Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Pennsylvania Prisons

Expand ULK. Send us $50 concealed cash with an address and we'll send you a stack of each issue for the next year. help out

www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Abuse] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania lockdown and mail denial

I am writing this letter to obtain legal advice or help with current matters which are currently taking place in the state of Pennsylvania Prison System. Beginning on August 29, 2018, Pennsylvania declared a statewide state prison lockdown, in which we were not allowed to send or receive mail of any kind. We were just allowed, as of September 6, 2018, to send mail out but will no longer receive mail and the mail they do have will now be sent to some third party in the state of Florida.

On the day of the lockdown, the guards wore gloves and face masks for their protection when passing food to the prisoners. No protection whatsoever was provided for us, the inmates, even though the correctional officers are the only people who reportedly fell ill from alleged contact with drugs. I have been watching "WJAC 6 News" in Clearfield County to stay updated with the current progress of events.

Around September 1st, 2018, the D.O.C. let us out to take one shower and when everyone showered, let us out to use the phone. From my knowledge of watching the local news, no prisoners have fell ill from alleged drugs, only D.O.C. staff, which could possibly be a ploy of some kind on individuals behalf. Around September 3rd or 4th, 2018, the D.O.C. started letting us out one tier at a time for blockout, which is an hour each tier, which holds about 60 inmates on each tier. We, as prisoners, have been mostly kept in the dark about what and why or when. I'm writing asking can you please assist in these matters, but if you write back the jail will not give me any mail.

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 63]
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Fighting On Thru Broken Spirits

fighting on

Recently I was transferred here to SCI Chester and was shocked at the difference in the prisoners here compared to my comrades at SCI Greene, SCI Pittsburgh, and SCI Somerset. This facility is very different. A program was incorporated here called welfare to work which allowed many welfare recipients from the surrounding area to be hired at this prison. Now I'm all for giving the underprivileged opportunities but this prison is so "Ratchet" now it's ridiculous. Staff does not do their jobs here. Grievances are ignored, campaigns challenged, and anyone who speaks out is locked down for "inciting a riot" and promptly transferred. With mostly short-term prisoners at this "program prison" prisoners are afraid to fight for their rights out of fear for negative marks on their record for parole.

I've been putting in non-stop paperwork since arriving and all I've accomplished is gaining the ire of my unit manager and other staff. I have even been threatened. I have succeeded in starting an anti-imperialist study group but am persecuted for it. My unit manager lies and makes up reasons to put me on "cell restrictions" so I can't hold group. But I keep pushing and have gotten some other prisoners to start standing up for themselves. But none of our paperwork is being addressed. 90% of the time we receive no response whatsoever.

I have no idea how they get away with it. You would think these staff members who were underprivileged and grew up in the streets like we did would be more sympathetic to our plights but instead they go on power trips and neglect most of their duties. These types of people are why we can't make classless society work. It seems all our efforts here are in vain. We are sending out a call for help; any assistance or advice will be greatly appreciated. Spirits seem broken here at SCI Chester and comrades are dropping out of the struggle and though it is dissuading I will not quit. I will remain constantly a soldier on the front lines of this war. But I'm calling for backup.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While this writer sees the Welfare to Work program at SCI Chester as the cause of repression, many prisons without this program have similar conditions. We can't speak to the effects of this program specifically, but more generally we know that many prisons are built in communities where job opportunities are limited. And that people generally don't take jobs as prison guards out of a desire to help people; just as with most capitalist jobs, people are working for the money.

More generally this writer's letter raises the question of why so many people working in prison perpetuate oppression rather than being kind and helpful to prisoners. There is evidence that oppressing people is not an inherent characteristic of humyns. Instead, this is a result of the economics of capitalism and our capitalist culture. First there is the economic side of things: the vast majority of people in this imperialist country are getting paid more than the value of their labor. They are basically being bought as supporters of imperialism. So when they get paid well to work in an institution that is based in social control and torture of other humyns, they're ok doing it because that's part of supporting capitalism.

Second we have capitalist culture which trains people to be ok with harming others and exerting power over others. There have been studies that show that even random people put in a situation where someone in charge tells them to hurt another persyn, most will do it because they're told to. Most famously in the United $tates there was the Stanford Prison Experiment back in 1971.

