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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Political Repression] [Texas] [ULK Issue 36]
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Pigs in Texas Make Power Move to Silence Revolutionary Prisoner Voices

Background on Campaign to Resist Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence

In a move that caught some of us off guard, the Texas Board of Criminal Injustice has issued an order to drastically change the indigent mail policy within the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice, which runs over 111 Texas state prisons. In August 2013 the board convened and decided that starting October 1, 2013, indigent prisoners will only be allowed to mail 5 general correspondence letters per month! Indigent prisoners were previously allotted 5 letters per week. The primary reason cited for the drastic cut is the financial costs involved in providing postage for the tens of thousands of indigent prisoners housed in Texas prisons. However, there is a very real attack being aimed at the growing number of revolutionary voices that are popping up around Texas to expose the barbaric treatment and inhumane conditions that exist in Texas. It is validation to many of us that our voices are being heard by outside supporters, and this new policy is definitely a retaliatory reactionary response to our activism.

Just this year alone has exposed so many major problems in Texas:

  1. Texas surpassed 500 executions of human beings on June 26 2013.
  2. A wrongful death lawsuit was lodged against Texas in regards to the extreme heat (and the pigs joined the prisoners!)
  3. Texas leads the nation in prison sexual assault and abuse cases

Rashid of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter was moved to Texas from Oregon and the internet is buzzing with his detailed report of the mistreatment and abuse he has incurred since arriving in Texas.

Comrades, the U.S. Department of Injustice doesn't give a shit about us. In order to actuate change for ourselves we must unite in solidarity, get active with USW and MIM(Prisons), link up with sincere activists and media outlets who are sympathetic to our cause and "mash the gas" on these oppressors. Texas hates media coverage, so now we are forced to really make our correspondence count. Drop all the letters to organizations that are only offering lip service with no action and get with this movement! Share Under Lock & Key, increase your political study, stand up to the pigs. Don't let the comrades in California be the only true revolutionary soldiers.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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Democracy Denied to Abused Prisoners by CCI Warden

The wardens in the California prisons that have SHUs are to meet with the prisoners to address the human rights violations that go on here and make the necessary changes to put a stop to these abuses. But here in Tehachapi they are so corrupt and unethical that they will not meet with us. Instead they took it upon themselves to intentionally not process our 602s [grievance forms]. Every 602 we file to address the ongoing neglect and abuse of authority by California Correctional Institution (CCI) officials either gets lost or rejected under made-up policies. Their reasons for rejecting them are nowhere in the Title 15 or Department Operations Manual. When we prove them wrong is when our 602s go missing.

I have brought this abuse of authority to the warden, captain, and lieutenant's attention with no results. To my surprise I was informed that it was these high ranking officials who instructed the appeals coordinators to not process our 602s. These officials here would rather cover up and falsify state documentation instead of addressing and following their own policies. We have the documents to prove this, but if we can't get our 602s processed then it's pointless. These officials behave like they are above the law. They lie and openly admit that they don't have to follow their own policies regardless of who is negatively affected.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good illustration of what we mean when we call a system a bourgeois democracy. In such a system, certain freedoms are very important, especially those related to trade and exploitation. But for the oppressed peoples there is no democracy in this system. These state officials, who are bound by the laws of the state, regularly break those laws with impunity when it comes to the oppressed. That is why we say the rule of the bourgeoisie must be replaced by a rule by the proletarian class, whose interests would respect the rights of all to be free of the abuses prisoners face in the United $tates.

We believe this requirement that wardens meet with prisoners is an outcome of the recent prisoner strike in California that targeted the inhumyn conditions of isolation specifically. But it is no surprise that at CCI the high-ranking officials are denying prisoners' access to the legal appeals system through which they are required to file. In fact, this is not specific to CCI; we hear regularly about grievances being "lost" in many prisons. And this is why the campaign to demand grievances be addressed was initiated in California in 2010. This campaign won't solve the larger problem of torture in the SHU, or overall corruption in the criminal injustice system, but it gives prisoners a systematic way to fight for their limited legal rights to appeal wrongdoing by the prison staff. Write to us today for a copy of the grievance petition for your state. Organizing around this campaign is one way to organize the oppressed nations and classes to eventually replace those in power now.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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California Strike Negotiations Update

Since the July 8, 2013 hunger strike/work stoppage was suspended (5 September 2013) we've faced extreme retaliation ranging from multiple large scale cell searches to very small portions of food, etc. In Pelican Bay State Prison comrades have reported losing some of the granted supplemental demands (I told 'em so). Updates from October on the negotiations are basically saying CDCR is are not willing to break/compromise any further on the 5 core demands.

