Prisoners Report on Conditions in

State Correctional Institution Huntingdon - Pennsylvania

Graphic design skills? Help us with our new logo! 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.

[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania]
expand

Pennsylvania Censorship Victory

Fuck CensorShip
This is a followup letter to notify you fine folks of the outcome of the article in ULK 46 about textbooks being censored by Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC). Any time a prisoner receives a publication it gets screened for any possible reason they might be able to withhold it. This is done by a committee, and these people may consult other prison employees for help in the decision on whether or not to allow a given publication into the prison. If this committee, the Incoming Publication Review Committee (IPRC) deems a publication does not fit the criteria to be possessed by a prisoner, they hold it, and send the prisoner a notification. The prisoner has a certain amount of time to reply before it gets destroyed. The prisoner can request the publication get mailed out, at their expense (only first class postage), or they have the option to appeal IPRC's decision to the superintendent.

I had three computer programming textbooks denied over the course of 5 months and appealed each one in turn. The superintendent here at SCI-Huntingdon responded to me by saying that I wouldn't be getting my books. He told me that IPRC's decision is final, and that he can't approve them. Around that time I wrote to you and got your censorship packet. I appealed the superintendent's decision to central office by writing a letter to the department policy director Dianna Woodside. In the letter I told her that, although the IT department was consulted, they were incorrect in determining that the books were a threat. I demonstrated my preexisting knowledge of the subject, and listed several cases where the prisoners were awarded monetary damages for being denied books, including one that was specifically about programming textbooks. I told the official that I was sincere about trying to pursue a possible career in programming computers, and reiterated my willingness to go to court. I am unsure of why exactly she decided in my favor, but in the end I got all three of my books sitting right here with me. I am sending copies of the decisions along with this letter.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The books this prison initially denied were Java in a Nutshell, Build Your Own Website the Right Way Using HTML & CSS, and Object Oriented Programming. This shows both the random and unfounded basis on which prison administrators decide what literature to censor, and the potential for successful appeal with persistence. It's obvious that prisons in Amerika can not possibly have a rehabilitative goal if the very books required for education into a productive career post-prison are denied for no reason.

We certainly don't win the right to our incoming mail often, but it is well worth the time to appeal every instance of censorship possible. If nothing else, it provides documentation of the denials and lack of reasons, and may pave the way for a future court case. For those facing censorship, write to us for a copy of our censorship packet that will guide you through the appeals process. And be sure to send us any documentation you have on censorship of our materials, your appeals, and administrators' responses to your appeals. We put these documents on our website at www.prisoncensorship.info.

chain
[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 46]
expand

Pennsylvania Censors Textbooks

Oppose Censorship
Prison administrators here in State Correctional Institution (SCI) Huntingdon have recently begun to deny all of the programming textbooks that have come in the mail for me, stating that the books contain writings which advocate, assist or are evidence of criminal activity, or facility misconduct. I am unable to properly appeal the publication denials to the facility's superintendent, who told me in person "You're not getting your fucking books." He told me that the decision by the Inmate Publication Review Committee (IPRC) is final, and his responses to my attempts to appeal publication denials reflect this statement. I am unable to use the facility grievance system to file complaints about my mail and incoming publications, which are meant to be handled some other way. I am unable to ask exactly what misconducts or crimes the books advocate, assist in, or are evidence of, and facility staff have been unable to specify.

I am writing to your organization to respectfully request any assistance, or information you may be able to provide which could help to right this wrong. These books are purely educational, and as such are entirely neutral. Disallowing them could not serve any legitimate penological interest.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter shows that education can never be "entirely neutral" under imperialism. Educational textbooks, while generally devoid of any progressive political content, still present a threat to prisons because of the opportunity they provide for educational advancement. Through this education prisoners may become more aware of the basis of the criminal injustice system and their own oppression, and it could lead them to seek out more revolutionary education. Keeping prisoners uneducated is a good way for the oppressor nation to maintain its privileged position.

Denial of books can also be used as punishment for a prisoner who is seen as a trouble maker. The fact that this comrade knows how to file grievances and is working to gain education may be the cause of these denials. Part of the system of social control in prisons is the use of arbitrary rules to contain prisoners who might be a threat because of their understanding of legal rights and their ability to fight for these rights.

For both of these reasons, instead of arguing about what constitutes "legitimate penological interests" we point out that the penological interest really being served by the Amerikan criminal injustice system is social control. Censorship is a key tool the prisons use for this end. And for this reason we focus some of our limited time and resources fighting against censorship. For this comrade we have provided a copy of our guide to fighting censorship. But what we really need, in many states across the country, are lawyers who can help us bring censorship cases to court to establish legal precedent. Of particular priority to us are those cases where the censorship is of explicit political material. Textbook denials like the one described above do happen, but they are far less common than the denial of Under Lock & Key and other revolutionary literature.

