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[Control Units] [Alabama]
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Resistance from within Management Control Units

I extend greetings of solidarity and strength to those who remain intransigent in view of the ongoing onslaught of oppression. Brothers and sisters, due to the fact that MIM does not publish the names of comrades, all my communications will be addressed to you as Matulla. I will also be submitting future articles on a variety of issues, and petition you all to become or remain active with MIM as we strive for a revolutionary vanguard to defeat imperialism and this repressive prison industrial complex.

I have been reading of your struggles against our oppressors, even as you are interned deep within the belly of the beast, i.e. MCU, SHU, etc. This isolation and its barbaric nature are common to you and I. However our seclusion must solidify our opposition to repression, and must not cause you to become dispirited. We must continue to resist and withstand the force and effect of their deceptive practices.

I have been subjected to every form of terrorism and brutality that the state can throw at me. I've been beaten and tortured, starved and whipped. They've tried to break me, and desired to see me crawl. Instead I decided on resistance by any means possible. Don't get me wrong, I am no hero, and sure as hell would like to have been someplace else, but like many of you, I understand why it is so important to defy our captors, even while we fight to survive, literally in hell. It is also important that you have the support of those on the outside, which is the primary reason I've been effective.

In spite of my circumstances, my resolve is steadfast, because I fully understand why I'm being subjected to the draconian degrees of selective political persecution that I have been forced to endure over the past 4 1/2 years. I am innocent of all the repressive administrators' false allegations. Because I am militant, I am being subjected to selective political persecution by the state for merely entertaining such militant thoughts.

I'm aware of many of the conditions you speak of at your facilities, if not all. Many prisoners, here as throughout the united $tate$, are placed in these [isolation] units without having broken any prison rules. Prisoners who have been identified as being politically subversive, or incorrigible (political), and possess or display leadership qualities or potentials are assigned to the prison's repressive "MCU" and/or "SHU" unit(s).

Many of these placements are based solely on uncorroborated administrative or confidential informant reports that are never provided to the prisoner before or after the classification hearings so they can prepare some type of defense against the confidential informants uncorroborated allegations, or seek some kind of redress after the fact, via the kourt system (which often sides with the repressive prison administrators).

Some prisoners (political and apolitical) are placed in the MCU, SMU or SHU before they are convicted or right after they are sentenced on the charges they are arrested for. In general, these units will base its decisions to intern a prisoner in these units upon its evaluation of the following factors: records of past imprisonment, disciplinary records, prison records on work assignments, adjustment to prison programs, records on past housing assignments, attitude toward authority, psychological makeup, and involvement in political, social and criminal activities while in prison. In many instances prisoners are isolated due to their involvement or alleged involvement with street organization.

We must also begin to take an in depth look at the goals of these units and how they achieve these goals. Politicized social prisoners, political prisoners, some radicalized religious prisoners, prison lawyers, apolitical prisoner leaders or potential leaders are isolated from the general population with the goal of reshaping their beliefs or to psychologically break us.

During my years in the MCU, SHU and SMU units I've seen prisoners renounce their political, religious and "gang" affiliations in order to win their release from these repressive units. It has long been my position that convictions are not a matter of convenience, because if an individual is serious about his or her convictions, no matter the consequences, he or she will remain true to them. I have seen prisoners suffer emotional breakdowns because they could no longer cope with the constant lockdown. They sometimes start taking the mind-controlling psychotropic drugs administered by the psychiatrist, to escape the realities of this never ending insanity.

Brothers and sisters, being in captivity is a terrible adversity. Many prisoners are affected in different ways. I've witnessed many become complacent in an institutionalized way, capitulate, or they become more rebellious and speak of vengeance. Other prisoners start identifying with their oppressors, the guards, and start seeing them as being humane instead of sadistic. They develop hostile tendencies towards other prisoners who recognize and expose the true sadistic nature of the guard. It all depends on the individual prisoner and his internal composition over a protracted period of time.

My petition to you is that you withstand the direct frontal assaults being unleashed against us. We must all continue to struggle, even while interned in the belly of this most relentless beast.

I too am subjected to the same deprivations as you, which are designed to make us kow-tow. Restricted contact visits, restricted law library access, "no" work and education privileges, restricted religious access, as well as having my correspondences and reading materials carefully scrutinized (more so than the prisoners in general population.) In addition, we are carefully searched every time we leave the control unit (going and coming ) in the presence of two armed security guards carrying black night sticks that they call "nigger beaters." We are subjected to restrictive outside recreation and 24 and 23 3/4 hour days locked down in these cages year-round.

