The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got HTML/CSS skills? We need a volunteer to make our website friendlier for small screens. help out
[Rhymes/Poetry]
expand

Do You Feel Me?

These tyrants got me feeling so oblique, as this pen leaks.
I keep my Tims strapped tight, so I move swiftly upon this concrete beast.
Oppression from the police is never stopping me.
I fight, for love, life & liberty.
"Freedom!" is what our people scream.
Crazy how something positive can quickly turn into a murder scene.
The capitalist mentality has made my homies murder men down for anything...
Anything to ease the suffering.
Aren't you tired of struggling?
I am, so why you still slumbering?
No more talking, time for action!
Elevate your mind, broaden your horizons, rise to the occasion!
Revolution! That's our vision.
To stop all of these divisions.
Death from these corrupt politicians.
Don't mean to sound like I'm bitchen,
but I'm tired of these crackers shaken the spoon in the kitchen.
Homicide on oppression that's what I'm really wishin'.
Inmates tell me that I'm trippin, but I don't even listen.
Because they blind like bats in daylight, still screaming that they thuggin.
So tell me beloved comrades, who the one that's really buggin?

chain
[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia]
expand

Fighting Segregation, Inspired by ULK

I have just recently been introduced to Under Lock & Key. I regret that I've been ignorant to the existence of such an inspiring movement. I commend you all in exposing the harsh reality that is the Department of Corruption nationwide.

Here in West Virginia the nature of incarceration is mostly mental and emotional torture. Segregation time is handed out in 30- and 60-day increments for infractions of the pettiest kind: borrowing someone else's CD can get you 30 days. Giving a man a soup because he's hungry lands you in SHU for 30 days. Multiple class 2 writeups get you 60 as well as any class 1. Tobacco products get you 60 days. Then god forbid you get caught with a weapon... that's 2 years minimum on the "Quality of Life Program."

The SHU is sensory deprivation to the fullest. There is no access to reading books from the library, and of course no radio or television. If you get no newspapers or magazines in the mail, you have nothing. Get caught passing reading material and it's another 30 days. It's a very stressful game to hold on to your sanity.

Though the atmosphere is not very violent, it is taxing mentally. Behind every face is a potential informant. There are few that can truly be trusted and even fewer who can be depended on. We have no unity. Some try to open the eyes of others to see the true enemy, but often times to no avail. Administration members play us against each other at every turn. They oppress religious freedoms and the mere freedom of thought. Voicing opinions in grievances gets you put in the SHU.

I anxiously await the next issue of Under Lock & Key for advice, direction, and inspiration.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The torture of prison control units, like the SHU described by this prisoner, is widespread in Amerika. It is something we have been fighting against for years, many comrades decades, but with little success in actually stopping the torture. Isolation units are used as a tool of social control for a population that the imperialists have no productive use for. In this system, prisoncrats work hard to set prisoners against one another by rewarding snitching as another method of control. Division and fear are powerful tools for the criminal injustice system. Under Lock & Key is an important tool for prisoners to fight back, organize, and unify. Share this publication with others, form discussion groups to talk about the articles, and get in touch with us to share your stories and struggles. There are many more people like the one above who have plenty of experience with repression, but have had little access to comrades and forums for analyzing and struggling to end it. We are working to change that.

chain
[Organizing] [United Front] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

Hunger Strike Strategy: Tactical Retreat or Advance?

So we now have the attention of the state, what is it that we will do with it? We have shown the ability to logically comprehend the repression that we're up against, and the strength to take a stand against the common oppressor, but what's to be done after we're standing?

After we've shot that bow across, or at that battleship, known to some as the CDCR and to others as the oppressive state of California; what is to be done next? Do we continue advancing on the enemy or do we retreat in the face of a failed tactic? This is the true question to be answered by the leaders of our movement.

Recently CDCR put out a memo of what it is they'd like us to do (see September 27 memo "Inmate Programming Expectations Relative to Hunger Strike"); they want us to retreat. And if we don't, "disciplinary action" will be taken against us.

So there you have it. For the arrow that was shot at the state, at a time when we need to be concentrating our energies into resolving the contradictions within the prison population dividing us, CDCR has fired back with its canon to not only discourage participation and leadership in peaceful protest, but has begun to set the stage for punishment for such protest.

They call it a disturbance to the safety and security of "their" established institutional order; our mass actions disrupt the everyday program of the department. Give this a little time to ferment and it will become, for every leader of such activities, disturbing the peace officer and obstructing duties. This is a felony offense that I am being prosecuted for in a state court as I write.

