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Under Lock & Key

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [ULK Issue 58]
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Censors in Their Own Words - September 2017

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revoluion in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in Amerika free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targetting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.

North Carolina fears ULK promotes insurrection

Doug Pardue, Chair of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's (NCDPS) Publication Review Committee (PRC) censored ULK 55, for the article "Regarding Daily Body Searches", stating that it "promotes insurrection." After appealing this censorship, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services upheld the decision citing these lines:

"Persynally I believe that we should shut down all movement but still go to Yard, programs and accept our food. Just make the pigs do all the work... the only way we know how to deal with an opposition is thru the motion of our resistance."

Ms. Sullivan writes, "These statements could possibly lead to insurrection which is a violation of our policy on publications." Apparently insurrection is a passive activity, and peaceful protest is a threat to institutional safety. Kind of ironic from a state that has a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. inscribed with the following words:

..."AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND FAIR MINDED PEOPLE OF ALL RACES, ENGAGED IN MASSIVE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE SERVED NOTICE ON THE NATION AND THE WORLD THAT THEY WOULD NO LONGER TOLERATE THE ABUSES OF AMERICAN RACISM. THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HERALDED A NEW ERA IN OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLVE TO ADHERE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF 'LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL'...

Still can't stay true to MLK's message in 2017.

Last year, NCPDS censored ULK 53 for the control unit survey. This was even more surprising. Upon our appeal, Nicole E. Sullivan, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services upheld the decision, writing:

"[T]he issue lies in the first sentence of the article which describes Control Units in inflammatory language equating them with political repression and torture. Control Units are not used in that manner in our facilities. Such language can encourage insurrection and disorder. Therefore the original decision is to withhold delivery is affirmed."

Ms. Sullivan ruled no free speech for MIM(Prisons) because any critique of eir agency's practices might cause an insurrection.

Just recently, one comrade who had ULK 55 censored and received our appeal letter responded:

"The NCPDS is quick to make any kind of negative judgment against prisoners. A man can say 'boo' and they feel threatened. I would like to know how they can even mention this material being against the prisoners' rehabilitation, where there is no such thing as rehabilitation in the department of NCPDS anymore. If a prisoner gets any rehabilitation, he gets it on his own.

"All the classes that might have been helpful with getting prisoners any rehabilitation have been closed down. More than that, most of the time after completing the class, proof of graduation completion certificates aren't worth the paper they are written on.

"I totally agree with the analysis of the appeal letter."

Missouri bans ULK

A subscriber at Jefferson City Correctional Center forwarded a copy of eir censorship notification for ULK 56. This comrade believes the state has banned all ULK although no formal notification has been given to either recipients or MIM(Prisons). The case manager for the prison refused to give this prisoner a grievance to file so ey could not even fight the ruling.

"The Censorship Committee has reviewed materials sent to you. Pursuant to our review of this material, we conclude that the security of this institution will be at risk if the material is delivered to you within this institution because the material:
1. constitutes a threat to the security, good order or discipline of the institution;
2. may facilitate or encourage criminal activity; or
3. may interfere with the rehabilitation of an offender

"Additional comments: contains articles that could constitute a safety and security risk."

Virginia DOC denies ULK 55 for lots of reasons but nothing specific

The Virginia DOC at least followed their rules in informing MIM(Prisons) that our publication was denied. Although the letter was sent months after this issue of ULK was mailed to subscribers. And still they claim we get only 15 days to appeal!

"You are hereby advised that the following issue(s) of publication(s) sent to an offender of the Virginia Department of Corrections have been disapproved for delivery to offenders of the Department:
Under Lock & Key March/April 2017 No. 55 page 5, front cover
for the following reasons:
D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.
F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."

Hamilton CI in Florida censors guide to fighting censorship

In clear proof that Florida isn't reading the mail they censor, on July 20 we got a censorship notification from the Florida DOC along with the letter back that they had denied. This letter is our guide to fighting censorship in prisons. It contains information about regulations and laws, and how to appeal censorship. It's quite a stretch to consider any of the below reasons applicable to this document. More likely the mailroom is now just censoring all of our mail for these reasons.

