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[Prison Labor] [Organizing] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting Trickery and Abuse by Texas Prison Industries

Without a doubt, prison is a microcosm of "free world" society and with that being said, revolutionary-minded men and women who are serious about combating oppression face similar struggles that "free world" comrades face. Earlier this year, on this unit I sat down with two of my comrades to discuss how we could awaken and revolutionize the minds of the proletariat on this particular unit. The proletariat group we were specifically interested in were those who worked in the Prisons Factory/Textile mill on this unit.

What prompted this discussion was the arrival of a new plant manager who was implementing a new oppressive system. Now I want you to remember in Texas, inmates are not paid anything! Some years ago when the feds took over Texas prisons, a question was put forth to offenders "would you like to get paid for your labor or would you like to receive good time and work time credits toward your sentence?" Offenders were bamboozled and hoodwinked into choosing good time and work time credits. I say offenders were bamboozled and hoodwinked for this reason: I have seen numerous men who had time slips that have shown a combination of flat time, good time, and work time exceeding their sentence length! In some cases I have seen time slips in which offenders have served, or more accurately been credited, 150% to 200% toward completion of their sentence. Why are they still here? I thought Texas Department of Criminal Justice had told Uncle Sam they would honor an offender's good time and work time credits. Comrades - they lied!

So with this and other relevant factors considered I came up with an idea for a "flier" to be posted up on every housing block on Estelle urging Black men, Brown men and white men to stand up. Basically I was calling for a work strike to protest the 10 hour work day and the austerity campaign implemented by the new plant manager. Please note in 2011 the Textile Factory at Estelle Unit made about $1.8 million. How many deodorants, toothpastes, or "zim-zims" and "wham-whams" do you think the prison workers received for their labor? Zero, nada, zilch!

In the aftermath conditions improved slightly inside the factory. Prisoners still aren't paid a penny and are treated like scum. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. With the application of the dialectical problem solving method as well as employing some "covert" tactics the struggle continues, it's just not "televised," or telegraphed.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend the scientific process undertaken by this comrade to think through the contradictions within the prison and figure out what strategies and tactics will be most effective in pushing the movement forward. This is the discussion and debate that we must undertake within each state and prison.

While the proletariat in U.$. prisons is a small minority (see previous articles on prison labor), these types of organizing strategies are useful in many situations where prisoners are employed in running the prisons themselves.

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[Organizing] [Missouri]
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Pick Your Hand: Oppression or Liberation

I just got done reading Retaliation for Hunger Strikes and New Protest Ideas in ULK 26. My prayers go out to the comrades in the California prisons and every other state's human warehouses who have to suffer from retaliation when we exercise our rights. Although Missouri isn't gang affiliated as bad as most states. We still suffer from racist DOC workers who enjoy making our time hard.

I want to touch on what the CA writer said about prisoners running scared. Man this is common here as well. It's hard to get unity in a place that only wants to divide and conquer. Why would these professional kidnappers want us to unite? They know when we turn against each other, some will eventually turn against themselves. When this happens we as a whole crumble like cookies in a closed fist.

I like to use this metaphor a lot when I am talking through my cell door to other comrades. Picture this, in one hand you have some sugar, in the other hand you have feces (shit). Now there comes a time in everyone's life to choose what they want so they can push forward in life. You have to pick which hand you want to live with, because sugar and feces do not mix!

Every state human warehouse has it's own ways of suppressing us. We as a whole should never look at another comrade across this racist country as if we're better off where we're at, with comments like, "at least we don't have to go through what their going through." No, you're wrong for saying this or even thinking this way. Each of us are comrades (soldiers) in this struggle and when one comrade hurts we should all feel it. When one comrade falls down after so many battles with these racist pigs, then we all should help him up and protect his mind, because let's remember they may have our bodies, but they will never get our minds unless we give it to them.

