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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Building Unity through Talk Instead of Violence

Yarddi Work

In Mao’s essay "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People," (27 February 1957) ey wrote of melding practice with criticism and discussion in order for our movement and the masses to grow to greater understanding, unity, and strength. The essay explains, when struggling over disagreements amongst political allies (friends), to start from a place of unity, struggle through discussion, and come away with greater unity. For short, we call this unity-criticism-unity. In this issue of Under Lock & Key we explore how this method applies to the prison environment. How can unity-criticism-unity help counter the typically hyper-violent method of handling disagreement in prisons?

"The only way to settle questions of an ideological nature or controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, criticism, persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression." - Mao Tse-Tung, ibid.
There are often situations behind bars that require first identifying who are our friends and then we can apply unity-criticism-unity among those people.

A comrade in California reported in ULK 55 about eir long struggle to build unity across different organizations in the yard at California Correctional Institution (CCI), leading up to a banquet with various lumpen orgs participating.(1) This was done through discussion and peaceful struggle, maintained even through some violent episodes. This is a good example of identifying friends even among those who may initially be unfriendly, and patiently working to build unity.

An organizer in South Carolina reported in ULK 53 on eir work fighting lumpen-on-lumpen violence by holding classes to educate the youth on what it means to have unity.(2) Educational classes are a good form of criticism of political line that doesn't involve attacking individuals' views directly, sometimes making it easier for people to accept the criticism and come to see why they are wrong. This holds true for both leaders and class participants. No one person has all correct knowledge in educational classes. Leaders should also be open to learning new things from participants.

It's not always easy to see someone as a political friend when you've had past beef with them. In "Building Unity Through ULK" (in this issue) there is a report from Arkansas about how two prisoners overcame past differences through political unity. And the article "From Cop to Anti-Imperialist" shows us the sometimes fluid nature of identifying our friends. Someone who was an enemy of the people while working for the police force has been won over to the side of revolution through circumstances in eir life that put them in the camp of the oppressed.

Finally, the public debate we are having with Zero, continued in this issue of ULK, is an example of building unity while engaging in political struggle. One which we hope to build on as we further our alliance with Zero and others.

Contradictions with enemies vs. contradictions among the people

"Since they are different in nature, the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and the contradictions among the people must be resolved by different methods. To put it briefly, the former entail drawing a clear distinction between ourselves and the enemy, and the latter entail drawing a clear distinction between right and wrong." - Mao Tse-Tung, ibid.

First we must distinguish between contradictions with the enemy and contradictions among the people. In contradictions with the enemy, such as with the prison COs, or with the Amerikan imperialist government, we are not seeking unity and we should be clear and straightforward in our statements about them. Criticism of enemies is important because it keeps the revolutionary movement on point. We do this when we identify all the candidates in the imperialist elections as part of the imperialist system. We also do this when we call out white supremacists behind bars collaborating with the COs to attack New Afrikans.

In contradictions among the people, on the other hand, Mao wrote: "the essential thing is to start from the desire for unity. For without this desire for unity, the struggle, once begun, is certain to throw things into confusion and get out of hand." This is the opposite of how we deal with contradictions with our enemies. When we run into problems with people who should be our allies, we need to start from this desire for unity.

Contradictions with our comrades, including disagreements within our organizations, should be approached from a position of unity-criticism-unity. In practice this means starting from the understanding of where we have unity, and that our criticism of one another's line and practice is always with the goal of building even greater unity.

We should not just throw out criticisms for the sake of making someone look bad or tearing them down. Criticism must always be with the goal of building greater unity. Sometimes we will not come to agreement over the criticism, but we can at least come to better understanding of our disagreements. Perhaps we can agree on a way to test which position is correct, or further research we need to do, or maybe we will agree that the criticism is not significant enough to lead to a split as our areas of agreement are far more significant.

Who are "the people"?

