Although the law says we can aid others (illiterate or unskilled) on appeals and legal work, we can no longer legally pass papers "cell to cell," so now we can only help others verbally. (Thanks to Assistant Warden Robertson).
In addition, the 2011 CDCR rules limit all grievance appeals to one single issue appeal per 14 days. If we "Abuse" this abuse of our 1st amendment right to file grievances on the government, it is cut to one per 30 days. When I got here (in 1983) it was 2 appeals per week (104/year). Then cut to 1 per week (52/year), then 1/2 per week and 1/30 days if you exercise your 1st amendment rights. I'm on my second year of the limit to 1 per 30 days because of my work exercising my legal rights.
I'm fighting this under 42 USC 1983. "Judge" Rogers keeps stalling but I got her sleazy and false dismissal reversed.
UPDATE February 2016: This case has entered court as Clark v. Jeffrey Beard CV-11-03520. The comrade fighting this has reported that Judge Rogers has thrown out all testimony from M.L. Davis (Appeal boss of San Quentin) on 4 perjuries and 1 faked document, Davis has since retired to keep his pension rather than be fired.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This limit on grievance appeals is a blatant example of the Amerikan criminal injustice system restricting prisoner's legal rights. Grievances are one of the only opportunities for prisoners to fight abuse and illegal policies and restrictions. Often these grievances are ignored or "lost". Because of these practices, and restrictions like the ones described here, United Struggle from Within initiated the grievance campaign, first in California and now in ten states across the country, with petitions for these states that prisoner's can use to demand our grievances be addressed. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state, or to help create one if you do not live in a state where this has already been done.
Los medios de comunicación le han dado mucha atención al asesinato de la Señorita Venezuela, ganadora del segundo lugar en el concurso de Miss Universo. Los expertos de noticias son rápidos para indicar que hubo más de 25,000 homicidios en Venezuela el año pasado y que es la capital mundial del homicidio. La muerte de cualquier persona mediante el asesinato y la avaricia es triste y trágica, pero los medios fallan en mencionar el índice de asesinatos en Amerika.
Las estadísticas del reporte del FBI en Crime in the U.S. (Crímen en E.U.) para el 2010-2011 tiene un índice de 14,612 asesinatos y homicidios negligentes. Esto es inferior a los 24,000 homicidios en Venezuela (2010-2011), pero no toma en cuenta los asesinatos cometidos por las Fuerzas Armadas de los E.U. alrededor del mundo. El numero de violaciones forzadas en E.U. fue de 85,593 para el 2010-2011. Esto no toma en cuenta las violaciones no reportadas ni las violaciones en la militar los noticieros con portavoz-gubernamental en los E.U. describe viciosamente los problemas y defectos de otro país para poder mantener los ojos curiosos del mundo alejados de E.U. La gente alrededor del mundo debe luchar para extinguir el crímen en sus comunidades. Pero más importante aún es que la gente entienda que el abuelo de todos los criminales es el sistema imperialista aquí en Amerika.
First and foremost let me say this is not a shot to put down any of my fellow comrades, rather this is a plea to you to step up. I am a young comrade who fortunately had the privilege of being around some good brothers who basically educated and raised me into the revolutionary I am today.
But like many, even though they taught me, they too are part of the problem we face as a whole. I say that because they took a chance with me because I stayed with a book in my hand. But I watched them for years doing the same thing I found myself doing until a year ago: Denying fellow brothers in the struggle knowledge due to stereotypical reasons.
Now don't get me wrong, there are some out there who will hurt our movement more than help, but so many times I see brothers come through with so much fight, so much fire, but they lack the knowledge to do anything with it, so it's useless. And we write them off as a fool, a hothead, and think they're unteachable. And to that I say this: It's time for us to start taking a chance and stop making excuses to not help.
We complain that there's no unity or organization in our movement but we are our own problem. It's not the brothers' fault that don't know any better, it's our fault for not teaching them. It's time for us to start taking responsibility and stop making excuses for why we didn't, and start making a plan for how we can.
