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 going through a situation here at Sullivan Correctional Facility fighting grievance issues similar to what has been reported in other prisons in Under Lock & Key. I have a long history with this jail dating back to 2009 with civil cases in court against these people. I am writing because our grievance process here is totally unreliable. The same people who you write the grievances on are the people who investigate them and then wash them under the table.
I'm in a special needs unit, some of us are slow, some can't help themselves, that's why they call it special needs. These officers here take full advantage of our disabilities because they know that we can't fend for ourselves. They are constantly jumping on us and using our medical status as an excuse to justify their actions, claiming we tried to hurt ourselves. Then they throw us in the box.
As an example of this situation, I'm kept on lockdown now because of an officer that I've been having an ongoing problem with. Just the other day he told me after he locked me up that he's going to cut my wrist and say I tried to kill myself. This goes on everyday here.
Reading your article diligent grievance petitions expose oppression in NC that led to hunger strike made me think back to my past experiences here at Sullivan. Something has got to be done. There are some things that I'm going to try to do that I rather not speak about. But you will definitely be hearing from me. In the mean time keep my name ringing along with other brothers that have similar problems and just maybe we will overcome this together.
MIM(Prison) adds: Together is key. Individuals fighting alone mostly lose the battles to combat the oppression they face on a day-to-day basis. The grievance campaign we've been promoting in many states is one way to come together on these types of issues.
In some prisons abuse is more common because the people are more dis-empowered, and organizing becomes even harder. It is important for outside supporters and prisoners in other facilities to stay connected with you to shed a light on abusive conditions. A United Struggle from Within comrade (Amare Selton, Rest in Power) was killed behind the walls of one of New York's mental health units on 17 September 2009. Conditions are dire, and as this comrade is doing, we need to be trying new ways to ensure real safety for those in these vulnerable situations.
For the morning meal the mess hall was virtually empty. For the noon meal there were approximately 120 prisoners in attendance. Usually, when they serve baked chicken and rice there are some 360 prisoners in attendance. A lot more prisoners turned out for the evening meal. Overall there was a low attendance for meals.
Next year things will be different and better organized. I'm in the process of obtaining two articles dealing with the Attica rebellion. I'll have copies of the articles run off and give one of each to the entire prison population. This can be accomplished within a year's time.
I am writing to your publication to report some troubling statistics concerning Black men incarcerated, the parole system, and the latest Supreme Court cases regarding parole denials.
Black men incarcerated
There are approximately 27,494 Black males in the New York state prison system (50.8%) - New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) - and, that's over half (51%) of the prisoners in custody as of January 1, 2011, according to DOCCS Under Custody Report: Profile of Inmate Population. These figures are extremely drastic, appalling and warrant investigation by the United Nations, because Blacks are being targeted to fill up NYS prisons in order for certain whites to maintain employment in the rural areas up north in NY.
Black females incarcerated
In NY prisons DOCCS is warehousing 965 Black females (43.7% of the female prison population). Of the total number of prisoners (54,109) under custody in NY (including DOCCS, jails and other facilities), 2,206 (3.9%) were Black female, according to the Under Custody Report (2011). Compare these statistics to the white prisoners women who are only 1.5% of the prison population.
Blacks and Parole
Dating back almost 50 years, the Board of Parole (BOP) commissioners have been denying parole to Blacks more than any other ethnic group in NYS. Despite our (Black male and female) efforts to rehabilitate ourselves via obtaining education (GEDs, mandated programming by DOCCS and college), the BOP continuously denies Blacks parole at an alarming rate compared to other nationalities. Also, for years the BOP has utilized the nature of the crime as the sole reason for denying Blacks parole - although the nature of the crime (NOC) will not change - it is whatever someone was locked up for. This means that those convicted of some crimes have no chance at parole no matter what they do in prison. This amounts to the BOP admitting that prisons are not about rehabilitation since the one thing a prisoner can not change is the NOC.