"Your correspondence is being returned for the following reason(s):
"Otherwise presents a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives of the Correctional System, or to the safety of any person.
"Depicts, describes or encourages activities which may lead to the use of physical violence or group disruption.
"Encourages or instructs in the commission of criminal activity."

ULK 57 banned from Pennsylvania prisons for "advocating solidarity"

Apparently Pennsylvania considers any unity among prisoners to be dangerous. And so they banned all Pennsylvania prisoners from receiving ULK 57 because it "advocates solidarity." The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines solidarity as "unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards." Perhaps Pennsylvania hopes to keep prisoners distracted fighting one another rather than united against the abuse of the injustice system.

"Please be advised that the following publication has been denied to all inmates housed in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections:
"Under Lock & Key, #57, July/August 2017.
"The publication was denied for the following reasons:
"Information on page 11 advocates solidarity."

Pennsylvania denies ULK for article about PA prisons

"The following publication addressed to you has been reviewed and found unacceptable for the reason(s), indicated below, based on the criteria set forth in the DC-ADM 803 'Inmate Mail and Incoming Publications' policy Section 3.E.3.
Name of publication: Under Lock & Key – July/August 2017
Volume/number: 57. b. security issues
"(4) Racially inflammatory material or material that could cause a threat to the inmate, staff, or facility security; page number(s) 21, 24.
Brief description: States that 'the strip searches in the PA DOC are only for harassment purposes and we the people need to learn to fight and take a stand against the "pigs" in the prisons' referring to the correctional officers."

Illinois claims ULK is on Disapproved Publication List

Denying ULK 56 , the Illinois DOC offered only this justification to the prisoner's appeal: "Based upon this review, the following action is recommended: Denial – The publication is listed on the Disapproved Publication List."

Georgia censors ULK for being "reading material"

ULK 56 was sent back to us with a rejection form. The reason for rejection: "Other: reading Material (denied by legal in Atlanta)".

Washington rejects ULK 57 for article by prisoners

Washington DOC sent us individual rejection slips for at least ten prisoners, all claiming that ULK 57 violates law, policy, code or rules. Rather than give specifics, they offered several rather vague reasons as justification including info on STGs, overthrowing the government, and articles by other prisoners in other facilities. It's pretty hard to fight such general claims. And in fact most of ULK is written by prisoners, but that's not a legal justification for censorship.

"Reason 8. Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy, and/or local facility rules. "Comments/other reasons: 8. contains security threat group information and threat to penological object on overthrowing the government page 3, 11, and 13. A lot of articles that other offenders from other facilities."

Illinois returns study group lesson unopened

A letter sent to an Illinois prisoner was returned to us, unopened with the reason "unapproved correspondence." The envelope contained a 4 page intro to MIM(Prisons) and an invitation to our mail-based study group with the first reading and questions attached. How could Illinois know this was not approved if they didn't bother to open the letter to look at the contents?


Read More Censorship Reports
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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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United Front for Peace in Prisons Sept 9 Action Initial Reports

9 September 2017 marked the sixth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons across the United $tates. On this day we commemorated the anniversary of the Attica uprising, drawing attention to abuse of prisoners across the country through peaceful protests, unity events, and educational work. This demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization participating in United Struggle for Peace in Prisons and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people participating in prisons across the country. Here we print the initial reports received in time for this issue of ULK, and we look forward to expanding on this report in the next ULK. So if you haven't yet sent in your report, there's still time!

In these initial reports we see an array of actions taken, based on what was appropriate for local conditions. Some focused on spreading revolutionary education. Others worked hard to build unity between beefing sets. And some took this opportunity to initiate individual actions to demand basic rights they are due according to laws and regulations. We applaud all who participate din the September 9 solidarity demonstration. Now let's build on these actions every day: peace between prisoners, unity against the injustice system!