A few COs allegedly got attacked, isolated incidents for whatever reasons. In all, we hope to remain a peaceful protest, at least until a final resolve. We remain committed in supporting the New Afrikan and/or prisoner class regardless of the torturous/inhumane conditions to which we're currently enduring. "Knowledge is power, information is freedom, and education is our mandate." Long live Comrades George Jackson, Frantz Fanon, Mao Zedong, Malcolm X, VI Lenin, and Karl Marx. We will endure.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This report on the California prisoner strike is unfortunately just the news we expected from negotiations with the state over improvements in conditions. Promises to address prisoner concerns are easy to make in the face of massive protests and media attention, and quick to be broken as soon as the attention dies down and prisoners stop their protest. We know there are thousands of prisoners in California committed to this cause and ready to take up action again. Leaders must take this opportunity to once again build the support of California prisoners as a whole, and work out a strategy that will lead to the best possible outcome for those in this fight. In a previous article we discussed the possibility that tactical changes are needed, including the possibility of demands being formulated locally in each prison, while trying to achieve as much unity as possible across the state. Regardless of the tactics, we must be building revolutionary education and creating a cadre of solid activists in every prison so that we are prepared for whatever the state throws at us.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Hancock State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 36]
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Long-Term Lock Down for Prisoners United in Peace Treaty

I am a Georgia prisoner of war at Hancock State Plantation and just recently on 13 November 2013 I was locked down with numerous others on a Tier II program of "gang control" for long-term lock down. The administration says we are a threat to the security and welfare of the institution. We were stripped of all our property, including hygiene, and given state issue everything.

They tell us that the program is for behavior modification, which is crazy considering most of us haven't been to Ad-Seg in years. But they tell us the qualification for this program runs 5 years prior sanctions. We are not allowed to receive mail, literature, or be involved in programs for any type of reform even though certain inmates are required by courts to take classes in order to be released.

We only get one 15-minute phone call a month on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are working days to the employed across the United $tates. The phones turn on at 8am and are cut off at 4:30pm. On top of all this, our visitations are on the same days as our phone calls and we are allowed to have only 2 hours of non-contact visits with a 2-person max of visitors. Most of our families travel more than 2 hours just to see us.

Due to the lack of professionalism, or to the abundance of corruption, we do not receive our 5 hours of outside recreation, nor do we receive cell clean up, which is a violation of our prisoner rights per Georgia Department of Corrections Standard Operating Procedures. We are forced, by coercion of disciplinary reports and gas accompanied by a strip cell, to have a cellmate even though this is a long-term lock down unit and we are considered a threat to the security of the institution and other persons. I heard the warden tell the captain pig "to let us kill each other."

Nine months is the minimum time you can be held in this Tier II program, but if you receive a Disciplinary Report (D.R.) 90 more days are added to your stay. There are seven close security plantations in Georgia that have this Tier II program and they can hold us up to 2 years in each one, which is 14 years in isolation all together if they choose to hold you that long.

The pigs tend to aggravate and irritate us to react out of frustration so we can receive a D.R. They do everything intentionally in order to trick us into longer stay in Ad-Seg. They know that if everyone was to complete this program in 9 months they wouldn't have any program.

What's so fishy about this sudden occurrence of a Tier II program in Georgia is that earlier this year the Crips, Bloods, and GDs came to a peace treaty in order for us to unite against the pigs' oppression. We are not organized to the point of a name, but we are upholding the principles of the United Front. We are trying to educate our comrades in a more revolutionary mentality. As of now, most of the leaders and the more influential participants are locked down in Ad-Seg and I don't find this a coincidence. The pigs hate the idea of us uniting in peace and not killing each other.

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[Medical Care] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 36]
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Ohio Prisoners Take Up Legal Fight Over Medical Neglect

Though it is very difficult to rally my fellow prisoners here at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) to support any cause, I am happy to say that a small group of revolutionary minded brothers here have come together to fight against OSP's medical department with the assistance of the Ohio branch of the ACLU. I know that comrades in other states, such as California, Nevada and Texas have it much worse than us here in Ohio. But having been the victim of this state's deliberate indifference, I know how it feels to be denied the medical care that is my right as a human being and I am outraged not only for myself but also for all of my incarcerated, abused and oppressed brothers. A victory in this fight is a step on the road to revolution for us all and I hold out the highest of hopes for these comrades and their struggle.

