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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Chillicothe Correctional Institution] [Ohio]
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Ohio, Chillicothe Grievance Culture

I hope this helps some how people in Texas, California, and Florida with how their grievance procedure is done. We have nothing compared to what I read goes on in those places. I filed 26 ICRs (informal complaints) and 11 NOGs(Notice of Grievance) in 2015. A five year low for me. The most serious grievance I made was a staff member trying to kill a litter of kittens.

Chillicothe Correctional Institution (CCI) is an old army base. It's 100 years old. There's 74 acres inside the fence with 2800 prisoners here. It's Ohio's oldest, largest, and most inmates prison. There are approximately 40 cats (outside cats) that we take care of that CCI refuses to help. We found homes for 14 last year.

Most of my grievances last year were to fix things or get things like fixing lights and coffee makers, to getting trash cans and clocks. But I've had years where it's been a lot worse and I've dealt or helped deal with problems closer to what I read in ULK.

It's nice having an institutional inspector who takes pride in his numbers. He likes having one of the lowest number of grievances compared to the other 29 institutions while in some instances having 2 times the number of prisoners. In doing that, he plays with the numbers a little, but that's how I get things done for myself and others. Commissary won't reimburse someone for a $2 copy card that was defective? Well, here's the claim (an NOG). Once he gets it, looks at it, he calls you up to his office. He then says if you take this NOG back, I'll copy anything you need. In another case, he's given out stamped envelopes, just so he does not have to log the grievance and keep his numbers down. For a small compensation grievance like this it's easier to do this than to put through the paperwork for a credit to your account. Quicker too.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade sets a good example pursuing grievances that are both large and small. And it's a very good tactic to take advantage of any opportunity to win a case, even if it's just for a few copies. Our victories and losses will come and go over time, but we must remain vigilant in fighting for our rights and seeking opportunities to gain some organizing space and resources. Our struggle is a long one, with the goal of overthrowing imperialism not likely to come in the near future. Let's take advantage of these small victories to help build unity and strength to fight the bigger anti-imperialist battle.

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[Control Units] [ULK Issue 43]
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Book Review: Out of Control

Out of Control: A 15-Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons
by Nancy Kurshan
Freedom Archives, 2013
web book available here

"All human activity is collective - a combination of the work and inspiration shaped by those who came before us and those who labor with us." - Nancy Kurshan

Nancy Kurshan does an excellent job of highlighting the significance of a 15-year struggle of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown (CEML) from 1985-2000. This struggle was initiated to end the lockdown at Marion Federal Prison, located in the state of Illinois, which morphed into one of Amerikkka's earliest and most notorious control units and isolation-based torture chambers. At its core, the book illustrates countless examples of mutual aid and cooperation, along with emphasizing the importance of having clearly established goals and objectives that can be reasonably achieved.

As with any struggle that is geared towards movement building, CEML began with the idea of a few individuals; founding members Nancy Kurshan, Jan Susler, and Steve Whitman initially just wanted to educate the people by exposing to the public the systemic practices of social, political, economic and racial injustices that are inherent in the prison system, and how these contradictions impact and affect our communities. It wasn't long before their work took on a life of its own, that was molded by their relentless strategical planning and organizing.

Unbeknownst to many in society, solitary confinement units were originally modeled after the diabolical techniquest of the mad scientist, Dr. Edgar Schein of MIT. He provided a blueprint on how to break and brainwash the Chinese prisoners of war in his book Coercive Persuasion. Nancy Kurshan excerpts a passage from Schein's article "Man Against Man":

"In order to produce marked changes of attitude and/or behavior, it is necessary to weaken, undermine, or remove the supports of the old attitudes. Because most of these supports are the face-to-face confirmation of present behavior and attitudes, which are provided by those with whom close emotional ties exist, it is often necessary to break these emotional ties. This can be done either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about, or by proving to him that those whom he respects are not worthy of it, and, indeed, should be actively mistrusted...

"I would like to have you think of brainwashing, not in terms of politics, ethics, and morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior and attitudes by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the environment in which the captive populace lives."(p. 12)

This history gives relevant context to the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) gang validation policies/practices, and in particular to CDCRs newly-created step-down program (SDP). The SDP is where we prisoners have been targeted and persecuted with the same purpose and objectives that Schein had in mind — to break and brainwash us! It must be noted that Pelican Bay's counter-intelligence unit (Institution Gang Investigators — IGI), has successfully destroyed the only real outside support I had. They falsely accused my beloved lil sista of promoting gang activity via a letter she sent me to tell me that Black Panther Party members were going to be attending and supporting a community event that was being held on my behalf to raise awareness about my status as a political prisoner and forthcoming parole board hearing.

