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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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United Front Needed to Fight Texas Prison Abuses

I appreciate you sending me the book I had requested. You see, I've got to stay busy to not allow myself to get sucked into the Texas prisoner slave mentality. Just perhaps, being armed with initiative and the right knowledge, I can get these guys minds off of the TV and gossiping, and onto unity and change. It's a very pitiful state here in Texas (no pun intended!) Last week an officer turned off the dayroom TVs during count and left them off for an hour or so. The prisoners went crazy! They were yelling, cursing, making threats and demanding to speak to rank. They're willing to come together and protest over something trivial like the television, but not over important things like parole, our good time and work time being honored, and getting paid to work.

As we know, slavery and capitalism go hand in hand. This is evident because there's no equality; slaves are less than, and whoever is the richest and most famous, their lives are more precious than the common and poor folk. Capitalism takes on a new meaning in Texas prisons. Since we work for free, and the state has enslaved us in their TCI factories to exploit and profit off of us; it's every "offender" for themselves, and some are doing whatever it takes to survive.

While the warden and major sit in their air conditioned offices, and officers are huddled up in the air conditioned pickets, us offenders are sweating like pigs in the scorching hot day rooms and cells. We're running around like savages hustling and conning for a ramen soup, stick of deodorant, a stamp, or a shot of coffee. And the ones who are fortunate enough to have friends and family sending them money to buy stuff from commissary; they're revered, admired, despised, or the next potential victim. Thanks to the state of Texas, petty criminals and first timers become hardened criminals, and whoever has the most money, has either the most power, or has to make the most protection payoffs.

If prisoners were treated as people and paid for their labor like everyone else in civilized society are, they would in turn, act accordingly. There would be real equality, unity and harmony. MIM, please give me some advice on how to make this come about.

On a related topic, I've enclosed my latest timesheet showing I have 213 percent of my sentence completed with all my worthless earned time credits. I want people to view this state issue timesheet so they can see for themselves what a scam this is. The time credits look great on paper, but they're not worth a damn. If they were, I would have been released last February when I reached a hundred percent.

Also with this letter is my last denial letter from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. I want the people to see this too. To see the absolutely ridiculous reasons why we're denied parole and "mandatory supervision." The following is their most absurd: "The inmate has a previous juvenile or adult arrest for felony and misdemeanor offenses." We've all been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor. We wouldn't be in prison if we hadn't. The parole board might as well deny prisoners because they wear white uniforms, since that applies to all of us too.

Truly amazing the Lone Star State is getting away with such widespread and blatant fraud, and exploitation of its prisoners. But, in our capitalist society and capitalist prison system, money and profit always trump humanity and morals.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is correct about the need for unity to fight the injustice in prison. We point everyone to the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a starting point for developing principled unity to fight our common enemy. We do, however, need to point out that the prison economy does not lead to prisons, the state or the imperialists profiting from prisoner labor. It is a system primarily used for social control, not for profit. Though of all states, Texas probably has the most productive industries in prisons, and workers receive no wages, only room and board.

As we concluded in our article in Under Lock & Key 8 on the U.$. Prison Economy: "A number of articles in this issue include calls from prisoners to take actions against the prison industries that are making money off prisoners, and to boycott jobs to demand higher wages. All of these actions are aimed at hitting the prisons, and private industries profiting off relationships with prisons, in their pocketbook. This is a good way for our comrades behind bars to think about peaceful protests they can take up to make demands for improved conditions while we organize to fundamentally change the criminal injustice system."

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Pelican Bay Prisoners End Strike

California Prison Focus reported this evening (July 21, 2011) that CDCR claims that the hunger strike in Pelican Bay has ended are true. They report they stopped "in exchange for a major policy review of SHU housing conditions, gang validation process, and debriefing process." While our experience of reviews within the department are universally that nothing happens, the leaders of the strike have nonetheless achieved a great victory in uniting prisoners across California and beyond for the just demands of the oppressed. This is a struggle to learn from and build on.

Presumably prisoners at other prisons (such as Chino, Calipatria, Corcoran,
Tehachapi, Folsom, Vally State Prison for Women, San Quentin) are still on food strike unaware of the agreement.

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[California]
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Responses to Grievance Petition

Of all the agencies and offices I filed the California grievance petition with, only the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation bothered to respond. They only issued form letters disclaiming any responsibility for further investigation, and simply redirected me back to the same dysfunctional process that I had complained of!


