Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Perry Correctional Institution - South Carolina

Postage is one of our biggest expenses. Why not send a book of stamps or two to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140 next time you're at the post office? 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.

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

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.

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

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.

chain
[Abuse] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 44]
expand

Prison Dog Rehab Program Underscores Inhumynity to Humyns

The rehabilitation program for abused dogs at Perry Correctional Institution (PCI) is commendable. Prisoners have the primary responsibility to care for and rehabilitate abused animals. Selected prisoners have dogs assigned to them and they literally spend all of their time with these dogs; they even have to share a 6 by 10 foot cell with them. This is a remarkable program wherein prisoners are allowed to show love, compassion, and empathy for their fellow creatures.

Being that these dogs have been abused, it is expected that it will take some time for them to be fully rehabilitated. It is also expected that these animals remember their former abuse and at times may become scared, agitated, and even dangerous. Example in point: At least two of the K-9s in the program here at PCI (Shep and Pippin) have bitten people. Nevertheless, instead of these dogs being euthanized, they are allowed to remain in the rehabilitation program and even to be sent to live with families out in society. The program organizers and the prisoners themselves realize that real rehabilitation takes time, patience, compassion, love, and understanding. In contrast, there are many prisoners here (including myself) who have been given Life Without Parole (LWOP) under South Carolina's two-strikes law, who may never see their families again.

It is no secret that a large number of imprisoned people come from families and homes where abuse has been rampant. Why is there no rehabilitation program for them? Do we not afford human beings equal rights with dogs? The truthful and troubling answer is no.

Here at PCI prisoners see staff members hugging and kissing the dogs, but they themselves are not given common or even professional courtesy. And in fact, we are disrespected on a daily basis, from the warden all the way down to new officers who haven't even been certified yet.

The dogs are fed with expensive dog food such as Purina, while the South Carolina Department of Corruptions (SCDC) brags about feeding prisoners for less than a dollar a day. The dogs are given brand new mattresses stacked up to sleep on, but a prisoner has to damn near go through an act of congress to get anything new around here. The dogs have new stainless steel bowls to eat out of, while we have plastic trays that are peeling so bad that each time someone eats in the mess hall, they are assured a healthy diet of plastic.

I've complained continuously about the peeling trays to several staff members (Lt. Church, Lt. Wilson, Cpt. Williams, food service employees J. Husband and B. Olsen) and even filed a grievance. But we are still eating plastic.

I believe that animals are a source of therapy for human beings, especially those human beings who are denied the basic rights of humanity itself. We love these abused animals, because we know their plight and can feel their pain. And as these dogs are being rehabilitated so that they can be placed in loving homes, we are being treated worse than dogs.

How is it that people can rationalize and believe the rehabilitation of a dog, but not a man? It is a shame and a travesty that there is a genuine rehabilitation program here at PCI for dogs, but not for humans.

The dogs have People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Why don't prisoners have People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans (PETH)? The simple truth of the matter is that the landlords of these gated communities don't believe in rehabilitation for the human residents.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade's off-the-cuff proposal for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Humyns (PETH) organization underscores an important point about capitalism: it is based on treating humyns as nothing more than labor to create profit, or worse, as an obstacle to stealing resources. There are many compassionate people in the First World who devote much time and money to bettering the treatment of animals while ignoring the plight of people around the world suffering in truly unlivable conditions, without clean water, access to medical care, sufficient food, and often all this while in danger from a war initiated by the imperialists to gain greater control of strategic resources.

MIM(Prisons) is a part of this PETH battle, in the broader context of opposing the imperialist system that is fundamentally inhumyn. We are fighting for a world where no people have power to oppress other people. In these conditions we will be able to create a society where people do not die unnecessarily, and do not suffer so that others can profit. This will only be possible when we overthrow imperialism, the imperialists won't make these changes out of the kindness of their hearts because the exploitation and oppression of humyns is an integral part of the profit system.

chain
[Censorship] [National Oppression] [Perry Correctional Institution] [Lee Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 45]
expand

Reading is Fundamental

Throughout the history of our uncivilized world, those who invade, conquer, colonize, and oppress the people without fail make their first order of business to uproot and destroy the educational facilities and libraries. The oppressor nations and their oppressive apparatus know the importance of books and a proper education.