This is a call to all my fellow comrades to step up and stop standing down. Stop setting limitations. Oldheads help the young, Blood help the Crip, Black man help the white. Our fight is not each other, it's those who oppose this movement. So stop focusing on the frivolous things that weaken our strength and let's truly stand on what we claim to stand for. Then and only then will we ever have a chance.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this call as an antidote to all those who write to us complaining about the lack of unity in their prison without stepping up to do anything about it. We know the battle is uphill; the capitalists have all the power and they create a culture that discourages unity and supports violence and strife. But it is our duty as revolutionaries to create opportunities to build unity. The reporting in Under Lock & Key demonstrates that the imprisoned lumpen are united by their common material conditions, even though individuals are at different stages in terms of how they respond to those conditions. It is logical to begin by uniting those who will listen, but we mustn't stop there if we hope to reach the true potential of unity among the oppressed. Work with the United Front for Peace in Prisons to develop strategies to reach the majority of prisoners and build this on a scale broad enough that we can eventually take down the criminal injustice system as a whole.
I was recently convicted of a major category offense: participating/encouraging others in a work stoppage/group demonstration. My confinement in segregation for 30 days and a loss of 30 days good time was based on a finding that I encouraged a "stoppage of buying commissary."
It is not against the rules to refuse to buy commissary, but I was convicted of encouraging people to not buy commissary. In other words I was convicted of encouraging prisoners to do something that is permitted by the rules.
In the past three years I've been convicted of only one other charge, also a major category offense. I was convicted for refusing to pay $21.50 to obtain a copy of my birth certificate.
The pigs wanted a copy of my birth certificate to put in a file. I was told I could neither see the birth certificate nor have a copy of it. I told the pigs I would give them permission to get a copy at their expense since it was for their files. The pigs refused and demanded I sign a paper granting them permission to take $21.50 from my account. I refused and I was convicted of refusing to comply with programming.
The connection to these two offenses and convictions is the only subject dear to the soul of a kkkapitalist: profit. $21.50 for a photocopy of a sheet of paper is a hefty profit when multiplied by 30,000 prisoners. And multi-million-dollar commissary sales at hugely inflated prices are orgasmic to these pigs. Destroying the swine is the only option.
Soldiers, the only course is to replace the thug and the U.$. go-vermin-ent with an authentic proletarian state. The united snakes kongress and injustice system is kkkorrupted beyond salvation because of imperialist ideals. Like cancer, imperialism has caused every limb and fiber to rot. The truth of kkkapitalist greed is found even in the tiny crevices.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We are seeing growing activism in Virginia prisons this year, which is no doubt leading them to invent these new "offenses" and charge perceived leaders with them. While we agree with this comrade that the prisons are eager to extort money from prisoners whenever possible, there isn't any profit coming directly from prisons themselves. The U.$. prison economy is a money-losing operation, subsidized by profits exploited from the international proletariat. Any money taken from prisoners just helps to offset this loss. This point is important because it underscores the true purpose of the Amerikan prison system: social control.
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. Going from twenty to just five letters a month shows how indifferent and uncaring towards our family members and friends the prison administration really is. 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 this 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.
MIM(Prisons) adds: 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.
Texas prisons are notoriously rough and primitive. Some inmates work in TCI (Texas Correctional Industries) sweatshops making products like t-shirts, shorts and detergent. We work for free and then the state sells us these products at a high cost through the prison commissary. Nonviolent prisoners earn good time and work time which is often not honored. We're caged in hot boxes with no air conditioning, and prisoners die each summer as a result. In addition to the new limits on correspondence, last September marriage by proxy was eliminated. Inmates can no longer marry their loved ones on the outside, meaning they can't get contact visits with them, or their own children. The list goes on and on.
The term divide and conquer still holds true today. TDCJ is glad the majority of us are fighting amongst ourselves, and are more consumed with television, radio and gossiping, than unity and change. Texas prisoners, do you like working for free? Do you like being a model inmate who's changed, but gets their parole denied year after year? Do you enjoy living in a negative repressive environment? If you don't, then let's drop the racial and gang nonsense. Let's quit worshipping the TV, our radios and commissary. Let's bring Texas prisons out of the dark ages and into the twenty-first century. Make sacrifices for the great good of all prisoners and our families. Oppressors only have control over their captors as long as the oppressed allow them to.
On 27 March 2014, a Federal judge in the United States District Court issued an order requiring prison staff to record any use of force, should force be required on a prisoner.
Some other prisoners and I filed a lawsuit because the pigs at Central Prison in Raleigh used blind spots in the current video system to hide from surveillance so they could beat prisoners. We also informed the courts of the "lack of policy for proper method of investigation in any use-of-force incidents."
As a result, Judge Terrance Boyle appointed an expert (former corrections administrator Eldon Vail) to review the prison's surveillance system. Based on several problems he found, he made five recommendations.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) prisons adopted four of the recommendations but said using a hand-held video camera is not feasible and placed "undue burden upon Central Prison." However, on Thursday, 27 March 2014 Judge Boyle ordered the fifth recommendation be adopted. His order stated "...defendants are placed on notice that if there is not voluntary compliance and implementation of the recommendation, a preliminary injunction will ensue."
