Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Virginia Prisons

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

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

[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fasting to Protest Keefe Commissary in Virginia

A friend and I decided to observe a fast during the month of March because of the religious holidays such as Lent. Some people abstain from meat when they fast. Others won't eat anything during daylight hours. My friend and I decided to abstain from Keefe Commissary food during March. Our fast is prompted by the lack of economic justice and by the extortion of us by Keefe Commissary.

Our captors neither provide basic items such as deodorant, toothpaste, stamps, stationary, etc., nor pay us wages to allow us to purchase these items. So we are forced to ask our wimmin for financial support. And we are taking money from our wimmin when that money is also needed by our children.

But the united snakes is not satisfied by sinking its fangs into our necks just once. No, it strikes again by limiting our vendor to just Keefe Commissary. And Keefe Commissary sinks its own fangs into us by charging us exorbitant prices.

The united snakes bites us again by deducting 10-15% of all the money sent to us. Now 10% is supposedly for our "savings accounts" and is to be returned to us "upon release from prison." But in this settlement of Virginia, parole was abolished in July 1995. The prisoners whose release dates exceed their life expectancy (I know several men who cannot be released before the year 2300) still have 10% of all incoming money put into their "savings account."

It's very revealing that the Virginia Department of Corrections keeps the earned interest on these so-called savings accounts. If those accounts existed for the purpose of providing the prisoners with spending money upon release from prison (supposedly this will reduce recidivism), then wouldn't it be logical to also give the prisoner the earned interest?

It's also quite telling that the pittance paid for prison labor was cut from $10.50 per week to $4.05 per week. Paying us less money means our families send us more money which increases that 10% collected.

My friend and I came up with a list of these injustices. I wrote the list and sent it to a prisoner advocacy group for forwarding to the Virginia legislature. I included a letter stating we would be abstaining from Keefe Commissary for the month of March, and that the listed injustices are the reasons for it.

A captive working for the captors gave information about a copy of this letter that could be found in my friend's work desk. We are currently charged with "participating/encouraging others... in group demonstration" because other politically conscious prisoners have decided to join us in our fast. Not sure how many as of yet.

But according to Thornburg v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401 (1989) the captors must have a penological interest in depriving prisoners of First Amendment rights. A religious fast is an expression protected by the First Amendment and by 42 U.S.C. 2000 et seq. The captors must show that our fasting is a threat to the security of the slave pens. Won't it be very revealing if the captors claim capitalist profits from Keefe are essential to the security of these gulags?

Of course our captors know they can, and most likely will, convict me of the offense even though the law is clear. The imperialist injustice system rarely grants punitive damages to a prisoner after the captors knowingly give a prisoner a conviction for actions that are both constitutionally protected and permitted. Pigs snub their snouts at the law without fear of repercussion.

I invite all prisoners in every gulag who read MIM(Prisons) publications to participate in fasting from commissary purchases during March. We can still eat from the prison slop trough. Decide which injustices you want addressed. Tell your friends why you are fasting. Send a list of injustices to the Chief Pig in Charge, your Governor, and report on your actions for Under Lock & Key.

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[Organizing] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Virginia Youth Take Up Struggle After Older Leaders are Transferred

As a young komrad here at Red Onion, I've had the privilege and blessing to run across some sharp komrades who were right and exact and were causing an uprising here. This wicked imperialist system felt threatened by this vanguard uprising. They used divide and conquer tactics to break the spirit of the lumpen who were politically awakening, by shipping certain komrades out of state to stop this vanguard movement.

United Political Prisoners Syndicate (UPPS) is a lumpen study group. I'm striving to pick up where the other komrades left off. The basis of our agenda is to wake up the oppressed stalag* prisoners in Dead Onion and throughout gulags in Virginia. I believe we as prisoners have all the power in our hands, but only if we move on the same accord can we be successful. We can employ tactics of hunger strikes, refusing to buy commissary from Keefe, and stalags who do some type of work all going on work strikes. These three actions alone will have these pigs in a serious bind until demands are met. UPPS is striving to get all oppressed lumpen on this accord. The masses always say stalags aren't going to go all the way. You can't worry about that and let that deter you from the bigger picture which is liberation for the people. We have the opportunity to expose this corrupt imperialist Dead Onion and Wally Ridge for what they are!

