The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[MIM(Prisons)]
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ULK 80: MIM(Prisons) Update

At the end of 2022 we conducted a more in depth end of year review than the last few years, received reports from a number of allied organizations, and held a live group discussion of these reports. This work signaled an increase in our collaboration and communication to develop our support base on the outside. While the reports themselves will not be public, we reported on many of our accomplishments and some setbacks during 2022 in our last issue.

This year we will do a better job of laying out the tasks to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, setting deadlines for those tasks to get done and assigning people to complete those tasks. While we made good progress on most of the goals we set last year, we had set a goal of returning to 6 issues of ULK per year without setting any real plan to achieve that goal. As it turned out some of the setbacks we faced ensured that we did not make any progress towards that goal, so we have removed any timeline from that particular goal until we can build up the forces to support its achievement. We will remain at 4 issues per year for the foreseeable future.

On that note we did make progress in diversifying roles on projects like ULK, the intro study program, and general handling of prisoner mail. We will be focusing on developing this diversification more in 2023, as we work towards our goal of having more locality-based chapters of AIPS to support comrades organizing inside.

This year North Texas AIPS will be working with jailhouse lawyers to update the Texas Pack. Once that is done, probably late 2023, we will release an updated price. If you want to be a part of the committee updating it please let us know ASAP. The current 2020 version is available for seven postage stamps. We get so many requests for legal resources from Texas, we do require that you pay for them.

2022 Financial Report

One piece of our annual report we did promise last issue that we did not have then was our financial report. In terms of our contributions from prisoners, the chart below shows that donations have been growing over the last 3 years.

donations from prisoners over 3 years

Our budget for 2023 is projected to be almost double the budget for 2021. This is primarily due to an increase in costs for bulk mailing of ULKs due to a loss in labor support, secondarily to a general increase in subscribers and associated mail over the last 2 years, and thirdly to a general increase in prices.

We are in good shape to meet our financial needs in 2023 with an expected increase in contributions from AIPS comrades. If we do not see such an increase it will be tight and we will not be able to expand our programs at the rate we would like.

The Broader Movement

In this issue we have a couple articles that address some efforts by others to organize around Maoism. We hope these brief commentaries can serve to help us consolidate more forces around the MIM pole of the movement. We may release more in depth papers later in the year.

We look forward to the coming year with optimism, as we see many opportunities for growth and development of our movement.

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[Political Repression] [Struggle] [California]
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Sacrifice Behind Bars

Revolutionary Greeting to you all!

Excuse me if I haven’t tapped in as often as I should or used to… I’ve been on a mission and roller coaster fighting these administrations not only by exposing and being the example as to how not to fear the oppressor when involving yourself and others in direct action politics and hard line… It’s a way of life, it’s a way of existing that comes with much sacrifice. What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to be without? Luxury items? Food? Nice clothes or any clothes at all and have nothing but the fire inside? A love one or communication with your people? I mean this is what’s at stake when fighting the enemy, this is the truth and all reality specially being a captive in these golden gulags.

I fight for my people and i fight to stay alive every fucking day homie, even when the people I fight for don’t have a spine to stand em straight, no voice to speak fact, no heart to love it’s community nor hand and fire to fight back… But I still do. Doing this guerrilla shit and living as an example ALWAYS send me back to the SHU’s, ASU’s, Solitary Confinement, Control Units of terror. Why? Because I’m a captive warrior of Brown skin, Brown eyes, shaved head and tribal tats smashing the oppressor with my heart , mind, hands, weapons, and pen.

There’s gonna come a time when we stop saying “Enough is Enough” and actually start putting that dialectical theory of knowing and doing into motion homeboy… make these dungeons unlivable, ungovernable, fuck kicking your feet up and being stuck on your tablet all day popping suboxone and snorting bottle… Huh? Sounds familiar Gee? Keep that shit raw and 100% then souljah.

