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Under Lock & Key

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[Security] [MIM(Prisons)]
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Lavabit Court Case Over FBI Right to Demand Encryption Keys

While news of online spying by the U.$. government is growing, a court case may provide even broader access for government agencies. This case involves Lavabit, the former email provider for MIM(Prisons). On January 28, the owner of Lavabit went to court to appeal the contempt of court ruling against the company for failing to hand over encryption keys to his email service. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet rendered a verdict, but it will have significant implications on what the government can demand of email providers in the future. This case revolves around the Lavabit SSL keys. These keys were used to decrypt incoming traffic from Lavabit users accessing via an encrypted connection. If Lavabit had given up the keys before shutting down their operation, the government could capture every users password next time they logged in and have full access to their email.

Last June Lavabit was ordered to give the government a live feed of email activity for a specific account. People generally assume this was Edward Snowden's account based on court filing information that refers to his violations of the Espionage Act and theft of government property. Lavabit founder Lader Levison offered to transmit the information requested after 60 days, claiming he needed time to reprogram his system to collect the information. We can't be sure what Levison would have ultimately handed over, but this is further evidence that users can not rely on their email providers for security. In fact, in court Lavabit's attorney claims that Levison had complied with at least one similar court order in the past.(1)

In July, after Levison's delay, the FBI served Levison with a search warrant demanding the private SSL keys that would enable them to decrypt all traffic to and from the site. The government promised to only use the keys for the individual targeted and said they would not spy on the other 410,000 Lavabit users.(2)

The FBI had already begun collecting encrypted data from Lavabit's upstream provider in anticipation of getting the key to decrypt it, and they still have this data.(2) If the government has the SSL keys, all emails for an unknown period of time for all users on the Lavabit email system are in the hands of the government.

After an August 1 court order upholding the government's demand for the Lavabit SSL keys, Levison did turn them over, but as an 11 page printout in 4-point type.(1) This was clearly an attempt to comply in form without making the key usable, or at least delaying its usability. But in spite of the paper form, the government now has the Lavabit SSL keys, all they need to do is manually enter the 2,560 characters. While tedious, this is certainly doable and we think it likely that they quickly completed this work.

The government responded to the printout by demanding an electronic format and on August 6 began fining Levison $5,000 per day until he complied with the FBI's order. Levison shut down Lavabit altogether on August 8.(2)

Although the government and the appellate court Judge hearing the case both claim the SSL keys could not be used for anything other than the individual target in question, the search warrant and sanctions order both place no restrictions on what can be done with the key.(2) Not that we think the government complies with these sorts of formalities anyway.

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[Russia] [U.S. Imperialism] [Europe] [Ukraine] [ULK Issue 37]
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Russia Seizes Crimea in Inter-Imperialist Battle

ukraine crimea black sea region
In November 2013, the elected government of Ukraine caused a stir for rejecting a deal with the European Union citing the overly burdensome terms of the aid package offered by the U.$.-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since we last reported on Ukraine (see ULK 36), opposition forces with Western support have implemented a regime change, ousting president Viktor Yanukovich from the country. This put a deal with the IMF back on the table. Ukrainians once again face the prospect of more wealth being sucked from their country via imperialist loans and imposed economic policies.

While opposition to the oligarchy that has ruled Ukraine has united the Western imperialists with Ukrainian fascist parties, austerity measures imposed by the IMF will threaten this alliance shortly. The new offer from the IMF will require hiking energy prices that have been subsidized by the state, one of the deal breakers cited by Yanukovich in November.

The regime change was a loss for Russian economic interests. In response, on 27 February 2014, Russian forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, a majority Russian region of the current Ukraine state. On 6 March 2014 Crimea's regional assembly voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The next day leaders of the Russian Parliament said they would support this move. The decision calls for a referendum for the people of Crimea to vote on this, scheduled for 16 March.(1)

The New York Times has made much of the battle over the right to self-determination in recent strife between the United $tates and the Russian Federation. Struggles in the Black Sea region in recent decades have been primarily inter-imperialist battles, and there is no principle behind the imperialists' actions except for their economic interests to have access to more markets, natural resources and people to exploit. Meanwhile, the proletariat's interest is defined by putting an end to this exploitation. Therefore we support the side that most threatens the control and penetration of the imperialists over the oppressed nations.

The Amerikans are saying the Russian invasion of Crimea is totally different from their meddling in Libya, Venezuela, Syria, Iran... just to name a few. But this is all posturing and a question of tactics, and the United $tates often is able to use more subtle tactics because of its greater power. In all cases it is the continuation of imperialist war to maintain profits.

