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Under Lock & Key

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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Polk Youth Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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Hunger Strikers in NC Protesting Basic Conditions

Smash the SHU

On Monday, 19 May 2014, 7 prisoners at Polk Correctional on the H-Con Unit began a hunger strike due to inhumane conditions, and finally some getting fed up with the mistreatment. It is day 4 and 8 comrades refused their breakfast this morning. Some of the demands are:

  1. need brooms to sweep cells
  2. need nail clippers to exercise proper hygiene
  3. need outside recreation
  4. need new trays, ones now are cracked, split, peeling causing us to find plastic in our food
  5. staff need to wear hair nets/change gloves for food preparation and serving
  6. need headphones sold separately in canteen so we don't have to buy a whole new radio
  7. stop taking mattress and religious property as punishment for up to 3 days
  8. special housing cells need to be cleaned daily - currently have blood, bodily fluids in them and comrades are placed in them naked on suicide watch, only given 4 sheets of toilet paper, no hygiene, forced to eat with dirty hands
  9. need a law library
  10. stop use of nutraloaf as punishment
  11. stop keeping us on H-Con 18-24 months before letting us off even without getting write ups
  12. stop using restraints as punishment

These are just some of the most important of 33 demands. I am asking other comrades to join in support and fast or to write to:

Frank L. Perry, Secretary
Division of Prisons
4201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4201

and,

U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20530

or other forms of protest that do not cause you to receive an infraction. Also, pump them fists as we got a victory in the Central Prison Unit 1 case. They have to use a hand-held camera during all use of force, specifically after the use of force or during/until you are put back in your cell and no longer in contact with corrections staff. So hear it, can I get a hell yeah from all my comrades!

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[Abuse] [Dalhart Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 39]
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Demand Justice for Prisoner Death in Texas

On June 3 of last year a young Black man named Maynard Brumsey was killed at the Dalhart Unit in Texas due to excessive use of force. As a result of constant urging by comrades and their families calling for justice, several of the top officials were removed. It's more likely than not that they were just placed at other units in similar fashion to what the Catholics did in recent years with pedophiles within their ranks. Nor was their removal likely officially directly related to Brumsey's death. So, we are a far cry from exacting anything like justice upon the offender officers whose actions caused that man to die. Officers Hay, Verlardi, Marquez, Jackson, Crawford, and Gambriel killed this man through excessive force and in failing to take him to medical after they brutalized him, even as he complained of having trouble breathing. They need to answer for that. Those officials who failed to investigate this matter correctly and according to procedure and/or who covered this thing up need to face criminal sanctions. We don't let the Brumsey matter die until that happens.

This is the nature of our revolutionary struggle in the United States at present. What happens in prisons is just one aspect of it. We need to be vigilant in making the connections clear between prisons and hoods, especially the projects to prisons pipeline that uses public schools as a conduit. We need to understand the relationship between these phenomena and political disengagement and economic disempowerment. In clearly defining the nature of our social predicament, we are more competent in our struggles' strategic development.

Consistent and sustained vehicles of information and resource exchange are paramount. I recently received literature from MIM(Prisons) under the banner of our United Struggle from Within which outlined several procedural codes of compliance that can be used effectively against officers and administration. In our past three years of development we have reached nearly 5,000 men with our advocating for our "Triple C Core Concepts." Each of those men should have such material to fight with. So I praise MIM(Prisons) and the collective efforts of our USW comrades for that.

This article referenced in:
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[New Afrika] [Elections] [ULK Issue 38]
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Lasting Impressions

[While MIM(Prisons) expressed cautious optimism following the election of Chokwe Lumumba, we questioned his electoral strategy and stressed a clearer definition of dual power (see ULK 33). Unfortunately, failure seems to have struck more suddenly than we could have expected. In the piece below, PTT of MIM(Prisons) has woven updates on the campaign in Jackson into excerpts from commentary by Loco1.]

national liberation or assimililation

On 22 April 2014, Chokwe Antar Lumumba lost the mayoral election in Jackson, Mississippi to Councilman Tony Yarber in a run-off. Chokwe Antar's father, Chokwe Lumumba, was inaugurated as the mayor of Jackson on 1 July 2013, and died 25 February 2014 from "heart failure." Since our last report, those close to Lumumba had indicated that an independent autopsy was going forward, but results, or information on whether an independent autopsy was conducted, are not readily available. In Under Lock & Key 37, we raised suspicion over the cause of the Mayor's death in a country where New Afrikan leaders are regularly murdered by the state with impunity.

