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 continuing the fight in the struggle. I am recently lied on by the oppressors’ corrupt gang unit here saying I was organizing an unauthorized group activity and that I’m a leader of the White Panther Movement. They also said that I was trying to organize a riot and take over the prison from the guards because I try to unite and educate. They don’t like it. So I am in solitary awaiting to be placed in SHU here in the corrupt Ohio Concentration Camps.
I am filing grievances against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections, because while in SHU we cannot order no books – not even legal books. Then last time I was placed in solitary they lost my legal book “self help litigation manual” and now they won’t allow me to re-order it at my own cost.
So the inspector has put fake tickets saying I threatened him, false. So know I am truly at war here.
Now in solitary they won’t allow no porter to my door to pass me a reading book or nothing. The library lady won’t bring me nothing either. So I’m in it.
I arrived here end of October. Surprisingly I was given most of my materials most likely due to the fact there were 31 captives transfered in that day. The pigs were tired of going through our property. They did take Mao's Selected Works Vol II (which has since been replaced by MIMP).
Approx a month later a suspected BGF member got into it with a pig who had destroyed some of his property. Pigs later took down all of his known comrades and myself. Out of nowhere my cell was shaken down and about 20lbs (the best way I can describe it) of materials was taken with no explanation given besides a pig whispering to me "what did you do" and that the shakedown was "STG related." They held my items for two and a half months after interviewing me. I'd never been profiled or STG'd. The pigz main inquiry was to why in some of my writings did I refer to George Jackson as comrade, and why did I choose to spell "guerilla" this way. I simply told them I'd learned to spell it that way and that G.J was referred to as Comrade George in what I'd read about him. I believe that they were trying to find a connection between myself and the BGF. Because they couldn't they eventually gave all my stuff back stating they "could STG me," and they would if they heard my name in anything.
Every issue of ULK is censored. Upon appealing each individual issue to the publication screening committee I have received every one except for one issue 60 days later. The May/June issue is out for a decision currently.
They have censored every newspaper and most publicaitons besides what's sent in by MIMP - to my amazement.
I'm back on track with a study group going and campaigns under way, one to expel two pigs who constantly harass us.
My funds are limited to $16 a month for all my necessities. So I can't contribute besides work for trade. I am however doing my part to organize, agitate and education, and working with others to do what we can under extreme repression.
by an Ohio prisoner June 2017 permalinkInformal Complaint Resolution
Submitted to Warden: Mr. Hooks
January 1st, 2017
Complaint regarding: Appropriate Supervision/discrimination, to wit: A.R. 5120-9-04.
On November 17, 2016 the Ross County Correctional Institution mail room received twenty-five (25) embossed envelopes from a Mrs. [name omitted] that was addressed to be delivered to myself. However, on this occasion the aforementioned embossed envelopes were confiscated as contraband and were never returned to my wife or forwarded to me. A new policy, (75-MAL-01), has purportedly been instituted that bans all incoming embossed envelopes sent from the family and friends of those incarcerated at the Ross County Corr. Inst. As it stands, I [name omitted] am legally indigent, as I've been held to the monthly stipend of $10 for the past fifteen years, under the banner of court cost, fines and restitution and I can't afford to purchase embossed envelopes along with hygiene and miscelaneous laundry products. This new policy (75-AL-01) discriminates against every indigent prisoner on this compound and ultimately affects the quality of a relationship already deprived of hand-to-hand contact with friends and loved ones in free society, and the quality of tenure of incarceration.
Listed below are a variety of prisoners adversely affected by this new policy (75-HAL-01), who have no alternative means of purchasing embossed envelopes. Accordingly, we respectfully request the above mentioned new policy, be rendered moot and that the original policy, that allowed prisoners to receive embossed envelopes from family and friends be re-instated.
Please assist us in any way you deem appropriate.