But there also has been huge social experiments such as the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s and 70s which showed that even people who formerly were oppressors with great power can be re-educated and become peaceful productive members of society. It's not easy, and we won't win on the re-education front on a mass scale until we have the power to implement a cultural revolution to eradicate a system that values and glorifies power and oppression.

Rather than despair and say that these guards are why we can't make classless society work, we say these guards are exactly why we need socialism and a dictatorship of the proletariat. Clearly we have a lot of work to do to re-train and re-educate people so that they respect all humyns and act kindly towards others. We need a system that is set up to serve the oppressed and forcibly stop those who want power for themselves for persynal gain. The system of socialism will require a long period of cultural revolution, where we transform our culture into one that values humyn life and teaches people to treat others equally rather than valuing power and wealth at any cost to others. It will be a long struggle to reach a society where there is no class, nation or gender oppression. But it is the only path to survival for humynity.

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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Rockview] [Pennsylvania]
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The plight of the mentally ill

I come to you today with news of an epidemic here at my home prison and prisons across the United $nakes of Amerika. I find myself amongst those who are seriously mentally ill. I'm in a step down program called the Residential Treatment Unit (RTU), where I will be housed for at least 90 days. I'm stepping down from a control unit called the Secure Residential Treatment Unit (SRTU). I'm finally in general population after four consecutive years in a control unit, AKA solitary confinement.

I look around me with disgust ,not at the people but the warehousing of the severely mentally ill. I wonder, why are most of these people even in jail. These people belong in a mental hospital, receiving treatment, not punishment. Oh, yeah, that's right, the Obama administration closed most of the state psychiatric facilities and deemed it appropriate to warehouse these poor people in prison, under the guise of mental health treatment units.

Prison is prison, regardless of what you choose to label it. And the pigs treat these people with hate and contempt, abusing them verbally and sometimes physically. It sickens me. Anyone who defends capitalism, imperialism and the prison industrial complex are sadistic fools. Clearly this system is not working. Clearly, now more than ever, do we need an armed revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat. I will continue to struggle against oppression. I will die with these words on my lips: resist, resist, resist. I will have no peace until the liberation bells sound loud and clear, music to my ears.

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[Abuse] [Mental Health] [State Correctional Institution Rockview] [Pennsylvania]
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Mistreatment of the mentally ill continues

I am writing to report the rampant and blatant mistreatment of the mentally ill. Prisoners will spread feces in their cells and play in it, and SRTU staff will leave them in their own waste for days without a shower or food/water. When I've questioned this mistreatment, I was told that if these unfortunate prisoners "play in shit," they "won't get shit."

The smell is unbearable here in the SRTU, and this injustice is an outcry! Does anyone have any advice or suggestions on how to effectively deal with this issue? How can I help those that can't help themselves. Grievances and other administrative remedies are all but ignored by prison officials, and go unanswered. What can be done to stop this inhumane treatment of the seriously mentally ill? Help is needed to put a stop to this injustice and cruel and unusual punishment. Until next time, resist, resist, resist.

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[Drugs] [Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 60]
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Pennsylvania Drug Situation is a Call to Unity

I am currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania at the State Correctional Institution: Chester. And every day as I look around this place I'm forced to live in, all I see is a growing number of "synthetic snaps." When I first came to state prison in 2006 drugs were an issue but not like they are today. These new cheaper, and more easily obtainable synthetic drugs such as suboxone or subutex and K-2 synthetic marijuana, are making prison society worse and more depressing than ever. These subs cause withdrawal symptoms like heroin and are causing convicts to throw away their solidarity to scumbag each other in pursuit of their next fix.

Suboxone strips are flat and very easy to smuggle into prisons and all one needs to obtain them on the streets is to test positive for opiates at a clinic to receive up to 90 strips a month for a small co-pay. They then smuggle them into the prisons where they can sell for up to $100 apiece wholesale which is like a 10,000% profit which is irresistible to most "hustlers."

This new opiate replacement has prisons in an uproar. Convicts are stealing from and robbing each other to get just a little "piece" to chase away their withdrawal symptoms. And our RHUs are filled with "protective custody" inmates who ran up drug debts on credit that they couldn't cover.

