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[Legal] [Education] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Fighting for a library

Thank you for sharing the struggle of others bearing much heavier crosses than mine. At this prison I'm trying to establish an Inmate Library Committee - which legally we should already have. The law library is our most powerful tool from within institution walls and the administrative authorities here at this prison have turned our law library into nothing more than a copy room to promote their agenda. The law library here at Mule Creek State Prison does not even have typewriters or provide legal envelopes for purchase or otherwise.

This is my struggle, this is our struggle! The Department of Corrections has coordinated an attack at our ability to be heard by the courts - and the tide is on their side.

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[Control Units] [New Mexico]
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Control Units in New Mexico

I am currently housed in a CU as of June 18. There are approximately 30 people in this unit. About half of this detention center is control units. Pods D1-D4, B1, B4, G1 and G4 are regular population. Units F1, F2, B2, B3, C2 and the SHU are all lock down. Originally in 97 when this facility opened it was only the SHU that was a CU. Since then the CUs have been expanding, moving from unit to unit, most recently to C2 which only happened a month or so ago.

Most of the population of the CU is Latino which some whites. I have seen no Blacks.

We are only given 1 hour out of cell rec time, every other day.

I was placed in here for "failure to obey" and "disrespect to staff." I was told to close another prisoner's door and when refused was placed on "pre-disciplinary lockdown" (CTQ). I told the officer she was a bitch and was moved to here. People are in here for various reasons. Being "gang affiliated" or fighting mostly. One prisoner is here because he has a clover tattooed on him and it is believed to be a gang tattoo but he's just Irish.

I have no idea how long I will be in here or when I will get any kind of hearing. This is a county facility and I am a pre-trial detainee.

I have also been in CUs in R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego CA, Mule Creek State Prison in Ione CA and Palm Hall in Chino Prison. The last one you get about 2 hours a week out of your cell.

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[Release] [New Mexico]
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Parole is a revolving door

I do not commit crimes for fun or drugs. I commit them to survive and drugs just go along with the crime scene. I have been repeatedly released from the California Department of Corrections with no hope and no resources. They have taught me no skills to survive in the world or get a job. I parole with $200 and the clothes on my back, no family support and no place to stay and no job leads and only marginal skills to get one. It is only a matter of days before I have to turn to crime to keep myself fed and a roof over my head.

The parole department says it can get you housing, but it takes weeks if not months. And without a stable place to stay you can get nowhere. The system is set up for failure of parolees to keep recidivism rates high and prison populations soaring and the money flowing into the prison industrial complex. And because of this system, I have spent most of my adult life locked up and ma facing 25 years in California after I get done in New Mexico.

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[Legal] [Political Repression] [New Mexico] [ULK Issue 4]
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Denial of mail and legal rights in New Mexico

This facility here is one of the most over controlled I've been in. You can receive no books, magazines, newspapers or periodicals from the outside. There is no educational material available. There is no mail allowed that has xeroxes, printed by ink jet, internet copies, pictures downloaded from the internet, laser-printer photographs, newspaper or magazine clippings, postcards, envelopes with XOXO, S.W.A.K. (sealed with a kiss) or write back soon, perfume smell or lipstick markings.

There is no access to a law library or legal materials here. I have had legal mail opened not in my presence and have even had legal mail taken because it contained information about how to fight the system a case law about the constitutional rights of prisoners from the Center for Constitutional Rights - a law firm out of New York. It also contained a book called "The Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook". When the contents were seen, the envelope was resealed and sent back.

I have saved and documented everything. I have written up a civil rights complaint against the jail, Aramark (a prison industry complex member) and 3 officers, but I am unable to file because they refuse to let me make the required copies or get a 6 month copy of my trust account which is required to file In Forma Papuperis.

