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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Jordan Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Prisoners Win Victory by Filing Mass Grievances

I have some encouraging news to report concerning the grievance process here on the Jordan Unit in Texas. I am a medium custody G-4 prisoner and per the Texas Dept of Criminal Justice "Offender Orientation Handbook" (I-202) pg 32 which outlines the out-of-cell time requirements, we G-4 prisoners were being shorted our 4 hours daily requirement. We tried many different ways to rectify the problem. First we wrote the Major and then the Warden about this with no response. A group of us tried to "jack the dayroom," meaning not racking up in our cell when told, while others protested by kicking cell doors, forcefully making our requests and issues known to the pigs. This didn't work either, it just earned us a 24-hour lockdown.

Several of us wrote grievances periodically over the course of two months with each response being "no policy violation noted." Finally we decided to send in "a mass grievance." We submitted approximately fifty five to sixty grievances concerning "out of cell time" at one time. The response by the Warden was the same "no policy violations noted." The very next day after we all received our grievances back the pigs gave us our 4 hours out of cell time.

It took us over 6 months in trying different tactics, but we finally won. Crazy to think all we won was what we were supposed to have per the rules set forth by these pigs. I would suggest to every prisoner across the state of Texas following our winning process and submit "mass grievances," the more the better at one time. Persistence paid off in this case.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an encouraging report among many defeats in the grievance battle. And it is important that this comrade wrote up the tactics used so that others can learn from this. We also will stress what the comrade wrote: that all that was won is what was already set out in the rules created by the prison in the first place. We use the grievance system to try to win some improvements in conditions within the criminal injustice system. But we need to understand the limitations of this strategy and continue to educate people about the importance of dismantling the entire criminal injustice system. We can only win that battle as a part of the larger anti-imperialist fight.

(read more on the grievance victory at Jordan Unit)

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California] [ULK Issue 32]
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Taking Grievance Petitions to Next Level

I send my greetings to the reader of this letter. Thank y'all for sending me ULK 30. As always, it was easy, mind-broadening reading. Although I understand and accept the realities presented by your info, it is discouraging to see that we of this line of thought are the minority. As obvious as all of the societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies are, the majority of people still hold on to the lie that Amerikkka is a fair, just, and free society. It's absurd and obscene.

I had filed a state court petition challenging the staff's abuse of the inmate appeal process here at California State Prison - Los Angeles County. The judge has issued an order for the prison officials to informally respond, and they in turn were granted an extension of time on responding. The good thing is that the petition was not summarily dismissed as is routine in the California state courts. Nevertheless, the facts, law, and evidence are strong in my claim. If given a fair shake in litigating I absolutely expect victory in the case.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade filed a state court petition in the same vein as the campaign for the proper addressing of grievances which is now three years strong. Many participants in this campaign are still circulating petitions in their facilities and mailing them to their respective wardens, prisoner support groups, etc. But others, like this comrade, have applied their knowledge of the legal system to push the campaign even further.

We hope the state court petition this comrade filed does have its fair shot at success in the courts, as these victories can contribute to the larger struggle of the oppressed in this country. Sadly, we know this is unlikely, and it is for the same reasons why Amerikans choose to ignore the "societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies" we report on in Under Lock & Key. Even though all Amerikans have at least some general idea of the terrible things this country does across the world and within its own borders, they receive so many great things from being Amerikan that they are willing to accept and even back those actions. We are in the minority in this country. Rather than stay discouraged, we should do as this comrade does and take that as a cue that we need to work that much harder and with more creativity in order to pave the way for revolution. And always keep in mind that we are in the majority globally.

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[Abuse] [Censorship] [Illinois]
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Fabricated Protests and Repression

29 April 2012 — Greetings with love and peace. I hope you're all well and peaceful when you receive this scroll. My six month date to check in has arrived so here it is.

I have received the November/December 2011 ULK issues. I received the January/February 2012 issue as well. There was an article in there about some alleged protest at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois. Also, an article about the cruel and unusual conditions of confinement at Menard Correctional Center.