The people are those who we should be approaching as friends, not enemies. Mao wrote: "The concept of 'the people' varies in content in different countries and in different periods of history in a given country." In revolutionary China, Mao was talking about contradictions among those who supported and were served by the revolution in China. The identification of the people in revolutionary China was relatively straightforward as it encompassed the vast majority of the population.

Identifying who are "the people" in imperialist countries, where we're surrounded by enemies of the international proletariat, is a more difficult question. Broadly, the people include those whose class, nation or gender interests are counter to imperialism, as well as all people who take up anti-imperialist organizing. More specifically, within the United $tates, the people whose class, nation and/or gender interests makes them potential allies includes:

1. Oppressed nation lumpen
2. The very small proletarian class (mostly migrant workers)
3. Petty-bourgeoisie from the oppressed nations
4. Youth of all nations, particularly students
5. Others who are marginalized by imperialism and the patriarchy (i.e. queer and trans folk)

Many of these people could be happily integrated into imperialism, but we should still approach them with a goal of building unity and not as enemies. For the most part however, when we talk about contradictions among the people, we're talking about contradictions with those who are already on the side of the oppressed — either due to circumstances or because they have consciously taken up the cause of the oppressed — not those who are actively supporting imperialism.

Distinguishing enemy lines from enemies

When looking at contradictions among the people it is important to distinguish enemy lines from enemies. We're all going to take up incorrect ideas and practices some of the time. That doesn't make us into enemies, even if the line we take up turns out to be pro-imperialist. Learning from our mistakes is part of being a revolutionary. Our job is to help our comrades identify their mistakes, and to be open to hearing from others when they point out our mistakes.

In the essay under discussion, Mao asked "how should our people judge whether a person's words and deeds are right or wrong?" In response ey laid out six criteria that applied to a country that was already socialist. We have modified these slightly below to apply to our current conditions.

1. Words and deeds should help to unite, and not divide, oppressed people of all nationalities
2. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to anti-imperialist struggle
3. They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, the people's revolutionary organizations
4. They should help consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, democratic centralism
5. They should help to strengthen, and not shake off or weaken, communist leadership
6. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to international socialist unity and the unity of the peace-loving people of the world.

The first three points apply to all anti-imperialists, and we would propose them as good criteria to use for all people who are building united fronts. The last three are specific to communists who are actively fighting for socialist revolution. Communists should apply all six points to our practice.

These six points and the strategy of unity-criticism-unity should be at the forefront as we refocus energies on building alliances and a united Maoist movement here on occupied Turtle Island. The USW Council is also in the process of putting unity-criticism-unity into practice to reach out across the prison movement to consolidate forces friendly to anti-imperialism and national liberation. We will continue to report back on these efforts in future issues of Under Lock & Key.

Notes:
1. a comrade of United Struggle from Within, “Combating Gossip, and Setting Examples to Build the UFPP,” January 2017, Under Lock & Key No. 55 (March/April 2017).
2. a South Carolina prisoner, “September 9th Setback Leads to Unity Building,” October 2016, Under Lock & Key No. 53 (November/December 2016).
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[United Front] [United Struggle from Within] [Hunger Strike] [California] [ULK Issue 56]
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CALIFORNIA: Challenges and Reports

PIRU BLOOD

The decentralization of the prison population in California has helped make the voices of the oppressed harder to get out, as county jails step up repression in face of growing prisoner populations. At the Martinez Detention Facility in the Bay Area gang enhancements are being trumped up as a form of national oppression against [email protected]:

"We here, at MDF, Contra Costa County Jail, that are of Latin descent and not southsiders, are being held in Ad-Seg status now since 2010. And now even more unjust treatment is being added to us, gang enhancements just for being housed on this module, even if we don't ask to be housed on this module at time of arrest/booking. Classification, Administration and the District Attorney's office is using this module as an apparatus to get harsher sentences from the courts." - April 2017

Meanwhile, resistance has grown down south at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. A hunger strike began on 13 April 2017. As we go to press updates are a couple weeks old, but we know that about 30 people participated in the strike and that some passed out and were sent to outside medical facilities. The prisoners list 13 demands, including the end of long-term solitary confinement, restrictions on phones/visits and dayroom access.