In reading your missives to MIM, many of you have been given the same options as I to obtain release from these repressive units. They have advised me that I need to improve my social profile and abandon my oppositional stance prior to release consideration from the MCU. Renouncing my politics will never happen. I've never contemplated the thought of being apolitical again in my life because I have suffered so, and to pay homage to the late George L. Jackson, I want to say there is no turning back from awareness because it is our obligatory duty to act once we become aware of what is, as well as what must be done and not just spoken about.

MIM has been active when it comes to about the history and reality of control units, i.e. SHU, MCU, SMU etc., especially in the state of California. We must do our part as prisoners, to organize and form a collective behind the walls to assist them. If this means resisting physically we must resist. If we must die, let it not be like hogs, hunted and penned in an inglorious spot.

Other prisoner support organizations, and most advocates, lose interest after a while because combating the existence of SHUs and control units necessitates a protracted commitment and most people are not willing to make such a commitment. In addition, prisoners around the country who have experienced the fascist repression of these units and prison existence do not stay the course upon release. Many ex-prisoners don't help those who helped them and stayed the course with them when they were locked down deep in the repressive confines of some state or federal SHU and/or control unit. Once released they failed to act upon the promises they previously made about advocating the propaganda of serious struggle in the community at large.

I encourage all of you to remain strong and uncompromising. We must work relentlessly to replace the bourgeois injustice system with proletarian justice.

— Matulla, a prisoner in Alabama, April 2003

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[Control Units] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois]
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Illinois: Down with Menard's seg quota

Menard Correctional Centers Segregation Unit consists of one abnormally large cell house, which has the capacity of 490 inmates. Menard had only one major incident this year and there's hardly anyone getting into trouble. So in order to justify using so much space for segregation, the staff issued quotas for each population cell house on how many inmates they need to send to segregation. So the staff sets out to find reasons to place inmates in segregation.

During quota filling time, correctional officers exaggerate disciplinary reports, by writing tickets for "intimidation and threat" because an inmate stared at them too long. Or they charge people with "gang activity" when six or seven people are standing in a small group on the yard. Oftentimes, they can't exaggerate tickets so they talk loudly and curse at inmates to provoke a verbal or physical response. If all else fails, they will utilize the Internal Affairs Confidential Sources procedure, which uses inmate trustees to lie on gang members. Law advocates say that the inmates are planning some outrageous security threat, so that they can lock them in segregation anywhere from 30 to 60 days under "investigative status." I encourage any and all inmates to remain dormant to force the staff here to open at least half the segregation unit's building to the general population, and at the same time neutralize Menard's Segregation quota procedures.

RAIL and MIM respond: The prisoner is correct to expose the everyday injustice as prisoncrats use their power to fix their stupid mistakes. Like this prisoner, we also do not encourage prisoners to fight the pigs since they are currently armed and dangerous. The demand to reduce the size of Menard's segregation unit is a correct one. Segregation brings with it such increased suffering for prisoners as sensory deprivation, reduced yard time, highly restricted contact with other prisoners if any, denial of the ability to work, and tighter controls on visitation. All this is in addition to the loss of good time from tickets, forcing prisoners to serve longer sentences before getting the opportunity to parole.

As we point out in every issue of MIM Notes, the size of the U.$. prison population is too big and growing, with more prisoners per capita than any government since Stalin's during World War II and more Black prisoners than Apartheid South Africa. While we work to bring down this system in its entirety, for the short term we look to fight winnable battles that we can win by legal means. Bettering prisoners' conditions now is a good thing. Any honest persyn can see that getting the Menard Correctional Center to stop manufacturing charges against prisoners is a positive reform that deserves support. To express your views to the Warden, write or call (please send MIM a copy of any correspondence):

Warden George Welborn
Menard Correctional Center
711 Kaskaskia Street
Menard, Illinois 62259
Phone: (618) 826-5071

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[Control Units] [New York]
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New York SHU's repress oppressed nation orgs

I would like to advise MIM that my issues with NYS DOCS on keeping me in admin seg for being a leader of the New York State Latin King Chapter is now in the Albany Co, Supreme Court. The continued segregation and solitary confinement of minority Latinos and Blacks must come to an end. These Special Housing Units (SHU's) in New York State were built under the pretense of placing extremely violent prisoners within them. These new prisons have been built within the past 4 years and 12 new prisons have been built for these reasons. These prisons are not being used for the violent, they are being used for Security Risk Groups: Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips, Rat Hunters & so on.

These new SHU's are filled with people who are here for dirty urine. To justify the money being spent for these prisons they must keep them full! New York State is the only state that gives 5 years solitary confinement on a dirty urine for smoking a stick of weed!(joint) This is their reform and rehabilitation for the drug users!