I was sent here to Pontiac Correctional Center because Stateville I.A.[?] members — in retaliation for me filing grievances and a 1983 on them — framed me as a ringleader in that alleged protest. I have since come to find out (as I suspected all along) that no protest occurred. Yet, I was punished with a year segregation for the false ticket I.A. issued against me.

I wrote an 11-page letter for ULK to publish in which I addressed this, the issues at Menard Correctional Center, and how I filed a suit on the I.A. for issuing me two false tickets in retaliation for me exercising my First Amendment rights.

The I.A. here intercepted that letter and wrote me up for Dangerous Communications, and attempting Dangerous Disturbance. I was found guilty and given six months segregation amongst other things. I filed a grievance and for the second time in my 12 years within Illinois Department of Corrections the ticket was expunged. The Grievance Officer called the Director and the Director told him to expunge the ticket and Final Summary Report.

Hopefully, this letter reaches you. Did the February 2012 letter of mine reach you? Just wondering if it went out since the ticket was expunged.

I had to refile my suit and did so last week. I think the judge may have appointed me counsel (as she should) because I filed another 1983 in the same envelope against Correctional Officer Christopher M. Medin from Stateville and already received a form to serve on him via the U.S. Marshal.

It is imperative that this letter be published as other prisoners were set up as well. My suit is in the Northern District under the title Mejia v. Harrington, et al., No. 12 C 2824.

All of the ULKs I received were confiscated by the I.A. here (Paul Blackwell) and I have grievances pending on those matters. Now all of a sudden I cannot have the March/April 2012 ULK. I have a grievance pending on that. Well, it's that hour for me to withdraw but open your minds and not your porno mags and state property boxes.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We are publishing this letter almost one year after it was sent to us because of the recent campaign being initiated in Illinois to expose and fight the censorship of Under Lock & Key and other mail from MIM(Prisons).

As is demonstrated here, we have limited access to information coming from behind the walls, and rely on the reports of our correspondents on the ground to tell us about how the prison movement is developing. The article from ULK 24 reported a unified uprising against conditions of confinement in the same spirit as the California action in July 2011. The more correspondents who write in on the political movement in their prison, the more sound information we will have to report on in ULK, particularly where we can cross-reference different reports to get an overall picture of what is going on. Get in touch if you'd like more direction on how to become a ULK Field Correspondent.

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[Gang Validation] [California]
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New "Expectations" Strengthen Repression of CA Prisoners

CDCR March 14, 2013 Advisement of Expectations
Click to download PDF of the CDCR's March 14, 2013 memo to prisoners about what constitutes Security Threat Group rule violations.

14 March 2013 - Prisoners in California received a memo advising them of the expectations placed on them by the state in regards to the new expanded "Security Threat Group" policies. When thousands of prisoners across California went on hunger strike to protest torturous conditions in the Security Housing Units, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) asserted that they were already working on the issue. This was what they were working on. Previously they offered "gang validation" to prisoners deemed to be affiliated with one of a handful of "prison gangs" within the system. This new policy expands the gang validation, and therefore long-term isolation torture, to all sorts of organizations that are deemed "criminal" or even just "disruptive." Keep in mind that if prisoners stand up against staff abuses, this is considered "disruptive" behavior and such prisoners face regular retaliation. While none of this is new, it is now official policy.

This new policy marks the continued decline of First Amendment rights for prisoners in this country. The state wants it to be illegal for prisoners to affiliate with each other for any reason. They want to keep them isolated in little cages with no contact with each other or the outside world. While many in this country still defend Amerika as promoting freedom, prisoners and the oppressed nations in general know that this "freedom" does not apply to everyone.

MIM(Prisons) joins in United Front with all prisoners in California who are now actively building resistance to these policies through the courts and through peaceful organizing and actions.


[Memo Passed out to prisoners 3/14/2013]


STATE OF CALIFONRIA(sic)
CDCR 2260 (10/12) Attachment E

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION
Advisement of Expectations

It is the mission of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (CDCR) to preserve public safety and provide offenders with
opportunities to take responsibility for their lives and improve their chances of
becoming productive members of the community.

The CDCR maintains a zero tolerance for gang and security threat group
activities and behavior. Within the CDCR, prison gangs, street gangs, and
disruptive groups are referred to as Security Threat Groups (STG). CDCR
maintains a pro-active approach to STG management.