Instrumental in CEML's successful grassroots organizing were several key factors:

1) They made a point of not just jumping into activities but rather committed fully to doing the groundwork necessary to make events successful. This allowed them to preserve and maximize their limited resources. For example, they would initiate plans 3, 6, or 12 months in advance, containing specific objectives that they wanted to achieve in their line of work.

2) Their collaborative work with political prisoners such as Sundiata Acoli, Oscar López Rivera, Alejandrina Torres, Bill Dunne, Safiya Bukhari, Hanif Shabazz Bey, Carlos A. Torres, Silvia Baraldini, and Susan Rosenberg, which later included the prisoners who were also being subjected to various human rights abuses. CEML members were able to learn first hand of the contradictions that plagued Marion Prison and others like it, thus equipping CEML with the necessary tools to achieve their objectives, while providing substantive support to prisoners. Pivotal in this exchange was CEML including the prisoners in the decision-making process when strategizing for a particular action and/or a community event.

3) CEML understood the importance of having organizational infrastructure. They constantly distributed pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, brochures, and other propaganda-based materials via the workshops, seminars, and study groups they held, to educate the people about their line of work. This ensured the basis of clearly-defined organizational expectations being set forth, which made it easier for CEML to receive support from the community.

4) CEML did not limit the focus of their primary objective to just ending the lockdown at Marion; they also instituted additional campaigns that became interconnected to their pursuits. For example, the prisoners at Marion were being forced to drink, shower, and wash themselves in toxic, polluted water. The exposure of this contradiction brought about outrage from the environmentalists, and allowed CEML to forge a united front with them.

And so I close with a clenched fist salute to Nancy Kurshan and the entire CEML staff for a job well done - but more importantly, for having the wherewithal to share their struggle and life experiences with the people. I urge people to read and study Nancy Kurshan's book Out of Control and build upon the framework that she has provided us. The book is available online at: www.freedomarchives.org.


CLASS="no-indent">MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this writer about the value for activists in the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown's (CEML) summary of their 15-year history. Out of Control provides valuable historical documents and analysis on the development of control unit prisons in the United $tates and their use for social control, as well as organizing lessons from fifteen years of CEML activism dedicated to fighting the torture units. By linking to historical documents, the online version of this book provides a particularly useful resource and should serve as an example to other activists about the importance of not just doing our organizing work, but of documenting and summing up our lessons for the future. (Quotations below will reference chapter numbers because the online book does not have page numbers.)

In this book we learn that CEML was the original source for some of the critical statistics we still use today about the disparity in incarceration of New Afrikan people in the United $tates. And based on their correct understanding of the use of prisons as a tool of social control targeting oppressed nations, and the use of control units to target revolutionary activists, CEML correctly predicted the dramatic expansion of the prison population and of control unit prisons. CEML's analysis of the criminal injustice system in the United $tates lines up well with our own:

"[W]e realized that there was virtually no connection between crime and imprisonment. Rather, imprisonment was being used as a method of social control for the most rebellious segments of society, in this case Black people and other people of color.

"We reasoned and asserted that just as prisons were to control rebellion in society, control unit prisons were to control other prisons, and that the 'holes' or 'boxes' within control unit prisons were used to control control unit prisons, etc. Just boxes stuffed in boxes."(ch. 29)

CEML was initiated by Nancy Kurshan and others, coming out of movements such as the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee. Kurshan summarizes their view on organizing: "In our corner of the movement, we felt we had a particular responsibility to organize other white people to fight racism and injustice."(ch. 4) MIM(Prisons) agrees with some of the theory behind this approach, in particular the idea of focusing on the needs and goals of oppressed nations' struggles for self-determination within the United $tates. Kurshan writes: "We thought it was important not to compete with the self-organization of people of color, and everything we did was in close consultation with activists in those communities. In addition, we tried to support the agendas that were developed by those activists."(ch. 4) Kurshan goes too far into identity politics in some of her statements, as it is critically important not to abdicate leadership to others simply based on their nationality, but rather to look for correct political line. However, the real problem with this idea of organizing white people to fight racism and injustice was found in CEML's incorrect analysis (or lack of analysis) of classes within the United $tates. Talking about "racism" rather than "national oppression" is indicative of this mistake.