Then we have the so-called "synthetic marijuana" product K-2. I was an avid marijuana smoker on the streets and this stuff is way different than blowin a sacc of loud. K-2 can cause violent outbursts, passing out, seizures, suicide attempts, and serious mental breakdowns. I have seen people attempt to fly over the fence earning them escape charges. People lose touch with reality and lash out at everyone around them. Guys pass out standing up, cracking their heads open, and to top it off a guy on my block at SCI: Somerset went all zombie on his celly biting him on his face and arms. This stuff is more like bad PCP than marijuana. It just blows my mind that synthetics are causing more problems than their "real" counterparts.

We as a united front against the injustice system need to stop trying to capitalize off the downfall of our comrades, and utilize our efforts to solidify our ranks against our oppressors. The rapper Meek Millz is a prisoner here at Chester with me and has stated that even growing up on the drug-laden streets of Philadelphia he couldn't imagine a cell block in prison so closely resembling a drug block in the badlands of his home city. We can't continue to give the oppressors more ammo to use against us. I understand that boredom, hopelessness, and other forms of incarceration depression tend to drive us to find ways to numb us. But let's try to come together and help our comrades strive to kick habits they have already acquired, and to prevent anyone from picking one up.

This is just another battle we need to unite to win. Whether you're White, Black, or Hispanic, Crip, Blood, Latin, or Aryan, come together for the greater good of convicts everywhere. Pay attention, comrades, because Amerikkka wants to catch us slippin'.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In the November issue of Under Lock & Key we got deep into the issue of drugs in prison. All writers agreed it's a big problem, though what is used and how the problem plays out varies from state to state and even within each prison. And a lot of folks came to the same conclusion as this comrade: we need to stop trying to make money off the suffering of others and instead come together against the injustice system. This letter is a good follow-up to that issue of ULK because we need to keep this topic front and center as we work to find ways to help people kick the habit and join the revolutionary movement.

Are you helping comrades kick their drug habits? What methods and tactics are you using? What have you tried that didn't work, and why? What harm reduction tactics can we try to employ? What about counseling techniques? The State isn't going to fix this problem for us. We need to make our own interventions and support systems.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Bill Clements Unit] [Santa Rosa Correctional Institution] [Florida State Prison] [Jefferson Correctional Institution] [Coyote Ridge Corrections Center] [Richard A Handlon Correctional Facility] [Stateville Correctional Center] [Virginia] [Pennsylvania] [Texas] [Florida] [Washington] [Missouri] [Michigan] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 59]
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Censors in Their Own Words - November 2017

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in the United $tates free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targeting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.

Virginia DOC

The Chair of the publications review committee for the VA DOC, Melissa Welch, sent MIM(Prisons) a letter denying ULK 56, and then the next month the same letter denying ULK 57. Both letters cite the same reasons:

"D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.

"F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."

Pennsylvania DOC

Last issue of ULK we reported on the censorship of ULK57 in Pennsylvania. After sending a protest letter to appeal the decision we had a rare victory! From the Policy Office, PA Department of Corrections:
"This is to notify you that the publication in issue does not violate Department Policy. As such, the decision of the correctional institution is reversed and the inmates in the PA Department of Corrections will be permitted to receive the publication. The correctional institutions will be notified by the Policy Office of the decision."

If anyone in PA hasn't received ULK 57 yet, let us know and we will send another copy to you.

Pennsylvania SCI-Camp Hill

From a prisoner we were forwarded a notice of incoming publication denial for ULK 57: "create a danger within the context of the correctional facility" p.21, 24

The description quotes sentences that can't be found within ULK including: "PREA system strip searches for harassment in PA", "Black prisoners deserve to retaliate against predominantly white ran system", and "This is a excellent reminder of PA importance of fighting." They are making up text as reasons for censorship in Pennsylvania.

Texas - Bill Clemens Unit

A prisoner forwarded us a denial for ULK 57 "Page 11 contains information that could cause a prison disruption."

In March 2017, our study pack Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party was censored for

"Reason C. Page 9 contains information that could cause a strike or prison disruption."
This adds to the growing list of our most important literature that is banned in the state forever, including Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat and [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlan. We need someone with legal expertise to challenge Texas's policies that allow for publications to be banned forever in the state.

Florida - Santa Rosa Correctional Institution

A prisoner forwarded us a notice of impoundment of ULK 57. The reason cited: "Pages 1, 11, 14, 15, & 17 advocates insurgency and disruption of institutional operations."