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is clear that the U.$. Department of Injustice and the CDCR won't back up their words to give administrative remedy to prisoners with actions when they discover the process isn't working. In fact, it's to their benefit if the grievance system is broken so that they won't have to actually deal with the problems that arise in the prison system. This ensures their control over oppressed nations peoples.

The prisoner who received these defeating form letters asked for more copies of the petition in the same letter. S/he recognizes that the response from the bureaucrats isn't the be-all-end-all goal of the grievance petition. We want to show that if we ask nicely for a solution, we will be given the brush off. We also want to use this petition to recruit others into doing political work, even if it's just sending out the petition to a few administrators. Hopefully this action will be a simple beginning to a long history of contribution to the struggle against oppression.

We currently have grievance petitions prepared for California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina, and Texas. If you're experiencing obstructions of your grievance procedure but your state isn't currently covered by the grievance campaign, consider modifying it to apply to your state! Write in for more info, or to get petitions.

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[Control Units] [New Jersey State Prison] [New Jersey]
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NJ Control Units Violate Court Ruling and Basic Rights

I am a prisoner at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, NJ. I am presently housed in what is called the Management Control Unit (MCU). I have been in this unit since 2008. New Jersey's MCU is basically the equivalent of other states Security Housing Units (SHUs) or Intensive Management Units (IMUs). The reason I'm writing is to alert you of the numerous human and civil rights violations that we have been subjected to here. I also want to bring to your attention the fact that the administration at the prison has intentionally instituted a system designed to violate procedural due process rights of the prisoners in MCU.

Design and intent of the Management Control Program

The MCU program was designed to house the prisoners the administration considered a threat to the daily operations of the prison, to the correctional officer, or those they considered unable to house in general population with the other prisoners. The MCU unit in theory was not supposed to be a punitive unit for punishment since you could be placed there coming directly from the street never having received a disciplinary infraction inside of the prison. The prisoners of the MCU unit were told that the MCU is basically a "population for MCU prisoners." However, the MCU is anything but.

The MCU is supposed to be governed by what's called the New Jersey administrative code 10A. However, the administration does not adhere to it's own rules as put forth in the 10A. The so-called release program of the MCU is a three phase program (levels 1-3, one being the lowest). Completion of the following programs are requisite: Cage your Rage, and Thinking for a Change. The problem with this criteria is that the programs are very seldom offered, or capriciously and arbitrarily offered. This situation has only gotten worse recently. Since April of this year (2011) the administration has had the unit on lock-down. This lock-down is supposedly the result of a couple of random fights between a few prisoners (no correctional officers were involved in either of the situations). Since these random fights, the administration has done the following:

  1. Canceled all requisite programs needed to be considered for release
  2. Painted the cell windows so that we can no longer see outside
  3. Closed down the pantry in the unit where the food is served
  4. Taken all the jobs from the workers in the unit
  5. Canceled indoor recreation
  6. Changed the outdoor recreation schedule from every other day to once every four days
  7. Changed the amount of people allowed to go to the outdoor recreation. Everybody that was on MCU was able to go to the yard together. Now only six can go at a time.

It is my opinion, which I believe to be firmly grounded, that the couple of fights had nothing at all to do with the draconian measures taken by the administration. On July 2, 2010 the superior court of New Jersey appellate division issued a crushing ruling that the administration of New Jersey thought would never happen! In that ruling the court said that once a prisoner has reached phase three (the highest level in the MCU program) the burden then shifts to the prison to show why the prisoner should be held in MCU. The burden the administration must meet is to show a present identifiable threat that the prisoner presents. Up until this ruling the administration in New Jersey was just throwing prisoners on MCU and leaving them there. The average prisoner in MCU has been there for about a decade.

To circumvent this ruling the administration has canceled the programs preventing prisoners from reaching phase three which would render them eligible for release if the administration is unable to meet it's burden. I have more proof that this is the administration's intention. The court ruling was issued on July 2, 2010. Up until that ruling whenever a MCU prisoner would appeal the Management Control Unit review committees (MCURC) decision to continue his placement in MCU, the administrator would quickly respond to the appeal 99.9% of the time upholding the MCURC decision.

