Prisoners Report on Conditions in

State Correctional Institution Chester - Federal

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.

[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 63]

Fighting On Thru Broken Spirits

fighting on

Recently I was transferred here to SCI Chester and was shocked at the difference in the prisoners here compared to my comrades at SCI Greene, SCI Pittsburgh, and SCI Somerset. This facility is very different. A program was incorporated here called welfare to work which allowed many welfare recipients from the surrounding area to be hired at this prison. Now I'm all for giving the underprivileged opportunities but this prison is so "Ratchet" now it's ridiculous. Staff does not do their jobs here. Grievances are ignored, campaigns challenged, and anyone who speaks out is locked down for "inciting a riot" and promptly transferred. With mostly short-term prisoners at this "program prison" prisoners are afraid to fight for their rights out of fear for negative marks on their record for parole.

I've been putting in non-stop paperwork since arriving and all I've accomplished is gaining the ire of my unit manager and other staff. I have even been threatened. I have succeeded in starting an anti-imperialist study group but am persecuted for it. My unit manager lies and makes up reasons to put me on "cell restrictions" so I can't hold group. But I keep pushing and have gotten some other prisoners to start standing up for themselves. But none of our paperwork is being addressed. 90% of the time we receive no response whatsoever.

I have no idea how they get away with it. You would think these staff members who were underprivileged and grew up in the streets like we did would be more sympathetic to our plights but instead they go on power trips and neglect most of their duties. These types of people are why we can't make classless society work. It seems all our efforts here are in vain. We are sending out a call for help; any assistance or advice will be greatly appreciated. Spirits seem broken here at SCI Chester and comrades are dropping out of the struggle and though it is dissuading I will not quit. I will remain constantly a soldier on the front lines of this war. But I'm calling for backup.

MIM(Prisons) responds: While this writer sees the Welfare to Work program at SCI Chester as the cause of repression, many prisons without this program have similar conditions. We can't speak to the effects of this program specifically, but more generally we know that many prisons are built in communities where job opportunities are limited. And that people generally don't take jobs as prison guards out of a desire to help people; just as with most capitalist jobs, people are working for the money.

More generally this writer's letter raises the question of why so many people working in prison perpetuate oppression rather than being kind and helpful to prisoners. There is evidence that oppressing people is not an inherent characteristic of humyns. Instead, this is a result of the economics of capitalism and our capitalist culture. First there is the economic side of things: the vast majority of people in this imperialist country are getting paid more than the value of their labor. They are basically being bought as supporters of imperialism. So when they get paid well to work in an institution that is based in social control and torture of other humyns, they're ok doing it because that's part of supporting capitalism.

Second we have capitalist culture which trains people to be ok with harming others and exerting power over others. There have been studies that show that even random people put in a situation where someone in charge tells them to hurt another persyn, most will do it because they're told to. Most famously in the United $tates there was the Stanford Prison Experiment back in 1971.

But there also has been huge social experiments such as the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s and 70s which showed that even people who formerly were oppressors with great power can be re-educated and become peaceful productive members of society. It's not easy, and we won't win on the re-education front on a mass scale until we have the power to implement a cultural revolution to eradicate a system that values and glorifies power and oppression.

Rather than despair and say that these guards are why we can't make classless society work, we say these guards are exactly why we need socialism and a dictatorship of the proletariat. Clearly we have a lot of work to do to re-train and re-educate people so that they respect all humyns and act kindly towards others. We need a system that is set up to serve the oppressed and forcibly stop those who want power for themselves for persynal gain. The system of socialism will require a long period of cultural revolution, where we transform our culture into one that values humyn life and teaches people to treat others equally rather than valuing power and wealth at any cost to others. It will be a long struggle to reach a society where there is no class, nation or gender oppression. But it is the only path to survival for humynity.

[Drugs] [Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 60]

Pennsylvania Drug Situation is a Call to Unity

I am currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania at the State Correctional Institution: Chester. And every day as I look around this place I'm forced to live in, all I see is a growing number of "synthetic snaps." When I first came to state prison in 2006 drugs were an issue but not like they are today. These new cheaper, and more easily obtainable synthetic drugs such as suboxone or subutex and K-2 synthetic marijuana, are making prison society worse and more depressing than ever. These subs cause withdrawal symptoms like heroin and are causing convicts to throw away their solidarity to scumbag each other in pursuit of their next fix.

Suboxone strips are flat and very easy to smuggle into prisons and all one needs to obtain them on the streets is to test positive for opiates at a clinic to receive up to 90 strips a month for a small co-pay. They then smuggle them into the prisons where they can sell for up to $100 apiece wholesale which is like a 10,000% profit which is irresistible to most "hustlers."

This new opiate replacement has prisons in an uproar. Convicts are stealing from and robbing each other to get just a little "piece" to chase away their withdrawal symptoms. And our RHUs are filled with "protective custody" inmates who ran up drug debts on credit that they couldn't cover.

Then we have the so-called "synthetic marijuana" product K-2. I was an avid marijuana smoker on the streets and this stuff is way different than blowin a sacc of loud. K-2 can cause violent outbursts, passing out, seizures, suicide attempts, and serious mental breakdowns. I have seen people attempt to fly over the fence earning them escape charges. People lose touch with reality and lash out at everyone around them. Guys pass out standing up, cracking their heads open, and to top it off a guy on my block at SCI: Somerset went all zombie on his celly biting him on his face and arms. This stuff is more like bad PCP than marijuana. It just blows my mind that synthetics are causing more problems than their "real" counterparts.