Within the CDCR we're still seeing the unfolding of contradictions being created by the release of many from the SHU, who were once influential but are now older and less known, into a population that is younger and often in disarray. The Agreement to End Hostilities came out of the SHU almost five years ago, and it remains in a state of uncertainty. Many are still working hard on it, but it has not been universally upheld in these last five years. As a comrade reported in March:

"There were two recent riots here. One on the 3A yard here at Corcoran, the other at SATF Corcoran, on 3C yard. No one severely hurt, but it's hard to organize with situations like that."

There were contradictions between many of the forces behind the original agreement and sectors of the prison population that still need to be addressed. USW comrades in California are still working on these contradictions to push for a more united peace. This should be a theme as we prepare educational campaigns for Black August and the Commemoration of the Plan de San Diego, which should both feed into this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. Send in your reports on these campaigns and the conditions for peace where you are.

Finally, we're getting a lot of requests for info about Prop 57 from readers in California. One comrade recommends contacting:
Initiate Justice
PO Box 4962
Oakland, CA 94605
The latest from CDCR is that if you are eligible you will be hearing from your counselor this summer.

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[Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [California]
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CDCR Not Upholding Ashker Settlement on Due Process

In August of 2016, a comrade was written up for possession of Security Threat Group (STG) contraband and given a 115 Rules Violation Report(RVR). This was in direct violation of the Ashker v. Brown class-action settlement agreement terms around "Due process" as described below. The new rules to reform isolation practices in California didn't even eliminate the outrageous practice of using drawings and greeting cards as reasons to put people in isolation in California. The "due process" clause was the only promising term of the weak Ashker settlement, and it seems CDCR does not intend to uphold it.

Political repression is the clear motivation here, as the target is a well-known anti-imperialist who works tirelessly for the improvement of the New Afrikan nation.

Facts:

On August 4, 2016, CO J. Hunter reviewed [XYZ]'s outgoing mail and found a drawing that included the image of a gorilla.

He based his conclusion that the drawing constituted "STG contraband" on:

  1. In past investigations, he received information from unnamed BGF members and associates that the "Silverback Gorilla is symbolic for the strongest force of the Guerrillas much like how the Silverback Gorilla is considered to be the dominant leader amongst a family of gorillas."
  2. The word "Gorilla" can be found in various documents used by the BGF. He provides one example: The "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF includes a verse stating "Long live the graceful guerrilla."
  3. The BGF recognizes the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power.
  4. The Office of Correctional Safety has established the credibility regarding the meaning of these symbols.

[XYZ] was found guilty of this offense and given 30 days confinement to cell, leaving only to shower. I have written him for these documents.

Challenge:

[XYZ] points out that item #1 above is based on unnamed confidential informants who allegedly have connected the "gorilla" animal with the BGF. However, CDCR has not complied with its own rules regarding confidential information (no 1030s, etc.) Also, this sentence makes no sense. Who are the "Guerrillas"? Does he mean BGF members or BGF leadership?

The picture depicts several fierce animals (lions, tigers, elephant, Pharaoh hound) and various male fighters who look more Aztec than African (to me). The gorilla does not dominate, nor is there anything else in the picture to suggest an STG.

The word "Gorilla" does not appear in the "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF. I was unable to find such an oath on the internet, but did find a BGF oath on a police-oriented website — see attached memo. It does not contain this term or phrase. The officer cites no authority for this claim, or is citing the confidential informants described above, without providing proper documentation.

The BGF's view of the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power is also asserted without attribution, or it is attributed to confidential informants.

The statement about the OCS establishing credibility is insufficient. Credibility is a term referring to people — the statement does not say who the people are. But broad reference to another CDCR office establishing the credibility of an informant or the reliability of the information seems like an end run around the responsibility of the hearing officer.

Finally, on what authority does the mere drawing of an animal among other animals constitute gang contraband?

