Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Virginia Prisons

Got $20? Slip it in an envelope and send to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140. Help cover printing costs. help out

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] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia]
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Sussex I: Lack of sanitation, basic supplies and grievance procedure

This prison that I am housed at is a walking bed of human rights violations. And I want to explain in detail. First, the toilets. The way the system works is that the prisoner gets one four-second flush every five minutes. If the prisoner flushes twice within five minutes, the system punishes the offender by automatically shutting off all flushes for at least half an hour. There are several problems with this. One flush every five minutes is not sufficient for bowel movements, which occur according to the individual's excretory system and not a clock, the prisoner must literally go to the bathroom with a stopwatch, sitting in the stink of his waste until they can again flush. When the prisoner does flush the toilet, the four-second flush does not remove all the waste from the bowl. The more solid the waste in the bowl the more that is left after the brief flush.

A serious health hazard is created when waste is left in toilet bowls because mistakes are made in flush rate. Keep in mind there are 2 people in the cell. There will and already are rising medical costs due to health problems that occur because of human wast lingering in toilet bowls that breed germs and attract insects. It is oppressive and inhumane to take away or restrict a human being's ability to flush their waste products away from their living environment. It is bad enough living in a cell, which is nothing but a bathroom with a bed in it. No one wants to live in a sewer and no one should have to.

Second, the building I am housed in, 4D, we are supposed to do cell cleaning every Thursday. Anyway we are only given two cups of chemicals to clean our cells with. We are not provided with a broom, mop, sponge, sanitary napkins or anything that we can adequately clean our cells with including no toilet brush to clean our toilets. So imagine as I explained about the waste in the toilet building up. This is a violation of our 8th amendment rights.

Prisoners here at Sussex I State Prison receive inhumane treatment on a daily basis. They have taken our drinking cups from us, and now we have nothing to drink our water from. We have to save our Styrofoam cups from our meals. Taking our cups is unnecessary, because it doesn't hinder or interfere with security. At every other state prison, including the other supermax prisons in Virginia, Wallens Ridge and Red Onion, drinking cups are allowed.

There is no system of checks and balances here at this prison. Staff's bad and unprofessional behavior towards us goes unchecked. We have a grievance coordinator here at Sussex I State Prison who repeatedly has suppressed the grievance process and has hindered my and other prisoners' right to redress of grievances. The grievance coordinator is supposed to serve as a human rights advocate, instead Ms. Witt the grievance coordinator at Sussex I State Prison has been a human rights nightmare and she is very unprofessional and she is corrupt. When we report guards or other prison officials, no disciplinary action is ever taken, no matter how large or small the issue is.

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[Organizing] [Economics] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia]
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Take up Revolution not Drugs

For the second time in about one month over 900 prisoners at River North Correctional Center were given piss tests. Now if a prisoner is causing problems that indicate drug abuse, it's perhaps reasonable to test him. But testing the entire prisoner population is a fishing expedition just hoping to catch someone.

Do the prison pigs have some admirable goal? No. They just catch people to make lives miserable by taking jobs, suspending visits, confining in seg, etc. If each test and lab fee is just $30 then the pigs spent over $54,000 in a month on the off chance they might get to punish someone for using drugs that were not prescribed.

For thousands of years humans have used mind altering substances. The "soma" of ancient India, the mushrooms of the Incas, peyote, opium, reefer, and alcohol are but a few examples. Only recently — within 100 years — have governments made the "drugs" illegal. What have these laws done to stop drug use and abuse? Nothing, as we see drug abuse at an all time high. These imperialist laws only target people, ruining lives with jail/prison while lining the pockets of the pigs with money for funding of the "war on drugs."

A few generations ago a community had cobblers and tailors, blacksmiths and silversmiths, lamp makers and other craftspeople. The cobbler knew the people and knew the kids had warm, dry feet due to his skill. The lamp maker knew she gave them light. Today, how many of our household items are made by people we know? Our shoes are made in a factory by a kid operating a machine at exploited wages. The store with neighbors who called us by name was an imperialist casualty, destroyed by greed.