The United $tates is a society based on national oppression with the white nation in power and the oppressed nations facing dramatic disparities in education, housing, income and of course imprisonment. Further, the United $tates is a wealthy imperialist country where the vast majority of citizens enjoy class privilege. And so when we look at who we want to organize we need to first understand what their class and national interests are in the status quo. Those suffering national oppression have an interest in changing the status quo but they still benefit from class privilege just by virtue of their U.$. citizenship. And those benefiting from national oppression (the predominantly white Amerikan nation), and enjoying wealth from the exploitation of the global proletariat, have a strong class and national interest in upholding the status quo including the oppressive criminal injustice system.

And so strategies like the one CEML undertook in Tamms, Illinois to organize the community incorrectly tried to pose the opposition to the prison in the economic interests of the community members: "When it looked like the small southern Illinois town of Tamms might be the site of the new control unit prison, Erica, Leila, and Joey traveled to Tamms to speak with members of the community regarding the nefarious nature of these control units. They distributed literature debunking the notion that the prison would provide locals with an economic shot in the arm."(ch. 22) In reality prisons often provide economic help for the communities where they are built in the form of new jobs and spending. We should take on the nefarious nature of control units without misrepresenting the economics of prisons and the interests of those employed or potentially employed by the prisons. In 2013 Tamms was closed for budget reasons and the guard's labor union delayed the closure with a lawsuit allegedly over safety concerns.

Kurshan explains CEML enjoyed only small victories while facing defeats in all of their larger goals. Our understanding of national oppression within the United $tates helps us see why we are unlikely to win big victories for the oppressed while the imperialists are still in control. Further, CEML put too much faith in their ability to impact Congress, although CEML did recognize that politicians would not take action without outside pressure:

"Our focus on Congress was never exclusive, because we realized that only through grassroots activism — people in the streets — could we hope to get any action from the politicians on these issues. We had to build a movement of people to challenge the dominant ideology regarding imprisonment."(ch. 21)

Ultimately to win this battle against control units and the criminal injustice system we will need to dismantle the capitalist economic system itself. CEML did not put their work in that context and so were not pushing forward the important work of building towards communist revolution. Only with a dictatorship of the proletariat in power will we be able to make fundamental changes to Amerika's injustice system.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [Darrington Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 43]
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Denied Recreation in Ad-Seg

We are placed back here in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for being part of a security threat group (STG), a supposedly "confirmed" gang member. I was placed in Ad-Seg in 2002 for corresponding with other prisoners in another unit who were already confirmed. I got out of prison in 2004, and have just recently come back this past year, and once again I find myself placed in Ad-Seg even though I am not part of a gang. I have tried to write to the gang officers and even wrote a history report about my association in the past. I was told I would go to a G.R.A.D. program that's designed for ex-gang-members. I have yet to hear anything.

During this time in Ad-Seg, we are supposed to receive an hour of exercise (recreation) per day. Well I have been here on this unit going on 6 months and have been to recreation only twice. I have written a Step 1 grievance only to be told that they would get to us when staff permitted. They claim to be under-staffed. But general population gets their daily recreation, and they have enough staff to allow them to shake our cells down every other day during showers. There are other units that are really under-staffed, yet their Ad-Seg blocks receive their hour of recreation. It's sad because some of us need the exercise for medical reasons, and all of us need it for mental issues. Constantly in the cell all day every day is really a mind battle and a severe health issue.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In Under Lock & Key 41 we published many accounts of gang validation being used as a tool of social control. The STG designation is held over the heads of prisoners who are often among the most politically active, and then used as an excuse to isolate them from others. It is irrelevant to the prison administration whether or not these "confirmed" people actually affiliate with a criminal organization. And in some places, working with MIM(Prisons) is considered criteria for classifying people as a security threat. We publish accounts like this one to demonstrate the ongoing conditions of torture in these isolation programs, and the arbitrary use of the STG label. But in reality we do not trust the criminal injustice system to decide who is a threat to security; the biggest security threats are running the Amerikan government and its military and prison systems.

