Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Pennsylvania Prisons

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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.

[Rhymes/Poetry] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 11]
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Positive Rap

They got me Under Lock and Key
The movement that got me ta see
How these imperialist capitalist countries
want us to be
Dumb to the facts
They don't care
Whether we white, Latino or Black
Why we glorifying those things
That got us right where we at
In this position
Tryna find our ways
Out of these prisons
Time ticking away
Mail censored
So we gotta watch what we say
Oppression gets worse by the day
Commissary prices up
But we continue to pay
Defeating the cause
Time 2 take a second and pause
Why we giving our money away
When they only giving us
17 cents 4 a pay
No medical benefits
So who really benefits
The rich keeps getting rich
Why we getting the short end of the stick?

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[National Oppression] [Pennsylvania]
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Prisoner demands justice for Migrants

For many years now this country has been experiencing concerns by the present imperialist rulers regarding the issue of migrants and non-citizens and what needs to be done in order to "control" the flow of "illegal immigrants" into the U$ territories.

The oppressor's solution to this situation is to create a concentration camps to warehouse those who seek freedom and a better life for their loved ones. The current administration s incarcerating women, children, and innocent people who do nothing more than strive for independence and freedom.

As an incarcerated individual who has experienced many abuses and injustices behind these walls, I can only imagine what abuses and injustices these innocent families and individuals must face. Generally, institutional staff are neglectful. They neglect to address problems faced by those incarcerated, they neglect adequate health care, they neglect to feed those confined, etc. Being that they are migrants, those individuals are likely to not speak English which poses yet another barrier.

These people have not committed any crime! Their intentions are to work and to feed their families, yet they are forced to suffer behind these walls. This is something that cannot endure. We must stand up for those innocent souls.

I urge those who are free to do whatever necessary to be heard on the issue of immigration and the incarceration of innocent migrants and non-citizens. As an incarcerated person I continue to write the powers that be and I continue to voice my message through my pen and paper, for I must always strive to awaken my people to the injustices I witness.

I respectfully conclude by expressing my greetings to all my fellow comrades. Never give up because nothing worth fighting for is easy to accomplish!

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[Medical Care] [State Correctional Institution Muncy] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 12]
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Basic Healthcare threat to security

Here at SCI Muncy prison for women the medical department is a complete joke and employs morons. In order to get any type of treatment you have to be half dead. I sign up for sick call numerous times and every time I see them they tell me they have to check my chart. There is not that much checking that even an obsessive compulsive person would do. Nothing ever gets done. I am in RHU, which is segregation, since April 10, 2007 on bogus misconducts. Medical comes to your door in RHU and everyone hears your medical problems. They don't check you at all, and diagnose you through a door and charge you $5 every time you are seen. And nothing ever gets done.

I have arthritis in my spine and RHU staff took my mattress from me since August 24, 2009. They have me sleeping on a metal bunk bed with no mattress. They also had medical take my back pain medicine away. I signed up for sick call to get an order for a mattress and my pain med back, they told me security overrides medical and they can't. They have x-rays of my back which shows arthritis in my lower lumbar and they refuse to order me a mattress. I kept signing up for sick call for over 2 weeks and only thing they gave me was my pain med back.

I also have asthma and since I been in the department of corruptions I had an order for no Capsicum (mace). Two weeks ago security asked the doctor to remove that order so they can spray me with mace when they need to. This doctor removed that order and never checked me for my asthma before he lifted it and I still have asthma and an active order for my inhaler. He is an idiot. He told me "well, they asked me to." Are you kidding? They have EBID which is like a stun gun. It's ridiculous here. Spraying mace at an asthmatic can be deadly!

I'll be in RHU till I max in 2014. I am hoping I don't get any type of sickness while I'm here. The RHU Lt. has to approve medical to give us any type of orders before we get it. Whether we need it or not, the RHU Lt. has to approve it first. And if we seriously need an order and he says no, we don't get it. He won't even let medical order us lotion. We can't get no lotion in RHU. Imagine what our skin looks like!