Let me explain. Every three months the prisoners in MCU are given what's called routine review where the committee decides whether or not the prisoner should be released or if his placement in MCU should be continued. Every MCU prisoner is allowed to attend even though you must be phase three to even be considered for release. This is not more than a ceremonial display and out right sham. Again, after these hearings about a week later you receive the MCURC decision on paper which you can appeal to the administrator. The decision from the court was issued July 2, 2010 and since that decision none of the MCU prisoners have received a response back from any of the routine review appeals which would be September 2010, December 2010, March 2011, and the last one June 2011. I do not believe in coincidences. As I said up until that decision from the court we were getting every single one of our appeals back.

There are a few prisoners in the MCU unit right now that are phase three and still the administration have not let them go. Not only have they not let them go, but by not responding to the appeals they are preventing prisoners from taking their case to the court. The court has ruled that before a prisoner can prevail on his complaint s/he must afford the administration the opportunity to make it's final decision. Thus, the administration is violating the MCU prisoners procedural due process rights! If this is not suppose to be a punitive unit and a general population for MCU prisoners, how do you explain the actions taken by the administration?

They have stopped me from being able to finish the programs, they have painted over my cell window so that I can't even see outside! I'm only allowed to go outside every four days and you cover my window. This is treatment one would expect to hear being done at Guantanamo Bay. Before the covering of the window the MCU unit was already a socially and sensory depriving unit. The prisoners are in single cells and the only time they come out in the unit is for a 15 minute shower one at a time. Thus any conversation is carried on by yelling through the crack of the door. The only contact you have with anyone is during recreation every four days. I truly hope that my concerns and suffering, as well as the concerns and suffering of the other prisoners will lead you to pick up our cause and help us fight for and defend our human and civil rights. We are still humans.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Lack of due process and group punishment were two of the main complaints behind the California hunger strike that started in the Pelican Bay SHU and included participation of at least 6600 prisoners across the state. As stated by the author these conditions of long-term isolation are very similar across the United $tates, as are the policies that keep people there. This example also parallels that in California where the courts are ordering the state to make release easier (whether from MCU or prison altogether). But the interests of the Amerikan workers has made sure that in neither case has the state government begun to comply with court orders. While the courts offer a facade of justice, the state continues on as it always has in its efforts to control oppressed people.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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More Appeals Sent to CDCR, Protest in Sacramento

MIM(Prisons) sent another stack of letters in support of the prisoners on hunger strike across California to the so-called Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with the cover letter below. There will also be a demonstration in support of the prisoners' demand outside of the CDCR office today:

Monday, July 18th
1-4PM
Demonstration outside CDCR Headquarters. 1515 S. St. in Sacramento, CA


Warden Greg Lewis

Pelican Bay State Prison

P.O. Box 7000

Crescent City, CA 95531-7000

18 July 2011

Dear Warden Lewis,

Two weeks ago we sent dozens of letters from residents of California who are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison. As the conditions outlined by the prisoners have still not been addressed by the CDCR we are sending additional letters of support (see enclosed). We are all aware that the conditions of many prisoners are becoming critical and we urge you to take immediate action to remedy the conditions. The conditions addressed by the prisoners demands are in no way conducive to rehabilitation and no one should have to die for these basic requests.

We have also forwarded copies of these letters to CDCR Internal Affairs and CDCR Office of the Ombudsman.

Sincerely,
MIM Distributors

P.O. Box 40799

San Francisco, CA 94140

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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CDCR Gives Lipservice, Food Strike Spreads

Three weeks into the California Food Strike the CDCR has given it's official response, which can be summed up as "We'll look into it." On July 15, the CDCR made a proposal to the strikers at Pelican Bay to end the strike without promising any changes. The prisoners declined the offer and continued to fast, calling it "smoke and mirrors" and "insulting."(1) These guys are willing to die for basic rights they've been denied for years, decades for many, and CDCR comes to the table with nothing.

Our inquiries received similar canned responses from the Warden about "operating in full accordance to [all] law... while providing for the ethical, humane treatment of all prisoners." Even more outrageously, he claims they provide "the ability to safely program and actively participate in their rehabilitation." The strike is on because there are no programs or rehabilitation!

Those in close contact with the striking prisoners report that some in Pelican Bay who had stopped fasting have returned to the strike in response to the CDCR's negligence.(1) We've also received word from 4 comrades in the California Institution for Men in Chino that they have just begun a hunger strike in solidarity after getting news from MIM(Prisons).