In a recent ruling the court wrote: "...they [BOP] cannot base their decision exclusively on the seriousness of the crime and must explain their denials in detail..."(1)
On March 31st, 2011 several significant amendments to the Executive Law (BOP) were signed into law - including Executive Law (Exec. Law) 259-c(4); however, BOPs "lawlessness, arbitrariness and their refusal to follow the mandates of the legislature..." warrants an independent investigation by the United Nations (UN) for further scrutiny about denying parole to eligible inmates who have earned their freedom by doing the right thing (i.e. completing their minimum, taking responsibility for their crime(s) and obtaining their mandated programming).(2) If you are reading this article and you have been denied parole after March 31st, 2011, or you know someone in NYS-DOCCS who has been denied parole unfairly, then please be aware of the following cases recently appealed by inmates that - as a result of their litigation - were released:
Velasquez v. NYS Board of Parole (Feb 6, 2012)
Thwaites v. NYS Board of Parole, 934 NYS 2d 797 [see also Pro Se, Vol 22 No 1] and;
Winchell v. Evans, 27 Misc. 3d 1232(A) (Sup.CT.Sullivan Co. June 9, 2010), [reported in Pro Se, Vol.20, No.4].
All the above cases (Article 78s) are winning cases which resulted in prisoners - who chose to litigate their matter by challenging the BOP - being released from DOCCS custody.
Out of twenty years of my incarceration, I have witnessed the BOP deny parole to many men and women based upon their nature of the crime - despite their efforts to rehabilitate themselves. Some of these people have earned Master degrees, Bachelors and the minimum of an Associate degree, only to be denied by the BOP commissioners who judge the prisoners for a period of 15-30 minutes, if that, during their parole hearing.
The nature of the crime doesn't, will not and cannot change so why are we being denied parole solely based on the very element which will not ever be different?
In my humble opinion - after serving 20 years in NY DOCCS - the only way we prisoners will receive justice is by taking our case to the UN for review. How do we attempt to go about this? Reflect back on the Egyptian people and how they were successful in spreading the message of support for their cause via internet. This tactic will have to involve our families who are already walking around with cellular phones all day so this should not be a difficult project. I strongly believe that we can change the BOP unfair practices against us Blacks and Latinos. If we care enough to work together, putting your petty differences aside to bring our relatives home. Our family members have served their time, changed their lives by establishing entirely new ways of thinking and by obtaining higher education. It's time now for our people to step up and support our cause for challenging the BOP unfair parole denials against Blacks and Latinos.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As we reported in our review of The New Jim Crow, these statistics on national oppression in the criminal injustice system in New York mirror what happens across the United $tates. This author makes a good point about parole hearings and reasons for denial. If parole is going to be based on the very crime for which someone is locked up, there is no point to having a hearing. If prisons in Amerika were truly serving a rehabilitating purpose, the work prisoners do educating and changing themselves should be the primary basis for granting parole. It is good to hear that some court cases are being won on this front.
We do agree that this is a battle worth fighting to help get our comrades onto the streets sooner, but we don't anticipate the imperialist-dominated United Nations to offer any support for the oppressed people of the world. We may win small reforms through the courts and with mass protests, but the only way to truly put an end to the criminal injustice system is by dismantling the imperialist system it serves.
Desde el 9 al 13 de septiembre 2011, marcamos el 40 aniversario de la rebelión de Attica. Fueron 1200 presos que actuaron como una sola fuerza, se organizaron y colectivamente ocuparon la correccional de Attica en el estado de Nueva York. El motín resultó en lo que un comisionario del estado describió como "el encuentro más sangriento entre estadunidenses desde la guerra civil [...] con excepción de la masacre de los indios nativos en el siglo diecinueve”.
En 1991, MIM escribió un suplemento especial para conmemorar el 20 aniversario, que documenta el evento histórico y su legado. Este mismo año presos en Nueva York, Nueva Jersey y Maryland boicotearon todos los programas del 12 de septiembre para "rendir homenaje a los martirios y guerreros que sufrieron, y quienes siguen sufriendo, bajo la represión del sistema penal de los Estados Unidos".