Offenders found guilty of violating criminal or administrative statutes shall be
dealt with 'in a manner consistent with department policy. This shall include,
but not be limited to, loss of privileges, increase in custody level, loss of work
credits, segregation from the general population, and/or referral for criminal
prosecution.

It is your responsibility to abstain from activities that assist, promote, or
endorse any STG within or outside this facility/institution. Your
responsibility includes familiarizing yourself with laws and regulations that
govern STG activity including the Security Threat Group Instructional
Memorandum, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Division 3,
Sections 3000, 3023, 3314, 3315, 3323, 33,41.5, and 3378, and Department
Operations Manual Chapter 5, Article 22. Some of which are outlined below.

CCR (Pilot), Section 3314, Administrative Rule Violations, states in part:
(a)(3) Administrative rule violations include but are not limited to;
(a)(3)(L) Security Threat Group Contraband: Possessing or
displaying any distinctive materials, symbols, clothing, signs, colors,
artwork, photographs, or other
paraphernalia associated with any Security Threat Group;
(a) (3) (M) Security Threat Group Behavior: Demonstrating or
exhibiting any unique behaviors clearly associated with a STG that promotes,
furthers or assists any Security Threat Group.

Examples of this behavior or activities include:
*Active Participation in STG Roll Call;
*Participating in STG Group Exercise;
*Using hand signs, gestures, handshakes, slogans, distinctive
clothing, graffiti which specifically relate to an STG;
*In Possession of Artwork (other than self created and not
original) clearly depicting recognized STG symbols;
*In Possession of Photographs that depict STG Association.
Must include STG connotations such as insignia, symbols, or other
validated STG affiliates;

CCR (Pilot), Section 3315, Serious Rule Violations, states in part
(a)(3) Serious rule violations include but are not limited to:
(a) (3) (Y) Security Threat Group Directing or Controlling
Behavior. Demonstrating activity, behavior or status as a' recognized member
and/or leader of an STG, which jeopardizes the safety of the public, staff, or other
inmate(s), and/or the security and order of the institution.
(a) (3) (Z) Security Threat Group, Disruptive or Violent Behavior:
Demonstrating involvement in activities or an event associated with a STG, which
jeopardizes the safety of the public, staff, or other inmate(s),
and/or the security and order of the institution,

CCR (Pilot), Section 3323, Disciplinary Credit Forfeiture Schedule, states in
part
(h) Division "F" offenses; credit forfeiture of 0-30 days.
(h)(11) Harassment of another person, group, or entity either
directly or indirectly through the use of the mail, telephone., or other means.
(h) (12) Security Threat Group Behavior or Activity.
(A) Recording/documentation of telephone conversation
evidencing active STG behavior;
(B) Communication between offenders regarding STG
behavior or activities;
(C) Directing Active Participation in STG Roll Call;
(D) Directing Cadence for STG Group Exercise;
(E) Wearing, possessing, using, distributing, displaying,
or selling any clothing, jewelry, emblems, badges, symbols, signs, or other items
with the intent to intimidate, promote membership, or depict affiliation in a STG;
(F) In possession of self-created or original artwork clearly
depicting recognized STG symbols;
(G) In personal possession of STG related written material
including membership or enemy list, constitution, organizational structures, codes,
training material, etc.;
(H) In personal possession of mail, notes, greeting cards,
or other communications including coded messages evidencing active STG
behavior.

The CDCR will review all criminal gangs and disruptive groups and assign a
Security Threat Group level to each.

STG-I will consist of criminal gangs and/or historically based prison gangs
that the CDCR has determined to be the most severe threat to the security of
the institutions and communities based on a history and propensity for
violence and/or influence over other groups. Based upon their individual
threat, clandestine operations, and influence over other STG affiliates,
inmates who are validated as STG-I members will be in segregated housing
based solely upon their validation. Validated STG-I associates will normally
remain housed in general population unless confirmed STG behavior or
activities, some of which are described above, are present. If these behaviors or
activities are present, the STG-I associate will be considered for segregated housing
and placement into a five year step down program.