So let's choose the hand with sugar in it. Stop the cookies from crumbling and unite as a whole. Then enjoy the sweetness of overcoming our oppressors. Keep fighting CA comrades and know you're supported even though I'm in Missouri. Do what you have to do to let them know. But stay healthy in the process. A soldier, a comrade always stays in training, both mentally and physically. Stay up and always stay real!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade demonstrates in practice how to uphold the Unity principal of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. "WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
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New Prisoners Isolated as Security Threat in Texas

The control units here were designed for prisoners the state couldn't control physically. Later it became a place for those it couldn't control mentally as well. Example: I was placed in Administrative Segregation immediately upon my arrival in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) because of tattoos. These were used to confirm me as a member of a Security Threat Group (STG). I don't deny I am a member of [an organization]. However TDCJ made it a rule violation to be a member of any STG. All members are placed in isolation, no matter if they participated in clashes or not. I was never given a chance in population nor is any other confirmed member of any STG. We are all judged on the actions of others who are/were incarcerated.

If an organization will give over a list of its ranking structure and work with the state, then the label of STG may be removed. Prisoners can return to population if they participate in Gang Renouncement and Disassociation. Yes, it's a program and they attempt to program the individual. It's straight up brain washing.

All organizations (or gangs as they call them) were in population somewhere. Only by their own actions should they be segregated, admitted to the Special Management Unit or ADX.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Across the country prisoners are placed in isolation based on labels the prison imposes on them. Often this has to do with who the prison administration thinks they associate with, and nothing to do with the prisoners' behavior as described above. Either way, these isolation cells are torture, causing many to become both physically and mentally sick. MIM(Prisons) is keeping one of the most comprehensive counts of control units as a part of our campaign to abolish control units. To help collect statistics for your state write to us for the control unit survey.

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[Abuse] [Censorship] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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The Corcoran Report: Rolling Back the Few Hunger Strike Victories

This report is on the conditions at California State Prison - Corcoran 4A SHU (CSP-COR). It is written with the purpose of sharing with comrades locally and nationally the demise of the movement here at CSP-COR, and what will be necessary for comrades of the United Struggle from Within (USW) to regain momentum uniting those capable of being united in the struggle to abolish the Security Housing Units (SHU).

The author has been housed at CSP-COR SHU on an undetermined SHU sentence that resulted from a battery on a peace officer with serious bodily injury. This was an event orchestrated by Kern Valley State Prison's corrupt guards. Any prisoner who has been somewhere within the California prison system knows the history of CSP-COR and the high degree of guard corruption; everything from murder and police brutality to conspiracy against prisoners for complaining against officials. Here at CSP-COR I've personally witnessed staff abuse the power bestowed upon them by California and its California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) union for the purpose of keeping their foot on prisoners' throats and preventing our freedom of speech.

There is a code of silence practiced by the majority of staff at CSP-COR, dubbed the Green Wall, and it's alive and well here in 2012. Where once it was isolated to those in green (correctional officers) it has now spread to those within the medical department (nurses, doctors, and psych staff), the legal library, the mail department, the food services department, and the religious department. This is not to say that every person who works for the CDCR is a part of the Wall; there are individuals who can be used to expose the system for what it is. But the state's institutions seem to be uniting its forces more these days against prisoners for the sake of covering up the problems and sweeping important social issues under the rug.

On 4A, the law librarian prevents any access to his facility unless a prisoner has a deadline from the courts or a state. The prison law library is the most important resource for prisoners, providing literature that guides the ability of prisoners to more effectively prosecute cases in the judicial branch of this government. Prisoners need things like computers, copies, typewriters, reference material, etc. The CCPOA knows this and take away prisoners' access to one of the most important resources they have through understaffing and budgeting. Political power in the hands of prisoners presents a threat to the financial security of every vampire of the U.S. prison complex. And because it is not only a possibility but also a social reality, the state and the union seek to stall the success of the prison movement, particularly in the area of free speech, free assembly, and right to grievance which becomes free protest.