As the electoral strategy of the former New Afrikan revolutionary ended prematurely, some comrades are raising the question of whether the nation would have really sown the seeds of progress for New Afrikan self-determination into the heart of Mississippi, had Mayor Lumumba or Chokwe Antar served the full term. We assert that when New Afrikans fail to realistically distinguish themselves from Afrikan-Amerikans, it is impossible to break from Black capitalism to form a new society centered around humyn need.

One limitation Mayor Lumumba's death raises in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement's strategy of entering electoral politics is the vulnerability of elected candidates. Lumumba wanted to build a movement based in the people, but electoral politics necessitates focus on individuals as leaders and representatives of the masses. In the context of joining the Amerikan political machine, winning electoral campaigns amounts to putting a Black face on Amerikan capitalism. Before his death, Mayor Lumumba was planning to put $1.7 billion onto the streets of Jackson. "The intent is to improve the city’s infrastructure, support businesses and, in a first, rehab some Black neighborhoods."(1) A keen eye can see that building revolutionary education centers is not on the top of this list, if it's on there at all. We agree with Mr. Lumumba that the people are smart. But if they are fed a false idealism of an end to oppression under capitalism, then their opposition to the Amerikan imperialist global machine will be limited. In fact, it is more likely that their ties to Amerika will even be increased, as the benefits from the spoils of imperialism are redistributed in their favor. Without real people's control of wealth, that $1.7 billion raised by Mayor Lumumba is easily redirected by a suspicious death and a defeat in a run-off election.

The people of Jackson hope to continue building this movement for Black capitalism in their city, and Chokwe Anton invited all small business owners, enterpreneurs, prospective business owners, and people seeking new and innovative employment/ownership opportunities to attend the Jackson Rising conference that was held on May 2-4.(2) As communists, we are definitely seeking new and innovative employment/ownership opportunities! But as internationalists, we seek these opportunities for all the world's people. We don't want worker-owned cooperatives for ourselves built from wealth scraped off the backs of the Third World. We know truly innovative employment/ownership opportunities can't come without civil war and an overthrow of capitalism. Success in electoral politics can stifle progress in a revolutionary direction if politics aren't in command.

The late Mayor Lumumba is reported in an interview with the Nation of Islam in The Final Call newspaper as saying, “our predominately Black administrations can actually do better – to provide security to everybody, prosperity to everybody on a fair basis, and, of course, we're going to be vigilant against the cheaters – but we think we can do a better job. We're talking about the new society, the new way, and that's a lot of what New Afrika was about.” To claim that New Afrikans will do a better job at playing the Amerikan economic game amounts to Black chauvinism and racism. We are products of our society. What is it that New Afrikans can do better than whites: hate, steal, cheat, kill, lie, destroy and oppress? The U.$. President is Black and we still witness New Afrikan and [email protected] youth targeted by police for death in the United $tates. Working within electoral politics will do nothing to change Amerika's impact on the majority of the world's people. Mayor Lumumba stated “We are impressed with the need to protecting everyone's human rights.” But this can't be done when the nationalist leaders are so misdirected that they can't see that there is nothing in U.$. politicians' offices but documents with the names of the billions of humyn beings murdered as a result of foreign policy, or low-intensity warfare operations jumping off in the U.$. semi-colonies. The electoral struggle in Jackson highlights the differences between bourgeois nationalism and nationalism with proletarian ideology.

The U.$. internal semi-colonies' greatest connection to the reality of the global contradiction in relation to their own material condition is the lumpen, incarcerated and criminalized across the state. The lumpen are most capable for the vehicular mechanism for transforming the shift of imperialist control to proletarian control with real state power, by leading national liberation struggles to free us from Amerika. Lumpen hold no stake or stock in capitalism and have way more interest in abolishing its control over the people than the bourgeois nationalists. The Jackson Plan would like to turn all these lumpen into labor aristocrats rather than vehicles for overthrowing capitalism.

The lumpen, particularly prisoners, will have to understand that there is no future in placing higher values on profits than the welfare of humyn life/needs. The Amerikan pie has to be completely disposed of and the land redistributed fairly. Period. You get what you need. Nothing more, nothing less.