Cc: Special Litigation Section
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530
MIM(Prisons) responds: Our job as revolutionaries is to organize people and bring them together. The primary task of U.$. prisons is to control oppressed-nation people, and to prevent them from organizing to change their conditions within this capitalist society. The above policy in Ohio serves no purpose except to exacerbate the already difficult situation of oppressed people to not only organize but also stay mentally and relationally healthy when locked up. This policy is one tiny piece of a much larger battle.
Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising
2011, PM Press
Keith LaMar (Bomani Hondo Shakur)
In April 1993 there was an 11-day occupation of Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, starting on Easter Sunday when the maximum security prisoners overpowered correctional officers (COs) while returning from recreation. During the occupation, eight COs were held as hostages; one was killed and the rest were released. Nine prisoners were also killed through the course of this uprising, all by other prisoners. The 407 prisoners surrendered when the administration committed to a 21-point agreement. After the uprising, five prisoners were sentenced to death for the murders, and they are the only people held on Ohio's death row.
Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising and Condemned are good books to read together, and give two thorough accounts of the events of the SOCF uprising, and even more thorough detail of what happened afterward. Lucasville is written by Staughton Lynd, a lawyer who plays a significant role in Condemned, which was written by Keith LaMar (Bomani), one of the people condemned to death for the events during the uprising. The content in these books overlaps a lot, but not too much as to be redundant. What content is repeated through the two books just underlines lessons learned, and clarifies the authors' political orientations, some of which MIM(Prisons) does not agree with. Rather than write a point-by-point criticism of these books which most of our readers will never have the opportunity to read anyway, below we summarize some of the lessons on prison organizing we gleaned from studying them.
Condemned recounts Bomani's first-hand experience before, during, and after the uprising, especially focusing on the struggle of the five prisoners who were scapegoated for the uprising (known as the Lucasville 5). Condemned is a good case study on many common aspects of prison organizing. Lynd's book describes all the work it took, and all the obstacles the state put in place, to support the Lucasville 5's struggle from the outside.
The first theme addressed in Condemned is the author's ideological transformation. MIM(Prisons)'s primary task at this point in the struggle is building public opinion and institutions of the oppressed for socialist revolution, so affecting others' political consciousness is something we work on a lot. On the first day of the uprising, Bomani was hoping the state would come in to end the chaos. But "standing there as dead bodies were dumped onto the yard (while those in authority stood back and did nothing), and then experience the shock of witnessing Dennis' death [another prisoner who was murdered in the same cell as the author], awakened something in me." Bomani's persynal experiences, plus politicization on the pod and thru books, are what led em to pick up the struggle against injustice.
At an event where Bomani was publicizing eir case and experience, a MIM(Prisons) comrade was able to ask em what go-to books ey recommend for new comrades who are just getting turned on to the struggle. Bomani suggested Black Boy by Richard Wright, and also refers to Wright in Condemned. MIM(Prisons) would second this recommendation. Black Boy is an excellent study of New Afrikan life under Jim Crow in the South, with many aspects of that struggle still continuing in this country today.
In eir own book, Bomani also recounts acts of prisoner unity against the administration shortly following the uprising, and how politicization of fellow prisoners played out in real life. The prisoners made a pact to trash the range each day, and not clean it up. The guards cleaned the range themselves for a few days, but then brought in a prisoner to clean it up. Simultaneously, the "old heads" on the pod were leading speeches nightly about the need for unity and the relationship between the prisoners and the administration, politicizing everyone within earshot.
