Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Sussex I State Prison - Virginia

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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.

[Abuse] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia]
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A lost and dead people

I am a prisoner housed here at Sussex One State Prison. One of the three supermax prisons in Virginia. I have been housed here at Sussex One for about a year. Most of the prisoners housed here are Black and most of our overseers who work here are also Black. This is a very repressive regime with no chance of a prisoner rehabilitating himself. We are a lost and dead people who suffer from the Willie Lynch syndrome. Most prisoners do not care about their human rights, because we as a whole allow our overseers to violate our human rights without any challenge. We as prisoners are human beings, who have the same cares, concerns, and are capable of love, like any other human being. However, our overseers sees us as less than human and a lot of the prisoners here sympathize with their overseers, the same people who violate our human rights every day, who sees us as less than human beings, who only sees us as objects to be controlled and manipulated. Some of us will reenter society one day. How is it possible to reenter society and be successful when us prisoners are not given the tools to be successful. We act out against each other and a lot of us don't even know each other. That's what happens when you are lost and dead people. Most of us do not even know what is happening to us. Chaos and disorder is the order of the day. A lot of us don't have a voice because our family and friends have given up on us and abandoned us, there is no hope for lost and dead people.

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[Gender] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 56]
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Gender Contradictions: Female Guards and Male Prisoners

I would like to bring to your attention a proliferating issue and a sophisticated form of manipulation and capitulation by certain female guards here, which is threatening my motivational efforts and energy of prisoners who are trying to mobilize pockets of resistance. The prisoners in our immediate cipher and midst on a daily basis, in the disguise of recreation, study groups, or just basic conversations, are involved in some alarming episodes of perversion here at Sussex Sucks I State Prison. If we stand by and just criticize, make fun of, or gossip and back bite about those prisoners who get snaggled up in this spider web/trap, then the pigs are going to use this misguided erotic behavior to destroy the elements of positive aspirations that iz being pushed forward by a different segment of conscious prisoners here on this slave pen of oppression.

Everyone is aware of the enormous amount of jobs that become available because of the booming rise in the prison construction throughout the Amerikkkan colony. But no one seems to have noticed the alarming amount of female guards that are subsequently recruited, hired and then trained for a job inside this bulging prison culture complex! So today, a lot of these same female guards are assigned to the actual cell blocks/pods that house many of the state's most violent male prisoners. And as a direct result of the placement of these female guards inside each of these components, you now see these same so-called violent prisoners becoming mentally and emotionally hypnotized by the astute beauty of some female guards who exhibit this aura or facade with their tour of correctional duty and within their clandestine episodes of flirtation.

In some of these housing components, I have even witnessed female guards displaying their siren characteristics in an attempt to control and compel the feeble-minded guys into conforming with the prison rules and regulations. In some cases these female guards are playing mind games, as they get off on the drama of seeing several men chasing them and even fighting over them, and manipulating them into becoming pod police by telling and doing the police job as an incentive. These female guards want the prisoners to help them stroke their own clandestine exotic or erotic fantasies while making money as a past time and advancing their career in law enforcement!

Before I commence my conclusion, it iz essential and imperative that I maintain the organizational strategy by indicating that there are numerous female guards who despise being exploited by the display of male sex organs in the workplace, and I really support all of these female guards who take a stance against this form of sexism. Because to subjugate women in general and solely on the basis of gender iz not only wrong, but dudes who believe and practice these subjective axioms and the actions that stem from this obnoxious belief are really saying that women are not worthy of genuine respect, or perhaps those prisoners think that a woman cannot be feminine without being submissive! All prisoners, brothas, all nations must begin the task of taking a personal analysis of themselves immediately and we should be self-critical. Otherwise we won't understand what our criminal thought pattern iz doing to the overall struggle of the masses here in North Amerikkka.

Correctional male chauvinism must be eliminated if prisoners really plan to make it past this adolescent crisis that arises to the level of this extracurricular prison activity.

In closing, I felt the need to proselytize to the conscious prisoner class, clearly it iz better to err acting to bring about positive change than to do nothing for fear of erring. Please spread this word and cogitate what has been evaluated and written here in adroit-like fashion, because we have to stop this new wave of mental, physical, and emotional ignorance. Peace!

I want to know if other comrades are dealing with these same issues. If so, no one is speaking on it. Stop watching the idiot box, it's hypnotizing you!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good point to raise for discussion which we hope will inspire others to write in. There is, as this prisoner explains, a general contradiction in imperialist society, with the treatment of females under the patriarchy. But in prison this situation is changed. There is still some clear gender oppression of females, but in male prisons (which are the vast majority in this country) there is a reversal of roles in some ways. Males face gender oppression due to their unique status as prisoners.

We see this with the example given here of female guards manipulating prisoners through sex and flirting. The female guards are using patriarchal objectification to keep male prisoners passive, and even serving the very system that locks them up. We need to expose this manipulation and talk about why it can happen, and what we can do about it. It should not be ok to do any guard's bidding, male or female. Are other people seeing this? What can be done to fight back?

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[Abuse] [Sussex I State Prison] [Virginia]
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Who's Keeping the Keepers (Overseers)

In the Virginia Department of Corrections, the prison officials and corrections officers who are in charge of enforcing the rules and regulations, whose duty it is to uphold the mission of each of the correctional facilities in Virginia, are not above reproach. Having been a prisoner in the Virginia Department of Corrections (Corruption) for over two decades, I've witnessed numerous violations of prison rules, state law and of the constitution of the United States. These violations are from seemingly minor to serious mistreatment of prisoners, sleeping on duty, denial of adequate medical treatment, denial of an adequate healthy diet to meet the dietary needs of prisoners, and suppression of the grievance procedure.

All of the officers and prison officials are in cahoots with each other. When guards and prison officials are reported, no disciplinary action (no matter the evidence) is ever taken. The grievance coordinators make sure of this because they suppress the grievance procedure so prisoners will not be able to exercise their right to redress of grievance. The corrections officers are subject to rules of professional conduct just like us prisoners. However, most of these officers do not follow the rules of professional conduct. Most of these prison officials and officers do not have any humanity for prisoners whatsoever.

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[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] [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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[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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[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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