Additional information:

I have done a little internet research on the "Silverback gorilla." Apparently, this refers to a mature male gorilla whose back hair has turned grey with age. He is the "alpha male" among the group of gorillas that he lives with. The drawing does not purport to be a Silverback gorilla. It doesn't say it is a Silverback nor can you see his back. We can guess that the gorilla in the picture is male, but even that is not necessarily true. That the officer brings up the "Silverback gorilla" is suspect to me. He is making himself sound like he knows more than he really knows. He does not purport to be an expert himself, yet by throwing out this term, he is making himself sound knowledgeable.

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[Censorship] [Education] [ULK Issue 56]
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Capitalist Copyright Laws Stifle Education

hueynewtonreader
MIM(Prisons) recently received notification from the publisher Seven Stories Press that we are in violation of copyright laws by making a PDF of The Huey P. Newton Reader available for free on our website. Copyright laws are a capitalist invention to enable the holders to make more profits. In the case of books, it's publishers (and sometimes the authors) that are making money on these copyrights.

For most of what gets printed these days, trashy novels, bourgeois interpretations of history and the like, we don't care that distribution is limited by copyright. But when it comes to revolutionary literature, especially that which is relevant to the people least able to afford it, we see clearly how copyright laws stifle education. Books about Huey Newton, founder and leader of the Black Panther Party, need to be more widely available.

MIM(Prisons) explicitly publishes everything under a creative commons license which invites everyone to build on, copy and share all that we write. We're not making money on our work, we're putting all of our money into spreading revolutionary education. And we want to encourage others to do the same.

Education should be free for everyone. This includes educational material like books. Intellectual property rights laws stifle creativity and education and also directly harm the welfare of the people. Patents keep drugs restrictively expensive by prohibiting anyone but the inventor from manufacturing the drugs. This system of legal restrictions and secrecy inhibits creativity and the advancement of society by preventing people from building on inventions made by other people. Meanwhile, people suffer.

It's only in a capitalist society, where profit is king, that we need these sorts of intellectual property restrictions. In a socialist society, where the goal is the welfare of the people, we will prioritize the most efficient and effective formula and distribution of life-saving drugs, educational material, and everything else that is good for humynity.

We are sympathetic that small publishers of political books like Seven Stories Press are in a difficult space to earn money. With new book releases it will often take a lot of book sales just to make back the cost of the printing. However, this doesn't make us sympathetic to copyright claims on a book that was first printed in 2002. Perhaps access to an electronic PDF is curtailing some sales of the physical book, but if free access is getting more people to read this important book, we think that's a victory.

We hope that Seven Stories Press will re-evaluate their goals. On their website Seven Stories claims: "Our credo is that publishers have a special responsibility to defend free speech and human rights, and to celebrate the gifts of the human imagination wherever we can." They have published some important and controversial books including the Dark Alliance series about the CIA and crack cocaine, All Things Censored by Mumia Abu Jamal, and the annual Project Censored's Censored report. Yet by shutting down the distribution of an important book about the ideology of the Black Panther Party in order to preserve their profits, Seven Stories is working counter to their credo.

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Organizing] [Georgia State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 56]
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Petition Against Tier II Program at GSP

[Comrades in Georgia have been suffering from and fighting against the Tier II program since its inception. Tier II is a long-term isolation program with indefinite terms and severe restrictions on communication and other "privileges." Of course the program is officially not for disciplinary purposes. And of course the program has set terms on paper. Below is a portion of a petition some of our subscribers have signed on to and mailed out to various administrators. It illuminates in detail many of the problems that prisoners in Georgia are facing. In December 2014 another comrade from Smith State Prison mailed us a similar petition with over 30 signatures, which we publicized on our website.

Another comrade in the state is working on a guide on how to fight against the Tier program. We encourage anyone who has successfully won any battle against the Tier program to write in with your experiences, so we can consolidate this knowledge and distribute it to those in need. However, many people on Tier restriction can't even have access to Under Lock & Key or other mail from MIM(Prisons), so those who are in most immediate need of this information aren't even able to receive it. Prisoners who aren't (yet) assigned to the Tier program should take an immediate interest in this topic, so that the knowledge is circulated among the Georgia prisoner population before people can't access it anymore.