The pigs deny any abuse, saying they used minimal amounts of force required to deal with prisoners characterized as the "worst of the worst" among the prison system's population.
Still the state agreed last year to install more security cameras to cover previously unmonitored areas. But Vail's report said the new cameras still don't monitor all the blind spots where prisoners say the abuse occurs. Vail also reported finding lenses so out-of-focus and smudged with grime that it was difficult to make out what the camera was recording.
The recommendations made by Vail that must be followed are:
Adjust each camera that demonstrates a pattern of "freezing" to improve motion detection sensitivity.
Establish a written preventive maintenance schedule for lens cleaning, camera refocusing and replacement of faulty cameras.
Install additional cameras to view the sally ports of each cell block in Unit 1.
Modify the video surveillance retention policy and procedure to clarify the responsibility to provide notice to the video retention officer to preserve a video by the unit supervisor from the investigator's responsibility to request a copy of the video for the investigation.
Change the use of force policy, SOP 4.100, to require that a handheld video camera operator respond to the scene of spontaneous use-of-force incidents and that a camera remain on until the event is over and [prisoner] has been safely placed in a cell.
This fifth recommendation means that during an anticipated use-of-force (any use-of-force) a hand-held camera will be used until a prisoner is no longer in contact with the pigs.
We are now getting ready for a pretrial conference. But we are one step closer to getting justice. We have at least made the prison safer. Now the pigs will not have anywhere to hide.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This update to the ongoing legal battle in North Carolina is good news for this carefully planned and hard fought legal battle. We know that often we cannot win when fighting abuse by employees of the criminal injustice system in their own courts. But sometimes the courts have to pretend objectivity and, when presented with facts that show the NCDPS is violating their own laws and policies, we can win some improvements to conditions. While the courts won't be where we make revolutionary change, for now we can use them as one tool to struggle against abuse. We must always accompany these court battles with publicity and education about the case, using them to expose both the brutality we are fighting and the injustice when the courts rule against us.
Comrades here at Special Management Unit (SMU - long-term isolation) are doing what they can to protest and fight against the illegal housing that they are being subjected to. Prisoners here are going on hunger strikes and are suffering due to the lack of outside support. Further, the DOC has taken actions to keep outside inquiries from being made public and the news media is refusing to expose the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Georgia's SMU unit.
Prisoners are being transferred to SMU for refusing to participate in the so-called tier step down programs they've started in Georgia. The DOC is trying to force lumpen groups to be housed two men in a 24-hour lockdown cell, thus placing prisoners in physical jeopardy, in order to start a war. Just another attempt to enact the Willie Lynch mentality amongst these prisoners. Before, the prisoners enacted peace and brotherhood policies amongst and between the lumpen groups, and there was no tier step down program. So this program is to create strife amongst the brotherhood by building enough stress and confusion to destroy peace that prisoners worked hard to establish.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We have received a lot of reports about the hunger strike in Georgia, and the struggles against SMU classification. The unity and awareness being built in Georgia prisons is definitely frightening the prison administrators. This is an important lesson for organizers: when we build for peace among the lumpen organizations our enemies will take this as a call to war. The United Front for Peace in Prisons is bringing together organizations and individuals in this important battle. Get involved today in building peace in your prison.
While capitalism advances technology and produces consumables at high rates, most people lack decent health care April 1 - The deadline for enrollment in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed last night, and there are now 4.4 million people in the United $tates newly enrolled in Medicaid health insurance plans sponsored by the federal government, and another 8 million people newly enrolled in government-regulated private insurance plans.(1) Those who do not enroll in any insurance and are not covered by a plan through their family, work or school will face fines. For people with incomes less than 400% of the federal "poverty line," the plans are subsidized by the government, and those with less than 138% of this cut off will receive free health care via Medicaid. In the end, for at least the lumpen class the penalty will actually cost them more than having health insurance would cost.
This new healthcare system in the United $tates, often called "Obamacare," is far from socialist, but it does serve as a good reminder of the failures of capitalism to care for some of the basic needs of imperialist country citizens. The United $tates has had government-run healthcare for military service people and their families since the 1800s, and for the relatively poor, disabled and elderly since the 1960s with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. But these programs serve a minority of Amerikans, leaving the rest to seek health care through insurance provided by their work or through privately purchased plans or by paying directly for services. This means that people out of work or in jobs that don't provide insurance coverage are often left without any health insurance. The ACA attempts to address this problem by providing a government-run program to help insure citizens without coverage.