While the situation in Crimea is still unresolved and potentially volatile as we write this, Russian officials have been quoted recognizing Kiev has gone pro-West. At the same time, Russia is talking with the IMF to get in on the Ukraine bail out.(2)

The IMF was part of the Bretton Woods project, which was organized by the imperialist countries after World War II in an attempt to prevent the protectionism and trade barriers that led to the economic crisis in the capitalist core, and drove them to war in both WWI and WWII. Many sanctions and trade barriers are being threatened in the current conflict. But, if Russia is allowed to export some finance capital to Ukraine as part of the imperialist plan for the country, and Russia gets to keep Crimea under its sphere of influence, then a hot war between Russia and the West will likely be averted.

The IMF is basically run by the United $tates, which has 16.75% of the votes. Meanwhile the U.$.-led imperialist camp (U.$., Japan, Germany, France, U.K., Italy and Canada) has 43.74% of votes. Russia has only 2.39%.(3) In addition to the IMF loans, the United $tates has talked of unilateral aid, as long as Ukraine "takes the reforms it needs."(4) So Russia will see a significant loss in its economic interests in the Ukraine overall, but will likely see a small piece of the pie as serving its interests better than an all out war with the United $tates.

The framework developed at Bretton Woods has been a relatively effective solution to one of the inherent contradictions of the imperialist economic system. However, it does not eliminate inter-imperialist rivalry, it just manages it. While a war on North Amerikan or Western European soils is being avoided at all costs, it is not out of the question. It will certainly come before socialism can reach those lands. War is inherent to imperialism. And it is our position that World War III has been an ongoing low-intensity war against the Third World by the imperialists since the end of WWII.(5) In recent decades this war has been primarily waged by the United $tates. While inter-imperialist war has been secondary in this period, the struggle between different imperialist interests is an antagonistic contradiction that cannot be resolved without ending imperialism. As such conflicts heat up, those in the imperialist countries will be reminded that imperialism does not serve their interests when it comes to the threat of annhilation in war. These conflicts also create breathing room for the oppressed nations to develop their own political interests independent of imperialism. The key to the survival of the humyn species is to develop such movements before the imperialists kill us all.

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[Abuse] [Religious Repression] [Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting Sanitary Conditions, Grooming Court Victory in Texas

In the William P. Clements Prison unit in Amarillo, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is now selling us 50 sheets of low quality paper on commissary for $1.80. Here in the extended cell block, High Security A.K.A. Segregation, we have showers in our cells. They only come on 15 minutes per day. We are only issued a clean towel 3 times per week: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. So we go Saturday, Sunday and Monday on the same towel.

Here's the problem. Once you are done with your shower the spray covers at least 1/3 of your cell. If you use this towel to dry all this grey water up you no longer have a towel suitable to dry your body off the next day after a shower. If we get caught with a second towel for use in this purpose we receive a disciplinary case for extra necessities. I personally grieved this issue and it was denied because policy states we're only allowed one towel at a time. This is a sanitary issue.

These are just some of the injustices we see here in the Texas department of Criminal Justice. On another level though Texas inmates just won a small victory when the federal courts ruled TDCJ was violating our religious rights by making prisoners of certain faiths shave or cut their hair, like Rastafarians, Native Americans, Muslims, Amish, and Jews. We are still waiting for the change in grooming policy but we won.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Compared to some of the brutality, long-term isolation, and medical neglect, lack of a clean towel may seem like a minor issue facing Amerikan prisoners. But it is these minor issues that really illustrate the irrationality of the prisons in this country. Why would it be a disciplinary case for a prisoner to have a second towel to keep his cell clean? How could this good hygiene practice be dangerous or otherwise problematic? Prisons withold small "privileges" like this as an arbitrary form of punishment. There is no educational or reform purpose. There is just a long list of such actions adding up to unsanitary, disrespectful, unstimulating, and counter productive living conditions (when prisoners aren't being beaten, tortured, starved, or otherwise physically abused).

Prisoners will come together to fight for these minor issues, as we see with this court victory for religious expression with haircuts in Texas. It is our job as revolutionaries to take these small battles and use them as educational opportunities to show others how these issues fit into the broader system of imperialism where prisons are used as a tool of social control.

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[Education] [Virginia]
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I am in Charge of your Destruction

My roommate is serving a life sentence. A few years ago he became eligible for parole but each year he is denied with an admonition to "obtain your GED before your next parole hearing."

He has been in prison 20+ years so why hasn't he obtained his GED? Is he ignorant? Lazy? Stubborn? No, each year he submits a request to attend school and each year his request is denied because "classes are reserved for inmates with five years or less remaining on their sentences." Persyns with life sentences will always have more than five years remaining.

The parole board Chairpersyn and the Education Director refuse to compromise. Each states emphatically, "I am in charge and this is my policy."

