I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the prisoners of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison - Special Management Unit (SMU). I was beaten brutally by SMU's cert team. My ribs were fractured and I was denied any medical treatment. This happened in June 2012. In January of this year I was assaulted (while in cuffs and shackles) by Lt. Micheal J Kyle, he punched me in my face 5 times with a closed fist. This was retaliation because I reported him for sexual harassment after he showed me his fully exposed penis and told me to "suck it."
Right now there are about 9 prisoners on a hunger strike because of the hardships being placed upon us. We are being deprived of our property without proper due process. We face daily ongoing hardships and abuse such as those described above. Our right to religion is also being violated due to our windows being completely covered, so Muslims cannot determine when to pray and prisoners like me who study all religions cannot receive any religious material for certain religions for reasons they will not share with us.
We are in desperate need of a change!
MIM(Prisons) adds: We are getting a lot of mail from Georgia describing the conditions and the need for struggle and change in prison there, especially from the Diagnostic and Classification prison. This unity among the prisoners, and their outreach work to inform media and work with prison activists are all good signs for this struggle. We look forward to working with these new comrades to build the level of political education and organizing in Georgia so that our fight against the criminal injustice system will win both short term and long term battles.
Prisoners in Texas have been fighting the recently enacted restrictions on indigent correspondence which restricts indigent prisoners to 5 one-ounce domestic letters per month. As we've explained in other articles, this is an attack on the growing number of revolutionary voices in Texas speaking out to expose the barbaric treatment and inhumane conditions. One comrade created a grievance that prisoners can file and a list of people to contact to demand this policy be changed. We are now getting reports of responses to these grievances. And as usual, the prisons are just giving us the run-around.
One prisoner got a response to his grievance stating: "TDCJ as an Agency revised Board Policy 03.91 in August of 2013 affecting indigent mail. Those decisions are not made at the Unit level, merely enforced. No further action warrented."(sic)
Further, several prisoners have received form letters from the TDCJ Ombudsman's Office telling them that they Ombudsman will not be responding and they should contact the "appropriate unit staff" instead. "Issues regarding unit operations, disciplinary disputes, property issues, mail or any other matter relating to conditions of care or supervision may be formally addressed through the Offender Grievance Procedure..."
So basically the Ombudsman's Office says prisoner's must take up this issue via a grievance. And the unit staff respond to prisoner's grievances saying they can not address this issue because it is a state-wide policy. The original campaign urged people to contact a variety of TDCJ leaders and Texas politicians. To date we have no reports of any response from them.
This campaign is an important battle to ensure the voices of Texas prisoners can be heard. Limits on correspondance mean we will be unable to get regular reports of abuses behind bars, and unable to maintain study and communication with politically active comrades. We must continue the pressure and demand more than just form letters and dismissals to our protests.
In addition to minimum wage studies, what about maximum wages? I think when we raise the minimum wage in the U.S., we are really just inflating. Unless we cap each and every person in the top six-digit-plus earning categories, there will be no end to the misery. I won't go so far to say we cap every salary at $25,000, but I would cap at $98,000. And maybe put a Texas prison in Cambodia and Bangladesh, and send prisoners there who are caught saying "I'm bored" more than twice. "Sure you are!"
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is responding to the article in Under Lock & Key 36"Raise the Minimum Wage to $2.50". In that article we point out that "The proposed minimum wage of $10 per hour would ... put the lowest paid Amerikans at 50 times the pay of the lowest paid Bangladeshi if we account for cost of living." And so our call for a global minimum wage is not in the material interests of the vast majority of people in First World countries. But it is strongly in the interests of the majority in the Third World.
A maximum wage is an important component to implementing a global minimum wage. We are fighting to close the dramatic difference in wealth between exploiters and exploited. Starting with a cap of $98,000 per person per year is quite generous to the exploiters. As we have explained previously, Amerikans are already in the richest 13% of the world. So if we re-distribute the wealth equally to all people of the world, we won't see anyone left with salaries of $98,000. But it's certainly a start to place any cap on maximum wages.