Imperialism, with its global capitalism has destroyed us. Drug abuse is merely a convulsion before death. But you can be revived. You can join us in re-structuring our communities, our form of government, our lives. That's the call of revolution. Are you willing to die in order to feel alive? Let us use the things you make and let us make the things you need. In revolution every person has an essential part and there's no time for addiction or drug abuse.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We like this author's point about the waste of time that is drug abuse, and the reality that this abuse comes from the alienation fostered by capitalist culture. We sent some feedback to this author on eir first draft of this article because it took up an anti-corporate line that seemed to promote small scale capitalism rather than anti-imperialism. We know that we have much unity with this author and so suggested ey rewrite it. This rewritten version is an improvement but still we want to clarify that small scale capitalism is still capitalism. It is true that huge corporations are a product of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. But we don't want to promote nostalgia for petty bourgeois businesses because that's a reactionary approach; trying to go back to another time. Another time that of course never really existed, since even the early days of capitalism were full of war, oppression, slavery and land grabbing. As this comrade explained, we need a revolution to restructure society, and when that happens we will be able to build a new society where people engage in productive labor, which benefits their community. But it will not look like the capitalism of a few generations ago. We will eliminate the system of profit-driven work, instead allowing all people to work for the betterment of society.

In the course of our discussion with this author over eir article ey correctly noted that Walmart will die when imperialism dies in North America: "Walmart exploits laborers around the globe and is a foundation of Amerikkkan imperialism with revenue that exceeds the gross national product of many small oppressed nations. Yet its foreign laborers are paid pennies per hour. Most of their products are from India (semi-fascist regime) and China (state sponsored kapitalism) where workers are exploited. Not patronizing Walmart and not purchasing products manufactured by exploited workers is an 'attack' or at least a 'stand' against imperialism. ... The corner deli or the local mom/pop shop isn't exploiting workers in any nation."

While this comrade is right that big corporations like Walmart are doing far more exploitation of Third World workers than small shops, we don't agree that the corner shop isn't exploiting workers in any nation. They are selling the same products or using the same raw materials that everyone else in the United $tates is selling/using: most of it comes from Third World labor at base. Most products in Amerikan stores are manufactured in other countries. So we shouldn't mislead people into thinking the stuff they buy in a smaller store is exploitation-free. Further, the companies that promote "Made in America" products are not off the hook. Many of them are still buying raw materials and machinery from labor in Third World countries and just assembling products in the United $tates. Finally, most of the U.$. economy is not even productive industries. The service and financial sectors employ most Amerikans, distributing the wealth within U.$. borders, exploited from other nations via trade and extraction of real goods. There is no way to escape participating in the economy of exploitation.

So we don't tell people to boycott Walmart because we don't want to mislead people into thinking that they are going to make a difference under imperialism by favoring one type of exploitation over another. If the exploited workers in another country initiated an action against Walmart (or any other corporation) and asked for our support with a boycott, that would be a different story because that is not Amerikan consumerism feeling good about itself by switching where we spend our ridiculous wealth. That would be internationalist solidarity for exploited people rising up against imperialism.

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[Organizing] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 53]
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Sept 9: Virginia Comrades Meet, Study, Discuss, Build

On Sept 9th, we open, as usual, upon the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles. Our comrade did spoken word: "Frustrated" and "Black Angel" (our comrade is working on a CD of spoken word).

Another comrade spoke on revolutionary consciousness — what it means, how it applies to us and our conditions (open discussion). A third comrade introduced the ten point agenda (we recently sent you a copy of the 10 point agenda). We are ready to accept responsibility/accountability for ourselves and our conditions — we will have our marching orders (the basic point that Marx emphasized is profoundly true: "If the masses don't fight back and resist their oppression, even short of revolution, they will be crushed and reduced to a broken mass and will be incapable of rising up for any higher thing."). Our attendance was 32 people.

On September 15th we spoke on "Building Prison Study Groups" from ULK 45 (July/August 2015). Numerous articles within, and questions/comments were given. The discussion was moderated by two comrades and 41 people attended. We want to assure ourselves, we are working towards effective grouping/organizing, keeping the political line, and keeping the pigz out of our planning. We wish to be peaceful, organized, and most important, as effective as possible.

