Prisoners Report on Conditions in

South Carolina Prisons

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. 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.

[Organizing] [South Carolina]

Preaching Unity

I’m glad I haven’t sealed this scroll yet because I have something to bring to the table that I keep hearing and it is driving me nuts! We as “revolutionaries” are supposed to know and understand that one of the basic stratagems of the oppressor is the divide-and-conquer tactic. They highlight our differences and want us to think that we are all different. While differences do exist among people, those of us locked behind walls and convicted of felonies have only superficial differences. We are all under the foot of the downpressors, the destroy powers, the divine evils!

The “divide” can be so subtle and simple in its application that we sometimes fail to recognize it. If we listen to our speech and take note of how often we use the words “they” and “them” when referring to other prisoners we might be shocked.

Here in South Carolina, the administration will withhold a necessity and then make/ force/ coerce us to fight over it. For example, on Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) there are supposed to be 2 roll-around phones, yet “y’all” can’t get the phone upstairs because “y’all” broke it last time. Or on the yard, each wing is supposed to have a basketball, but of course we get only one and now the confusion begins.

A lot of times this so-called “other” may be one of your religious or organizational or ideological brothers. Even more, if we are looking to recruit, aren’t “they, them, and y’all” potential comrades? We are beating ourselves. They divide us in a million different ways and we defeat ourselves because we know all conflict back here is a potential disaster.

Remember, before you became aware, enlightened, educated, reformed, etc. or whatever designation you choose to put yourself in, you too were once unaware, ignorant, deaf, dumb, blind, and a savage in pursuit of happiness. You were the “other.” If there are any brothers in South Carolina reading this I ask that you live up to the principles you proclaim.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade calls for exactly the unity we need to build the prison movement. And so we ask the logical next question: how can we build this unity in practice? Calling on others to see the importance of unity is one way. Are there campaigns we can wage that will bring people together? Study classes to hold? Cultural events to host? We look for ideas from others behind bars. What has worked for you to build unity?

[United Front] [Lieber Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 69]

Throwing Peace Signs, Building Unity in SC

When I think of unity, I think of "together." It doesn't matter your sex, race, religion, organization, age, or where you're from. Unity is putting all our differences aside, coming together to focus on the bigger situation. Like the saying "there's strength in numbers." If we're constantly battling against each other, how can we ever focus on the root of the problem?

I'm currently incarcerated in Ridgeville, South Carolina at Lieber Correctional Institution. I'm not a part of any organization, but I've learned about a movement going on throughout the yard, promoting "peace" as well as "unity." An older brother told me about the movement from my cell door, and he explained that you shake hands with 2 fingers, meaning "together" and "peace." Then I moved to another unit, where brothers are throwing up the peace sign passing by in the unit, and hollering out "peace" from across the unit. Now, I find myself peacing up brothers, and after reading ULK 68, I find myself peacing up brothers more than I used to. After reading ULK 68 I was impressed with the movement, and was eager to promote peace as well as unity, considering myself a leader, as well as being looked up to, as respected.

I began telling brothers about ULK, MIM(Prisons) and USW movements, and I'm dying to receive a copy of the next newsletter. To educate myself, as well as share to educate other brothers as I was educated by another leader about this movement. I'm in the process of putting something together on the oppression going on right here at Lieber, so I promise you'll be hearing from me again soon. Thanks, as well, for voicing our concerns, conditions, and struggles behind these walls, that the public never knew, knew and didn't care, or didn't believe what goes on back here.

[Abuse] [Ridgeland Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]

Abuse of Power

As I'm still studying your literature from last month I’d like to expound on some abuse imposed upon me. Last October (2018) I earned my way back to a lower custody kamp. By the end of November, chaos erupted and the state law enforcement division opened an investigation on me AFTER an inmate pointed me out. This inmate did so to seal a deal so as to not be shipped to a violent yard like I'm at currently. However, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) dropped the investigation 4 weeks later due to a lack of evidence (0 phone calls, DNA, or fingerprints).

Contraband officers at Goodman Correctional pursued charges to cover their end of the deal with that other inmate. The solution to a non-existent problem/a problem I had no participation in was to have me shipped at any cost. So I was shipped on a charge of "conspiracy to smuggle" contraband throughout the state. I went to my hearing here at a Level 2 yard (Ridgeland C.I.), where I'm housed, and beat the charge.

I came here, as a M.O. custody prisoner and now I've been switched to a higher custody (M.R.) for no reason or charge. Now I'm forced to stay here until they feel like shipping me (at least until May). They (administration) have no problem abusing their power. Me being neutral, and from Charleston (the most hated-on city state-wide), they better hope I don't get ganged or stabbed.

[Abuse] [Kershaw Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]

Winter is coming and SCDC is taking away jackets

After being transferred a couple of times, I lost your information. However, I got your contact (address) info from someone else and am eager to start back receiving mail from your organization. I'm sincerely in dire need of more of your literature to keep me focused as I once was, cause over the past couple of years S.C.D.C. has gotten drastically worse in terms of prisoner's rights and I'd like to rejuvenate myself on how to combat these injustices. With cellphones being our only source of an outlet, they had us on a statewide lockdown from April 15, 2018 until, well, we still locked in our cells here.

