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.
Enclosed is a Facility Notification of Disapproval of Under Lock & Key No. 45. The effort your group puts forth, and your commitment to your ideology are examples of dedication. But the continual rejection of your materials by the prison is costly to your limited resources. And my returning them to you without getting to read them is costly to me. You should receive a package from me containing materials the prison withheld from me.
I propose you cease mailing your materials to me. I am still going to contribute articles for you to publish. I have an issue of ULK that I've saved in order to show others who you are, what you represent, and so forth. I will use this to encourage them to work with you.
I have considered filing a lawsuit. But upon reviewing decisions in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, it is plain that the court sides with the prison system except in cases involving religious books. (The one non-religious victory: the court did rule in favor of a prisoner denied Ulysses by James Joyce because the prison permitted Playboy and the prison's claim that Ulysses was disapproved for sexual content is ludicrous and hypocritical.)
When it comes to political materials – especially radical views – the court is extremely conservative. The Fourth Circuit (which hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) also has the dubious distinction of being the harshest toward prisoner complaints.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are working with this comrade and a few others in Virginia to determine how best to proceed with the censorship against MIM(Prisons) in that state. We agree that the legal track record in the Fourth Circuit suggests that it's not worth the effort for a prisoner to file a lawsuit fighting the censorship. There is some precedent for organizations and individuals outside of prison having better luck and we do have some strong comrades like this one who can help with legal work. But we need an outside lawyer, knowledgable individual, or organization who can help spearhead the fight in Virginia. If anyone reading this has people on the outside who would be willing to work with us on this important battle, please let us know. And if you are in Virginia, be sure to tell us whether or not you are receiving your copies of ULK, and if you'd like to help with this battle.
In the end this comrade is right that it is only in the long battle that we can really win, when we take power for the oppressed out of the hands of the oppressors. But in the short term, making it possible for comrades to get study and organizing materials behind bars is of critical importance because this is how we can build the movement. Education is our principal task, and this education is hard to accomplish without the ability to communicate and study.
I want to inform you about a new torture tactic being used here in the Security Housing Units (SHU). Since August 3 [2 weeks ago] the staff have been doing what has been termed "security/welfare checks" which entails staff walking by every prisoner's cell every 30 minutes 24/7 and pressing a button that has been installed next to our cells. Due to the design of the SHU the sound everyone and everything makes is louder than it should be and at night we are woken up every thirty minutes due to staff opening/closing the pod door, which is extremely loud, stomping up the stairs to the top tier and back down, and making a loud bang sound when hitting the button next to our cells as they are hitting metal on metal.
During the day it's the same thing except the wand makes a high-pitch beeping sound when hitting the button. So 24/7 it's non-stop excessive noise that doesn't allow us to sleep longer than 30 minutes without being woken up. I feel like I'm living in a dream 24/7 as I'm always stirred and feeling the effects of being denied sleep and not being able to go through my normal sleep cycles. Anyone with common sense can see this is cruel and unusual punishment. The ironic thing is staff say it's to prevent suicides. Yeah let's make a bunch of excessive noise all day and night and not let anyone sleep longer than 30 minutes at any given time, that should prevent suicides. If it's driving relatively stable prisoners crazy I'm sure it's pushing those with mental health issues over the edge.
Also by doing this, even though it's misguided and unnecessary, the CDCR is admitting that the SHU makes people more likely to commit suicide if they need to check on everyone every 30 minutes. I have filed an administrative appeal on this to have it stopped or modified and plan to file a lawsuit if we are not allowed to sleep normally again. In the mean time I'm writing friends/family to call the prison/CDCR head quarters and complain about this, and I'm writing all prison organizations and public servants to make them aware of this new form of torture being conducted.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This sleep deprivation torture tactic has been reported on from San Quentin for some time, and we recently received word from a comrade on pending litigation on this issue:
"I am challenging a blatantly obvious psychological torture program put in play by Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the gulag system in California, as a payback to the SHU guys for the hunger strikes. The CDCR had to throw us, death row, under the bus too, to make it less obvious who the target really is.