As we've been writing about for a long time, we see long-term isolation not only as an atrocity because of the humyn suffering, but also as a political tool that is used by the state to keep the oppressed nations subservient, preoccupied, and broken. We want self-determination of oppressed peoples, and we oppose all tactics that the state uses to subvert this goal. -MIM(Prisons)]

In the name of liberty, life, and human rights the Administrative Segregation population at Georgia State Prison (GSP) is reaching out to you with hopes that you will advocate and intervene on our behalf to put an end to the horrific and inhumane conditions of confinement being forced upon us, through the implementation of the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program, because the grievance system here is a mockery and has rendered us no relief from the oppressive, repressive, and dehumanizing tactics of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).

Georgia State Prison, which for decades has held a large lockdown population with some inmates being on lockdown for 20 or more years, began what is called the "Administrative Segregation Tier II Program" on July 16, 2014. On this date, GDC's tactical squad, along with GSP's correctional officers confiscated all of our personal clothing, hygiene products, health care products, books, photo albums, lawbooks, magazines, newspapers, CD players, radios, drinking cups, bowls, etc., with us only being allowed to keep 20 personal letters, a portion of legal mail, and a Qur'an or a bible (one or the other). Our personal hygiene products were replaced with only state-issue soap, toothpaste, and roll-on deodorant which are of very poor quality.

The guidelines for the Tier II Program (which lasts for a minimum of 9 months) places a ban on all books, newspapers, magazine (novels, textbooks, dictionaries, etc.) and many materials to self-educate ourselves. All books, magazines, newspapers, etc. which are mailed to us are returned to sender without giving us notification or a chance to appeal the prison's decision.

We are not being allowed to continue educational correspondence courses to earn degrees or diplomas so that we can have a better chance of getting legitimate jobs upon release.

Inmates are allowed very restricted contact/access to the "free world" which is perpetuated in part by the ban on books and periodicals and the confiscation of all TVs and radios which effectively blocks us from being kept abreast of current events and aware of the world's happenings beyond the prison's gates. Phone calls and visits are limited to only 3 fifteen-minute collect calls and 3 two-hour non-contact visits for the first 6 months of the program.

We are not being given proper access to the law/courts. Tier II inmates are routinely denied "law-library" by officers. The law library for Ad-Seg inmates only has seven small holding pens and one computer to service the needs of the entire lockdown population, which is approximately 600-700 prisoners.

We are not being given the proper nutrition or portions of food and are not being allowed to purchase commissary as a means to supplement the malnutrition being forced upon us. This is evident in the fact that the number of prisoners being placed on medical diets to increase weight and calorie intake has made a steep incline. Bugs (both live and dead) are often found in the food and the officers still force the trays on the prisoners.

We are inadequately clothed. The prison won't provide us with the proper clothing and won't allow us to purchase the clothing we need.

We are not being given the means to sanitize the cells that we are housed in. The cells are filthy. Most have food, blood, and feces on the walls and there is a serious rodent and insect infestation. We cannot even flush our own toilets; we rely on officers to flush the toilets for us so we may have feces and urine in the toilets for hours at a time.

We are not being allowed to have the hygiene products that we need and are not allowed to purchase any so most inmates have a foul odor because the deodorant the state issues us doesn't work for most of us.

We are routinely denied the right of religious freedom and expression. We are not allowed to practice beliefs that forbid cutting the hair, keeping kosher or other restrictions from eating certain foods.

Prisoners are subjected to brutality, humiliation, and harassment by correctional officers and staff at any given time. Prisoners are often assaulted while in handcuffs/restraints for no reason at all, but most frequently for practicing "freedom of speech." If a prisoner addresses the warden or other administrative staff about anything they don't like, or mistreatment, you are liable to be sprayed with mace, OC spray, any of the other toxic gases, stripped naked and humiliated and be placed on "stripped cell" with no bedding, clothing, or anything else (regardless of the temperature) for 8 or more hours just for exercising your 1st Amendment rights.