This article referenced in:
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[Abuse] [Okeechobee Correctional Institution] [Florida] [ULK Issue 44]
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Christmas Day Beating to Save Face for CO

On Christmas morning upon entering lockdown for 8 a.m. count, Sergeant Samuel approached a cell near mine and radioed the officer station to open the cell door. When the cell door slid open, Sgt. Samuel who is always playing and joking with the two prisoners in that cell, was then putting on his latex gloves so he and an officer in training could search the cell.

One of the prisoners walked out of the cell and refused to cuff up for the search in a playful manner. Refusing to cuff up in the presence of the trainee officer made Sgt. Samuel look bad and playful, so he whipped out his chemical agent saying, "get on the floor or I'll spray you." The prisoner walked away with Sgt. Samuel following; they ended up downstairs and backup arrived. The backup was Sgt. Harris and Corrections Officer Sanders. The prisoner agreed to cuff up as long as they would not gas him. Sgt. Harris agreed and the prisoner laid on the floor face down with his hands behind his back.

Once the cuffs were on the trainee officer and C/O Sanders went into action. The trainee tried to cross the prisoner's legs across each other while pressing them into his back. At the same time C/O Sanders started pressing his right knee into the prone man's neck area. The prisoners locked behind their cell doors started screaming while Sgts. Samuel and Harris looked on. Then they picked the man up from the floor and took him into the sally port.

Outside of the dormitory, as soon they got the prisoner out on the sidewalk, C/O Sanders punched him in the back of the head and he fell to the ground. I saw the whole thing from my back window and started screaming "they're jumping on that man out there!" loud as hell so everyone including the pro-imperialist goons (pigs) could hear me. Corrections Officer Daluco was on his radio commanding all pigs to get the prisoners off their back windows; no witnesses allowed. But they quickly picked the beaten man up from off the floor as Captain Coleman showed up, while the pig Sanders explained that he had to drop the prisoner because "he was talking too much shit." Just like that, Sgt. Harris and Cpt. Coleman walked the beaten prisoner off for pre-confinement where he now sits pending fake "Battery on an Officer" charges even though he was in cuffs and he was battered by C/O Sanders who violated Florida Statute 944.35 (3)(a)(1). C/Os Sanders and Daluco walked off together talking like it was just another day on the plantation, being members of the slave patrol conscripted with all the impunity in the world.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This article was sent to us by both the persyn who was beaten up and another comrade who witnessed the event, exposing an example of brutality in prison that is all too common. And by writing about this brutality, both authors set a good example for others, that there are many ways to take up the battle against the criminal injustice system. We call on our readers to document abuse by prison employees as it happens, and help us to establish patterns that can be used to expose the system and educate people on the streets.

We also need to make the connections between this brutality by prison staff and the criminal injustice system in general. The problem is not a few bad guards, or even the free reign and positions of power they are given in their jobs. It is the entirety of the system that dehumanizes prisoners and places them in a system that has nothing to do with rehabilitation. By classifying so many people, disproportionately from oppressed nations, as fundamentally criminal and forcing them outside of the social and economic system, the criminal injustice system plays a key role in social control of the lumpen class. Keeping prisoners in a constant state of fear of violence and loss of privileges further helps to reduce resistance and silence the voices of those who might otherwise speak out.

It is an act of courage to write about the brutality that is happening, and even greater courage to organize others to study the system and seek greater understanding of its connections to Amerikan imperialism. This study and education helps build comrades who can work together to fight the imperialist system itself.

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[Control Units] [Mental Health] [ULK Issue 43]
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Who's Defining Mental Illness?

Psychological diagnoses made in bourgeois society seek not only to isolate and treat mental illness on an individual basis, but also says the illness neither affects, nor is affected by, others.

Taking isolation in prisons into account (where research shows that being locked up in itself can cause mental illness) one begins to see the so-called facts in bourgeois reasoning behind individual diagnoses as fallacious. Individual diagnosis benefits the bourgeoisie by separating the individual from h environment, forcing the illness to be considered through the biological lens where it is said to be internally developed. This method negates a persyn's social and cultural influences, economic plight, outside forces acting upon h social milieu, as well as individual interpretation of all the above.