Also I was helping and advising several other prisoners on how to file suit. I had them file grievances to exhaust the administrative remedies as required by the prison litigation reform act. The administration has caught on to what I'm doing and has refused to answer any of the grievances that match the three issues I am trying to take to court. They refuse to answer them because without proof of exhausting the administrative remedies process, they can not take issues to court.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Ohio]
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People Power

People power is derived directly from and through the unification
of those in dire need, tired of false promises, so they take it upon themselves for its manifestation

United Struggle from Within is a par excellent example
so long as we comrades strive hard and fight on, our work will be ample

People power is a scientific revolutionary term
In that it speaks to the masses to apply and earn

Earn what's rightfully theirs, such as justice, freedom, liberation and equality
For when we outline our objectives, we do not say it modesty

Striking at the core cause of the problems
takes a deep look at capitalism before we can solve them

The socialist theory, better yet, the pathway to communism
Is the road, for the people, to stomp out oppression and imperialism

People Power is obtainable, visualize and please believe
For without people power we shall never achieve

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[Organizing] [Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Who's talking in code, pig?

i received your letter today. My Brotha, i did receive your letter in Feb, and i had responded to it, but it was confiscated by the Institutional Gang Investigation Unit (IGI). They claim it was gang related, they claimed New Afrikan Collective is a code word for BGF, now you know how silly my keepers are.

For the past 18 years IGI/ISU [Institutional Gang Investigations/Investigative Services Unit], have used their gang policies as a tool/tactic to circumvent our free speech right, they are using every means at their disposal to censor my voice.

In April and May they all of a sudden decided that my Muslim name was a fictitious name, so, between April 1st and May 29th they confiscated about sixteen outgoing letters under the fictitious name policy. Enclosed is just an example. i have been using my Muslim name since 1982. This had nothing to do with my Muslim name. IGI/ISU were attempting to censor my voice.

i filed a 1983 civil suit (Free Speech & Religious violations). i also sent to the court as an exhibit photo copies of the front of at least 20 letters i had received between Jan and May 29 2008 that clearly shows my Muslim name on each envelope and they passed through IGI/ISU. So this is clear proof that their actions had nothing to do with my name.

...
Your Beloved Brotha,
a California Prisoner

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade has been a leader in an effort to build peace among the warring groups within the California prison system. The letter that was held by IGI from reaching MIM(Prisons) was regarding these efforts. The Catch-22 that this comrade, and many of us, find ourselves in is that if he writes honestly about the work he is trying to do then he is labelled a gang member and censored. The pigs do everything they can to prevent a peace process from moving forward in a system that has hundreds of race riots every year that have spilled onto the streets, particularly in Los Angeles County. You would think that it was the pigs jobs to encourage violence so that they can further repress certain groups rather than to put an end to this senseless killing.

One of the charges brought against MIM(Prisons) and many prisoner activists to justify censorship of our communications is that we are writing in code. Yet, our track record speaks for itself. The Maoist movement has continuously and tirelessly worked to put an end to oppression and exploitation. Within the prison movement we have put massive resources into providing hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature to help educate prisoners across the country to provide guidance and hope for a better future.

Meanwhile, it is the pigs who use code words such as "gangs" and "security threat groups" to target the oppressed and any efforts to bring peace and progress, without sounding like the racist arms of imperialist oppression that they are. If talking in code is a crime, censor the pigs, and let those of us who have solutions to the social problems of drugs abuse, violence, and national oppression get to working on putting these solutions into practice.

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[Abuse] [New York]
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Assault for using the bathroom

This is to inform you of the recent incident involving officer Demo at Adirondack Correctional Facility.

On 7/19/2008 at approximately 2:10 am, I was walking down 3C hallway in route to the restroom. At this time officer Demo asked me "where the fuck are you going". I stated "to use the restroom" and Officer Demo said "no go the fuck to bed." I then stated "I take medication an dI really have to go". He said "I don't give a fuck if you piss yourself, go the fuck to be."

There was no need for the officer's unjustifiable harassment, seeing as though I was not causing a disturbance or being disruptive in any manner. I was only trying to use the restroom before I went to bed for the night.

After I used the restroom Officer Demo asked me "give me your ID so I can write your dumb ass up." I then asked for a grievance and asked "why are you harassing me for using the restroom." Officer Demo then approached me in a very aggressive manner. Then he took his right hand and slapped me across the eye and face area, again saying "go the fuck to bed." I then said "call the sergeant, you just assaulted me and I want to file a formal complaint." Officer Demo then told me to turn around and place my hands on the wall. I complied and he then pushed my head into the wall.

Due to an old eye injury I take medication to relieve pressure on my pupil. Officer Demo's physical attack on me further aggravated my injury. Further, once the Sergeant and three other officers arrived in the dorm area Officer Demo gave me an ultimatum status "you leave this alone and go to bed or you can go to the box upstate."