Prisoners are forced by the administration to bunk with other prisoners against their will, even when they let officers know there will be a conflict. This deliberate indifference has led to deaths, stabbings and other serious injuries.

Mental health prisoners are often times punished for mental infirmities and deficiencies which are beyond their control and made worse by the conditions of confinement forced upon them. Mental health patients here are suffering because of a lack of treatment and staff. Many are wrongly diagnosed and are either over- or under-medicated.

Prisoners validated by the GDC as being part of Goodfellas, Young Mafia Family or plain and simply as "Mob" are being subjected to group punishment and all prisoners with this validation are kept on Tier II, and most have been on lockdown since November 2011 or even longer. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Tier II program states that prisoners can only be held on the program for 2 years, but those validated as "Mob" are being transferred from prison to prison at the completion of one prison's Tier program requirements and forced to begin the program again at the entry level at the new facility.

We know that prison isn't supposed to be comfortable, but what we are experiencing at the hands of the administrators and staff here is torture and extreme abuse of authority. Regardless of our debts to society, we are no less human than anyone else. Many of us are mentally unstable, indigent, or have no family or friends who are willing to help us fight for our rights to be treated like human beings and not be subjected to such demoralizing and dehumanizing treatment.

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[Abuse] [Powledge Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 56]
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Powledge Guards Unaware of the Law

Your Texas Pack will support my contentions and add fuel to the fire I have started. You participate in the same practice I do and have been doing since 2010. I apply the law in my grievances. I apply PD-22 in correlation to ED-02.01 and apply the facts of official misconduct that lands officials on administrative probation or suspended 30, 60, or 90 days. I applaud your practice. I appreciate your action, and your newsletter gives me hope that I am not alone in fighting this Goliath that has no moral value. Thank you for your presence and participation.

I am on Powledge Unit after fighting my way to here via Bother units where I still have civil actions pending. But this unit enjoys retaliating against you for your protected right to file grievances or complain. Standards for prison operations in this country are made by the American Correctional Association (ACA), and ACA Standard 4-4274 states I have a protected right to complain about my conditions and official misconduct without fear of retaliation, but the guards don't know that it exists in ATC Rules. See ATC-040. It has been my safety beacon in many grieves.

The state works off the ignorance of inmates — our comrades so to speak. I am requesting that you keep doing what you do and teach the prisoners. Inform them of their rights, privileges, immunities under the Constitution. Where the prisoners of Texas really need help is in statutory law. I am understanding that Administrative Code is where statutory law lies, that governs jails and prisons. Texas prisoners in state facilities are not privy to these laws, so a prisoner cannot successfully litigate a case without an injury. An injury is not a prerequisite to 42 USC 1983.

Well keep up the good work and stand united and strong.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Legal work and campaigns, such as the information contained in the Texas Pack, are one aspect of our struggle toward a society without the abuses that the Texas Pack is focused on: grievance problems, indigent mail restrictions, exorbitant medical copay, and others. We don't think we can get to that society by focusing on just this angle alone, however. So we push our comrades who are getting good information from the Texas Pack to also recognize the bigger picture and the long-term struggle. MIM(Prisons)'s work is focused on prisons in the United $tates, but we strive for this work to coincide with the struggles of the most oppressed peoples in the world. If you're ready to take that step from prison reformer to revolutionary, we offer lots of study materials on the topic, and a correspondence study course for $10 or work-trade.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Medical Care] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 56]
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Clarifying Legal Tactics: Deadly Heat in Louisiana

In response to the article in ULK 55 titled "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article," I am equally compelled to struggle my point across to my Texas comrade and all other comrades within the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit. Our Texas comrade has committed the error of "seeing only a tree instead of the forest," please allow me to explain.