I truly wish there was more good news for me to report from my cage in OSP but sadly, here as in most prisons, good news is hard to come by. Please add my name to the Under Lock & Key mailing list and let me know of any way I can help to support your organization. Also, at this point, I am starved for literature so if you have or are aware of any programs that can help me to get books and literature please let me know.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate people sending us reports like this about battles, both small and large, taking place across the country. We see the value of connecting struggles across states and learning from the successes and failures of people in other prisons. Under Lock & Key reports on these types of battles, but we go even further and offer political analysis and education around these struggles. We are not satisfied with simply fighting for small improvements in medical care or mail policies. Such improvements alleviate the suffering and improve the ability of our comrades behind bars to engage in political organizing, but they should also be part of our broader work to educate and build a strong and committed political center that understands the need to take on the imperialist system as a whole in order to dismantle the criminal injustice system.

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[Campaigns] [Organizing] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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Health Victory After Group Action at RJ Donovan

I was about to begin litigating matters regarding the ventilation system here when I came up with one last ditch effort to try and handle this issue on a diplomatic level. I managed to acquire about 60 CDCR Form 22s [informal grievances], and I was able to find 30 fellow comrades who were willing to sign their name to them after I typed up all the formal complaints. Well, all of those Form 22s were sent to the Plant Operations Engineer's Department, and we sent another 30 to the Plant Operations Supervisor. At the same time I had a good friend of mine and some relatives mail in a series of Citizen's Complaints on the same subject. Plus, the Ombudsman for R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF), Gabriel Vela came here in response to a letter I had sent to him over the ventilation problem. In other words, Plant Operations got bombed on from all sides, and they responded accordingly. They were up on the housing units today replacing the twenty plus exhaust vents that were not working on our building. Due to that equipment failure we were experiencing extremely high temperatures, humidity, and poor air quality.

My whole point for telling you this story is to show you and your readers that things can be accomplished if you hit 'em with overwhelming force. They knew that those 60 Form 22s would more than likely translate into the same amount of 602 appeals [formal grievances], which in case you don't know translates into about $1,500 a piece in man hours to process each one of them. I'll let you do the math. So, things can be done in numbers, "Yes We Can."


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade has been actively pushing the campaign to have grievances heard in California, which may also have contributed to these particular grievances getting such a direct response. H work to mobilize comrades there is commendable. Of course, this is just one small battle and just one piece of the work that USW leaders need to be doing. It doesn't cost them $1,500 to throw your grievance in the trash can. These types of campaigns need to be pushed with a healthy dose of political education to develop comrades politically, so that this type of unity can reach higher levels and address the real systematic problems. MIM(Prisons) runs correspondence study groups and offers materials to help USW comrades run their own study groups inside.

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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Update on CA Grievance Lawsuits

I have filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court on the inadequacy of the grievance procedure in California prisons. I've also written letters to the California Attorney General's Office, the LA County District Attorney Office, the Governor's office and various media outlets in order to seek their assistance in forcing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) staff to honor their own policies and regulations. All of my above efforts were to no avail.

The LA County Superior Court ordered an informal response when I filed my petition. The California Attorney General's office assumed the position of respondent to my petition and asked for an extension of time to reply to my petition, and then they failed to meet even that deadline. Before the Attorney General replied, the court denied my petition stating that I was not in compliance with the grievance procedure, despite being unable to cite a single grievance regulation that I hadn't complied with. This judicial abdication of CDCR staff lawlessness is routine in California state-level courts.

I had tried addressing the inadequate grievance procedure in the federal courts, by way of a federal civil suit that I filed against California State Prison - Corcoran. The ruling on this was that the CDCR's violation of their grievance procedure does not create a federal constitutional violation, basically saying that the due process clause is meaningless. The case is now pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, case number 12-17419.

My "take-away" from my efforts so far is that in dealing with these government types (da pigs, bureaucrats, politicians, government, attorneys, etc.) in general, you're up against brazenly socioeconomically biased, unreasonable, spiteful, hypocritical, out-of-touch, legitimized sociopaths. They work together to justify clearly unlawful behavior, and are adverse to a system of legitimate checks and balances. They see barely disguised partiality, in the disposition of their duties, as reasonable and good. We see evidence of this daily. I mean, the recently exposed NSA spy program is beyond any reasonable dispute a violation of the Fourth Amendment, yet they go on unapologetically violating the same constitution that they claim to cherish, absolutely Orwellian with the "double-think."

What irritates me even more is the public's complacency in the face of this brazen tyranny by this nation's power elite. The Declaration of Independence states that it is not only a right, but a duty for the people to replace a lawless government. When will we honor that duty?

Thank you for your time, consideration, and your work performed on behalf of the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's conclusions, and of course, we harbored no real expectations of action from the bureaucrats' offices and courts going into this campaign. This is why we constantly stress the need to organize people around these demands. The pigs are not usually going to do something just because it's right. They are more likely do something when they are pressured to do it. And pressure can only be applied when prisoners are organized for their common interests.