Like Bobby Seale said "Seize the Time," the time is at hand. When you know and overstand how the enemy thinks it puts you on guard and helps you in the long haul. To know and learn from history, helps dictate your future. All power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a long-standing tactic of the prisons to move political leaders around when they start organizing effectively in one place. This is why it is so important that no one individual takes on all the leadership or becomes a point of failure for the local movement. We must constantly be educating new comrades, building new leadership, and delegating tasks so that when our leaders are locked up in control units or transferred out of state our local struggle can continue. This is also why it's important for everyone to have direct contact with MIM(Prisons). Relying on others in your prison to share their ULK and other literature may seem efficient, but when either you or they are moved you will be unable to contact us and will lose connection to the broader anti-imperialist movement.

* stalag was a term for prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during the first and second imperialist wars

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[Censorship] [Abuse] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia]
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Property Destroyed as Punishment for Helping Fellow Prisoner

I haven't written to you in a while due to the fact that all my property was taken in September and destroyed. This was punishment for me helping a fellow comrade who had his food and shower denied. In fact, both of our property was destroyed by these racist pigs. All my mail, photos, legal transcripts, addresses, hygiene, radio, books, etc. So I've been in an upheaval writing paperwork up, filing this litigation.

Since that incident I've been put back into long term SHU, probably until I go home. So in the mean time I'm trying to put together a political study group - United Political Prisoners Syndicate - to try to organize against this imperialist system. Also they denied me from receiving your ULK 34, talking about how it's detrimental to security, these pigs always talking about some B.S. I'm going to appeal the decision.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 33]
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New Virginia Warden Represses, Revolutionaries Fight Smart

This missive is about the prison conditions at Sussex I in Virginia. John David is now the warden of Sussex I state prison. His first day on the job he made his grand opening by placing the whole institution on lockdown for 30 days with no justification. Those 30 days revealed his intentions about what to expect from his gestapo-style treatment. For instance, when we are walking in lines to and fro, if anyone does not walk in a straight line, even if it's one individual out of 40, his rule is that we get no outside recreation and instead get just 1 hour of in-pod rec. During the 30-day lockdown we got no outside recreation whatsoever and no one was able to use the phones on the whole compound. David put us on modified lockdown, just because individuals throughout the compound started complaining to their families and writing grievances, so he had to save face.

David has also put preemptory restrictions on some of the political literature that comes through the mailroom. I was hit with censorship of your study group mailing sent April 26, 2013 because they deemed it "unauthorized." I did receive all mail prior to that letter and I'm currently appealing the decision. It's just repayment, censoring my ability to think outside this cell, trying to control our thoughts and preventing a lot of comrades from learning anything besides the state's perspective. The oppressor will never stop oppressing.

These are the basic examples that were studied in the study group assignment 3 "On Contradiction." "What is the principal aspect of a contradiction? How does the interdependence (identity) of these contradictory aspects in prison life and the struggle between these aspects determine things in prison life and push their development forward?" This censorship only reveals the true political agenda behind super-maxes as being to repress revolutionary thought, not only in the prisons but even in society at large. The resulting division of staff versus prisoners along racial and cultural lines creates an obvious recipe for conflict and abuse, duplicating the conditions of chattel slavery in pre-civil war Amerikkka where poor whites were armed and empowered to have free reign over unarmed and disenfranchised Black slaves on the plantations.

These control unit prisons were designed to effectively isolate, control, and punish prisoners reacting against abuse. In turn they provoke responses, so prison officials can effectively use these events to demonize us as "violent animals" thus playing up self-fulfilling prophecies and stereotypes to justify the construction of more super-max prisons. This was the main motivation that brought the Attica rebellion in 1971, which will be commemorated this coming September 9.

