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.
by a North Carolina prisoner October 2015 permalink
I'm writing you in regards to my personal (incoming & outgoing) mail at Lanesboro Correctional Institution. Since I've been on Anson Unit (segregation), correctional staff have been confiscating my (and about 50 other prisoners) incoming and outcoming personal mail.
The mailroom staff, and Anson Unit Managers (Mr. Hatley & Mrs. Wieks) and their staff (Sgt. Allen, Officer Mack, Officer Jones, Officer Tillman, and Officer Harrington), are all conspiring to deprive me (and about 50 other prisoners) of my (our) rights to communicate. They are using all types of frivolous excuses to try to cover it up.
When it comes to NCDPS Division of Adult Corrections "mail policy & procedure" it doesn't specify who's to deliver or pick up the mail. The mailroom staff doesn't deliver our mail, but in actuality they should, because they are solely responsible for it. When the mail is picked up from the post office, by the mailroom staff, they sort it out, place the prisoners "housing unit" & "cell number" on the letters, then they send the mail to each housing unit, for the officers on each unit to pass out. By doing this the burden shifts towards the unit managers and their officers. But anytime I or any othe prisoner inquire about the mail delivery problems, unit management or their staff tells us to write the mailroom. So, what's happening is that they're shifting the burden back and forth to where the problems are never getting resolved.
Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has just enacted a gang program, which is nothing shy of draconian. Even for a state that is draconian to begin with.
It started when these pigs separated all of the inmates who were not listed as "STG" from the inmates who were considered part of the "Security Threat Group." Federal law allows violation of prisoners' Constitutional rights during times of emergency, when there is a "threat to the security of the institution." By naming inmates a "security threat," they are basically saying that these inmates have no Constitutional rights. They are being forced to shower in chains, handcuffs and shackles, and are pretty much being denied any and all rights.
The gang program is locked down 23 hours a day, and requires going 6 months infraction free to step down a single step. There are 3 steps in all, and a class of "STG associate" after that. This could force prisoners to go infraction free for 2 full years to get out of the program. Along with this program came a whole new set of rules which makes it nearly impossible to go infraction free without favoritism from the police. Of course, the only way you get that is by snitching, which in such an environment would get a prisoner killed. Being listed as an associate could be justified by something as small as an officer's claim that you said something gang-related, or even my writing this article.
In response to this new policy, prisoners on 3 of the 8 STG blocks have declared a hunger strike. More prisoners on the STG unit are doing the same, in an attempt to break down this program in its infancy. The pigs are responding by cutting off their communication so they cannot be heard. I only learned of this by accident when a "Non-STG" prisoner was moved into my block to make room for more STG blocks.
This policy is being carried out in many states as we speak. Gang members are still human beings, and therefore entitled to the same protections as everyone else. Prisoners need to stand together everywhere and shut this down before it goes into full effect.
On 14 February 2014, I won a very small victory in my struggle against the oppression of political beliefs in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.
On 10 February 2014, I received two notices from the mail room, indicating that both the November/December (#35) and the January/February (#36) issues of Under Lock & Key were being rejected. The reasons given were that these publications supported "disobedience and insurrection."
Due to the fact that ULK #35 was already on the banned publication list, I was not permitted to appeal this rejection, however, I was permitted to appeal the ULK #36 because it had not yet made the master list held by NCDAC.
I brought up a constitutional argument about how prisons cannot maintain a list of banned materials, my right to my political beliefs, and the fact that a prison can not ban a publication just because it does not approve of the organization it comes from. This was decided in a court case called Williams v. Brimeyer, 116 F. 3d 351, 354 (8th circuit 1997). I also argued that ULK does not promote insurrection and disorder, yet uses prison issues to promote peaceful change to both prisons and the outside world through education and the study of politics.