This is class struggle of the imprisoned lumpen against the bourgeois classes. When this struggle does not exist, our so-called "rights" under bourgeois democracy disappear, demonstrating that they never really existed in their own right. That is why we don't hesitate to report this comrade's failures, because they underline that important lesson. They also allow us to highlight the real victory in the grievance campaign, which is prisoners across many states acting in unison, sharing information and strategizing. Our strategies around this campaign need to keep the big picture of the balance of power in mind so that we do not get lost in an endless cycle of give and take with the pigs.

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[Abuse] [US Penitentiary Hazelton] [Federal]
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Physical Abuse Common at Federal Prison

Prisoners here are forced to expose their genitals and buttocks for staff pleasure, for periods of time of not less than 72 hours. If the prisoner refuses he may be shot with some unspecified projectile, sprayed with a respiratory irritant (chemical weapon) after the ventilation system is turned off, beaten by 6, 8, 10 or 12 staff in full riot gear, or have a destructive device (that's right, a grenade) detonated on the prisoner in a 12x10 concrete cell that is locked. All of this for petty offenses like refusing an order or having a clothesline in the cell. One prisoner had his foot shot off on the compound this summer.

I ask all who may read this to stand in solidarity with us at USP Hazelton, and use whatever resources are at your disposal to help us tell this story to the world in an effort to stamp out this repression.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Federal prisoners are often even more isolated than those in State prisons, further from family and less connected to community and resources. These abuses, which happen in prisons across the United $tates, are important to expose. Under Lock & Key demonstrates a pattern of this inhumane treatment. But we don't expect this alone to change things. We know that the criminal injustice system is a critical tool of Amerikan imperialism, and we can't hope to reform these problems away. We might help improve conditions for a few people by replacing the bad staff, or changing a few rules, and we do fight these battles, but only within the context of the larger anti-imperialist fight, because it is only with the overthrow of imperialism that we will be able to eliminate the injustice system and replace it with a system of justice for the oppressed.

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[Gender] [Abuse] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California]
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Retaliation for Grieving Sexual Harassment at KVSP

We are currently [5 November 2013] on lockdown since 29 October 2013 and each housing facility on D facility is being thoroughly searched due to an isolated "threat to staff" and weapon being found here on the SNY yard.

Contrary to the report in ULK 27, July/August 2012, Appeals to Sacramento Politicians Lead to Improvements at KVSP, I have continued to experience retaliation for utilizing the CDCR 22 and CDCR 602 process.

On 26 June 2013, while being interviewed by Lieutenant C. Waddle concerning the improper cross-gender and group strip searches of transgender inmates, Lt. Waddle fabricated a spurious disciplinary charge of "illegal sex acts" with my cellmate, which Sergeant M. Jones wrote in a falsified report. Two days later I was placed in ASU [isolation] and given an additional RVR for simply notifying Lt. Waddle of specific transgender housing and safety concerns by her intentionally rehousing me with a homophobic inmate!

Black & Pink has led an advocacy campaign, with letters of protest to Warden M.D. Biter and CDCR Secretary Jeffery Beard, concerning the sexual harassment and retaliation I have experienced at Kern Valley State Prison.

When I filed a property appeal for items lost during the above incidents, I was subjected to more retaliation, a punitive cell search and RVR disciplinary action for "Falsifying records and documents," by Sergeant D. Williams and Correctional Officer Walinga. This also was witnessed by my cellmate.

I believe that things may improve in the immediate future as a result of my appeals, but I have suffered irreparable harm in my struggle for equality and liberation. 602 appeals are currently pending in Sacramento.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While all prisoners (both male and female) are in a position of subjugation that leads to gender oppression while they are locked up, gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners face additional harassment, abuse, and oppression. As we discussed in our review of The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, fighting gender oppression in prison is part of the battle against imperialism in general. We have seen some recent examples of growing awareness and unity around this struggle, and we will continue to publicize these battles and educate prisoners on gender oppression in general. For more reading on gender, write to us to request a copy of MIM Theory 2/3.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Lieber Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 36]
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Setback in Food Refusal Protest

We recently had a blow to morale here in my dorm. A refusal to accept cold food went wrong as only a quarter of us refused. Since we were locked down, and only eat twice a day on weekends, most just took it. That left a few saying they would never participate again. However, you would be a good morale boost (Under Lock & Key) because it shows that the struggle is being fought everywhere. Maybe it will help them focus on the real issues. All I can do is keep trying.

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