East Arkansas Regional Unit

I am fasting today and sharing with my new neighbor a couple issues of Under Lock & Key and explaining to him why I'm fasting today. The imperialists have their "Memorial Day," "Indpenedence Day," and "Veterans Day." We have our Day of Peace and Solidarity and I hope to learn to honor all the fallen comrades who died with a vision of freedom for all political prisoners by doing what I can to bring this vision to fruition.

Texas Darrington Unit

September 9 United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) is being participated by hispanics, Blacks and caucasian individuals. We will fast from 12:00am Saturday until Sunday 12:00am. The goal is to uphold the five Principles of UFPP and since my people in population, they will talk to other individuals about the movement. As of me, my participation in Ad-Seg I squash all beef with hispanics, Blacks and caucasians I'm beefing with, which is probably everybody here. I called peace and unity but sorry to say still there isn't any unity so I just have to roll with the peace.

California High Desert State Prison

James Baldwin: "To act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger."

To all comrades and allies in the struggle, Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back for the third year at HDSP this 9 September 2017 day and weusi agosti. AFW have taken many setbacks but continue to build peace and solidarity behind enemy lines to commemorate the anniversary of the Attica uprising and to draw attention to the abuse of prisoners. We organize in opposition to the oppressive and exploitative dominant culture of Amerikan kapitalist society. AFW will continue to press no matter the circumstances.

To my comrades back on C-yard, the struggle continues. Brothas continue to speak peace and engage in solidarity and put petty differences to the side and past beefs ya dig! Here on D-yard in solidarity I fast all day, help one of the Raza comrades with his legal work, share work with my celly, and continue to build out on the yard even though I'm no longer with my brotha. You know it "can't stop, won't stop."

I do my best to lead by example to end prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities regardless of set, race, religion or other division, and needless conflict within the U.S. prison environment. A 24 hour action, a little sacrifice by the comrades to reflect on the anniversary of the Attica uprising and all the faceless (Hugo) brotha and sista that have sacrificed before us, behind enemy lines.

Revolutionary salute to my new family USW leadership working to educate the lumpen class. It's not easy, all of us are in a war against something in ourselves that's pulling us to do the right or wrong thing. Trying to conquer the weaker part of ourselves behind enemy line. I encourage you comrades to continue the struggle and hope we all learned something from this September 9. Comrades I have been influenced and inspired by you all and by the work and revolutionary practice of comrades in our struggle for peace in solidarity. The real Black communist guerrillas steer clear of reactionaries, agent provocateurs and parasitical leaders whose only aim is to sell out the young comrades. These saboteurs are very detrimental to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality and to peace behind enemy lines. Emancipate yourselves from the shackles of capitalism, comrades.

Nevada High Desert State Prison

Today, September 9, we had a number of comrades that were going to not eat today, and we have collected about 40 issues of ULK between us all, and we were just going to pass them out to everyone. And then on tier and yard we had planned on making a show of a study group. But a pig was stabbed here 2 weeks ago. He died yesterday, and today we are locked down. So, we are going to proceed with our plan once we are off lockdown. We also have a couple comrades that are focusing solely on the New Afrikans in an attempt to get the MIM(Prisons) address in their hands!

Arizona Central Unit

I am commencing a hunger strike on 9/9/2017, to continue until the below issues are resolved. These issues are regarding equal treatment, retaliation, legal rights, First Amendment rights, staff misconduct and conditions of confinement. List of Hunger Strike Resolutions:

  1. Allow me to resume taking my paralegal correspondence course
  2. Rescind the ban on all my incoming magazines and books.
  3. Give me my TV from property office
  4. Give me my prescription eyeglasses from property
  5. Allow me to receive sunglasses in accordance with my Special Needs Order
  6. Remove me from Protective Custody (PC) status
  7. Provide me unfettered access to grievance forms
  8. Provide me with regularly scheduled legal calls to my attorneys
  9. Conduct legal box exchanges in accordance with policy.
  10. Allow me to do book exchanges with my personal books in property.

Georgia Valdosta Unit

This last report is from 2016 but got to us late due to mail delays and issues on both ends.

