Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Tennessee Prisons

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www.prisoncensorship.info is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Abuse] [West Tennessee State Penitentiary] [Tennessee]
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Mistreatment in TN

West Tennessee State Penitentiary (WTSP) has a lot of house policy issues. For one, their policies are not always legitimate under Tennessee Department of Correction penological justifications. On Feb 1st 2001 WTSP Warden Henry Steward and AWO Tommy Mills put out a memo to the maximum/segregated prisoners about them violating in-house policies. I am a maximum security/segregated prisoner and therefore I can speak about the mistreatment and un-professionalism of the prison officials and administrators.

Max prisoners endure a lot of foul talk and other things that are unprofessional from the correctional officers who run the units/pods. Neither the Tennessee Commissioner or Governor has been notified nor approved of the memo from February. The memo allows the administrators to take away their personal property, such as TVs, commissary, and other articles we bought over the years of our incarceration. This is in clear violation of the 8th and 14th amendments. The 14th amendment protects prisoners against the deprivation of personal property and liberty without due process of law. When state law and regulations substantively limit the discretion of confinement, the state creates an expectation, and the 8th and 14th amendments protects against the intentional, malicious or sadistic acts by prison officials towards prisoners. At the end it's all cruel and unusual punishment.

All the maximum/segregated prisoners have filed a petition on this issue and are waiting to hear back from the commissioner. I believe these prison administrators fail to realize that we as prisoners still have rights. I again thank you for the help in the U.S. prison struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome the news that our comrades in Tennessee are coming together to fight repressive policies. We encourage those in other states to take up their example, and be sure to report on your work in ULK so that we can share these reports and learn from each others struggles.

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[Nashville] [Tennessee] [ULK Issue 18]
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Long line for ULK

I am at DCSO in Tennessee. One of my pod-mates receives your publication, Under Lock & Key, and it has attracted a lot of attention. The line to read it has become so long and complex, I decided to write to you and request my own personal subscription. I've always been interested in subversive politics and your newsletter gives me a lot to think about. Also I am willing to write articles for future publications in exchange for a chance to take part in your free book program.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Don't get stuck waiting in a long line for Under Lock & Key. Or worse yet, get moved to a new prison where you can't get at ULK at all. Write to us today to get your own subscription!

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[Abuse] [DeBerry Special Needs Facility] [Tennessee]
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Gladiator's Academy in Tennessee

I long ago came to the realization that oppression exists everywhere, regardless of our current position or circumstance. Within concentration camps such as this "La Lucha Continua" - The Struggle Continues! When we submit and allow our oppressors to dictate our actions and decisions then we lose major points within our struggle. Our oppressors know that we're more of a threat alive than dead and so that's why our oppressors strive to push us into that fatal state of defeatism. And so, for those comrades who've walked a suicidal line, for those who're contemplating suicide, I say "Live! Our youth need you! The community needs you! And brothers within this crooked system such as myself need you!"

Every time I receive a newsletter from MIM(Prisons) I read about comrades in Wisconsin, California, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois! And so, I want to give our readers a peep behind these steel doors and concrete walls in the state of Tennessee. In a failed attempt to mentally and physically break me into submission because of my rebellious nature against oppressive authority, the warden at West Tenn State Prison (WTSP) had me transferred here to DeBerry Special Needs (DSNF) and placed in Unit 7 which is supposed to be a mental health program, but to all TDOC employees and correctional officers here, Unit 7 is knows as the "Gladiator's Academy!"

Everyday, prisoners who are mentally stable or unstable are verbally, physically and sexually assaulted, abused, mistreated and tortured. In Unit 7, L, D and F pods, TDOC correctional officers will give a prisoner a razor blade or 2 sheets and tell him to make the world a better place! From 2003 to 2010 several prisoners died suicidal and violent deaths at the hands of these TDOC employees who've sworn to uphold the law (their law)! Certain prisoners won't get fed for days and the results of this type of torture is fatal for the prisoners.

If a prisoner files a grievance in regards to this matter then he's immediately placed on rec, shower, mail and food restriction. And it's not uncommon to witness a gang of TDOC employees beating a prisoner or hitting him with the taser gun or electric shield because he refused his prescribed psychotic medicine. The warden here, Jennie L. Jobe, and the deputy warden Debra Johnson are fully aware of what's going on in Unit 7 here, yet they've made no move to put an end to this madness.