The article on U.S. prison officials use of torture and biological weapons in MIM Notes 256 is 100% true, because I live it every day of my life since 2000. I've been in the New York State SHU restricted diet (the "loaf") bread mixed with cabbage then baked into a solid gruel. The teargas, pepper spray and so on to an asthmatic is a deadly practice. The stun guns, and electric riot shield is a deadly practice for anyone with a heart problem. The United States Supreme Court abolished cruel and unusual punishment. If these practices aren't cruel and unusual then deadly force along with the governments dumbocracy has just stepped up onto a new plateau!

It's time to wake up and become a part of the resolution to fix the problem.

Peace almighty today, tomorrow and forever. King's love,

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[Control Units] [Indiana]
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Indiana prisoners fight SHU

My comrades and I have just recently won a battle to get out of the SHU unit here in Indiana. We won it through appeals and are now back in the general population. Our release is just a drop in the bucket, though, considering that no one should be subjected to such torments and inhumane treatment. Where some would be happy with gaining their own releases, I will only be happy when the SHUs are abolished. So until that time I must continue to work towards this goal.

Keep in the struggle

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[Control Units] [US Penitentiary Marion] [Federal]
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A brief history of Marion

There are various rumors going around that we will soon be transferred to the new Federal prison complex at Florence, Colorado. Some say we all won't be transferred there; some say only those of us who are classified as "sixes," which is the highest security level in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). We hear that we will be isolated from other convicts, and then we hear we will participate in recreation in groups of nine men. Some say the transfer will begin in September; other indications are that it will be sooner.

We won't know for sure until it happens, and that's the way the BOP wants it—shrouded in mystery.

Whatever happens here in regards to the transfer to Florence, CO, this marks the beginning of a new era in repression of the ever-increasing, restless and angry prison population in the U.S.

With the closing of Alcatraz in 1962 and the simultaneous opening of Marion in Illinois, the Federal BOP has had 32 years to study Marion prisoners, and has shared this knowledge with the state prison systems and prison systems throughout the world. They concentrated what they called High Security Level prisoners here at Marion and began their experiments. For years it was common knowledge that Marion's water was contaminated with PCBs. Several ex-Marion prisoners have died or still suffer from various forms of cancers and central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

In 1972, after an institution-wide work strike [and, notably, after the 1971 Attica prisoners' rebellion —MC49], 150 prisoners were put in disciplinary segregation. Sixteen months later, 36 prisoners were still in what had been officially designated the control unit. The control unit on H-unit was a mini-Alcatraz. There, in that strictly- regulated environment, Marion concentrated its most "disruptive" inmates and, of course, the system's revolutionaries.

Today, there are many control units in prisons throughout the United States and the world, and they have been perfected for the purpose of burying any activist, POW, political prisoner, and any prisoner the administration doesn't want to influence other prisoners.

Repression is mounting throughout the world, as the powers that be attempt to contain and silence the just grievances of the oppressed peoples who are doing what is necessary to survive in a world where greed is king and is protected by the power of the gun. "Power comes from the barrel of a gun," said Mao, and today we see how right he was.

Peace and power,

—a Marion prisoner

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[Censorship] [Illinois]
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Pro se victory against censorship in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has the authority
and obligation to establish rules and regulations to provide
prisoners with access to published materials including newspapers
and magazines approved by the Director of the IDOC. (730 ILCS 5/3-
7-1)

The IDOC's regulations for prisoners' access to publications is
set forth in title 20, Sections 525.200 through 525.230 of the
Illinois Administrative Code (20 Ill. Admn. Code Sec 525.200
through 525.230). A prisoner may subscribe to, solicit free copies
of, or buy individual copies of approved newspapers, magazines,
books and other publications for delivery to the facility of
confinement. "A member of the [prisoner's] family or a friend may
also order, solicit or bring approved publications to the
facility." 20 Ill. Admn.Code Sec 525.210(c).

The warden of the Pontiac Correctional Center implemented his own
personal policy which prohibited friends and family members of
prisoners from bringing in approved publications.

A complaint for mandamus was filed in the Circuit Court of
Livingston County, Illinois, seeking an order compelling the
warden to allow family members and friends to bring in approved
publications for prisoners in accordance with established
regulations.

The warden filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the decision to
allow friends and family members to deliver approved publications
to a prisoner is a discretionary act. The warden argued that the
use of the word "may" in the last sentence in Sec 525.210(c)
indicates a discretionary act. Thus, mandamus is inapplicable.