We appealed this denial and got a response from Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator for the Florida DOC, reiterating the reasons for impoundment and upholding the denial: "In their regularly scheduled meeting of August 30, 2017 the Literature Review Committee of the Florida Department of Corrections upheld the institution's impoundment and rejected the publication for the grounds stated. This means that issue will not be allowed into our correctional institutions."

Florida DOC

Following up on a case printed in ULK 57 regarding Florida's denial of the MIM(Prisons) censorship pack, for no specific reasons. We received a response to our appeal of this case from the same Dean Peterson, Library Services Administrator, named above.

"From the number of the FDC form you reference and your description of what happened it is apparent the institutional mailroom did not handle the Censorship Guide as a publication, but instead handled it in accordance with the Florida Administrative Code rule for routine mail. As such, the item was not impounded, was not posted to the list of impounded publications for any other institution to see, was not referred to the Literature Review Committee for review, and thus does not appear on the list of rejected publications. That means that if the exact same Guide came to any other inmate mailroom staff would look at it afresh. In theory, it could even be allowed into the institution. ... "The Florida Administrative Code makes no provision for further review."

Florida - Florida State Prison

ULK 58 was rejected for what appears to just be a list of titles of articles, some not even complete:

PGS 6 Liberation schools to organize through the wall (talk about the hunger strikes)
PGS 8 DPRK; White Supremacy's Global Agenda
PGS 11 Case law to help those facing
PGS 19 White and gaining consciousness

Florida - Jefferson Correctional Institution

Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles was denied to a prisoner at Jefferson Correctional Institution because "inmate has received a second copy of the same edition of this publication violating chapter 33-501.401 (16)(b) and procedure 501.401(7)(d)."

Washington state - Coyote Ridge CC

The invitation to and first assignment for our correspondence introductory study group was rejected by Mailroom Employee April Long for the following reasons:

"Advocates violence against others and/or the overthrow of authority.
Advocates that a protected class or group of individuals is inferior and/or makes such class/group the object of ridicule and/or scorn, and may reasonably be thought to precipitate a violent confrontation between the recipient and a member(s) of the target group. Rejected incoming mailing from MIM. Mailing contains working that appears to be referring to law enforcement as 'pigs' it appears to be ridiculing and scornful. There is also a section in mailing labeled solutions that calls prisoners to take actions against prison industries and gives specific ideas/suggestions. Nothing to forward onto offender."

A recent study assignment for the University of Maoist Thought was also censored at Coyote Ridge. MIM(Prisons) has not yet been informed of this censorship incident by the facility. The study group participant wrote and told us it was censored for being a "copy of copyrighted material." The material in question was published in 1972 in the People's Republic of China. Not only did that government actively work against capitalist concepts such as copyright, we believe that even by the United $tates' own standards this book should not be subject to censorship.

Washington state

Clallam Bay CF rejected ULK 58 because: "Newsletter is being rejected as it talks about September 9 events including offenders commencing a hunger strike until equal treatment, retaliation and legal rights issues are resolved."

Coyote Ridge CC rejected ULK 58 for a different set of reasons: "Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy and/or local facet/rules. Contains correspondence, information, or other items relating to another offender(s) without prior approval from the Superintendent/designee: or attempts or conveys unauthorized offender to offender correspondence."

Canada

We received the following report from a Canadian prisoner who had sent us some stamps to pay for a few issues of ULK to be mailed to Canada.

"A few months ago, on July 18, I received notice from the V&C department informing that five issues of ULK had arrived here for me. The notice also explained that the issues had been seized because of a Commissioner's Directive (764.6) which states that '[t]he institutional head may prohibit entry into the institution of material that portrays excessive violence and aggression, or prison violence; or if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that the material would incite inmates to commit similar acts.' I grieved the seizure, among other things, citing the sections on page 2 of ULK, which 'explicitly discourage[s prisoners] from engaging in any violence or illegal acts,' and citing too the UFPP statement of peace on page 3, which speaks of the organizational aim to end needless conflicts and violence within prisons.

"Well, I can now report that my grievance was upheld and that all copies of ULK were released to me, but not without the censorship of drawings deemed to portray or promote the kind of violence described in the above-cited Commissioner's Directive. It's a decision I can live with for now."

