Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Pennsylvania 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.

[Abuse] [Chester County Prison] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 82]

Chester County Prisoners Petition Against Abuse

ATTN: Governor’s Office Joshua Shapiro, May 10th 2023

From R-Block, Chester County Prison, Westchester

Our Government, has set a Law under Commonwealth Code, 37 PA Code § 95.223 (4), governing Local and State corrections facilities here in Pennsylvania! You now as the elected Governor, “Joshua Shapiro” have duties to enforce these Laws, or correct these customs, used to violate our First Amendment Rights, freedom of speech, use of a protected conduct without retaliation! We have been abused, threatened, sexually harassed, injured and oppressed to a damaging element, involving injury both physical, emotional, mental and sexual in nature by correctional officers, Administration, and the County of Chester’s elected Commissioners! I request your office to fact check this, as I’ve reported along with a copy of herein letter, to Pennsylvania Prison Society, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, PILP, Daily Local News, Fox 29, CBS, NBC 10! This prison population pleads for help of those elected to protect them!

[Signed by 9 prisoners at Chester County Prison]

ATTN: Chester County Commissioners Office, Pennsylvania Prison Society, May 10th 2023

From Chester County Prison, Westchester R-2 Petition

Our Grievance system is broken here in Chester County Prison, and we are all being affected dramatically! Our grievance procedure requires inmates to request a Grievance via Inmate Request Slip, this Inmate Request Slip then in turn is returned to the block correctional officer, who may or may not be involved, but then proceeds to view, and read the request to use our protected conduct. Are we allowed to have our First Amendment rights so openly violated? We become subject to a Campaign of Harassment by attempting to use our protected conducts! Yet our in-house administrative remedies become non-existent! We need help! We have become subject to attack, abuse, retaliation and more!

[Signed by 9 prisoners at Chester County Prison]

[Prison Labor] [State Correctional Institution Fayette] [Pennsylvania]

Pennsylvania Prisoner Pay Doesn't Keep Up with Inflation

The cost of living has really gone up everywhere, and this also includes in the prisons. With the cost of living the way it is due to inflation, I fail to comprehend why the pays for prisoners never go up to make it easier for us to afford the higher costs to survive? I know that out in society whenever the cost of living goes up due to inflation so does our income and of course I am referring to low-income people – people on Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security(SS) or struggling on Welfare.

Well in prisons we don’t make anywhere near what is made on SSI or SS or even Welfare for that matter. In Pennsylvania prisons we cannot make more than 42 cents an hour depending on your job. Blockworks are not to make more than 25 cents an hour, but I make 38 cents an hour because it was supposed to carry over from my previous location at SCI Fayette. Although I had to fight to make sure I kept 38 cents because they tried to start me over at GLJ and then at 19 cents an hour again. I was not having it. I was not going to let them screw me over like that. Bad enough I had to put up with sexual harassment at SCI Fayette.

Now C.I. workers can make up to 51 cents an hour but still since the prices of commissary has gone up due to inflation I think that all prisoners with jobs should be given pay rate rises to help with the new higher costs of living in the prison population. It is much harder to keep up with the financial strain. I have been poor all my life so I am used to having to live/fight with my money but not everyone is able to a adjust in such a manner every time the cost of living goes through the ceiling. But even with that said, I have always been able to adjust because with the rise in the cost of living I always had a slight raise in my monthly income to meet the adjustment of the rise in living cost every year but in prison the cost of living goes up but our pay rates never do.

[Grievance Process] [Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Greene] [Pennsylvania]

Abuse in R.T.U.

In April, there was a group of us that were asking for grievances. There was this one prisoner, he asked for a grievance, I turned around to see who he was so that I could see who was on our side. So when I turned to look at the prisoner and the Correctional Officer: the CO was sitting behind the desk and the prisoner was on the opposite side of the desk.

The C.O.’s name is C.O. Conner. He yelled out: “What did you say?” to the prisoner and ran around the desk to grab the prisoner from the back. The prisoner still didn’t move. The C.O. grabbed the prisoner’s arm and began twisting the prisoner’s arm so bad causing the prisoner pain.

The prisoner screamed out “What did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything to you.” The C.O. then grabbed the prisoner’s body and picked him up and slammed the prisoner face first on the hard solid ground. The C.O. then started beating the prisoner with his elbow on the back of his head. This is the third time this C.O. is involved in something like this. I asked for help from other staff members but they all have different stories on what had happened and they all cover up the whole story blaming the prisoner claiming that it was his fault. It is on camera but when you file a grievance the staff that is responsible for the grievance always has some kind of excuse and make it seem like we have no case. Almost every staff member is crooked and they enforce this behavior.