We are organizing for the Grievance campaign - we've received the sample sheet from MIM(Prisons). This has been an issue, here at Sussex I and throughout Virginia DOC. I recently sent you an article titled "Suppression the Grievance Procedure".

My comrades, we are working. We've got support from Bloods (over 200), GDs (over 25), MS-13 (20) and Muslims, Christians and 5%ers. I can only say we will work and work for results!

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[Organizing] [Education] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 53]
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Virginia Study Group Organizing for Education and Action

Greetings Comrades! We, the study group here at Sussex I State Prison – Virginia, submits our Ten Point Agenda, after organizing around the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles.

After weeks of meeting, discussing our needs to organize (orderly and peacefully), agreeing on statement of principles, and the ideas/ideals presented by MIM(Prisons), we've gained verbal organizational agreements, to work to rid ourselves of violence, destructive behaviors, engage in revolutionary ideas/ideals and work for greater good: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.

We've deputized coordinators, in duties not names, of: Finance/Business, Education, Arts & Culture, collecting donations, and using ULK and like materials to be teaching/educational tools (we will need more).

We've identified areas we can work on, and need improvements. Collectively, we will move to address these concerns. Our first step: educate the captives of our disadvantages, empower them with measures we can use to confront these disadvantages (including holding each of us accountable), complete, collect and mail in request forms, complaint forms, if need be file legal litigations. If no resolve, use our greater willpower – fasts, spend no money campaign, etc.

We have an educational coordinator, who will guide the movement as it relates to the Ten Point Agenda – reporting every two weeks of progress, need action, etc. (We will give the oppressor fifteen days to answer our concerns, if no response, we move to Step II.)

This Ten Point Agenda is not an end-all plan, but it does allow us to establish a line of politics, keep and maintain the line, and enables us to confront social controls and oppression.

As we work the plan, we plan to contact outside organizations (including MIM) to aid in our plight to get forms of social and systematic justice. (We have experienced individuals, including myself, willing and ready to teach on filing 42 USC 1983 civil suits.)

You have inspired us to mobilize, organize, mobilize and organize! After 8 weeks and numerous pod meetings we have arrived. We will continue to keep you abreast on our progress, needed materials. We will continue to donate, send artwork, and articles to aid your work.

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[Organizing] [Buckingham Correctional Center] [Sussex II State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 52]
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Transferred for Suspicion of Organizing a Work Stoppage and BPP-Prison Chapter

After an unfortunate series of group fights between prisoners from rival lumpen organizations during the month of Black August, and a subsequent lockdown at the Buckingham Correctional Center on August 25, two Institutional Gang Investigators (IGIs) descended upon my cell and subjected me to an intense 30-minute interrogation concerning confidential information they received that I was allegedly the mastermind behind a planned September 9 workstrike and was attempting to organize a Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter. They even accused me of being a member of a street gang based on a letter I wrote nearly seven years ago.

When the investigators realized that the interrogation was bearing no fruit and that I was immune to their intimidation tactics, I was subjected to further interrogation the following day by L. Leatherwood, the Chief Investigator for the VA DOC, and a urine test because of a strong "suspicion" that I was using drugs. I was not at all surprised when the urine test came back negative because I have been clean for a decade and am a staunch advocate against illicit drug use, especially among youth.

The interrogation of a select few other so-called "problem" inmates continued throughout the weekend, and whatever "evidence" or information the investigators gained or manufactured, led to my being transfered to Sussex 2 State Prison, which is an oppressive, super-max type prison where we are locked down in our cells for most of the day. Controlled movement and the degradation of those of us confined here is the order of the day. Unlike Buckingham, which is a hotbed of political activity, there is virtually no organizing here. No study groups, no agitation, no resistance. Most have never heard of the September 9 protests. The old axiom "oppression breeds resistance" has not taken hold of the prisoners' minds here.

Though I was shipped off to this camp for political reasons, repression and retaliation is often a sign that our agitation is truly effective. I am not in a position to report on the degree to which prisoners at Buckingham participated in the September 9 protests, but here at Sussex 2 State Prison there was zero participation. But we must continue to fight and struggle knowing that one day, when the conditions are right, the flicker will turn into a flame. All power to the people and Panther power to the Black Riders Liberation Party!