As for putting prisoners of the United $tates into Third World prisons, we strive to draw connections between U.$. prisoners and the Third World masses because of the extreme oppression they face. We do not wish to worsen those conditions. And while many come into prison with spoiled Amerikan perspectives, prisoners in the United $tates have legitimate complaints that must be prioritized strategically. It is critical that we keep an internationalist perspective in all of our work. When we fight to improve conditions for individuals in prison, we need to keep the privileged status of Amerikans in mind and always ask ourselves if the reforms we demand will harm others in order to benefit ourselves. Getting video games for prisoners, which are made from materials mined by brutalized proletarians in the Congo would be an obvious example.
Internationalism is fundamental to everything we do, and the economics of global imperialism is just one aspect of the global inequality of imperialism.
Thank you for sending me the essay titled Let's 'Gang-Up' on Oppression by Owusu Yaki Yakubu.(1) Having become a "reformed" gang member, this essay was extremely enlightening and solidified what I already knew: that the government fears the unification of gangs and their unified opposition against oppression. They also fear any gang member or other lumpen street elements developing a socially conscious, politicized, and revolutionary mentality.
I became politicized in the early 90s during my second year of captivity. I took a long and hard look at myself as a so-called "gang" member and I came to realize that I was being manipulated by the powers-that-be, through the process of psychology and socialization, to commit genocide against my own people. So I cut my gang ties and came to embrace Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism.
In his essay Owusu speaks about the New Afrikan Independence Movement. The article titled Terminology Debate: Black vs. New Afrikan, in No. 35 issue of Under Lock & Key, also speaks about New Afrikan Nationalism. I am in the process of starting an organization called My Brother's and Sister's Keeper (MBSK), which embraces Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism as its political mass line, or guiding principle. This ideology calls for the establishment of an independent socialist New Afrikan republic in the Southeast (USA), specifically in the Black-belt, the destruction of the North Amerikkkan imperialist state, the liberation and unification of Afrikan nations worldwide, the construction of a New Afrikan society, and the building of a new world order.
A New Afrikan is an Afrikan born in north Amerikkka. The name and concept "New Afrika" reflects our identity, purpose and direction. "New Afrikan" reflects our identity as a nation and a people - a nation and a people desiring self-determination. "New Afrikan" reflects our purpose as we desire freedom, self-determination and independence. By stating we are New Afrikans, we clarify we want to be independent from the Amerikkkan Empire. We want land and national liberation. We no longer want the ruling class of the amerikkkan Empire to determine our political, economic, socio-cultural affairs. MBSK sees that a people who do not control their own affairs is subject to genocide. When we control our own destiny we can determine our political, economic and socio-cultural affairs in the interest of our survival and development. "New Afrikan" also speaks to our identity because that's what we are. Our nation is primarily a racial, cultural, social fusion of various Afrikan ethnic and national groups - Iwe, Yoruba, Akan, Ashanti, Fante, Hausa, Ibo, Fulani, Congolese and several others - into a unique people. Even though our homeland was in Afrika, our people developed historical, economic, and spiritual ties to the New Afrikan National Territory, which consists of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. These states together are part of the historical Black belt birthplace, and the North Amerikkkan homeland of the New Afrikan nation. The struggle to free this land is called the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM). To state we are New Afrikan recognizes our continuing aspirations to "free the land." "Free the Land" is the battle cry of the NAIM. When we say "free the land," the New Afrikan national territory is the land we are talking about freeing.
"New Afrikan" also recognizes our direction to build a new society based on new values. We want to create a revolutionary, progressive, humane society where exploitation of humans by humans is eliminated and all can live in dignity, peace and respect. As conscious New Afrikans, we work now to transform ourselves and our nation from decadent death-style of oppression to lifestyles of liberation.
The essay Let's Gang-Up on Oppression re-affirms what we already knew: that we need to develop unity within and amongst lumpen street organization and re-direct their aggression and radicalism to wage the real war: revolution.
Again, I thank you for sending me your material. I made copies of the essay and the UFPP statement of principles and passed them out among the younger brothers here affiliated with lumpen street organizations.