Inside isolation pods in U.$. prisons we are subject to sensory deprivation, restricted movement, lighted cells 24 hours a day, the constant clanging of metal doors, bullying by guards, unhealthy food, as well as sporadic screaming and banging by those even more deeply affected by imperialism's woes. This constant barrage of negative stimuli over a period of time is agitating, if nothing else. Agitation leads to the need for an outlet for the release of pent up tension. That tension leads to anger and resentment. This anger can have far-reaching, long-term effects. This awareness is underlined by my own persynal experience of having a quick temper, blurred reasoning after being agitated, and less thought-out reaction to anger with little to no thought of consequences.

The bourgeois system is backwards because it is idealistic (diagnosing as biological and as not affected by environment) and metaphysical (mental illness affecting only the individual and unchanging). Both these are world outlooks that imply things are what they are and will always be what they are. These outlooks are supported by the bourgeoisie because they compel apathy (indifference to the rule of the bourgeois because there seems to be little we can do to change things) and acceptance of the "order of things" by the masses who come to accept the conditions as inherent and the dominance of bourgeois leadership as unchanging. Basically the bourgeois classes push this line of reasoning because it allows them to hold on to power.

While the bourgeois classes perpetuate imperialism and deny responsibility for world conditions (including the systematic incarceration of oppressed nations) they also label all who refuse to subscribe to their world view as sick, radical, deviant, disillusioned and, of course, mentally ill.

In Under Lock & Key 15 after asking the question "who is mentally ill?" MIM(Prisons) quotes MCB52 that those who are diagnosed with mental health problems are mostly "pissed off people rationally resisting the hegemonic culture one way or another."

The method of diagnosis will change once the people begin defining and deciding our own conditions. Fed up with the conditions we find ourselves and the world in, fed up with being agitated, let's begin to agitate back. And let's build independent institutions that operate outside the diagnosistic structure of the bourgeoisie, where the people decide who is mentally ill based on their contributions to the further development of the people's interest, not because we refuse to take part in a system that oppresses us and others.

Revolution starts in the gulags.
All power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade on the problem of individual diagnosis for mental illness in bourgeois society. This standard especially benefits Amerikkka because it justifies drugging up oppressed nationals full of psychotropics in the name of psychology, while leaving the structure of prisons and solitary confinement intact. We have heard reports from many comrades in prison that the so-called therapists want to prescribe them strong psychotropic drugs (or even force them to take these drugs), which they refuse because it will have a negative impact on their ability to engage in politics. Yet these comrades' requests for a resful night's sleep, or adequate nutrition, are ignored. Individual diagnosis permits individual (mis)treatment.

The most progressive of psychologists in the bourgeois countries do see a connection between the individual and society. But the vast majority of those are reformists who do not see the link of the individual's mental illness to the capitalist economic system itself. These academics can be our allies, such as those in the struggle to abolish long-term solitary confinement. But their reformist leaning is inherently limiting.

There is use for mental health practitioners and counselors to work with revolutionaries in our present social context in order to help us resolve the mental illnesses we pick up just from living in an imperialist society. The goal of this mental health work should be to make us better revolutionaries, and not just so we can feel more comfortable going along with the status quo.

Of the few mental health practitioners that do see the bigger connections between capitalism and mental illness, most present-day radical counselors are found in the anarchist movements. A challenge with anarchism is it often seeks persynal "liberation" from capitalism today without a long-term plan of how to achieve liberation on a worldwide scale and for the most oppressed peoples in the world. We are not opposed to anti-imperialists of all stripes achieving a higher level of mental health. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that mental illness can be a persynal motivating factor for many people into revolutionary politics ("i am depressed because this world is so fucked up and makes no sense"), and a resolution of persynal mental illness combined with the frustration many feel by the dead-end strategy of First World anarchism is a perfect formula to push people to age out of political struggle for good.

Professional psychological standards in the United $tates push for "objectivity" of the therapist, which is actually just institutionalized Liberalism. In Communist China, mental health workers were educated in political economy and would use Mao Zedong Thought to help people understand how their depression, suicidal tendencies, or even schizophrenia fit into an international and material context. Rather than being limited to defining somone's "personality" or persynal chemical defect, mental health was seen on a mass scale as a product of society. Anecdotal evidence from our prisoner comrades and outside recruits has shown that mental health challenges can often be resolved on an individual level by taking up revolutionary politics and studying to understand all the nonsense of capitalism.