So again to everyone on the streets, yea those street prisoners living lives like robots and that talk about eliminating prison plantations, for that we need a revolution first and foremost… and to all my camaradas/comrades stuck between a hard place and a rock up in them dungeons – what are you willing to sacrifice??

It’s fucked up to say this but I’m living a life where the systems of oppression are actively trying to end my existence for one reason or another… I’m back in the SHU as I explained on the other kite and again the pigs did their games of divide and conquer, smut campaigns, and became the suppliers to the influencers on the yard, in order to be able to execute hits via inmate lap dogs… some of yall know what I’m talking about. How many times does a pig swing off the “Big dawgs” nuts? And simply because of what that pig can do for those whack ass “Big Dawgs” they make those lames set up the real guerrilleros and call a hit on em?? All the fucking time homie… and all of you that talk about stacking your millions while fighting the oppressor behind bars, don’t tell me that you rather have this bitch on fire! Because the only way to stack your millions in prison is by pleasing the cops, do as they say so you can move “freely” and don’t get your “house” hit, and tell rebels to stop bringing heat to the block, stop disrespecting pigs!! So you can continue pushing your dough.

C’mon homie, you talking to a mofo that’s been in prison grounds since he was born!! My entire childhood has been spent in and out of the system and all my adulthood all I’ve known is prison so don’t mess me with that shit… I’m all for moving unseen and that hustle but not at the expense of the People’s fire, nor telling rebels to chill– Fuck that! Get your priorities straight and it’s time we start smashing those “Big Dawgs” on the yards if they on that $ $ign over the homies… Cuz if that’s eir get down then ey ain’t no different than the mofo’s keeping us in these cages.

Next time someone tells you filling 602 Grievances is snitching, or tells you to stop bringing heat to the pad or respect cops– Smash Em! He one of em! It might place you in another box with nothing but yourself and a mattress… But what are you willing to sacrifice? Live by example and turn it up then, cuz it all sounds very pretty on paper and word play but we have to start somewhere sometime… there’s a roll for everyone… are you fulfilling yours and actually building for the end of capitalism?

In Struggle

Push Pull STRIVE !

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[Campaigns] [Texas]
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Tx Team One & JFI Updates

In previous writings we’ve utilized the principle of self-criticism to critique the communications operations that We, Team One, previously had. Therefore, we’re enthused to announce not only new tactical methods of communication, but a new address as well.

Tx Team One
PO Box 720597
Houston, TX 77272

Also, in conjunction with the JFI campaign and in partnership with outside supporters, We’re presently soliciting contributors for a book project. This project will be a collection of personal experiences of prisoners who are working or have previously worked an industrial job in Texas prisons (TDCJ).

This work contributes to the portion of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative that deals with prisoner workers’ lack of payment and the practice of state coercion. Any and all prisoners who would like to contribute their personal experience via written word should write tot he above address. Those considered for publication will receive a reply.

Those committees and individuals who’ve written us in the past, but did not receive a reply, should write to our new address with your contact info.

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[Control Units] [Legal] [Campaigns] [Texas]
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End Solitiary All Confinement in Texas

On 10 January 2023, a new legislative session convenes.

Several state representatives have committed to utilizing proposals form Texas prisoners to implement reforms. Rep. T. Meza has stood out with her zeal to end solitary confinement throughout Texas’ prisons and jails. She previously introduced a bill along those lines that didn’t make the floor. However, this session with more support from her colleagues, and with a litany of Texas citizens concerned about this, things look to possibly end differently.

In conjunction with the efforts of state politicians on the 10th of January, supporters of this campaign will be protesting on both sides of the walls. Around the state prisoners are showing their support by hunger striking. People on the outside will protest in Austin at the state Capitol.

Lastly, there continues to be civil lawsuits filed against TDCJ and its practice of indefinite solitary confinement. One of Our comrades has filed suit and that’s been reported on in previous ULK’s. There is also *Hanson v. Barnett, CA No. 1:21-cv-629-RP-DH, an extensively detailed complaint filed in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.