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[Economics] [Virginia]
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Employee Positions in Virginia Prison Wasting Money

Over my years inside prison I've witnessed "new positions" created in DOC without a corresponding increase in workload. It's not a situation where two employees cannot keep up with the demand so a third is hired. No, the increase in staffing positions has involved manipulation of terms in order to obtain higher pay grades. Example: creation of the position of unit manager. The Unit Manager is not considered security so the rate of pay isn't subject to the caps on what is paid based on rank, e.g., lieutenant, captain, etc, are all capped.

Yet a Unit Manager does the same work that was formerly assigned to lieutenants. In fact, each housing unit, or building, continues to have a "Building Lieutenant" in addition to now having a "Unit Manager." Only a Unit Manager's pay and benefits isn't subject to the limitations of lieutenant.

Also recently created is the position of Evidence Based Practices Manager. It's a $50k+ position that involves such complicated issues as distributing toilet paper, or checking to see that beds are made. I'm serious.

Enclosed is a request form listing some of the many "employee positions." A few of the more ridiculous ones are: EBP/Reentry Manager – There are no re-entry programs at most facilities, so what does this person do? Chief of Security, Institutional Safety Specialist, Operations Manager and B&G Superintendent – same tasks but made into four positions

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Legal] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 54]
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Prisoners Unite Against Suppression of VA DOC Grievance Procedure

"This operating procedure provides an administrative process for resolving offender issues and complaints through fair, prompt decisions and actions in response to complaints and grievances from offenders incarcerated in Department of Corrections institutions."

These are the clever introductory words of Virginia Department of Corrections (VA DOC) Operating Procedure 866.1 governing "Offender Grievance Procedure." While offenders — captives — suppose to enjoy non-repressive rights to utilize the grievance procedure, captives have experienced for many years repressed rights by the Department's Human Rights Advocates (commonly called Institutional and Regional Ombudsman) and administrative personnel. The VA DOC is at odds over effective administrative application of the captive/offender grievance procedure.

Since my incarceration in 1993, the captive/offender grievance procedure has always been a medium, used by captives, to receive redress for their issues and problems. The Institutional Ombudsman, once upon a time, investigated captives' issues/problems with proper handling, meaning they would speak to both the captive and staff before rendering a decision. Ombudsman would render decisions reasonably, appropriately — even if it was to the neglect of the system. After all, that's the job of the Human Rights Advocate.

Over the years, the captives have grown to understand completion of Offender Grievance Procedure is the first step to satisfying the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA Federal statute). Before the legal court system will entertain captive lawsuits, the first level one must meet is exhausting all available administrative remedies. With this understanding, VA DOC Institutional and Regional Ombudsman began seeing a rise in filed complaints and grievances, and civil lawsuits (42 U.S.C. 1983). A conspiratorial plan was hatched by the department to suppress captives' grievance procedure and opportunities. Something had to be done. VA DOC was being held liable, costing thousands of dollars.

The first step in repressing and suppressing the captive grievance procedure was that many prisons and institutions removed captives' complaint forms and level 1 grievance forms from availability. This means, in order for captives to receive said forms, they must make requests to officer/building sergeants. Captives must divest their issues/problems to authorities. If the officer or sergeant disagrees with your issues or problems, they refuse to give you needed forms. When they do give you forms, it's usually because the issue/problem is not really a threat. Captives are left with suppressed and repressed grievance rights, by the same system that swore to uphold these rights.

Once a captive completes the informal complaint process, an administrative grievance can be filed. With next-level repression, the Ombudsman uses fraudulent claims to deny grievances; such reasons as: time barred, inquiring on behalf of other "captives," not enough information, and in some cases stating "If you're not satisfied with response file to next level — regional ombudsman." (Some complaints/grievances are not returned.) These alleged claims are used by the institutional ombudsman to deny grievances, not logging grievances, or otherwise repress the process. Regional Ombudsman, being the last level of grievance process, usually side with Institutional Ombudsman.

Captives who file complaints/grievances, at times, are faced with reprisals. These reprisals, although forbidden by Operating Procedure 866.1, are usually felt in not receiving jobs, non-favorable housing, denied transfers, and more. Captives face extreme difficulties seeking to prove they are experiencing reprisal, due to filing complaints/grievances. Often times, captives who file these documents are labeled "paper-pushers," and the new term, "paper terrorist.=" (yeah, such a machination by the oppressors).

