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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Upstate Correctional Facility] [Auburn Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 34]
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New York Prisoners Strike, Support California Struggle

16 July 2013 - I would like the brothers in the struggle to be aware that their movement is being felt all the way on the east coast. As you are aware I was last at Auburn Korrectional Facility. I was put in the box and given a 180 day sentence for rallying 22 other komrades on this end to go on a food strike in support of our brothers out west. It got so bad that 8 of us were held in the kamp's hospital and a court order was given to force feed us. I just got out of the hospital yesterday and I have restarted my strike along with the other 7 brothers I spoke of.

The pigs have violated our property and they have destroyed our books, including my Afrikana, Assata, and my Black's laws dictionary that my dad bought for me before he died. To make things even worse they destroyed my pictures, including a lot of my parents who are both in the essence now. I don't have any family outside these walls, so my komrads (and a deep seeded hatred of how these pink pigs treat us) are all I have.

I wanted you to print this in your next issue because I know how them brothers are struggling and they may think that they are in it by themselves. But I want them to know that they have some real militant brothers who have lost a lot now to join them in their struggle. There are only 7 others with me out of the 22 of us who put this thing into effect over here. The rest of my komrades have been scattered in other koncentration kamps. New York State has about 65 prisons from maximum security, which we are in, to minimums. What I do know is that we are on watch and soon will be whisked away where these pigs will fill us up intravenously so they can say they care. But we will continue our movement on y'all behalf until we hear or read that y'all have received the basic necessities in which you are fighting for.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While they are no doubt facing significant repression and conditions that merit struggle in New York, these comrades have stepped up to fight on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners in California. This prisoner and his comrades demonstrate the important principals of unity and self-sacrifice that are so critical to building the communist movement. While we frequently appeal to prisoners' self-interest in calling them to action, when this self-interest in aligned with the interests of the anti-imperialist movement, ultimately communists will act without regard for self-interest, in the service of the oppressed.

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[Censorship] [Education]
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Does Censorship Encourage Recidivism?

Why does a political newsletter such as Under Lock & Key get denied on a regular basis, but so called urban novels and other related material is allowed in to flood the cell blocks? The answer is simple, political material is dangerous to the established system of injustice. By censoring or abolishing political material the door is open for a replacement and how convenient that the replacement consists of literature conveying tales of drug peddling, murder, deception, racism and other criminal activity. The system uses this replacement as a means to keep ignorant prisoners in a criminal mindset and out of a revolutionary one, because if the lumpen spent the time wasted reading replacement novels with revolutionary research and education, we as a whole would be one stepping stone closer to complete abolishment of the injustice system. Sadly the ignorant prisoner cannot in his mind put down such material because the tales described leap out to him in an enticing manner. This is why the system wins and continues to operate in a full capacity.

The censorship doesn't stop at just political material, education period is under attack. The mail room drones will use any excuse to deny material which they feel would encourage an individual to think for himself and question the tactics of oppression deployed by the injustice system.

I chose this topic because I feel the individuals who fill their minds with system approved propaganda are the ones who suffer most in the long term and need to be reached out to and have the system's hold on their minds broken. I truly hope the many comrades who read this understand my point and will reach out to the ignorant and build them into solid comrades instead of pawns played by the injustice system.

I close this with the following: education is what will deliver the captives from the chains that hold them, but knowledge is not limited to just politics. One must be educated all around in order to attack this oppressive system from all sides and angles, because without education we are everything they want us to be: dumb, ignorant, and harmless. In all reality censorship does encourage recidivism, and as long as the oppressed remain ignorant to the tactics the system has nothing to fear. I encourage all who read this to put down system approved urban novels and pick up an education based book or newsletter, sign up for all political newsletters and educate those around you. Form a study group and become a part of the United Struggle from Within. With unity and solidarity we can abolish the injustice system and we will break these chains of oppression.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we have documented extensively, prisons across the country regularly censor Under Lock & Key and other political literature and even letters that we send to prisoners. This comrade is right that this is politically motivated. Denying prisoners political education while providing them with trash to read is one way the prisoncrats try to prevent political organizing. We need the help of lawyers on the streets to work with the Prisoner Legal Clinic on the day-to-day battles against censorship.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran SHU Sentiment Opposes CDCR Step Down Program as Hunger Strike Continues