In response to the motion to dismiss, the prisoner argued that the
use of the word "may" does in fact allow for discretion. However,
the plain reading of Sec 525.210(c) clearly indicates that the use
of the word "may" refers to what the prisoner's family and friends
may do, not to what the IDOC employees may do.

The Circuit Court agreed with the prisoner and denied the warden's
motion to dismiss. In its holding, the Court ruled that Sec
525.210(c) indicates that discretion lies with the prisoner's
friends and family members, not the warden. The Court further
ruled that the IDOC must allow prisoners' friends and family to
bring in approved publications.

The warden subsequently rescinded his policy and permitted friends
and family members to deliver approved publications to prisoners.
[See Markiewicz v. Gilmore , No. 97-MR-22 (Order Filed
July 1, 1998)]

(Note: This action was litigated pro se.)

MIM organizes the Serve the People Prisoners' Legal Clinic
(PLC). This is a revolutionary program geared toward serving needs
of the oppressed masses as we build opposition to imperialism. PLC
activities vary widely (with room for expansion) and include
fighting censorship, prisoners providing guides on grievance
procedures and the publication of MIM Legal Notes. MIM leads this
program with the knowledge that only armed revolution to seize
state power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat will
liberate the oppressed. This is one aspect of how we fight
winnable battles to create more maneuverability for political
organizing within the current corrupt system.

MIM Legal Notes is researched and written by comrades behind the
walls. We publish these articles because we believe that the legal
research and information will be useful to other prisoners. But
comrades should be aware that differences in laws between states,
changes in laws and legal precedents over time, and different case
circumstances all mean that even something that was successful for
one person might not work for others. We print the best legal news
and information available to us with the understanding that this
program will only grow stronger with increased exposure and
participation. We encourage prisoners and non-prisoners to
contribute to this program with research and writing.

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[Control Units] [Wisconsin]
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"A SuperMax in every state!" Torture technology advances in

In September, more than 18,000 people from four states attended
tours at an open house for Boscobel, Wisconsin's new SuperMax
prison. Just as the torture techniques of the Illinois Tamms C-Max
prison (see MIM Notes 196) were modeled closely after other U.$.
dungeons, this and other newer Super Maximum security prisons are
replicating and expanding on the Tamms model.

This inhumane project of torture is popular in the small town of
Boscobel. The contract to build the 509-cell prison brought a $44
million boon to the region's budget.(1) Reactionary white Amerika
supports the proliferation of such prisons because they
simultaneously lock up the oppressed and provide jobs for rural
whites.

Amerika justifies the proliferation of SuperMaxes within the
booming prison system as a way to allegedly control the worst
criminals. MIM disagrees. The worst criminals in Amerika are the
imperialists because of their crimes against the peoples of
oppressed nations throughout the world. SuperMaxes are certainly
used as a method of control. Many politically active prisoners are
housed in SuperMaxes as a means to deter prisoners from fighting
for basic necessities and organizing against oppression. MIM does
not see that all prisoners in SuperMaxes (or prisons in general)
should be automatically freed, but we see that the current system
is doing nothing to lead prisoners that have committed crimes to
rehabilitate and contribute productively to society.

Amerika's high-tech torture chambers

The Pelican Bay State Prison Secure Housing Unit (SHU) in far-
Northern California is a model among SuperMax builders; Tamms C-
Max in Illinois was built after planning visits to Pelican Bay.
All SuperMax prisons pursue sensory deprivation tactics, though
each puts on localized touches. A prisoner wrote in the Journal of
Prisoners on Prisons: "colors when used, are muted, mostly just
white, off-white and grey. ... Even though the region surrounding
the prison uses local cable television or satellite broadcast,
this prison points its dish at (of all places) Denver, Colorado.
... I suggest that the reason is to isolate us from local
events."(2)

Thirty-six u.$. states now have similar facilities and offer no
pleasantries to cover the fact that "we don't try to rehabilitate
these guys," as an assistant to the warden at the Florence Federal
Administrative Maximum prison (ADX) put it.(3)

The prison is designed to enforce conditions including complete
isolation from other prisoners and from sunlight, a minimum of 23
hours per day in the cell, all concrete and steel furniture, and
great distance from the state's population center (which means
difficult visiting with families, friends and attorneys).(4)

In MIM Notes 83 we reported: "strip status in 50 degree cells,
limited access to reading and writing materials, rare visitor
privileges are normal torture tactics for the pigs."(5)

Who are the real criminals?

According to the State of Wisconsin's public relations department,
"the SuperMax Prison will house the state's most violent inmates
in the state's most secure facility."