While it is correct that the 5th Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court with an order to apply the injunction to only the three plaintiffs in Angola's death row – Ball, Magee and Code – if one would read and digest the discussion of the 5th Circuit's ruling then one would see that it is obvious that in order for "all" prisoners to receive this relief then "all" prisoners would have to file! And I am fairly sure that most comrades can "come up" with a medical condition! In section 3 of the opinion under "disability claims" the court stated in the last paragraph that because the plaintiffs failed to properly introduce their ADA claims that it was fatal as to that claim, therefore "reading between the lines" one can grasp the nugget of wisdom!

So in conclusion there has been and is a victory against the deadly heat in Louisiana, so I urge all comrades to flood the courts with their own "personal" suits and bypass the stacked deck of the PLRA, entiendes? Please read the "entire" case with footnotes etc.: it was declared that the heat can be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. (The ADA provides "endless" major life activities and functions so everyone can find a niche). So if the heat is a violation of a federal right then – (quote from opinion) "such relief shall extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the federal right of a particular plaintiff or plaintiffs!"

Be that plaintiff!

Please read the case: Elzie Ball, et al. v. James M. Leblanc, et al. U.$. District Court for the Middle district of Louisiana, 988 F. Supp. 2d 639; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178557 Civil Action No.: 13-00368-BAJ-SCR. This is on order from Ball v. Leblanc, 792 F.3d 584, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11769 (5th Cir. La. 2015).


MIM(Prisons) responds: In "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article", another writer responded to this writer's original article on this lawsuit from ULK 53. The responder pointed out that the 5th Circuit Court's decision only afforded people with pre-existing medical conditions relief from the dangerous heat in Louisiana prisons. And so ey clarified that the ruling does not automatically apply to all of Louisiana's death row. We are glad that both writers chimed in on the topic, to clarify the ruling and the suggested tactics.

We need to think creatively about how to use this court decision to expand protections to anyone with any medical condition. In conditions like this that are truly dangerous (as we approach summer once again) we encourage people to follow this comrade's lead and look for ways to use the legal system to improve safety of your conditions.

Perhaps others will disagree with this tactic and propose other better uses for people's time and legal research. It's slow to engage in debate through the pages of a bi-monthly newsletter like Under Lock & Key but this is beneficial to all readers and a part of the unity-criticism-unity process. It's a healthy debate over tactics that will keep pushing our work forward, so write to us and let us hear your thoughts.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Kentucky] [ULK Issue 56]
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Access to Courts Denied in Kentucky

I'ma start this letter out by sending all my respects to all involved in educating and enlightening those who is fighting such as myself. These past couple of weeks have been very hectic. Here at Kentucky State Reformatory, we have difficulties with the administration denying legal help from legal aids on cases and with research and filing.

In Kentucky, prisoners in administration and punitive segregation are being denied legal representation by legal aides on filing motions, briefs, etc. and on research. Most of us have active cases and are filing new cases, but the administration have told us "prisoners" that the legal aides can't assist us on any cases and they have notified the legal aides not to assist us on our cases. The legal aides have been told that they can only assist us and represent us at adjustment committee hearings.

Everyone knows that you have to and need to do research before an active case can even begin and finish, so this bureaucratic red tape is just another arbitrary denial of access to courts, and a violation of the Kentucky Constitution and the U.$. Constitution. Right now I am seeking out accurate factual materials to write out a petition to send to the warden, and accurate factual civil and human rights and constitutional Kentucky and federal laws to fight this injustice.

An injustice to one is an injustice to all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is not an issue unique to Kentucky. Prisoners in Texas are also being denied access to courts because of a "cite only" rule. And in Georgia our comrades are denied access to the courts because they are on Tier II restrictive housing. In North Carolina there are no law libraries, and the agency that is designated to satisfy the requirement of access to courts is almost entirely useless.

For all our comrades who advocate working through the courts for remedies, we have as many comrades who write in saying it is impossible for them to access legal material or assistance. This is one of many reasons why we don't believe the oppressors will ever set up a system that grants real power or dignity to oppressed people, including U.$. prisoners. We work within the system when we can, but we also need to build our own independent institutions, outside the current criminal injustice system, in order to meet and maintain our goals.