Surprisingly, when mail came today, issue 36 of ULK had been returned to me. Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe in and not give up. For anybody who faces the rejection of the ULK newsletter, I would like to make known, that ULK does not contain a significant security risk to prisons, and therefore is constitutionally protected. If your newsletter has been rejected, I strongly recommend that you fight for it on this basis. Do not allow anyone to silence the struggle.
by a North Carolina prisoner January 2014 permalink
Two recent stories in Durham, North Carolina show a clear pattern of law enforcement and the judicial system overstepping its boundaries. On 15 December 2013, officer Markeith Council, a Wake County Jailer, was found guilty of "involuntary manslaughter," after he slammed a prisoner on his head, not once, but twice.(1) The evidence showed that the prisoner, who was unarmed, and weighed less than half that of the 290 lb Council, was unconscious after initially hitting the concrete floor. The autopsy showed a severe laceration to the prisoner's skull, and several crushed vertebrae in his neck. This prisoner was incarcerated for an open container, drug paraphernalia, and a failure to appear, crimes that apparently now carry a death sentence.
The officer was only sentenced to a term of 90 days, and will spend all of his time in protective custody, no doubt receiving special privileges from former co-workers.
In the second story, a Durham teen, Jesus "Chuy" Huerta, was shot to death while his hands were cuffed behind his back in the back of a police car, in police custody. The teen was shot in the head, after being searched by the officers, and not found to be carrying a weapon.
Here's the kicker: the police investigation determined that the teen shot himself in the side of the head while handcuffed in the back of the car. The reports were only released after protests.
During a candlelight vigil for Huerta, police in riot gear fired canisters of tear gas at mourners, and forced them to disperse.
In "Common Sense," Thomas Pain wrote: "Common sense should tell us that the powers which have endeavored to subdue us, are of all others, the most improper to defend us." The bourgeoisie cannot be reformed. Voting in new oppressors won't change things. The system is broken, it cannot be fixed. The oppressors, through reform, will only withdraw, make empty promises, and come back harder to crush the oppressed. Those afraid to endanger themselves don't realize that they are already in danger. We are in danger from a group that will stop at nothing to maintain a stranglehold on us.
Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has been locked down since a single prisoner, acting alone, cut an officer on 15 November 2013. The prisoner, to my understanding, isn't even at this camp anymore. For weeks prisoners were forced to shower in full restraints (handcuffs, shackles, black box, waist chains, locks), and the lock-down is still 24 hours a day. Prisoners are only allowed to leave their cells to shower, or to go to work. There is no recreation, and food trays are served in the cells. All other activities have been halted until further notice. There is no foreseeable end to this "institutional lockdown," and staff are still claiming "security reasons," even though there hasn't been another incident since 19 November 2013. Until prisoners learn to stand together, this is the way things will remain.
[UPDATE: A prisoner corrected the above report, changing November 19 to November 15. S/he reports they went to shower in handcuffs and the water was unusually cold, but they were not under full restraints, lock box, chains etc. As of 19 February 2014 they are still on modified lockdown, where they are allowed out of their cell 2 hours a day, 24 people at a time.]
MIM(Prisons) adds: This author is right that the incidents of violence on the streets and in the prisons are all related, and all part of a larger system of oppression that perpetuates the system of imperialism. This is a system that relies on the subjugation of some nations by others, both globally and within U.$. borders. The white nation has the power, and the oppressed nations in the United $tates are disproportionately locked behind bars, and victims of police brutality and murder. Even with a Black figurehead (Obama), the white nation still has the power and control. Statistics tell the story of the very few New Afrikans and Latin@s in positions of power (lackeys and figureheads) while these nations suffer the highest percentage of incidents of police brutality and imprisonment, far higher than their representation in this country overall.
And so we agree with this comrade that reforms will not fundamentally change the system of imperialist oppression. But still we must fight for those rights that will better enable us to educate and organize, while building towards the long term goal of revolution to overthrow the imperialist system.
by a North Carolina prisoner November 2012 permalink
In late September of this year, in a fight between a few prisoners, a prisoner was killed and another prisoner was seriously wounded and is still in critical condition. The incident happened at Lanesboro Correctional Institution and we have been on lockdown since it occurred. The administration discontinued visitation for regular population and segregated inmates, cut telephone privileges for everyone, and regular population was limited to ordering only five items, three times a week, and three showers a week. Recreation was taken from regular population indefinitely, which caused them to remain in their rooms for 24 hours a day for days at a time.