My apologies for the delay. I had to fight for my right to live. As I went back to court to fight for my freedom from these imperialistic $nakes, my lit of September 9 was left behind. But I enforced what I had to memory into action. From Sept 8, 2016 at 11:58 I began my solidarity & commemoration for the fallen leaders before me. Needless to say I was on lock down and wasn't able to move among my fellow comrades to spread the little knowledge I acquired thus far. So I fasted and talked in the vent to my neighbor and enlightened him on the occasion and the movement to educate each other no matter of race, color or gang membership.

As the breakfast came the officers was dumbfounded that I gently pushed my tray back out the flap and stated "In memory of my fallen brothers at Attica." I then proceeded to get up and walk to the back of my cell and did pushups and jumping jax for endurance. Lunch & Dinner also to show the pigs that where ever we, "us" soldiers of the struggle go, our principles of peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence is in us.

When I came back to my concentration KKKamp one of the comrades filled me in on the movement of the day of 9th when I was gone. They're the young generation so the physical aggression was there. And I'm honored to say none of my comrades was harmed in their display of that day.

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[Principal Contradiction]
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Chicano Power a Good Tool to Combat Civil Rights Strategy

I was going over some points about integrationalism from a magnificent work by RADS called [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. What I read talked about the rise in the percentage of Chicanos joining the military. (Between 2000 and 2004, Latinos went from 10.4% of new military recruits to 13.0%, pg. 132.) It goes on to talk about the key of the struggle of the oppressed nation is: "National liberation!" Not an integrationist approach into an entity with the whites who make up the majority of military troops. (My emphasis)

I believe that the "civil rights" theory of sharing what whites are privileged at or enjoy, tho' may equal some form of equality, will not equal liberation from oppression of the people.

The overall goal is to overthrow imperialism and their exploitation of the proletariat and their oppression of mankind, not to have a "civil right" to also be able to exploit and oppress and have a piece of the imperialist pie. In the end game we must obtain communism through socialism.

I think many get lost in the sauce of "civil rights" stimuli and become confused about how we should end oppression and genocide of our folks.

Not only is it our duty to refrain from getting caught up in the "civil rights hype" and use the materialist method, but also what comes with the territory of staying true to our politics is that we must also correct those of the stock who do fall for the civil rights approach when trying to escape or put an end to imperialist madness. This same stock I speak of are some of the same folks who could also make up some of the potential to join the ranks of the people's army.

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[Organizing] [Macon State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 59]
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September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity: Lessons and Future Plans

[9 September 2017 marked the sixth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity in prisons across the United $tates. On this day we commemorated the anniversary of the Attica uprising, drawing attention to abuse of prisoners across the country through peaceful protests, unity events, and educational work. This demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization participating in United Struggle for Peace in Prisons and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people participating in prisons across the country.

In ULK 58 we printed some reports about September 9 actions. While we were inspired by those who stood up and protested, educated, and organized around this annual commemoration, we saw relatively low participation this year. As a result we have asked the leadership council of United Struggle from Within to consider whether this is the right action to focus our energy on in coming years. There are many ways to organize and we should not get stuck in just one path because it is what we did in the past.

We call on all readers to submit your thoughts on the September 9 commemmoration. Should we continue next year, or if not, do you have an idea for a campaign or action we should take up instead? We will pass your comments on to the USW leadership council.

Below is one more report we received on September 9 organizing from Georgia. - MIM(Prisons)]


This history lesson was posted on the dorm wall for two weeks preceding September 9 in Macon State Prison in Georgia:

[email protected]* Sept 11th, we got Sept 9th!

Sept 9th marks an important date in the history of mistreated prisoners across the U.S. It is the date of what is referred to as 'The Attica Rebellion.' Here's a synopsis of the event and I pray to the revolution gods that my recollection serves me correct. Unity in Peace.