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[Organizing] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 56]
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Solidarity Protesting Food Tampering in New York

I write with news of what I believe to be progress by a few comrades and I here at Clinton Correctional Facility on 27 February 2017. Me and 7 other comrades staged a peaceful protest in response to gaolers playing around with me and my neighbors' food.

Each comrade refused to return their empty food trays until my neighbor and I received new food trays that wasn't tampered with (my neighbor was a diabetic and needed to eat). Lieutenant Durkin came around to see what was going on and he seen the seriousness of our solidarity and brought us new trays. (Protest over right? But you know these pigs.)

After me and my neighbors' trays were collected these gaolers decided that they were not going to pick up the trays from the comrades who initiated the protest, in order to use this as their own excuse to deny them showers for the night, and to use these trays to extract them from their cells to inflict abuse.

These pigs tried to offer my neighbor and I showers but we refused unless everyone had their right to a shower, and we continued to press to speak to higher authority.

That only led to higher authority getting tired of our solidarity and want to teach us a lesson by summoning the "Extraction Team." These pigs pumped gas into my cell and the cells of three others, and invaded our cells in units while we were incapacitated by the gas, and beat us one by one. We are in the SHU and on complete lockdown and posed no threat to those cowards.

I was taken to an outside hospital in Malone, New York after the assault only because these pigs thought they broke my ribs. But I won't break, not even bones comrades, not even bones.

These cowards put us on deprivation orders and took all of our in-cell property and left us with just a bare mattress and pillow for the next 5 days (February 27 - March 4). They also took our sweaters and socks and cut the heat off at night in below-freezing weather.

I organized a mass letter to the Superintendent and that's when we started to get our property and water back. The cells were never cleaned after the gas was pumped in and I burned my eyes a few times some nights laying on the plastic bed and pillow.

We all received false tickets to cover up the racially-motivated mass assault, so we all (7) decided to file grievances on what happened. We're just waiting now. They haven't separated us yet because I know they are just listening to our conversations. Most of us don't have the discipline to speak in silence. Anyway comrades I need advice, stratagems, literature or whatever you think we may need to continue our struggle on the inside in a winning fashion.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We encourage anyone with advice for these comrades to get in touch with us and we'll pass along your suggestions. These sorts of retaliations for peaceful protests are all too common in prison. One suggestion we can make to these comrades is to continue to build unity and knowledge among the group, and work to expand the solidarity to others if possible. Our power comes from unity and this is built in part through studying and struggling together. And because we know admin may transfer anyone at any time, especially if someone is seen as a threat because of eir ability to unite people, we encourage everyone to get set up in our MIM(Prisons) correspondence study course. This will allow people to study together and continue studies even if some folks get moved around.

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[Organizing] [East Arkansas Regional Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 57]
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Riots in Arkansas Protest Abuse

On 18 April 2017 the prisoners here rioted against the staff. Mainly it was just the South Hall. Those youngsters are tired of being treated like animals. So they rebel the only way they knew how. By busting out all the windows on the South Hall of East Arkansas Regional Unit, which was one through eight barracks. This transpired that day from 5:30pm until 5:30am. By then Emergency Response Team (ERT) and officers from all the other units responded. They shot 30mm rubber bullets and flash bangs into those barracks. They hog tied prisoners, and dragged them down the hall to the visitation yard which was turned into a makeshift infirmary. There prisoners were beat, kicked or stomped while still cuffed and awaiting medical treatment. The pigs stayed for 3 days in extremely large numbers. 100 officers for day and night shifts the first day, then 50 extra officers on the 2nd and 3rd day. They even returned on the nights of Arkansas' executions.

The prisoners could have rebelled better, but it is what it is. I'm glad, it just goes to show only so much repression will be tolerated by the masses until change is demanded. It's just that their energy could have been utilized in a more revolutionary way than in just a release of emotional outcry. Educating prisoners, all day. Each and every day we must teach the Marxist-Leninst-Maoist way.

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