STG-II will consist of other criminal gangs such as street gangs or disruptive groups
comprised of members and associates who may be determined to be in a subservient
role to the more dominant STG-I type groups. Validated
STG-II members or associates will remain housed in general population
unless two or more confirmed STG behavior or activities are present. If these
behaviors or activities are present, STG-II member or associate will be
considered for segregated housing and placement into a five year step down
program.

I have been provided a copy of this document.


Offender Signature CDCR # Date Signed
__
| | Inmate Refused to Sign


Printed Staff Name Signature Date

Distribution: Original - Central File; Copy - Inmate

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[Campaigns] [Censorship] [Santa Barbara County Jail] [California]
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Loved Ones Fight Santa Barbara Ban on Letters to Prisoners

The fiance of a prisoner in Santa Barbara County Jail is leading the call to oppose a new rule banning all letters to prisoners. The Sheriff has restricted incoming mail to postcards only citing "security" reasons, as they always do. They say this, despite the well-established fact that ties to family and the outside world help prisoners rehabilitate and reduces conflicts. This is why we question how prison authorities define "security."

Nearby Ventura County Jail already has a ban on letters in place, and has recently rolled out an email program that allows them to charge prisoners.(1) One might think that they're cutting out the U.S. Postal Service because they can't get a cut of the money. But as we recently pointed out, another advantage to going digital is easier monitoring of all communications with prisoners.

The rights of prisoners are limited in so many ways, making them a vulnerable population facing increased risks of violence, rape, suicide and many health problems. Even after release prisoners face increased rates of poverty and shorter life spans. Education, communication and integration with the outside world are important parts of any effort to rehabilitate those who are rightfully imprisoned.

MIM(Prisons) supports this campaign to allow prisoners in Santa Barbara County Jail to receive letters, just as we combat censorship in prisons across the country. Those facing censorship from Santa Barbara can provide public records to our online Censorship in Amerika Documentation Project.

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[Economics] [Theory] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 32]
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MIM(Prisons) Responds to Turning the Tide Continuing Misrepresentation

In the April 2013 issue of Turning the Tide (TTT), the editor, MN (who we assume is Michael Novick, the author of the original article in question), responded to a letter that a United Struggle from Within comrade wrote criticizing an article in the previous TTT issue which misrepresented the MIM political line in a critique of MIM(Prisons). The editor claims that they are happy that this article provoked quite a few responses and that they want to promote debate because "this is a contradiction among the people." This is a correct attitude, which unfortunately is not backed up by the TTT editor's response, which is embarrassing in its blatant misrepresentation and misinformation about the MIM line. It is very difficult to carry out debate to resolve contradictions among the people, if the people involved are not serious about political study.

The first critique the editor makes of the MIM line this time around is "in its staunch defense of the significance of the contradiction between oppressor and oppressed nations, and its doctrinaire reliance on its version of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, it petrifies all other contradictions and the flow of history." The MIM line in question, which MIM(Prisons) upholds, holds that the oppressor vs. oppressed nations contradiction is principal at this point in history, but not that it will always be so. And further, the MIM line puts much work into illuminating the gender and class contradictions. In fact, it has pushed forward the political understanding of class more than any other contemporary revolutionary organization by noting that the changing class nature of the imperialist country population has resulted in a primarily petty bourgeois population. The TTT editor writes about workers: "we have stakes and ties in the very system that oppresses and exploits us" a line s/he claims comes from Lenin, denying that anything might have changed since Lenin's day. On this point it is actually TTT that is dogmatic in its view of contradictions and the flow of history by refusing to study the true nature of the imperialist country working class.

The TTT editor goes on to misrepresent the MIM line writing "...by classifying all working people within the US as 'oppressor nation petty-bourgeois labor aristocrats' [MIM] disarms those who have the capacity to break both their chains and their identification with and links to the Empire." This is such a blatant mistake we have to assume TTT has not bothered to read any of the MIM theory on nation. MIM line is very clear that "oppressor nation petty-bourgeois" are just that: white nation people. There is also a sizable oppressed nation petty-bourgeois population within U.$. borders, and we see their class interest as tied with imperialism, but we identify their national interests as anti-imperialist. And this national contradiction is internal to imperialism.