If this were true, it would make Wisconsin the only revolutionary
authority in the united $nakes. The most violent prisoners in
Wisconsin would have to be the governor and deputies running the
prisons and police departments. Then, maybe we could also count on
Wisconsin to seize and incarcerate chiefs of Amerikan military and
political affairs when they traipse through on their campaign
trails.

In MIM Notes Under Lock & Key in September, a Wisconsin prisoner
reported on the preparations for the new SuperMax: "They are using
all kinds of tricks to put us Africans and Hispanics on what they
call 'Administrative Confinement.' The catch is that they say the
ones on Administrative Confinement have a 75 to 90% chance of
going to this super max. ... I believe the reason for this is to
fill up the super max as soon as it opens. If it is filled
immediately, they can justify to those fools in society the
building of more prisons."(6)

Tourists hail torture as advance

Visitors on the six-day "state fair" style tour of the prison
believe these prisoners are getting more "privilege" than they
deserve in the lower security facilities.(4). The tourists
included more than 3,000 schoolchildren — Amerika's newest
inductees into the reactionary nation accustomed to dehumanization
of oppressed nation members.

The majority who spoke to newspapers about the prison approved
either SuperMax repression or worse brutality against prisoners. A
Milwaukee newspaper reported visitors saying of the SuperMax "it's
a step in the right direction," and "they left their rights when
they committed these crimes." A womyn said that executing the
prisons prospective inmates would be a better use of tax money.(4)

In the land of failure to do simple math and understand the
function of prisons, many visitors to the SuperMax were shocked by
the $32,000 it will cost to house a captive there for one year.(4)
MIM calls this a contradictory stance — a failure to put two and
two together: the University of Wisconsin at Madison estimates
cost of a full year of college at $11,000 per year, including
living expenses.(7)

MIM has long criticized the prison-building craze as part of a
wild jobs-creation program for rural Amerikan labor aristocrats.
In formerly farming or industrial towns, prisons bring
construction and guard jobs — turning a company town into a
prison town.

So what can you do to help stop the vicious spread of SuperMax
prisons and to join in education and activism to End the Amerikan
Lockdown in general? Contact MIM for information on organizing
rallies; educational films, lectures or panel discussions. Contact
us to organize benefit concerts and other fundraisers for MIM's
Serve the People Free Books for Prisoners Program. If more behind-
the-scenes activism is what you're looking for, you can help out
with the Under Lock & Key section of MIM Notes; the Serve the
People Prisoners' Legal Clinic; or MIM's website. MIM leads
projects in these and many other areas along with the work of the
United Struggle from Within prisoner organization and the
Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League. All these things are part
of MIM's work to End the Amerikan Lockdown.

MC12 contributed research and editing to this article.

Notes:
1. Wisconsin SuperMax Prison
http://supermax.jobsight.net/public/index.stm
2. Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, Volume 3, Numbers 1 and 2
Autumn 1990/Spring 1991 http://www.jpp.org/fulltext-v3/v3n12-
e.html "It's a Form of Warfare: A Description of Pelican Bay State
Prison" John H. Morris, III
3. The Houston Chronicle 20 June, 1999.
4. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 12 September, 1999)
5. Fight the Spread of Supermax MN83 December 1983
6. A prisoner in Wisconsin, July 1999 from MIM Notes 194
7. U. Wisconsin website. Note: this assumes Wisconsin resident
status; prisoners of the Wisconsin prisons are Wisconsin
residents.

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[Control Units] [Virginia]
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Control unit treats men like meat

In mid-July a prisoner had an epilepsy seizure on the second tier. It took 20 minutes for the nurse to get to the control unit. The nurse could do nothing but stand at the door and attempt to calm the prisoner.

According to the standard policy of the Fourth Reich the security methods are that the keepers have to be dressed out in full riot gear, shields, helmets, bullet proof jackets, riots sticks, mace, etc. It took 15-20 more minutes for the keepers to suit up.

A stretcher was brought into the pod, the prisoner's cage was opened and he was told to remain STILL. A man having a seizure is old to remain still — that's deep. The prisoner was handcuffed and shackled in leg irons, placed on the stretcher, hauled out of the pod as though he was a piece of meat.

This was a demonstration of what the hooligans think of the dispossessed classes. Prisoners screamed and cursed, they were visibly upset.

We see the wake up calls, however, we need to desperately wake up. The prison movement has to regain the organizational functioning of unity among ourselves.

On September 3, 100 and something New Mexican prisoners were transported to Wallens Ridge State Prison. You know, the slaves cannot be separated from one to the other, however, the state will utilize every tactic possible to have the edge. If we're transferred 2,000-3,000 miles from our roots what of it? The slave-owners are doing no more than what they did during chattel slavery.