"Every night there was a variation of this same speech, and I listened to it over and over again until something took root in me. I became openly critical of the mistreatment we had all undergone and, for a few months at least, was serious in my determination to persuade others not to join the administration in the efforts to further divide and conquer us."(Condemned, p. 33)
A tactic that was mentioned in passing in Condemned was how the prisoner who was cleaning the range for the pigs was dealt with. Ey was struggled with for a period of time, and asked to not clean the range, but ey came back day after day. Eventually this prisoner was stabbed by the protesters for continuously undermining the action. Bomani doesn't mention how this act impacted the unity demo, whether it helped or not. We aim to minimize physical violence as much as possible, although sometimes it may be necessary. It is up to those who are on the ground to make the call in their particular conditions, and this tactic should not at all be taken lightly. If much physical force is necessary to maintain a peace demo, then we should ask ourselves if the masses we're organizing are ready for that type of demo. Political education is always our focus at this stage in the struggle.
Both books address how a protest with solid participants can fail or succeed depending on the protest's outside support. Several hunger strikes were launched, and ended, without progress made on the demands. It wasn't until connections were made with outside advocates and media that prison officials took any steps toward fixing them. Especially in an instance where a lawyer met with the regional director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation, which led to some property restrictions being lifted.
Recalling a victory from a 12-day hunger strike which had a lot of outside support,
"When the administration refused to follow their own rules, we complained (verbally and informally) and then asked a district judge to intervene on our behalf, all to no avail. It never occurred to us that we were wasting our time by appealing to the very people who had placed us in this predicament we were in.
"Indeed, the whole process of redressing our grievances was nothing more than an exercise in futility designed to drain off our vital energy and make us feel as though we had done all that we could do.
"It was only when we began to write and reach out to 'the people' that things began to change. First, there was Staughton's book and accompanying play; then we began holding 'talks' around the state on various college campuses, as well as writing articles in various periodicals. In this way, we were able to generate some much-needed support."(Condemned, p. 179)
To combat the psychological warfare of the prison staff, Bomani strongly recommends daily meditation and yoga as a method to protect oneself. "By learning how to watch my thoughts [meditate using simple breathing exercises], I was able to rise above the vicious cycle of cause and effect, and thereby avoid the tricks and traps of my environment."(Condemned, p. 133)
MIM(Prisons) receives regular requests for information on sovereign citizenship. While we've written against this tactic at length elsewhere, Lucasville underlines it with an anecdote about three prisoners who cut off their fingers and mailed them to the United Nations to show how serious they were in in their claim of sovereign citizenship. The request was still denied.
A final lesson from these books, especially recounted in Lucasville, is that in any attempt at solidarity and justice for the oppressed, prison officials and other oppressors will do everything they can to undermine it. Everything. We should never expect that our enemies will act in good faith toward respecting us and our needs. We should always expect pushback and always expect that they will attempt to derail us at every step of the way. Studying past struggles for clues on how we can protect our movement will only make our job easier. The state is taking notes on our shortcomings and we need to do the same of both our shortcomings and our strengths.
We sent you a Certified letter stating that the Lucasville hunger strike began 5 July 2016. Here's an update on the Lucasville hunger strike. I was the last comrade to terminate the strike, out of 20 comrades. There were 7 who were successful. These comrades have been sent back to general population. The issue of the practice of excessive solitary confinement is still an issue at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
Brothers who spend lots of time in solitary confinement are subjected to the worst form of psychological abuse which can affect a person long after he or she has been released into society. The Warden claims that changes in Lucasville are in progress. My strike ended on 25 August 2016. If the Warden doesn't work to end the torture and abuse at Lucasville, we will start the hunger strike again. Thanks for printing this. We need your support.
Comrade, SOCF hunger strike 7-5-16 to 8-25-16
MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this comrade for keeping us informed on the status of the hunger strike and the immediate results. It will take a long concerted effort to end abuses in prisons, and we believe it will also take changing the economic system we live under. We commend these comrades for their resolve to go on strike again if needed. We also encourage them to educate others on the history of this struggle and how it fits into the struggle against injustices worldwide, and try to get them involved. Only through long-term organizing, building and fighting, will we be able to take down the system of imperialism and replace it with a system that serves the majority of the world's people. At that point we will have the power to eliminate oppressive structures that reinforce capitalism, like the criminal injustice system and its many tools of social control.