New correctional officers received over $4K in bonuses, but yet we don't get vocational training to stay busy, we aren't paid (at least $2/day) for our various labor duties to prevent robberies of those with family support or to prevent the success and attempts to smuggle contraband into facilities. We're charged for very inadequate medical services, we're also fed scraps (leftovers) from previous meals, which all too often are no good, amongst a slew of other savage conducts the director (Brian Sterlin) enforces.

It's fall, winter is coming up, and Brian Sterlin has officially outlawed the possession of toboggans by prisoners and sent his officers to take up all state issued jackets. With us being located on the coast, we know how brutal cold moist air can be. Is this a form of genocide or is he just trying to make the already inadequate medical services his personal "cash cow"? Either way, I scream that this gets put on world news to expose these maggots. To reform is to fix, this system isn't broken, it's just plain wrong!!!

[Campaigns] [South Carolina]

South Carolina fighting limits on indigent correspondence

I initiated my challenge to South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC's) policy of only giving us two indigent envelopes a month, to coincide with the campaign to resist restrictions on indigent correspondence that was started in Texas. See Watts v. Sterling, C/A No. 6:16-CB-00 478-JFA-KFM (D.S.C. Jan. 22, 2016 – filed). I lost the case, but I'm preparing to re-litigate it as soon as I exhaust my administrative remedies again.

This is the main reason I haven’t been able to write to y'all within the last two years = shortage of envelopes! The other reason has been because of all the time I've been researching and working on my conviction and sentence.

Although I am not a revolutionary (in the sense that I wish to overthrow the government), I enjoy reading ULK because it features so many articles from people who are affiliated with organizations, such as the Nation of Gods and Earths, United B.L.O.O.D. Nation, and the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation. I have nothing but mad respect for these people! These people have the best understanding of seeing prisons for what they really are, and not for what they just appear to seem.

[Censorship] [Evans Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 54]

Stop Wasting ULK on Censorship

This letter is to inform you to discontinue sending out the Under Lock & Key newsletter to me here. There is a very repressive regime established at this prison and indeed the entire state. The censorship of our materials goes without challenge. Why? Authorized violation of so-called rights! The grievance procedure is designed to be a stalling mechanism and as it stands now is actually depriving the prisoners here of redress of grievances and access to the courts!

I do not want relevant/useful information appropriated or destroyed by these foolish people so please do not continue to mail any of your publications for now. I am furious at these methods and practices this system is using to block our awareness and consciousness but I am unable to offer a real challenge because these South Carolinians are fast asleep! I grow weary of the incessant thought of the problem. Merely writing or filing actions to the courts who, with every degree of bias/prejudice, turn blind eyes. We need some direct action! Do not let our papers go to waste brothers and sisters! I do not have any reliable sources out there. Yet, but I guarantee I soon will.

MIM(Prisons) responds: It is always sad to hear from comrades hard at work behind bars who want their Under Lock & Key subscription terminated due to censorship problems. We appreciate this comrade's desire to save us the cost of sending in a publication that will only be censored, but we have also noticed that in prisons that are usually censoring our literature, occasionally things will slip through. So if you are in this situation, we are willing to continue to send ULK, in the hopes that it will get to you.

If we look at the last 10 issues of ULK, the rate of copies reported received in censor-heavy states like South Carolina and North Carolina are the same as the average across the country. The reports of censorship in those states are higher, but we still have more people reporting ULKs received. We have also had isolated victories after appealing censorship in both states in the last couple years. Of course, if more subscribers told us which issues they received and which they did not, we would have more information so we could make a more accurate assessment. So please let us know specifically what you have received every time you write us.

Ultimately it is a tactical question of when we want to exclude a facility or state from our mailing list because we think we are just throwing money away. Overall, we know that only a small fraction of the prison population is exposed to Under Lock & Key and we will always face state repression in our efforts to expose them. So we have chosen tactics that increase our chances of exposing the greatest number of people.

This writer is setting a good example by fighting this censorship on all the fronts possible. And trying to organize others as well. Conditions change over time, and organizing is a dialectical process that involves many failures. This letter underscores the need for outside support for our comrades' battles behind bars.

[Organizing] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 53]

September 9th Setback Leads to Unity Building

Within the last six months at this institution there has been at least one riot in the unit where I was housed, and several assaults by officers upon prisoners, which resulted in officers getting stabbed and/or beat up.

This particular institution has a long history of racism, oppression, and repression directed towards Blacks. In the past, it was basically one-sided, as far as the violence - only officers assaulting prisoners. However, that dynamic has changed drastically.

Needless to say, these people have been shipping prisoners to different institutions throughout the state. I haven't been shipped, but I've been moved a couple of times.