Other recently received reports include that United Struggle from Within organized comrades in Kern Valley State Prison for a 24 hour food strike in solidarity. In High Desert State Prison, where the pigs were serving double the normal amount of food to prevent a hunger strike, a number of comrades didn't eat from July 1 thru 3rd. Whole sections of California State Prison - Corcoran are still on strike and doctors are coming in regularly to weigh the prisoners.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 21]
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Assassination Nation: The World's Foremost Terrorist State is America

America is delusional. One need look no further than the Disney Corporation's attempt to trademark "SEAL Team 6," in order to market the image of paid killers as toys for children. How is this acceptable on any level? It's not, it's insane. In fact, a reasonable psychological diagnosis of the American state would conclude that it is severely schizophrenic.

Americans are indoctrinated since childhood to believe that America is a bastion of freedom, equality, and law; a bulwark against the lawlessness, murder, mayhem and terrorism that is rampant in the world today. Nevertheless, the reality is that America is the number one source of lawlessness and terrorism in the world today and has been for quite some time. Moreover, when America isn't committing acts of terrorism, it is abetting those that do, such as the European settler state in Palestine known as Israel.

America has many fine-sounding laws against assassination, hostage-taking, and torture (in a word "terrorism") but follows none of them. See the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 USC §1602 et seq.; Civil Liability for Acts of State Sponsored Terrorism Act of 1996, 28 USC §1605 (i.e., the Flatow Amendment); Antiterrorism Act of 1990, 18 USC §2331, et seq.; and Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, 28 USC §1350 (i.e., the Alien Tort Statute). Further, America is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and the International Convention Against Taking Hostages, codified at 18 USC §1203.

All the foregoing laws and conventions expressly forbid the majority of acts taken by the American military in the world, but America ignores them all when it comes to its actions and only applies them to other countries when they dare try to emulate America's propensity for murder and mayhem. Long ago America's rulers chose to follow the old Spanish Colonial aphorism that "the law is to be obeyed but not followed."

For example, in Elahi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 124 F. Supp. 2d 97, 107 (D.D.C. 2000), the court found Iran's murder of an American citizen fit the definition of an extra-judicial killing, as follows:


First, ...the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, Cyrus Elahi was not afforded the judicial process contemplated by the statute. Third, as this Court stated over twenty years ago, assassination is "clearly contrary to the precepts of humanity as recognized in both national and international law."[citation omitted.]

The American government's murder of Osama bin Laden on International Workers' Day, May 1, 2011, is no different than Iran's alleged murder of Cyrus Elahi and meets all three of the criteria set by the Elahi court. First, the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, he was not arrested and brought to trial, i.e., afforded judicial process. Third, assassination is illegal in accordance with national and international law. Bin Laden was summarily executed because, as a known CIA asset, he would have exposed secrets the American government did not want exposed.

The American government admitted bin Laden was unarmed and surrounded by his children, who had to be cleared out of the way, and at least one of his wives, who was shot in the leg, so as not to interfere in the U.S. Navy SEALs' hit. And hit it was, as bin Laden was shot once in the chest and once in the head in the classic assassination style known as the double-tap. No doubt there were powder burns surrounding his head wound, where the coup de grace was administered by these cold-blooded killers as he lay on the floor of his home, but we will never know as his body was promptly disposed of as is common in many professional hits.

Earlier the same day, it was reported that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were murdered by NATO bombs dropped on their home. Whether it was done by American planes or not is of little matter, as we all know if the American government didn't support this bombing it wouldn't have happened. This was nothing less than an assassination attempt, that included the intentional bombing of civilians in their home, which was done in direct violation of the UN mandate to protect civilians in Libya via a no-fly zone and the laws and conventions cited above.

It should come as no surprise that the assassination target was Qadhafi, who was said to have been at the home and narrowly escaped along with his wife, as the American government has been trying to murder him for years. President Reagan had Qadhafi's home bombed on April 14, 1986, successfully murdering women and children but failing in his attempt to murder Qadhafi. President Obama has proclaimed his authority to assassinate anyone overseas, including American citizens, without a trial, so murdering Qadhafi would be no problem for him. Wives, daughters and sons are all just collateral damage.