We're not going to take on the critics who say that health care quality would go down if run by the Amerikan government. These same people would abolish free universal education, privatize water distribution, and eliminate the fire department. This is a debate between different factions of the bourgeoisie, and not worth the time of communists, except to point out that we have fundamentally different values. We have no need to defend the ability of a capitalist government to run these programs well because we don't support capitalist governments. And we know that the profit motive does not make for greater "efficiency", as capitalists like to claim. We see this clearly in the United $tates where food is dumped rather than distributed to people going hungry, and the tremendous waste of money on advertising rather than meeting basic needs.
Communists think about health care the same way we think about education, food, clean water and other basic necessities. These are things we seek to provide to all people indiscriminately. We prioritize basic humyn needs over luxury items like boats, fancy cars, big houses, TVs, etc. Capitalism, on the other hand, functions on the concept that profitable luxury items are a priority over basic humyn needs. While in a matter of years capitalism has gotten hand-held computers into the hands of anyone with a little disposable income, the decades-long struggle against easily preventable diseases in the Third World continues. Millions of children under five years old die each year in southern Asia and Africa south of the Sahara as a result. We believe that the Affordable Care Act should offer these people free health care services as well. While the ACA has proven once again that small reforms in capitalism can be achieved when they serve the interests of imperialist country citizens, capitalism will never allow reforms to improve the lot of the rest of the world. In fact, even within U.$. borders non-citizens are not eligible for insurance under the ACA. Those most in need, working the hardest and most dangerous jobs for the least money, are still denied basic health care.
While it's easy for Amerikans to ignore what goes on outside of their borders, it should be an embarrassment for Amerikan imperialism that the individualism of its citizens is so strong that until now they had refused health care to even their own relatively well-off citizens. Even now, many across the country continue to fight and resist this new law. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Amerikans who wanted to buy health insurance on their own were often rejected by the health plans for "pre-existing conditions." This means the health plans were picking only the healthiest individuals for insurance, leaving those with even minor history of health problems with no recourse because most insurance plans in the United $tates are privately run for a profit. Now most insurance in this country is still run for profit, but the federal and state governments provide minimum standards of care that must be provided with every policy, and sell these approved insurance plans on a marketplace, in hopes that the market competition inherent in capitalism will increase quality and transparency while reducing cost.
Abolishing the profit motive behind health care will be a priority for communists when we take control of a government. We want to make preventive care and treatment available to all people. The new ACA law in the United $tates does not eliminate private insurance or remove the profit from health care, and it's a fundamentally timid step towards universal coverage for Amerikans. But it does enable people to get health insurance regardless of income or health status. For Amerikan citizens this is progress. And for most it is part of the ongoing bribery of these citizens by the imperialists, ensuring their allegiance to the imperialist system. However, a large number of the uninsured in the United $tates come from the oppressed nation lumpen class, and the ACA is a positive step for the survival and healthy living of this group which has a relatively high material interest in revolution.(3) Overall we see the ACA as a progressive step towards universal health care for everyone in the world, if only because it demonstrates the concept of health care as a basic right.
We will continue to fight for health care for the world's exploited and oppressed, who are mostly found in the Third World, where even basic medical services are difficult to obtain. 801,000 children under age 5 die from diarrhea each year, most of which are caused by lack of access to clean water and sanitation. More than 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year. 86% of deaths among children under age 5 are preventable and due to communicable, treatable disease, birth issues and lack of nutrition. These abysmal numbers would cost very little to rectify. Truly universal health care is a priority for communists, and the statistics above are just a few reasons why the overthrow of capitalism is literally a life or death issue for the majority of the world's people.
In approximately 1.5 years, between 2 February 2012 and 1 December 2013, there were 50 reported cases of censorship of material sent by MIM Distributors in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). The censored material included copies of MIM Theory and Under Lock & Key, along with informational zines and personal letters.
Out of those 50 reported cases a staggering 78% (39) of them were censored with no reason being given as to why they had been censored. This is typical of the IDOC.
If they do not like a given topic they will ban it without giving any reason why. This is a continuing violation of prisoners' constitutional rights. The only way to combat this injustice is by filing grievances and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil suits.
Resist! Rebel! Defy!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Many facilities in Illinois have enacted total bans on our mail. Get involved in the campaign to fight censorship in Illinois. We need legal help both behind bars from our jailhouse lawyers and from lawyers on the streets.