Sept 9, 1971 prisoners at Attica Correctional Institution in the state of New York got tired of prison guards harassing them and abusing them mentally and physically, so they decided to take a stand. The prisoners negotiated with the prison commissioner and when he refused to meet requests, the prisoners, for the betterment, health care and food, then turned to a full scale riot and eventual takeover of the prison and staff. The men spoke over a land line to then-governor Nelson Rockefeller about the conditions of confinement and he too refused to meet demands. On Sept 13th after a four-day standoff governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered local law enforcement and the National Guard to take back the prison with deadly force. About 50 deaths in all from around 30 prisoners and 10 guards with hundreds more injured and disabled and disfigured to this date.

This is a tremendous day in our fight for justice and courage and a loss of many lives. Always remember Sept 9th as a sad but heroic sacrifice made for the betterment of you and me.


MIM(Prisons) adds: A beautiful aspect of the Attica Uprising was how the prisoners interacted with each other. They ran the facility themselves, and there was peace on the yard. They were able to feed themselves, deliver meds, and even did count, all without the overseers breathing down their necks. For more of the history on the Attica Uprising, send in $2 of work-trade for the September 9 study pack.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Bricks of Corruption in Arkansas

I'm a voice for the people of struggle and oppression and victim to society's pollution: the Arkansas Department of Corrections. A place they proclaim is for rehabilitation, but where does rehabilitation create racial discrimination, falsified disciplinary reports and staff misconduct, because of your skin tone or affiliation?

Two months ago a riot broke out in the barracks where I resided. I was not an active participant of the unstructured event of ignorance, but I, along with several other minorities of the Hispanic and African descent, were targeted and effected by the criminal injustice of the institution and its staff. We received the administering of non-lethal weapons and chemical agents with some excessive force, placed on an emergency transfer to a maximum security facility, only to be wrongfully convicted by the introduction of fabricated lies and reports by the pigs' so-called integrity.

The DOC has policies that are supposed to protect our rights against injustice, but how is it equal or efficient, when grievances and disciplinary appeals come up missing, unanswered or rejected for a variety of reasons and excuses, making it hard to embrace freedom because you're victimized by the bricks of corruption? There has to be a better way to serve the people in creating unity against all aspects of discrimination and false accusations, enslaving us to the institution due to a lack of knowledge, legal and politically. I'm seeking advice from ULK and also any available study materials and books you can offer to advance my knowledge into political organizing and structured movements against the oppressor.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer asks for help but also offers a very good answer to this request. Building unity should be the main focus, and studying political organizing and history to learn from the past is an excellent way to get started. Prisoners initiating unorganized and perhaps poorly-planned demos shows that there is much discontent. That anger needs to be channeled against the criminal injustice system, and by building unity behind bars we can start this process. We invite this comrade, and anyone else interested, to join our correspondence study group. Just write to us and let us know you're interested.

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[Medical Care] [Drugs] [Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman SMUII] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 59]
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Corizon Running Drugs to Control AZ Prisoners

Drugs in prison is a sensitive topic in the convict world. Being that I live in it and that I am STG'd out here in Arizona, I will refrain from speaking/writing about the illegal kind as here in solitary they are not as prevalent as they are out there on the yards. I will not lie though, and say that they are non-existent here, as all convicts know "where there is a will, there is a way." But what I mean is that there is no one all strung out or in debt and so forth.

The number one drug here is the pills that the contract medical provider, Corizon Health, Inc., is giving to everyone, i.e. the legal kind. These prescription drugs that come in the guise of treatment are what reigns supreme here in SMU. You don't even have to wait for visit on the weekends like on the yard. No way not here, here they are passed out on the daily, twice a day, even three times a day to some. These drugs are prescribed by so called "clinicians who use an evidence based approach to treat conditions such as yours which includes maximizing formulary medication use while providing safe and effective treatment," to quote Corizon staff verbatim. This is actually impossible as you cannot eyeball someone and use that as your evidence. That is just a guess, and not an educated one.