Just two weeks ago a guard was severely stabbed over a confrontation that started over a prisoner who did not have enough time to finish his food tray when the guard took his tray. It's only a fruitless back and forth cycle played out between poor people [by Amerikan standards - editor] who've been divided along color and cultural lines. In the past I felt myself and my peers to be powerless, therefore fighting with the pigs and treating them with open contempt was in a sense therapeutic. Even now when I witness abuse by the pigs my inner rage boils over, but I have learned to check myself and stand as a witness to testify against these outrages.

This is not to say that we ought to be pacifists. Even a mouse will fight you when cornered. Individual pigs are of no more value to the system than the cost of training their replacements, and they can be replaced from the unemployment lines tomorrow. The system will gladly sacrifice any number of them for the opportunity to throw the book at us and paint us as "animals" and "terrorists." Simply filing paperwork and relying on the courts is also a dead end. But it is useful to create a paper trail and document patterns of abuse. From my time and experience in these control unit conditions it allows one to see the bigger picture.

The prison system institutionalizes isolation and secrecy. The prison walls are designed not only to keep the prisoners in, but to keep the public out preventing observation or knowledge of what is going on inside. Confronting this crazy system, we need to be the voice of reason that raises consciousness and empowers awareness inside and out. In challenging a system built on cruelty and the exercise of absolute and hidden power against the disempowered, there will be attempts to provoke us and bait us to incite reactionary violence from us or against us. But we must stick to our strategy and not get pulled into theirs.

Indeed as I write this, the warden of this control unit where I am confined is waging a struggle to use metaphysical tactics to demonize us. But their efforts to distort the external contradictions will only lead to greater exposure of the internal contradiction, the truth, which will build our struggle. We must stop acting foolish like bulls. The bullfighter waves his cape and the bull charges and eventually runs into the bullfighter's sword. But a smart bull wouldn't do that. He'd wait for the bullfighter to charge him and face his horns. Over the years I have witnessed too many good comrades and potential ones being wasted. We must organize to win! The end game will never change. We must emancipate ourselves, remove the blinds and open our minds.

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[Abuse] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [Virginia] [North Carolina]
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Solidarity from North Carolina to Virginia, Father to Daughter

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.

We appreciate your newsletter here at Lanesboro.

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[United Front] [Virginia]
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Black Mass Army Joins United Front for Peace

I've written this missive on behalf of the Black Mass Army. We represent a multicultural group of individuals that is committed to destroying the weapons of mass destruction: imperialism, fascism, racism, police brutality, ignorance, and mental slavery. We support the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles. Our political philosophy "to cure the sickness to save the patient" is our goal by liberating one prisoner at a time through education, revolutionary science, human psychology and self-defense.

Oppression is worse than slaughter and this hellish reality of mass incarceration is the culmination of U.$. state power and its constitution. We believe and practice the ideology of Ho Chi Minh. We use revolutionary science and this means we take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them thru study, then turning them into concentrated and systematic ideas. We then go to the masses and reproduce, spread info and explain these revolutionary ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action and test the correctness of these revolutionary ideas in such actions.

We will stand together with you and defend ourselves from the repressive, tyrannical, draconian, ruthless, unjust dictatorship of imperialism of U.$. bureaucracy. This is what we want and this is what we believe so that the oppressed will have a revolutionary knowledge of his/her self and this spirit must never be suppressed or repressed for the exploitation of others because the human whole is geometrical; "the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts." This means that The Black Mass Army wants freedom, liberation, security of our communities so that we can determine the destiny of the world's oppressed people against the controller, thereby uniting the mind with the body.

Because of the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles the U.$. prison industrial complex cannot be victorious. The walls, bars, and guards cannot conquer or hold down an idea. We sign on and you have our support 110% x 110%. We are a movement within the Virginia State Prisons.

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[Political Repression] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 11]
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Comrade Drops Out of Study Group Because of Repression

Dear MIM,

Hello comrades. How is life on the outside treating you? I hope the injustice system is not overpowering you or your goals in life. As far as me, I keep an optimistic view of everything which happens to me. But recent events are really taking a toll on me.