I am contacting you to make you aware of my "Hunger Strike," and my demands and to ring the alarm about the oppressive administration here and to make sure my strike is "Documented."
Being falsely incarcerated since the age of sixteen years old for a crime I didn’t commit, sentenced to 100 plus years, and fighting for my liberation has been no easy task against this racist regime here at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lukkkasville, Ohio.
At this time due to the continuous oppressive and outright abusive behavior of the administration, and harsh penalties for basic rule infractions, they have forced me to protest for change. This is my only means to protest nonviolently and peacefully to change the conditions and practices of this administration by laying my life on the line and going on a "Hunger Strike." I am only one voice and my sacrifice will be in vain without your support and the Power of the People. I'm nothing so I enlist your support and assistance to bring attention to this struggle and compel the power that be, to change and meet the hunger strike demands.
I will need for you and the people to make calls to Central Office 614-387-0588, so that my Hunger Strike is documented and changes are made.
To the world you are just one person, but to one person you may be the world. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and pray all is favorable to all concerned. I exit in revolutionary spirit. Shields up!
Hunger Strike Demands
1) A complete end of denying prisoners the right to basic hygiene necessities or property (soap, toothpaste & deodorant) which is required while in the hole [solitary confinement].
2) A complete end of denying prisoners the legal right to have access to their pending legal work to litigate the case while in the hole, and the immediate end with tampering with prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail.
3) A complete and immediate end to the recent arbitrary practice of handing down excessive and severe penalties for drug violations, and termination of visiting privileges when the Rule Infraction Board (RIB) have already handed down a penalty for Rule 39 and Rule 40. A 3-year non-contact visit from family and the outside world is unheard of for violation of Rule 39 & Rule 40, and extremely inappropriate and not healthy and destroys any possible chance to be rehabilitated to re-enter society. For this reason, favorable consideration shall be given and the penalty for violations for Rule 39 and Rule 40 shall be reduced to a reasonable amount of time that will not undermine the violation of the offense.
4) An immediate stop of violence against prisoners when cuffed, and stop the excessive use of force and spraying of prisoners with O.C. spray which causes severe health problems. Also, stop the embellishment of violation of Rule 4, to justify the physical assault of prisoners while cuffed. This prison has a very ugly history of "Excessive Use of Force" and this abuse must stop.
These are the more important things that we expect to accomplish as a result of this "Hunger Strike." There are other issues, some more important, others less.
As of 10 July 2016, there's a total of 3 that's on hunger strike.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In another article reporting on this hunger strike, there were 20 people participating as of July 18. This comrade rightly frames the hunger strike as the last possible nonviolent option. When officials do not respond to a hunger strike, they are saying that they'd rather have a violent uprising than meet the demand to stop torturing prisoners.
A public campaign such as a hunger strike is good to build organizing around a need: in this case, an end to solitary confinement, and adequate care for prisoners. In order to fight for an end to all conditions of torture and unnecessary suffering, our education needs to connect the hunger strike to a larger battle for justice worldwide, in other words, an end to imperialism.
We write to further enlighten you on the progress of our hunger strike at the Southern Ohio Corrections Facility in the state of Ohio. Since you were last informed, other comrades have joined our cause to end solitary confinement and psychological torture in prisons all across america.
We now have a total of about 30 prisoners who are currently refusing meals. Some of us are being denied medical assistance. Correctional officers have already sabotaged some hunger strikers, by planting food in their cells.
The strike began on 5 July 2016, and staff are refusing to document the strike. Prison officials claim they don't care about our strike. If this is true, then why does the prison administration resort to such extreme tactics to discourage us?
A hunger strike is more than just refusing food. But the spiritual power generated by our unified thoughts will manifest change. We enclose a list of demands, along with a notification to the public to please contact the Governor of Ohio and the media to inform that hunger strikers are being denied medical assistance. We greatly appreciate your integrity and will keep you updated.