Now that they have taken actual pain medication, which is only gabapentin, a pill to treat nerve damage, Corizon staff have been directed to prescribe psych drugs in replacement. So instead of further treatment that include MRIs, EMG treatment, physical therapy, or a range of other options, they are taking away a drug that works, to prescribe you an anti-depressant for pain management as if the depression from you being here was causing you pain and not the stenosis in your neck, AC joint separation, nerve damage, etc. This psych med is like the commercials that you see on TV where the side effect is diarrhea, headache, etc.

The system gives you these legal drugs instead of approving further treatment because MRIs cost money, and outside care visits cost money. So they want you on psych meds to have you walking around like a zombie or not so depressed from being STG'd and housed in solitary. Even the law firms and organizations representing us in Parsons v. Ryan are aware, yet choose to do nothing. Corizon staff and Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) staff actually tell you to seek outside legal representation, like a dare! But while all we want is to be treated for our injuries and not drugs, ADC will not step in nor will our so-called legal team. Instead, our drugs at this unit are more habit-forming and more highly accessible than the illegal kind, and will continue to be supplied by our very own med provider Corizon, and all legally.

ADC will just allow this to continue to take place and protect their mule, Corizon, just like the drug cartels in the motherland. This is ADC's "plaza" and Corizon will continue to funnel drugs all over the state of Arizona, not through tunnels, planes, boats, or on foot but right through the front gate with a badge and a greeting, service with a smile!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer brings up an important point about drugs in prison. The problem isn't just illegal drugs numbing minds and harming bodies, it's also legal drugs being prescribed by the prison medical teams to keep the population pacified. This pacification happens through the action of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, which can dull all emotions, and also through addictive drugs like pain meds. Instead of treating the real problems, both physical and emotional, that are caused by years of living in the harmful conditions of Amerikan prisons, prison medical staff just treat the symptoms, if they offer any treatment at all.

From the capitalist perspective, in the short term providing inadequate health care and getting people addicted to pacifying drugs is an effective way to control costs and control the prison population. But in the long term this makes no sense, even for the capitalists. Health problems left untreated will only get worse as people age, and become more expensive to deal with. Further, releasing prisoners addicted to pain killers or other drugs does not lead to productive life on the streets.

This only makes sense in the context of a criminal injustice system that wants to maintain a revolving door of an expanding prison population. One that doesn't care if prisoners live or die, as long as they stay passive. While it may be true that cost is part of the reason good treatment isn't provided, Amerikans are happy to spend lots of money on prisons in general. Spending all that money is justified because the prisons provide an effective tool of social control, targeting oppressed nations and all who resist the capitalist system. The drugs given to prisoners behind bars are just one part of that control.

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[Organizing] [Censorship] [ULK Issue 58]
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Importance of Effective Communication

When it comes to organizing people in society from within a prison, we find ourselves confronted with many obstacles. Seeing as no major struggle is won without wide mass support, it becomes imperative that we (prisoners) overcome the obstacles placed in our path to cripple our efforts to reach the masses about the prison struggle. In order to gain the masses' support from behind bars we must first reach them and grab their attention. The first obstacle we face as prisoners is censorship.

Unfortunately, censorship is a reality for prisoners more than it is for anybody in society. Authorities can frustrate our efforts in so many ways that you have to admire their ingenuity. Mail can be "lost", thrown away, never delivered or delivered to the wrong person, held under investigation for weeks and so much more. With so many ploys at their disposal it seems a daunting task for us to confront. Luckily for us appearances aren't everything. True, once the letter leaves your hands there is almost nothing you can do to ensure it makes it to its destination. What you can do, though, is maintain detailed records. It's simple, and takes minimal effort, and is an effective way of holding the authorities accountable. Once you have a record established of who, what, where, why and when you mailed something, you can make a case for mail tampering.

What should your mail log have at minimum? First, who you wrote. Second, what you sent them. Third, where you sent your mail (office, school, home address, etc.). Fourth, your general (no need to go into details here) reason for contacting them. Finally, when you placed it in your facility's mail here, you want full date and time if at all possible. On my mail logs I have an additional space or two for which shift and which officer I turned my mail in to. Of course, you may decide to add more details, the above is only a basic formula. Censorship may still happen but you'll be better positioned to confront it. Don't forget, make duplicates of your records, at least two.