Here at DSNF in the state of Tennessee and everywhere else in the world, oppressors/downpressors are at their best because they're united! If only all of us would do the same...unite!! I don't consume any type of psychotic (or non) medicine yet I'm still here. I've requested to be discharged several times but all of my requests have been ignored. And if I become too rebellious then in the name of mental health my oppressors will inject me with their poison medicine. I know that one small dose could alter or completely destroy my mind.

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[Abuse] [MORGAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX] [Tennessee]
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Victim of Injustice System

In the last 2 months I've fallen victim to the injustice system in prison. The first time was a sexual assault by a staff member. I'll not get into that because I'm still dealing or should I say trying to find ways to deal with it. My other incident, I was working in Admin as a counselor aid and was assaulted by a corrections officer. We had had words previously because the job I had did not require me to do what he told me to do so he felt I was "walking on him."

Well he was sitting in the counselor's office and he was talking to the man I worked for. He was getting up to leave and I was shutting the door behind him and it hit his boot. He turned around and lunged at me so I threw my hands up in a blocking, defensive manner and he grabbed my pinky and ring finger and jerked it and twisted it which broke it.

My boss called for me to get medical attention (costing me $5) so I've got 5 x-rays and doctor's notes on this incident. I have filed numerous Grievances on this core officer. The paperwork I filed was "too late" or "lost" so it was thrown out and I was placed in protective custody due to the incident. And since it has happened I've been treated worse than an old smelly mutt. It's sad how much the injustice system can get away with here in the united $tates these days. I've tried going an alternate route by getting one of the neglected forms with response and mailed it to my lawyer.

A lot of my things have come up missing, they are constantly in my cell searching for items that's not there. I've been trying to file a civil suit of negligence against the state and TDOC since this occurred but I'm having the hardest time from a control unit (23/1) and little if any help.

Since this assault my time has gotten really hard. It's a struggle every day. Trying to use the phone, the excessive force used to and from the Dog Pen (recreation). A week ago a corporal shoved and spit on me for filing a grievance on him. I got to be on guard with them. They have done all they can do and more. A man can only take so much but it will only satisfy them to see me act out in violence on them so I'm taking every precaution to their games. It's quite sad they stoop this low.

I wish there was another way to reach out. I know I'm not alone and we keep our heads up and keep on fighting from behind bars. I am trying to keep it cool and recruit all anti-imperialists and encourage them to start standing up for themselves and others. We're not alone in this war.


MIM(Prisons) adds:
Stories like this one are a big impetus behind the grievance campaign that MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within(USW) have initiated in prisons across the U.$. We are fighting to get grievances, like the ones this comrades has filed, handled fairly. Write to us for a copy of the petition.

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[Political Repression] [National Oppression] [Tennessee]
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We Are Our Only Obstacle

Prison politics are one of the most corrupt manifestations brought into existence by Amerikkka. They are slavery and Jim Crow in one warehouse. These are warehouses for their legal (illegal) systems of "convicted" slaves. Every one of us who are conscious are political prisoners.

In the crooked fascist state of Tennessee's prison system, or concentration camp system, racism is thriving. The brotherhoods and KKK members are allotted opportunities to study their facades of a culture, miseducated backgrounds. While unequally Afrikans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, etc. of the so-called "minority" groups are classified as STG members when we seek to become more informed about our cultural backgrounds and their legacies. It's a constant battle in the heart of capitalism.

I, myself, have struggled with these oppressors for more than 5 calendar years about them attempting to classify me as an STG member. I've even gone so far as to clearly tell these savages that I'm a revolutionist not a senseless gang banger.

They verbally assault me and the comrades of like mind, hoping to provoke an attack from us because they can't stomach seeing us unite as one mind, one body, one soul. But these fake Nazis do it and it's cool because most prison officials are in one way or another believers in their theories. We must remember this so-called bible belt is the home of the Confederacy and it's confederate concepts of racial superiority along the ideals of Hitler and his Nazism.

Since I've been at this prison, in the north eastern corner of Tennessee it has been no less than 4 white on Black stabbings where the white males who had the blades where treated better in apprehension than the Black/diasporic Afrikan victims. Whites use violence to solve their problems and simply get shipped, minus the acceptable few who are urban oriented. I don't find this a coincidence. While if the Blacks or other "minorities" resort to violence to solve our issue/problems they resort to placing us on max for at least 18 months to 5 years, privileges taken, family communication taken, and then we'll be shipped to another compound after our stretch behind the walls that are behind the walls.