Finally the TTT editor goes into some convolutions to try to explain how the majority of the U.$. population is exploited but maybe just not super-exploited because "no private employer hires a worker unless they're pretty damn sure the work that worker does will make the boss more money than the boss has to pay for the work." By this definition, we can assume that the top layers of management of huge corporations are exploited in their six figure salaries (or even 7 figure salaries!). TTT doesn't even attempt to make a scientific analysis of where to draw the line on who is exploited, and since MIM(Prisons) and MIM before us has done extensive work on this we will not bother to explain it again here. We refer serious readers to our publications on the labor aristocracy.

In the contortions to justify calling the Amerikan population exploited, the TTT editor asks "If the domestic population is totally bribed and benefiting from Empire to the exclusion of any contradiction" then why are gulags necessary? That's a fine straw-persyn argument, but it's not a line that MIM(Prisons) takes. We have written extensively about the role of prisons in the U.$. population as a tool of social control of the oppressed nations, highlighting internal contradictions that include nation among others. Again, it seems TTT has not bothered to read even the single-page description of MIM(Prisons) that we publish in every issue of Under Lock & Key.

The TTT editor concludes by asking a myriad of very good questions about nations and their inter-relations, all of which the MIM line has addressed in a consistent way, and for the most part a way that it seems the TTT editor would agree with, if s/he had bothered to read up on that line. The supposed rigid and dogmatic line of MIM/MIM(Prisons) is all in the heads of the TTT writers and editors who seem to think our line comes from just a few slogans. We agree that "Revolutionary strategy must be based on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, not arbitrary, fixed categories, to determine friends and enemies." And we challenge TTT to take up this concrete analysis. Read our work on the labor aristocracy and on nations, and tell us specifically where you find our concrete analysis lacking or in error. We welcome such dialogue, but the revolutionary movement doesn't have time for slander and false accusations in the guise of political debate.

The last point we will make here is related to a letter TTT published in this same issue, from a prisoner who goes by "Ruin." Ruin wrote to say that s/he shares the TTT views about MIM(Prisons)'s ideological shortcomings and is upset because s/he was kicked out of our study group. We are happy that Ruin has found an organization with which s/he has unity. In fact in previous letters to h, where we pointed out our theoretical disagreements, we suggested other organizations that might be more closely aligned with h views. We run study groups for prisoners who want to work with MIM(Prisons) in both political study and organizing. We stand by the letter we sent to Ruin (which TTT printed) where we explain that it is not a good use of our time to include people in our advanced study groups who disagree with us on many fundamental issues. Ruin told us the first study group was a waste of h time, and that s/he doesn't agree with us on many things, so we're not even sure why Ruin would take issue with our decision that s/he should not continue into the advanced study group. We did not suggest that we would discontinue Ruin's free subscription to ULK or that we would stop responding to h letters, it was Ruin who chose to sever all ties and discussion with MIM(Prisons) after receiving our letter about the study group.

Criticism is hard to take, but it is something we in the revolutionary movement must handle in a direct manner, without letting persynal feelings get in the way. It is also important to know when two lines have diverged significantly enough that those lines should be in separate organizations. History will tell which political line is correct.

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[Elections] [National Oppression]
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Prisoners Used to Boost Rural Census Counts

Lots of attention is being given to counting prisoners in the political arena, why?

Because census counts add prisoner population numbers to the community where the prison is located, more and more incarcerated inner city residents are being used to strengthen the economically weak areas of rural Amerika. More prisoners means more jobs, more government money and more political power.

Prisons, which were once eschewed have become a boom for many small towns. Cheap land and willing residents make these isolated communities the perfect location for this country's growing number of human warehouses.

Census numbers determine such things as highway funding, fire stations, hospitals, medicaid, foster care, rehab-services, schools and parks just to name a few. Most of these benefits will never be seen by prisoners. Prisoners are a lucrative commodity in the census game.

State officials are quick to cite the benefits of prisons in economically depressed communities. Government aid, indigent medical care, energy assistance, and revenue sharing are just a few of the selling points.