This article referenced in:
chain
[United Front] [Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania]
expand

PA Tries to Divide Prisoners with False Rat Label

I recently returned from a trip to federal court in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. As I re-entered these battered walls of this prison I cringed and rejoiced because the conditions of the temp prison I was at are far worse than Huntingdon. SCI Camp Hill "AKA White Hill" is known for beating, starving, humiliating, and much more. I was housed in the SMU portion of the jail. It's a long-term disciplinary unit. I was banged off every door from booking to the unit, which was no surprise. There we got three cold meals a day, no yard, no shower. That place is crazy. I passed your address along and let the brothers know that there are people who care about these conditions of the PA prison system. These pigs, all ex-military, are overweight, out of shape, and relentless.

As I entered back to the RHU part of Huntingdon I was greeted with "there he is!" "That's the Rat!" I was puzzled, I've never told on anyone in my life. I did a little research and learned that while I was away a couple pigs were telling other prisoners I was ratting on them for passing stuff. We came to the conclusion that my letter to the Department of Justice made these pigs mad. I wrote a letter to the Department of Justice in Washington naming several COs chewing snuff and spitting it in our food, the mice that run this place, the lack of heat, and the neglect of a young Spanish boy who hung himself. The boy survived only because we were kicking our doors and yelling for help. He was in a camera cell with 24 hours live feed to a screen in the RHU bubble, but the pigs were watching TV and playing on the computer while this young man was trying to end his life. So I'm a rat for helping my fellow man. We straightened that all out, and now the pigs are our target once again.

I try to stress to these young brothers, we can't oppress each other. We are already being oppressed by the PA DOC. I tell them if you feel like oppressing another prisoner, take it out on the pigs. I'm spreading copies of all you send me, I'd like to know about how to start a study group here. I want to push your theory it seems to be positive growth material.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for taking on the "Rat" label head on and clearing his name with his fellow prisoners so that he could continue his organizing work. As point 2 of the United Front principles states, "To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts." To help prisoners like this one, we run a study group through the mail that provides basic political education, and we also have a guide to forming study groups in prison, so that people can take what they learn and share it with others and have discussions in the yard or wherever else it is possible to gather and talk. Write to us for more information.

chain
[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 16]
expand

Stand Up for Real Causes

I agree 100% with what the soldier said about SCI-Huntingdon in the May/June issue of ULK. The population in this prison does not stand up for shit except count time. I've been trying to get these motherfuckers in here to boycott since 2005, but these dudes only worry about BET, sports, 40 cent ice cream tickets and who's sucking whose dick.

As far as boycotting the kitchen, I understand dudes don't want to lose their jobs but if the kitchen shuts down we shut the prison down! The prisoners do not realize how much power we actually have here, but one or two people can't stand alone. We, the population as a whole, would have to stand together even if it's something as simple as not going to the store for 2 weeks straight, or nobody goes to eat for one or two days. That's enough to get the administration's attention that we are not satisfied with the administration's operation. Shit, the female prisoners have more balls than the males do. Muncy and Cambridge Springs shut down as soon as something goes down that they don't agree on, but we males, what?

Yes, I'm talking to the gangsters, killers and so-called big time drug dealers across the state of Pennsylvania, because it's not only here at Huntingdon, it's the entire male population of PA. Stand up for yours! I'm not talking about a riot or cross burning or any kind of assaultive behavior. Just simply don't go to the chow line for a day or two, don't turn in that slip for the store for 2 weeks, or don't pay that $16.50 they are charging for cable every month. Better yet, stop talking to the pigs as if they are your homies or OGs. That shit makes me sick every time I see one of these pussies "hee-hawing" with the same pig that slammed them in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) and fucked up their parole.

Wake up and realize where you are people. Cuz, Blood, Latin King, G.Ds, Muslims, Christians, forget colors and religions, stand up as human beings. These redneck hillbilly pigs don't even see us as humans, they see us as dollar signs. So since that is how they see us why not hit them where it hurts: their pocketbooks? Fuck that kitchen. Fuck that CI-shop job. Fuck the store and fuck the cable system! We pay $200 for a tube, then pay an additional $16.50 a month just to watch it, what kind of shit is that?

We need to stop spending our dough and make them waste theirs. They do it to us, it's their turn!

Stand up! Wake Up!

chain
[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 15]
expand

Uniting to fight denied food

On June 26 history was made in SCI Huntingdon's Restricted Housing Unit (RHU). The early Saturday morning began with a racist Correctional Officer (CO) named Powell depriving two prisoners of their breakfast trays. Things like this have been constant here at Huntingdon but this day we had enough and decided to take a stand.