How you grasp the realities of the world makes the difference. When you don't see the realities, the ruling circle will have us at each other's throats, still killing one another for reasons which have no merits, other than our being manipulated to destroy the outcasts, whether it's for drugs, turf disputes, because of the color of one's skin, gang-banging etc. The deck of playing cards have been stacked against the poor, word.

Solidarity forever!

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[Control Units] [Tamms Supermax] [Illinois]
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Tamms Supermax latest in decades of prison struggle

End the Amerikkkan Lockdown month draws attention to the barbarity of Amerikans fastest growing industry: The incarceration industry

On September 13 of this year, MIM celebrated the 1971 struggle ofthe Attica (NY) prisoners for their basic rights and dignity. On this date we also mourned the brutal murder of 29 of the Attica brothers by New York State Troopers and prison Corrections Officers — who also cut down ten of their own as they stormed the prison and ended the Attica Rebellion. On October 15, we rejoice in the formation of the Maoist Black Panther Party (BPP) in 1966. These two dates encompass MIM's first annual End the Amerikkkan Lockdown month. Throughout the month we have held educational events about the criminal injustice system and protests focusing on ending various aspects of the Amerikan Lockdown. We have been on the streets educating and organizing progressive people in the small and large tasks of assisting the struggle.

One of these tasks is drawing attention to the growing numbers of politically active prisoners who are being caged in Amerika's highest security gulags. One of the newest of the torture factories is Tamms. On March 8, 1998, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) opened a new Super Maximum security prison in the far-southern Illinois town of Tamms.(1) According to a bourgeois press report, optimal conditions at Tamms C-Max include four visits through a glass partition each month, five showers per week and one hour of solitary yard time per day. Prisoners report that under these conditions "You start to lose touch with reality. You become depressed. You become incoherent."(2) On January 7 of this year, four prisoners at Tamms filed a class-action lawsuit charging that the extreme isolation conditions there are driving prisoners insane. Three of these four plaintiffs are now facing new criminal prosecution from the State Attorney's office in retaliation for their lawsuit.(3)

Standard treatment for prisoners who speak out against the criminal INjustice system is for guards and wardens to take punitive measures against them in barely concealed retaliation for their activism. All manner of regulations govern punitive measures against prisoners by guards or wardens. But if a prisoner is moved to Tamms or placed in segregation at another facility for "administrative" reasons, no justification is required.(4,1) Many politically active prisoners find themselves under so-called administrative measures that restrict their most basic activities.

The state of Illinois' retaliatory lawsuit against these four Tamms prisoners and the existence of the Tamms facility itself are aspects of the Amerikan prison system's agenda of social control. The events at Tamms embody direct retribution for the efforts of the oppressed to make their own situation livable, and extra-legal sentencing that adds time and trouble to prisoners' sentences after they enter the gulags. MIM sees prisons in this country as part of imperialism's control over the oppressed nations confined within u.$. borders. As our first annual End the Amerikkkan Lockdown month comes to a close, we look forward to continuing our work against the u.$. injustice system throughout the year. We will continue to work with the MIM-led united front organizations RAIL and USW, and with other individuals and organizations that oppose the prison manifestations of u.$. imperialism.

Isolation, Supermax, Segregation

Bourgeois press reports have noticed that Tamms is about as far from Chicago as a prison could get while remaining in Illinois, even though the plurality of prisoners at the facility come from Cook County —the Chicago area. This placement is part of the formula for high maximum security prisons in the u.$. These prisons are built to subdue "non-conforming" captives through sensory and social deprivation. Many of these more rebellious prisoners are from urban centers like Chicago and part of their deprivation is being placed prohibitively far away from friends and family — to make visiting difficult.

Censorship of MIM Notes is a classic example of this harassing activity — MIM Notes is harassed for organizing prisoners in their own interests, and prisoners are harassed for reading and writing for a newspaper that exposes the pigs' activities. Our own experience with revolutionary comrades behind the walls demonstrates that even the harshest of lockdown conditions will not "stop the grass [of revolutionary activity] from growing."(5) In April of this year, an Illinois prisoner filed a law suit against the IDOC, arguing that the prison censors were denying him his MIM Notes subscription because of its political content — although they claimed the newspapers were a security threat. Knowing that this is true, the state has agreed that the publications are a not a threat to the institutions and have turned them over to the prisoner. "Now brothers in Illinois can receive all the MIM-related publications which you offer. They have returned all the Theory Journals that they had confiscated. My MIM Notes, my Maoist Sojourners, Notas Rojas, and the pamphlet 'What is the Maoist Internationalist Movement?'"(6)