The majority of the nation's prison population is either Black or Latino. Locating these unwilling residents in a small, predominantly white towns fundamentally shifts the balance of political power through the redistricting process. It is not just federal money that follows us out of our community, it is political power as well.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prison-based gerrymandering is a problem that has been extensively documented by the Prison Policy Institute who explain: "The Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the towns where they are confined, though they are barred from voting in 48 states and return to their homes after being released. The practice also defies most state constitutions and statutes, which explicitly state that incarceration does not change a residence."

Unlike the PPI, we don't prioritize the fight to change the Census Bureau policies. The push for reform is insidious in the implication that we can improve capitalist democracy to make elections and government programs actually serve the people. But this is a good example of the hidden forms of white power that are executed through the state to this day in 2013. While oppressed nations are disproportionately disenfranchised of the vote in Amerikan democracy, white communities use these prisoners to skew financial resources away from the oppressed nations to themselves. This, of course, is only possible because of national oppression earlier on in the process where law enforcement targets oppressed nation communities, while drug use in white communities goes on with little interference. Such types of oppression and manipulation are inherent in a capitalist system.

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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The System Isn't Broken, it Works for the Oppressor

Fifteen years of prison, so-called, life, and still I am surprised at times by the way these pigs are willing to sink to new lows.

This 602 appeals system at Corcoran is extremely scandalous. Not only have I received the 602 appeals of several other people, having to get their mail back to them by a transporter and fishing line, in 2012, 5 appeals I sent to my "counselor" (nothing but a plainclothes CO) to be referred to the appeals coordinator, had just disappeared! And yet the pigs still ask you to submit evidence to them with your appeal. Why? So they can throw it away? 2013 is not any different. We get a total runaround and boldfaced filibuster.

In the past months I have been 602ing the issue of the pigs only choosing English on these silly movies they play. They know I have an issue with a few court rulings associated to it, and the game this time was to wait a month with my 602 in their hooves and send it back to me one month to the day, unanswered or stamped or even declared "rejected" which they do for incredible "reasons." Now, when I refile, they will say I didn't "take action" within 30 days, as if they didn't sit on my 602 for a month. As if I didn't do anything.

The other issues include trying to get SHU inmates to be allowed chess and cards, like on the mainline. I have received 10 dirty trick filibuster moves from them. One appeals coordinator says I attached "inappropriate forms" in my appeal, my response was to show how the form I got came from another appeals coordinator!!! Then they say I have to resubmit the original appeal because the new one duplicated what they stamped as "rejected." So, I tore up parts of that and submitted them as proof that the original is torn up, "can't retrieve from sewers" I wrote. They will reject that too for some ridiculous pretext. I am collecting all of their confetti, to show to the new convicts and people on the outside who don't know yet, this system isn't broken, it is meant to work exactly as it is, that is against us, against our interests.

I am incensed and enraged that I am undergoing the same type of gimmicks that I have read about describing the state craft of "Israeli rejectionism" where only if you are an obedient Israeli can you get a license to drive or build a home or work on a farm: they "reject" all attempts at life outside their monopoly. They want to maintain jurisdiction over me.

The same gimmicks were employed in South Africa, under apartheid where we learn from studying the example of that tyranny, how it "thrives on details." Bureaucratic delays and technicalities employed ad infinitum to deliberately runaround any application or petition or appeal. The paperwork would not work if filed by a Black African. "I can't hear you, I can't see you, I can't say anything."

The courts will reject you too if you don't exhaust your administrative procedures. It's good for prisoners to get this runaround game out of the way as soon as they get here, to learn that, wherever one class of people is slave to another class whether in a colony or the pen, or on a city street, such gimmicks have to exist alongside of the oppression. And its vital to know the futility of trying to beat the pigs, at a game played by pig rules. And it guarantees an explosive response.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree that it is good to work through the administrative procedures for grievances even though they are set up so that most grievances will fail. This does teach prisoners a lesson about the game that is played by pig rules. But we can also use these rejections to educate others to fight the system on their own terms. This rigged grievance system is why United Struggle from Within initiated the grievance campaign in California, which has now spread to many other states. The petition is just one more way to put pressure on the criminal injustice system to play by their own rules. Some victories have been won with persistence. But we know that even with a systematic campaign we can not hope to fundamentally alter the criminal injustice system under imperialism. This is why the grievance campaign is just one small part of our larger anti-imperialist battle.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Control Units] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 32]
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Amerikan Torture Culture Hits Migrants