Las demandas de los presos de Attica en 1971 incluyeron cosas como el derecho de los presos de Nueva York a mantener una vida política sin temor de intimidaciones y represalias, el fin de censuras del correo personal y de los medios de prensa, la exigencia por más oportunidades de educación y trabajo de salario mínimo, y la liberación de presos sin condiciones de libertad. Además de estas demandas rectas, los presos emparentaron su lucha con aquella del pueblo del Tercer Mundo. La Historia condena la reforma de correccionales de MC11:
"Los presos de Attica en el año 1971 no estaban pidiendo el tipo de reforma que liberales ahora, y entonces, están ansiosos por implementar para hacerse sentir mejor. Los presos de Attica reconocieron el sistema de justicia criminal como una arma poderosa en el arsenal de la clase capitalista y querrían voltear esa arma contra sus opresores”.
"Hemos descubierto…la frustración de intentar de negociar con un sistema político empeñado en el genocidio", escribieron los presos de Attica en una declaración que fue pasada por contrabando durante la semana después del masacre.
"Se están cometiendo asesinatos no sólo en Vietnam, sino también en Bangladesh, África y Sudamérica. ¿Y qué no es cierto que nuestra declaración de independencia nos otorga el derecho de anular un gobierno que opresa a su pueblo y crear un gobierno nuevo? ¡Pues, nosotros aquí en Attica como todos los revolucionarios de toda la nación estamos ejerciendo ese derecho! ¡El tiempo es ahora para que todas las personas del Tercero Mundo reconozcan el verdadero opresor y lo expongan al resto del mundo!” (1)
En el articulo principal de las notas suplementarias de MIM, un preso menciona que Attica marcó un surgimiento fuerte en el movimiento por los derechos de los presos durante los primeros años de los años 70. En el último año hemos visto huelgas en los estados de Georgia y California donde miles de presos han participado en varias prisiones. Pero aún así parece que el movimiento todavía tiene que escalar aún más alto para poder llegar al mismo punto álgido de nuestra lucha que alcanzamos en aquellos días.
Mirando hacia atrás a Attica y las rebeliones antepasadas, podemos ver el principio y el final del periodo en el cual la contradicción entre los presos y el estado estaba a la vanguardia. La lucha durante este periodo trajo un poco de progreso para los preso en la forma de derechos temporales, concesiones y el apoyo del mundo libre para los cautivos. Pero aún más importante, miramos organizaciones colectivas juntarse en masa, uniendo a presos por su sufrimiento y abuso común por todo el alrededor del sistema de prisiones en los Estados Unidos. Esta unidad y lucha logró empujar al estado hacia atrás. Pero al mismo tiempo, también provocó que el estado desarrollara un plan para los reclusorios de aislamiento permanente y también pólizas que empojan drogas sicotrópicas a los presos mientras nuestros programas están nuevamente suspendidos, reafirmando la futilidad de la reforma de prisiones. Incluso en estos días cuando el estado se enfrenta a una resistencia significativa, se presenta en forma de demandas en los tribunales y huelgas de hambre donde se controla todo medio de comunicación y negociación muy firmemente. Todavía estamos en la etapa de jugar sus juegos con sus reglas y sus condiciones.
Hace solamente dos años, el 17 de septiembre 2009, que nuestro camarada Amare (Ra'd) Selton de "United Struggle from Within" se murió en Attica. Selton era un contribuidor regular de "Under Lock & Key” y también participaba en grupos de estudio de MIM, y con frecuencia tenia confrontaciones con los guardias de la prisión. No sabemos las exactas circunstancias de su muerte, pero MIM(Prisons) mantiene al estado de Nueva York responsable. Él es uno de muchos compañeros que han desaparecido después de ser enviado a Attica en los últimos años, demostrando el legado de represión que no ha disminuido.
En las notas de MIM, MC67 entrevistó a Akil Aljundi, uno de los hermanos de Attica que presentó una demanda, que finalmente ganó, contra el estado de Nueva York tras el asesinato de 32 de sus camaradas y 10 rehenes, y tras el embrutecimiento y negación de asistencia medica a cienes de otros.