As we know from history, the Africans who were brought to Amerika and turned into slaves were forbidden to read and write. In fact, to be caught with a book or even attempting to learn how to read and write was a crime for them. These are facts that trouble me immensely, because the more things seem to change, the more they actually remain the same.

In September of 2012 while being housed in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at Lee Correctional Institution, in Bishopville, South Carolina, I filed a grievance, because on 25 April 2012, the then-acting Warden (Michael McCall) had the Rapid Response Team (Red-Team) confiscate all books, newspapers, magazines, etc. from SMU prisoners. I was left without one single piece of paper in the cell; they even took the toilet paper.

And though this was against their own policy (SCDC Policy OP-22.12), it has still been upheld on appeal. It is criminal to hold a human being inside of a cell for twenty-four hours a day with absolutely nothing to read and occupy the mind. While on SMU for almost four years, I developed high blood pressure and mental health issues. Since being off SMU I no longer have signs of high blood pressure and I have resolved my mental health issues on my own. I was taking medication for high blood pressure and the mental health issues and currently I am medication-free.

Some prisoners get their families to order books for them, but some bookstores such as Barnes & Noble have refused to let my family order books that must be sent directly to me, because they've had so many problems with the institutions sending books back. Companies have simply gotten fed up with having to send refund checks, because so many books, magazines, newspapers, etc. (primarily literature pertaining to Black history and culture) are unauthorized and thus, we can't receive them.

Currently I am being held captive at Perry Correctional Institution (PCI), which is in Pelzer, South Carolina. Here at PCI they not only deny prisoners on SMU books, but they've shut down the regular library services as well. The general prisoner population's library services have been shut down for about five months now. We have been told that the books that are currently part of the regular library will be divided up and placed on shelves and/or carts that will be built in the respective dorm units. I have written requests to the staff here concerning the library services (or lack thereof) and they give me the same run-around. I have even pointed out to them that they are not abiding by their own policy (PS-08.04 Library Services) when it comes to how they've shut the library down.

The truly sad part about this whole injustice is that the warden here (Larry Cartledge) is Black (his skin anyway), the Major here (Curtis Early) is Black (his skin anyway), and even the person in charge of the educational building (Linda Bratton) is Black. All of these people should realize the significance and importance of books to a people who have been beaten, lynched, and murdered for attempting to educate themselves in a nation that has done everything possible to stop them from educating themselves. We cannot give Black officials a pass simply because their skin is black. We must hold these "Black people" accountable not only for their actions, but for their inactions as well. This entire system is corrupt and bent on further maintaining and supporting corruption, oppression, and an imperialistic agenda.

The South Carolina Department of Corruption's policy GA-01.12 (Inmate Grievance System May 12, 2014), p. 5 states: "Responses: in most instances, grievances will be processed from initial to final disposition within 171 days." It is no accident that the South Carolina Department of Correction (SCDC) has taken well over two years to process my grievance in question and many many more.

Once the grievance process has been exhausted, the prisoner can file civil suits for various violations committed by the SCDC, but most civil suits have to be filed within a two-year time frame of said violations. The SCDC has developed, maintained, and even nurtured a system of crime and corruption against the very people who they have the audacity to call criminals. They prolong and hinder the grievance process in their attempts to stop prisoners from having their day in court.

When "our people" represent the interest of the oppressive imperialist state, they are not "our people" and we must replace them with those who actually hold our best interest at heart. It is clear that these people are complicit with this corrupt, unjust system of racism, oppression, and imperialism. And though they do not want us to read books, they throw the book at us each and every opportunity they get.


MIM(Prisons) responds: One of the main similarities between present-day U.$. prisons, and the days of U.$. slavery, is the use of people from oppressed groups to act as agents of oppression on behalf of the oppressor Amerikkkan nation. The Uncle Tom phenomena is most clearly exemplified by Barack Obama, the Black President of the United $tates, the world's leading imperialist power. Since the destruction of the 1960s national liberation movements, the New Afrikan nation, and other internal semi-colonies, have been increasingly bought off by the spoils of imperialism. New Afrikan guards in prisons are an ironic example of this integration.

