Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Tennessee 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.

[United Front] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 74]

Anarcha-Queer Liberation Army signs on to United Front for Peace

The AQLA is a radical group of anarchists who promote the school of thought that advocates anarchism and social revolution as the means to queer liberation and abolition of hierarchies such as homophobia, lesbophobia, transmisogyny, biphobia, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. In the Tennessee prison system there were no type of groups that were geared at the LGBTQ+ community. In this system, we are the minority and the oppressed of the oppressed. Often times people in the LGBTQ+ community are harassed not only by the pigs but other prisoners as well.

As a self-identified Queer person i see all this going on and it disgusted and outraged me so i felt the need to start a group that not only unified the community but would also serve as a means of educating our members and providing them with a level of political consciousness and get them to see who our enemy is. Our aim is to destigmatize the LGBTQ+ community in regards to other prisoners and lumpen organizations and to hopefully build unity with these other organizations around a common enemy.

The oppression and marginalization of queer and trans people in prison is all too prevalent and for the most part we’re left to suffer at the hands of pigs and inmates alike. But it’s my aim in forming this organization to see that we are seen as humyns who are worthy of respect in this environment. We have a rich hystory of courageous revolutionary comrades who struggled for our freedom all throughout the Gay Liberation Movement. We want to build alliances with other prisoners and L.O.s and hope to educate them and get them to put aside their insecurities or prejudice towards us and build unity to overthrow the common enemy. We hope for fellow captives to gain security in themselves and therefore have respect for our struggle seeing that we are an oppressed people. We implore them not to use racist or prejudiced attitudes toward us. We are NOT a threat to them. We have a right to be free from violence and oppression just like any other group. But we are determined to fight for our respect and freedom. Here’s what the 5 principles of the UFPP mean to us:

  1. Peace: We strive to cease the endless drama and animosity that is prevalent within the u$ penal colony. We are divided enough already by the oppressive pigs and prisoners so we do not need to fight against ourselves over petty prison politics and macho/alpha-male foolishness. We need to stand together and defend ourselves from oppression.
  2. Unity: We seek to unite with those facing the same struggle as us for common interest. To accomplish this, we must have open lines of communication and learn to talk civilly. We know the pigs will use “Divide & Conquer” strategies any chance they can and will gain control if we’re not unified.
  3. Growth: Education and the freedom to grow is crucial when building unity. As revolutionaries, we must always strive to get our politics as flawless as possible and bring the level of political consciousness to the highest possible point.
  4. Internationalism: We must seek the collective liberation of ALL oppressed people. We all are victims of the oppressors but we must go from victims to victors. We must all unite against the common enemy because we can’t liberate ourselves if we’re participating in the oppression of others.
  5. Independence: We must have organizations that are fully independent from the u$ government and all its branches, even down to the police. The racist, capitalist, imperialist system does not serve us or have our best interests in mind. If able, they will co-opt our groups and water down anything we’re trying to do. By instituting independent power we won’t have to compromise our political goals.

As a group we fully pledge ourselves to the United Front and will work to abolish the imperialist u$ empire. We will gladly unite with any group who promotes an end to capitalism, imperialism, fascism, patriarchy, etc., etc., and I want to thank you at MIM for helping to bring the people to a place of constructive revolutionary purpose.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome the newly formed AQLA as an ally in the anti-imperialist prison movement. Gender is one line of division used by the oppressors against the imprisoned lumpen, and we support their efforts to counter that through outreach and alliances with other lumpen organizations.

Anarchists differ from communists, in short, by disagreeing with point 2 of MIM(Prisons)’s six main points. While we share in our end goals, we differ on the strategy on getting there. This is a difference that would prevent comrades from joining MIM(Prisons) or the organizations it leads, such as United Struggle from Within. The function of the united front is for organizations like ours to join forces for a common cause, without giving up our differences on other key points such as this.

[Civil Liberties] [Northeast Correctional Complex] [Tennessee]

Conditions in TN Security Management Unit Breed Revolutionary Pride

Revolutionary Greetings!

