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Under Lock & Key

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[Gang Validation] [Legal] [California]
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STG Pilot Program Primer

Editor: Clearly there is nothing in these new rules that could be considered an advance for the plight of California prisoners who face torture (and the threat of torture) in the Security Housing Units. We print this for informational purposes for those facing this repression and hoping to understand it better.

This is in regards to "the new rules for deciding who is a gang member or associate and whether those prisoners are placed in a Security Housing Unit."

Prisoners in California: you must request and insure that your institution makes the new rules concerning "gang validation" available to every prisoner as they are not currently making them so. In the meantime if you wish to receive them independent of CDCR, then you can request them directly from the California 'Prison Law Office.' You should also request the new 'Pilot Program Memorandum' concerning the new validation process as this has also not been made available to many prisoners. You can also request the newly revised criteria for the 'Step Down Porgram' (SDP) as the Title 15 California Code of Regulations has not yet been changed to reflect these changes. "The new rules are being phased in between October 2012 and summer 2013 and will be in effect at all CDCR prisons. The pilot program will last for two years while the CDCR evaluates whether it is "effective."

What are the main changes under the Pilot program?

  1. The validation and housing rules now refer to a broader category of "security threat groups" STG which includes prison gangs, disruptive and/or street gangs;
  2. When validating prisoners as STG affiliates, the CDCR will continue to take into account similar types of "source items" as under prior gang validation rules. However, there is a new "point" system by which different sources carry different weights. There must be three source items adding up to at least 10 points to validate a prisoner as a STG affiliate, replacing the old rule that just required three source items. To be current, evidence of STG behavior must have occurred within the previous four years.
  3. STG behavior or possession of STG contraband are now listed as administrative rules violations. STG related directing, controlling, disruptive or violent behavior is a serious rule violation. STG behavior is that which promotes, furthers or assists a STG. There is a matrix setting forth the consequences of STG related rule violations on housing and program status for validated STG affiliates or former affiliates.

What will happen to prisoners who were validated as gang affiliates before the pilot program took effect?

"According to CDCR headquarters staff, the DRB (Departmental Review Board) reviews will be conducted at each prison and prisoners can attend their review hearings. The reviews have already started, but it is not known how long it will take to complete review of approximately 3000 prisoners who were validated as gang affiliates prior to October 2012. Although there are no rules regarding when current SHU prisoners will be reviewed, it appears that the CDCR is starting with the associates who have been in the SHU the longest.

"Prisoners who are released from SHU as a result of the case-by-case DRB reviews (or who were released from SHU under the old rules for inactive gang members) can be placed in SDP for confirmed STG behavior, for getting one serious STG-related rule violation, or for getting two STG-related administrative rule violations within a 12 month period. Prisoners can also be sent to the SDP based on newly received information from other law enforcement agencies or from outside CDCR's jurisdiction; the STG behavior must have occurred within the last four years and the source information must total at least 10 additional validation score points.

"Validated prisoners who were already serving indeterminate SHU terms prior to the enactment of the pilot program will not be re-validated under the new process and criteria. Instead each of those prisoners will be reviewed by the DRB to determine if the prisoner will remain in or be released from the SHU."

What are the criteria for validating prisoners as STG affiliates under the pilot program?

"Validation as either a member or an associate requires at least three independent source items with a combined weighted value of 10 points or greater coupled with information/activity indicative of membership or association. At least one of the source items must be a direct link to a current or former validated STG member or associate, or to a person who was validated within six months of the activity described in the source item.

"The types of validation source items that can be considered are the same as those used by the CDCR in the past. However, the different assigned so that some items are weighted more heavily than others. The points assigned more heavily than others. The points assigned to the various categories are as follows:

"Two points: symbols e.g., hand signs, graffiti, distinctive clothing), written materials that are not in the personal possession of the prisoner (e.g. membership or enemy lists, constitutions, codes, training material)
Three points: association with validated STG affiliates information information, debriefing reports
Four points: written materials that are in personal possession of the prisoner, photos that are no more than four years old, CDCR staff observations, information form other agencies, visitors known to promote or assist STG activities, communications (e.g. phone conversations, mail, notes)
Five points: self admissions
Six points: crimes committed for the benefit, at direction or in association with an STG, tattoos or body markings
Seven points: official legal documents showing STG conduct"

What is the process for validating prisoners as STG affiliates under the pilot program?