On 9 February 2014, prisoners at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison Special Management Unit (SMU) lockdown began another hunger strike to protest conditions. The hunger strike is to address abusive conditions, bugs being served in food repeatedly, sexual harassment, sexual assaults, beatings by officers while in handcuffs, being thrown on strip cells without food, feeding prisoners only 1500 calories daily when we are supposed to be given 2800 daily, refusing E-Wing yard call, refusing access to law library, and staff trying to poison prisoners. We are facing threats by staff that if prisoners remain on hunger strike they will die under their watch and it will be covered up.
Prisoners in the Georgia State Prison SMU have had enough of the oppression and decided to take a true stand to fight for our rights. Prisoners in the strike include many of the same prisoners from the 9 December 2010 and 11 June 2012 hunger strikes, and these prisoners are refusing to eat until conditions change.
On 25 January 2014, prisoners received trays at the SMU lockdown with bugs in the food. And after the bugs were pointed out by the prisoners to staff, they were told that either they eat the food or don't eat at all. Then when the prisoners tried to keep the trays to show the proof to the warden they were threatened by the daytime Officer in Charge, that if they didn't give up the trays he was going to suit up with his Correctional Officers and gang rape the prisoners. The prisoners still refused to give up their trays and were threatened again the next day: if they didn't give up the trays they were going to be refused their tray meals for that day. The prisoners had to go two days without eating just to show the warden the bugs in their food. And when the prisoners finally got a chance to show the bugs in the food, the warden only replied that it's nothing but a little bit more meat to add in their chili. This is not the first time that bugs had been served in food, but nothing has been done about this issue. Even though we file grievances, nothing but denials.
These prisoners have even been beaten by staff while in handcuffs. Nothing has been done about these employees' abusive actions. There is a coverup by Warden Bruce Chatman, Deputy Warden June Bishop, Warden of care and treatment William Poinel, Cpt. Micheal Nopen, Lt. Michael J. Kyles, aand even down to medical staff Mary Tsore and mental health staff Mr. Whitmoore.
Georgia prisoners are being denied access to the law library as guaranteed by the Georgia and U.S. law. Prisoners are only allowed two court cases per week to be delivered at their door on a piece of paper, and no books.
Medical staff are refusing to take notice of the hunger strike even though SOP VH47-0002 guarantees strikers health service.
The legal system refuses to respond, grievances are ignored or destroyed, and there is very little that Georgia prisoners can do to fight for their rights. Our only choice is to put our lives in danger by refusing to eat, and plead for some outside support.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The past few years have seen a sharp increase in prisoners using food refusal as a tactic to demand some improvements in conditions. Considering the powerlessness of prisoners, and the complete failure that is the grievance system in many states, it is not a surprise that people feel their only option to demand basic rights is to starve themselves.
We print many reports on these strikes in the pages of Under Lock & Key, and we know this inspires others to learn of similar struggles across the country. But we also encourage everyone to study these actions and learn from their mistakes. In Illinois, prisoners were manipulated by the pigs to end their strike prematurely. In South Carolina lockdown coordination problems ended their strike. In Nebraska prisoners failed to make clear demands and gained nothing after a two day protest. Even in California where prisoner unity is remarkably high, the response to the massive hunger strikes has been little more than lip service and program name changes. We must be prepared for such lack of response from the state with a long view of how to make change.
The underlying lesson in all of these struggles is the need for stronger education and organization before taking action. Greater unity will be achieved through education, and organization will build a solid system of communication and a strong and winnable list of demands. One quick lesson for all: when sending information to the media about your strike include something clear that people on the outside can do to support you. It can be a number to call or place to write to register their support.
On 4 February 2014, a five page Notice of Proposed Regulations disseminated among prisoners warehoused in the death row Security Housing Unit (SHU) known by it politically corrupt misnomer "Adjustment Center" (AC). The notice states in part that any person may submit public comments regarding proposed changes. That's an open invitation to everyone reading this (including all prisoners disenfranchised by the state) giving us an opportunity to advance the struggle. Lately it's been like talking to the walls.