I believe that the C.O.’s Sgt, Lt, etc… have it as an initiation to beat us and send us to the hole. Most of the staff members come from the military and police force and have a “I will fuck you up” attitude. We are in the R.T.U. and mostly every staff member that works here is not certified to work here and treat us like shit.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Many years ago MIM published a similar report of abuse from here from a C.O. they called grainy. Turned out to be Sgt. Grainer, who later became infamous for his torture photos with Afghan prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. The C.O.-military connection seems to live on in Pennsylvania.

[Civil Liberties] [Ionia Maximum Facility] [State Correctional Institution Frackville] [Calipatria State Prison] [Michigan] [Pennsylvania] [California] [ULK Issue 75]

Censorship and Repression of Black August/September 9th Commemorations

On 12 August 2021, staff member Karber at Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan censored Under Lock & Key 74 for the reason: “Pages 8 & 9 calling for Prisoners to organize for uprising for an up coming date.” These pages featured our center spread on Black August and the September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. It is interesting that the oppressor sees prisoners coming together for peace and unity as an “uprising” and something that is deemed a threat to security (which would be necessary to lawfully censor any reading material in the United $tates).

On 7 September 2021, the staff in the mailroom at SCI Frackville in Pennsylvania disliked the same pages and censored ULK 74 for “Information on Page 8 Calls for Action (September 9).” In Amerikan prisons people do not enjoy the civil rights many Amerikans hold so dear. Their right to grieve or in this case to take an “action” is deemed illegal and punished. Banning peaceful protest and other such actions in prisons leads to violence.

Meanwhile a USW comrade in California reported,

“C.O. Solerio [a white female] emailed a Mental Health/Death Doctor a referral against me for displaying erratic behavior. I was exercising and calling cadence out loud ?? As is my custom, I commemorate Black August by demonstrating physical fitness and oratory skills, loud and proud, wherever I be. This year’s action continues to be opposed by C.O.s obsessed with social control.”

This comrade was in quarantine isolation, where ey could not organize eir normal group activities for Black August.

While the President offers up Juneteenth and Indigenous People’s Day as sanctioned celebrations, the imperialists simultaneously repress those trying to commemorate holidays that represent resistance to oppression. In case anyone was fooled into thinking that we’re all equal now.

[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Albion] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 72]

Hunger Strike in Albion RHU over Basic Humyn Needs

For every male prisoner locked up in the state of Pennsylvania, I pose some questions:

  1. Do a prison have the right to deprive you of food?
  2. Do a prison have the right to deprive you of a shower?
  3. Do a prison have the right to deprive you yard?
  4. To determine when you can see your children and how long you can hold your children?
  5. Every prison in the state of Pennsylvania allow gay prisoners inside of each prison to hold hands/hold each other, have make-out sessions and have intercourse. The Department of Corrections in the state of Pennsylvania even sell bras/panties, makeup, provide hormone injections and sex changes.
  1. Why can’t we hug/hold/kiss our girlfriends and wives for more than three minutes on a visit?
  2. Why don’t we fight for conjugal visits?
  1. Do the prisons have the right to talk however they want?

Brothers, they don’t respect us nor treat us like human beings because under the 13th Amendment, we are slaves. Under Dred Scot v. Sanford, no black man has “rights that a white man is bound to respect” and blacks shall never have rights under the Constitution. Under Plessy v. Ferguson, we are cattle.

That is why correctional officers in the state of Pennsylvania do all these things to us and why police officers in society can kill us with little to no consequences.

Brothers, the female prisons in the state of Pennsylvania still have everything and much more, that we allowed the D.O.C. to take from us, men. Two female prisons fought to be treated like human beings and won through pain and sacrifice.

This goes beyond our personal dislikes, gang colors, religious perspectives and individual wants. Ask yourself, if two female prisons can accomplish it, why can’t 3 or more male prisons do the same?

We at SCI-Albion believe we have the power to accomplish it, so on 1 November 2020 we are hunger striking. We are not helping the D.O.C. get rich off of this oppression so we are not spending money on commissary/cable/bake sales. WE will be doing more but can’t go into that here.

We are a group comprised of Muslims from America and the Middle East, Christians, a Pastor, G.D., Loc’s, Damus, Kings, Netas, neutrals old and young. Blacks, Latinos and whites.

[Censorship] [Pennsylvania]

Reply to "Pennsylvania Mail Disrupted"

This is in response/follow-up to the “PA Mail Disrupted” article on pg. 13 of ULK 66. Enclosed is some info printed off of the internet that you may or may not be aware of. It substantiates what both the comrade that wrote the article and also what MIM(Prisons) responded.