America has never hesitated to murder civilians, men, women and children, in their homes. In WWII, America fire-bombed civilian targets in Germany and Japan's cities and used nuclear weapons on Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the Japanese government tried to surrender. Post-WWII, the American government has targeted the people of Korea, the Congo, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and, now, Libya. My apologies if I left anyone out.

This campaign of control through terror is by no means limited to the rest of the world. Here in the good ol' USA, on May 13, 1985, the infamous "Mothers' Day Massacre" occurred, perpetrated by the police, who murdered 11 MOVE organization members, including children, in their home and incinerated an entire neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the full cooperation of the American government, who supplied the explosives used in the massacre.

Not to be outdone, the FBI murdered 76 people, including children, in Waco, Texas, by blowing up their home and burning them alive on April 19, 1993. The FBI has proven time and again that it is willing to murder whoever, wherever, whenever, from Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago, Illinois, on December 4, 1969, to Randall Weaver's wife and son at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in August 1992. "No crime too foul" ought to be the FBI motto.

Speaking of mottos, the infamous mass-murderer and war criminal Harry S. Truman had a motto: "the buck stops here." No doubt, the buck should stop with the American presidents, but it also reaches back into the cesspools known as corporate boardrooms. Consequently, it is time to end this criminal reign of terror. Every single one of these criminals in high office, national or corporate, should be tried and hung as the murderers they are. To continue to allow them to run free, let alone run the country, makes us all complicit in their assassination nation. It is high time we, as Americans, put an end to our complicity and our complacency once and for all!

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 21]
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July 2011 Censorship Report

2011 Censorship Graph

We rely on information directly from prisoners and returned mail to track our censorship. For the 2011 reporting year, only 72% of all mail was not reported as censored or received. This is a big improvement from last year's 83% unreported mail status. We see two causes for this change. One is that we stopped giving everyone who wrote to us automatic 6 month subscriptions, and instead required confirmation of receipt (or censorship) of a sample issue of Under Lock & Key first. This not only reduced the amount of mail we sent in by 30% from last year, but pushed those who wanted Under Lock & Key to confirm receipt of the sample issue, doubling the amount of people reporting receiving ULK.

Another contributing factor to the high reporting rate is the institution of Unconfirmed Mail Forms, which is a short form we send out to encourage individuals to report the mail they've received. We primarily send these forms to people we suspect are experiencing censorship of our materials. Even if you don't receive one of these forms, you should still tell us everything you have gotten from us since the last time you wrote. Since we ask about the entire history of mail we've sent in, not just in this reporting year, the institution of the Unconfirmed Mail Forms (UMFs) has improved our stats on past years as well. In the last year we've improved the amount of mail unreported for the July 2010 Report from 83% to 78%. We plan to continue using UMFs to better assist in tracking our censorship.

Like we reported in MIM(Prisons) 2011 Congress Summary and Resolutions, in the past six months we have been focusing our resources on building cases and recruiting lawyers rather than writing letters to administrators. Most of the victories in the fight against censorship come from prisoners filing appeals and defending Under Lock & Key in hearings. MIM(Prisons) plays a supporting role in ensuring that the administrators know that someone on the outside is paying attention and publicizing their illegal actions. So while it is not of vital importance that we write these letters, it has still helped overturn censorship in enough cases that we find it worthwhile to pick up this task again.

Victories

A major victory was won against Dona Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico this year. A prisoner won a partial settlement for censorship issues. The settlement names MIM Distributors and Under Lock & Key and is in favor of prisoners' rights to receive "copied" material. If you are experiencing censorship for copies, write in for this information.

Red Onion State Prison in Virginia has been notorious for censoring Under Lock & Key to the point where we haven't heard of our newsletter getting in since issue 5 (November 2008). The Final Call and Prison Legal News both won settlements in favor of getting their newsletters into Red Onion in recent months. Since the treatment of The Final Call and PLN was similar to the treatment of ULK, we are hoping that those settlements will impact how ULK is received at Red Onion. This is yet to be determined.

Changes

A reasonable expectation for our anti-censorship work is that when we win a victory in a state, we should either continue to have victories there or no longer experience censorship. Of course this expectation wouldn't apply if the conditions within the state change and become more repressive. In the cases of New York, Illinois and Colorado there have been victories in the past but only censorship without victories in this reporting year. In Illinois and Colorado, some victories have been connected to outside pressure put on by MIM(Prisons). This leads to the logical conclusion that victories would be more likely if we continued to apply this pressure.