List of Hunger Strike Demands
We of the inmates of Ohio ask for an end to solitary confinement and torture of inmates.
We ask for the end of the practice of systematic racism.
We demand for the end of unfair Rules Infraction Board hearings, which results in a denial of due process.
We demand an end to officer brutality, including the assault with chemical agents.
We ask for your support by contacting the Governor of Ohio:
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Inform them that hunger strikers are being denied medical assistance.
Lucasville Hunger Strike
MIM(Prisons) responds: We applaud the organization and commitment of these comrades in Ohio who are risking their lives to fight torture at SOCF. We have received a couple reports on this hunger strike.
We agree that a hunger strike is more than just refusing food, and as another comrade puts it, it becomes the only nonviolent option left to protest how you're being treated.
Rather than generating "spiritual power," though, hunger strikes can develop real world education and organizing. As more people see the struggle and are educated about it they learn from the strike and we gain supporters. How well we build this education and organizing depends a lot on a careful evaluation of local conditions so our time and energy and health is well spent. For instance, undertaking a hunger strike with only a few people without outside support or a way of publicizing it will most likely lead to not only a failed action but also will show others that this battle can't be won. It's always important to build for our actions so that we have the support and systems in place to make victory possible. Lucasville has a long history of prisoners going on hunger strike for basic necessities, and a broad outside support system has been shown to be one of the factors that make these protests successful.
So we call on outside supporters to take the actions listed above and publicize this hunger strike through their networks. Through organizing together we can abolish the SHU!
We also want to comment on the demand for an end to "systematic racism" which we would call systematic national oppression. This is a function of the criminal injustice system, by design. As a tool of social control, the Amerikan prisons are set up to target the oppressed nations. And so we cannot expect to eliminate this feature of the system without overthrowing the entire system. Demands like this one are just and righteous, but not winnable until capitalism is defeated.
I write to deliver an update as promised concerning the recent hunger strike which took place the 23 March 2016.
Currently as of today the final two hunger strikers are relieved of their duties with a victory in hand!! As I was told, "it was a rough fight," and "a long long 16 days!" Not all, but the majority claimed victory along the fight. A lot fell off before the battle began. But a victory for one is a victory for all! We will continue to stay unified and fight each unjust act with every and all remedies we can muster up.
As far as my knowledge, Dr. Fiscal, who was working for the administration and refusing to send anyone out to receive outside medical treatment, was walked off and fired. A hunger striker demand! Religious accommodations are now being reviewed. But the food is still short. The discrimination has slowed down but I'm sure it will be back once the heat dies down.
In the beginning I would conduct a phone call to each brother's families (the ones provided) and provide them with all the phone #s they would need to call and apply pressure, including the Deputy Warden, Warden, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director, Ohio State Patrol, and any news station willing to listen and investigate. The prison would lie to the family and Ohio State Patrol until we started recording all conversations. Then things changed! For the most part everybody was persistent and in the end it all paid off.
Thank you for your support. I depart as I came.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are not as optimistic as this comrade that this struggle has ended in a victory. It's unclear from this report, but we hope that the strikers who were seeking medical attention received more than just a firing of the facility's doctor. Adequate medical care would certainly be a victory. But the other loose demands of religious accommodations, adequate food, and national oppression (discrimination of "minority groups") are far from resolved. The oppressors have been showing us for centuries that expecting them to act in good faith is a losing strategy. There are no rights, only power struggles, and unless the oppressed are making clear demands and enforcing their rights, we expect no improvements.
On the up side, this is a good exercise in how to conduct a campaign. It was advantageous to designate a point-persyn to keep the public informed of the progress of the strike. It sounds like the unity of the participants in the strike remains intact, and they can draw on this unity for future campaigns. So there were certainly victories in this battle, but more related to prisoners organizing, and getting their outside supporters involved, rather than getting the administration to concede to the demands of the captives.