"There is a program whereby they come and shine lights in eyes, bang and yell, using a 'beeper' stick to hit the cell tray slots, every 20 to 30 minutes, all day and night.
"In my moving papers I proved it is utterly pointless as stated, as a suicide prevention program. Anyone knows you can commit suicide during the half hour between walks, and also in our unit it takes them over 20 added minutes to get the keys, get shields, and race in and pounce on a guy hanging by the neck. It is specious.
"So I filed saying this is far too onerous to be a mere act of stupidity, it is a malicious torture of the SHU units only (including PSU, psych wards, all lock-up units). If this does not cause suicide, what would? Ha!"
This latest tactic of inhumane sleep deprivation reinforces our point that the settlement of the Ashker v. Brown lawsuit will do nothing to end torture in California prisons. As the comrade above points out, this is not rogue COs, this is facility policy. We received reports over a year prior about the new Guard One torture program. As one comrade pointed out at the time, most deaths in cells are due to medical neglect.
We view the latest behavior by guards at Pelican Bay as a form of retaliation against the prisoners held in SHU, to show them who is in charge and that torture is alive and well in spite of the "successful" settlement. Exposing this consistent mistreatment of prisoners in California is a must to counter the narrative that the modern prison movement has succeeded in transforming the CDCR, or the conditions they submit their prisoners to, in any way.
The acute threat of this form of torture requires an immediate response.
A concerted effort has been taken up by a number of groups supporting the California prison movement to contact the warden to demand an end to this torture.
Write to: Warden Clark E. Ducart Pelican Bay State Prison P.O. Box 7000 Crescent City, CA 95531-7000 email: [email protected] call: (707) 465–1000 ext. 9040
I am a prisoner that's being housed here at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison Special Management Unit (GDCP/SMU). I am here to address the immorality of the conditions that we are facing here on a daily basis.
Below is just a partial list:
pernicious forced beatings
threats by officials while in handcuffs and leg iron shackles
sexual harassments by staff
sexual assaults by staff
mental torture by staff
being shot with stun guns and thrown in strip cells for days at a time without being fed
being denied access to the law library, which is guaranteed by United States law
being served filthy eating trays that have an extremely obscene smell from the trays being washed by hand and then sprayed down with a water hose
being served spoiled food and undercooked food, etc.
On 27 July 2015, over 30% of the prisoners took a stand in a peaceful protest on another hunger strike. This has been a regular strategy here in SMU. We had a hunger strike on 9 December 2010, 12 June 2012, 25 January 2014, and on 9 February 2014. But sadly nothing has changed in the officials' actions or the oppression by the administration. Their oppression strategy is to perplex the minds of the prisoners into thinking like animals.
At least 63% of the prisoners here have been housed at the SMU for over two years without any disciplinary reports on their prison conduct file. Yet the administration is refusing to transfer them back to general population. When prisoners first arrive here at the GDCP/SMU all constitutional rights have been stripped from them, violating due process by law, and equal protection, by not having an institutional hearing to advise the prisoners how long their stay will be at the GDCP/SMU. By law this must be done, otherwise this is as if the Georgia Department of Corrections has kidnapped the prisoners without a proper institutional court hearing. In fact, it's been almost two years since someone has last been transferred out of here, leaving us mentally lost due to being locked down behind an iron door for 23 to 24 hours daily for years without any rehabilitation program to help reinvent the mind. This, I emphasize, is cruel and unusual punishment and deep dark underhanded torturing of humans.
Not only has this refusal of transfers been an underhanded oppression, but the covering up institutional level grievances, from not responding to grievances, destroying them, denied by the administration staffs then writing up the prisoners in disciplinary reports by saying that the prisoners are lying so that this will destroy their credibility for the rest of their time behind bars.