I'm a "person" on Calincarceration's death row who is currently warehoused on the first tier of this secret torture unit at San Quentin (SQ) State Prison called the AC. Per order of the oligarchy overlords who comprise the "Institutional Classification Committee" (ICC) my appeal submitted 2 December 2013, which provides documented evidence that their decision to continue to warehouse me here is based on false disciplinary history and a capricious misapplication of local operational procedures, is being ignored. Even the CDCR 22 requests making status inquiries to Appeals Coordinators M.L. Davis and R. Baxter, and the former LIEutenant S. Fowler, now a counselor and ICC lackey (full member), return nothing except their deliberate indifference.
That excerpt of my individual situation is only one example of how California's most dangerous Security Threat Group (STG) gets down and dirty. Mine is not an isolated incident either. It's only one of many weapons of mass corruption the CDCR Pilot Program has utilized to minimize, obscure, and censor the fact that they really are torturing prisoners in a way that's no different than what Phillip Garrido did to Jaycee Dugard — minus the sex crime factor. CDCR's goal is to take more hostages, build more torture units in back yards across the state, and their hideous Pilot Program is a bait and switch attempt. CDCR's main STG Pilot Program objective continues to be to crush, kill and destroy their hostages' ability to organize in a peaceful protest against no touch torture and other inhumane conditions of confinement.
Expanding the definition of "disruptive groups" by adopting several new terms is really the bastard children produced by CDCR unions. It's the sick minded schemes of bourgeois pigs behind the scenes of the Calincarceration Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the Amerikkkan Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCRME) and others affiliated with the CDCR who would in fact reap a profit as the additional lackeys get hired to guard the torture units popping up like 7-Elevens everywhere! Yes, that's right. All in the name of PEACE officers AND job SECURITY (which is paid for by your taxed income).
What makes the CDCR STG "the most dangerous" is the fact that they all know what's really going on, and know that they're torturing prisoners. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has clarified that only 15 days in solitary confinement constitutes torture. I'm going on two years and some here have more than 10 times that. Here, in the secret torture unit at SQ, the STG Pilot Program is still being cooked up — and with "specialized" ingredients for an even fouler taste. The AC is a sort of ground zero for testing policies, a variety of no touch torture methods, and a twist on the death penalty experiment only depraved criminal minds could have concocted. SQ death row SHU prisoners shouldn't have to be the disposable human guinea pigs getting tortured to death in the CDCR STG Pilot Program. If the state is allowed to continue its medieval oligarchical practices resulting in another word game amounting to "de mock racy" then the public must not have realized California's most dangerous STG is the CDCR!
send your comments to: CDCR Regulation and Policy Management Branch PO Box 942883 Sacramento, CA 94283
Make use of the grievance campaign by attaching your comments to copies of the petitions (see page 12 in ULK).
Chicano youth Andy Lopez, whose 13-year-old life was cut short by a Santa Rosa pig, has yet to obtain justice. This was a concrete example of what it means when people say that Aztlán is occupied under a settler state. Our colonization is expressed in many ways and our youth being shot dead in the street is one of the in-your-face OVERT examples, which even the bourgeois Chicanos cannot pretend not to notice.
When the white Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus executed Andy on 22 October 2013, comrades here discussed what should be done in response to these attacks on the [email protected] Nation. Our conversation on the subject was pretty heated. One topic that kept coming up was the example that the Black Liberation Army provided back in the day when the Black Nation was under heightened attack from the lethal COINTELPRO. Everywhere in the world where a people are under attack and being murdered by the occupying state, at some point the people will fight fire with fire.
It's been four months and still there has been no indictment of the pig in question. But then when do we ever see the state prosecute its own when the oppressed are murdered in our occupied streets? We cannot allow Andy's death to be swept under the rug. So many within the [email protected] nation have begun a perverted romance with imperialism. The super profits that are extracted from the Third World seem to have intoxicated many in our nation to the point where when our youth are turned to swiss cheese by a pig, it's conveniently ignored. Revolutionary [email protected] need to work to detoxify the people and put Aztlán back on a revolutionary path. Our work should start with mobilizing Aztlán around acquiring justice for Andy Lopez.