Do we retreat or advance? I personally believe that at this stage comrades should retreat. We should fall back and focus on the divisions that are the primary reason for low participation of prisoners. Most will feel that because we fall back we stop in this struggle, but they are wrong as our struggle is a protracted one.

This was a great shock therapy experiment. Now we must learn from yesterday, live for today and plan for tomorrow. In this war we must pick battles big enough to matter, yet small enough to win.

Let us not forget that although our civil disobedience is one of a peaceful nature it is still disobedience and can result in greater repression and punishment. Yes we are willing to die for a change of the current conditions, but are the masses willing to keep the movement alive after we're dead? Because the masses aren't even yet trained in such civil disobedience, the answer is no, they won't keep the movement alive. We can't expect them to do anything less than die out once their leaders die, and the state has begun its disciplinary actions against them. They have their lights on us for real now, so there isn't much to cloak our activities under. Our leaders will be targeted, so we must prepare others to lead when they fall.

We haven't trained our people in the effective art of hunger striking, how they must drink more water than usual to continue standing strong, how they must develop specific reflex mechanisms to respond in swatting away the urges of all officials, who have only one interest in the matter, which goes against the interest of the strike, and who will be like flies trying to get participants to take a sack lunch, or maybe even have an extra tray convincing them that they will not accomplish anything through striking. Amerikkka doesn't negotiate with terrorists (at least not in public), and they see the leaders of this action as such, no? Shouldn't our participants be trained in these and other methods in order to be more effective?

We leaders are responsible for ensuring that all participants will anticipate the repression that will come as a result of mass action, as well as what shall be done when these repressions take place. Have we done this? No.

It is more correct to re-evaluate our actions now to more progressively advance the demands of the prisoners. In this re-evaluation we shall address the key issues at hand that cause prisoners to be divided. In doing so we will be better fit in establishing the necessary communication with various organizations that can initiate the unity process for prisoners to engage in mass protest demonstrations. We will not be going backwards by doing this. It will actually prove to be forward progress for the prisoner liberation movement.

In ULK 21 BORO called out numerous LOs in their position of where it is that they stand in this struggle. As a USW member/leader I will follow suit in regards to my fellow captives in California: OG Flower and Ronny Brown, where y'all at? Coco where you at? Big Coup what's poppin dawg? Trech and Evil, here it is cuz? Hoover D and Big Owl, where y'all at? Where them NF comrades at? How about them NLRs? We either gonna go hard or go home, cause the state ain't even started yet. Y'all better take a look at Syria, and Libya. We all gone get it, so we all got to get involved.

The above organizations have leaders in the SHU who still fly kites to the line. They still have representatives in other areas. If they can enforce upon their members to engage in this as well as other non-antagonistic activities then I'm sure they can enforce upon their member population to struggle.

As I've said before, this is a good place to begin United Front work, but we must first resolve the contradictions of ourselves before we really begin outright battles with the state. Don't feel that we can't stop now because we've already started the movement, because this assessment of our klass conditions is really a step forward in strategic advance, but a tactical retreat. Remember, you can retreat and lead the enemy into an ambush.


MIM(Prisons) adds: From the time this article left our comrade's pen to when it was published here we have heard from the outside mediators that most in Pelican Bay had stopped their hunger strike, while other prisons followed shortly after. Whether in the midst of the strike or at the end, we think Loco1 brings up important points to consider in terms of moving forward while the issue is at the forefront of the masses minds.

While MIM(Prisons) did not lead or initiate this hunger strike, we do firmly support it and other progressive non-violent protests by prisoners demanding livable conditions in the context of the fight against the criminal injustice system. The strikers were prepared in building support and communications sufficient to execute an action that got the attention of not just the prison administration but people across the state of California and around the world. Actions like this are learning experiences for leaders and participants, while building unity and demonstrating the potential for such movements. However, we do agree with Loco1 on the need to evaluate both the successes and failures of these protests, and build on them for the future.

The hunger strike itself has already served as a uniting force, with thousands of prisoners standing together for a common cause. While Loco1 may be correct that this is a small portion of California prisoners, this demonstration was unprecedented in its size. We did receive some reports of differences in participation along national and organizational lines, and even more of the pigs trying to foment such divisions. With the strength of some of the LOs in California, overcoming these divisions could happen quickly under their leadership. But it requires putting the petty stuff, the things that currently dominate prison culture, aside for bigger goals. The original Five Core Demands of the hunger strike are an example of big goals (see ULK 21). While some argued that these only affected SHU prisoners, any prisoner can become a SHU prisoner in the blink of an eye. So the demands represented a blow against torture for all California prisoners.