Over the past 6 years behind the walls of the GDCP/SMU there have been so many ongoing sexual abuses by staffs that have been ignored by the administration or covered up, without any investigation outside of the institution, as due process requires by law. And when, or if, investigated inside of the institution, the investigation always comes back not finding any evidence due to administration covering up for their staff. And as a matter of fact, for the past few months, the administration has covered up the actions of sexual abuse by Mr. Phillip King and Mr. Robert Moore, who have carried out gang rapes, sexual assaults, sexual harassment, racist profiles, and other brutalities on Black prisoners. And after their sexual abusive actions, they threaten that if the prisoners tell anyone, that they will kill them and get away with the murders. Now the prisoners live in fear because of the threats, not knowing if poison will be placed into their food.
On 28 July 2015 a prisoner was sexually harassed by Officer Phillip King, while this prisoner was in his cell, with sexual comments of how he wanted to rape him. After the prisoner reported Officer King's sexual abuse under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to officials, the issue was never even taking seriously as the PREA program of no sexual abuse requires in the Georgia Department of Correction. This left an open door for Officer King to return back to work days after and retaliate on the prisoner, and the prisoner was punished by administration.
Consequently on 31 July 2015 another prisoner was sexually abused by Officer Phillip King, and this action was ignored. Then on 5 August 2015, another prisoner was abused by Officer Phillip King. While taking the prisoner to the recreation yard by escort, Officer King physically assaulted the prisoner by body slamming him on his head while in handcuffs and leg shackles for no reason at all. Or should I say by racial profile. And the prisoner was punished after the assault by the depraved administration.
The actions of Officers Robert Moore and Phillip King are truly getting out of hand, along with the underhanded covering up by the administration. And if their actions don't get attention from the outside then the next step could be someone's life, or another sexual abuse. And to support the ones that suffer this struggle, we stand in a massive peaceful hunger strike for the outside support by protesters across the nation.
There are many freedom fighters who have struggled throughout hystory in so many ways. Some used organizing, others the gun and many have used the power of words. Freedom fighters come from a variety of political ideologies and different nations, but what ties them all together is their decision to serve the people. They do this not just in their lives, but in their legacy and what they have accomplished in their lifetime.
This issue of Under Lock & Key is dedicated to freedom fighters of all types. The inspiration for this issue comes from a comrade who wrote in to suggest that everyone write an essay celebrating one freedom fighter who has influenced them. We are printing some of the responses we got in this ULK.
Who are some Freedom Fighters?
Looking at the [email protected] nation we have freedom fighters like Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez, Corky Gonzalez and other [email protected] who fought for the liberation of Aztlán. They dedicated their lives to the nation and still serve as examples to those of us who struggle today.
The New Afrikan nation has freedom fighters like Malcolm X and Angela Davis and others who have set great examples and continue to do so for the oppressed. New Afrikan struggles continue to build on past struggles.
The First Nations have freedom fighters like Leonard Peltier who struggled against Amerikkka in many ways. Peltier today sits in a prison cell because of being a freedom fighter.
Boriqua has freedom fighters like Lolita Lebron and Oscar Lopez Rivera. Lolita went to prison for struggling against Amerikkka and Oscar still sits in a U.$. prison for his work to free Puerto Rico.
All of these people come from the oppressed internal semi-colonies here within U.$. borders. They have inspired people living under U.$. imperialism for decades. But there are many other freedom fighters around the world who have made an impact on all of our consciousness regardless of their political line. People like Leila Khalid, Che, Fanon, Giap, Zapata, Pancho Villa and so many others have showed us what people's fighters look like.
Are there Imprisoned Freedom Fighters?
For many amongst the oppressed nations these colonizer's kkkamps are where freedom fighters end up. Some imprisoned freedom fighters are prisoners of war (POWs), targeted because of their anti-imperialist work on the streets. These freedom fighters will always be found in U.$. prisons because the oppressed will always struggle in so many ways against the oppressor nation. This will continue as long as U.$. imperialism exists.
Other freedom fighters gained consciousness behind the bars and have risen up to lead the movement from within. Many of the freedom fighters in U.$. prisons today can be found in control units because the state targets imprisoned activists. Freedom fighters within prisons are often those who were amidst or leading such prison rebellions as the hunger/work strikes which swept the dungeons of Califas, Georgia, Ohio, etc. in the last few years like a hurricane of collective rage. These prisoners were craving freedom!