VA DOC has created a crafty method to suppress, and repress captives' grievance procedure and right. This is reflected in the number of Level 1 and Level 2 grievances "found" versus those "unfounded." Even when the evidence submitted favors the captive's claims, the grievance is still returned "unfounded." The Ombudsman no longer advocates on behalf of the captives, nor upholds the integrity of the grievance policy.

In entertaining plans to file civil litigation (§42 U.S.C. 1883 claims of civil rights violation) one must have satisfied §42 U.S.C. 1997(e)(a) which states "no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions... by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." With continuous suppression of captives' grievance procedural rights, this satisfaction will prove to be difficult. These measures are used by the oppressive system to derail, suppress, or otherwise hinder captives' ability to satisfy §42 U.S.C. 1997 (e)(a), and PLRA, and have any legal litigation dismissed for not exhausting all available administrative remedies.

In a recent lawsuit (§42 U.S.C 1983) I filed against a VA DOC prison, and its Director Harold Clarke, alleging Civil Rights violations. I was advised by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Plaintiff has no constitutional right to participate in grievance procedure - citing Adam v. Rice §40 F. 3d. 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) - because plaintiff enjoys no constitutional right to participate in grievance procedure his allegation that his grievances were improperly processed are legally frivolous - citing Banks v. Nagle. Nos. 3:09 CV419-HEH; 3:09 CV14 (2009) WL1209031, at *3 (E.D.VA. May 1, 2009)." Moreover, simply, "ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the [constitutional] violation, see George v. Smith 507 F. 3d. 605, 609-10 (7th Cir 2007)" I alleged in my First Amendment violation claim: Ombudsman at this prison suppressed, obstructed or otherwise denied me fundamental (and meaningful) access to "offender grievance procedure" due to refusal to properly process and answer said grievances. It was, and remains a continuous practice, within VA DOC, to deny "redress to government," in this case, the prison authorities who are agents of the state.

It appears the U.S. District Court has shifted their views and opinions as to whether captives have a constitutional right to grievance procedure. On one hand, the Federal statute §42 U.S.C. 1997 (e)(a) states we have to satisfy the prongs of the PLRA, which requires the exhaustion of all available administrative remedies, before filing a §42 U.S.C. 1983. But then, restrict such requirement in decisions rendered in Adam v. Rice and Banks v. Nagle, which contradicts mandates of §42 U.S.C. 1997(e)(a).

Without protected due process rights, whether in society or behind these walls of horror, the people are in trouble. Captives have seen a consistent erosion of rights, or a limiting of such rights, over the years; from the Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act, of former President Bill Clinton, to the Patriot Act of George W. Bush. High courts have repeatedly sided with state prison administrators, citing "security takes precedence over certain rights, including infringement upon certain civil rights." This could very well open the door for the pigs to get away with vicious assaults, property damages, and other egregious acts that goes on behind these walls. The highway for "organized crime" is without patrols.

Captives are subjected to a wide range of issues and administrative confrontation, leading to needed remedies. Though, each "department of correction" professes administrative remedy outlets, captives' rights to utilize these administrative outlets continues to be repressed, ineffective, leaving issues unsolved. These create an environment of mistrust, instability and an ethos of disorganization between captives and "the system."

Captives here at this VA DOC prison have organized around the "United Front" and "United Front for Peace in Prison - Statement of Principles." We have organized, mobilized, and deputized. We've organized to the point where we have a ten point agenda, designed to address our oppression and oppressor in an organized and systematic way. We wish to accept full responsibility for our actions, educate ourselves in seeking justice, and assure that we remain at peace, on what we've agreed upon, and united around our collective agenda.

We wish to join on to and with MIM(Prisons)'s campaign "We Demand our Grievances are Addressed." Please send us the petition! ASAP we will work to assure this petition is signed by as many we can from behind these walls. We will continue to educate ourselves towards the process, and our rights under Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

Let's stop the repression of the grievance procedure within the VA DOC. We stand with MIM(Prisons)!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade and others in Virginia have been doing some great organizing work, building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, local study groups, and fighting the corrupt grievance process in that state's prisons. We look forward to the progress of this campaign as a part of building a broad base of united prisoners in Virginia fighting the criminal injustice system under anti-imperialist leadership.