We do not want more people in SHU. Control Units exist to control the oppressed nations and anyone the state sees as a threat to their interests. It is one of the most overtly political forms of repression we see in the United $tates today. And we agree with USW leaders who have pushed for a more explicit demand to end long-term isolation altogether.(see 1 or 2)

We agree that successful hunger strikes and similar actions require great unity and discipline, which the masses of California prisoners did not have going into this. But the strikers worked around this problem of unity and communication. The SHU prisoners pledged to fast til the demands were met, and only asked that others showed solidarity in whatever ways they best could. For many, that meant fasting for a determined length of time.

One of the major lessons of this hunger strike is the need for a unifying organizational structure through which action can be coordinated and goals and information can be formulated and shared. The United Front for Peace in Prisons provides this opportunity by bringing together LOs and individuals who understand the importance of unity against the common enemy. As the announcement of the United Front stated:


We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already "united" — in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know "we need unity" — but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence.

We look forward to summaries of the successes and failures of the hunger strike in future pages of Under Lock & Key and encourage our comrades to send your stories on how you are building on this movement to greater unity and strength.

chain
[United Front]
expand

USW Study Cell Signs onto UF for Peace

I have been working for years to help uplift the consciousness of prisoners and your five points for peace serve as a beacon of hope for the imprisoned masses.

I come from a united struggle from within U.$. prisons where prisoners suffer horrendously. So much work is to be done in prisons, and prisoners have much room to improve their understanding of the society that brought them to prison. The first step is identifying the oppressor and for some, being able to grasp what oppression is, is a difficult task. Most in prison have lived their entire life in mental chains so oppression becomes the norm and attempts to free one from this oppression are met with antagonism, sort of like the kidnapped victim who comes to love their captor.

Yet peace is a first step to being new men and wimmin prisoners, and then the imprisoned masses will begin to de-colonize their minds. A united effort is needed to help educate prisoners and your joint peace statement cuts a goat path through the muck we are forced to endure. My study group agrees with your peace statement and so I sign on as a result.

In Struggle.

chain
[Censorship] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
expand

CA Prisons Opening Legal Mail to Repress Strikers

I received a letter from an attorney which the High Desert State Prisons intercepted and allegedly "returned to sender" on October 14. I received an official "rejection" notice for that legal letter which stated "disallowed letter that encourages inmates to form a hunger strike and plan to disrupt the order of this facility."

Now, here's what I don't understand, if this was indeed a legal letter, from a legitimate attorney, how did they know what was inside the envelope unless they illegally opened it outside my presence? I am in the process of trying to obtain copies of the "rejection notice," at which time I will appeal the issue.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This sort of illegal censorship is rampant in Amerikan prisons and especially problematic in California where we have faced repeated bans on MIM(Prisons) mail because of our revolutionary politics and advocacy for prisoners. In the case of the recent Hunger Strike in California, it appears that most mail mentioning the strike was censored while prisoners were engaged in this important struggle. And in some cases the Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) used these letters as supposed evidence of gang activity on the part of the prisoners to whom they were addressed.

chain
[Security] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

Not All SNY Prisoners Debrief

I'd like to speak in regards to the Special Needs Yards (SNY) situation. It's synonymous with the plight of my comrades, relatives and brothers detained in Pelican Bay, Tehachapi and Corcoran Security Housing Units (SHUs), from which I was released in 2010.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Institutional Gang Investigations (CDCR IGI) squad uses insidiously foul tactics, involving "validating" or "associating" an "active" [gang member] who isn't really active. Somewhere within my 16.5 years on this joke, many, including myself, lost our sense of direction and consciousness. Because we've lost our direction, the CDCR has found flaws in our infrastructure as a collective.

All of the tactics you hear about to validate or get homies to debrief are true. After being detained for an assault on a faulty comrade, a SHU term was assessed and completed. After numerous incidents on Corcoran's integrated yard, and relationships with individuals of other acknowledged sects, IGI tried to seize their opportunity with interrogations. They were met with my defiance, then, they manifested a "packet".

What was troubling is that these silly goons were adamant of an alleged association with a sect that literally would be treason, had I been linked to them. Now my existence is in jeopardy.