Freedom fighters within prisons are those who do not fear the enemy oppressor nation. They do not fear speaking up for prisoners even when they are being attacked by the state. A freedom fighter is anyone who makes a decision to struggle for a better environment within prisons.
How Do Freedom Fighters Awaken the People?
When we think of freedom fighters and our connection to them many conjure up people in hystory who inspire us to rise up. I know when I began to read up on people like Zapata or Pancho Villa it compelled me to read more about the Mexican Revolution. As a [email protected] it helped instill a national consciousness in me. It helped me to understand that it is good to resist Amerikkka and that colonization is bad, not good, despite the bribes.
But there are freedom fighters in the here and now. I would say that every reader of ULK is a budding freedom fighter, and those who contribute in any way to ULK are freedom fighters. We are freedom fighters because we work to free the people.
Reading the hystory of the Mexican Revolution and the freedom fighters who made it happen put me on the road to where I am today as a [email protected] revolutionary. The first time I was handed MIM literature was in a control unit. A New Afrikan handed me a MIM Notes newspaper and after reading it I was turned up! That persyn who introduced me to MIM was a freedom fighter. This is what freedom fighters do: they work tirelessly to build more freedom fighters.
Being a freedom fighter is not doing it for a come up. The people who become freedom fighters are not getting paid to do so. This is a voluntary act, a way of serving the people, often with everything we have.
The legacy of freedom fighters lives on long after we are no longer alive. We help build consciousness while we are alive through our actions. For future generations our actions, thought and struggles will serve as study material and inspiration. Everything we do should educate the people. This means our fellow prisoners on the tier, those on the yard, and our nations at large. Our lives should help develop as many people as we can, in prison or outside of prisons. Freedom fighters should make a difference in all who come to know them, even our outside supporters.
Why the State Fears Freedom Fighters
We should understand that freedom fighters are enemies of the state. It is the freedom fighter who is trying to get FREE from the state. The oppressor nation is what is preventing us from being free, so they would naturally see us as a threat. It's why they label us "security threat groups" and other such names, because our actions and goals threaten their power.
It is important to understand that our existence with the oppressor is not compatible. As long as we are alive we will continue to experience oppression in so many horrible ways. Many will become demoralized, especially when being a freedom fighter does not put you in the majority. Freedom fighters are a small minority within U.$. prisons and U.$. borders. But this should not discourage any one of you. Truth is grasped by a nucleus, a cadre, and not by the majority at first.
When the Bolsheviks first rose up they had a little over a hundred cadre. The Chinese cadre also started out as a handful. But as Tani and Sera put it: "Only those who refuse to see revolution as it actually is, can fail to see the connection between the breakthrough of world socialism and the rebellion of a very small, oppressed nation."(1) Here it is highlighted that a small oppressed nation has the ability to affect world revolution. A minority can affect the majority. The state understands this and it is for this reason that they fear our freedom fighters.
As I was writing this article on freedom fighters I heard on the radio that Hugo "Yogi" Pinell has been killed! Yogi was a real freedom fighter. Rest in power Yogi.
Prison administrators here in State Correctional Institution (SCI) Huntingdon have recently begun to deny all of the programming textbooks that have come in the mail for me, stating that the books contain writings which advocate, assist or are evidence of criminal activity, or facility misconduct. I am unable to properly appeal the publication denials to the facility's superintendent, who told me in person "You're not getting your fucking books." He told me that the decision by the Inmate Publication Review Committee (IPRC) is final, and his responses to my attempts to appeal publication denials reflect this statement. I am unable to use the facility grievance system to file complaints about my mail and incoming publications, which are meant to be handled some other way. I am unable to ask exactly what misconducts or crimes the books advocate, assist in, or are evidence of, and facility staff have been unable to specify.