In New York there doesn't seem to have been a connection between outside pressure and victories. Those reversals in censorship came strictly from the hard work of New York prisoners fighting for their own rights. We are unsure if the current lack of victories is due to a change in conditions in the NYDOCS or a lack of prisoners fighting censorship.

There is a hunger strike happening in Pelican Bay State Prison in California that is well under way. In June 2011 we heard word that our mail had recently started getting in just prior to the start of the strike after experiencing major censorship there for years. In the last year 44% of the mail we've sent into Pelican Bay has been confirmed as received (13% confirmed as censored), compared to the previous reporting year's 25% received (57% censored). Hopefully the hunger strike will be successful in granting people held in PBSP their five core demands, including an end to mail tampering.

Future Struggles

While we try to win as many victories as possible through writing letters, if a facility or state won't follow the law, then it eventually becomes necessary to take them to court. Due to our limited resources and time, we encourage the prisoners affected by the censorship to fight the issue as far as they can. In Arizona we came to one of these brick walls related to the censorship of a study group assignment for "promot[ing] racism and/or religious oppression" without containing any words that refer to race or religion. We reported on this issue in Under Lock & Key 18 and are still struggling to find a lawyer that will take on this important case.

And yes, mailroom staff in California are still clinging to the 2006 memo banning MIM Distributors, which was nullified in a settlement between Prison Legal News and CDCR way back in 2008. Can you believe it? The California institutions that are still favoring this method of censorship are Deuel Vocational Institution and Pelican Bay State Prison.

In Salinas Valley State Prison in California, rather than citing the overturned memo, the Warden creatively assures us that the staff was new at the time and have now been retrained, or claim to simply not see mail from MIM Distributors arriving there. This is completely bogus considering we consistently send in ULKs every time there is a new issue, in addition to persynalized letters and other literature. When we called the Warden out on the fact that there was no change after the "new staff" was "retrained," he simply baselessly told us there is no censorship and "no evidence the mailroom staff are negligent in their duties or MIM Distributors mail was illegally tampered with as you claim." No shit, there's no evidence if you just throw the mail in the trash! While some mail gets into SVSP sometimes, they are still highlighted on our list of brick walls we are determined to break.

In Nebraska the ACLU has picked up on censorship of our materials and has been doing research, writing letters, and may eventually file a suit on behalf of MIM Distributors and the prisoners facing censorship. They have reviewed most if not all issues of Under Lock & Key and have determined that "the prison is violating both [MIM(Prisons)'s] First Amendment rights and the rights of the prisoners." We are excited to be working with the ACLU to hopefully set a precedent in Nebraska that protects people held there against censorship. We encourage any lawyers on the outside to follow their example and get with MIM(Prisons) to fight censorship in prisons!

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[National Oppression] [Civil Liberties] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
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Phoney Gang Debate to Discredit Strike Support

The CDCR is trying to blame the organizing of the statewide food strike in California prisons on gangs. Meanwhile, the liberal line being put forth in the bourgeois media is that activists dismiss such accusations. Somehow prisoners across California, and even those transferred out of state, participated in solidarity with the food strike on July 1. We know that MIM(Prisons) was one of many organizations with newsletters that contributed to spreading the word, but none of us initiated or did the groundwork to ensure the effectiveness of this campaign. CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton tried to explain this as an indication of "the reach and the influence that prison gangs have on other inmates." She went on to say, "It's one of the reasons we have a Security Housing Unit, to remove gang members influence on other general population inmates."(1)

The media is juxtaposing the pigs' assertions about gang leadership to the denials of activists to paint strike supporters as idealistic know-nothings. The prison bureaucrats make careers out of being experts on gangs and criminology, and they rely on the public to trust in their expertise to keep them "safe."

In reality, this pseudo-debate being played out in the media is painting an idealistic view of prison society that ignores history. The pigs know that groups allied to the Black Panthers and other national liberation movements used to lead the prison masses. They know because they broke that up, partly by using long-term isolation, and they encouraged oppressed nation groups with more criminal tendencies to develop with bribery and by turning a blind eye. Now they condemn the monsters they created to justify more repression.