I'm having problems with my teeth. The dentist don't even see us. A dental hygienist comes up and her answers to our dental problems is gargle with salt and warm water. She won't even order salt and we only get 1 small packet, if we are lucky, with meals. They only give us 1 tube of .85 oz of toothpaste per week and we can't get orders for more. That tube don't even last 2 days.

And the food? It's such a small amount that I lost over 100lbs in a year and became malnourished. My hunger pains start 3 hours after I eat a meal. Sick call only ordered me a vitamin with iron and and a calcium pill and now they discontinued the order because of the RHU staff. The food hasn't gotten better, as a matter of fact it's worse. They try to perpetuate a fraud by saying it's a "healthy heart" menu, meanwhile everyone who has no money and orders commissary or is in RHU loses an abundant amount of weight and looks anorexic and sickly. I've lost a lot of my hair because of not being fed properly and sick call orders me tar gel shampoo. What is that gonna do? That's for dandruff! 9 times out of 10 I am refused medical treatment and the one time I get treated I get something that does not treat my ailment.

The prison health care system is getting worse and worse. When I first came to SCI Muncy prison I was supposed to get hand therapy because I had surgery. You know what their therapy entailed? Seeing a physical therapist 1 time at the prison for 10 minutes. And she tells us what to do and we have to do it ourselves. I was going to a physical therapist twice a week before I came here. And so because of that my hand is fucked up.

I had surgery in my foot as well. They removed a tendon and when I came here I was in a wheelchair. They took my wheelchair away and made me walk this campus while I was in excruciating pain and fell down numerous times. I was told to hurry up, and I was threatened with misconducts for being too slow. I have problems with my eyes, my left eye's vision is distorted. The eye doctor ordered me to go to an outside doctor. The RHU Lt. told them no, I can't go, and they canceled my appointment and refused to reschedule it. RHU staff also refused the doctor to do a physical on me. I haven't had a physical in over a year. We can only see the dentist for a checkup once every 2 years. They can't afford to provide us with medical treatment but they keep sending people here. This prison is so overcrowded it's ridiculous. The prison health care system is terrible. But that's the department of corruptions for ya!

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Pennsylvania]
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Inspired to fight, restricted by prison

I'm fortunate to say that your letters and assistance have encouraged me on a constructive level and I truly appreciate your correspondence. I'm 33 years old and my approach has always been to confront and address oppression physically. I still believe that occasional physical resistance is sometimes warranted, but as a growing man, thinking about these struggles, I understand that attacking in anger is to do so in confusion.

Like many of my brothers and Askaris before me, I was under the impression that muscle alone equals might. For a moment I even fell in love with confrontation and the opportunity to flex that muscle. Such heedlessness has led to my current placement in confinement, but is also the reason for my redirection, as well as my gratitude to you for reaching out.

As the komrade Huey P. Newton so eloquently phrased it: "the walls, the bars, the guns and the guards can never encircle or hold down the idea of the people. And the people must always carry forward the idea which is their dignity and their beauty."

Here's the latest pertaining to me which begs for more of your input: Because of some correspondence I sent out on July 30, 2009, I received three disciplinary misconducts (270 days) for third party correspondence, and unauthorized group activity with prisoners at other plantations. However, the letters in question, 2 in particular, were not addressed to any current or former prisoners. And the misconducts were based on assumption due to my alleged affiliation and no facts. More importantly, there are policies in place to safeguard constitutional rights when scrutinizing or monitoring mail.

Because of that incident, all of my incoming and outgoing correspondence is now monitored by security, and they're attempting to use that to infringe on my First Amendment. My outgoing mail, including privileged legal mail, is being withheld for over a week before being processed for delivery. This intentional prolonged withholding of my mail has directly conflicted with the timely deadlines of my administrative appeal process, and is intended to disrupt my correspondence to sensitive media outlets like yourself.

Pennsylvania's DOC policy statement DC-ADM 803 states that all mail should be processed within 24 hours. And that "an inmate shall be notified when outgoing mail is being withheld." My postage receipts verify withholding of longer than 24 hours and I have never received any notification authorizing my mail to be held.

I've brought this to the attention of the pink bellies, and I've exhausted my administrative remedies without any redress despite my eagerness to learn litigation. I'm lost on how to proceed to the courts: what motion, what court, etc, etc.