I am writing to your organization to respectfully request any assistance, or information you may be able to provide which could help to right this wrong. These books are purely educational, and as such are entirely neutral. Disallowing them could not serve any legitimate penological interest.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter shows that education can never be "entirely neutral" under imperialism. Educational textbooks, while generally devoid of any progressive political content, still present a threat to prisons because of the opportunity they provide for educational advancement. Through this education prisoners may become more aware of the basis of the criminal injustice system and their own oppression, and it could lead them to seek out more revolutionary education. Keeping prisoners uneducated is a good way for the oppressor nation to maintain its privileged position.
Denial of books can also be used as punishment for a prisoner who is seen as a trouble maker. The fact that this comrade knows how to file grievances and is working to gain education may be the cause of these denials. Part of the system of social control in prisons is the use of arbitrary rules to contain prisoners who might be a threat because of their understanding of legal rights and their ability to fight for these rights.
For both of these reasons, instead of arguing about what constitutes "legitimate penological interests" we point out that the penological interest really being served by the Amerikan criminal injustice system is social control. Censorship is a key tool the prisons use for this end. And for this reason we focus some of our limited time and resources fighting against censorship. For this comrade we have provided a copy of our guide to fighting censorship. But what we really need, in many states across the country, are lawyers who can help us bring censorship cases to court to establish legal precedent. Of particular priority to us are those cases where the censorship is of explicit political material. Textbook denials like the one described above do happen, but they are far less common than the denial of Under Lock & Key and other revolutionary literature.
14 August 2015 — The long-awaited autobiographical story of NWA, Straight Outta Compton (2015), hit theaters tonight. The action-packed movie glorifies the evolution, and quick dispersal of what they billed as "the world's most dangerous group." While this was part of their hype, there was certainly some truth to the image NWA portrayed and the long-term impact that they had on music and culture in the United $tates. Produced by Ice Cube, with help from Dr. Dre and Tomica Woods-Wright (widow of Eazy-E), the film portrays the history of NWA through their eyes. While generally an accurate history, there are artistic liberties taken in the portrayal of certain events and what is left out.
A key theme of the film is the role of police brutality in shaping the experience of New Afrikans in Compton, particularly young males. There are multiple run-ins with police brutality depicted, and attention is given to the infamous beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and the subsequent riots in Los Angeles that deeply affected all members of NWA. The strong anti-cop message of the movie will resonate with audiences who have been unable to avoid discussion of police murders of New Afrikans over the last year or so. As such, the movie will have a positive impact of pushing forward the contradiction between oppressed nations and the armed forces that occupy their neighborhoods.
Every New Afrikan rebellion in the past year has been triggered by police murders. Murders and attacks on New Afrikans by whites and their police have always been the most common trigger of rebellions since Black ghettos have existed.(1) This was true in the 1960s when the Black Panthers rose to prominence, it was true in the early 1990s after NWA rose to fame, and it's true today when "Black Lives Matter" is a daily topic on corporate and other media. This national contradiction, and how it is experienced in the ghetto, is portrayed in the film by the fact that there are no positive roles played by white characters.
A secondary theme, that surrounded a number of high-profile groups/rappers of the time, was the question of freedom of speech. NWA was part of a musical trend that brought condemnation from the White House and the birth of the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" warning sticker. Ice Cube does a good job of portraying his character as righteous and politically astute, though he self-admittedly embellished from how events truly occurred.(2) We see the strong political stances Ice Cube took in his music after he left NWA, yet, only a glimpse. They do a montage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, but don't touch on Cube's extensive commentary before and after the riots through his music.
They also curiously leave out any mention of Dre's public feud with Eazy-E after Dre left Ruthless Records, though they do spend time on Ice Cube's feuds with Ruthless.
The movie concludes by glamorizing Dre's rise to fame and independence, after being screwed by Jerry Heller (and Eazy-E) while with NWA, and then by Suge Knight for The Chronic album. They portray his success in guiding new artists like Eminem and 50 Cent to successful careers and his marketing of Beats headphones, which were purchased by Apple, Inc. Ice Cube's great success as an actor and producer are also featured, as are a memorializing of Eazy-E and updates on DJ Yella and MC Ren.