I have enclosed copies of letters a comrade wrote to secure his position, ensure his safety, among many who are undergoing a mass hunger strike thie 23rd day of March 2016, to fight perpetually against the injustice we are receiving here at Lucasville. I will pass out your address to the rest of the brothers who will be fighting as well. I will remain on the compound to be the legs and voice to services and family on the streets of the brothers undergoing this battle.
Our basic human rights are being denied here! A shortage in food from Aramark. Our religious accommodations are being refused. Medical attention is being refused to those in dire need. And the majority of the minority population is being discriminated against and abused. Together we take a stand and organize against the administration today.
I'll write to keep you updated and give awareness. Expect much more letters.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We have not yet received an update on this hunger strike, but these comrades are taking a correct tactical approach. Engaging in such a protest as a unified group, and engaging outside media and supporters, have been shown to be important aspects for the success of hunger strikes in the past.(1) We are eagerly awaiting more information on the progress of this protest.
As the comrade states in eir letter, attached to this article, ey do not want to go on a hunger strike. Ey is being compelled to put eir life on the line because ey has tried all other avenues available, to no avail. The attached letter contains the demands of one prisoner. In negotiations with the state, it will be important to develop a clear list of demands that represent the entire population at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF). The comrade who wrote to us, the "legs and voice" on the unit, outlined some clear complaints which could be made into specific demands of the administration and prison staff. Without this clarity, the unity of the strikers may be compromised, as it leaves the group vulnerable to divide-and-conquer tactics.
We do hope this strike brings needed remedies for prisoners held at SOCF. The state has shown time and time again that agreements it makes with prisoners (or even its compliance with established laws) is unreliable, so the strikers should be prepared to defend any victories tooth and nail. In the end, whether the administration cooperates or not, using this struggle to build long-term unity amongst prisoners at SOCF is the real prize. Strengthening unity amongst prisoners will bring much more long-term remedy than a few token individuals who are permitted to receive medical treatment. Clarify your goals, unite around them, and prepare to defend them!
The name of our study group is Royal Descendant People Politically Intelligent Revolutionary Units. We encourage Peace and try to be problem solvers when it comes to New Afrikan on New Afrikan violence. We encourage people to think instead of just reacting. We get leaders to talk before violence starts.
We encourage Unity among different New Afrikan organizations. We will work with other organizations not New Afrikan for a common kause like going against Pork Khops (correctional officers) and their pig counterparts, the agents of the oppressive and exploitative state security and information gathering system. Our first duty is to campaign which is to spread our ancestors' and leaders' revolutionary kulture. We are democratic socialist chanting down capitalism and imperialism. When it's time to go against the real enemy we will unite with those who share a common enemy. We are working on bettering our communication system. People write but we have a hard time finding someone to print our zines and books. That's why I am reaching out networking to get support. Beside our education program we have a military training program which consists of eating right and exercise. We work mind and body.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are always happy to hear from groups building unity and independent institutions of the oppressed behind bars. And this comrade demonstrates an important aspect of these groups: study. This organization seems to be well aligned with the United Front for Peace in Prisons's points of unity, peace, growth, internationalism and independence. We look forward to studying and building with them in the future. Others who have groups, even just a few folks studying together, should get in touch with MIM(Prisons) so we can provide materials to support your studies. And get plugged in to the United Front for Peace in Prison.
MIM(Prisons) compiles and distributes study materials through our Free Books for Prisoners Program. We are open to printing pamphlets made by our subscribers so long as they fit into a revolutionary Maoist agenda.
We facilitate Maoist and anti-imperialist prisoner organizing through United Struggle from Within, and help writers develop their skills and politital line through our correspondence study courses. Our advanced study group, the ULK Writers Group, is where the vanguard of the Maoist anti-imperialist prison movement gathers to write articles, pamphlets, and even books. Work through these organizations to ensure your work is the most effective at fighting oppression.