First off I want to say I'm going to drop out of the study group until I go home due to incorrigible censorship that's transpiring here at Red Onion State Prison. I've been recently attacked with violence and threats to my safety and well being. They say they're investigating me as a possible terrorist associate and have taken everything, and I mean everything I owned in this penitentiary. So all my books, materials, etc. were confiscated. And I just recently came out of total isolation in a cold, dark lonely cell with nothing but a torn up bible to read. I was physically assaulted on June 6th and was not able to write it up (push my grievance) because I was in this predicament. It is an injustice to be treated like this. I am a human being! Just because I committed a crime doesn't diminish my capacity to feel and act on emotions! I can't wait for the revolution! I'm definitely gonna get some retribution! But I'm not going to be naive enough to just jump out the window on some fuck shit.

You know all of this stemmed from my political associations. But you better trust and believe I'm not going to let it hold me down or stop me from doing what I need to do and to stand up for what I believe in. Because if I won't stand for something, I'll fall for anything. And I'm not gonna fall for no bullshit.

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[Censorship] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 5]
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Censorship Hypocrisy Continues at Red Onion

I included two pages of a book titled "Hip Hop Lil Wayne", by Janice Rockworth [see below], which the library is issuing out for prisoners incarcerated at Red Onion to read. Now, this particular book literally speaks in details about gangs. But yet, they (ROSP) constantly keep stopping ULK & Black magazines from coming into this facility for the reasons that they promote gangs or gang activity. It is not fair for these people to try and dictate what we can receive with the money we spend, especially when we have personal property approval slips to receive them. These pages are evidence to support any case brought against ROSP pertaining to discrimination and publication censorship.

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[Censorship] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia]
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King Mag wants Subs but Silent on Censorship

Dear King,

I have received you all renewal notice stating that October will be my last issue. Well, I would really like to continue my subscription, but for some strange reason, when I attempt to reach out to the company on numerous occasions to inform you all that Red Onion State Prison is stopping the magazine at the first level of a three level panel because they consider it to be promoting violence, gang-related, among other reasons used to reject you all King Magazines to those of us at Red Onion State Prison who paid in advance to receive the King Magazine each month.

I am disappointed with the customer services department for not having their staff effectively communicating on this matter. No one responded to my letter and no one at Harris Publishing is showing any type of concern to battle Red Onion State Prison for slandering King Magazine and what you all represent, which is a Black popular culture magazine.

Now, like I mentioned above, I'd love to reorder. But the conditions are not stable and you all not showing support to fight the struggle with these people and I'm a customer. This document I'm enclosing is how they categorize King. Now, it didn't spread mainstream through the whole Virginia system yet, but it's coming very soon. So what is King going to do to maintain thousands of their worthy customers?

View rejection notice

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[Censorship] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 5]
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Hypocrisy continues at Red Onion

Peep this out! You all remember sending me a document of someone saying that ROSP [Red Onion State Prison] allowed his January 2008 issue of GQ to come through when it had an article concerning the Crip gang lifestyle? Well, I went and ordered GQ in hopes that they slip up, to help in our defense in this battle. Well, in the August 2008 GQ, under the topic crime, there is an article titled "Mexico's Red Day" on pages 96,97,98,100,102 and 103. In it they talk about gang/drug cartels, rapes, small gang war, killing left & right behind the gang & drug war, cops getting killed & using their rank to get over on people.

I mean, how could these three levels of review miss this, especially when it's dealing with Mexico and they are aware of the conditions of poverty there? It's disappointing to see such blatant racism go unchecked, just because GQ is deemed a white publication while XXL and others are "Black." But it's alright because these fools insist on placing themselves in a position that they can't justify. They want a strictly enforced policy that they don't even honor.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is an ongoing battle against censorship in Virginia, where the prisons are rejecting all MIM(Prisons) literature as well as any other publications considered "Black" like XXL. We are appealing this through the legal system and also need letters of protest sent to: W.D. Jennings, Ph. D., Management Lead Analyst, Virginia Department of Corrections, PO Box 26963, Richmond, VA 23261-6963

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