Salutations comrades. I hope that this missive finds you well.

I feel pride in the way that the revolutionary lifestyle gets me hyped up and ready to make a change! I’m so stoked to see fellow captives doing all the awesome things and I’m ready to amp it up a notch. Here’s a little update of the revolutionary activity I’ve been agitating here:

So the facility that I’m at is poorly run and the pretty well house captives wherever they can. The unit that I’m in is the same one that they have the “Security Management Unit” which is eir version of the “SHU”. So the unit that I’m in was intended for “High Security” people who were serving time in the “Hole”. But the problem is that all 48 captives that are in my unit are either “protective custody” or “pending transfer”. So all of the cells have no type of internal power or cable jacks inside our cells. There is only a single lightswitch on the outside of the cell that the pig working our unit has the ability to turn on. By policy we are to be provided the same privileges as “General Population”. So I brought this to the warden’s attention when ey came for “inspection” of our unit. Also I’m rallying the captives here to file mass grievances to get these fuckers to do their job. So that’s what’s happening in my neck of the woods.

I’m really trying to get my frame of mind in full out radical mode and be a comrade who can turn other captives to our cause of stomping out imperialism and building a united front. I’ve got a ways to go but with guidance from my fellow Maoists I will succeed! I want to follow the examples of the comrades who have come before me. I’m fine with the fact that I’ve fully chose to commit “class suicide” and fight the backwards and bigoted ways of other whites. I’m cool with being labeled a “race traitor” etc. etc. as long as it will further the cause I will stand with it.

I know these will assuredly aid me in my education and help me to be a productive party member. I hope to hear from you soon!

In solidarity


Grievances Ignored in Tennessee

I am writing this letter in hopes that you can provide me with information on how to combat a unjust prison's grievance process. As of the moment the grievance process at MCCX is broken and I and other inmates really have no way to have our complaints heard and addressed. The grievances go unanswered most of the time and/or the process is purposely delayed to let the time-frame expire after which the grievance is denied. The grievance chairperson is supposed to pick up the grievances daily but if and when she does pick them up and process them, she uses this as a reason to throw the grievance out. If I knew any better, I'd say this is illegal, but I'm really not sure. I have brought this issue up to the warden but it seems he is in cahoots as well. Can you please send me some info about how to combat this issue and hopefully fix it?

[Campaigns] [Trousdale Turner Correctional Center] [Tennessee]

Grievance Petition Success and ULK Circulating in Tennessee

I modified the state prison inmate grievance procedures outline and the retaliation and conspiracy to violate inmates 1st amendment rights outline. I sent my modified version of both to U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights division, 940 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC 20530, and I sent the Retaliation and Conspiracy to our local ACLU office, PO Box 120160, Nashville, TN 37212. I’ve enclosed the response letters from both agencies on my documents. I regretfully didn’t keep a copy of either before I mailed them off.

Furthermore, I filed a Title 6 grievance on my behalf due to the fact that every single time I try to file any grievance here it’s deemed unlegible, cannot file grievance on issue, not on proper forms, etc. Due to the fact that I’ve been labeled as a political prisoner, a prison litigator – And I quote CCA policy in ALC my grievances – I know my shit. My rights! The admin hates this and they deliberately disregard my grievances. Well, our new warden came to me the other day and I was finally successful, using the 2 outlines you provided to me!

Lastly, I previously sent the exact censorship info that the mailroom provided me when they rejected, whatever it was you attempted to send me. I’m sure you got info with the materials you attempted to provide. I’ve never has any type of mail or books, magazines, etc. rejected here at this prison MIM, so I’m shocked and curious. What was it exactly? Please let me know. [It was two magazines: MIM Theory #5 and Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons) - ed]

I’ve also informed other inmates here in segregation of MIM and I’ve seen a few issues of ULK circulating. Amazing! We are awake here, we are alive and informed comrade! And I’m enjoying the learning and educating myself dearly! Please send more info, more literature, books, magazines.