Pennsylvania has a common practice throughout the state that limits prisoners who are housed in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) to purchasing only 10 envelopes a week. Every prisoner is afforded 10 free envelopes a month, but once those are gone, s/he must purchase the rest. I typically run through 50-60 envelopes a month, and any limitation on paid envelopes seems to be a violation of the first amendment.

In enforcing this limit, prisoners in PA's RHUs can correspond no more than 40-50 times a month, sometimes 30 because it often takes two full weeks to receive your commissary order. I've initiated a grievance challenging the practice.

I'm in solitary confinement for an indefinite period of time for what has been termed "a failure to adjust" and "affiliation to an STG". However, when I addressed officials at a hearing last week and voiced my willingness to participate in counseling, I was told that there are no such programs available to me. So, I took it upon myself to seek counseling from an outside party, and was warned by the farmers that if I continued to pursue that counseling, or wrote and informed, that I would receive a misconduct.

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[Organizing] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 11]
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Exposing repression, working to effect change

Your May 2009 issue of Under Lock & Key is probably one of MIM's best work to date. This is a classic publication. The exposure of the repressive agent's oppressive systematic slave labor prison camps here in imperialist united states of Amerika is mind boggling, to say the least! Others and myself are very in tune to this information, as we are directly victimized by it.

There has been much discussion on this subject amongst a selective few prisoners who want to effect a change but don't quite know how to incorporate the masses within our confinement. I, and others, have elected to stop coming out of the cells to work, yard, showers, etc., for 120 days. We suggest that others participate and we want to discuss what demands should be put on it.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We support the movement towards collective action by prisoners to effect change in repressive conditions. However we must think carefully about refusing to leave cells. The access to other prisoners in the yard is a key way in which our comrades organize behind bars. An upcoming issue of ULK will be focused on organizing strategy and tactics, so we welcome comrades' responses to this letter.

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[Abuse] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 10]
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Abuse in wimmin's prison

This wimmin's prison has a lot of corrupt pigs. I was physically and sexually assaulted here. I was put in restraint chairs, strapped in over my shoulders, around my waist, my wrists and ankles as well. I was made to stay in it 18 hours straight. And a few hours later I was put back in and left in it for another 16 hours. I was starved for 17 days straight here.

There are a lot of other abuses here too. My water was shut off for a week. My physical and mental health has declined significantly. I'm refused hygiene. They refused to let me brush my teeth for 10 days. They stole my property, including my children's and family's photos, they stole my incoming and outgoing mail, they denied me my sentence appeal hearing, stopped me from seeing parole, they refuse to transfer me to a out of state prison, they refuse me visits and calls to my family and I have not seen them in over 3 years. They stole my legal work as well.

This place is worse than Iraq. I think I'd rather be there. I rebel. I get them back every chance I get. I put forth lawsuits on them. I have 8 lawsuits against this prison. This is not rehabilitation what so ever. Tax payers pay for their lawyers while I have no one to represent me. I do it all by myself and that's why a lot of prisoners lawsuits get dismissed and they get away with violating us. We should be afforded attorneys as well.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Pennsylvania]
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Unite for change

I am a prisoner in Texas and a member of the ALKQN. I want to shed some light on those who are members of my beloved nation and to those who are prisoners or in the struggle. It is time we unite to judge the oppressor and his ways. We must no longer stand asleep not knowing that for so long we been letting the oppressor keep us as subjects, where our minds are programmed to do what he says.

We must start by awaking our people to realize that we can make a change in our communities and in the court system. We must also have the will to stop selling drugs to our people, because we are killing them with the oppressors ways. For every minority that catches a drug/murder case the oppressor sells them to a prison, or should I say one of these industrial complext warehouse, to get rich. So when are we going to change for the betterment of ourselves? The question lies within you!

I'm not just talking to my King brothers or Queen sisters. I'm talking to every person who belongs to an organization or is just independent. I ask that we stop dwelling on yesterdays and start thinking about tomorrows, because our time to change things is now. I also ask that whoever reads these newsletters start educating yourselves by getting a GED, business degree or degree in anything. Also to start learning the law, so we can teach our families and children on how to not be subjects to the oppressor and his system, but to beat his system within their own laws and rules. Let's stand united as a whole sun and shine our powers into the mission of human service for if we put our minds together we shall accomplish many goals to live in freedom.