If we gonna move, let's move the world. Revolutionary nationalism, with a proletarian ideology, is the key to any oppressed nation's self-determination and self-governance, or simply put national independence. If New Afrikans are to have any chance at such, they will first have to separate themselves from Black Amerika and move to the tune of the proletariat. Chokwe Lumumba had a gift and will be missed dearly by all who value his mind, but he appeared better in his dashiki and afro. “Rather than going to church and yelling and screaming about it, rather than bad mouth the youth, my plan is to engage the youth,” quoting the former Mayor. This begs the question, how does this transpire from behind a desk that is responsible for the city's youth being carted away to prison and jail facilities?

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[Death Penalty] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 38]
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New Twist on Death Row SHU

Three former California governors recently backed a petition for a ballot initiative which would dramatically accelerate the execution of death row prisoners. At the same time we have experienced a more extreme than usual delay in the processing of death row SHUII and III mail. As I will explain, there is an important connection between these events.

The main selling point for the proposed bill is saving loads of money by arranging faster executions of the 747 prisoners currently warehoused on San Quentin's four death row SHUs and the women all but forgotten in Cowchilla. In addition, death row prisoners would no longer be confined exclusively in the San Quentin and Chowchilla torture units. They would be placed among the general population.

It is noteworthy that the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (California Correctional Peace Officers Association - CCPOA) didn't give financial support for this bill. Many assume the lackeys, bullies and cowards who comprise that security threat group probably thought it wasn't in their best interest to all of a sudden meet face to face with the un-cuffed death row prisoners they've been torturing their whole career. But the fact of the matter is the higher ups in the CCPOA actually had enough sense to realize no amount of their support could buy enough votes to pass such political double talk into law in this state.

Acting proactively in case the bill passes, the CCPOA at San Quentin decided to mobilize in preparation. By citing wild interpretations of prisoner correspondence to give the public an illusion that the bowels of hell were opened upon them, the prison tried to transfer a large number of formerly grade A and B SHUII and III prisoners to other SHU programs across the state.

They almost had a window of opportunity to "justify" building more control units within existing prisons. But as of today the death row SHU expansion project in San Quentin's Carson section is stalled.

"Persons other than inmates should address any appeal relating to department policy and regulations to the Director of the Division of Adult Institutions. Appeals relating to a specific facility [like San Quentin or Chowchilla] procedure or practice [like excessive delays in the processing of mail to and from loved ones and prisoners' rights organizations] should be addressed in writing to the warden..." - California Code of Regulations, Title 15, 3137. Appeals Relating to Mail.

For more info go to: www.cdcr.ca.gov/regulations/adult_operations
See also page 12 of ULK for info on the grievance campaign.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is correct that the CCPOA has been entirely silent on this new ballot initiative to accelerate death row executions. But we don't agree with h interpretation that the CCPOA is just standing down because they don't think it has a chance of passing. Rather we see this position as lining up consistently with the CCPOA's primary goal: protect the jobs of the many prison workers. Faster executions would reduce the San Quentin prison population, and that would threaten jobs there, so it should not be surprising that the CCPOA is silent on this new ballot initiative. This is a rare case where their interests align with ours, and we can take advantage of the situation to stop passage of this reactionary bill.

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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia]
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Virginia Denies Study Group Mail as Detrimental to Rehabilitation

Enclosed is a notice that the Level 1 study group material you mailed to me has been forwarded to Publication Review Committee for disapproval. One of the reasons for disapproval is "material whose content could be detrimental to the offender rehabilitative efforts..." I must ask, What rehabilitative efforts? I'm serving a sentence of double-life plus 46 years. I've been incarcerated since June 1988. I'm not eligible for any school programs. I'm not enrolled in any treatment programs. Nor do I have a job inside the prison.

Further, the Virginia Department of Corruptions, um, Corrections (VADOC) is truly ignorant and incompetent in the realm of rehabilitative programs. In the 1990s the recidivism rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia ranked among the highest in the nation. VADOC's bungling efforts at rehabilitative programming proved so abysmal that the state legislature abolished both parole and early release good-time credits in July 1995. With the governor's blessing the prisoner population and VADOC's fiscal budget exploded. According to ABC news, prisoners in Virginia serve more time in prison now than any other jurisdiction except Florida.

This "Commonwealth of Virginia" is in truth a "colony" - a bastard child of the united snakes of amerikkka. Like father, like son this colony operates as a slave plantation of the kkkapitalist kkkrackers, with a major exception: no one is directly profiting from the labor of prisoners. But the labor aristocracy is profiting from our incarceration while giving us materials enough to simply keep us alive.