While this ending is a logical wrap up of the story of these five artists and where they are today, the focus on the individuals leaves out much of their real legacy. NWA was part of a cultural shift. Like all historical events, what they did represented much bigger forces in society. The character of Ice Cube recognizes this in a press interview in the film when he says they didn't start a riot at a Detroit show, they were just representing the feelings of the youth of the day. As was stressed in that interview, and throughout their careers, NWA members were just reporters speaking on what they were experiencing. And it was an experience that until then was unknown to a majority of Amerikans. Today that experience has become popularized. It is both glamorized and feared, but it has become a prominent part of the Amerikan consciousness thanks to voices like NWA.
While reality rap has been used (and misconstrued) to reinforce racism by many, the real transformatative impact it has had is in bringing this reality to the forefront so that it could no longer be ignored by Amerikans. Again, this pushed the national contradiction in the United $tates, by making all people face reality and take positions on it.
One problem with the movie is the way it leaves the rebelliousness of NWA as something from the past, that has evolved into successful business sense. NWA was one of a number of greatly influential artists at the time that shaped the future of hip hop. When gangsta rap was breaking out, you had real voices leading the charge. Since then it has been reeled in, and there is generally a dichotomy between the studio garbage that gets corporate play and the countless popular artists who have taken rap to higher levels both artistically and ideologically. Today there is a greater breadth of politically astute artists who are quite influential, despite lacking access to the corporate outlets. A montage of the countless "fuck da police"-inspired songs that have been produced since NWA would be a better recognition of their legacy today, than the focus on mainstream success and lives of some of the individual members.
While being a longer movie, Straight Outta Compton seemed to end quickly. There are plenty of exciting musical moments to make NWA fans nod their heads, plenty of fight scenes, if you're into that, and many rebellious statements made by members of NWA that should make you smile. We look forward to the even longer director's cut, which promises to get deeper into some points that are only hinted at in the theatrical release.(3)
As of 1 August 2015, Texas is allowing offenders to grow a "religious" beard. I am assuming they lost a lawsuit. I'm certain it's not out of the kindness of their hearts. However, when I put in a request to start the process of being able to grow a beard I was told I could not work in the front office. I have been the officers' barber pretty much on every unit I have been assigned to. The people in charge gave me a chance to take my name off the beard list. I told them no thanks and I was promptly placed on field squad and my housing was changed. The chaplain at our unit also will not allow offenders to work for him or be on church set up crew if growing a religious beard. The chaplain himself has a mustache. I was also told I did not have approval from the warden to go off-unit with a beard. I am a G1-S2 custody level (outside trustee) and have been for 2 1/2 years. More craziness and oppression in Texas.
Here on Springfellow Unit several issues are occurring that need to be addressed. Disciplinary is out of control! On this unit due process means absolutely nothing when it concerns officers writing disciplinary cases against prisoners. There are numerous bogus disciplinary cases written, and that is why there is no due process. According to the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Offenders Handbook, officers shall first attempt to resolve the issue informally. This is never done here on the Springfellow Unit. When I personally pulled out the rule book and showed one of the officers the proper due process, the officer tried to confiscate my copy of the rules. Even the Major and Captain questioned me on where I received this handbook.
The medical department's Physician's Assistant (P.A.) has a long history of not only removing prisoners' medical restrictions that are supposed to be permanent due to chronic illness, but they also are cutting prisoners' medications by 2/3 in order to save money. I was told personally by P.A. Patricia M. Lecuyer that it's due to the cost of the medication. Naturally this means that they are putting cost over properly caring for the prisoners. The reason their high cost of medication is so far up is due to the $100 co-payment. Prisoners who are charged the co-payment for something as simple as receiving Cold Busters (which by the way happens so often) are submitting more and more sick call requests for everything you can think of just to make sure they're getting a hundred bucks worth of whatever they can. Indigent prisoners are doing this because they can receive medication without having to pay the co-payment, and then selling the medication to other prisoners who do not want to pay the co-payment for something as simple as the common cold. Due to all this, those like me who really need the medications to manage my respiratory system (i.e. COPD) and high blood pressure are being reduced by 2/3 the amount of medication.