MC67 concluye preguntándose cuales son las lecciones que se pueden extraer de la sublevación de Attica, a la que Aljudi responde: "Nunca confíen en el estado. Siempre estén preparados para lo peor. Sean firmes con sus demandas. Sean claros con sus objetivos. Pero también sepan que el estado puede ser malicioso”.
[The following is a compilation of reporting and analysis from MIM, MIM(Prisons) and USW comrades to commemorate the Attica uprising.]
This week, September 9 - 13 2011, marks the 40th anniversary of the Attica uprising where over 1200 prisoners acted as one, organized as a collective and occupied Attica Correctional Facility in New York State. The uprising ended in what a state commission described as "the bloodiest one-day encounter between Americans since the Civil War", "[w]ith the exception of the Indian massacres in the late nineteenth century[.]"
In 1991, MIM Notes ran a special supplement to commemorate the 20th anniversary, which documented that historic event and its legacy. That same year, prisoners in New York, New Jersey and Maryland boycotted all programming on September 13 to "give honor to the martyrs and warriors who suffered, and are still suffering, under the suppression of the American prison system."
The demands of the Attica prisoners in 1971 included things such as allowing New York prisoners to be politically active without intimidation or reprisals, an end to all censorship of mail and media, more educational and work opportunities that pay minimum wage, and release without parole conditions. In addition to these righteous demands, the prisoners connected their struggle to that of the people of the Third World. From History Condemns Prison Reform by MC11:
The Attica prisoners in 1971 were not asking for the sort of reforms liberals then and now are so anxious to implement in order to make themselves feel better. The Attica prisoners recognized the criminal justice system as a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the capitalist class, and they wanted to turn that weapon on their oppressors.
"We have discovered... the frustration of negotiating with a political system bent on genocide," the prisoners wrote in a statement smuggled out during the week following the massacre.
"Killings are being committed not only in VietNam, but in Bengla Desh, Africa and South America. Is it not so that our Declaration of Independence provides that when a government oppresses the people, they have a right to abolish it and create a new government? And we at 'Attica' and all revolutionaries across the nation are exercising that right! The time is now that all third world people acknowledge the true oppressor and expose him to the world!!"(1)
In the lead article of the MIM Notes supplement, a prisoner mentions that Attica marked the rise of a strong prison movement during the early 1970s. In the last year we've seen strikes in Georgia and California where thousands of prisoners participated across many prisons. Yet, it seems the prison movement has a steeper mountain to climb to get to the point that the struggle reached in those days.
Looking back on Attica and those past rebellions, one sees the start and finish of a period where the contradiction between prisoners and the state was at the forefront. The struggle during that period led to some progress on the side of prisoners in the form of temporary rights, concessions and free world support for captives. But more importantly, we saw collective organization on a mass scale throughout the U.$. prison system that united prisoners around their common suffering and abuse. This unity and struggle pushed the state back some. At the same time, it also led the state to develop a plan for permanent long-term isolation prisons, as well as policies that push psychotropic drugs on prisoners while programming is once again taken away, reinforcing the futility of prison reform. Even when the state faces significant resistance these days, it comes in the form of lawsuits in their courts, and hunger strikes where they control communications and negotiations very tightly. We're still in the stage of playing their game by their rules.
It was just two years ago, on 17 September 2009 that United Struggle from Within comrade Amare (Ra'd) Selton died in Attica. Selton was a regular contributor to Under Lock & Key and MIM-led study groups, and often ended up in confrontations with prison guards. We do not know the exact circumstances surrounding his death, but MIM(Prisons) holds the State of New York responsible. He is one of many comrades who have disappeared after being sent to Attica in recent years, indicating the legacy of repression that has not lessened.
In MIM Notes, MC67 interviewed Akil Aljundi, one of the Attica Brothers that filed suit (and eventually won) against the State of New York following the murder of 32 of his comrades and 10 hostages, and the brutalization and denial of medical care to hundreds of others. MC67 concludes by asking what lessons should be drawn from the Attica uprising, to which Aljundi responds:
"Never trust the state. Always be prepared to look for the worst to happen. Be firm in your demands. Be clear in your objectives. But also realize that the state can be vicious."
Brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers of ULK, we have to take a stand against the oppressors. Not by rioting, physically fighting, or boycotting but by means of communication. The same way the officers banned together we should put our differences to the side and unite as one!
I have 17 years in the special housing unit (SHU) mostly for fighting the oppressors physically and with my pen's ink. I've caught two new bids for going at it with the oppressors. One bid was a 2.5 to 5 years and the second bid was a 7 year flat 5 year post.
What I did is not important, but why I did it is, I did it because too many comrades were being violated. We have the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.
Also I don't know about the rules in the Texas DOCS, but here in New York state when we're locked down (which I am right now) we're given 1 hour out of cell recreation everyday of the week. So what should happen is whether everybody gets along or not, whoever is in this "close custody" should grieve the issue. The oppressor might fuck with five of those grievances but they won't fuck with everybody's grievance. It will be too suspicious.
Every ULK I get the mailroom got something to say about it. With ULK 20 they said the articles on pages 3, 10, and 13 (continued from 3) posed a threat to the safety and security of the facility. Those articles were entitled "Light of Liberation" and "NJ Avalon Crip signs on to UF Statement." So once again they've taken our right of freedom of speech, the 1st Amendment and swept it under the "security risk" rug, just like the other comrade stated. So let's stand together as one and "take" our rights back.
So remember comrades, yes we're imprisoned but we still have rights!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Unity in the fight against oppression is a key element of this fight. As this comrade says, we need to put aside our differences to join forces against a common enemy. Filing grievances is a good way to get this fight going, and we have initiated a grievance campaign to help prisoners fight grievance denials. Write to us for a copy of the letter and petition.
I am just checking in with current cowardly acts perpetrated by cowardly Kkklinton (Clinton Correctional Facility in New York). (see ULK 17)
The murder of Mr. Leonard Strickland(see 1,2) last October 3rd 2010 in upper F Block has now been termed "death by natural causes" by channel 5 news media in Vermont.
More recently, corrupt klansmen under disguise of law abiding civil servants jumped on a 5'6" 147lbs man. And get this, one of the cowards, CO Barnaby, is also one of the murderers of Mr. Strickland. The others involved in this particular incident of brutal assault are COs L. Bezio whose family members are numerous here in Kkklinton and CO B. LeClair whose family members are also employees of facilities here in northern New York, including Kkklinton.
The behavior of these corrupt officials is very onerous, especially when their superior acting Deputy Superintendent, Captain of Security Facteau makes statements such as "this is a dictatorship, not a democracy," a statement that is relayed amongst all employees giving them the green light to violate even the prisoners' minimum standards.
Maybe one of these days the lumpen will unite as one and focus on our real enemies?
I am writing to inform my comrades about a torture "suit" that the state of New York has mimicked from California's state penal system. The suit was designed for sex offenders, NYS DOCS isn't using it for sex offenders. They're using it as a form of oppression, degrading, exploitation, and violation of prisoner's 8th amendment.
The "suit" is a jumper with a zipper in the back, no pockets, no front fly, and a master padlock on the back of the neck. If you don't wear the "suit" you'll be what they call "four-pointed." This is where they shackle you to a start-up desk. They put handcuffs on your wrists and shackles on your ankles for two hours.
It has been proven that New York State DOCS does not have a policy for this "suit." Everything about this "suit" says "you're New York State Slaves."
I've been very violent due to seeing the pigs illegally place comrades in this "slave-suit." I've never had to wear the "suit," but a close comrade of mine had to wear it for 30 days. He refused to wear the "suit" and be paraded around like a slave. The only comrades being forced to wear this "suit" is the Blacks and Latinos.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is one more way the New York State prison system perpetuates brutality against their incarcerated population. Get involved in the struggle to fight this brutality!