[Censorship] [MORGAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 69]

Choose Your Words Wisely - ULK Censored in Tennessee for L.O. Language

I would like to inform the supporters, comrades and my fellow brothers throughout the world, plus also in the "Amerikan Prison System," that we must be watchful of our message that we are attempting to give and spread to those who very well needs it. The ULK article that was titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" was deemed to be a threat to the Morgan County Correctional Facility. So it was rejected by the mailroom staff. This decision was upheld by the "Security Threat Group" coordinator, and by the final decision of the head warden.

The article was said to be written by a supposed gang member who has ties to the Bloods street gang. It was said by the prison officials that the way the word “confused” is spelled as "Konfused." But also that the word "Damu" that's a part of our Afrikan native people spoken language, that many of our slave ancestors spoke called Swahili. This was brought to the land of Amerika by the Afrikan slaves, who spoke Swahili and also many other Afrikan language dialects.

Even today across the great land of Amerika, you can hear Swahili spoken throughout many major cities as common language by "Afrikan Amerikans." Many may greet one another in such of a way for all to hear. "I love you Damu of my Damu!" Let me translate "I love you Blood of my Blood!" Because for we as Afrikan Amerikans we share something in common. That our people was stolen, kidnapped and then shipped across the Atlantic, during which millions of people died while being transported.

Now when we are attempting to speak to brothers, sisters, supporters, plus comrades through the ULK, we must choose and use our words wisely in our articles, so the law enforcers won't be offended. Because here at Morgan County CF they have a long history of being taught to be racist, prejudiced, biased and abusive by assaulting prisoners while being in restraints. Yeah they're country boyz here at this facility. They don't want prisoners awoken and told what they should be doing against their oppressors. Because that would mean that these coward "Correctional Officers" would be getting their ass kicked left and right when they do things to us in a wrongful act.

And last, but not least, it was said by the STG coordinator here that he didn't like that the article titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" used the word pig to describe law enforcers. I myself thought it was funny, because this same STG coordinator at MCCF, he has witnessed his co-workers partake and possibly himself also in one or two of the foul acts I mention above.

Now we know that this is an ongoing problem that's not confined to the prison system; it also is happening in our streets of Amerika. The law enforcers are killing unarmed black males at an alarming rate as they did in 1950s thru the 1960s when our true brothers and sisters known as the Black Panthers became aware of the problems and began to form a movement to deal with them.

If you are affiliated with a gang my brother, keep your gang slang, your dissing ways toward another gang out of the ULK. Because these swine are always looking for ways to stop such articles and paper from entering into the prison systems. And that goes for being straight forward when it comes to speaking on dealing with the law enforcers. And being behind enemy lines without the system knowing that it has been infiltrated by us in all forms. Then more damage can be done against who we are fighting. This simple, but effective technique has been used by the oppressed through the world.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a difficult question for those of us working to expose the criminal injustice system. We want our publication to get in to our readers behind bars. We also want to print the truth. And we want to use language that inspires and empowers our readers. This truth and this language sometimes leads to censorship. We try to walk the line, always printing the truth, but choosing our language carefully when there is an alternate word that means the same thing and can prevent censorship. We can be thoughtful about what words we put out front.

We also need to take on these censorship battles and use them to expose the prison system, and the lack of free speech under imperialism. Like this writer, we need to appeal censorship when it happens. And when you appeal, if you inform MIM(Prisons) of the censorship we will also write an appeal as distributor of the publication. Even if we don't win these appeals, we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention to their rule breaking. Often the words and articles they cite as reason for censorship wouldn't pass a review by the courts. We need to remind them of these laws. If you don't have a copy of our guide to fighting censorship, write in to request one.

[Education] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 57]

Denial of Education in Tennessee, Symptom of a Bigger Problem

Recently I was front driver on a battle for education for another inmate. The prison industrial complex had him in a kitchen job at 17 cents an hour. He has been begging for GED for some time now, only to be told no and continue to work for private corporation Aramark in the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC).