To the comrade who submitted the article "Texas Hides Grievance Manual" on a memo by Access to Courts Supervisor Frank Hoke, take these words of wisdom.
The grievance procedure was certified by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and Southern District of Texas in 1989. In 1999 the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) and Agency officials approved the Offender Grievance Operations Manual (OGOM) and screening criteria. Pursuant to Board Policy (BP) 03.77,
"The resolution support manager shall establish and maintain the Offender Grievance Operations Manual (OGOM) to provide guidance to employees regarding the offender grievance procedure. ... Instructions on how to use the offender grievance procedure shall be established separately from the OGOM for distribution to offenders and employees. Provisions for training, education, and implementation of the offender grievance procedure shall be established in AD-03.82, 'Management of Offender Grievances' and the OGOM." Signed by Oliver J. Bell, Chairman TBCJ
Note the last part in BP-03.77 "shall be established in AD-03.82." In AD-03.82, the Resolution Support Manager is responsible for oversight of access to courts, offender grievance and Ombudsman. Section I of AD-03.82 establishes the set criterion of emergency and specialty grievance. Furthermore, AD-03.82 Section IV A states: "Copies of BP-03.77 ... and this directive, as well as instructions on how to use the offender grievance procedure shall be available at each unit, to include copies in the law library." AD-03.82 Section VI A states: "The resolution support manager shall direct, administer, supervise, and manage the implementation and operation of the offender grievance procedure without interference by any employee."
The memo you described was not issued by Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ). So it is null and void, being it amends AD-03.82 and BP-03.77. On Page 1 Chapter II of the OGOM titled "Authority" it states: "AD-03.82 'Management of Offender Grievances'. Establishes agency expectations and the fundamental groundwork for the effective operation of the Offender Grievance Program. The administrative directive is more specific than board policy and supports the grievance process by providing a basis for the offender grievance operations manual."
Notice that the Access to Courts is not the agency that is responsible or authorized to make policy or amendments to policy or revisions. The Access to Courts is violating the Liberty Interest Protections in AD-03.82, being that Frank Hoke is not authorized to amend oversight policy or the OGOM. These revisions unauthorized by Oliver J. Bell have not been tested for constitutionality and changes AD-03.82 in violation of Texas law and Texas constitution articles 1, 13, and 17. Please read the article titled "Right to Assist others with Legal Work" in ULK 42 and you will see why they are doing this. Law library staff violate privacy rights, copying letters, which they send to Access to Courts for review. An Access to Courts violation has occurred which impedes, hinders or denies these rights. There has been no change in AD-03.82 or BP-03.77. Hoke's memo will only go in effect if we allow it. This is an unauthorized confiscation of OGOM without reason of safety or security justification. See Corby v. Conboy, 457 F2d 251 (1972). Always keep the pigs within the "pen," or they will eat up your rights and liberty and defecate corruption, that will abolish the smell of peace, and make the path of unity impossible to walk.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The knowledge of the invalidity of this practice within Texas prisons is certainly something we can use in our fight to remedy this repression. Prisoners in Texas should take the information above and apply it to their struggle to get the grievance manual put back into facility law libraries across the state. If someone puts together a sample grievance, petition, or other organizing tool then we can distribute it as part of our Texas Activist Pack.
But we also know that just because something is illegal or invalid doesn't mean that the state will ever actually be held accountable, or be made to follow law. This is evidenced in prisons all across the country, and on a broader scale by the illegal settlement of Palestine by I$rael and the many illegal atrocities committed by the United $tates and imperialist corporations all across the world. Those with power will do whatever suits their interests. A grievance campaign might help us win small victories. But we can't be deluded into thinking that if we just point out to them that they are breaking the law they will change their behavior.
Mumia Abu-Jamal explains this well in the book Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. In the Preface, Mumia hammers home the point that law is what a judge decides in the moment; that they make it up as they go along. In a discussion about what makes jailhouse lawyers go crazy, Delbert Africa explains to Mumia,
"It drives they ass crazy 'cuz they cain't handle the fact that the System just make and break they laws as it see fit! How many treaties they done signed with the Indians? Ain't a one of 'em they done kept! Some of 'em broke 'em befo' the ink was dry on 'em old treaties! Them the same folks who run this System today! If they couldn't keep a treaty with Indians when they first got here, what make you think they gonna keep they so-called law today, especially when it come to me and you, man?"