After consultation with a selected few of my infrastructure, I had to denounce my legitimate association with whom I truly move to subterfuge the fabricated trash the IGI spawned. Pride was hard to swallow, but the flaw in their system relegated me to fall back without compromisin' comradz.

The procedures to become SNY depend on the administration at each institution, and it's at their administrative discretion. For me, in Corcoran SHU, I denounced my legitimate gang association without debriefing in order to rebuke a false alleged association. Once the process begins you are infected like a plague, whether you've debriefed or not. So I chose to drop out without debriefing, but the outcome is the same: SNY. With that label, the assumption is that I've either snitched/debriefed or I am some kind of "victim." There are now many prisoners in the SHU who are SNY and pending or are validated because someone on SNY can join the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) for mentally ill prisoners, and get his SNY status revoked to be re-integrated into the EOP/GP program. EOP basically was SNY prior to the implementation of SNYs.

There seems to be a plague, a misconception that all are debriefing on SNY — no! Nor is it legit for the validated homies to only have the lesser option to debrief in order to obtain civility and humanity in prison. That's not an option.

I now find myself in the eighth month of an 18 month SHU term. Initially, there was shame in my decision, yet I been kickin' dust from Calipat to the Bay; my gangsta, my manhood, my integrity is and always will be solidified. I'm still pushin' and movin', and was surprised to see many reputable comradz and relatives on SNY too! Don't let the fence in the middle misconstrue reality: it's us vs. them!

Do not lose consciousness, whatever side you're on. I agree, most SNYs are faulty. There's an influx of kids who tapped out without ever walkin' any line, even for a hot second! Real spill. Now, consciousness is lost when homies are unconsciously toten' "burners" and gettin' caught? Fumblin' missives? Harborin' hooks? Politicin' with emotions as opposed to rational thinking? C'mon, we've all done it. The infrastructure must be tightened. Why do you think all these young homies needed on the line are now on SNY?

Again, not everyone is faulty; they weren't groomed right. We are responsible for us, so as the homies in these SHU complexes hunger strike and resist, our lack of consciousness is inconsiderate to the struggle. The lack of consciousness only perpetuates the offensive of the CDCR.

So, yeah, I've spoke on it. I am SNY, but don't think I ain't still active!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter is referring back to the long running debate in Under Lock & Key about SNY yards and whether or not we should work with people in SNY who want to get involved in the fight against the criminal injustice system. We agree with the author that we've come across good comrades who are doing good work in SNY. We judge individuals by their actions, not by their prison-imposed classification. However, we would not glorify the activities on the street that lead to prison. We do need to educate the youth, but kids coming to prison aren't going to be more political because they did more street crime. Our job is to turn that energy against the system, preferably before they are locked up by the system.

There are deep contradictions within the lumpen organizations (LOs) that are alluded to by this comrade in his calls for self-criticism and evaluation. He echoes our previous points that the LOs are playing a big role in pushing people into SNY. Right now the SHU prisoners are leading the way, showing how to gain power and respect without being predators on each other, or other oppressed people. Internationalism means not just looking out for your group or clique. When the oppressed unite internationally, then self-determination can be real and power will no longer be fleeting as it is in current U.$. prison culture.

chain
[Gang Validation] [Smith Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

Fighting False Validations for Colors and Tattoos

I agree with the Texas prisoner on page 14 in Under Lock & Key 22 that the COINTELPRO is still alive in disguise.

At the Smith Unit, Gang Intelligence (GI) tags mostly everybody as gang members. I have a five point star on my neck that says "rising star" because I have a vision of being a celebrity. For this the GI labeled me as a confirmed Blood gang member, and put me on file as such. Also another prisoner had red in his "free world" tattoo with no indication of gang affiliation and still was tagged as a Blood. They confiscated one brother's pictures just because the brother was wearing blue clothes and tagged him as a confirmed gang member. The GI on Smith Unit is out of control.