I recently wrote the commissioner for the Department of Education in Tennessee, which has zero to do with TDOC. I told her how many are being denied programming and education. How is one supposed to better him/herself without an education? I said "what social interest is served by prisoners who remain illiterate? What social benefit is there in ignorance? How are people corrected while imprisoned if their education is outlawed? Who profits other than the prison industrial complex itself from stupid prisoners?" The recidivism rate for Tennessee is 55% for/in 3 years. 55% will return to prison. That's fact. And at $64.21 per day, you tell me who profits! Not the innocent women and children who the burden falls on when you get arrested and locked up again.

MIM(Prisons) responds: These are the right questions to raise: who really is benefiting from locking up so many people and then offering no services to help these people gain education and work skills, or address problems that make it hard for them to live outside of prison?

Ultimately we don't see any profit coming out of the actual locking up of people: it's a net money-losing enterprise paid for by the government (i.e. by U.$. taxpayers). But certainly there are lots of businesses and individuals working in the criminal injustice system who are making lots of money off this system and who have a material interest in perpetuating it. However, these people aren't the main ones driving the creation, expansion or continuation of prisons, which we've analyzed in depth in past articles. The government, who is allotting so much money to prisons, is using them for the goal of social control, particularly targeting oppressed nations within U.$. borders.

Clearly the whole criminal injustice system needs to be dismantled. But in the short term it is folks like this writer, helping out fellow prisoners, who are doing the ground work to build a united movement strong enough to win the smaller battles today and the bigger battle tomorrow.

[Abuse] [Control Units] [Northwest Correctional Complex] [Tennessee]

Statement from 37 TN Prisoners on the Many Forms of Isolation in Solitary Confinement

To whom it may concern:

With all due respect, I have prepared this correspondence in the hopes that I might shine some light on the unjustified, cruel, and unusual treatment/torture that is occurring here in the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) and hopefully find a solution and or remedy to the issues and problems we as prisoners face on a day to day basis here within the Tennessee Department of Corrections prisons.

For the past six years, to this day, I have been confined to solitary confinement, due to no fault of my own, and when I ask “why am I being segregated/isolated?” I am told, "we do not know for sure but it came from higher up" or "it's for your own good" or "it's a request from central office in Nashville." I have written to central office in Nashville multiple times about the matter and have yet to receive any type of reply.

Since I have been in solitary confinement/isolation, I have lost a drastic amount of weight due to the lack of nutrients because of the small portions of food they are providing to inmates in solitary confinement/isolation units and or pods. They claim to give us prisoners the required sufficient adequate amount of calories each meal per day. But in reality, the prisoners are being deprived of basic human rights and or needs, as a punishment, being placed in punitive/isolation units or pods. For example, on the date of November 18th, 2015, for dinner, I received only a small slice of cornbread, two small hash browns, and a half of a Styrofoam cup of chicken broth, (cup size about ½ of a pint.) This was approximately 6:35pm. That was just one of the many nights I've went to sleep hungry, knowing I would not receive anything else to eat until 7am or 8am the next morning.

As an inmate here in the state of Tennessee, in the Tennessee Department of Corrections custody, myself and others are subjected to dehumanizing scrutiny on a daily basis and it does us no good to try to do things the right way in most cases as far as going through the proper channels like filing a complaint or grievances, because the people who pick up the grievances are the same officers (correctional officers) you are filing the complaint on, and or their co-workers/friends. Therefore, the grievance or complaint goes into the trash, leaving the inmate no option other than act out which in turn gives the officers validity to violate the inmates further, then it comes down to the inmate's word against the correctional officer's word and we all know how that turns out. Being that we are in punitive units or pods, solitary confinement, isolation (locked in a small 8x12 cell, twenty-three hours a day, Monday through Friday, and twenty-four hours a day on weekends and holidays), we are condemned, considered and labeled as trouble makers.

It is a known fact that isolation is a key to solitary confinement, and one cannot exist without the other, but what the TDOC has mastered is that they have orchestrated conditions which identify and then exploit the multiplicity of the tactical mechanics of isolation. Physical isolation is just one form of isolation: you would then discover its multiplicity.