When MIM talks about revolutionary politics among prisoners, we are talking about the idea that prisoners are people who are being oppressed by the imperialist system. Prisons in Amerika are designed to repress those who would rebel against u.$. imperialism from within. Not by accident are oppressed nationalities more than 50 percent of the prisoner population in this country. And it is no coincidence that a Wisconsin prisoner finds that "right now in the hole where I am, it is about 85 to 90% Blacks and Hispanics. When the white prisoners come to the hole, they are released within 2 to 3 months."(7) Former prison employees in other states have reported identical statistics to RAIL and MIM, and the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML) publishes the fact that most control units are 85% Black.(4)

The united snakes has always held substantial minorities of the oppressed forcibly within its borders. Settlers conducted a barbaric genocidal campaign against Indigenous peoples and confined those small groups that remained to "reservations" while stealing their land. In the case of the Black nation, kidnap victims were brought and forced to remain here so the white nation could live off their labor. Different Latino nations have been brutalized by a combination of these methods, and conscripted as sacrificial ground troops in Amerika's wars. The exploding prisons of today are a response to these nationalities' righteous movements toward rebellion against the u.$. empire. CEML quotes the Tamms warden as saying "Tamms is not about rehabilitation, it's about punishment ... some people may never leave."(1)

Former prison staff and prisoner advocates with whom MIM has spoken about the prisons in this country report that those prisoners with a revolutionary political consciousness often take the most productive approach to the conditions of their confinement. These prisoners understand deeply why they are in prison, and many spend time educating other prisoners, and organizing among other prisoners to educate people on the outside about the conditions that all Amerikans are guilty of perpetuating within the prison system. Prison officials agree with this assessment of the rebellious prisoners, as a former Marion (home of the Marion Lockdown) warden said: "the purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and the society at large."(4)

One Illinois control unit prisoner of nearly nine years has told MIM of his own organizing work among "paralegals, law clerks, and comrades confined in control units for challenging the status quo. MACS comrades engage and instigate the filing of S1983 civil complaints, mandamus actions, post conviction grievances, and civil and criminal appeals. We also write articles to expose the racist system and its docile servants. MACS fights to put an end to the methods of intense repression, kidnapping, torture and prison censorship. Recently MACS members have all been moved to the new 'Super-Gulag' in Illinois as a means to break their resistance and spirit. This new place is called Tamms, or for better words, Scams. This is another horror story that by design other comrades are living nationwide."(8)

Retribution, not rehabilitation is the purpose of prison.

"Every day in prison is but a bureaucratic routine of beatings, continuous harassment and sensory deprivation. These are techniques being used to control prison populations throughout Illinois' correctional warehouses. The key word here is 'control,' for it is now painfully clear that Illinois prison officials have forsaken all attempts at fostering a positive, potentially rehabilitative prison environment in favor of the brutal policies they claim are necessary to maintain 'control' over the prison population. Comrades ... it is not just about bad food, visits, or brutal treatment, it's more fundamental."(9)

Illinois' only Supermaximum security prison, Tamms, is part of a $73 million complex. Part of the complex is a 200-bed minimum security work camp. The beauty of locating minimum and supermaximum security facilities in the same place? The 445 IDOC employees at Tamms will not have to do any dirty work as the "work camp inmates will handle maintenance, laundry service, groundskeeping and food preparation for the supermax prison as well as public service work for area communities." "The 23-acre supermax prison compound is protected by double rows of 12-foot high cyclone fencing topped with razor ribbon. A courtroom with video conferencing equipment is located inside the prison. ... An execution chamber has also been constructed at the facility although condemned inmates will not routinely be housed at the supermax. It was designed especially for executions by lethal injection." 312 of the Tamms employees are guards, the facility's total payroll is $17 million; its total budget is $23.9 million per annum.(10)

Tamms' budget works out to well over $34,000 per year to control each prisoner, not including the $73 million the state reports spending on building the dungeon.(10) Tamms' cost per prisoner is more than three times the $11,006 estimated cost of living for a University of Illinois student at the Urbana-Champaign campus.(11) A year at Tamms even costs more than a year at the elite Northwestern University and University of Chicago.(12)

Prison regulations are an additional, hidden punishment for prisoners

"So cruel is the Tamms Correctional Center that a prisoner who tried to hang himself with a makeshift rope was charged the cost of the bedsheet he ruined to make it, according to the action to be filed this morning in federal court in Chicago."(3)

MIM has argued for years that many prison regulations amount to an additional sentence — meted out by guards, wardens or the state legislature instead of a judge. At Tamms, prisoners are 'home' in "8' x 10' concrete cement cells, which contain concrete beds, and stainless steel sinks, toilets, and mirrors."(1) The cells are building blocks of a sensory deprivation experience designed to abort a humyn being's normal thought processes. For this reason, prisoners argue that the prison is making them crazy; also for this reason, they are correct.