This whole theory alone sounds insane if you ask any conscious human being. If you snitch behind these walls you get privileges unlike the ones who keep silent. And the cowards that do the snitch thang need their tongues cut out and tied around their throats by all revolutionary means. Our cultural celebrations are treated with mockery yet they'll attempt placing you on meds and classifying you as insane/incompetent if you complain, but only because there is no unity amongst the oppressed.

They fear unity, for they know in it there is a power unstoppable. But we must, ourselves, believe it before we can achieve it. We are our only obstacle!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We hold that all prisoners are political prisoners, regardless of their consciousness, because they are in prison for political reasons. Barack Obama can bomb families in Central Asia and walk free, living a luxurious lifestyle while a Black man in an oppressed neighborhood with a little narcotics in his pocket can spend years in prison for possession. That's political.

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[Abuse] [MORGAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX] [Tennessee]
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Guard Brutality Unpunished in Tennessee

This prison is a 100% white employed prison. As you can imagine, there is a great number of racially motivated incidents that occur here. Earlier this year in May, several correctional officers beat a Black prisoner and broke both his arms and gave him brain damage. In response to this beating, many Black prisoners (who were not on max security) responded by attacking several COs and beating them. The local media reported this incident as "inmates rioting against COs and sending 8 of them to the hospital." However, the media failed to report that the beatings of the COs were in response to the lynch mob type beating of a Black prisoner.

The head pig in charge of this beating is named Sgt. Bennett. He single-handedly carried out many beatings of Black prisoners and his only form of discipline for beating the prisoner in this incident was being stripped of his title as a Sergeant and demoted to a Corporal and being placed on third shift. Meanwhile the prisoners involved in the beating of the COs all face additional time added to their sentences and placement on max security for years on end. The pigs who nearly killed a Black man are still employed here at this prison.

I have been incarcerated over 9.5 years and 8.5 years of that have been spent on max security segregation and this is one of the only incidents that I've ever seen in prison in my time where prisoners came together for a common purpose against the prison officials. What amazes me is that the very human desire to fight oppression has seemed to die within the prisons of Tennessee. I have read several accounts of how prisoners in other states have stood up for a common purpose against oppression, yet the prisoners in Tennessee lack the desire to fight oppression. They all complain verbally but if someone such as myself files a grievance on behalf of us all and tries to pass it around for all to sign showing support, 98% of them will refuse to sign because they fear some form of retaliation when the truth is, nothing else can be done to them that hasn't already been done. These pale faced pigs have stolen the very essence of our people which has made us great and allowed us to survive... a will to fight.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we agree that the race of prison guards underscores the racism of the criminal injustice system, we're under no illusions that having Black and Latino guards would change the system. The problem is the system, and the guards are just serving that system. Some may be more brutal than others, but they are all pigs in the eyes of the people.

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[Organizing] [Tennessee]
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To the OGs, Stop the Lie

Brothers we got to correct our backward thinking. You call yourself OGs? Black gangsters got no lore for a Black-men, never have, but you play the script well? OG why blind our youths with lies, false hope, why give them guns to do your dirty work? OG you leave prison wrap up with the right knowledge, but jump right back in the life, and call yourself an OG, but in prison you was fumbata now you are Mac-G. This madness got to stop whatever street tribes you claim: South, East, West, North, and in between, we got to rise above stop lying to our youths, like this is the best of lives being in these concentration kamps, doing time have never been cool, now these kids think it's part of life in order to get OG status. This false status got to die.

This is a call to all older OGs to say stop this false status among our youths. Here in Tennessee we are reversing the old time order of things, we refuse to be followers of reactionary ideals. Our family falls in line with comrade brother George Jackson ideals, Mr. OG please kill that statue. The law of the land is very real. Mr OG you will be judged by your deeds. The klan loves your status, cause they know you will continue to let our youths kill one another. The STG also love your status. Tag by your name Mr OG-Gangster.

This war is real, as the blood that flows on the streets. Mr. OG our youths look up to us inside of these concentration kamps. The judicial system don't care about our youths, we got to save them from this madness. They listen to us and they want to be like us. I've spent half my life in prisons and saw these OGs play the role real good. This system has always been a sanctuary to preserve and proliferate the criminal mentality.

Mr OG, let's rise up, you are the shot caller. Want to kill someone? - hit that criminal mentality - kill it, and bring to life the revolutionary mentality. As comrade brother George Jackson said, we got to transform the criminal mentality into a revolutionary mentality. Let's save our kids. In doing so we also save ourselves. To deceive others is reprehensible, to deceive ourselves is a damn tragedy.