Now allow me to give examples of these: social isolation, racial-cultural isolation, ideological isolation, political isolation, religious isolation, spiritual isolation and geographical isolation just to name a few.

Before I continue, I would like to take this opportunity to illustrate the malevolent and nefarious parasitic nature of the tactics of the TDOC agents and what they use to achieve mental dismantlement and social isolation. During and or within these past six years, I have been in solitary confinement/isolation, I have endured dehumanizing situations such as, I have been made to strip completely nude in front of a group of men and or correctional officers, (five for more), made to spread my butt cheeks and bend over on multiple occasions. I've been stripped down to my boxers and thrown into a cell that had no working plumbing, unable to flush the toilet, which was already filled with another person's defecation and urination for days at a time. I have been put in cells and denied a mat to sleep on, forced to sleep on the cold hard metal or concrete floors, no sheets or blankets, toiletries for at least a week at a time. I have been beaten beyond recognition on more than one occasion and I have been denied food and given empty food trays for days at a time. I have also been given food that has had living bugs crawling in it and small broken pieces of glass in it and this is just to name a few of the torturous things I have experienced while in solitary confinement/isolation while in the custody of the TDOC.

Sometimes for days on in, reality itself can seem to vanish from this place, and yet, on other days as I sit, locked in solitary confinement for a minimum of twenty-three hours a day, I sometimes cannot block out the screaming that never stops, the screams of prisoners being beaten, mentally and or physically, screams of grown men retreating from the intolerable pain of reality into madness.

Now I ask what is solitary confinement? Wait I know at first glance and from its most simplistic perspective that question might seem rhetorical, if not insulting to one's intelligence, but you would be surprised if not incredulous as to know there is so much more than just being separated from others. And even more perplexing is that most prisoners, not being able to formulate their own words in order to truly convey their answers, would probably give the same standard antiquated response which is, "a prisoner in a cell or behind a solid door where he or she is isolated from other prisoners and human contact." I mean listen, by no means am I implying that is the wrong answer, but what I am implying is, that's the right answer and yet so much more!

See the answer is more complex than just saying separated from all other inmates, like when physical isolation was the only criteria for defining what solitary confinement is. The science of solitary confinement/isolation has expanded beyond its original tactical application. From the beginning of the twentieth century on back, the answer given was applicable, but at the start of the twenty first century its theoretical concept remained, but its tactical application has transformed. This is directly due to two principal exponential factors, 1) the advancements in technology and 2) a more in depth and functional knowledge of the process, as a direct result of analyzing past applications of solitary confinement/isolation and their desired ramifications.

Please understand that social isolation has a dual nature and function. It is used to facilitate the isolation process as it pertains to the precision targeting of a specific prisoner or prisoners and to serve as a tactical instrument in the service of their (the TDOC agents) torture program. TDOC has taken isolation/solitary confinement to a scientific level. It has become so sophisticated in its execution, it is barely detected on the average prison-rights activist's radar. In fact, the average prisoners often times are blinded to the deliberate manipulation of conditions that are not required to complete and complement the implementation of the new application of solitary confinement/isolation.

Allow me to employ a civilian example to illustrate the utilization of multiplicity of isolation, before I briefly elaborate on its utility within the TDOC. Okay, let's say I have an eight-bedroom house and each has a television and I pick eight people to live in the house. There are four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs. Upstairs, I have selected the following four people: 1) a Jewish holocaust survivor, 2) a Nazi concentration camp guard, 3) a member of Hamas, and 4) an Israeli soldier. Downstairs, I have selected the following four people: 1) Nat Turner, 2) a slave master who had enslaved Nat Turners family, 3) A Liberal, and 4) Donald Trump.

Now see, I deliberately identified all contradictory bodies of politics. Can you imagine the outcome of such an orchestrated dynamic?