We encourage all similarly situated people to file 1983 lawsuits, and if you need advice or assistance the address to Tx Team One’s legal representative is: 113 Stockholm #1A, Brooklyn, NY 1121

Note: see ULK 76 for the original announcement, and updates in subsequent issues of ULK. All articles are online at: https://www.prisoncensorship.info/campaigns/TX/end-indefinite-restrictive-housing-in-tdcj/

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Florida State Prison] [Pendleton Correctional Facility] [Florida] [Indiana] [Arizona]
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Woke Prison Officials See Racism Everywhere

The imperialists are crying “racism” to repress prisoner organizing, censoring mail
and punishing those who boycott their patriotic holidays.

Lately there has been a rash of woke mail room staff and prison officials who seem to be able to find “racism” everywhere they look. Under Lock & Key has been censored by a number of these activist employees of the state in Arizona, Indiana and Florida. This is very odd, as most of our readers know we rarely even mention the concept of race as we maintain that it is not a biologically valid concept, so clearly we do not believe or promote ideas of racism or racial superiority. But these snowflakes are just looking for reasons to be offended and use the state to crush free speech and association of the oppressed.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry - Office of Publication Review gave as one of their reasons for censoring Under Lock & Key 78 as:

“7.2.8 Content that is oriented toward and/or promotes racism and/or religious oppression and the superiority of one race/religion/political group over another, and/or the degradation of one race/religion/political group by another.”

“…The pages identified containing such content are throughout, including, but not limited to, pages 1, 2, 4, 9, 16.”

Page 2 is the same in every issue of Under Lock & Key and is an explanation of what MIM(Prisons) is and how our programs work. We do not promote racism or even discuss race on that page. Page 1, 4 and 9 contain reports on the struggle of Texas prisoners against oppression, and page 16 lists ongoing campaigns, including the one in Texas. It is confusing why Arizona is so worried about this campaign in Texas, and why they would call it “racist.” However, it did advocate boycotting the Juneteenth holiday, which triggered prison staff in Texas to get very repressive.

On 21 November 2022, staff member Chambers of the Indiana Department of Corrections censored Under Lock & Key 79 at Pendleton Correctional Facility. Pendleton has been censoring all mail from MIM Distributors for the last year for spurious reasons. Snowflake Chambers was offended by the spelling of Amerikkka with 3 K’s and decided to label it Security Threat Group material.

Security Threat Group (STG) can be used to prevent materials from entering the prison that facilitate illegal activities by a criminal group (STG). STG cannot be used as an excuse to censor people for their political beliefs. It is our belief that Amerikkka is a white supremacist nation and therefore we spell it with 3 K’s to criticize it as such. This is political speech, and it is legal in the U.S.A.

Florida State Prison (FSP) also deemed Under Lock & Key 79 to be “racist” among other things, on 2 December 2022. We really must go through their reasoning point-by-point for censoring this newspaper as it is quite revealing.

They objected to “Obtaining Copy of Lawsuit on TX Mail Policy BP-03.91” because “our inmates might try this”! The article is literally just telling people where to write and how much to pay to get a copy of a pending lawsuit around Texas mail policies. At this point it seems they’re just rubbing it in our faces to use the most illegal reasons they can to censor us.

FSP employee J.M. Clillen (sp?) goes on to cite “Alabama Prisoners Demand Freedom” because “talking about living conditions”. So that’s illegal now? If we talk about conditions in prisons all of a sudden we’re “racists”?

The one article Clillen cites that does not have a reason with it is “Free Palestine - Join the BDS Movement.” This couldn’t possibly be a threat to security at FSP, and is clearly just demonstrating their support for the Zionist (racist?) state of I$rael.

Finally we get to the “racist” claim, which was made against the article “Conquering My Demons” on page 13. This article is a self-criticism by a USW comrade regarding eir past substance use and misogyny, and a call for all of us to become new, better people. It discusses the resistance of oppressed nations against the imperialists – which is our best guess as to why they labelled it “racist.” Oh, and it also spells Amerikkka with 3 K’s. That’s not racism idiot, that’s a critique of racism.