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[United Front] [Sussex I State Prison] [Federal] [Virginia]
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United Front building at Sussex

We've developed a study group 1 think tank based on the United Struggle From Within and the United Front For Peace in Prisons: statement of principles. (Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, Independence.)

On July 22, 2016, meeting was held and 28 people attended: we spoke on "unity" - struggling for something greater, observing the exploitation system, and the importance of sticking together to confront and overcome disunity, violence, and misinformation. Lead coordinator [X] spoke to street organizations on purpose for revolutionary consciousness; unity and the need for growth: challenges faced in these perilous times. (We also spoke of the United Front For Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.)

On July 29, 2016, meeting @ 8:30-9:45 A.M: 33 persons attended. I spoke on articles from vol. 41 - Under Lock and Key (gang Validations, etc.) November/December 2014. Our gang problems here at Sussex I state prisons are unique. Another Brother spoke on: "The Difference Between Revolution and Rebellion" - From pg. 64-68, of Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New African Revolutionary writings by James Yaki Sayles . We also asked all Big Homies to espouse the idea/ideals of Peace, Unity and Growth for the Betterment of Self: organizations and prison populace. All agreed. (Next week they will share a few words).

We write you twice a month, keeping you abreast on our newly formed study group/think tank. We're open for instructions, guidance, and advice/information, etc.

We wish to Join the United Front. We have studied the Five Principles of United Front For Peace in Prisons - Statement of Principles. We will read them at the beginning of each meeting. We have not developed an official name for the group. We only call it: Study Group/Think Tank. (We are new, and full of potential, so we have charted goals to meet in the first 30 days then the next 30 days - taking us to 60 days – etc.)

1. Peace is critical because, violence seem to be the solutions to a lot of organizational (gang problems.) So if we can agree to a pact, or verbal agreement of peace, then foster method to assure peace is met, then that's progress.

2. Unity - We want to have fundamental unity - despite our organizational differences. Unity for the common good of fellow comrades; man stand together to combat oppressive and repressive measures by the power structure: united we stand!

3. Growth - we must educate ourselves. Politically, educationally, socially, and financially - growth shows progress ignorance roles the youth - so, we agree to further our meetings w/ progressive education points. Revolutionary history; consciousness, etc.

4. Internationalism - to agree to study other nations struggles, and deploy the same tactics principles to and for our struggles! Broaden our minds on world views.

5. Independence - to fund our own ideas, projects, campaigns, and pool our resources to purchase books, magazines, etc. Educate ourselves. This includes donations to MIM(Prisons) and other organizations.

These five points are important because they each underpin the ideas/ideals of what we are striving to exhibit here at Sussex I state prison.

We are working to employ peace and unity, coupled with revolutionary activism acting on what we're studying and learning - standing against oppression, violence, and destructive behaviors.

We will get all supporting members and members enrolled to receive Under Lock & Key. (We've sent names in already)

If you have materials on structuring/organization study group/think tank send it; materials on how to handle gang problems, and any other materials relevant to our new study group, we can use it.

We are serious, dedicated, and committed to the process. We will take it slow, but for sure!

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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 52]
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Bombard them with Paperwork: Fighting Censorship in Virginia

I am writing to bring you up to date on my litigation against the Commonwealth of Virginia related to the unlawful censorship of ULK and other literature. I am preparing to file my second tort action against the Commonwealth for the rejection of ULK 48. This will make the second claim I've filed in response to rejections of MIM literature.

I've chosen the state tort route due to the higher chance of success and because the 4th circuit is notorious for siding with the state in such matters. Further, eventually the risk management will get tired of seeing claims of the same nature with the same plaintiffs and defendants, and while it may take time, I believe if enough comrades use the same tactic the issue will be resolved. Prior to incarceration I was the IT Department manager at a card payment company. When I got a dozen emails complaining about a website being blocked in the office I often just removed the block since it was easier than being hassled all the time. I'm hoping risk management responds likewise.