This is not the first time this officer has refused to let prisoners use the restroom facilities causing conflict between him and other prisoners.

As of now I am in grave fear for my safety and well being. For fear of retaliation from officer Demo. Seeing as he is known through out the prison population to bring forth repercussions to prisoner who grieve him.

I would like for Officer Demo to be placed under investigation. I am filing a complaint for assault, battery and harassment.

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[Control Units] [Pennsylvania]
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Control units in NY and PA

I see that comrades are working on producing a movie that exposes the corruption which is taking place in control units all over the country. Hence, I would like to take the time out to touch on some of the things that I've seen and experienced in these types of confinements.

I've done time in New York and am currently trapped in Pennsylvania. Between the two, I've been in five control units, and know of several more. I can't remember the addresses to the ones in New York because it's been some years since I've been there. However, the names of the ones I've been in are Southport, Marcy S-Block and Lakeview S-Block. I know of others in New York such as Malone's Upstate, Green S-Block, Cayuga S-Block, Collins S-Block and Fishkill S-Block.

In Pennsylvania I was in the now defunct Long Term Segregation Unit (LTSU) which was at SCI Fayette (PO Box 9999 Labelle, PA 15450). It originally opened in 2000 at SCI Western but was moved to Fayette in 2004. That so-called "program" was totally shut down in 2007 because of the barbaric conditions. It was since converted into what's called SMU (Special Management Unit). I was never in the SMU at Fayatte, but I was in the SMU at SCI Camp Hill (PO Box 200, Camp Hill, PA 17001).

New York is designed just to be a Control Unit. It has 1200 people in the Control Unit, then an additional 300 people to do the cooking, cleaning, etc. Marcy, Lakeview and the other S-Blocks in New York are units built at "regular" prisons and confine 200 people apiece. Southport is predominantly a Control Unit, but I don't know the head counts.

The SMUs in Pennsylvania are units built at "regular" prisons and hold about 70-something people each. The LTSU was a unit within "regular" prisons and housed 40 people.

In terms of the national/racial make up of the people in the CUs I've been in, I would estimate that they all had about 90% Black/Latino and about 10% white.

The ways that the CUs are run varies, especially from state to state. Nevertheless, they are all different from the "regular", "holes", "boxes," or whatever the 23 hour/day lockdown units are called in each state. One of the biggest differences is that these CUs have several levels that a person can be on and these levels determine how many privileges are supposed to be afforded to them. For instance, in the SMUs in Pennsylvania, people on Phase 5 cannot have personal pictures, newspapers, magazines and many other things. The LTSU was the same way on levels 4 and 3.

Often times, persons with mental health issues are placed in these CUs, at least in Pennsylvania. It is not uncommon for them to bang on their desks, toilets, etc. for many hours at a time being as they can't deal with the confinement. Many even throw feces, urine and vomit on other prisoners and guards.

Several people enter these CUs with no history of mental health issues, but develop them while they're in there. They begin banging on things all day as well as throwing feces, urine and vomit. Suicides/attempts are not uncommon in these units.

Many guards antagonize prisoners and deny them food trays that they are supposed to be given. Or they may put things such as dead mice in the trays.

The physical abuse from the guards is a common thing. They sometimes beat handcuffed and shackled people bloody. They'll even do it while video monitors are recording by yelling "stop resisting!" to make it seem like they're to restrain a person.

They also have restraint chairs that they put people in. These are chairs in which people are strapped down for hours at a time - in Pennsylvania it's for a minimum of eight hours. People have been known to urinate or defecate on themselves while in these chairs.

These are just some of the things going on in these CUs. People have filed numerous grievances and lawsuits about the things that are going on, but for the most part there have been very few changes made. Usually a person's claim of being denied a food tray is dismissed as being "frivolous," or something of that nature.

I think it's a good idea to expose to the public what is actually going on behind these walls. Not only in Control Units, but in these neo-plantations in general. I will be of whatever assistance I can.

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[Abuse] [Florida] [ULK Issue 4]
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Inexcusable behavior by guards in Florida

One time I found pieces of gray rocks in my food (kidney beans and white rice). I showed it to the Correctional Officer. He said “you should have swallowed it and died. You have to eat this shit, not me." These are some of the malicious things they do in a nasty environment like this all the time. I receive mail in from the streets from my family and they hold it in the mailroom for several weeks before they bring it to me. They play a lot of mind games to try to make a person lose control.