You are probably aware by now, but the “policy” of staff photocopying our privileged correspondence (legal mail) has since been lifted and we now receive the original documents once again. This is ONLY for privileged correspondence from courts and licensed attorneys with approved “ACNs” (Attorney Control Numbers). This changed over a year ago and I’ve provided a copy of the policy update with this letter.

This is a huge victory and to the best of my knowledge, aside from the individual (or groups of) prisoners who I’m sure filed grievances/lawsuits,, etc. to bring about this change, I believe the ACLU played a major role in this win.

But of course it’s one battle in a much larger war. Our “regular” mail is still being scanned by Smart Communications in Florida as well as our photos from family and friends.

All books/publications still must go through the “Security Processing Center” to be heavily scrutinized and censored, which leads to it taking a MINIMUM of about three weeks for us to receive our books. Sometimes it takes upwards of two months.

An alternative to the poor quality printed (copied) photos (I’ve persynally received numerous photos that the jail has printed on the opposite side of the SAME page as my letters, which I hope I’m not the only one that sees this as ridiculous, lazy, and flat out disrespectful) is to receive “photo books” via apps such as FreePrints, FlikShop, Shutterfly, and Snapfish.

These photo books are more expensive (around $10-$15) but are MUCH better quality than receiving the printed copies through Smart Communications. But the photo books must come (from the app) through the Security Processing Center.

Clearly the DOC isn’t happy that we’ve found a “loophole” in eir ridiculous policy regarding photos and I’ve witnessed a fellow prisoner’s ENTIRE photo book be rejected because ONE out of 25 of the photos depicted eir young daughter throwing up the “peace” sign. It goes without saying that ey claimed it was a “gang” sign. How ignorant and disrespectful can ey be? Obviously this question is rhetorical because clearly ey will stop at nothing and have no boundaries when it comes to censoring and harassing prisoners here in PA and around the country.

Bottom line, this is proof that we can achieve victories, albeit small ones, but victories nonetheless when standing up for our rights against the systematic oppression at the hands of our captors (the State).

So I hope it will encourage all of us to keep fighting and keep standing up for the what we believe in and what we know is right.

[COVID-19] [Pennsylvania]

Many PA Prisoners Have COVID-19 in Gen Pop


Greetings. Enclosed is my completed answers for session 1 of the study group. I look forward to further material.

I will hopefully be back in gen. pop. (at a different prison) within the next month or two. I remain in segregation as all transfers in the PADOC have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ironically, those of us in segregation here are probably safer than the prisoners in general population because numerous staff (C.O.s, etc.) have tested positive for the virus here at this facility (and possibly prisoners, but I’m not sure) and we in seg. are basically in the closest thing to a legit quarantine.

Even in this seg. unit I still see a lot of C.O.s (too many) neglecting recommended (or sometimes mandatory) safety measures and most have a lackadaisical attitude about the situation. I’m surprised many more (and many of us) aren’t sick.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing back.

In Solidarity.

[Medical Care] [Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Fayette] [Pennsylvania]

Brutality in the RHU

I want to speak on what has been going on with me since I’ve been in this RHU. I came to the RHU on 12 November 2019 for an assault on another prisoner. Specifically I punched someone ONE time and broke my hand to the point of it requiring surgery. I had surgery on 26 November 2019 and had 3 temporary pins put in that were supposed to remain in for 3-4 weeks. (*Note: I STILL as of today have NOT been taken back to the hospital to have them removed. It’s going on 7-8 weeks) Three days later on 29 November 2019 as I was being escorted to the shower in handcuffs, I got into a verbal disagreement with 2 C.O.s (Tyne & Emminger) about an approved plastic bag I was supposed to get to cover my bandaged hand so I could shower. They were FALSELY claiming that it was NOT approved (this was later proven to be INCORRECT). But when I disputed this, C.O. Emminger proceeded to violently yank on the handcuff “tether” & twist & pull on my handcuffs to intentionally injure me. He said, “Oh you wanna argue? Now you don’t get shit.” And he proceeded to physically force me back into my cell.

I was prohibited from speaking to any medical staff about this & ended up receiving a COMPLETELY BOGUS & fabricated misconduct (write-up) claiming I threatened them, used “abusive” language & refused a direct order. When I went to my hearing I requested the camera footage & also requested to call 3 witnesses who would’ve refuted the false allegations. I was told that the video footage was “unavailable” and my witnesses were NOT called with the hearing examiner stating that they were “Not Needed” to determine guilt or innocence. Long story short, I was found guilty & received an additional 30 days of disciplinary time to run concurrent with the 45 I was already serving for assault. I’m currently appealing this decision.