Mumia pushed Africa to explain further why this makes jailhouse lawyers go crazy, and Africa responded,
"They go crazy becuz, Mu, they really believe in the System, and this System always betray those that believe in it! That's what drive them out of they minds, man. They cain't handle that. It literally drives them out they mind. I see 'em around here, walkin' 'round here dazed, crazy as a bedbug!"
Mumia follows this conversation with an anecdote about a jailhouse lawyer he knew from death row who insisted his appeal would be granted because his argument was so "black and white" that the judge "gotta" go for it. But as Mumia explained to this brother,
"They do what they wanna do, man! Just 'cuz it says something in one case, they don't have to go by that case, man. I agree with you, that you got a damn good argument — and you should prevail — but I don't go for that 'gotta' rap!"
While we want to hold our oppressors publicly accountable as much as we can, these struggles are more about highlighting inadequacies of the injustice system and agitating for others to join our struggle against capitalism and imperialism. When we do win a legal battle, we take it as an opportunity to build space for more revolutionary organizing. We ultimately need to wage a protracted, long-term struggle (that eventually will be an armed struggle) against this oppressive legal and economic system under which we attempt to live. In the meantime, we agree with Mumia that "the law ain't nothing but whatta judge say the law is."
As of right now the konvicts here at U.S. Penetentiary (USP) Big Sandy are on lockdown due to a racial riot. This is what the pigs want. I blame the pigs for setting up this atmosphere by creating tension amongst the konvicts by applying oppression along with repressive tactics. Instead of the konvicts challenging the pigs, they attack each other. But I also blame us komrades here at Big Sandy for not agitating and mobilizing the masses.
Those of us who are conscious with revolutionary theory should be educating others. Teach the konvicts why they exist in the condition that they are in. Help them to understand that they are victims of an economic system. All crimes can be traced to socio-economic conditions. We are at war politically, socially, economically and culturally. We must educate the prisoners so that they will understand the true function of the prison system and know why are we here. This is especially true for the New Afrikans.
Black men comprise over 40% of death row inmates. There are at least 2.5 million people in Amerika's institutions and over 50% are New Afrikans. 24.7% of New Afrikans live below poverty while only 11.4% of whites live below poverty. New Afrikans serve 20% more of their sentences with crimes similar to whites. Amerika is number one when it comes to the world's prison population, but is number forty-three when it comes to the world's education. Why is this?
We must figure out a way to reach the konvicts here so that we can begin to challenge the injustices that are being inflicted upon us. I've met komrades who use the excuse of getting sent to isolation if they take the initiative. The revolution is not a dinner party. It's supposed to be suffering. We are at war with a vicious paper tiger. This is why we call it a struggle. I understanding the meaning of a clandestine army but damn! We can't keep using this clandestine strategy as an excuse to action. That's some coward shit.
I understand being clandestine if you're doing the people's work, but sitting around playing chess, smoking weed, drinking, and just being idle and doing nothing isn't clandestine. Jumping on other konvicts isn't the peoples work. That's a form of individualism as well as being reactionary, unless it's in self-defense. That's why the Black Panther Party was first started: to defend themselves and the community. This prison is our community and it's our job as vanguards to defend the community. We cannot forget the legacy of George Jackson and the other komrades who fought and died for the people. Their spirit is in us and we must carry on the torch. The dragon has awaken. Can't stop! Won't stop!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides some important facts about the reality of national oppression within U.$. borders. The disproportionate lockup of oppressed nations is part of the system of imperialism that continues to oppress internal colonies within U.$. borders. And we echo this writer's call for the oppressed to stand up and take action. Even if it's just forming a study group, or sharing your Under Lock & Key with others. There is much education and organizing work to be done. MIM(Prisons) can support your work, write to us to get involved and put your time behind bars to good use.