There are no rights, only power struggles. And it is the oppressed and powerless who are denied rights by the powerful in this racist woke imperialist country.

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[Education]
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Study Ideology, Build Autonomous Cells in Aztlán

free aztlan chant

Recent political frame ups with our fraternal org Communist Party of Aztlán (CPA) has demanded that we raise awareness on political repression and contemporary work of the Cointelhoes. We will be starting a series on modern tactics unleashed on the oppressed nations.

We are also reaching out to the concentration kamps and to imprisoned Aztlán to develop Republic of Aztlán (ROA) cells in concentration camps across these occupied territories. Developing imprisoned Aztlán with communist ideology is the first step toward liberation.

Some of our founders were trained via MIM(Prisons) study groups and we want to revive this tradition once again. ROA chapters are autonomous and are required to go through MIM(Prisons) study group level one before being recognized and activated in a concentration kamp. Write in for more info on joining the study program.

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[Aztlan/Chicano] [Political Repression]
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On the Founding of the Communist Party of Aztlan

State repression is real in Amerikkka. The Chicano Nation has undergone colonization and occupation since 1848. In recent times our nation has developed in a way that calls for a higher level of organization. This demand launched the founding of the Communist Party of Aztlán, CPA (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).

Three days after the announcement of the founding of the CPA(MLM) our Chairman JV was arrested on trumped up charges. It is no coincidence that the arrest of our Chairman occurred after this groundbreaking announcement. We believe that the agents of the state have studied the contradictions on these occupied territories and their threat assessment highlights the threat a communist party for the Chicano nation would pose.

Our Party has created a think tank to analyze the immediate attacks on the Party and on Aztlán. We realize that the revisionist Trotskyite and crypto-Trots like the CP-USA and RCP-USA are allowed to exist intact because they pose no real threat to colonization. The CPA on the other hand is a different story. For this reason our Party is forced to go semi-underground.

We will not publish the names of our membership, but we will stand by and struggle to free our chairman of these false charges and illegal kidnapping. It is well understood that had our Chairman been a wanna-be capitalist or engaged in crimes against the people he would have been left alone. The minute he stands up for the raza, repression is rained down. This sacrifice was discussed and the necessity of the decision to announce the founding of the Party was decided.

Our Chairman is not only completely innocent, but was targeted by the state. This was COINTELPRO through and through. Our temporary loss of our Chairman out in minimum security is imprisoned Aztlán’s gain. The prisons are and always have been hotbeds of resistance, fertile grounds where revolutionary shoots thrive. The CPA will establish its presence and raise public opinion on both sides of the concentration kamp walls.

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[Polemics] [Economics]
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Class Collaborationism in International Communist Formation

On 26 December 2022, the Unified Maoist International Conference (UMIC) announced the founding of the International Communist League (ICL). The organizations involved see the need to build a new communist international, building on the legacy of the Comintern and the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). As we’ve explained elsewhere we disagree with the creation of a new communist international at this time.(1)

This new ICL is truer to the Comintern than the RIM was, but remains in the same outdated and revisionist global class analysis as RIM. The ICL statement clearly upholds MIM’s first 2 dividing line questions, while failing to address the third directly. MIM’s third point reads in part:

" imperialism extracts super-profits from the Third World and in part uses this wealth to buy off whole populations of oppressor nation so-called workers. These so-called workers bought off by imperialism form a new petty-bourgeoisie called the labor aristocracy. These classes are not the principal vehicles to advance Maoism within those countries because their standards of living depend on imperialism."(2)

Arguably, this line was somewhat controversial in the mid-1980s, when MIM struggled against the RIM’s Revolutionary Communist Party(U$A) on this question. The ICL statement addresses the question in most depth with the following:

“The economic crisis in 2008 that began as a finance crisis in the USA was unloaded on the masses in the oppressed countries and even in the imperialist countries themselves. Thus it has stricken the proletariat of the imperialist countries, which instigated sharp struggles for the defense of the achievements they conquered throughout the 20th Century. The consequences of this crisis were not overcame, this is why the recovering of employment is at the expense of worse quality, lower wages and larger working day. The recovering is at the expense of increasing the over-exploitation of the class.”(3)

We have never heard of “over-exploitation” in the context of humyn labor before, so defining that term seems important here. The text is correct to recognize that the crisis of 2008 was mostly pushed off onto the oppressed countries. The rest is sufficiently vague, while touching on some common cries of the social fascists. There is no summation elsewhere in this wordy statement of the class (or nation or gender) alliances of the populations of the imperialist countries. We are left with the impression that they are allies, even if they suffer less than most. To uphold this revisionist class analysis in 2022 is to ignore some crucial lessons from the experience of the RIM itself.

While upholding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR), this statement upholds the very ideas that the GPCR stood to combat – those of the Theory of the Productive Forces. It is inconsistent to deny the Theory of the Productive Forces and maintain that people in the top 10% global income bracket are the proletariat. Elsewhere we observe,

“Another lesson that MIM seemed to take from the great reversal in Peru, was the importance of having a correct global class analysis for Maoists everywhere. If a revolution based in the non-Spanish speaking indigenous peoples of the highlands of the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest is infiltrated by agents trained in the United $tates and divided by a magazine out of London, then we see the real material impacts of Third World communists seeing the people of the United $tates and Great Britain as 90% proletarian allies. Not to mention, to not understand the basic political economy of imperialism today is to lack a Marxist framework from which to change the world.”(4)

Our disagreement with the formation of an ICL itself is largely connected to our line on the labor aristocracy. But it also stands as its own point on strategy in our current conditions.

The RIM criticized Mao for not building a communist international. It seems the UMIC may agree with this critique based on their actions.

A difference in class/national interests between parties in the UMIC is one reason we believe it is a faulty strategy. At best, the oppressor nation parties will slow down the oppressed, at worse they will sabotage them. Another problem is the mixing of parties engaged in armed struggle with those that are not. This difference in strategic stage calls for different approaches based on different interests. Yet the statement announces that these parties are being held to democratic centralism with each other through the ICL.

Step Forward on Stalin

One point where we see the UMIC statement disagree with RIM, and in a good way, is in their assessment of Stalin during World War II and the overall theory and practice of the united front. Not only does the statement uphold the line of the Comintern during this period, it puts the blame squarely on the parties where revisionism took over. This is better than the RIM line (still upheld by many in the International Communist Movement (ICM) to this day), which criticizes the Comintern for rightism in its call for a united front against fascism. But MIM went even further than the UMIC in disagreeing with this critique of the Comintern to say that in countries like the United $tates there was no revolutionary path to take at the time. Even if the CP-U$A had a correct revolutionary line, there’s nothing they could have done that would have supported the USSR more than what they did, given their conditions. Those conditions being a base in the labor aristocracy.

The proliferation of statements and organizations upholding various tenants of Maoism offers some signs of Maoism being a living science that would-be revolutionaries are grappling with. Of course, the practice of People’s War does this a million times more.

Of all the controversies that have been taken up in the ICM in recent years, we have seen no public debate over the global class analysis. If you are operating in a Third World country and isolating yourself from the oppressor nations, then you could get very far without saying much on the topic of the labor aristocracy in the imperialist countries. But if you wish to engage in international conferences and you fail to recognize the class reality on the ground, you mislead and endanger the revolutionary movement.

A Note on Struggle Sessions

In our previous essay on this topic we criticized author Joshua Moufawad-Paul and the blog Struggle Sessions for advocating for a new International. On 2 January 2023, Struggle Sessions editor deleted all their articles and posted a declaration of the death of the project. This comes after a series of announcements and critiques coming from the former Committee for the Reconstitution of the Communist Party U$A (CRCPUSA), of which Struggle Sessions was an unofficial theoretical mouthpiece. We address some of the fallout from the collapse of the CRCPUSA in a separate article.