Now even though there are no bars on the bedroom doors, I have induced and orchestrated conditions that are designed to facilitate isolation. Most of these individuals would avoid each other and stay to themselves. I've manipulated conditions that produce a solitary state. Though there are eight people in this house, there will be little to no communication. For the most part, they will stay to themselves, reinforcing the isolation/solitary confinement. But it was I who induced these conditions, knowing the inevitable outcome. These individuals will become isolated in a solitary state but completely compelled by me.

Now let's replace the eight rooms with eight cells in a pod with the same racial, cultural, geographical, political, ideology, religious, and socially diverse contradictions but intensified ten fold. This is the new anatomy of solitary confinement/isolation. Please understand that this new architectural structure of today's prisons cannot structurally accommodate the old forms of solitary confinement/isolation. Their infrastructural designs have given birth to new forms of solitary confinement/isolation and torture! These modern-day dungeons are more technically sophisticated, intricate, and not to mention elusive to the average person in society.

I believe it is critical and overly necessary that I use every avenue and approach available so that I can expose the tactics that are being used to implement social isolation as it relates to the precision targeting for the sole purpose of increasing the degree of dehumanization and isolation for a specific target or targets.

These tactics are criminal and in direct violation of our constitutionally protected rights. The TDOC agents of oppression have developed these criminal tactics and deploy them at whim. I should know because I have been one of their primary targets for extreme isolation for years now!

Please don't judge the content of this letter by the man who is writing it, my being incarcerated does not negate my intelligence nor does it take away from my capacity to articulate the complex dynamics of solitary confinement. In fact, my six years of being in solitary confinement, dealing with dehumanizing treatment, torture every day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year for six years, well qualifies me to speak and write on these issues.

I trust that I have provided a comprehensive illustration so that you can and will fully grasp, vividly, the significance of this torturous situation we prisoners, we the people within the TDOC, as human beings are enduring right here in America.

This report was signed by 37 prisoners
[Abuse] [Medical Care] [West Tennessee State Penitentiary] [Tennessee]

Medical Care Denied in Tennessee

I am denied access to proper health treatment and was forced to endure a yeast infection in my ears and on my rectum for almost seven years. When I complained the nurses would take my blood pressure and pretend they could not comprehend my complaint. I was finally able to get neomyc and polymycin, B. Sulfates and hydrocortison solution for my ears and yeast infection cream for my rectum. After several years of them neglecting my complaints as if I was delusional and suffered from a phantom itch.

They totally neglected my medical rights by framing me as mentally ill. I had a stroke that made the whole left side of my body go numb. That went untreated and undiagnosed because I went unseen by the doctors and could not get past the firewall of nurses who would not tell the doctors my complaints.

I want to join the fight for change because of these capitalist pigs that are only fair to people they consider worthy. They do not offer equal treatment to the people. The low people ruled by the big pig of the government. That have sinister desires towards the people they have authority over.

[Riverbend Maximum Security Institution] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 41]

New Tennessee Control Units Modeled After Georgia System of Torture

I am a POW in the state of Tennessee and in these narratives I am providing exposure about this wicked prison system and Derrick Shofield, who came from Georgia. This dude is constantly applying new rules, with the latest being called tier management – something straight outta Georgia prison system. Of late all of Tennessee prisons are run like Georgia. This is the same Shofield who was instrumental in causing the largest sit down in the state of Georgia. On an I-team investigation on channel 4, Nashville, TN, it was reported that Shofield ordered two former wardens in West Tennessee to alter incident reports on assaults on staff.

As I write they are building security threat group management units at Riverbend Maximum security plantation in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the big sister of tier management. Both are part of the larger policy agenda regarding U.$. prisons. One of the standards that the federal government sets in order for the state to receive construction subsidies is to mandate the building of supermax units, security threat group units, such as the ones at Riverbend: steel and stone sensory deprivation cells.