29 July 2013 - The hunger strike seems to be struggling along. Corcoran Security Housing Unit stopped running yard for about a week. CDCR seems to be about to implement the "step down program" here at California State Prison - Corcoran SHU. And its so-called "conditional inactive release, monitored status" for guys who are being reviewed for inactive status by CDC DRB (review board). From what I've heard, guys aren't biting on the "banana-in-the-tailpipe" bullshit.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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CCI Prisoners Hunger Striking for Long Haul

29 July 2013 - On July 8th the hunger strike went as planned and continued until Friday. On Saturday 7/13 prisoners ate and also on Sunday. However, again on 7/15/13 some resumed the hunger strike [at California Correctional Instiution].

Medical personnel are coming by to check on us here hunger striking. We are not getting our weight taken nor blood pressure. Medical staff are just asking us if we're ok. A memo was given out before the strike saying we are able to get 2 appliances, a typewriter and other various items: shorts, bowl, tumbler, unlimited soups in canteen. But this stuff cannot be realized or verified as I haven't seen anybody get a lot of soups, radio/typewriter or cup and bowl.

No prison official has come by to ask of what's going on or what, although a C/O came by and asked if we are hunger striking and if so what for. I haven't heard of anyone going to medical so far. Mail is going slow and only about a couple pieces a section are getting passed out.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 15 Hunger Strike Report from San Quentin

Day 15 of the Death Row SHU (adjustment center) hunger strike. Almost 50 participating and the administration is scratching its ass in frustration, using every dirty track in the book (operational procedure [OP608]).

After 3 days we're official hunger strikers. Within only 2 days we were getting set up to be declared "leaders" by a sergeant or lieutenant under the guise of negotiations. By day 5 the facility captain started sweating us. At this point our peaceful action shows potential to expose human rights violations due to imminent media attention, so prison officials hoping to cover things up deem this a disruption to facility operations while part of their clique forms an Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) which then threatens us with a Rules Violation Report based on their wild stretch interpretation of 15 CCR 3315 (a)(2)(L). This makes each of us a documented/validated participant in a Security Threat Group (STG) action (OP608, sec419 B.m.n.). If that fails to halt the advance of our struggle for basic human needs, CDCR's playbook then calls for an intensified sensory deprivation program to be implemented (OP608, Sec. 419 C/Sec. 815). All this clearly demonstrates CDCR's premeditated response to our peaceful action is the continuation of violent torture methods with malice under the guise of "security."

Course of action: everyone simply states they have nothing to say. Thus, nobody provides evidence of being "leader" or "an organizer" through individual testimony. The open letter with its list of demands speaks for itself in behalf of us all, participating or not, while our non-violent participation in the struggle is an action which speaks louder than mere words. We're simply allowing CDCR's twisted response to unravel, thus exposing their premeditated malice which they have reworded in the OP608.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Medical Care]
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Hunger Striker Dies in Corcoran

billy sell rip
Original art by Billy Sell of the torture cell
he died in at Corcoran State Prison.
On Monday, 22 July 2013, 32-year-old Billy "Guero" Sell died in his cell in the Security Housing Unit at Corcoran State Prison. Prisoners near him reported that he had been requesting medical attention while on hunger strike, but his requests were ignored.(1)

MIM(Prisons) has joined the many organizations and individuals who are demanding that the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) address the medical needs of prisoners throughout the hunger strike. These people are hired as public servants, and yet they allow people to suffer and die by denying basic medical care. We don't know what the cause of Billy Sell's death was, but we know a number of comrades who have known conditions that are not being addressed during the hunger strike. While those on strike are not getting the state-mandated medical checks.

In our years of experience advocating for U.$. prisoners, it has not been uncommon for Amerikans to say "let them rot" or even become belligerent towards us for something as benign as handing out a flier. It is no surprise then, that our comrades are reporting similar attitudes from the staff who are overseeing their well-being in California prisons.

This kind of oppression is exactly what the current prison movement needs to combat. There is a social force opposing the lumpen of the oppressed nations. And the only way to stop this abuse is for the lumpen of the oppressed nations to organize as a counter force, which means organizing in a different way than they have been in recent decades. Ensuring prisoner health requires survival programs organized by the oppressed populations themselves. These are rights that prisoners supposedly have in this country. But as we know, no rights are guaranteed unless you fight for them.