I've also witnessed officials censor prisoners' mail because the contents of the correspondence or periodical didn't sit well with the agenda or idea of the state-union establishment. Often a pig in the position of sorting incoming/outgoing mail is issuing, withholding, or completely disposing of a prisoner's mail for malicious reasons. Brothers at Corcoran SHU have a difficult time just corresponding with the outside world. Officials with their personal vendettas, and most times negligence, confiscate materials such as stationary packages sent to a prisoner from their family. They then turn around and try to trade the material with another prisoner who has filed a grievance against them in exchange for the prisoner's silence on the subject of the grievance.

They trash mail that may expose the reality of the state-union corruption. Most times they secure the support of the public by declaring the "security" threat as a threat to the public. But if the matter was placed under the microscope where the real public could hear and see the position of prisoners, they'd be forced to recognize that the blood of prisoners are on their, the public's, hands.

California uses a department regulation 3135(c)(1) in order to validate censorship practices in its prisons holding that the material is "...of a character tending to incite murder, arson, a riot, or any form of violence or physical harm to any person, or any ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or other group." Most times, though, this isn't even the case. It isn't the security of the public that is at stake, it is the financial security of the labor aristocracy that is at stake.

After the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) hunger strike prisoners received a number of small concessions from the state. Here they've already begun to renege on their deal. They allow brothers to wear their personal kicks and at times purchase new kicks. There are clear color pen fillers on the store, beanies are issued in the winter, and someone from the psych staff walks around once a week and passes out a sheet of paper with eight to ten puzzles and a calendar for the Jewish month. But CSP-COR officials don't even recognize the elements with the most material substance of the PBSP core demands. There is no group yard, the cages do not have pull up bars, and the ab-roller equipment that was issued has been banned. The canteen has not been expanded, there haven't been any added TV stations, and prisoners still can only receive one package per year.

The guards are banning Prison Legal News and MIM(Prisons) publications, but allowing religious periodicals like the Trumpet. Any attempts by prisoners to come together to figure out how to curb such BS is interfered with by means of vandalizing cell inspections, shortening food rations, confiscation of property/privileges, and bogus rule violation reports. Take, for example, an event that occurred where various Special Needs Yard and Disciplinary Detention prisoners of Black, white, and Latino nationality were on the cage yard exercising together, calling out their routine in cadence to coordinate the exercise routine. The yard pig approached the group and interrupted their exercise stating they'd have to cease the group work out as it was gang activity. The prisoners objected asking, "was the Marines a gang?" The pig wouldn't answer, so they continued exercising. The pig called the building where these prisoners were housed and instructed 4 coworkers that the prisoners involved in the exercise routine were to have their cells vandalized.

This is a brief description of the abuses taking place at CSP-Corcoran. There are a few class actions being initiated and a certain USW comrade is organizing prisoners (peacefully) around a campaign to oppose mail censorship. The USW comrade said it all started with CSP-Corcoran censoring MIM(Prison)'s correspondence.

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[Campaigns] [California]
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Bringing Grievances to Higher Level Wins Again

Every since my filing of the MIM censorship suit I haven't been able to get a 602 [grievance form] processed, and I was pretty good at filing them and winning them prior to the MIM suit. Since I've been at this prison the only 602 I was able to get acknowledged and processed was one concerning the law library, and only after two months of either having them "screened out" for one reason or another or simply being ignored. It was only because I finally got tired of their b.s., went over their heads and mailed a "retaliation and conspiracy" petition to Sacramento along with a quick letter explaining my situation.

Afterwards I not only got a letter from Sacramento telling me they'd sent it back to appeals court with instructions to properly process, but I got a letter from here basically reprimanding me for going over their heads; but it got the job done.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of perseverance in the face of repression, following in the footsteps of a similar victory in Kern Valley this month.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Texas]
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Grievance Petition Spreads in Texas

I got the grievance petition, and I need more. 350 copies is only enough for 35 people, and I've got 144 on my pod x3 pods my building x8 so send me some more please.

Also, I got a reply from the state bar of Texas. They sent info on how to complain about your [state-assigned] attorney that we can use for the grievances in TDCJ.