It happened again! These vicious ass wild boars killed another brother here in Kkklinton maximum facility. Sunday morning October 3, 2010 approximately 9:10 am the roughshod started as brother Leonard Strickland was assaulted while being moved from one cell to another cell. As it played out on the news that following night I became greatly agitated. The media (4th branch of government) accused brother Leonard Strickland of assaulting the guard which is malarkey (those are the only facts the administration has!). These wild boars say that so they can justify their use of deadly force. Another thing the media (WPTZ 5) said was that "prisoner Leonard Strickland was incarcerated for weapons possession serving 20 years to life" as if that justified his death! We asked, what does his crime or time have to do with the malicious taking of his life. And these sorry ass inmates continue to worry about losing CINEMAX TV. The subliminal message was to all of NYSDOCS sympathizers that you shouldn't feel sorry for a "Inmate" who was convicted of any crime!
Annually there are 1-2 murders here in KKKlinton. KKKlinton also has a notorious reputation not only for killing the Black and Brown but also for covering it up as well (Suicide or Medical Complications).
On October 5, 2010, Superintendent Thomas LaValley had an emergency meeting with the Inmate Liaison Committee (ILC) to sift the mood of the population and ask the representatives questions on the murder, which he and his team calls an "incident."
Bottom line is they are lying! They beat brother Leonard Strickland then threw him down a flight of stairs. He was then handcuffed and never regained consciousness. Of course the administration consisting of Supt. LaValley and his Executive Team all lied when they told the ILC "Leonard Strickland was subdued and was walked to the facility hospital (approx. 100 yards). In reality he did not walk because he was unconscious/dead. The State Police stated Leonard Strickland was pronounced dead at 10:45am. On top of all of this, his property has disappeared. The so called Inspector General (IG) didn't leave a name or contact card with any prisoner. Many assumed it was IG because after the many deaths over the years it's easy to recognize them.
There is an imminent danger that fills these prison walls and most importantly it's the Black and Brown prison population that's in peril! Since I came here in 2006, there have been five murders and a profusion of brutality on the Black and Brown by the all white wild boars called correction officers. I've been told by the administration "it's not a race thing." Well I beg to differ! I asked when was the last time a caucasian "allegedly" assaulted staff and his death followed? When was the last time they kicked a caucasian's teeth in, broke his nose, wrist and ribs or stomped, kicked, punched etc.? The reply was "I'm going to have to get back to you on that!" Can you believe that???
As you see, we are literally sitting ducks. Who knows, I might be next for writing about what I see although my time here "is" limited. Now check this out... The State of New York wants to hire 1,000 more young boars!!!
I forgot to mention this, the ILC requested an emergency meeting in June 2010 with Superintendent Thomas La Valley to try and resolve the multiple staff assaults on prisoners that always ended in having no merit. He refused to attend the emergency meeting and less than four months after, Leonard Strickland was killed by these cowards. This all took place less than six months after Superintendent Thomas La Valley took over in KKKlinton. He allowed for the wild cowboy attitude to persist and this led to Leonard Strickland's live being extinguished.
Twice now in two years, the pigs at Kkklinton have allegedly restrained a convict and murdered him. In the early morning hours of 3 October 2010, Leonard Strickland, a 44-year-old Black male in general population was killed. Of course these cowards will be fighting each other, cutting, stabbing and yet there's no resistance to these corrupt corrections staff.
Just last night, while returning from the SHU shower Sergeant Marcil and CO Stuart told me that the prisoner died of an overdose or bad heroin brought into the prison that weekend. Officer Decoteau told me that it was the plastic bag treatment, meaning that once again they've placed a bag over a prisoner's head. I have spoken to another prisoner who had this done to him.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The NYS DOCS has accused Mr. Strickland of assaulting staff and admit that he died shortly after being subdued by staff. The autopsy results are expected in a couple weeks. We hope our comrades in New York will help us investigate what really went down and start developing means to ensure better protection of the imprisoned population as a whole. This protection starts with the mobilization of a conscious prison population who are watching for abuse and will unite in protest of these acts of brutality.