A little over a week ago there was almost a lumpen-on-lumpen situation, but some of the elders were able to obtain peace, since that particular situation I made it my personal responsibility to hold some classes to help educate these youthful lumpen on what it means to have unity.

I am also sad to inform you that on the September 9th Day of Peace & Solidarity there were several prisoners who stabbed each other up - thankfully none of them were killed. Since then, we have been mending the different fractures that exist among the lumpen organizations here; we've been using the ULK newsletters as tools to teach, education, and unite the various groups.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This was one of a couple disturbances that occurred in South Carolina on or around September 9th that were not actually part of either of the major countrywide organizing efforts made for that day. This goes to show how hostile conditions in the state are. We commend this comrade for making the most of the difficult situation. It is in times of strife that change can often come.

[Medical Care] [Ridgeland Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]

Fake Nutritionist Approves Unhealthy Diet in South Carolina

K2 [a drug that's growing in popularity amongst U.$. prisoners] is also in an epidemic stage. It's so bad I'm getting headaches from the secondhand smoke. The situation is much worse than you can imagine, worst than crack.

Secondly, I received a therapeutic diet for two out of the three meals I receive during the week. It's always the same for lunch and dinner (mystery meat included).

I began to inquire as to why we eat the same meal every day twice a day and was told to contact SCDC "nutritionist" Ryshema Davis. Ms. Davis refused to comment.

I then contacted the SC Department of Labor licensing and regulation (LLR.SC.Gov). To my surprise Ms. Davis does not have a license, however because Ms. Davis works for a "state" agency she's allowed to use the title, pursuant to Title 40 Code of Regulations.

The public needs to know their tax dollars are paying for inadequate meals, not providing the required vitamins and nutrients, and an unlicensed "nutritionist," who serves the same meals every day.

The public in South Carolina needs to know. Inadequate amounts of food, not providing vitamins and nutrients, causes loss of vision, loss of energy, nerve damage, muscular weakness, burning and itching of eyes, indigestion, diarrhea, depression, nausea, skin eruptions, weakened immune system, all of which causes medical expenditures and so on.

And as a last note, SCDC has yet to provide me with a copy of a federal or state inspection for the "mystery meat" we eat.

[Abuse] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]

Deaths in South Carolina, Negligence by Prison Staff

I want to report an incident that occurred here at Perry Correctional Institution in South Carolina. On 24 July 2015 I witnessed the officers let an older white male die from falling on his floor face first, and the bone in his nose was forced to his brain. He was left on his floor from 1pm til 4pm, before they realized that he was dead. After they realized he was dead they left him on the concrete floor until 10:30 or 11pm that same night. All the prisoners, including myself, who were locked behind the doors on SMU at the moment continued to tell the agents what had happened hoping to get some help from the outside.

Then another white male told the officers he was going to commit suicide, but (building upon truth) the officers ignored his life threatening comments, like they didn't even care. He jumped off his sink twice before he was dead, but after the 1st jump he was bleeding excessively and the officers, lieutenants, and captain continued to spray him with the MK-9 can of gas, which they say is supposed to tame him. My question is, why spray with gas when he is threatening his life? Why didn't y'all do y'all's job and run in the room and save him from killing himself instead of just sitting there watching him drain the life out of his body.

[Medical Care] [Ridgeland Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 49]

One More Doctor Replaced

There is some good news. Remember the doctor Robert Sharp mentioned in the ULK 40 Hailey Care article? He was terminated from Ridgeland Medical and rumor has it that he's in Florida. A lot of effort was expended in trying to get him out, however much work needs to be done still. It seems the history of slavery, Willie Lynch, and other institutionalized oppression still have an effect on a certain class of people here in South Carolina.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We've been reporting on the deficient medical care in this South Carolina prison for nearly two years. By our count, they are on at least their fourth incompetent doctor in that time, and we have no reason to believe the medical care was any better before that time.

While it can be a useful battle to organize around, in the end removing "Doctor" Sharp, or any of the doctors in question, won't solve the problem of inadequate medical care at Ridgeland Correctional Institution. Reformists spend all their energy trying to get a better doctor, or a better medical director, or a better president, or whatever. But inadequate medical care for prisoners likely isn't Sharp's only offense to humynity. There are more forces at play than just Sharp's bad judgement or malice. And there are more Sharps than we can count, other doctors at other prisons all across our country providing similar or even worse treatment. There are likely more Sharp-type doctors working in U.$. prisons than not, and when they are removed from their job, they just go to a different facility and are replaced by a similar "doctor." As was explained in the Hailey Care article, the inadequate medical care is even sponsored by the Governor of South Carolina.

On the other hand, revolutionaries aim to change the entire social and economic system. We want to eliminate the conditions that breed people like Robert Sharp, Nikki Hailey, and all their predecessors. We want to provide actual medical care for everyone in society, including prisoners. We want to create a communist society not based on capitalism or national oppression. Today we work on small reforms and education, to set the stage for the day when we will need to take up arms against the state in order to end the various oppressions inherent to capitalism.

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