Following censorship, the next greatest obstacle is communication. Not just communicating our struggle, but effectively communicating it. Anybody can write a letter full of expletives, angry words and denunciations of cruelties and deprivations. Angry letters will normally push someone away from your cause, where a sensible, well-composed and measure-toned letter will at the very least garner a polite decline. Angry letters rarely garner any response. Sometime before you start reaching out to organizing the streets, you'll need to organize behind bars. My advice is to form a committee or council.

Here in Colorado, we have a small committee (just 3 members) in which we discuss, formulate, criticize and launch our ideas and efforts. Most progress in the prison struggle began with organizing behind bars, reaching out to the streets, effective communication, creating solidarity and achieving a goal together. A formula for success: A.E.H. (Agreement to End Hostilities), movements to end long-term solitary confinement, more humane treatment and so much more.

For us organizing the streets, mobilizing the masses isn't a very difficult task. Censorship and effectively communicating our plight, vision and end goal is the most difficult. Censorship is the authorities' go-to obstruction tactic and besides maintaining records, lodging complaints or lawsuits, there is not much in your control to discourage them. On the other hand, effective communication is wholly in your control. What's the point in overcoming censors if you can't present your case when the opportunity arrives? You already know the answer, but I'll still confirm it – there's no point. Organize yourself first. Mail logs, duplicates of all letters, documents, essays and such. Communicate in an intelligible manner with personality, and don't get disheartened at rejection. Often times it's only a question of pitching the right pitch to the right person.

Note: Prisoners may request Constitutional Rights of Prisoners from their facility's law library as loan material. Related information as well as litigation guidance related to disciplinary matters may be purchased from Prison Legal News, PO Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 83460: "The Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual," by Dan Manville, 2nd Edition, for $49.95 + $6 s&h.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Five Points Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 58]
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Defend LGBTQ from CO Attacks

I am reporting an act of solidarity. First we must remember what the word solidarity means. Solidarity is defined as: A feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc. (Merriam Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary).

I am currently in the Residential Mental Health Unit (RMHU). It's similar to the SHU. The COs think since we're diagnosed with bi-polar, antisocial, major depression and whatever that they can just oppress us. Well, they learned on 4 September 2017 that we're not just a bunch of crazies.

It's hard to get 10 comrades to stand together as a whole so when a member from the LGBTQ community got jumped on and 30 comrades refused to leave the classrooms I was shocked! I asked a few of them "why did you stand up for one of mine?" Some of them said they were tired of the COs putting their hands on us, and some of them said the COs went too far. I thanked these comrades for standing with me and my LGBTQ family.

So, I'm sharing this because in the July/August ULK (No. 57) a Nevada prisoner weighed in on "Fighting Gender Abuse." As comrades we need to stand together in this way more. You shouldn't care who or what the person is, who cares? If s/he is in the same struggle as you then you need to help him/her. In the long run by you helping them you'll be helping yourself.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a great example of people coming together behind bars. And the writer highlights the important point that we need unity across different groups and individuals. This imperialist system has created some major divisions between groups of people: based on class, nation and gender. And these divisions are found in prisons as well.

In prison, class tends to be less relevant as prisoners are forced together as lumpen, at least while behind bars. But the national oppression that is so fundamental to imperialism's power and wealth creates national divisions. Within the United $tates (and around the world) oppressed nations are encouraged to fight one another and even to form sets within a nation to fight, so that they won't come together against the oppressor nation.

Gender oppression is a bit different behind bars than on the streets, with prisons segregated by designated biological sex. One of the most common manifestations of gender oppression we see is against non-heterosexual prisoners (or those perceived as so). Uniting against this abuse starts with people, like those described above, recognizing that this abuse is wrong, no matter who is targetted. We can take it to the next level by proactively combatting gender oppression among prisoners as well as by the guards. We need to defend our comrades against abuse, and educate our allies about why gender oppression is wrong.