Missouri

We got reports from two people that the blanket ban on ULK in Missouri was removed and ULK 58 was received. If you're in Missouri and still not getting your ULK, be sure to let us know.

Michigan - Richard A Handlon CF

ULK 58 was rejected because "Articles in Under Lock & Key contains information about criminal activity that might entice criminal activity within the prison facility - threat to security."

Illinois - Stateville CC

ULK 58 was rejected because: "The publication appears to: Advocate or encourage violence, hatred, or group disruption or it poses an intolerable risk of violence or disruption. Be otherwise detrimental to security, good order, rehabilitation, or discipline or it might facilitate criminal activity or be detrimental to mental health. Detrimental to safety and security of the facility. Disrupts order. Promotes organization and leadership."


Read More Censorship Reports
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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania]
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SCI Chester: An Alternate Reality

I am writing once again to personally thank you for the contributions you make for self aware prisoners everywhere. Through my anti-imperialist discussion groups I feel I'm helping these brothers open their eyes. The study material you send me helps immensely. As a ranking member of The Insane Crip Gang I preach the Communist movement to all my lil' homies. I give my assistance to any who I can help with grievance process, litigation, or anything involving violation of rights. It's a terrible time with their hate fueled mass murders and it doesn't help that more and more police brutality keeps happening and pigs keep violating our rights constantly.

Currently we at SCI: Chester D-pod have a tyrannical unit manager named Ms. Bourne who is obsessed with her power and does anything to try to break us. She shows open racism and only does her job when it involves one of her "pets" (inmates who kiss her ass and provide her with info). She is currently trying to enforce her own rules not part of DOC policy and treats D-pod as its own entity separate from the rest of the jail. She puts up bulletins constantly changing rules like "must remain seated in the exact same spot through the entire rec period or will be punished" which isn't sanctioned by the D.O.C. She also she took away the chairs at the phones so as to make the brothers uncomfortable when speaking to families. She steals the grievances from the box so she can remove ones she doesn't approve of before they are picked up by the grievance coordinator. She openly calls caucasian brethren crackers and honkies, and refuses to provide any assistance to them.

90% of the pigs here are women. SCI: Chester was part of a program called Welfare to Work which gave jobs at the prison to female welfare recipients in the area who are not qualified even for this glorified babysitter position. They are blatantly disrespectful, abusive, racist, and several of them have known drug addictions themselves.

After 11 years in prison and being incarcerated at 7 others prisons, this place is another world. It's a complete joke. It is close to impossible to get a grievance form and they don't even carry grievance appeal forms. Requests to staff go unanswered. And maintenance issues are rarely resolved - the ventilation for half of D-pod has been completely broken for months in cells with no ability to open the windows. This causes inhumane conditions (extreme heat and extreme cold). Stale air causes sore throats and illness in prisoners. Roughly 50% of cells' cable outlets are out of order and if you pay for cable services and are moved to one of these cells it takes months to be repaired and they refuse to refund the money taken from brothers' accounts. The pigs blatantly lie to give misconducts to prisoners they dislike and are known to discard mail being delivered to these disliked prisoners.

Prisoners who "hustle" by making handmade candy out of mixing assortments of Jolly Ranchers, taffy, sourballs, jellybeans and other candy from commissary and forming it into different shapes are being given drug related misconducts as the security team is claiming the candy tests positive for opioids, because when the candy is placed in the NiK test it changes the color of the water purple. Here's a fact: all Jolly Ranchers contain some combination of colored food dyes most containing purple or a combination that can create purple. The pigs' stupidity is either worse than I thought or they are just finding new ways to be openly vindictive.

And finally the newest issue here at SCI: Chester. At the beginning of the month of November the D.O.C.'s budget cut shut down over 1,000 halfway center beds and rescinded parole from all those who were already paroled to those beds forcing them to stay in prison at SCI: Chester for an undetermined amount of time until the D.O.C. can find places to send them. So even though these brothers completed their prescribed programming, stayed misconduct free and did everything else they needed to do in the eyes of the D.O.C. and were granted parole by the Parole Board and received their green sheets (release papers) they are now subjected to wrongful imprisonment here at good ol' Chester. I ask you brothers at ULK what else could go wrong here? It's so bad brothers are talking about using violence and catching new charges just to get a negative based transfer to ANY other facility possible.