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[Control Units] [Northeast Correctional Complex] [Tennessee]
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Extra time on lockdown during election years in Tennessee

I am a prisoner at Northeast Correctional Center. For 17 months I have been on max (solitary confinement) for assault on a prisoner with major injuries. It was a gang fight, and a bunch of us ended up on max. With an assault charge they are supposed to hold us for six months to a year. But here in the rebel state of Tennessee they got what they call election day, the day they sign a new government into the state office. That takes up to a yeer, the year when the government changes, the wardens around the state of Prisons of Tennessee change also, which also takes up to a year. Being that election day is around the corner, the warden here where I am housed has decided to hold us prisoners until the government has changed and the wardens have changed. We will be housed here until 2012 with a whole bunch of time here on max and a bunch of problems, from racial slurs to profanity, these COs try to keep us prisoners out the box, and you have some prisoners who can't control their tempers and quickly lash out, which leads to more write ups and more time in max. I feel that this is wrong.

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[National Oppression] [Control Units] [MORGAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX] [Tennessee]
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Blacks face longer Max in TN

I'm currently locked up in a racist mousetrap camp called Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, TN. This is the newly built plantation and is "state of the art" as the oppressors boast.

I'm writing and speaking briefly on my struggle as a maximum security prisoner. I have been on maximum security for 7 years and 5 months for a fight (hand on hand, no weapons involved) that resulted in the death of another brother who attacked me. The prison officials never actually took the circumstances surrounding this attack and "investigated" them to collaborate my story of self-defense on a compound I only resided on 5 days before this happened. Instead, they placed me on maximum security and have left me here 23 hours a day for the past 7.5 years.

Since my arrival to max in 2002 it has been a constant battle to maintain my relationships with my family and my wife as well as my daughters. This is by design because the oppressors know that the foundation to any relationship not only is communication but physical contact/visits as well. I haven't been able to so much as kiss or touch my wife or hug my daughter in 7.5 years and that has been not only a physical challenge but an emotional one and mental one as well.

Max security has a "review board" that, every 30 days, makes assessments of a prisoner's behavior and makes recommendations to the warden of whether to release you from max or continue to hold you on max. The warden then decides whether to approve those recommendations or deny them. In the past 19 months the review board has recommended me for release from maximum security a total of 11 times and each time I have been denied release by the warden citing "nature of placement on max." Meanwhile, I am forced to witness white boys being released from max security every day only to return to max 60 days later (or less) and I meanwhile continue to be denied release from max and this is my first time in prison and on max security.

We arrived to this new plantation in May of this year from Brushy Mountain Complex and, to date, since our arrival here, the warden has only released 6 Black prisoners and nearly 70 white prisoners from max security. We're in the mountains and no Black employees work here and the place is 85% white. The Black prisoners request BET or MTV due to the white prisoners having CMT but this request is denied. This is just a small example of where we are and the favoritism shown to whites.

I would advise all of the brothers and sisters to educate themselves about these prisons and not just use your voices to complain but to act on your complaints and take full advantage of your grievance and in house procedures because education and knowledge is the only way to defeat these oppressors. I have obtained a college degree (associates) in applied sciences and have continued to educate myself despite these oppressor's attempts to break me or bury me on max. I have continued to strive for betterment and enlightenment while these oppressors pray for my mental demise because if they can kill your mind, your body will soon follow.

Maximum security has stolen so many brothers minds because brothers lose so much that they snap, but all you brothers and sisters on max or in these prisons, educate yourselves and be determined to survive and utilize your voice because your voice is powerful and it will be heard in time as we continue to collectively come together against these oppressors.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Tennessee]
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Three strikes in California


In the state of California
They say 3 strikes you're out
If you don't know what that means
Let me explain what the game is about
Now strikes are known as felonies
and they can cause some strife
with 2 you're going to prison
with 3 you're going for life
This law will break up families
and uncover societies fears
The streets will fill with blood
and little children's tears
I say the streets will fill with blood
with this law you choose
A two strike prisoner facing life
has nothing left to lose
If you've ever been to prison
I'm sure you understand
A person without their freedom
is like a person without their hands
And what about all the children
and the parents they have lost?
Suicide and welfare lines
are just a fragment of the cost
and what about the prisons
filled beyond their max
it's those who voted for this law
the government will tax
this law was passed in ignorance
by the people of this states
I hope that it is corrected
before it is too late.

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