As the strike in California passes the 20-day mark, the tens of thousands of people who have completed their solidarity strikes need to be building more long-term institutions - study groups, health campaigns, legal assistance clinics, etc. These are the first steps towards building independent institutions of the oppressed, which are necessary because the existing institutions of the state will kill us.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran Conditions Worsen As Strike Advances and Many Stand Strong

11 July 2013 - As you well know we are demonstrating and will continue until demands or compromise is met!

As of now everything is running smoothly! All basic modified program - regular medical ducats, regular nurse/pill rounds, regular C/O security checks, nobody in my general area has complaints of negligent or abusive behavior.

Just got word of cell extractions being done to certain individuals in some buildings.

They've passed out CDC 128A forms regarding future discipline if behavior persists.

I received a letter from California Prison Focus in Oakland, it was almost one month 1ate! An obvious stall tactic. It was in regards to the 7/13 rally/march in front of CSP-Corcoran asking to let loved ones/friends know.

No weight checks or medical checks as of now (5:00 pm). Institutional procedure not being followed.

Thank you.

13 July 2013 - Day Six: No weight/med-health checks as of now. Man down response time was thirty minutes yesterday. Rally/march is active outside the walls!

Regular C.O./Sgt/Med staff checks have ceased. Most of us are single cell by choice and won't receive cellmates during demonstration. Nothing more we can do at this point. C.O./Sgt/Med staff definitely not following proper procedure.

Please contact my family if something happens to me.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Hundreds of people did rally outside of Corcoran State Prison on 13 July 2013 in the brutal heat to show support for the strikers inside. Those on the outside who want to support the struggle against torture in California prisons should contact state officials and voice your concerns and help spread the word through demonstrations and sharing information with others.

The reports above were delayed in reaching us, but is the most recent report we have from Corcoran. The latest from the CDCR is that 1,000 prisoners are still on strike in California early in week three. They reported over 12,000 who met their criteria for being on a hunger strike at the peak, and around 30,000 who participated on July 8th. They said only one prison had a significant work stoppage. There's no way for us to get any better numbers than these, but the drop in numbers correlates with the reports we've been getting from some. That said 1,000 people is a lot to take it for the long haul. Outside support continues to rally with more progressive groups and individuals signing on as supporters and making public stands with a coordinated one day fast being coordinated for the end of July.

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[Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Martinez Hunger Strike Ends with Partial Victory

On 07-19-2013 all MDF hunger strikers suspended their hunger strike. Below are the demands that were met by MDF command staff:

DEMAND #1 was granted in full. Classification shall tell you in writing what you are being held in Ad-Seg for as well as program expectations to be released from Ad-Seg.

DEMAND #2 Command staff is working to come up with a free time schedule that follows title 15 standards. One part of this that is granted in full is that all detainees will be given an opportunity to empty their trash can EVERYDAY.

DEMAND #3 had 3 parts. Two parts were granted in full. MDF medical/mental health staff shall no longer conduct ANY type of appointment on the intercom system nor at detainees’ cell door where private medical issues are heard by others in violation of medical privacy laws (HIPPA). The third part of allowing Ad-Seg detainees’ to reach medical triage on the phone systems, as all other modules do, is still being worked on with command staff.

DEMAND #4 Command staff informed classification to ONLY house mentally ill inmates on D-module as a last resort.

DEMAND #5 was granted in full. ALL MDF detainees’ will be allowed to purchase ink pen fillers from canteen. Also necessary photo copies will be made for detainees’ filing court documents. These will be implemented in a reasonable time frame.

It is in good faith that we suspend our hunger strike and that MDF command staff will continue to implement our 5 Core Demands. MDF command staff has been very open to our ideas. With the exception of DR. DENNIS MCBRIDE who tried to guide detainees’ into refusing water as well as food.
We hope all other hunger strikers can get some much needed relief on their demands. If this does not occur we will resume our hunger strike.
Special thank you to our loved ones on the streets, all organizations and media outlets who covered our struggle, as well as Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer- Welcome home & Dan Horowitz, Nicole, Lesli and Mikes sister.