The strange thing about this entire event is when Superintendent Parsons was questioned on the Channel 9 news based in Charlotte, North Carolina, about what exactly happened, he responded by saying 148 prisoners had a "brawl" in which a prisoner was killed. The media then debased the prisoner who was killed and devoted the entire segment to discussing how he was shot by police in 1999 in an attempted escape. Nothing was said about why this prisoner-on-prisoner stabbing occurred, or about the dozens of other stabbings that happened throughout this year. Nor did they mention the illegal and inhumane "dry cells" that were mandated by the administration, leaving almost 100 prisoners in rooms with feces covering the entire dorm.
As of now, all of the questionable events are being investigated by the State Bureau Investigation Unit and Laneseboro Correctional Institution may be looking at grave consequences. But why did these events end so brutally? Why did it take a prisoner losing his life for the administration, the Governor, and law enforcement to get involved? First let's take a look at what led up to these times we are in.
At the start of the year, the prison administration promoted the idea that gang violence was the cause of dozens of stabbings occurring statewide which put several close custody camps on lockdown for weeks and even months. Here at Lanesboro, that soon subsided and things were back to "normal." Then early June, the Prison Emergency Response Team (PERT) raided the prison, where nearly 100 prisoners were placed in "dry cells" where we were in our cells 24 hours a day for a week. PERT officers weren't allowing us to flush our toilets, which caused them to become clogged. aIn protest we threw our feces out into the dayroom, leaving the entire dorm in a heap of feces. Prisoners were forced to eat, clean our bodies, and sleep in this stench. Also prisoners were forced to have x-rays to find drugs, cell phones or weapons. This led to many lawsuits being filed.
What happened next indicates how much the Lanesboro administration cares about prison life. A stabbing had occurred in which one prisoner's neck was cut. A prisoner involved was placed in segregation along with the prisoner who had his throat cut. The administration then released the assaulted prisoner into regular population after one week and placed him in the same pod as his enemies. This set off four consecutive stabbings in less than two hours around the prison.
They momentarily locked us down. When we came off, two days later a prisoner was killed. Another strange thing is the prisoners who did the killing didn't live in the dorm where the killing occurred, and neither did the prisoner who was killed. This means the officers had to let these prisoners into a dorm where they didn't live.
So we see the perpetuation of violence by the Lanesboro administration who place known enemies in the same dorm. Obviously they're not trying to stop the violence. This perpetuation of violence results in lockdowns where they take all of the prisoners "privileges" in an attempt to further control us. It's obvious these lockdowns did not halt the violence. In fact, evidence shows that violence in prisons across the country increases after a lock down (see the documentary Unlock the Box). But the puzzling part is when they take away our "privileges," we gladly accept it instead of resisting. There were only a few people filing grievances, filing lawsuits, taking progressive actions against the beast, but there were many complaining.
Why do these violent acts continue to occur? To understand the simple answer you just have to look at conditions here. We have to wait 90 days to receive a job, even unit jobs. They're denying some of us from even enrolling in school or extra-curricular activities. They barely even offer any extra-curricular activities. All we have to occupy our time is TV, yard and gym. Prisoners have no activities to engage in, and so just hang around the dorms. With the state building medium custody facilities right beside the close custody facilities, the administration says all "good" jobs (kitchen workers and other important jobs) will be taken by medium custody prisoners. This will ultimately have more of us in our dorms unable to work, and so prevented from getting gain time and being shipped to a "better" facility. It will destroy morale and cause some to lash out and perpetuate the prisoner-on-prisoner violence.
So why do these events continue to happen? Because the administration wants it to! They perpetuate violence. They don't care about prisoners' lives, and they are never going to solve the true problems. Therefore, it is up to us to remedy our own situations by uniting and never splitting. We need to take the rebellious actions against these oppressors and force them to recognize their policies aren't working. We must come together and get an understanding and peace with one another so they won't have to enforce any policies anyway.