It is worth noting to our readers that the outlet publishing the statement of the UCIM discussed here is a political ally of the CRCPUSA and continues to support it as a project. They call themselves Communist International: Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Online Newspaper and are found at ci-ic.org.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), August 2020, Who’s Got Something to Prove JMP? Under Lock & Key No. 71.
2. MIM’s Three Main Points
3. 26 December 2022, Historical News of the successful Holding of the Unified Maoist International Conference: the International Communist League was founded!
4. this is from an unpublished paper assessing the history of the RIM that we may edit for publication some day if there is interest

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[Release] [Security] [Civil Liberties] [Santa Clara County Main Jail North] [California]
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Keep Families Connected, Unless They're in County

text behind pig eats mail
Profiteers like Text-Behind hinder prisoners’ connection
with the outside world with their communication technology services

This report is to inform other comrades of the new law that was passed called the Keep Families Connected Act in California and to expose the sneaky tactics the state is using to bastardize it. The Keep Families Connected Act states that as of 1 January 2023 all calls between Us (the prisoner class) and our families and friends will be provided at no cost to Us or our people outside.

Here in the South Bay there was no fanfare for the Act’s passing, no bulletin from jail administration stating this, or message on our tablets, which have the phone app most use to call home. After further research, i was informed by a Lieutenant pig that Keep Families Connected Act only gives free calls in CDCr facilities, and county jails like Main Jail North are not included. Seems California doesn’t actually give two shits about keeping families connected.

The tablets we have in California are already used to record your voiceprint (individually distinctive pattern of certain voice characteristics, spectographically produced) and facial biometrics (measurement and analysis of unique facial features, especially for verifying personal identity) which to even use the tablets you must agree at as part of the Terms of Use.

As is so common the case, anytime the oppressive elite pigs give us something, it’s usually poisoned, warped, and deformed to suit their means. To utilize these free calls your people must download an app first (for iPhone it’s GTLConnect, for Android it’s GTL Phone App). As a former hacktivist in the early days of the Anonymous Collective, i believe these apps could be infected with many different types of viruses, keyloggers and spyware included. This is true for the iPhone, despite many peoples’ false notions that Apple products cannot be hacked into.

It also should come as no secret that the Amerikan government does in fact spy on its people, as was exemplified by the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, and the revelations of the FBI’s COINTELPRO of the 1960s and 1970s.

But downloading an app is not all your family and friends must do. Once downloaded they must make an account, which if they use their real information, now puts a name, date of birth (and with this DMV records can be looked up, background checks administered) and thus every recorded conversation now has a face they can put it to. This is my speculation and by no means proven fact, yet we should always be wary and skeptical of anything handed to Us from the bloody paws of the capitalist-imperialist fucks whom oppress us.

We should learn from our past experiences through study to better identify such reforms for what they really are: Band-Aids for bullet wounds.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This week President Biden signed an Act to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure reasonable rates for any kind of voice or video calls made from jails and prisons in the country. To date, families and friends of prisoners have paid ridiculous prices for phone calls to their imprisoned loved ones. This profiteering discourages the maintenance and development of positive relationships in the community that are important for re-integration upon release. As such, we welcome these reforms, though they are a small drop in the bucket of the extreme forms of social isolation and torture imposed on hundreds of thousands of people in U.$. prisons.

We also share the concerns of our comrade above. Though communications into and out of prisons have always been assumed to be monitored, the technology to do so is at another level now. And instead of extorting families for phone fees, they are now strong-arming their persynal and biometric information out of them, extending the arms of the surveillance state into not just those convicted of a crime, but all who wish to relate to them. It is hard enough to get people to avoid such surveillance technology on the streets where people have choices.

In the early days of Corrlinks, we could use email to communicate with some of our subscribers. While we recognized the potential downside of surveillance, all mail is potentially surveilled as well. However, now that the model has developed they seem to uniformly charge money for electronic mail to prisoners and require the installation of spyware and giving persynally identifying information to the company and the prison. So if you’ve tried to email us through these services and we don’t respond, that is why.