Maoism Path to Prisoner Liberation
Proletarian migrants have fed much of the growth in the prison population within U.$. borders in recent years. As a result they are getting a taste of the torture tactics Amerikans use against their own citizens. A recent report showed that U.$. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds about 300 migrants in solitary confinement in 50 of its largest detention facilities, which account for 85% of their detainees. Half of them are held in solitary for 15 days or more and about 35 of the 300 are held more than 75 days.(1)

While these terms are relatively short compared to what has become normal in the United $tates, the experiences are particularly difficult for migrants who don't speak English and have been the victims of humyn trafficking.

The authors of the article cited above cautiously state that the United $tates uses solitary confinement more "than any other democratic nation in the world." This implies that other countries may use solitary confinement more. One reason they cannot get stats on imprisonment practices in some countries is that they are U.$. puppet regimes purposely run under a veil of secrecy to allow extreme forms of repression of the most oppressed peoples. We have seen no evidence of a mythical nation that is torturing more people in solitary confinement than Amerika.

Amerikans imprison more people than any other nation even if we exclude the people they are holding in prisons in other countries. With at least 100,000 people in long-term isolation within U.S. borders, it seems unlikely that any other country can top that. Further evidence exists by looking at the state of prisons in many Third World countries, which are far more open than even the low security prisons in the United $tates. And the exceptions to this rule are all countries with heavy Amerikan military/intelligence activity, and usually Amerikans themselves are running the prisons.(3)

U.$. citizen Shane Bauer was imprisoned on charges of spying by the government of Iran, which is independent from the United $tates. Bauer offers examples of how his time in solitary confinement differed in both positive and negative ways to those held in Pelican Bay SHU in California. But one stark contrast is the time in solitary, which for him was only four months. In a comparison of the "democratic" U.$. injustice system and that of Iran, Bauer wrote:

"When Josh Fattal and I finally came before the Revolutionary Court in Iran, we had a lawyer present, but weren't allowed to speak to him. In California, an inmate facing the worst punishment our penal system has to offer short of death can't even have a lawyer in the room. He can't gather or present evidence in his defense. He can't call witnesses. Much of the evidence — anything provided by informants — is confidential and thus impossible to refute. That's what Judge Salavati told us after our prosecutor spun his yarn about our role in a vast American-Israeli conspiracy: There were heaps of evidence, but neither we nor our lawyer were allowed to see it."(2)

He later cites a U.$. court ruling:

"the judge ruled that 'a prisoner has no constitutionally guaranteed immunity from being falsely or wrongfully accused of conduct which may result in the deprivation of a protected liberty interest.' In other words, it is not illegal for prison authorities to lie in order to lock somebody away in solitary."(2)

California's notorious Pelican Bay reports an average time spent in the Security Housing Unit there as 7.5 years. Many who fought for national liberation from U.$. imperialism have spent 30 to 40 years in solitary confinement in prisons across the United $tates. MIM(Prisons) has not seen reports of long-term isolation used to this extreme by any other government.

The torture techniques used in Amerikan control units were developed to break the spirits of people and social groups that have challenged the status quo, and in particular U.$. imperialism. Thirty years after their demise, materials from the Black Panther Party still get people in trouble regularly, sometimes even with a "Security Threat Group" charge. That's the Amerikan term for a thought crime.

It could be that these techniques are being expanded into migrant detention centers as a form of discipline of the Mexican proletariat that Amerikans fear as a force of social change. Or it could just be a case of oppressor nation culture spreading its tentacles into other nations. Either way, this is just one of many forms of oppression that serve to undermine the propaganda myth of Amerika as a nation that promotes freedom.

For years, the United $tates has been under criticism by the United Nations as the principal state using torture in the form of long-term isolation. Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said, "We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold."(4) This was in a statement addressing the 166 foreign nationals held in Guantanamo Bay Prison for more than a decade, most without charges.