It may be helpful to share my tactic of "bombard the bastards with paperwork" with others. Strength in numbers, you know. In Virginia, a notice of claim is free to file and requires little to no legal skill - just fill out the form, state the relevant facts, include supporting documentation and mail it to Richmond.

During the six month response period comrades will have time to develop their notice of claim into a finely crafted petition to file in court in the event risk management doesn't reply or doesn't provide relief. A tort action is also much cheaper than a 1983 suit since the cost is based on the value of the action, and if the relief sought is simply the delivery of the publication and that the prison get in compliance with the constitution, and so long as there is no security threat in the publication, chances are there will be a positive outcome. That's my goal anyway. Nobody wants to get sued six times a year and nobody wants to get sued six times a year by a hundred people over the same matter. In my tort claims I am naming the Warden, Publication Review Committee and the mailroom as defendants. I'm asking only that the publications be permitted, that the review process be in compliance with relevant statutes and case law, and that this be applied to all MIM publications. I am not asking for money damages simply because it's a free publication; nor am I claiming any mental anguish or emotional distress, besides, who would believe that a bunch of "commies" would get all emotionally scarred because their newsletter was rejected?

Hopefully it helps. I feel that as revolutionaries we must use every tool available against imperialism, and the tort claim is one of those tools.

Step-by-Step Tort Claim

  1. Save all relevant documentation related to the rejection of the publication. Make copies!
  2. Complete the entire grievance process. If you get no reply within two weeks send a request form to the mailroom to ask why.
  3. Request further details about why the publication was rejected such as page number, any specific articles and the like. Try to get more information from the publisher if you can, such as their side of the story about what the alleged offensive material is, where else the publication has been delivered or similar.
  4. Upon exhaustion of your administrative remedy, draft your notice of claim. This is not your petition to file in court, it is only a statement of facts and a request for relief. State only the relevant facts, why the rejection is unfounded and include any supporting evidence. Do not lace your claim with opinions or try to claim the Warden is out to get you. (Unless you have evidence he is!)
  5. As you write your claim, when you reference a documented fact make a note of where to find that fact. Mark each documented fact with some way to easily identify it. Ex: "On July 3 the Warden replied to my request for more information. He told me to go f*ck myself. (See Exhibit 4, Paragraph 3, Line 'A')"
  6. Notarize and copy your notice of claim. Make a copy to send to risk management, the commonwealth attorney and as a bonus to each defendant. Include your claim and all supporting documents. You keep the original.
  7. Begin crafting your Notice of Claim into a well-written petition to present to the court in the event you don't get any relief. If after six months you haven't gotten any relief take it to court!

    This has worked for me several times without having to go to court. It can work for you too!

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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia]
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Fighting Censorship for "Gang Material"

It has been over 90 days since I filed an appeal over ULK 47 and I have received no reply. I filed the appeal for ULK 48 on 29 February, also receiving no reply. As for the theory journals, they have not been delivered nor have I been notified of their rejection. It seems that at this facility communism of any form is heavily censored.

I did get your guide to fighting censorship and I reference the case law and the gang definition in each appeal I file over a rejection of ULK. It has been most useful, however, it has done little to curb the level of political and religious censorship happening here at River North Correctional Center.

I was told that ULK 48 was rejected due to gang material being found on pages 8 and 18 but no further description has been provided. Being that gangs are typically imperialistic in their actions where related to violence and criminal actions I suspect that any anti-imperialist group wouldn't promote gang activity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This censorship of Under Lock & Key in prisons with the justification that it promotes gang material is becoming more common. And of course it is very difficult for prisoners to appeal this censorship when they have no access to the material to disprove the "gang material" claim. This comrade is correct to point out that the biggest gangs are the imperialists, who carry out organized violence and criminal actions around the world. What the prisons claim is promoting gang activity is in fact MIM(Prisons) promoting a United Front for Peace in Prisons, urging lumpen organizations and their members to come together and end the struggle between prisoners in favor of unity to fight the injustice system. Those in power will always come up with labels to put down those who resist, whether it is "terrorist" or "gang member" or "criminal." But we know that the real terrorists and criminals are the imperialists. Write to us for a copy of our guide to fighting censorship.

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