I'm running my communist based anti-imperialist groups here, but what else can I do? I feel helpless and I can't stand seeing my brothers and myself treated like this any longer. I'm asking for any support or answers ULK and any brothers reading this can offer me. The struggle is real.

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[Gender] [Abuse] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 57]
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Strip Searches Only for Harassment in Pennsylvania

There is no genuine or legal justification for still using strip searches in prisons today, except to breed homosexuality and cause aggressive sexual assaults, using it as a punishment to humiliate someone. I can prove without a doubt that times have changed/evolved and this strip naked prison rule is outdated. Modernized technology has invented what is called x-ray machines, which are used to search/see the body without forcing nude search. Prisoncrats provided prisons with sufficient funds to purchase and provide such x-ray machines. Prison staff, in their sadistic practices and policies to punish captives, refuse to use the x-ray machines for body searches.

Metal detectors are stationed throughout the prison, checkpoints forcing captives to walk through them, in their policy to confiscate any and all illegal metal objects. Captives are never asked if they are allergic to the radiation of the metal detectors or x-ray machines, which explains the prison staff's complete disregard for the physical or psychological effects on the captives.

We captives of the Pennsylvania state prisons ask for legal advice in our desires to sue the Department of Corrections for forcing the strip search policies. We live during advanced technologies and modernized minds, which dictates, strip searches are outdated, violates religious rights, breeds sexual predators, and are methods used to harass, humiliate and harm captives. Not to mention strip searchings are methods used identical to the times of slavery.

If for no other humane reasons, prison strip searches needs to be abolished, eliminated, minimized, because state prisons have been provided with the necessary machinery and manpower to secure prison grounds and facilities. The time is here. We the state captives in Pennsylvania prisons ask any and all judicial scholars and students of civil law, for legal advice, and to petition the courts to abolish all prison strip search policies.

There is the questions raised about prison security being vulnerable, and breached, if the strip search policy is eliminated. Such positions, beliefs or arguments are simply said to continue this long practice of psychological slavery in prisons. When in fact, x-ray machines detect any metal or foreign objects and contraband. Therefore, since state prisons have x-ray machines and metal detectors on facility grounds, it shows any need to search a subject can be done without the need of such said subjects being forced to disrobe, strip naked. Which means, if the metal detectors and x-ray machines they have are not successful to secure the prison facilities, then their machines are obsolete and obtained falsely.

However, if such machines and technologies are vital and essential to the security orders of running the prisons, then strip searchings are deemed obsolete and performed falsely. It is our contention, challenge, calling, that because x-ray and metal detector machines are used, that shows strip searches are no longer needed or necessary. Which proves strip searching are being used simply as a form of the prison's psychological punishments.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections state prisons has implemented a new policy against sexual assaults/harassments, called the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). This PREA policy exposes its own ineffectiveness and prejudicial punishment, under the disguise of prosecuting sexual harassment and/or predators. To prove that this new PREA policy has been designed to minimize and eliminate sexual assaults in all of its manifestations on prison grounds, strip searching would also be minimized or eliminated as a means to sexual assaults and sexual harassments on state prison grounds.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer makes an important point: guards use strip searches as a form of gendered power that humiliates and degrades prisoners. But we don't agree that this abuse of power causes guards (or prisoners) to become homosexual. And even if that was possible, it's patriarchal society that teaches people to use gender for power and abuse which is the problem. There is no evidence that any sexual orientation is more predatory than any other. We need to focus on the real enemy here: the patriarchy which trains people to enjoy the abuse of gender power.

Prisoners are in a unique position in that they face gender oppression as a part of their imprisonment. This is true of both male and female prisoners. Strip searches are a good example of this gender oppression. This writer raises a good point about the abuse of power, and specifically gender power, that happens every time there is a strip search. This degrading practice is not for security, as this writer clearly demonstrates.

Identifying this form of oppression and calling it out for people to see is the first step in fighting back. The idea of using PREA to fight strip searches is an interesting approach. We'd like to hear from others who are fighting strip searches about what tactics are and are not working. Ultimately gender oppression in prisons isn't going away while we have a criminal injustice system serving imperialism. The patriarchy is an integral part of this system. But we can sometimes win smaller battles against these forms of humiliation and degradation.