My friends, notice that these prison autocrats also say that the materials from MIM(Prisons) "...emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws..." Yet these same prison autocrats suck their livelihood from the tits of the United $tates whose founding fabricators once wrote that when people face a destructive government "...it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government..." What was Common Sense? Why were Crispus Attucks and four other men martyred? What was the volatile resolution of the First Kkkontinental Kkkongress?

On 1 May 2014, the united snakes of amerikkka warned that "global terrorism is on the rise." Since the kkkapitalist pigs refer to any threat to their hegemony as terrorism, then the revolutionary has reason to strengthen h resolve. The evidence reveals the pigs are in perpetual distress, and this is most fitting. If the U.$. truly is the "greatest nation on earth with the best form of government," then why does more than half of the world's population seek to destroy amerikkka and amerikkkans? Indeed, an ever growing number of so-called amerikkkan citizens wish only for the abolition of the current go-vermine-ment.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This censorship is a blatant example of the criminal injustice system's real goals in the United $tates. There is no rehabilitation in this system. It is merely a tool of social control. The MIM(Prisons) prisoner study group is one of the only educational opportunities for prisoners in Virginia, and education has been demonstrated to have significant positive effects on reducing recidivism of prisoners. So in denying prisoners this material VADOC proves its focus on maximizing incarceration and sentencing. The "detrimental" effects on rehabilitation can only refer to our positive impact on prisoners and their ability to get by on the streets without returning to prison.

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[Organizing] [Boycott] [ULK Issue 38]
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September Solidarity Demonstration: Using Our Financial Power

In solidarity, I offer this suggestion: reduce your contribution to your imprisonment; instead contribute to your child's development. Advantages: the prison system has less funding; the companies that lobby for prisons lose money; you remain healthy to fight!

J. Paul Getty said, "If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem. If you own the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem!"

The prison gets roughly $30,000/year for each general population prisoner, but receives an average of $70,000 for us in solitary confinement. Where does the money come from? Too much of it comes from us! Federal prisoners spend $300 million a year in commissary. It is estimated that prisoners contribute $3 billion annually toward their own incarceration. We are allowing our money to be used as a weapon of war against us. "Playing by your enemy's rules is suicide." Growth and Development symbolizes growth of knowledge and development of new skills and tactics to be successful!

If you want to bring the CDCR director to the negotiation, make Keefe force him to the table. It is always about the money with capitalists. You have to give them something to lose!

We never shop during September out of respect for the sacrifice of my Attica brothers. Ask your family and friends to participate by not purchasing products from Keefe, Bob Barker, Golden Valley and any other company that profits from prisons. Eliminate the funding, and the problem is solved. Stop contributing to your own suffering!

Request the public records, budget and audit for the California prison system. It will show you how you are giving your money to your suffering.


Grow your knowledge
Develop new skills and tactics
Revolutionary strategy
Intelligent sacrifice
Stand United
Economic pressure to obtain your goal


MIM(Prisons) adds:Every September 9 the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) promotes a solidarity demonstration in honor of the Attica uprising. This peaceful protest could easily expand to a month-long boycott of the parasitic industries from which prisoners are forced to make purchases. We welcome input from UFPP members and supporters leading up to this September's demonstration.

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[United Front] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 38]
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United Front Organizing: Working Towards LO Peace in Ohio

Lately, due to the continuing of the repressive injustice system, the New Afrikan Maoist Brotherhood (NAMB) has restructured our organizing and networking tactics. We continue our current study group raising New Afrikan and internationalist consciousness. We are working on a peace treaty/alliance between the Vice Lords, Latin Kings, MS-13, Bloods and Black P. Stones. The Euro-Amerikan street organizations of the Cincinnatti Caucasian Cartel and the Cincinnati White Boys have allied against the Aryan Brothers and so, we are working to bring the Triple Cs and the CWBs into the Ohio-wide treaty with the Vice Lords and Latin Kings/MS-13 and Bloods. Our next focus will be to reach out to the "heartless felons" of Northern Ohio (Cleveland based) to radicalize them into revolutionary consciousness. These are uphill battles due to lack of quality leadership, coupled with the terrain of lockdown blocks, controlled movements, and confidential informants. But, the movement must be pushed, no matter how fast/slow, hard/easy it may seem. History is on our side! The NAMB is slowly but surely making headway in spreading unity and revolutionary theory. We look forward to creating an Ohio-wide, Ohio-produced treaty between all LOs inside of prison and outside.