There are plans for a march on 2 June 2014 in Santa Rosa to build awareness of this tragedy and to commemorate what would have been Andy's 14th birthday. Let us spread the word and gain momentum on the justice that we need to obtain. We support this march and will continue to develop ways to properly respond to the occupation of Aztlán. Andy's death should be seen as not only a rallying point but a juncture where we usher in a new wave in the Chicano movement. Aztlán libre!
Prisoners here in Georgia are being harassed by the wardens and their administration. Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) has a new program it calls the Tier Program, and many prisoners are being thrown into the Tier 2 program for 9 months for petty disciplinary, reports, which is against the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment.
Prison officials are also using food as a tool of cruel and unusual punishment towards prisoners. Only half of the population here in prison can afford to go to the store commissary. The prisoners who can't afford store goods are robbing those who go to the store. This creates violent conditions because 90% of the prisoners here are gang-related. And when the gangs go to war it goes down at every prison in Georgia. And some prisoners die in the gang wars. GDC created this problem so they can have a reason to lock all the prisoners down.
I put a 1983 civil suit on Valdosta State Prison here in GA and as a result Deputy Warden Orr tried to have me killed numerous times. On 7 December 2013 I was beaten badly with weapons by 15 prisoners, and I was sent to the free world hospital for 2 days. When I returned to the prison I was placed in lockup where all my property was stolen and the prison officials refused to replace my property. The Warden place me on Tier 2 program with 9 months in lockup as punishment for being attacked and seriously injured while my attackers went unpunished.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are seeing a lot of reports of repression and resistance coming from Georgia recently. This comrade underscores the need for unity among both individuals and lumpen organizations. It is easy for the prison administration to pit prisoners against each other when they are focused on the fights between their organizations. But the real enemy, the one that is keeping everyone in prisons, denying adequate food, and throwing people in lockup, is the criminal injustice system. This is why we urge prisoners in Georgia to focus on building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. The UFPP's first principle is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." This is critical to every prison, but in Georgia the recent reports suggest even more urgency to this point.
I have been to three prison camps this year alone. This month makes it 18 months that I've been incarcerated. Riverbend was the first prison I went to. After an incident happened between and officer and I, I wrote a grievance on him and there was an ongoing investigation. But before it could get anywhere they transferred me to Jenkins. I was at Jenkins for three weeks before I got transferred. While I was there I had a verbal altercation with an officer and he wrote me up but he exaggerated the incident, so to defend my character I asked his supervisors to review the cameras, but they refused. Then while I was on administrative separation I kept getting written up (about three times) for things that they didn't know who did them. I had a roommate with me at the time and when something went down they wrote us both up instead of finding out who did what.
Now my issue is that all those disciplinary reports (DR) that I got were not investigated, furthermore I didn't get a chance to go to DR court to defend myself. I don't know if you're familiar with the DR process but when you get one, a DR investigator is supposed to meet with you and discuss the incident. Afterwards you can take a plea or go to DR court where you're either found guilty or innocent, and that's the official DR process. These steps were not taken on any of the DRs I got.
After I was transferred from Jenkins I was sent to Jackson State Prison, to a program called Special Management Unit (SMU). When I got here they told me it was a program for prisoners who have a record of assaulting officers and behavior problems. I only have two DRs on my record that were concluded. The disposition for the first was dismissed and I was found not guilty on the second. So with that being said, I feel it was injustice to place me in this program.
Anyways, the most current issue is that I have been here since 23 January 2014 and I have not received any of my property. Recently I've been asking for my mail and writing materials, (i.e. paper, pen, etc) so I can contact my family and my attorney. I've spoke to the unit manager, the Lieutenant, the counselor, and the property manager about this at least twice and not one of them will tell me where my property is or why I haven't gotten them yet. There are several others with the same problem. If anything can be done to get this problem resolved please help.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This trick with the false disciplinary reports, especially on prisoners who write grievances for guard abuses, is common across the criminal injustice system. The campaign demanding that our grievances be addressed needs to be expanded into Georgia so that prisoner's there can take up this organized struggle. We are looking for a prisoner in Georgia who can modify a general grievance petition to the state-specific rules and situation in Georgia. Let us know if you can volunteer and we will send the information.