"The process for validation under the pilot program is quite similar to the CDCR's previous validations process, although the titles of some of the staff and the names of the forms have been changed."

Where are validated STG affiliates housed?

"Under the pilot program, some STG affiliates must be placed in the Step Down Program which generally requires placement in SHU. However, some STG affiliates can remain in the general population. Where the validated prisoner is housed will depend on the level of STG involvement and/or the prisoner's behavior:

"An STG-1 member will be placed in the SDP

"An STG-1 associate will be placed into the SDP if any of the validation source items involve serious rule violations for STG behavior that are SHU-able offenses.

"An STG-II member or associate will be placed into the SDP if at least two of the validation source items involve serious rule violations for STG behavior that are SHU-able offenses. Otherwise, and STG II member or associate shall be housed in the general population or other appropriate housing (This also applies to the previous STG-1 definition)

"And STG-II member or associate will be sent to the SDP if found guilty of two STG related rule violations which are SHU-able offenses per 15 CCR 3341.5 (c) (9). Prisoners can also be moved to higher validation levels based on newly received information from other law enforcement agencies or from outside CDCR's jurisdiction; the STG behavior must have occurred within the last four years and the source information must total at least 10 additional validation score points.

"Once a prisoner is in the SDP he/she must complete four steps to return to non-segregated housing. However, a prisoner does not need to acknowledge or admit to being an STG-affiliate"

Can validated STG affiliates debrief?

"...Prisoners who are validated as STG-II affiliates can debrief while they are in the SDP, although they may also be allowed to debrief if they are housed elsewhere such as in general population or a regular SHU. The procedures for debriefing are somewhat similar to those under CDCR's previous rules in 15 CDCR 3378.1 through 3378.3. One important difference is that there is no longer a requirement that a debriefing prisoner serve an observation period prior to being in the Transitional Housing Unit (THU).

Note: "In a recent court case, a court held that a jailhouse lawyer's possession of a validated gang associate's chronos for use in preparing legal documents could not serve as validation source item. Since CDCR rules say that prisoners can possess other prisoners documents to assist them with legal work. Because none of the other source items in the validation packet provided a direct link to gang members, the court vacated the validation and ordered the CDCR to release the prisoner from segregation." See: In re Villa (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 838 (a de-publication request and consideration for review are pending as of 12/17/12)

The aforementioned new criteria and rules and regulations as listed here is in no way comprehensive, but is merely the most pertinent to the prisoner population. For a more comprehensive copy of the new STG validation, placement and debriefing memo get at your MAC reps and make them do their jobs! or do it yourself and request these documents from the administration at your prison or write the prison law office at:

Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964-0001

And once you get a copy, try to make enough copies for every building, dorm, etc. on your yard and put them somewhere everyone can see them, such as the dayroom; and spread the word!

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Hunger Strike Day 23 Report from San Quentin

On 7/30/13 (day 23 of the hunger strike) at approximately 1pm, prisoners on my tier began alerting adjustment center custody staff that one of the hunger strike participants was unresponsive. Prisoners kept yelling "man down, man down!" and banging on their doors until a goon squad was formed. One member of that goon squad was Officer Persaud, who sarcastically ordered the semi-conscious man down to come to the door and cuff up. During this potentially life threatening delay, the man down actually found strength to get his hands behind his back and through the solid door's food port. The prisoner reports he was then held by his wrists and then by the cuff chain as a mechanical issue getting the cell door to open ensued. Ultimately Persaud let go of the cuff chain and the prisoner then explains he fell face first into the concrete floor. The door was finally opened and the goon squad stormed in as if pouncing, ordering the prisoner to stand up.