In Georgia they have this tier 2 program of gang control for long-term lockdown. This same situation is being played out in Tennessee. The prisoners in Tennessee should take a page from Georgia, sit down and do nothing in a silent protest. It's some wicked shit going on in Tennessee, it has to be said that for all the men and women trapped in the wretched crime and punishment morass, especially in the Tennessee system, we have to determine our fate. We got the power.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade gets at the truth of prison control units, and in fact the broader prison system in general: it is a system built for social control. Prisons in general house the oppressed nation lumpen in disproportionate numbers, and for those who speak out, organize or otherwise challenge the system from behind bars, there are long-term isolation cells for even further control. These control units are torture and we must demand they be shut down. Part of this battle is documenting their existence, a project that we need help with from anyone who can complete our control unit survey about prisons in their state.

We offer the example of prisons in China while it was still Communist-led and Mao was alive, in stark contrast to the Amerikan criminal injustice system. In China prisoners participated in education classes with others where they studied politics and discussed the nature of their crimes and why their actions were harmful to the people. Prisoners were allowed to participate in productive activities of work and learned cooperative practices. Many who went into prison for actions like theft or even spying, came out dedicated to serving the people and grateful for a second chance. The example of Adelle and Allyn Rickett, two Amerikans who worked as spies for the United $tates until their imprisonment, wrote an inspiring book Prisoners of Liberation detailing these progressive practices and what they learned from years in prison in China.

[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [Abuse] [Turney Center Industrial Prison] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 26]

TN Prisoners Organize to Prevent Privatization and Further Degradation

When Republican Bill Haslam was elected Governor of the $tate of Tennessee, he appointed Derrick D. Schofield as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC). I assume the "D" in Schofield's middle name stands for either dumbass or dickhead, because since then the conditions in prison have deteriorated. Schofield is one of the $nakes that was instrumental in causing the largest prison sit-down in United Snakes hystory.

It is no doubt that the Governor brought this individual to cause chaos and mayhem to the captives at all the prisons in Tennessee. They do this in the hopes of enticing the captives to riot so that they can receive federal funds and justify turning the state plantations over to Correctional Corporation of America (CCA). This way they can pad their pockets and implement new legislature that will rob the captives of what little dignity they may have left.

Many of your politicians have stock in CCA as well as political allegiance to their dubious goals. Recently it was revealed that CCA had sent letters to most state governments offering to buy up prisons on the condition that the state contracts with them for at least 20 years, and that the state keeps the prison at a 90% occupancy rate or more. Such a move would further cement the prison industrial complex that profits off humyn suffering while lessening government oversight in how prisoners are treated.(1)

Schofield has attempted to remove all identity and dignity from all captives. His agenda is to persecute instead of rehabilitate the captives. His tactics have been to disregard policies and procedures that have been in place for years and implement unwritten rules. He has caused an atmosphere of hate, discontent and danger for both his employees and the captives.

Captives are required to walk single-file under escort on the compound, a specified distance apart. Captives are not allowed to talk or have their hands in their pockets while under escort, even during cold weather, and the TDOC has not issued gloves to all captives. Captives must be neatly dressed and keep their cells in an orderly condition with beds made, and must stand at attention during morning inspections without speaking, engaging in any other activity or making eye contact with the inspectors. This includes captives who work night shifts who do not get off work until early in the morning, yet must be out of bed for inspection. When captives are called to meals, they are required to line up and wait outside until it is their turn to go to the dining hall, even when it is pouring rain. Captives must keep their property in specific locations in their cells, and property storage rules have been changed multiple times in an arbitrary manner, leading to confusion and frustration among both captives and staff. Captives may no longer possess coat hangers, which makes it difficult to dry wet towels. Permissible items on the property list have been changed and, rather than be grandfathered in, items that are no longer allowed have been confiscated or required to be mailed out.

Wardens have been transferred to different facilities, and it has been stated that Schofield intends to continue transferring Wardens every few years, which may have an adverse impact on institutional stability. There are daily cell inspections, including by Wardens and deputy Wardens, which means that all of a facility's highest-ranking administrators are on the compound at the same time, which may constitute a security risk.