I did get a response in person from the grievance regional investigator in a personal interview. They basically told us to keep filing grievances and they will work on problems.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for his ambitious work to spread the Texas grievance petition to every prisoner in his institution. But it is quite costly for us to make so many copies and send them in so we need to encourage everyone to make their own copies if possible. We know that sometimes this will not be possible, and if this is the case for you please explain why and we will try to supply you with the necessary copies.

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[Organizing] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 27]
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Ohio State Penitentiary Hunger Strike Ends

ohio state penitentiary
Ohio State Penitentiary
9 May 2012, Youngstown, Ohio - Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) hunger strike ends. After long negotiations with Warden David Bobby on 7 May, the hunger striking prisoners at OSP began eating again. Two of the men held out through the eighth, unsatisfied with the agreement. The warden met with them separately and they agreed to come off the strike. Warden Bobby reported that "by lunch time today, everyone was eating." This was confirmed by two prisoner sources.

At this point details of the agreement are unclear, but sources say that the hunger strikers are satisfied and feel they achieved results. One source described the demands and the warden's response as "reasonable." Without going into detail, the main concerns were in regards to commissary cost, state pay rates, phone cost, length of stay, and harsh penalties for petty conduct reports. The warden said that he discussed "many issues" at the meeting with strike representatives, "many things beyond the main demands," but he would not share any of the details.

The strikers are resting and recovering, but have mailed detailed information to outside supporters at Redbird Prison Abolition, which will be released to the public as soon as possible. The warden admitted that one of the hunger strikers was transferred to disciplinary segregation for unrelated rule infractions, but stated that there were no reprisals or punishments for participating. One prisoner source agrees with this statement.

The hunger strike began on April 30 and was timed to align with May Day protests outside.


MIM(prisons) adds: This hunger strike demanded many reforms related to conditions in the prison. As with hunger strikes from California to Palestine, the prison administration made promises to get the prisoners to end the strike. At least one prisoner resumed the hunger strike on June 4 after the warden failed to follow through on his promises.(1)

Hunger strikes are becoming an increasingly popular tactic in the struggle against the criminal injustice system. Prisoners are forced into a position where there is very little they can do to fight for their rights. The legal system refuses to respond, grievances are ignored or destroyed, and on the streets there is more support for "getting tough on crime" than for prisoners' rights. And so prisoners feel their only choice is to put their lives in danger by refusing to eat.

MIM(Prisons) supports outbreaks of organizing and struggle against the criminal injustice system, and we urge prisoner activists to take seriously the need for study and organization before taking action. Not everyone will be a communist, but we can all advance our theory and practice through study and discussion. And we need good organizing theory to make the best use of unity and actions.

A good place to start is the United Front for Peace Statement of Principles. Struggle with us if you disagree with any of them, and if you agree, come together with prisoners across the country to build our unity and struggle.

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[Organizing] [Heman Stark YCF] [California] [ULK Issue 27]
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MIM(Prisons) Too Dismissive of Rebellions

In ULK 25 you printed an article of mine about prisoner struggles in the Youth Training School (YTS) in Chino, California. I'd like to comment on your response.

The main points in your response criticize our efforts to better our own conditions. And that's MIM(Prisons)'s common ideology as I've noticed from the material of yours I've read. MIM(Prisons) is quick to condemn and downplay rebellious actions as premature, saying the rebels ain't "ready" and lack unity of the masses to obtain success. But I don't believe that's always the proper analysis of the rebellions you speak against. Ultimate victory is obtained through action, by taking chances. Is it proper revolutionary conduct to sit on the sidelines and cheerlead, even in the midst of war? That makes me think of the Muslim Brotherhood. They failed to participate in the revolt that happened in Egypt, but they were quick to celebrate the victory, they were quick to want to enforce their ideologies in the new government. True revolutionaries must, at some point, get their hands dirty.