MIM(Prisons) responds: See the original article announcing the Martinez demands where we address the shortcomings of their demands, which included segregating mentally ill prisoners. The victories here are small reforms riding on the coat tails of the central struggle here, which is to shut down long-term isolation. Control units were originally created to separate leaders from the general population. But this division has been two-fold in that now the interests of those in control units are not felt as dearly by those in general population. Even so, the last few weeks have shown a great level of consciousness among the whole prison population about the inhumane conditions those comrades in SHU and Ad-Seg face. We hope those who stood up in Martinez continue to support that struggle, which is really central to the prison movement itself. Without a prison movement, prisoners have no real means of addressing abuse, which can be so common in prison.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Formula for Fighting Abuse in Texas

On June 29, 2013 a Black Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional officer with the last name Ford used his handcuffs on a Latino/Mexican prisoner as if the handcuffs were brass knuckles. Officer Ford punched the prisoner repeatedly in the head. Fellow prisoners who witnessed this heinous act requested to be given witness statements. Captain Vincent, Lieutenant Sutton, and Sergeant Landrum refused to produce witness statements. This is just one more incident adding to a long list of human rights abuses and violations that have taken place on the Estelle Unit located in Huntsville, Texas.

We have found through our experience that the Grievance Program is corrupt in Texas prisons. Nevertheless, in order to maintain a record of the incident and preserve the right to file 42 US 1983, total exhaustion of administrative remedies is a must per the corrupt PRLA law. I and many comrades in Texas and beyond have written the U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division - Special Litigation Section. I've gotten back the same form letter response over 6 times! They ain't doin' shit! The abuse continues.

Handcuffs being used as brass knuckles!!? Ranking supervisors refusing to pass witness statements!!? These are criminal acts. There is an ongoing conspiracy to cover up said illegal acts in Texas prisons.

I have discovered a "formula" that works very well in reference to combating these oppressors in Texas, especially when they band together in order to cover up blatant acts of abuse and humyn rights violations by TDCJ employees:

  1. Media coverage - form bonds and relationship of trust and respect with journalists.
  2. Prisoner rights activists - we all need free world helpers.
  3. State and federal legislators - you must seek an authority higher than the prison administrators.

This 3 step formula is good for all states but the specifics will change by geographic location. However, at this time our focus is on Texas! Step 1s don't work, Step 2s are a joke. O.I.G.? Impotent. Executive Director Brad Livingston, Texas Board Chairman Oliver Bell, all T.D.C.J. offices and entities operate under the same program and that is cronyism, nepotism, obstruction of justice tactics and cover-ups.

Who is ordering TDCJ to downplay and coverup acts of abuse and barbaric acts of violence aimed at prisoners? Answer: Texas State Attorney General Gregg Abbott! He is at the top of the food chain and remember he is running for Governor in Texas. It is time for the Attorney General's office to be held accountable for all these heinous acts of violence being perpetrated by TDCJ employees with no accountability.

Putting Theory into Practice

I've set forth the formula, now it is time to fill in the blanks so we may test our model.

Media/Journalists

  1. Brandi Grissom - Managing editor/journalist, The Texas Tribune, 823 Congress Ave, Suite 210, Austin, TX 78701
  2. The Texas Observer, Attn: Emily DePrang - Staff writer, 307 W. 7th St, Austin, TX 78701
  3. Austin American Statesman, Attn: Mike Ward - Journalist, 305 S. Congress, Austin, TX 78704
  4. The Prison Show!, Kathy Griffin Grenan, Hank Lamb, KPFT-FM 90.1, 419 Lovett Blvd., Houston, TX 77006

Prison Activist Organizations

  1. Texas CURE, Attn: Joan Covici-Michael Jewell & Friends, PO Box 372, Barleson, TX 76097
  2. Attn: Quanell X & Krystal Muhammad, SHAPE Community Center, 3815 Live Oak, Houston, TX 77004

Legislators - at this time Estelle Unit is starting to register on the radar, let's help it along

  1. Texas State Senate, Senator John Carona, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711
  2. Texas State Senate, Senator Wendy Davis, PO Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711

Comrades, all of this information is meaningless and useless if you do not test it - practice it! Let's consider a quote from our esteemed Comrade Fred Hampton: "You might say, 'well the way I feel, people ought to be able to walk around naked because rape is love.' That's idealism. See what I mean? You're dealing in metaphysics. You're dealing in subjectivity, because you're not testing it with objective reality. And what's really wrong is that you don't go test it. Because if you test it, you'll get objective. Because as soon as you walk out there (naked) a whole lot of objective reality will vamp down upon your ass and take whatever you have. So whenever this happens, this is when people get a whole lot of mistaken ideas. That's why a lot of you can't understand and can't agree with a lot of what we said. You've never tried it." He continues later saying "That's what the Black Panther Party deals with. We're not metaphysicians, we're not idealists, we're dialectical materialists. And we deal with what reality is, whether we like it or not."