On the other hand, for all you comrades who are being denied ULK newsletters and other political publications from MIM(Prisons), don't forget to appeal with the Director's Review Committee, and write a grievance for violation of your First Amendment constitutional right to have access to the media. If you have free world support, use it by having them call and talk to the warden of your unit and the mailroom supervisor. If more people use this line of defense it will make these pigs think twice about violating our First Amendment rights because it exposes them to the public eye and word spreads like wildfire. If the GI illegally tags you as a gang/security threat group member, file a step one and step two grievance so you can have some paperwork backing you up. It's called insurance.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade makes an important point about fighting censorship and false validations. If you experience censorship of any political material, you need to let us know, and file an appeal. We have a guide to fighting censorship available to all prisoners who want to help with this important battle.

chain
[Censorship] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
expand

Strike Leaders Isolated, CDCR Retaliating Against Strikers

During this second hunger strike it seems the prison system is working overtime making itself look stupid so the outside world can really see what we're dealing with. They are making it clear what we prisoners fighting for reasonable changes have to go through in order to bring attention to our inhumane conditions.

On September 29, 2011 they placed all of us strike representatives in Ad-Seg (isolation) on "H" row. Prison officials within CDCR were feeding propaganda to various news media that we representatives in the hunger strike are the prison gang generals, crime bosses, who are forcing prisoners around the states to not eat.

They hate to admit prisoners have had enough of these repressive inhumane conditions and want to be treated like a damn human being with some respect.

On October 5, 2011, a few of us were released from Ad-Seg. I hear the others were released a little later after CDCR officials put things in writing. I understand the 4 main representatives have actually read the writings. I hope to get a copy to share among the other prisoners that stood tall in this strike.

CDCR officials have begun retaliating by giving prisoners CDC 115 disciplinary infractions for partaking in a non-violent peaceful strike. CDCR officials actions simply say we prisoners do not even have a constitutional right to refuse to eat. We will see if a federal court will find CDCR actions were retaliatory and violate our first amendment.

I received a notification that MIM(Prisons) has been banned. These folks here are a joke and violate laws at will.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It's no coincidence that this prisoner is facing repression for activism and having his MIM(Prisons) mail banned at the same time. As activists, and especially revolutionaries, grow in our influence and organizing power the systems we oppose become more threatened and respond with more repression.

chain
[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
expand

Last Men Standing in CA Hunger Strike

[This letter was just received from one of the few comrades who has continued to stick to the pledge to strike until the 5 core demands were met. While it is unclear why others in Pelican Bay have stopped striking, this comrade is pushing for a re-orientation that addresses the torturous conditions of long-term isolation head on while reaching out to the general prison population.]

18 October 2011 - Well, they had a busload, about 1/2 of it, full leaving Pelican Bay State Prison for Corcoran. All hunger strikers, and all descendents from south of the border, Mexico and further, with only a few whites. How they chose us out of all is difficult to say. They immediately isolated me, and in the last few days have gone to great lengths to convince me the strike is over. The CDC is even lying publicly saying it has ended (see CDCR Star) via Terry Thornton, a mouthpiece propagating on behalf of the state.

I've been told if I relent and eat I can go to the block with the others, but so far I've been lied to at every potential turn of events. [State employees have lied to prisoners throughout the hunger strikes in an attempt to undermine their unity. -editor]

One of the prevailing misconceptions is that this is primarily a legal issue, and there's a metaphysical conception of this too, in that "legality" is viewed in isolation without grasping its interconnections with all that is around it, ie. politics, economics, etc.

This lack of political consciousness is reflected in our goal. If there had been a more elevated ideological grasp on circumstances, even rudimentary comprehension of dialectics - scientific materialism, the distinction between "form" and "essence" would likely have been made once analyzing our strategy, before agreeing on it and pursuing it. You see, we must alter our strategic objective. The validation is only one "form," a vehicle, amongst a few to permanently isolate one within a sensory deprivation unit - the "essence" in this dialectical connection.

Had we made this analysis, instead of confronting a peripheral, a formal manifestation and means to permanently isolate us, we would have gone to the source of the disease, essentially, the permanent isolation itself.

People are sympathetic to the "dehumanization" that one is subjected to. One becomes, if enough time passes in such isolation, a social vegetable incapable of any form of social intercourse. This is caused by the severe lack of interaction with others, the context necessary for the personality's development, which not only identifies us as individuals distinct from one another, but it is social intercourse that binds us together as a collective, wholly as a single species.

If we achieve our goal, we've struggled only to put a Band-Aid on one of these sores manifesting from a diseased spot - Solitary Confinement. So long as it exists, even if we dismantle validation, we'll still be subjected to perpetual isolation by different methods, excuses, justifications, etc.