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[Release] [State Correctional Institution Forest] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania delaying releases for lack of programs

I am a prisoner in the state of Pennsylvania. When you first get put into a state prison they give you programs you have to do. Yet most of the time you do not even start them until your minimum is just about up. If your minimum does come up and you are still in the program the parole board gives you a hit until you are done with the programs. Yet the prison itself starts us so late into our programs. If our minimum is up and we did not do anything wrong to get a hit we should be able to get out of jail and do the programs on the streets.

They are doing this to just about every prisoner that I know and getting away with it each and every time. We are being held over our minimum for something they are doing.

Me myself I've been on the honor block for the last 3.5 years if not longer. I have 3 years to go until my minimum. Yet I have 2 more programs to do. So I've sent them a request slip asking about the programs. All I have got told was it depends on your minimum. I could be held over my minimum for something they are doing. Yet the programs can be taken on the outside. We may be told to take them all over again. So why should we have to take the programs twice?

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[Economics] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 62]
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Pennsylvania Spends on Prison, Cuts Other Services

I want to write about my thoughts on prison reform and rehabilitation specifically in the state of Pennsylvania. Prison reform? Criminal "justice" reform? As long as the criminal justice system and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) remain lucrative industries those things will never happen!

To have any type of reform, I believe people should be held accountable for their misconduct (judges, prosecutors, governors, secretary of corrections, correctional officers, etc.) but that's never the case in Pennsylvania. Here in Pennsylvania, these rural areas in particular, the PDOC is a refuge for the unqualified and uneducated, who don't desire anything better for themselves.

Pennsylvania's state budget is crumbling due to the amount of overtime received by COs and to the excess state employees hired in the PDOC. Governor Wolf announced that he wanted to lay off 900 unneeded state employees and close a few jails because of the budget strain. However, Governor Wolf was opposed (almost violently) by the rural population. Their argument wasn't about the "criminals" that could possibly go free; they were concerned about not finding employment anywhere else. Overwhelmed, Wolf decided to only close one prison (which wasn't in a rural area) and retain the state employees (COs).

Instead of doing what he originally saw fit to do, Wolf was forced to cut back on the Meals on Wheels program, raise the state tax, and allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays amongst other things. As you would figure, all of those cutbacks didn't even begin to alleviate the budgetary stress. Why? Because those things weren't issues.

The fact still exist that there are too many state prison officials being hired and Pennsylvania needs to cut back on this senseless hiring, but Gov. Wolf was pretty much bullied out of action. All of this factors into the lack of prison and criminal justice reform, for if there was someone who could educate the tax payers who honestly believe that their "hard earned" dollars are "keeping their community safe" instead of funding a correctional officer's workers' compensation scam, educate them about where their money is actually going and what needs to be done. If a majority of the tax payers knew the truth about their money, about the funding of our oppression, suppression and torture, I believe that they would be more inclined to demand criminal justice and prison reform.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides a good exposure of the interest that prison guard unions and other prison employees have in maintaining or increasing the number of imprisoned people and the number of prisons in the United $tates. And also the political power these workers can exert when their jobs are threatened.

But we have to put this information in a larger context. Prisons are a very small part of state budgets, so it's not the CO overtime causing the Pennsylvania budget to crumble. In the Pennsylvania 2016-2017 budget, 8% went towards prisons.(1) It is good that the budget crisis in Pennsylvania is leading to considerations of closing prisons, but the response by COs and others benefiting from jobs with the prisons is the same we see across the country. Nonetheless, we need to be honest that shutting down a few prisons won't make much of a dent in the state budget.

While we would also like to think that people faced with information about oppression and torture would oppose it, we don't think the terrible conditions in Amerikan prisons are such a big secret. Many Amerikans are vocal in calling for even worse conditions, arguing that prisoners deserve whatever happens to them. And there is little outrage when stories of corruption among prison guards come out. The financial rewards all Amerikans are getting by living here within this wealthy imperialist country has created a population that supports imperialism and its criminal injustice system. While the oppressed nations within U.$. borders do generally come down against the oppression and corruption, the Amerikkkan nation, especially in rural counties, can be counted on to throw its support behind the system.

Note:
Penn Live, July 8, 2016. PA spends more on prisons than colleges, report says. http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/07/pa_prison_budget_tops_higher_e.html
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