When a prisoner has a call-out, the correctional officer will say you refused it, and you were not aware you even had one. I went to recreation one day July 10, and I witnessed three COs attack a prisoner who was handcuffed behind his back, punching and kicking him until he fell to the ground. Their intentions were to kill him. No cameras were in sight.

At times here I stand at the door for mealtime and the officers refuse to open the food flap for me to eat, meaning they deprive me of something I’m required to have three times a day. That’s crazy. There’s no excuse for their behavior.

A lot of the prisoners work for the officers, meaning they will write grievances stating other prisoners are getting illegal drugs in the institution. Or they will tell the officer that a prisoner has a knife in his cell. This is the type of foolishness prisoners play against one another on a daily basis. The COs live for the prisoners to combat one another.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This sort of repression is the reality of life in prisons. To fight back against their dirty tactics and pitting of prisoners against each other, comrades behind bars need to unite against the injustice system.

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[Control Units] [Texas]
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Administrative Segregation in Texas

I have been in administrative segregation on two different types of units. On the Ferguson Unit, 12120 Savage Dr, and the Connally Unit I am presently housed in at 899 FM 632. On the Ferguson, it is three tiers with 24 cells on each row in one straight line, with a shower at the front of each row. Recreation areas are cages fit for one person with a pull up bar and a basketball goal and basketball. We got one hour recreation a day or two hours every other day.

The feeding practices are such that food carts are brought to the block and the trays are prepared right there on the run in front of the cells. Only the prisoners right in front of the cart can see their trays being made. All food trays are prepared by the same adseg prison guards who work the blocks for that day. The mail is also gathered up and distributed by the security adseg correctional officers so there is no way for a prisoner to know if his mail was actually sent to the mail room to be mailed or thrown away, nor is there any way of knowing whether the incoming mail was actually given to the prisoner.

I had difficulties on the Ferguson Unit adseg because the prison guards were harassing a lot of different people and claimed that I was snitching on them. They also put chemicals and infected blood in my food from prisoners who thought I was snitching on them. They conned these dudes into believing I'm an informant then give them my food tray and allow them to do whatever they wanted to it. Then the prison guard would bring me the trays to eat. Before I found out what was happening, my eyes and skin turned yellow and I started vomiting up blood and getting real sick. I have permanent liver damage right now and I think I have hepatitis but the medical department have been told not to diagnose me with any type of disorder or disease so I haven't received any treatment.

Here on Connally Unit there are only two rows with a picket in the middle and the cells arranged to form a U around the picket to allow the prison guards to see any one of the cells at any given moment. The recreation consists of only two cages fit for one person with a basketball goal and ball, a set of weights, a water fountain and urinal. We are allowed to recreate one hour a day on the rec yard or day rooms which consist of a table and pull up bar.

Just like in Ferguson, all our mail is gathered up and passed out by the security correctional officers. The feeding practices are a little different even though we are still fed individually in our cells. All of the food trays are prepared in another section of the unit and placed in a hot box and brought to the pods. Once there, trays are put on tray carries and brought to each prisoner. No one is able to see their trays being prepared. Whenever prisoners get into confrontations with the adseg guards, they regularly taint food trays with an array of unknown substances because we have to rely upon security to feed u. As a result, thousands of prisoners in adseg suffer just as I do from liver/kidney damage.

Most prisoners are aware of what is happening and refuse to file any type of complaint or grievance against prison guards for fear of being retaliated against as I have. And a number of prisoners have virtually lost their sanity and committed suicide because it is virtually impossible to prove that these practices are happening.

I've been trying and am presently in the 5th circuit court waiting on a ruling, but I can already predict the outcome. These prison guards developed a form of neo-police brutality that is being upheld by federal courts merely because prisoners are not in position to prove that our food is being tainted. Many prisoners back here, mainly on level 3, throw urine and feces on the guards, spear them with shanks on the tip of poles made of news papers, curse them out regularly, and tension between the prison guards and prisoners is just as natural as the conflict between cats and dogs. Yet in adseg we must rely on these same guards to prepare our foods trays outside our presence, to distribute all our incoming and outgoing mail, and to provide us with grievances to make complaints against them. And sometimes even to investigate those same complaints.

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