ANOTHER similar incident occurred on 1 December 2019 wherein my cell was being searched in retaliation for myself & several other convicts complaining & putting in grievances about us not being able to exchange our dirty bed linens & towels for OVER TWO MONTHS (only the inmates who complained had their cells “searched”). It wasn’t even a search, they just wanted to tear our cells apart to send a message. During this “search”. I was removed from my cell and placed in cuffs. I noticed C.O.s kick out onto the tier 2 partial “gloves” that were provided to me by the hospital where I had my surgery to wear under a custom brace that was made for my hand to protect it. When I complained and stated what they were for, I was told to “shut the fuck up” & Sergeant Wiles ordered me to be escorted to the “strip cage.” I was taken to the “strip cage” & thrown inside by Sgt. Wiles & 2 other unknown C.O.s. As Sgt. Wiles was removing my cuffs, he aggressively yanked & twisted on the cuffs in an OBVIOUS attempt to injure me. When I yelled out in pain, Sgt. Wiles stated, “tell it to your buddy in there.” Referring to the camera inside of the strip cage.

I’ve since filed numerous grievances regarding these incidents and am at various stages of the appeal processes. My intent is to exhaust the in-house remedies and file a 1983 suit against the DOC & these C.O.s specifically. I’ve also contact numerous politicians & outside groups such as the ACLU, PA institutional Law Project, PA prison society, etc. and am looking for all the help, assistance and/or information I can get with this struggle.

If you can publicize my struggle in U.L.K. or on your website or in ANYWAY possible, I’d GREATLY appreciate it. Feel free to use ANY part of this letter & any & all details. If you can provide ANY info to help me or point me in the direction of anyone who can, PLEASE DO. Again, it will be greatly appreciated.


[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Somerset] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 70]

Educating and Fighting Grievance Denials in Pennsylvania

Until recently I was being held at SCI Somerset with 9 months hole time. During this time prison officials stole my commissary, denied me access to the law library (mini law library), discarded my legal materials, discarded my incoming mail, denied me legal phone calls (even when I had court within days of my request), and I was denied meals (trays), among other things. All in retaliation for my filing grievances about the many injustices and inhumane living conditions I and others suffered from.

After successfully challenging those things via grievance appeals to central office, these C.O.s started targeting other prisoners. Denying them showers, yard, meals, and giving their incoming mail to other prisoners. These guys reacted, as they should, but the way they reacted was counterproductive. So I taught them how to fight our oppressors using the grievance procedure for positive results and they were successful.

As a result of this, the prison guards and prison officials conspired on a course of action and the result was they transferred me to a facility where they know I have multiple enemies, and labeled me as a gang member (which I’m not). This is a Restricted Housing Unit (RHU).

Throughout this entire ordeal I saw opportunity to start teaching those brothers how to put a stop to oppression and injustices they were subjected to before I arrived. I am proud to say we’ve made a couple victories; small ones, but victories nonetheless. The brothers are especially happy of the bigger trays in the RHU! We have more work to do, our battles continue.

[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania]

Retaliation and Threats for Reporting Rape in Pennsylvania

I am an inmate at SCI-Huntingdon in Huntingdon, PA. I am writing you hoping you can somehow help or assist me. I was a victim of rape in this jail in August 2019. I reported this to PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) coordinator here at SCI Huntingdon, Lt. Grassmyer and Ms Pyle. I placed myself in solitary confinement to get away from my attacker who was my cellmate.

While in solitary confinement (RHU) I received threats of retaliation for filing the PREA report. My attacker is a well established gang member here at SCI Huntingdon with a lot of connections. I reported this to "security" and Lt. Grassmyer, I expressed how I was in fear for my safety due to the treats I received. In response I was given an ultimatum by Lt. Grassmyer, "go back to population, or get a misdconduct for refusing to go back to population." Reluctantly, I went back to population, I didn't want a misconduct when I see the parole board in Nov of this year. I wasn't in population for 24 hours before receiving multiple threats of retaliation for filing report to PREA (Lt. Grassmyer).

Friends of mine were approaching me warning me of a hit (bounty) on my head to stab me or cut me up real good. I went straight to the block guard and told him about the hits on my head, since then, Sept 5 2019, I've been in solitary confinement. I am in steady fear for my life and I'm afraid that this jail, Lt. Grassmyer in particular is going to get me seriously hurt or even killed.

Under the PREA act, it is my right to be protected from retaliation. If they try to make me go back to general population I know for a fact that I will be stabbed or cut up or even killed. This prison is corrupt and I don't trust anyone here and I need all the help I can get from the outside. So please, if there is anything, anything you can do to help me or assist me. I have almost 10 years incarcerated and I am not eligible for parole while in the RHU (solitary confinement), because it is a level 5 security, so even though I am eligible to go home, I can't as long as they keep me here in RHU. I'm in a Catch 22 and this is not right. Please help me.

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