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 10]
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Hunger Strike at Camp Hill

I just received my first issue of Under Lock and Key #9 and I must say that I share the same views as my fellow soldiers. I am currently serving time at Huntingdon in the RHU unit. And I wanted to share some of the struggles that me and my fellow soldiers are being subjected to here at this RHU unit.

Me and some of the soldiers that are here with me just came off a hunger strike. We were being subjected to all kinds of oppression: cold food, small portions, people were finding insects and mouse droppings in the food. So we decided to go on a hunger strike. Out of almost 40 people who are here on a quad only about 15 went through with the movement. It's crazy how we are quick to punch each other in the face or stab each other, but when it comes to standing up to these oppressors we fold and let them do whatever they want. They burn us for our rec, food, showers, etc. We place grievances to no avail.

When we speak up about these oppressions they write us up and give us more DC time. Then, to top everything off the hearing examiner here is one of the officers who was assaulted in the Camp Hill riot. Now how can you place someone like that in power? It's simple because when you go in front of him you are automatically guilty weather you are innocent or not. Even if it's blatantly clear that you are innocent it won't matter.

To all my soldiers, know that if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, and we need to stand together.

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[Culture] [Pennsylvania]
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The pain of awakening

Dear God,

I write you this letter from the depths of hell where I have been sentenced to a life of misery and pain. I curse you for opening up my third eye to a rude awakening and destroying the elaborate illusion I had created for myself. You, like a thief, have robbed me of that blissful state of not knowing and I want it back you omnipotent sadist.

You have tricked me. You have tricked me into becoming conscious, so you can laugh and enjoy yourself while I wallow in pain and loneliness as the truth slowly manifests itself to me.

I envy those I left behind, how happy they look as they sit in front of that one eyed monster, as it illuminates images of Hip Hop rappers who exploit bikini clad wimmin.

I want to be like you and laugh at the pain of ignorant people, watching them beat each other up on TV shows like Jerry Springer. I want to be a part of that crowd that cheers on Amerikkka as she invades helpless countries, raping and murdering innocent people under the guise of freedom.

I'm tired of people looking at me like I'm the one who's crazy because I refuse to conversate with snitches, who sold their soul to the prosecutors for mere crumbs. I want to be like other people and talk about basketball and football games instead of being a recluse in my cage reading revolutionary papers and thinking how to form a mass struggle behind these walls.

I want the same elated look of happiness of my face like those prisoners who play dominoes and cards all day without a worry in the world, oh how good that must feel.

I no longer want to feel the repulsive emotion known as love, which only weakens me when I expect it from people, only to be disappointed.

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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania]
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Filth and Retaliation in PA

I'd like to expose the abuses and misconducts of correctional staff here at SCI Huntingdon. I begin with conditions of confinement. I am surrounded by vermin as well as roaches. Although the institution provides an exterminator service, the infestation is a continuing dilemma. Cells are generally too cold. I usually have to wear 2 pairs of socks, 2 shirts, and my jumpsuit just to barely keep warm. At times I must wear this while utilizing a blanket just to sleep.

Lights are kept on 24 hours a day. The toilet is on a timer, and if you flush too quickly you must wait for the timer to reset. Not exactly comfortable if you have a cell partner! Food is generally served cold. Trays usually have water or condensation around them because they sit for long periods of time before being served. Water seeps into food posing health risks. Although Department of Corruptions directives state that RHU prisoners shall have the same portions; portions are not equal to those of the general population.

Clothes is laundered once a week and if you have a cell partner you must use the same laundry bag. Clothes generally come back dirty! Correctional staff liked to "burn" or not provide trays or yard periods to those who they pick on, although DOC policy forbids such retaliation. Grievances are addressed, but the rationales do not specifically address issues cited and the specific issue is generally ignored. If you are served with a misconduct report, the hearing examiner is not impartial at times known to say that he believes his officers over the prisoner. Clearly a statement made by someone who is biased. The Program Review Committee is basically the same way.

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