To constantly speak against taking action, for lack of proper political education (or for whatever reasons), is to tell Rosa Parks she should've just moved to the back of the bus. It's the same as telling indigenous peoples they're ignorant for fighting back against the oppressors to preserve their way of life, or to tell the rebel fighters in the African and Arab countries to lay down their arms because MIM(Prisons) doesn't feel those citizens are ready. But as we've seen, many oppressive governments have been toppled successfully.

When Fidel and Raul Castro, Che, etc, invaded Cuba they did it with only 82 men. But they only had 22 left after the first ambush. They lacked the loyalty of the masses, took a chance, and succeeded!

In the situation at YTS I admit we were young and lacked the proper political education, and as I've said, I now see all our energy should've been focused on the system itself. But our technique was a success according to our young, uneducated ideologies at the time. Our goal wasn't to try to change the whole California Youth Authority system itself, but to reform YTS, to make our living conditions better, to get things back that had been taken from us. The power was in our hands, the hands of the people. Administration clearly saw that and eventually relented to our demands. The administration's intent was to pacify us, but in my article I never said anything about being pacified. The "few bones" thrown to us did nothing to calm us down. And in the process we learned something of value: we learned an art of war against the system, and how to organize, even if you do choose to call it focoism. Experience in war, even if that battle is lost (ours wasn't), is intrinsically valuable for the preparations of future battles against the oppressors. "Talk," verbal education, can only go so far. Experience is the ultimate teacher. And it's my experience at YTS that has now made me hungry for revolutionary education. I now study politics and try to get my priorities in order to help clean up the hypocrisy of the injustice system. I doubt I'm the only one that's been motivated as a result of my experiences. So wouldn't you call that a victory?!

Any patriot whose ever lost a battle will tell you he's learned something of more value than just how to shed blood.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this writer's commitment to struggle with us over this issue after reading our response to h article in Under Lock & Key. This is a good example of Unity-Struggle-Unity. We must fearlessly tackle our ideological disagreements and questions while working together for change. Theories can only truly be tested in practice, and so in this way we agree that experience is the ultimate teacher.

This is a debate over the lessons of experience, not one of "talk" vs. experience as this prisoner represents. The article we printed talked about the YTS Chino prisoners who engaged in "race riots" where nations fought nations because they were being punished already for violence. The prisoncrats eventually saw the wisdom of resolving the situation by improving conditions rather than increasing repression. Certainly all of the youth involved in these struggles learned some valuable lessons. Most important is the lesson about the arbitrary nature of punishment meted out by the criminal injustice system. But we look to the practice of prisoners across the country and see that violence among prisoners generally leads to more violence and repression by the prison pigs, not the administration giving in to demands.

If we really want to learn from practice we must look at more than just one situation and draw scientific conclusions from history. It is likely that more than one individual prayed for change to the conditions in YTS Chino during this time, but we don't conclude that praying to god results in improvements in prisons just from this one experience. Similarly we can't take this one situation as evidence that violence among the people will lead the oppressors to lessen oppression when this is contradicted in the vast majority of prisons.

MIM(Prisons) does walk a line between supporting just struggles of the oppressed wherever they break out, and drawing lessons from the struggles while trying to push them to ever more advanced and successful levels. While we struggle against focoism, we have a bigger problem of inaction due to fear among the prison masses. So we recognize the positive aspects of immature rebellions that serve as breeding grounds for more advanced comrades and strategies. When these struggles present just demands we will support them, but we should not blindly cheerlead for every outbreak of rebellion.

The case of Cuba is a good historical example where we would defend their just struggle against imperialist aggression while pointing out that their revolution ended up dependent on Soviet imperialism and this hindered their ability to develop socialism and advance further in the interests of the Cuban people. This is a scientific analysis of history that must be undertaken so that we can learn from successes and failures. Many times in many countries people take up armed struggle without Maoist leadership and people's support. We resolutely support these struggles when they oppose imperialism, but we don't want to mislead people by suggesting that this is the best path to follow for other struggles.