The Reality

The reality in Texas prisons is we the lumpen underclass are being degraded, dehumanized, mistreated, and abused. The persons who are in positions to protect us from such abuses are turning a blind eye to our plight. We are being murdered, raped, and beaten by the very people who are being paid to provide safety. The only way to combat this is by shedding light on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Attorney General's Office who is 100% culpable in regards to these crimes against humanity.

MIM(Prisons) is the tip of the spear. I am only one of many hands wielding the spear. I close with a quote from Chairman Mao: "Our point of departure is to serve the people whole-heartedly and never for a moment divorce ourselves form the masses, to proceed in all cases from the interests of the people." Mao Zedong, On Coalition Government

If we put as much time into this fight as we do on the domino table or the rec yard, change will come in Texas. The comrades in California are a stellar example of solidarity in action. As Eric B. and Rakim used to say "Follow the Leader!"

All Power to the People!

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[Gang Validation] [Abuse] [Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center] [Connecticut]
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Security Risk Group in CT is Arbitrary Punishment for Beliefs

In the Security Risk Group (SRG) unit in Connecticut they have taken toothbrushes that we were allowed to have, we only have one jumpsuit, and even if we're sweaty we are required to put the jumpsuit on. All prisoners are supposed to have 2 uniforms. We are denied religious services, we are denied schooling, and they have taken an electric socket out of the cell. We were denied library access even though this prison has one of the best libraries in the state, and we get no contact visits even though most prisoners have no tickets. SRG lumpen organization membership has tripled since 2005; 40% of the prisoners who come here are not really a part of any group but end up leaving a member. Some prisoners will get affiliated on purpose to come to the gang block to become a member. This unit is a hoax and a way for the pigs to get paid more.

When I first went to SRG in 2008 we went outside every day and had regular toothbrushes, visits 7 days a week, and this was at a supermax, Northern Correctional Institution. In September 2008 they moved the SRG block here to Corrigan. We had two uniforms. I only lasted 4 days and was sent back to Northern as a "threat member" (SRGTM Block). Slowly they took TVs, CD players and finally the revoking got so bad, they applied handcuffs on us during phase 1 of the SRGTM program (a lotta komrades including myself have a civil suit over it).

Both programs, SRG and SRGTM, consisted of 3 phases. Now they are combined so there's only one program called SRGMP (Security Risk Group Member Program) merging both programs and now there's 5 phases. Phase one and two are done at Walker Correctional Institution and phase 3,4, and 5 are done here. Due to the merger there are more rules and ways to threaten and make a komrade stay longer. This SRG hoax needs to be destroyed. There is no need for all this extra funding. Or to be punished for one's beliefs. As long as we are not breaking any of this country's man-made capitalist laws.

How are prisoners allowed 3 visits in phase 1 and 2 but only 1 visit in phase 3,4, and 5? We are tired of being experimented on! Would a letter to the governor and Department of Justice change anything? We will see. Connecticut SRG prisoners are not allowed to start petitions, we get tickets for it. All need to march to the capitol's front steps in Hartford, Connecticut and protest the oppression being put on political prisoners in this SRGMP. When we get political it makes it harder for pigs to explain why they're oppressing us or why they need this SRGMP.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have reported on this abusive treatment of prisoners classified in a Security Risk Group in Connecticut in previous articles. This ongoing pattern of abuse will require unity among the many prisoners being oppressed by the Connecticut Department of Corrections. Pushing prisoners into lumpen organizations is common in prisons, and it often keeps different lumpen groups divided and fighting each other rather than focusing their power on the real enemy: the criminal injustice system itself. This is the purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, to build peace among the lumpen and unity for the fight against the injustice system. We call on our comrades in the SRGMP to work with your organizations to join the UFPP and build the anti-imperialist movement.

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