The line MIM(Prisons) has been pushing since before the hunger strike began is in defense of the First Amendment right to association. While countless people have been placed into gangs they've never even heard of by state officials in California, there are many in the SHU who are not trying to fool anyone into thinking that they aren't members of a lumpen organization considered an enemy of the CDCR. This is evident in the statements of the strike leaders which talk about uniting all "races," including "northern" and "southern" Mexicans. Aztlán is one oppressed nation that the pigs have helped draw a line through by promoting criminal organizations that must compete. It is only the fascist conditions within California prisons that prevents prisoners from even being able to speak of their organizational ties.

When we say there are comrades in Pelican Bay SHU who are respected leaders of lumpen organizations, there is no criticism implied there. Some of those comrades have worked tirelessly to orchestrate a Peace Accord between the major divisions within the California prison population, among many other positive projects for their people, including the current campaign. The lie that is promoted by the "tough on crime" bourgeois media is that to be a member of a lumpen organization you must be an evil persyn. Just like they did for Tookie, there is no redemption for the lumpen under imperialism, even when they do more than anyone around them to change the world for the better.

Central to the demands of the striking prisoners is that the state cannot claim to abide by its own rules while it punishes people using secret evidence and petty charges like who they talk to or get mail from, what books they read or tattoos they have. The bureaucrats hide behind the presumed neutrality of the bourgeois courts to defend the torture they put these prisoners through.

The striking comrades are some of the individual oppressed nationals that the imperialists find the most threatening within their own borders. That is why they are being tortured in long-term isolation. Yet, by all indications, the state is going to let these brothers die rather than grant them Constitutional rights to association.

The oppressed nations are free to organize in this country, as long as it's on the Amerikans' terms. If not, then even talking about such organizations will get prisoners thrown in long-term isolation and will get supporters on the streets censored.

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[United Front] [Control Units] [ULK Issue 21]
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BORO Calls on Leaders of Lumpen Orgs to Step Up

Within the Black Order Revolutionary Organization we educate to create real meaningful change. The old saying says "action makes the front." But to take this analysis a step further, "bold, intelligent, revolutionary actions make the front." The war is real and it's a war that is physical as well as psychological and educational. The imperialist strives to physically as well as psychologically dominate, subjugate, manipulate and control the masses in prison and out of prison by creating and engineering social conditions that fit their agenda. The enemy of humanity understands the driving force behind action is man's mental orientation. So if they control our mental atmosphere and mental appetites they will control our social behavior. This is the reason why we as front line Askaris must always understand our greatest weapon is a correct analysis of concrete conditions as we strive to crush imperialism/colonialism in its total. To do that the Askari must keep his/her mind sharp.

Comradez, I've been on lock down in a federal SMU program since 2008. Since the fedz closed Marion max the fedz have created the same lockdown scheme with the Special Management Units (SMU). It continues to be for the express purpose of controlling outlaw/anti-authoritarian revolutionary conduct. Every organizational structure across amerika can be found held within the lockdown yet there is no meaningful dialogue between parties, groups or organizations to effect meaningful change.

The project for peace in prison is a foundation laid so that inter-organization/multi-organizational communication can begin. But for the project for peace to work we need the leaders and spokesmen for these street and/or progressive organizations to accept the peace project. In a lot of these organizations, directions flow down the chain of command. The Latin King wrote in [to ULK] about Kingism, which was good. But he is only one man and cannot make an organizational commitment to accept the peace in prison project. That must come from Lord Gino, their crown. So I am calling on all leaders nationally from the Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Mighty Mighty Black Nation, G.D.s, and all those in between to unite in principle and contribute to our collective struggles. T-fly, Bay Bay, Minister RKO for the Vice Lords where y'all at? G.D. Crusher holler at us brotha, Crown Prince AB for the MMBN, OG Mojo New York Damuz and all the other unmentioned men and women that have a voice in their organizational community, let's squad up so that the peace in prisons project can be real and used as a weapon.


MIM(Prisons) replies: We echo this call to those in leadership positions to represent what so many of the LOs already have in their bylaws and histories. But we want to reach all potential comrades with the message of the United Front for Peace in Prisons, from the capo to the pee wee on the street. While some of the leaders mentioned above could have a quick impact, we've learned from the past the short-comings of LOs whose leadership went radical, but the soldiers only followed the leader and never embraced the movement. It is not sustainable. Slowly recruiting a hundred local chapters or representatives to sign on to the Statement of Principles will mean more in the end. And building solidarity between organizations around common struggles at each locality is how we can build real peace. In many places this is already happening.

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