This is just one example of the system of oppression in this country that puts bad marks on the permanent records of oppressed nation youth starting in grade school. From there they are put into gang databases, given sentences, parole, plea bargains and in prison they receive disciplinary reports, STG status, etc. This is the state-sponsored burueacracy that keep the First World lumpen in its place. They are excluded from the economic system and many other benefits of imperialist society, and these discriminatory and often baseless labels help make it acceptable to the Amerikan public.
I wanted to write a few words concerning the new step down program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has begun to implement. There is nothing new about this brainwash program because brainwash kamps are tools learned in the "School of the Americas" (aka Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which was founded in 1946. Brainwash kamps were unleashed on the Vietnamese by the French, on Jews and communists by the German Nazis before the gas, and the Koreans tasted these kamps by their Japanese colonizers. In fact, all colonized people experience some form of brainwashing by the oppressor. Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisons are examples of U.$. imperialism following this tradition.
First we should keep in mind that many folks captured in these SHUs are not guilty of what they are accused of. So long as information is extracted via torture, i.e. years of solitary confinement, then false information will be provided to the torturers. It is a fact that some humyn beings will say or do anything to stop the torture, and as a result many prisoners will be subjected to torture for false accusations.
We happened to get our hands on one of the journals that are used in the step down program. A guard slid one of them into our pod by "accident" and as you could imagine it was heavily scrutinized.
This brainwash manual has quotes of nameless supposed prisoners sprinkled throughout saying things to the effect that the supposed prisoner once blamed the system or other elements but has now realized it was her/his own fault. Each page has the following words on the bottom, "It is illegal to duplicate this page in any manner."
The supposed purpose of this program is for prisoners to work their way out of the SHU. This will supposedly be done to allow prisoners a way, outside of informing on people, to get back to the general population. What they don't tell you is that you will have to now go through their brainwash course. Even then they can deny you if they feel you are not sincere. But my question is, why do I have to undergo a deprogramming when I am the torture survivor? Why shouldn't my torturer have to take classes on why it's wrong to torture?
In the "journal," each page asks questions, such as for the reader to list wrongdoings you have done and then asks what caused you to make these choices. Examples are given of different crimes the supposed prisoner committed. They then ask for pros and cons of crimes one committed and one is even asked if you feel sly or manipulative when you deceive people.
All these questions are asked in a way that implicates you and attempts to blame you for not just being in prison but in SHU as well. At no time is the possibilty even hinted of someone being in SHU for false allegations. There are lists of good habits and "criminal" behavior. But good habits like "caring" or "responsibility" are what we already showed in the strikes, and "criminal" behavior listed like "dishonesty" or "irresponsibility" is exactly what the state has done. Yet this brainwash journal wants us to say we are criminal if we want to advance in this de-programming or de-revolutionizing program. There is no way I will even act or role play with my torturers just to go to general population. What they are doing is wrong and rather than take them off the hook by falsely admitting to criminal behavior I will refuse their brainwash program and continue to publicize this torture and agitate for resistance in these death kamps!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade asks a good question as to why it is not the torturer who has to take classes to help them understand that what they did was wrong. Of course there is a class character to every justice system, and in the United $tates we have a bourgeois state. When there was a proletarian-led state in China it was the torturers, landlords and spies for the imperialists that underwent re-education in what might be called a brainwashing program by the imperialists. The difference in the class character of the Chinese prison system and the Amerikan one is that those deemed criminals were put in communal living situations, where they had to learn to live and work together with others, where they were given reading materials, and required to study. So while the ultimate goal of getting the criminals to recognize that what they did was wrong was similar, this was done through group study and struggle, rather than long-term isolation and torture as is common for the oppressed languishing in U.$. prisons.
We do not oppose re-education as we are all products of our environment. Even in U.$. prisons, many of the oppressed locked up have committed (relatively minor) crimes as they emulate the values of the bourgeoisie. What we do oppose is torture, wasting of humyn lives, and a justice system that prioritizes profits over humyn life.