Sensory deprivation at Tamms includes: regulation against prisoners placing phone calls, limited contact with each other and staff, and no physical contact with visitors. Prisoners at Tamms may not smoke, and are "handcuffed and shackled whenever they are out of their cellblock, and recreation will be allowed only individually with recreation equipment."(10) A prisoner reports new restrictions on reading material: "Tamms has issued a malicious book policy that limits a resident here to having only 25 books and/or magazines combined together as their own personal property. Tamms will not store or exchange personal books or magazines in their personal property storage. ... This book policy is a cruel and unjustifiable punishment; reading is one of the few positive activities we have here at Tamms."(13)

Michigan prisoners have recently been subjected to a new property policy that places similar restrictions on reading materials. Prisoners in the highest security facilities in the state are allowed no more than ten books or magazines — many aspects of this policy are under legal fire from prisoners and their advocates. This is one of many situations in which we do well to compare prison policies and prisoner responses across state lines. See article in the next issue of MIM Notes for more on the conditions of SuperMax confinement in different prison systems.(14)

These conditions of legalized brutality directed at prisoners' minds and bodies in tandem are designed to break down resistance, to gain submission from the oppressed through terror. But as Mao said of the marauding Japanese army that overran much of China in the 1920s and 1930s, such systematic disruption of the people's lives "educated the people and quickened their political consciousness." Through rapid development of a disciplined proletarian party in opposition to the Japanese invaders, China became powerful enough that the Japanese came and apologized for their barbarity. Mao thanked them for doing so much to help the development of the revolution.(15) In the united snakes, the situation is the same — it is an historical fact that repression breeds resistance. Amerikkkan prisons are a school of national oppression for the nearly two million people caged behind their barbed wire. Such education serves only to foment national liberation struggles and socialist revolution.

MC12 contributed research to this report.

Notes:
1. Walkin' Steel. "Illinois opens "SuperMax" Control Unit prison
in Tamms." Fall 1998.
2. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 December 1998.
3. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 7 January 1999.
4. MIM Notes no. 83, December 1993.
5. See poem, www.etext.org/Politics/
MIM/aa/articles/text.php?railfile=controlunits.txt
6. MIM Notes no. 186 15 May, 1999.
7. MIM Notes no. 194.
8. A Tamms Prisoner 5 April 1999.
9. A second Tamms Prisoner 6 November, 1998.
10. IDOC description of Tamms
www.idoc.state.il.us/institutions/adult/tam/
11. www.oar.uiuc.edu/current/tuit.html
12. The schools' web sites, www.nwu.edu www.uchicago.edu
13. A third Tamms prisoner 8 June, 1999.
14. MIM Notes no. 160, MIM Notes no. 167, MIM Notes no. 168
15. Paraphrased from a 9 January, 1965 interview. Edgar Snow, The
Long Revolution (New York: Vintage, 1973), p. 198-9.

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[Control Units] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia]
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Torture in Red Onion Control Unit

.... I am locked down in the control unit of Red Onion State Prison 23-24 hours per day. Prisoners have been maced, assaulted, and placed in five-point restraint. I refer to Red Onion as a concentration death camp. For the outcast, being in five point restraint in only your underwear and a cold cell - this is torture, everything is taken from you besides your underwear when you are placed in five point restraint. Five point restraint is tied to the steel bunk spread eagle. This is a 48 hour punishment.

There is intimidation and the threat of bodily harm. The majority of the keepers at the stalag are caucasion. I have heard the cops ... use the words nigger, tar baby, sambo, spook, buckwheat, coon and monkey man. Racism is thick here. The medical collaborator, maintenance, and other staff members are just as racist. The area Pound, VA could have been named Racism Town, USA. I have seen prisoners denied their small ration of food because they were insolent, according to the guards, some prisoners challenged the racist cops although there is a possibility of being attacked by the lynch mob.

When prisoners complained to a sergeant or lieutenant, it's always, well, the officer said you refused the food. Cops have said they will poison the food, urinate in your food. The psychological warfare is in depth here. The prison camp opened in August 1998 or thereabouts. ... We are served very small rations of food. Semi-starvation — the control units nationally have the same brutal force. The tactics to instill fear....

In the trenches,

To build is to win.

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