The same day a second man down situation followed, with a similar response. Custody staff are expressing blatant resentment and disrespect toward participants in the hunger strike. It is my suggestion to those pigs that if their current job is not to their liking they should go back to "Bob's Burgers" or convince their torture unit overlords to grant the reasonable requests for basic human needs set for in the open letter, instead of throwing vigilante green wall style shit fits.

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[Security] [Civil Liberties] [ULK Issue 34]
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No More Secure Web Business in U.$. - MIM(Prisons) Email Shut Down

mimprisons@lavabit shut down by thought police

The bourgeoisie seems to be losing the battle for free enterprise against the repressive U.$. government. There can no longer be any commercial email service that does not provide direct access to all its users' information to the U.$. intelligence agencies. We discovered this today when our email server, lavabit.com, was no longer accessible and the owner posted a message stating,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations.

The clear implication is that the feds approached him to demand access to the communications on his server. Existing communications were advertised as not accessible to anyone but the user who owns the account. In order to not release any future user info to the feds he shut down the server; a decision surely not taken lightly when people depend on their email for so much of their lives.

Just earlier this week it was revealed that a popular hosting service for Tor hidden services was comprimised and sites on that server were infected with malicious javascript to reveal users' IP addresses (usually hidden by the Tor network) to a server located in Virginia. The obvious implication there was that this operation was related to U.$. intelligence agencies which dominate the region. One of the more popular sites affected by this attack was Tormail, another self-proclaimed secure email service.

All of this comes on the heels of the release of information on the U.$. National Security Agency's (NSA) system of monitoring all electronic communications in the world. Information released makes it clear that all major commercial software companies have provided backdoors to their software and online services to the U.$. government. With the destruction of Lavabit and TorMail, it seems clear that the United $tates has no intention of letting any exceptions to that rule continue. Whistleblower Edward Snowden was known to use lavabit.com for his email, leading many to conclude that Lavabit was a victim of the U.$. hunt for Snowden himself. Others have speculated that the attack on Tor was an attempt to scare people out of the so-called darknet and back into the friendly arms of Google, Microsoft, et al.

While using allegedly secure online services can provide an extra layer of protection, you cannot rely on an unknown party for your security anyway. That is why services with built in PGP encryption, like hushmail.com, are a joke from the get go. Hushmail.com openly works with the Amerikan government already even though they are not a U.$. company. Certainly other nations will attempt to seize the competitive advantage they now have over a business that has long been dominated by U.$. companies. And as we recently said, the positive of all this is a surge in demand and innovation in the realm of computer security.

For now, you cannot email MIM(Prisons); instead, see our contact page. We will be investigating alternative solutions and post them on our announcements and contact page once they are available. If you're still using unencrypted email for political work, get with the times and start studying our security links on our contact page. The last revolutionary generation underestimated the role of COINTELPRO until it was too late. It would be a crime against the people for us to make the same mistake with everything we know today.

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[ALKQN/PLF] [Campaigns] [United Front]
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LK Leader Calls for Unity

I am sending my revolutionary greetings to you in Black & Gold. I am an enforcer of the Latin Kings and I am extending an invitation to all Latino inmates to join forces with us to protect one another against all forms of aggression and discrimination. We should build solidarity and unity in a united struggle against this system of oppression. We must fight for our civil and human rights. I am encouraging you to unite with the ALKQN in our United Front against the capitali$t Imperiali$t United Slaves of Amerika. We should join MIM(Prisons)'s United Struggle from Within and start study groups.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade's support for United Front work against imperialism. This statement echoes the call to Build a United Front for Peace in Prisons, which was first initiated in 2011. A number of organizations and individuals have signed on to the United Front, and we encourage the ALKQN organization as a whole to take the leadership to a bigger stage and formally become a signatory to the UFPP. We believe that the politically conscious leaders of the ALKQN, including this writer, agree with the five principles of the UFPP: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence. And for the leadership of large organizations such as the ALKQN to come together and declare to the membership that these are core principles of their LO will send a powerful message to individuals and other LOs across the country.

For those interested in joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons, send your organization's name and a statement of unity to MIM(Prisons). Your statement can explain what the united front principles mean to your organization, how they relate to your work, why they are important, etc.

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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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