The policy changes that Schofield has implemented have significant consequences. This is not a concern that is only an opinion of the captives. At least four Wardens have resigned or retired since Schofield was appointed commissioner, some due to the implementation of Schofield's new unwritten policies. Also, a number of TDOC staff, from the Warden level down, have contacted the Human Rights Defense Center to express their concerns about the effect Schofield's policy changes have had on both captives and staff in terms of frustration and discontent among prisoners and decreased morale among employees. None of the staff members who spoke with Human Rights Defense Center were willing to publicly identify themselves, citing fear of retaliation. The atmosphere here is very vile and becoming extremely dangerous. As is the case in the state of Georgia, the fights, assaults on captives and assaults on staff have gone up significantly, all because of Schofield's silly unwritten rules.

At Turney Center Industrial Prison (TCIX), captives are targeted to fill up the hole commonly known as segregation. It once held Close Security captives, and once they were transferred to other plantations, the oppressors began to target captives by issuing both arbitrary and capricious disciplinary reports for so-called infractions that the captives have never been informed of, not to mention the unwritten rules are as silly as the individual who implemented them. The ridiculous rules have no penological interest. Moreover, most of the disciplinary infractions issued are fraudulent and without legal authority.

Within the masses of captives at TCIX, you would be hard pressed to find many that are willing to fight against their oppressors for the liberation of the basic human rights. I call them the "i can't crew." I like to say that i am part of the "i can crew." There is a famous saying, which goes like this, "if you won't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

Since the atmosphere here and at all the prisons has become vile, a few of us decided to get together and address our concerns in a petition. We recognize that the oppressor wants for us to riot and that we must first put our struggle out there before we start busting heads.

We got together and put all our concerns down on paper. We then found someone with a typewriter and asked him to type up our concerns. After this petition was typed up it was given to a person in each pod to go door-to-door asking individuals to sign. The only ones not asked to sign were known rats. The signatures were then sent out to be copied and we sent copies to many organizations, State Senators, State Representatives, Turney Center Warden, Commissioner Schofield and Governor Bill Haslam. The petition has also been placed on the internet and Facebook.

To protect the large number of captives who participated in brainstorming this movement, we submitted our demands in the petition. The demands included and were not limited to a meeting between the Warden, Commissioner, Governor and various other officials, with the Captive Counsel Members and different religious organizations. The purpose of having the other organizations present at such a meeting is because the individuals who go to counsel are generally intimidated by the current Warden. Even if they were allowed to speak freely, they are ill-equipped to speak on matters they have no interest in or have no knowledge about. As in the past, a majority of them cannot be trusted. Some are sincere, but most are there to be close to the oppressor to feel some sort of worth.

If the oppressor does not acknowledge or dialogue with us, we will be forced to conduct a sit-down. The sit-down will consist of all of us refusing to go to work, and refusing to purchase commissary items or use the phone. The oppressor can serve the food and make the beds in the metal plant for the new prison that they have built in Bledsoe County. We want all of the captives held against their will in all the prisons in the State of Tennessee to stand up for themselves, before they are unable to fight for their dignity, identity, freedom and justice.

What the captives don't realize is that the fiscal year for the TDOC is July of each year. They can expect more legislation coming that will give the bourgeoisie more authority to take more inmate property and continue to deprive us of basic human rights. The food will become worse than it is presently; there will be less opportunity to access the fresh air; it will be mandated for all to cut our hair in a military fashion, including facial hair; and visits will be by monitor, thus denying human contact with your family, friends and loved ones. There is a laundry list of atrocities that are on the way, and instead of complaining about them, the captives must rise up and do something about it, in every single death camp in this state. If anyone wants to help in the cause and has ideas, please contact MIM(Prisons).

Warden Jerry Lester recently told one of his minions that he does not have to respect the captives. Is this a directive from Schofield, or is this the Warden's mentality and/or the result of Schofield's intervention that is causing this oppressive thinking?

The captives cannot change their condition until they want to change themselves. Every captive needs to realize who their real enemy is and come together so that they can maintain what dignity, respect, manhood and rights they have left.

Note: Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash in Exchange for State Prisons, Huffington Post, February 14 2012

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