Replacing one guard with another won't change the fact that they are prison guards, and hence determined to fall into the role of oppressor. After all, that's why they get a paycheck! Instead we aim to get rid of the oppressive prison system altogether, by creating a society where this relationship is no longer necessary or legal.

On a country-wide scale, the contradiction between Amerika and the internal semi-colonies is principal. In looking at historical examples, we see that struggles for national liberation have done the most to propel societies out of the oppression of capitalism and imperialism.

Within PCI it sounds like the guards side more with Amerika than they do with their own nation, probably because of all the great "opportunity" that Amerika has provided them. We call this "opportunity" spoils of imperialism: wealth that was stolen from the Third World by the imperialists and divvied up amongst First World citizens on varying levels just enough to prevent revolutionary overthrow of the United $tates government.

And this anecdote from South Carolina paints a picture of why we focus on lumpen New Afrikans, who are easy to locate in Amerika's prisons and have the most subjective interest in overthrowing capitalism, as opposed to trying to organize the New Afrikan petty-bourgeoisie (such as prison guards). The division is a difference of degrees of integration, while on the whole the New Afrikan nation is oppressed by Amerika. In response to the Liberals' demands for less and less discrimination, all we get is increased integration; the underlying national oppression and imperialism is unchanged.

The issue of restricting reading materials to prisoners is a topic with a long history in U.$. prisons and in South Carolina. As much as people like to pretend that policies and legislation have an impact on the ground, they must not get as many letters from prisoners as we do that show just the opposite. As this comrade shows, the laws and policies may be in place, but there is always some way to get around it, usually by citing "security" concerns.

Attempting to hold prison administrators accountable when they do violate their own rules leaves one's grievances to sit unanswered for two years as this comrade's are. And the response from administration is often just a brush off with no practical resolution obtained. Taking them to court over the issue is immensely difficult, even for the most litigious prisoner.

While we can definitely make some significant advances through the court system, we need to always be conscious of the overall picture. The same problems have been going on for decades and even centuries. If bourgeois democracy worked, wouldn't the issues of literacy and free education be resolved by now? Instead we have increased integration (i.e. more parasites leeching from the international proletariat) and individual people battling it out with petty paperwork struggles. Still.

For the lack of response to grievances, a comrade in South Carolina created a petition for the proper handling of grievances. Unfortunately it seems South Carolina does not have a time limit on responding to grievances, which might be a worthwhile issue for a prisoner to take to court if it means there would then at least be a policy in place to limit the time administrators can sit on answering a grievance and thus taking one step closer to satisfying Prison Litigation Reform Act requirements. The campaign to have our grievances addressed is an attempt to show the collective problem of neglect of the grievance procedure, rather than keeping it on the individual scale that is so convenient for prison administrators to disregard. Different states are having different levels of success in their grievance petition campaigns, but overall at least we are further proving how useless the offered forms of relief are in actually resolving problems.

In choosing which campaigns to fight, we assess how they will impact our overall struggle against imperialism. Our role at this point in the struggle in the United $tates is to build public opinion in favor of national liberation struggles of the oppressed, and against the capitalist economic system. Having access to reading materials is hugely important in developing an understanding of revolutionary politics, and by keeping prisoners in the dark with literally no material to read, the state of South Carolina is further delaying our struggle for liberation from all forms of oppression.

Comrades in South Carolina should organize around this lack of access to books and educational materials. If they can manage to get a library back, and to lift restrictions on what books can be mailed in to SCDC facilities, it would have a big impact on prisoner-led study groups and individual study. It would also have a big impact on the breadth and depth of political consciousness in South Carolina prisons, and would be very beneficial for our overall struggle against imperialism. Comrades in South Carolina should write to MIM(Prisons) with their ideas on what United Struggle from Within can do to help fight the censorship in South Carolina prisons!

chain
[Middle East] [Organizing] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 42]
expand

Organizing South Carolina Prisoners in Solidarity with Palestine

While reading what a California prisoner said in ULK 41, I was disappointed to see that the Muslim prisoners failed to meet their obligation in supporting the solidarity movement in support of the oppressed people of Palestine. Therefore, I decided to put together a petition here in hopes that we could at least show our support by signing a piece of paper.