Just as high-tech weaponry could not win the war in Afghanistan for the Amerikans, the sophisticated torture techniques of the modern control unit cannot overcome the widespread outrage of the masses living under imperialist domination. The opportunities for making internationalist connections to the prison movement within U.$. borders only increases as more people from outside those borders get swept up in the system.

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[Education] [Adirondack Correctional Facility] [New York]
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Prisoners Struggle with Lack of Education Programs in NY

Upon entering the state of New York's prison system in 1992 I did not have my high school diploma, nor did I possess my GED. I am a high school drop out. Leaving my education behind was one of the biggest errors I committed in my life while coming of age as an irresponsible adult.

My biggest hurdle, besides my own roadblocks, was worrying about how my peers would judge me (in prison) if I was to enroll in the GED class. This prevented me from signing up. In the New York State Prison System (NYSPS) you cannot get a respectable job/program if you lack the credentials of either a high school diploma or GED. The most you can make is $6/bi-weekly. However, if you have this education then you can make as much as $30/bi-weekly. I was hindering myself from earning more money due to an attitude, misinformation, and pride which left me stagnated for many years.

A person incarcerated in NYSPS cannot enroll in any college programs without either a high school diploma or GED. This was another slap in my face when I desired to register in the "free" college program in 1993 while housed at Attica Correctional Facility.(1)

In 1999 the assistant to the leader in the Islamic Chaplain ordered me to enroll in the GED program when he learned I did not have either a diploma or GED. I enrolled in a GED class and after earning it in 1999 I enrolled in the Inmate Program Assistant (IPA) course which I completed with honors allowing me to land a program as a Teacher's Aid.

Through the years from 1992-1999 I witnessed a drop in the GED graduates among the prison population. This was partly due to, in my observation, the lack of concern the civilian teachers(CT) had for the education of Blacks and Latinos in the classroom, deficient supervision from the civilian teachers toward the hired IPAs who'd rather play cards with the student than help them learn, and poor administrative leadership which directly affects almost every student who really does want to learn. Albany administration limited the utilization of IPAs when the civilians failed to compete with the IPAs statistics in turning out more GED grads than the CTs. So a memorandum came down from Albany to reduce some of the IPAs in the classroom.

From 1999-2008 I witnessed a swooping change in the classroom which shocked my conscience. I saw very few IPAs in the classroom who were bilingual (speaking Spanish and English), I rarely saw Spanish-speaking CTs who could relate to the Latino speaking population. This lack of diversity in the State of New York prison system is hindering the chances for Latinos.

My experience at Barehill Correctional Facility will shock your mind, because of the laziness of the CTs who sit in boardroom chairs, leaning back reading the latest James Patterson novel, with no care in the world. As long as the students and IPAs remain quiet, everything is okay! The CTs get paid for sitting in a classroom doing absolutely nothing, just making sure the students don't tear up the classroom or fight one another. I have written Albany to explain the downfall in the classroom only to be dubbed the troublemaker, whistle blower, or snitch amongst the prison administration in NYS.

Right now I am struggling to continue my education in this facility. It is very difficult to pursue higher education in this facility because of the mindset of the administration (prejudice, racist, and bias) toward the Blacks and Latinos who desire superior education, as opposed to working as a porter around the compound. The waiting list for enrolling into school is at least 3-4 months. By that time many of the prisoners are preparing to either go home, see the board of parole, or transfer to another facility. According to some of the prisoners at Adirondack CF, there are only two civilians teachers who serve the population.

Notes:
1. While at Attica Correctional Facility in 1993-1996, the Pell Grant program was eliminated from the educational programming due to NYS legislature yielding to the public outcry that "prisoners have a better opportunity to earn higher education than their children, who struggle to pay their college tuition." so I was unable to earn a college degree sooner.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Lack of educational opportunities is a major element of national oppression in the United $tates. As we wrote about in an article on Affirmative Action, it is not just in prisons where the schools are inadequate. This is part of the system that prepared Blacks and Latinos for prison. One benefit of an education is jobs that pay higher wages, but the primary reason we focus on education for our comrades behind bars is to raise their political consciousness. Learning basic reading and writing skills is the place to start. We encourage all of our comrades behind bars to take advantage of any prison education programs you can find.

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