying on the plastic bed and pillow.

We all received false tickets to cover up the racially-motivated mass assault, so we all (7) decided to file grievances on what happened. We're just waiting now. They haven't separated us yet because I know they are just listening to our conversations. Most of us don't have the discipline to speak in silence. Anyway comrades I need advice, stratagems, literature or whatever you think we may need to continue our struggle on the inside in a winning fashion.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We encourage anyone with advice for these comrades to get in touch with us and we'll pass along your suggestions. These sorts of retaliations for peaceful protests are all too common in prison. One suggestion we can make to these comrades is to continue to build unity and knowledge among the group, and work to expand the solidarity to others if possible. Our power comes from unity and this is built in part through studying and struggling together. And because we know admin may transfer anyone at any time, especially if someone is seen as a threat because of eir ability to unite people, we encourage everyone to get set up in our MIM(Prisons) correspondence study course. This will allow people to study together and continue studies even if some folks get moved around.

[Abuse] [Hunger Strike] [Attica Correctional Facility] [Southport Correctional Facility] [New York]

New York Prisoner Hunger Strikes to Protest Abuse

As of 22 August 2016 I have begun a peaceful protest (Hunger Strike). If my death would be the price for oversight on the New York State Department of Correctional and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and a complete stop of abuse racism, intimidation, inhumane treatment of solitary confinement and most of all staff brutality so be it!

On 10 August 2016, I was beaten and called racial names and threatened by correctional officers Horvey, T. Erbach and three others whose names are unknown, in the presence of an area supervisor, Sergeant Keith McFall. Sergeant McFall was the individual who made the threats to plant a weapon, two in fact. NYS DOCCS haven't begun an investigation, and when they do the conclusion will be biased as the COs try to justify their actions by filing and submitting false documents (use of force and misbehavior report) stating I attempted to strike the officer, which is a complete lie.

Furthermore, I have no personal property because Attica Correctional Facility refuses to ship my property as a retaliation to a situation that transpired at that facility because of the correctional officers not feeding individuals. Prisoners, including myself, began an uprising which was the cause of the transfer to Southport CF. Anyhow, I refuse to eat until a full investigation is done and I receive my property. These correctional officers must/should be charged with gang assault in the 1st degree Penal Law 175.35.

[Abuse] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York]

Deaths and Assaults in New York

On July 24 they shot a gang-related prisoner in the yard as he was fighting another prisoner. A few months ago they killed a 15-year-old inmate by pushing him down a flight of stairs. In 2008 while in this facility I was jumped by 4 officers after testifying on behalf of an elderly man who was assaulted by 4 officers for complaining about not getting his medication.

[Organizing] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 45]

Attica Prisoner Remembers 1971 Uprising

August is approaching rather quickly and before I address the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity, I want to address the making of such a day of global recognition.

Black August is the representation of struggle. Black August is a clear representation of the resistance exhibited by the oppressed who fought not to return the deed of enslaving their unfortunate captors, holders or those who sought their demise; but, rather, to end the slave economy. Black August is the awakening of the poor of all nationalities to stand up and fight to end the oppression we encounter on all levels.

This fight doesn't entail the necessary requirement to pick up guns. Violence only begets violence. To bring peace, unity, growth, internationalism and global independence, we are to share our experiences to come up with a solution to prevent these unfortunate encounters from being transferred to our youth. The key is communication and patience. Black August is for all who seek programs of productive change to participate. We welcome all who are indeed sincere in change to engage in this growth.

Our commemoration of the 9 September 1971 Attica uprising should be a somber day of triumph and, more importantly, solidarity. The Attica uprising ignited not too long after the untimely demise of our beloved revolutionary comrade George Jackson, who was shot to death by tower guards in the San Quentin maximum security prison on 21 August 1971 — one year and two weeks after the death of his little brother Jonathan "Manchild" Jackson who was gunned down on 7 August 1970.

Much sorrow is attached to the Attica uprising, for the physical loss of so many brothers. The purpose of the Attica uprising was for better conditions of prisoners (i.e. education, cleaning areas, an end to racial discrimination, etc.). The courage these comrades displayed never will be forgotten. It is up to us to see that their memories are honored, and the first step to this effort is learning and then teaching those who wish to learn.

I currently reside in Attica and I teach as much as I possibly can regarding the law and history. It's the key to our liberation and only us (united soldiers) can be held responsible for the new surge of our youth entering the prison system at such young ages. We are their keys to betterment, provided we aim for better conditions ourselves.

During Black August fast till sundown. From September 9-13 fast as well from sun up to sundown in true solidarity of our comrades.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As we see in other articles about the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity, there are many ways to organize and recognize this day. Some will choose to fast, others will choose to engage in education towards greater unity, still others will spend the day in quiet contemplation and study. What you do will of course be determined somewhat by your conditions. But whatever your action, be sure to emphasize the building of peace and unity. In general, we don't agree with this writer that "violence only begets violence." We know that the oppressors won't put down their guns and stop killing those they oppress without physical force. But our current stage of struggle is a peaceful one. We echo this comrade's call to cease all violence on this day, and instead build between the groups that might otherwise stay apart. Talk about ways you can work together against the common enemy of the criminal injustice system. However you commemorate the Day of Peace and Solidarity, send in a report on what you did to Under Lock & Key on September 10 to be included in the next issue.

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