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[Organizing] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 45]
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Education is Critical to the United Front

The basic logic behind the United Front for Peace in Prisons is simple, but genius. The concept is self-explanatory. How else do circumstances get resolved without the five principles?

Individualism and evasion counters liberation. Regardless, whether we are into politics or not, believe that politics are into us. All aspects of life have an element of control that dictate our lives, and if we don't seek unity and ultimate internationalism, chaos will always follow. Sharing information about ourselves to each other in collective formats is the first step. Guarding ourselves is natural; it is something we do to protect ourselves from opposing forces. However, through self-discipline and some simple confidence and motivation, progress is possible.

Our biological nature is to be selfish. It is primal instinct to seek ultimate survival and power, and without a balance or some consciousness, humyns want to oppress each other. The ones who have blindfolds on have the idea that oppression = peace, and perhaps they have been programmed to think and view life in such a manner. However am I the only one, or does that logic sound irrational to you too?

In my opinion (and I could be wrong) I believe a better approach is to educate as many people as you can to obtain growth and progress. There will always be contradictions, of course (no matter what). But to give up is to give up on your people and yourself.

I like Mao's quote from "Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership":

"[T]ake the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge."

Educate to liberate!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have a lot of unity with this writer's call to action around the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). But we do disagree that there is a biologically inherent trait of selfishness in humyns. While there is certainly an instinct to survive in all living things, this does not mean there must be an instinct to take power and oppress other people. We can see that this is what many people do today, but the culture of capitalism teaches us that's how to get ahead, from the time we are born. So how can we separate out instinct from culture in this situation?

As Maoists we believe in the need for a dictatorship of the proletariat after the revolution, where the formerly oppressed majority take control of the government and run it in their own interests while dictating to the minority (who promoted exploitation) how society will be run. During this period of socialism we will need cultural revolutions to challenge the ingrained mentality of capitalism that has taught everyone to look out for themselves first and to get ahead at the expense of others. We know it will take many generations of cultural revolution and re-education of humynity but we do not think the reality of capitalist culture determines what humyns are capable of under communism.

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[Gang Validation] [Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center] [Connecticut] [ULK Issue 43]
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Targeted for Validation Because of Prison Activism

I'm writing in regards to the article "Gang Validation: Justification for Torture and Social Control" that the Connecticut prisoner wrote in ULK 41. I was housed in the same control unit in Corrigan Correctional Institution when the incident happened. When the prisoner who got caught with the 5 pages of Security Risk Group (SRG) paperwork returned back to the block (phase 3) I read the ticket and all paperwork that was associated with it. The paperwork clearly stated he was found in possession of the materials and he takes all responsibility. This clearly shows the prisoner who was transferred to Walker Correctional Institution was a target. I, and many other prisoners, believe he was a target of the pigs because of his ability to organize. It was through this brother that I first found out about Under Lock & Key. I feel that because of ULK I am better informed on the struggles within from state to state.

Since that incident I have also received a Class A SRG ticket because the words "Neva Will I" are supposedly Blood identifiers. Now I have been set back and have to wait for the ticket to clear to be eligible to start the program. The prisoners here in the state of Connecticut can be validated SRG members for something as simple as the "B" representing the Boston Red Sox Logo, or simply writing the $ or cents sign. I'm guessing these pigs have to keep the beds filled up some way, right?

I have to try my hardest to stay under the radar because I am now being targeted due to an incident that happened which had nothing to do with me. Two prisoners engaged in a scuffle and the one who lost cooperated with the pigs giving up unreliable information. I was questioned by the Captain and Lieutenant of the block. I was told "Since you won't cooperate then I will do everything in my power to make sure you won't phase through the program!" by the Lieutenant while the Captain sat there and laughed. I simply responded, in control, "Regardless of how you feel, or what you do, time will continue to move forward whether I'm in the program or not!" Since that confrontation my cell has been subjected to searches 2-3 times a week and the pigs find nothing. I believe it is just a waste of time. There is no valid justification for torture and social control, but yet the pigs continue to use these units for such. We must all keep fighting regardless of how long it takes. A war has never been won in a single day! I want to say to all comrades in the struggle to stay headstrong (educated), positive and above all else remain militant! MAD*MEN (Minorities Against Depression/Oppression * Maximizing Education Nationally).