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[Education] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Liberation Schools to Organize Through the Walls

Lumpen Education

One way to accomplish the task of organizing the streets from behind bars is to show the importance of organizing. We on the inside of the razor wire slave plantations have transformed our minds from criminals serving the interest of the oppressor, into revolutionaries who educate our oppressed nation by way of the Afrikan struggles that happened before us in our history. These true revolutionary nationalists challenged the conditions of slavery with rebellions, and within the system that continues to treat us as second class citizens, in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and still to this day.

Within the prison system we've resisted these practices by our solidarity demonstrations, with 3 mass hunger strikes and our Agreement to End Hostilities, and now we have organized the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington DC on 19 August 2017. With this demonstration we are attempting to show that the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to treat us as modern-day slaves. The Millions for Prisoners March is led by men and women on the inside and organized by men and women on the outside.

This is a show of solidarity with the understanding of knowledge about the injustices being done to us economically, politically, socially, culturally, and militarily by the capitalist system. A system of exploitation dependent on the stratification of society into opposing economic classes who compete within and against one another for upward mobility in the class system, and especially in the prison system across this country. In order to beat this monster we have set up education classes within the prison system, entitled schools of liberation.

With liberation schools you teach the new generation about struggle and what the New Afrikans accomplished by their resistance, which was an example on how to challenge your conditions, like the elders, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party, just to name a few trail blazers. In every form of resistance, be it armed conflict, heroic methods with bravery, educating the masses, leading demonstrations, or getting the word out in newspapers, building schools of liberation will help strengthen you in character and bring about a revolutionary new man & woman, which will give you a world view of scientific socialism, and the desire to end oppression, long-term solitary confinement, and to see people thrive throughout the inner cities of the United $tates. We will never give up or give in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives some excellent examples of organizing behind bars, both to educate prisoners and to build the movement on the streets. And liberation schools behind bars can accomplish both tasks, by building solid revolutionaries who will continue their activism when they hit the streets. For people looking to get your own schools together, we offer study groups through the mail along with materials to support your prison-based study group. Get in touch to get involved.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 59]
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Debating Teacher Ignites Masses

There is one thing that occurred, that I feel the need to address, because it made a huge impact beyond what I even intended. It deals with my class "Commitment to Change." This is one of those "it's all your fault" classes.

On day one, sitting there with a headache from my desire to stop drinking coffee. I heard an individual in the class ask a question about choice as it relates to culture. I do not remember the exact question. But the teacher, who is a psychologist, responded by saying that the "ghetto culture, for example is a negative culture, and individuals within the ghetto have a choice to stay and get caught up in this culture or to leave and better themselves."

Hearing this I attacked his reasoning, showing that his position was not only racist, but extremely inaccurate. I told him that his argument in fact proves to be the exact opposite of reality. I do not remember the whole debate, but he finally stated that he had to stop and end class.

After class a large number of people from this class, and many more who were not in the class, approached me to thank me and to inquire about the USW and MIM(Prisons). For the past week all my old copies of ULK have been passed around through so many people it's not funny.

Most of these people I had attempted to open a discussion with before but they had no interest. I mention this because I think it is a good idea to have an open discussion either via USW, or ULK, where examples like this are shown. Why? Because honestly, I was extremely surprised at the response due simply to me challenging the facilitator of a class. I would love to know in what other ways comrades have instigated mass discussion because we need it bad here at this pivotal point, and if I can follow these comrades' footsteps I will.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an excellent example of using everyday activities and discussions to inspire political thought and interest. While some folks will be inspired immediately by a generic political speech or a book or newspaper, many others will need to see the political ideas put into practice. This could be in the course of a debate with a teacher or other authority figure, or it could be in a campaign to fight for some basic rights. As this comrade points out, we should think creatively about how to interject politics into everyday prison life to capture the attention and imagination of those who otherwise might show no interest.

We echo this writer's call for other examples and ideas on how to elicit interest in politics. Send us your yard-tested tips and stories.

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