We as a united front against the injustice system need to stop trying to capitalize off the downfall of our comrades, and utilize our efforts to solidify our ranks against our oppressors. The rapper Meek Millz is a prisoner here at Chester with me and has stated that even growing up on the drug-laden streets of Philadelphia he couldn't imagine a cell block in prison so closely resembling a drug block in the badlands of his home city. We can't continue to give the oppressors more ammo to use against us. I understand that boredom, hopelessness, and other forms of incarceration depression tend to drive us to find ways to numb us. But let's try to come together and help our comrades strive to kick habits they have already acquired, and to prevent anyone from picking one up.

This is just another battle we need to unite to win. Whether you're White, Black, or Hispanic, Crip, Blood, Latin, or Aryan, come together for the greater good of convicts everywhere. Pay attention, comrades, because Amerikkka wants to catch us slippin'.

MIM(Prisons) responds: In the November issue of Under Lock & Key we got deep into the issue of drugs in prison. All writers agreed it's a big problem, though what is used and how the problem plays out varies from state to state and even within each prison. And a lot of folks came to the same conclusion as this comrade: we need to stop trying to make money off the suffering of others and instead come together against the injustice system. This letter is a good follow-up to that issue of ULK because we need to keep this topic front and center as we work to find ways to help people kick the habit and join the revolutionary movement.

Are you helping comrades kick their drug habits? What methods and tactics are you using? What have you tried that didn't work, and why? What harm reduction tactics can we try to employ? What about counseling techniques? The State isn't going to fix this problem for us. We need to make our own interventions and support systems.

[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania]

SCI Chester: An Alternate Reality

I am writing once again to personally thank you for the contributions you make for self aware prisoners everywhere. Through my anti-imperialist discussion groups I feel I'm helping these brothers open their eyes. The study material you send me helps immensely. As a ranking member of The Insane Crip Gang I preach the Communist movement to all my lil' homies. I give my assistance to any who I can help with grievance process, litigation, or anything involving violation of rights. It's a terrible time with their hate fueled mass murders and it doesn't help that more and more police brutality keeps happening and pigs keep violating our rights constantly.

Currently we at SCI: Chester D-pod have a tyrannical unit manager named Ms. Bourne who is obsessed with her power and does anything to try to break us. She shows open racism and only does her job when it involves one of her "pets" (inmates who kiss her ass and provide her with info). She is currently trying to enforce her own rules not part of DOC policy and treats D-pod as its own entity separate from the rest of the jail. She puts up bulletins constantly changing rules like "must remain seated in the exact same spot through the entire rec period or will be punished" which isn't sanctioned by the D.O.C. She also she took away the chairs at the phones so as to make the brothers uncomfortable when speaking to families. She steals the grievances from the box so she can remove ones she doesn't approve of before they are picked up by the grievance coordinator. She openly calls caucasian brethren crackers and honkies, and refuses to provide any assistance to them.

90% of the pigs here are women. SCI: Chester was part of a program called Welfare to Work which gave jobs at the prison to female welfare recipients in the area who are not qualified even for this glorified babysitter position. They are blatantly disrespectful, abusive, racist, and several of them have known drug addictions themselves.

After 11 years in prison and being incarcerated at 7 others prisons, this place is another world. It's a complete joke. It is close to impossible to get a grievance form and they don't even carry grievance appeal forms. Requests to staff go unanswered. And maintenance issues are rarely resolved - the ventilation for half of D-pod has been completely broken for months in cells with no ability to open the windows. This causes inhumane conditions (extreme heat and extreme cold). Stale air causes sore throats and illness in prisoners. Roughly 50% of cells' cable outlets are out of order and if you pay for cable services and are moved to one of these cells it takes months to be repaired and they refuse to refund the money taken from brothers' accounts. The pigs blatantly lie to give misconducts to prisoners they dislike and are known to discard mail being delivered to these disliked prisoners.

Prisoners who "hustle" by making handmade candy out of mixing assortments of Jolly Ranchers, taffy, sourballs, jellybeans and other candy from commissary and forming it into different shapes are being given drug related misconducts as the security team is claiming the candy tests positive for opioids, because when the candy is placed in the NiK test it changes the color of the water purple. Here's a fact: all Jolly Ranchers contain some combination of colored food dyes most containing purple or a combination that can create purple. The pigs' stupidity is either worse than I thought or they are just finding new ways to be openly vindictive.

And finally the newest issue here at SCI: Chester. At the beginning of the month of November the D.O.C.'s budget cut shut down over 1,000 halfway center beds and rescinded parole from all those who were already paroled to those beds forcing them to stay in prison at SCI: Chester for an undetermined amount of time until the D.O.C. can find places to send them. So even though these brothers completed their prescribed programming, stayed misconduct free and did everything else they needed to do in the eyes of the D.O.C. and were granted parole by the Parole Board and received their green sheets (release papers) they are now subjected to wrongful imprisonment here at good ol' Chester. I ask you brothers at ULK what else could go wrong here? It's so bad brothers are talking about using violence and catching new charges just to get a negative based transfer to ANY other facility possible.

I'm running my communist based anti-imperialist groups here, but what else can I do? I feel helpless and I can't stand seeing my brothers and myself treated like this any longer. I'm asking for any support or answers ULK and any brothers reading this can offer me. The struggle is real.

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