This comrade's development of political awareness out of his experience at YTS Chino is a victory for the oppressed. But to sum up that history overall as a victory would imply that random violence among the oppressed wins victories from the oppressor. What makes it useful to retell these histories is to say here's what was righteous, and here's what was backwards or immature in our approach, to apply those lessons to our future struggles and share them with those who find themselves in similar situations today so that they can do better than we did.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 27]
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Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White in long-term isolation cell

Snow White and the Huntsman is a more in-depth, live-action take on the Disney classic. A variety of themes are explored in this film that were glossed over or undeveloped in the animated version, but the basic plot remains the same.

The story begins with Snow White as a small girl. Her mother falls ill and dies. Shortly thereafter the widower king is drawn into battle with a "dark and mysterious" army, whose warriors are made of obsidian or glass. The army is defeated and a prisoner, a beautiful womyn, is rescued. The king marries the prisoner the very next day, and she quickly is revealed to be an evil witch. The new queen kills the king, locks Snow White in a tower, and destroys the entire kingdom. How Snow White survived her decade of solitary confinement was not addressed in the film, but would have been interesting for us to analyze and likely criticize.

The queen was under a spell that kept her the fairest in the land, so long as she sucks the youth and beauty out of young wimmin to constantly replenish her powers. This beauty enables her to manipulate people who are distracted by her good looks, and to cast spells of her own. The spell can only be broken by "fairest blood," and as Snow White comes of age in her prison tower, she becomes a threat to the queen's powers. The magic mirror on the wall instructs the queen to eat Snow White's heart so that she will become immortal.

The queen's brother goes to retrieve Snow White for a meeting with the queen. Of course Snow White escapes, and through a course of events leads a revolution to take back the kingdom from the evil queen. It is Snow White's "purity" and "innocence" (as well as a blessing from a forest creature straight out of Princess Mononoke) that give her magical powers to overcome the queen's spells and tricks. A classic Jesus story, complete with a resurrection.

When the evil queen first took power, the subjects initially tried to resist her rule. They were defeated each time, and eventually everyone gave up, broke into sects, turned alcoholic, and warred with each other just trying to stay alive. An oracle dwarf identified Snow White as having a "destiny." It was only the power of this destined leader that could bring everyone together and overcome the evil queen.

The take-home lessons from Snow White and the Huntsman are defeatist. "Find a good leader and follow them." "People's struggle isn't winnable." "There's nothing you can do to challenge the all-powerful status quo." These are typical messages to be expected from a mainstream Amerikkkan movie.

The only theme that was remotely interesting was the queen's views on gender and beauty. She has been a victim of beauty for twenty lifetimes and has built up a lot of resentment toward men. This resentment comes up in her murder of the king, because she is distrustful of men, who will just throw her out when she ages. In a later scene, she is assessing two male prisoners who have just been captured, and one is young and handsome. Before killing him with her own fingers, she gives a monologue about how he would have been her ruin, but instead she will be his ruin. This is a good critique of the fetishization of youth and beauty and its contribution to a variety of mental health challenges people in our society must face. Had the queen not been valued by men only for her beauty, she may have been a more benevolent dictator, at least to the handsome young men who cross her path.

Snow White and the Huntsman doesn't get my recommendation. We don't need any more encouragement in our society to drink our sorrows about the status quo away, waiting for our own Snow White. And it's unnecessary to wait, because your Snow White is you!

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[Racism] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 27]
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More News About Missouri Please

I have some concerns about articles that are from California prisons. Aren't these same things going on in Missouri prisons as well? There are Trayvons happening everyday in Missouri, but no one talks about it. In Missouri prisons you can't even come together for a strike or anything else because if you do you will be put in SHU.

All I am asking my brothers and sisters of MIM(Prisons) is to please take a look at these Missouri prisons.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this comrade's desire to see more in Under Lock & Key about what's going on in prisons in h state. But this is really a call to h, and others who feel their state is underrepresented in ULK, to send us articles. We rely on our readers for news. Become a correspondent and send regular articles about what's going on in your prison and you will see more news about your state in ULK. Ask for a copy of our writing guide to get started.

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