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer describes the most common way that Under Lock & Key and general revolutionary education is spread behind bars: from one activist prisoner taking the information to others. And the result, as reported in ULK 41, is often punishment and even SRG "validation" for the activist. It is good for us to know that our educational work is such a threat to the criminal injustice system that they go to great lengths to stop it: censorship, solitary confinement, physical abuse, and theft of property are some examples. The attacks on our comrades are actually a confirmation of the effectiveness and importance of this work. As this comrade points out, there is no justification for torture and social control, but these are common tools of the oppressor. We call on everyone who reads ULK to take at least the one small action of sharing your copy with someone else, exposing at least one other persyn to revolutionary education. And everyone reading this should get in touch and make sure to get your own subscription since you can't count on being in the same place to borrow a copy next time.

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[Gang Validation] [National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 44]
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New Afrikan Prisoners Retaliated Against by Institutional Gang Investigators

Here at a torture unit known as the Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU), we New Afrikan freedom fighters and other entities are getting retaliated on by the fascist Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI). IGI and their cronies seem to think that attacking those who were hunger strikers and at the forefront of the prison movement is gonna distract us from our main objective in challenging this oppressive system. They are holding onto our mail for months at a time, giving out petty disciplinary cases after cell searches and calling miscellaneous items contraband, such as extra laundry, or wire we use to make our digital channels come in clearly and radios without static.

Due to the outside support we received for the collective solidarity we expressed on the inside, we've received but a few items we requested in our yearly packages and canteen purchase. The legislators gave the administration an earfull of how they mistreat us in the SHU, and how mental torture is much worse than physical torture and solitary confinement must be abolished.

The retaliation is a given, and just this past week I personally had some books sent back to the sender and was told they promoted racism and violence. Well, I filed a grievance against the sergeant they sent to my door because his actions were racist. The reading material was in fact about anarchism, and they have allowed the white/European inmates to have literature on this very same subject. I was also referred to as a racist because he saw pictures of a few Black Panthers on my wall, and asked why do I read racist books of the past. I just looked at the sergeant standing before me and shook my head. How can a New Afrikan be a racist considering all the things that have happened to my people in previous times, and are still happening around the country?

We are also being moved around the yard to the different buildings, and we hear it's only due to the warden wanting to place mentally ill inmates in the left side of the building and those who are not on medication to the right side of the building, but this is so they can revalidate those who the Departmental Review Board might be considering kicking back to the mainline, and to disturb think tanks we have been able to put together throughout the prison diaspora. We who have been buried alive in these concrete tombs (Pelican Bay, Corcoran, Tehachapi SHUs) will stand firm in our principled discipline and continue our revolutionary studies, because we have a world to win. We will not let our oppressor's strategies and tactics stop our movement or break our momentum. In true liberation and struggle I encourage all to show solidarity until all oppressed are free.

Dare to Struggle
Dare to win....


MIM(Prisons) responds: While we agree with what this comrade wrote above, we want to expand on this topic. Racism is the ideology that arises from national oppression: a way of seeing certain groups of people as inferior based on their alleged biological differences, or "race." National oppression is the system that engenders racism, a system where one nation has power over other nations. New Afrikans are an oppressed nation within U.$. borders, and so this discrimination based on race by the guards is no surprise (and something our comrades see all the time behind bars). But a persyn from an oppressed nation could be racist (though not in the way that the prison guard claims). We see racism manifested as incorrect ideas about Mexicans by New Afrikans or New Afrikans by Mexicans, for instance. Or oppressed nation people thinking white people are oppressors because of some biological deficiencies.

Despite the utter lack of scientific evidence that race exists, Amerikan academics have succeeded in replacing discussions about national self-determination with ones of race and multiculturalism. This has led to the popularization of lines such as "Black people can't be racist." One video from the Ferguson uprisings has gotten a lot of promotion by white nationalists trying to show how ridiculous the protestors were because they accuse a reporter of being racist because he is white and claim that they can't be racist because they are Black. While we cannot win over the white nation as a whole, by being more scientific and more correct in the line we put out there we can better win over those at the margin who will be turned off by illogical statements. The revolutionary movement needs to work on educating people on incorrect ideas about racism and the material definition of national oppression. This will both help us recruit the support of others as well as be more successful in everything we do because of our own greater understanding of things as they are.