Although I initially drafted the petition for the Muslim community here, there were a couple of non-Muslim brothers who signed it as well. And just as the California brother was met with some opposition, I too encountered quite a few "brothers" who were either afraid to sign or just didn't care about the plight and fight of the Palestinian people.

However, I collected thirty signatures and I do believe that I could have gotten more, but I really don't have access to the yard as some other prisoners do. There are a few of us here that are true and tested soldiers and we are trying to bring forth some political and social awareness, though most of us are learning as we go.

The petition reads:


A Statement of Unity and Solidarity with the Palestinian People, from Muslim Prisoners in South Carolina (Note: Non-Muslims signed as well)

As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of I$rael to exterminate the Palestinian nation.

Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of I$rael and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."


MIM(Prisons) adds: We had previously reported on the relative success of a campaign to support Palestine led by United Struggle from Within following the latest flurry of attacks by I$rael. Due to timing and mail issues only a small number of USW leaders were notified of the campaign at first. It is good to see that the campaign continues to gain support across the U.$. prison population. This is internationalism in action, recognizing the interconnectedness between all oppressed nations under imperialism.

This comrade wrote that they are "as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen." Yet it is actions just like the Palestine petition which help open the door to develop the potential of our imprisoned comrades. Even having access to a small number of people, as in this author's case, we can start the very first steps toward building a bigger movement against oppression and imperialism. Discussing an international act of imperialist aggression with others, and asking them to take a small step toward making a statement against it, is valuable for laying the foundation for bigger things to come.

chain
[Censorship] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
expand

South Carolina Censors Writing Guide and Other Letters

I just received the latest issue of Under Lock & Key No. 38 May/June 2014, which is a surprise being that recently a copy of the grievance petition and a couple of guides were forwarded to the DOC's Correspondence Review Committee to see if they will allow me to receive them. The mailroom staff considers the material "questionable & inflammatory."

This censorship comes as no shock since the hypocrisy that they label as a "democracy" in Amerikan society censors the mass media and many other forms of disseminating knowledge, due to material being labeled "inflammatory." Although these restrictions clearly are in violation of their own constitutional laws, these imperialistic powers thrive from being able to control & manipulate mass information, therefore they will continue violating laws to maintain and/or advance their position.

Too much trust is placed in the Amerikan government, their structure and system by the Amerikan people/population. Maybe people still believe that Amerika guarantees the "right" to free speech because they don't have anything relevant to say. Whenever someone has something profound to say that the government may consider to be counter-productive to their message or a "threat," the message will be suppressed from being propagated on a mass level. Then some people don't care because they have never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful, which displays that either they don't stand for anything or they are cowards. Or maybe people believe they have a "right" of free speech because they are supportive of this system, therefore everything they say is conducive to the message the government wishes to convey. In this way, these people never experience this form of censorship or are too blind to recognize it. Controlling or censoring what the media provides to the public is a main component to controlling the public. The Amerikan public is now experiencing martial law in its subtlest form. Too often "state of emergencies" are called for fabricated or manufactured reasons, only to benefit the Amerikan government.

I will notify you of the outcome concerning the study group guide, grievance petition, and guide to writing articles after the Correspondence Review Committee makes their determining decision.

United We Struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This arbitrary censorship by Perry Correctional Institution officials demonstrates the lack of real reason behind their denial of some mail to prisoners. Included in the list of letters censored is MIM(Prison)'s writing tips, which has information on how to write articles for Under Lock & Key, including various grammar and spelling rules. Only if the prison considers education a risk would this denial make sense.