We have been covering the topics of the distribution of computer tablets among prisoners in this country along with the digitization of mail that they enable. These developments strengthen the totalitarian control of the state, and often further limit communications with the outside despite the political messaging. Following in the footsteps of the phone companies, the new brand of prison profiteers are these mail processing companies like TextBehind and the old-timer JPay. As depicted in the artwork above, TextBehind has created a barrier for letters from organizations like ours from reaching people imprisoned in North Carolina.

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[Grievance Process] [Legal] [Tucson United States Penitentiary] [Federal Correctional Institution Tucson] [Federal]
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Cheating At Chess (The flaws of the Administrative Remedy in Prisons)

In prisons, there are venues for prisoners who have been abused or treated unfairly or inhumanly. When things like this happen, a prisoner has a right to sue… if he can get his case to court.

The problem is that because of PLRA, or Prison Litigation reform Act, it’s much more difficult for a prisoner, even if he is right, to get his case to court. In essence, PLRA requires prisoners to first exhaust the Administrative Remedy procedure… or a grievance procedure. In Federal Prisons, it is known as a BP.

So quick scenario; a Black prisoner is being harassed by white officers, who constantly use racial slurs and trash his cell, taking his family pictures and other valuables. The prisoner tries to file a BP to get to court. Months pass, with no success, so he tries to take it straight to court. The court shoots down his claim, because he did not go through proper procedure of filing a grievance. So, even if the prisoner is right, the courts won’t acknowledge his lawsuit because he didn’t go by the rules.

But, is the prison going by them? Let’s talk about that, and how prisons like USP Tucson are actually breaking the rules, making it very difficult for prisoners to properly file a lawsuit, because the Administrative Remedy procedure is horribly flawed.

To begin, let me pull up a statement from a case law, Woodford v. Ngo 548 US 81, 126, S. Ct 2378, 165 L.Ed 2d 368 (2006). I want to share with you an argument a prisoner had about the grievance procedure, and what the argument against it was:

“Respondent contends that require proper exhaustion will lead prison administrators to device procedural requirements that are designed to trap unwary prisoners and thus defeat their claims. Respondent does not contend,however, that anything like this occurred in his case, and it is speculative that this will occur in the future. Correction officers concerned about maintaining order in their institutions have a reason for creating and retaining grievance systems that provide- and that are perceived by prisons as providing- a meaningful opportunity for prisons to raise meritorious grievances. And with respect to the possibility that prisons might create procedural requirements for the purpose of tripping up all but the most skillful prisoners, while Congress repealed the”plain, speedy and effective" standard… we have no occasion here to decide how such situations might be addressed".

In short, this argument claims that the prisoner was incorrect that prisons could – and do – make it much harder for prisoners to file a grievance. After all, if the prisoner can’t file the grievance, he can’t get to court to sue the officers. In the above case, the Black prisoner is trying to go through the procedure, meaning he has to exhaust the grievance procedure, before he can go to the courts. This kinda makes sense, because one intent of the PLRA is to prevent a lot of frivolous lawsuits by prisoners.

But in doing this , there is a flaw, one prison has used a cheat in the procedure. Let me explain:

To begin the BP, or grievance process, a prisoner must first have an issue… ok, check. The prisoner claims discrimination against officers, so he has a right to file a grievance. Well, step one, as I use USP Tucson as an example, is to get what is called a BP-8. This is the lowest form of the grievance, and it should be available upon request.

Problem: Here at USP Tucson, it isn’t. The prison makes a policy that ONLY the Counselor can hand out a BP-8. So, what if the Counselor isn’t there? You have to wait to find the Counselor, because apparently no other officer in the world can get that piece of paper. This is already an obstacle of due process. In other states, you can get a grievance form from any officer, especially the ones working in your dorm. It makes sense, they are there all day, why not allow them to pass out the grievances?