We told the superior officer on deck to feed the two inmates who were denied their breakfast trays or else it was "going down," the officers did not comply, so we waited until they passed out cleaning supplies which consist of a bucket, disinfect, a toilet scrubber, and a floor brush. When the officers came to collect the supplies we gave back everything except the floor brush, which we kept as weapons. We then put our towels over our door windows. The officers began yelling threats about suiting up in riot gear and coming in our cells. Quickly prisoners began taking their towels off of their door and complying, and the number of us still standing was only seven.

Officers began to leave off of the quad ready to suit up in riot gear when we suggested that letting them arm themselves was a bad idea. We decided that this time we would be the hunters instead of the hunted. The two prisoners who did not eat were first. The first one faked a suicide attempt that made the officers have to run in his cell unarmed and when they opened his cell door he took action, getting as many of the four officers until more officers had to help restrain him. Next the other prisoner did the same and when they opened his door he took action using any means to get as many of them as he could before more officers had to help restrain him. From these first two incidents six officers were injured, but it was far from over. Next another prisoner forced the officers into his cell after they had sprayed pepper spray in it. He made sure he got some action before they restrained him. The injured officer toll was now eight.

My celly and I were next. We were the only double cell on the tier, and the officers would not come in. They left and suited up in riot gear, and then turned our water off. Next they ran into a prisoner''s cell with full riot gear, electrical shields and a stun gun. As soon as they ran in, a helmet came flying out and the injured officer toll was now nine. Next they came into our with full riot gear, and two officers were on the floor before either of us wes electrocuted, maced and restrained. Eleven points for the home team. While my cellmate and I were being stripped and checked for injury, the officers were complaining about the CO who started this mess (officer Powell) by depriving the two prisoners of their breakfast trays. Coincidentally, he was not amongst the officers involved in this action. There was still one prisoner left, but before they decided to go in his cell, they let it be known that whatever they had to do for us to stop the madness, they would do it. They submitted! The prisoners were fed and we all received our property back with the exception of our bed linen. We all received misconducts and along with a bruise or two it was a small price to pay in order to gain our respect. Unity overcame oppression. For the first time in Huntingdon RHU history we stopped talking and gave them the only thing that they respected (violence) to gain our respect. Message to all of our brothers in the struggle: it can be done!

MIM(Prisons) adds: We do not think armed struggle now is a viable option for obtaining a more just society within the imperialist countries today. Therefore our strategic orientation opposes going up against the state in physical confrontations where we are always outgunned. That said, we agree with the theoretical point that the state does not respect so-called rights, but they do respect violence. Ultimately the imperialists will not give up oppression and exploitation peacefully.

To oppose armed struggle as a strategy today does not mean that physical force can never be used as a tactic in the fight for justice. Much of the changes that are credited to the civil rights movement were ensured by the revolutionary nationalist movements of the time that threatened to use force against the state. Similarly, the trial of Johannes Mehserle, as pathetic as it was, was triggered by the use of physical force by the oppressed. It would be irresponsible for us to deny these truths, just as it would be irresponsible for us to encourage prisoners to get in fights with guards.


Related Articles:
chain
[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 14]
expand

Fight the system: boycott work

Once again I find myself pushed in a corner with the swine in Huntingdon, PA. I've tried to get prisoners together and put in paperwork against these jokers, but many have no intent to do so. They'd rather bitch and complain and allow these chumps to keep doing what they do. But don't let another convict do or say something, or you might get stabbed or rocked with a lock in a sock. It's beyond my understanding and to be honest with you it makes me fucking sick! The prisoners would rather worry about the latest BET video or the stats of last night's NBA game. All the while, the administration is planning to take something else from us or plan on adding another provision to an already fucked up policy. What gives?

As I have said before, our cells are think tanks. We put our focus on shit that doesn't really mean shit. I'm not going to say take a guard hostage or stab a nurse. I'm saying to use our minds, stand as one, and do something rather than just talk about it. To really get their attention, hurt their pockets. Don't go to work. Do you realize that if everyone stopped working in the kitchen, they would have to figure out why, but more importantly they still must feed us? This would throw a red flag in the air. Stop going to work in the CI shops. Now, no clothes or soap is being made for the state.

I've given these ideas to many to think about. Then the new excuse is "I need my job cuz I don't have anyone sending me money." Ok, I understand. However, just say we as a whole stopped working, don't you think I wouldn't help a few soldiers out with enough to live off? I don't have shit but myself. Yet I have enough to get by and then some. I understand everyone's situation is very different, but in the same token, we are in the same situation, are we not?

All in all I'm plain ol' sick and tired of this chicken shit. Stand for what's yours. Would you allow someone to take something off you in the free world? So why allow it here? Everyone needs to get their shit together and realize this ain't a game. Sometimes I wish I was living in the era of the 60s and 70s. Back then convicts fought long and hard for theirs.

For those who are fighting strong, I'm with you! Even when I finally leave, I'll still help those inside.

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

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.

chain
Go to Page 1