We do not believe that the Amerikan people are pacified entirely because of the control of their media and information. While this is certainly an important part of the Amerikan government's control of the country, there are plenty of Third World countries where governments have similar or even stronger hold on the media, and still the people rise up and organize against their own repression. Important to the Amerikan public's passivity is their material interest in the system. This prisoner gets at this point when s/he accuses Amerikans of having "never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful", a state of affairs common in imperialist countries today where the vast majority of the population has been bought off and enjoys comfortable lives at the expense of the exploited peoples of the world.

chain
[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 38]
expand

USW in South Carolina to Join Grievance Campaign

I recently wrote to you inquiring about how I can contribute to the struggle within, possibly by joining forces with USW. A few solid brothers and myself are in accordance with the 5 basic key principles/ideas that the United Front for Peace in Prisons represents. However, at Perry Correctional Institution (where I am currently confined), the consciousness is low amongst the masses due to the oppressor's effective psychological warfare tactics being enforced at all angles (fear, divide & conquer, rewards, isolation, etc.). This specific prison is designed to be the "breaking camp" for prisoners, where they train prisoners to be more "obedient" to further assist the oppressor's aim for control and financial advancement.

There are a lot of prisoner violations that occur at this plantation, but one in particular is the grievance system. South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) has recently implemented a procedure where you must first submit a request form to the appropriate officer/supervisor attempting to informally resolve your issue. The officer is then provided 45 days to respond to your request, which most officers refuse to do. If you are lucky enough to receive a response, then you are given only 5 days, including weekends, to submit your grievance after your request form has been answered. Then to add insult to injury, many grievances are never returned and the grievance officials feign ignorance as to what happened to it.

The grievance process/system within South Carolina Department of Corruption is substandard and blatantly violates prisoners' constitutional rights. I am unsure whether South Carolina is covered by the grievance campaign or not, but we are definitely experiencing similar issues in our grievance process and I would like to join this campaign. Please keep me updated in the decisions or proposals for combatting the grievance system and let me know what is needed of me and my comrades here.

Also, please provide any material available which may assist me in awakening the masses of how to fight against the oppressor and how to unite on a common ground with individuals in different groups. I will strive to become a ULK Field Corespondent for South Carolina in the future, whatever I can do to assist the struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend these comrades in South Carolina for coming together around the United Front for Peace principals and doing the work to identify the critical campaign needs in their prison. The grievance campaign is not yet active in South Carolina but we look forward to working with these folks to customize the grievance petition for that state and get the struggle moving forward there. To work on this campaign in your state, write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the petition, and if one does not exist for your state you can help by modifying the petition for use there.

chain
[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 33]
expand

South Carolina Stops Grievance Challenge Process

I have been here five months now and I have yet to leave my cage with the exception of being moved from different dorms. These pigs move me around to different segregated dorms once they get whiff that I am helping brothers litigate.

As of April 30, 2013, Ms. Ann Hallman of the Inmate Grievance Branch has changed Grievance Policy GA-01.12. She says that we cannot write an Inmate Grievance Coordinator (IGC) up because they unprocessed our grievances. We can no longer challenge the violation or status of our complaints. Basically she gave all the IGCs the authority to continue to violate our rights dealing with the grievance procedure.

Comrade Huey told us to always keep your eyes on the pigs, that is why I see ahead of time the nonsense that's about to explode like a nuclear bomb. I have repeatedly shown brothers that "pushing paperwork works." All it takes is a pen, paper, dedication, spirit, and effort, still yet all you hear is talk, talk, more talk and "snitching." We must come together in united action against the system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: South Carolina is a state where the USW grievance campaign has not yet reached. Initiated in California, this campaign has spread to many other states, with petitions now customized for Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas. This is a battle for grievance reforms within a fundamentally corrupt system. But the grievance system is the primary way that prisoners can legally fight for their limited rights, and often these rights are tied up with survival and freedom to organize and educate others. We agree with this comrade that "pushing paperwork works" to achieve these goals, at least some of the time. We must defend these rights as a key tactical battle in building the anti-imperialist movement within the criminal injustice system. Write to us to get a sample copy of this grievance petition to customize for your state.

This article referenced in:
chain
Go to Page 1