MIM(Prisons) adds: These comrades in Ohio are doing the essential work of education and building peace and unity. Bringing lumpen organizations together into a United Front (UF) is critical, but we must always be clear what we are uniting around. The UF is a vehicle for the oppressed to unite groups against a common and principal enemy. We learn from history that this includes alliances between the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie when the fight is against the imperialist invading army. In Amerikan prisons today, this unity is among lumpen organizations against the criminal injustice system which is used by imperialist Amerika as a tool of social control.

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[Control Units] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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Allred ECB Staff Provoke Prisoner Aggression

Expansion Cell Blocks (ECB) were designed to hold two prisoners in order to increase unit capacity. But Texas officials have labeled ECB as high security in an attempt to negate the facts and distort the actual security level of the ECB.

In order to justify this use of ECB, in spite of staff shortages and unlawful conditions, the authorities create a hostile environment which conforms to their false reality. Prisoners are agitated to commit acts of violence, create disturbances, or become aggressive, so that the ECB takes on an air of a high security prisoner housing area where sanctions and restrictions are necessary. Sanctions and restrictions enable the ECB to be operated even without the staff they are short. Constant lockdown cameras have been installed to document everything. This expense must be justified. The staff creates incidents for the technology to record. Restrictions begin. Policy becomes practice.

Lights are turned on every time count is taken, food is delivered, or staff feel it is necessary. Prisoners are required to regularly produce ID and are disturbed to the point they are deprived of REM sleep. Cell searches are performed irregularly during the day and throughout the night. A heightened state of anxiety and stress is created. People kept under high levels of stress are known to snap or break.

In addition to this high stress level, prisoners at ECB are provoked by staff. Most lack the capacity to respond to chaos in a rational manner thereby perpetrating the myth of high security and enabling the authorities to further control and empower themselves.

There is a systematic campaign of psychological warfare being waged against prisoners in control units. The evidence proves sensory deprivations experienced in isolation produces extreme states of mind, impulsiveness and irrational behaviors. Statistics show a decline in mental health in prisoners confined to solitary confinement for years. Without stimulation our minds and bodies begin to break down and decay.

Prisoners are conditioned through a system of punishments and indifference to view all forms of resistance as futile. Requests aren't answered. Responses are purposely vague or misleading. Policy is interpreted to undermine prisoner autonomy. The authorities use every tactic available to promote complete dependency of the prisoner and to ensure despondency is total.

All the while the public is being told prisoners are being provided with forms of rehabilitation and that support is given to those who desire to make modifications to their mentality.

Facilities designed to house 1200 prisoners are used to house 600. Prisoners in control units, Ad-Seg or high security do not receive good time, parole or work time. Their sentences are only discharged at their maximum release date. The result is requiring more money to provide for more prisoners and more staff to control them. The goal of the prison staff is achieved.


MIM(Prisons) adds: These long-term isolation cells are a common tool of oppression in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. And we have plenty of evidence of the detrimental effect of this isolation on humyns. Get involved in the campaign to shut down control units to resist this repression in Texas and across the country.

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[Abuse] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 38]
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CA Gang Investigators Retaliate for Exposing Prison Abuse

Since my arrival at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) in July 2013 I've had to file numerous 602 appeals just to be able to utilize my two hour a week constitutional right to use the prison law library. At KVSP they like to run a very oppressive program, or I should say lack of program, and keep everybody on lockdown 24 hours a day, even on the general population and non-discipline yards. This was done all under the guise of "safety & security." Their stratagem is that we can't file any complaints on them if we don't have access to legal forms.

For the more creative prisoners, we've been able to bypass their little games and still file 602s and habeas corpus writs in our attempts to inform the outside world of the illegal practices here at the prison.

One of our writs must have struck a nerve because on 10 April at 4am, the prison's "Institutional Gang Investigators" AKA the goon squad, raided our building in full riot gear, and confiscated everyone's paperwork (books, family/legal letters, and writing materials) all in the name of "safety & security." It has been over two weeks now and the warden has given no word on exactly when we will be given access to our legal/personal documents.