The push for the right to minimal association with other humyns is a strategy that has a historical precedent, tried and tested, with more successful results than not (see the IRA, ETA, RAF, Red Brigades, etc.). They all gained extraordinary international support within the UN and from organizations such as Amnesty International, etc. [Amnesty International released a statement of support for the hunger strikers during round 2 of the hunger strike. They condemned the use of political repression by the state against those who participated.]

chain
[Control Units] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

NY Bar Association Report: Supermax Isolation = Torture

"The Brutality of Supermax Confinement"
New York City Bar Committee on International Human Rights
September 2011

This report addressed the dramatic growth of "supermax" confinement facilities in the United $tates over the past three decades and highlights the conditions of torture and violations of domestic and international law. As an introduction to long-term isolation in U.$. prisons, and an overview of relevant laws and cases, this report is an excellent resource.

The report cites estimates that 80,000 prisoners "...endure conditions of extreme sensory deprivation for months or years on end, an excruciating experience in which the prisoner remains isolated from any meaningful human contact." Articles in Under Lock & Key regularly testify to this torture that prisoners face in long-term isolation. The authors point out that estimates are widely varying and total numbers of people in supermax is not known. MIM(Prisons) has conducted our own survey to collect statistics on prisoners in control units and we estimate there are close to 110,000 prisoners currently in long-term isolation.

The authors correctly conclude about these torturous conditions: "The policy of supermax confinement, on the scale which it is currently being implemented in the United States, violates basic human rights." Though MIM(Prisons) would question how this policy would be ok if the scale was smaller. This "scale" caveat is possible because the authors fail to address the system that determines who gets locked up in isolation and why they are put there.

As a part of an overview of relevant legal cases and laws, the report notes that the courts have failed to address this torture, which the authors consider a violation of the Eighth Amendment: "As long as a prisoner receives adequate food and shelter, the extreme sensory deprivation that characterizes supermax confinement will, under current case law, almost always be considered within the bounds of permissible treatment." They demonstrate some of the legal difficulties in proving an Eighth Amendment violation, including the added legal burden of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) which requires prisoners to show physical injury before bringing an action for injury suffered in custody.

The authors describe how supermax confinement violates international law based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture, among others. They note that international law has not been a factor for U.$. courts in these cases and call for change in this regard.

The report concludes with the following recommendations:


1. The provision in the PLRA providing that inmate plaintiffs may not recover damages "without a prior showing of physical injury" should be repealed;
2. Prisoners with serious mental illness should never be subjected to supermax confinement;
3. Conditions of extreme isolation and restriction should be imposed only when an extremely serious threat to prison safety has been established, and even in such circumstances supermax confinement should be for the shortest time possible and inmates should be afforded due process, and an opportunity to contest the confinement and appeal;
4. Any form of segregated housing should provide meaningful forms of mental, physical and social stimulation; and
5. A national task force should be established to promptly report on the numbers of inmates being held in supermax confinement in state and federal prisons and their conditions of confinement, and to propose further legislative and administrative reforms.

As humynists, we say long-term isolation is torture and it should be abolished immediately. And as we've discussed elsewhere, we disagree with point 2 as a campaign in that it justifies the use of torture against the strongest resisters while misconstruing the real relationship between long-term isolation and mental illness.

If implemented, the Committee's recommendations would certainly reduce the number of prisoners suffering in long-term isolation, and are therefore progressive recommendations for a Bar Association that works within the injustice system that uses supermax confinement as a tool of social control. But this very system, which they point out has demonstrated its willingness to ignore the law and act outside of standards of common decency set out by the Eighth Amendment, certainly cannot be trusted to determine "when an extremely serious threat to prison safety has been established."

The authors ignore the broader context of supermax confinement and its use in the United $tates. As we report in an article on the history of control units: "The truth behind the reasons these control units are needed is they are a means of political, economic and social control of a whole class of oppressed and disenfranchised people. These include especially African, Latino and indigenous people who are a disproportionate part of control unit populations." Prisons in the United $tates are a breeding ground for resistance to the system that unjustly locks up segments of its population, and supermax units are required to further control the inevitable education and organizing that takes place among those who come face to face with the criminal injustice system.

While this report is useful for both the legal citations and the study of the harms caused by long-term isolation, it is important that we put it in the broader context of the criminal injustice system and understand that supermax torture cannot be reformed away within this system. We hope to make some significant improvements which will have a particular impact on the lives of our politically active comrades behind bars who are targeted for lockup in these isolation cells. And in that battle we unite with the NY Bar Association and many others who clearly see the injustice and inhumanity of supermax isolation.

Prisoners interested in a copy of this report should contact the New York City Bar Association at 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036.

chain