But, if you change the rules, you then regulate how often you pass out the grievances. Now, you can’t get a BP unless there is a certain officer there. And if he/she isn’t there, they don’t pass them out. So, in theory, a Counselor can stiff-arm prisoners from getting a BP, by making excuses of not being there, or “not having any”.

I say this from a LOT of experience… this happens a lot here at USP Tucson. Many prisoners are frustrated with the Administrative Remedy because for most, it simply does not work. The case law implies that all prisons want to make the grievance procedure available for the maintaining of order, this is not necessarily true at all.

Another technique for obstructing the grievance procedure is to simply “lose” the grievance. If you manage to corner the Counselor and get a BP-8 form, you then have to fill it out and hand it back to them. Problem: The BP-8 is a single white piece of paper, and once you hand it to the Counselor, you have NO copy. So how do you know they actually processed it? In many cases, they don’t. They either “lose” it, or simply trash it.

So, if you can get past the BP-8, there then is a formal BP-9, which is on carbon paper. You have to fill out the form (if you’re lucky enough to even get one), then turn it in to the Counselor (if you can find “Waldo”), and wait for them to give you a carbon copy, if they don’t lose it or trash it.

Additionally, the carbon paper on the BP-9 is so poor, you have to have the strength of the Hulk to press down, to make the copy on the second page, let alone the third or fourth. So, the BP-9 is almost worthless after the first copy is torn off.

If you get no responses from the BP-9, then you have to go to the BP-10, which goes over the heads of staff. But rinse and repeat on the procedure. It is incredibly difficult to get the forms, when in actuality, it should ALWAYS be available to any prisoner, at any time, by most staff members. But staff plays keep away, from prisoners, to prevent them from getting the BP’s, so they cannot timely file.

I say all this from experience. In February, I filed a BP-9 against staff in my dorm because they refused to give us chemicals to clean the showers during a lockdown. Over that period of time, an average of 30 prisoners used each shower cell, and not one drop of chemicals were used to clean it. Think about that, how many of you would walk into a shower after 30 other people had already used it? How about 10? Even 5? No one here should have to do that, but staff knew about it, and did nothing.

So, I wrote a BP-9 and the Case Manager took it and “turned it in” to the Counselor, long story short, as of this date, 9 September 2022, I have heard nothing, and they had only 30 days to respond. My guess, they threw it away.

This is much like cheating at chess, where we have to match wits against a facility that seems to be dead set on preventing prisoners from properly (and legally) filing a grievance. Let us not lose the fact that the grievance procedure is Constitutionally protected; no officer or staff has the right to prevent prisoners from filing.

But, if you cannot complete the grievance, you cannot get to court, because they will claim, as the case law showed, that the inmate didn’t do the proper work, when in fact he did all he could do, but staff aggressively prevented him from being able to file. The courts seem to be blind, or naive, that prison officials would actually HONOR the grievance system.

Think about that, why would they honor a system that holds their staff accountable? Do you really think they are going to play fair if, in the example I gave, a Black Prisoner is trying to sue racist officers? Do you really think they are going to let the BP’s go through, when they can block it at every turn?

It’s like cheating at chess, and it’s also why so many grievances fail, because places like USP Tucson have figured out the loopholes and are exploiting them to prevent prisoners from their constitutional rights. It happens all the time, and nobody is doing anything about it.

I mean, take out my queen, rooks and bishops, and yeah, it’s hard for me to win too.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is why comrades in United Struggle from Within initiated the campaigns “We Demand Our Grievances are Addressed.” Comrades developed petitions for many states as well as the Feds to appeal these issues to higher and outside authorities to try to bypass the problem described above. This campaign has included other tactics like filing group grievances and even taking other group actions when grievances are ignored. In many states comrades have called for an outside review board to address these complaints. But ultimately, there are no rights only power struggles, so leaving these issues in the hands of the state will only do so much. The solution to the problem is coming together as prisoners, as the oppressed and fighting for these rights every step of the way. That is why we must build peace and unity among prisoners to get grievances addressed.

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