Even though the majority of us have already bypassed their little blockade and have filed writs or found ways of informing our lawyers and family on the outside, these things take time. So here we sit on lockdown, with very limited access to the courts and family, awaiting relief or a full blown revolution to kick off. And although it is my personal belief that the latter will happen at some point, I also feel that it's going to take a whole lot more hard work in order to open up the eyes and ears of our fellow brothers and sisters around the world, before we all as a whole, can shout "stop!" and really have the means to add weight to our words.

Until then keep up the faith and hard work. Stay strong! This current system is at the breaking point. There is light at the end of the tunnel!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade that we have a lot of work to do to educate our brothers and sisters before we are ready to kick off the revolution. In the meantime we need to do what s/he is doing: the day to day work of exposing the abuse and brutality of the imperialist system and organizing others. We all have a responsibility to educate others however we can, whether that's by writing articles for ULK, talking to others on our block or yard, organizing a study group, teaching someone to read, or whatever else you can do to use your skills and talents to advance the struggle. Don't just sit back and read about it, get involved!

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 38]
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Texas Indigent Mail Battle Victories and Set Backs

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The Texa$ Board of Criminal (in)Justice implemented new prisoner Correspondence Rules on 1 October 2013 restricting indigent prisoners to 5 one-ounce domestic letters per month. The previous policy allowed 5 letters per week. This is a clear attack on prisoners' access to the outside world, and in particular impacts politically active prisoners who use the mail to expose the brutality and abuse going on behind bars in Texas. In response to this new policy United Struggle from Within initiated a grievance campaign, organizing prisoners to appeal this restriction. Below are several new updates to the campaign:

Successful Grievance Against Limits on Legal Mail

From Hughes Unit: "I won my grievance due to interference from the department law library which deals with offenders who are indigent. They were saying five letters a month for everything and they were trying to stop my legal mail from going out to the courts. There is no limit on legal mail! They were also trying only to give us supplies like 25 sheets of paper, one pen, five envelopes a month. But an indigent offender who is doing legal work can have this once a week, and mail out as much legal work he or she wants."

One prisoner from Allred wrote Step 1 and Step 2 grievances requesting additional stamps. Because of his need to use his 5 indigent mail stamps to pursue legal research this prisoner was unable to write to family and friends and so requested additional stamps from the Warden. The first request prior to the grievances stated "I need to mail 5 more letters this month using indigent [mail]. ... This unit law library is giving me the run around having me write and ask everybody under the sun. They don't know about the 83rd Legislature House Bill 634 by Farias of Texas. It's the holidays, I need extra 5 letters this month." The response from the Warden: "That doesn't meet any legal requirement and I don't have the authority to allow you extra postage for that." Responses to his grievances following up on the Warden's denial included denying the Step 1 for "excessive attachments." The attachments were copies of his initial attempts to resolve the issue without filing a grievance.

Based on the victory from the prisoner in Hughes Unit, we encourage prisoners to appeal their access to stamps for legal mail separately from the restriction on personal mail.

Restrictions on Receipt of Stationary

A comrade in Eastham Unit reported: "Each year the big wigs running Texas prisons decide on what to take from the prisoners next. This year it involves indigent mail and stationary sent in from the outside. Prisoners who have no money on their trust fund account are able to receive supplies (paper, pen, envelopes) and send out letters through the indigent mail. Before this March prisoners could send out five letters a week, now it's just five letters a month... What's worse is that we're charged for indigent mail services. Whenever we get money on our account, the cost for every letter mailed and each supply is deducted.

"Prior to March our friends and family could have stationary from an outside store sent to us. This was eliminated, and now our only option is purchasing stationary from commissary, and paying their prices. Like any oppressor, TDCJ enjoys coming up with new ideas and ways to make life more difficult for their captors. There's strength in numbers. The more of us who write grievances, send letters to state politicians, and get the word out to our family and friends, the better chance we have of telling our oppressors that we're not going to take this lying down."

This comrade is right on about the strength in numbers. We have a number of prisoners across the state working on this campaign to end the restrictions on correspondence in Texas, and we've come up with a few key steps for prisoners and supporters to take.

Some jailhouse lawyers have created guides to fighting this injustice as well as a broader grievance guide for Texas, and we are seeing an influx of prisoners requesting these resources. We look forward to the results of this growing activism in this state with the largest prison population and one of the highest incarceration rates in the country.

For this indigent mail campaign in particular, we have a sample step 1 grievance for prisoners to use as well as a sample step 2 grievance for those whose step 1 is rejected. Write to us for a copy of the indigent mail campaign guide.

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