We don't want them to do their jobs because their jobs are to repress, suppress and oppress us, to hinder us from uniting and fighting the true injustice. As superintendent Parsons lied to the public media, they lie to us as well. And we have to show them we won't tolerate it any longer. Unite and resist and our conditions will get better because "We" will make them better!
I was transferred to Lansboro CI on May 27. Lansboro is said to be the "most dangerous prison in North Carolina" and next on the list is Scotland. Recently, on June 6, the Prison Emergency Rescue Team (PERT) raided the prison 200-300 deep and ripped it apart. Their main purpose was to find drugs, weapons and most of all cell phones. They really wanted the cell phones to shut off any chances of communication from prison to prison. Their goal was to eliminate any chance of a future mass movement and current communication from top rank "gang" leaders.
In all, there were about 70-100 people who were nabbed. The PERT team brought with them a sensor detector (an enhanced metal detector used at airports) that they forced everyone to walk through. This detects drugs, weapons or cell phones. The people who set the detector off were then taken to "dry cell", in which the prisoner had nothing in their cells but their boxers, shower shoes and mattress. They were made to stay there for 48 hours until they used the bathroom - in which the officers would search the feces for contraband.
In their search for cell phones (which prisoners had hidden in their rectum), they also put the entire prison on lockdown until all contraband was confiscated. In the midst of the confusion, the PERT team confiscated some of our hygiene, threw prisoners religious items on the floor, personal pictures in the toilet and trash and even assaulted a couple of my brothers - all just as harassment.
These 70-100 prisoners have been sitting in an empty cell with feces in their toilets for 2-5 days; most of them have no contraband on them. After they have defecated, they will be forced to go through an x-ray machine, which the prison needs the prisoners' signed permission for, and they do not have it.
Our human rights have been violated by these oppressive prison officials and it must be resolved by the prisoners first. We must take a stand against this bullshit they think they can pull on us. Out of all 70-100 people they nabbed, they have only reported to have found 10-20 cell phones and modicum amounts of drugs and weapons. Their lack of effort to resolve the situation and get on with confiscating instead of leaving prisoners in their cells with feces is not only inhumane, but a prolonging of having the prison on lockdown. We have been on lockdown since June 6.
Segregation pods are already overcrowded to the point where they have prisoners on dry cell in the receiving area. They have to transfer prisoners due to so many receiving long-term isolation sentences (between 6 months and 1.5 years.) Prisoners here must turn our frustration and anger against our oppressors instead of each other. But I can say it is very difficult to do when you always have to watch your back because someone may stab you or your brothers at any moment - which is rampant here. It is possible, but it will take a hellava push by tribe members, who control this prison! Let's get to work!!!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for unity among the Lumpen Organizations (LOs) in prison. Many individuals and organizations have signed on to the United Front for Peace in Prisons to move the struggle against the criminal injustice system forward. The first principal of the UFPP is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."
Greetings from NC, I am writing to you to request that you send my daughter your newsletter. She is confined in a Virginia prison in Troy, VA. From what I hear there are men guards who regularly bully and physically abuse women there. My daughter has communicated to me that on one recent occasion, a male officer broke a female prisoner's arm.
In one of my letters I tried to send her information and addresses for resources in VA that could help them fight their oppression but due to their overbearing censorship of mail, she never received that information. Those women are on the verge of rioting to get justice for all of the persecutions and afflictions that are being perpetuated upon them by guards. All they need is a little push of inspiration to help them along. They need to know that there are thousands of us similarly situated who support them and who are comrades with shared agendas.
Please send her some literature to share with others and if possible to let her know her father and his friends (you) are behind her en masse.
The last newsletter received from you was Under Lock and Key, March 2012. We are finally off of lockdown here at Lanesboro prison and Captain Covington has been fired as well as our superintendent for destroying video footage of guards beating inmates.
If we all worked together and against the prison industrial complex as a team, we could accomplish and acquire so many rewards.