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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 44]
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Censorship of Literature without Review in Virginia

Enclosed is the grievance I submitted regarding ULK 39. As you may notice, the Chief of Corrections Operations A. David Robinson, upheld the decision of the Publication Review Committee to censor the publication. But if you read the third paragraph of Robinson's response you will notice he refers to the prison denying "the books." Obviously, Robinson failed to do his job.

His job is to review the publication to see if the censorship is justified. Since ULK 39 is a newsletter and not "books," he could not have reviewed them. Robinson is paid at least $50,000 annually (perhaps double that). Isn't that too much to pay a rubber stamp yes man?

People in combat zones get paid less than Robinson, yet he cannot be bothered to actually perform his duty. Instead he simply acts as a robot automatically approving the actions of his flunkies beneath him.

Also notice the date of the response is December 17, but I didn't receive it until January 20. I conjecture that the date is false - the man missed the 20-day deadline but back-dated it. He had only until 21 December to respond but he probably responded January 17.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an example of just a few of the responses we get when attempting to fight censorship of MIM(Prisons) literature. There is never any legitimate reason behind the censorship, but it's easy for prison administrators to run our comrades around in circles with false claims and delays. These are very difficult to appeal because the appearance of a response to a grievance is sufficient for higher level rejections. Nonetheless, everyone who faces censorship should be appealing it, and we can provide a guide to fighting censorship for those who need some help. Please also report on the outcome of your appeals and let us know what support we can send to help with the fight. This is a critical part of the educational work we do behind bars.

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[Censorship] [Goose Creek Correctional Center] [Alaska] [ULK Issue 44]
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Alaska Update on Literature Censorship

As of January 2015, my access to copies of MIM Theory magazine in Goose Creek Correctional Center has been curtailed. Several days ago I was given a notice from the prison's mailroom that a "booklet" had been sent (it was MIM Theory 2/3) from "a vendor who is not on the approved list." Though this vendor approval policy was instituted DOC-wide in Alaska about two or three years ago, at every other facility I've been in, including two pre-trial jails, magazines and periodicals such as MIM Theory were exempt and I received every issue previously sent. So, apparently, there is only a problem at Goose Creek. I sent a request to the mailroom to consider the copy of MIM Theory a zine, with a denial coming back. My next step was to send a request to the security sergeant. The response from this officer was different. Now, apparently, I'm being denied because the pages of the magazine are "discolored" and therefore the conclusion is that the copy is "second-hand" and "used." Even though any "discoloration" would likely be because the magazine is 20 years old and printed on newsprint, it is still denied because used books are not allowed.

As of about a week ago I wrote a cop-out back saying that the copy is not used nor second-hand, but rather a back-copy — an issue that was kept in stock and never put into circulation. I made the analogy that it is the same as if I had ordered from Time a back issue of their magazine. I also pointed out that the sender is the same entity as the original publisher/distributor and hence the copy is obviously not used. I'm still, as of the time of this letter, awaiting a reply back, but thus far it's not looking encouraging. I also did ask that MIM Distributors be placed on the Approved Vendors List.

I intend on pursuing the matter as far as is necessary. I have not exhausted all avenues yet. I'm curious to know if anyone else has had similar issues regarding the specific reason I'm thus far being given for the withholding of the issue, and what remedies were taken.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In our experience with this particular reason for censorship, it is a coin toss whether the administration will submit to logical reasoning on whether to allow the magazine in. We don't have a specific recommendation on how to handle a claim that a magazine is used when it simply isn't. Often times we need to send in another copy of the magazine that hopefully looks newer, or that arrives on a day when a more rational mailroom staff persyn is working.

Censorship battles are particularly important for the prison-based revolutionary struggle because of the educational focus of our work right now. Our only option presently is to work with prisoners through the mail, and the political literature that we send in is the main way we spread information about political theory, history and current events. When our mail is cut off we lose a critical tool in our anti-imperialist organizing work. This comrade's reporting of censorship battles, and h work fighting the censorship, is a good example for others. A lot of mail we send out is returned back to us, and frequently mail is rejected without any notification as to why. We need people to appeal all cases of censorship, and notify us each time censorship happens. We can support these appeals with our own letters of protest, but only when we know the censorship is happening. Many of you receive Unconfirmed Mail Form letters from us asking you to tell us what mail you received. We appreciate all the responses to these form letters, and it would be even better if everyone kept us up to date on all mail received so we don't have to send out these forms. Remember, every time you write you should tell us everything you've received since you last wrote.

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