The imperialist/capitalist mindset views power as a goal in and of itself because imperialism is built upon domination, subjugation, and starvation of "those other people."

Socialism/communism views power as a means to a worthy goal. The view is toward the community or collective, and power is used to help each persyn find his or her place of function or service within the collective. A communist who sees a worker on the roadside with a flat tire will stop and show the worker how to change the tire. The imperialist will stop and flatten the other three tires, then punish the worker for being late to work by docking the pay.

In American life we see many selfish abuses of power. For example, almost 100% of persyns released from prison are at the lower end of the American socio-economic scale. Yet their criminal convictions will make them ineligible for low income housing. And if they have a conviction for a "sex offense," they are pretty much prohibited from living anywhere except landfills and moon craters.

Criminal convictions in American "society" restrict employment to generally the most menial and lowest paying jobs. Yet imperialist judges demand fines, court costs, and restitution payments begin immediately. Usually there are additional monthly fees for parole and for court-ordered treatment programs. Plus, the former prisoner's drivers license is suspended or revoked until these payments are made, effectively hindering the mode of transportation to seek or maintain employment.

Deification of the individual ego and crushing the down-trodden are lauded achievements in imperialist nations. The only treatment for these symptoms is decapitation and removal of the minds that develop and implement politics designed to keep the impoverished in poverty.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer provides some excellent examples of how the criminal injustice system (CIJ) works to keep the lumpen class down. And as this article notes, the CIJ is an integral part of the imperialist system, serving an effective role of social control. The author outlines the ultimate solution to this problem: overthrowing imperialism and implementing a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat. But in the short term we can also fight these repressive policies through independent institutions of the oppressed that build the anti-imperialist movement. Two of these that are directly relevant here are our educational study groups and literature for prisoners, and our Re-lease on Life program. Both work within the current legal system, the first to provide educational materials and classes to prisoners motivated to study, and the second to help prisoners stay out and politically active once they are released. Write to us to get involved in building these programs.

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[Civil Liberties] [Hunger Strike] [Gang Validation] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Denial of Constitutional Rights to STGs Spreads to North Carolina

Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has just enacted a gang program, which is nothing shy of draconian. Even for a state that is draconian to begin with.

It started when these pigs separated all of the inmates who were not listed as "STG" from the inmates who were considered part of the "Security Threat Group." Federal law allows violation of prisoners' Constitutional rights during times of emergency, when there is a "threat to the security of the institution." By naming inmates a "security threat," they are basically saying that these inmates have no Constitutional rights. They are being forced to shower in chains, handcuffs and shackles, and are pretty much being denied any and all rights.

The gang program is locked down 23 hours a day, and requires going 6 months infraction free to step down a single step. There are 3 steps in all, and a class of "STG associate" after that. This could force prisoners to go infraction free for 2 full years to get out of the program. Along with this program came a whole new set of rules which makes it nearly impossible to go infraction free without favoritism from the police. Of course, the only way you get that is by snitching, which in such an environment would get a prisoner killed. Being listed as an associate could be justified by something as small as an officer's claim that you said something gang-related, or even my writing this article.

In response to this new policy, prisoners on 3 of the 8 STG blocks have declared a hunger strike. More prisoners on the STG unit are doing the same, in an attempt to break down this program in its infancy. The pigs are responding by cutting off their communication so they cannot be heard. I only learned of this by accident when a "Non-STG" prisoner was moved into my block to make room for more STG blocks.

This policy is being carried out in many states as we speak. Gang members are still human beings, and therefore entitled to the same protections as everyone else. Prisoners need to stand together everywhere and shut this down before it goes into full effect.

This article referenced in:
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[Censorship] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Don't Be Silenced - Censor Victory in North Carolina

On 14 February 2014, I won a very small victory in my struggle against the oppression of political beliefs in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

On 10 February 2014, I received two notices from the mail room, indicating that both the November/December (#35) and the January/February (#36) issues of Under Lock & Key were being rejected. The reasons given were that these publications supported "disobedience and insurrection."

Due to the fact that ULK #35 was already on the banned publication list, I was not permitted to appeal this rejection, however, I was permitted to appeal the ULK #36 because it had not yet made the master list held by NCDAC.

I brought up a constitutional argument about how prisons cannot maintain a list of banned materials, my right to my political beliefs, and the fact that a prison can not ban a publication just because it does not approve of the organization it comes from. This was decided in a court case called Williams v. Brimeyer, 116 F. 3d 351, 354 (8th circuit 1997). I also argued that ULK does not promote insurrection and disorder, yet uses prison issues to promote peaceful change to both prisons and the outside world through education and the study of politics.

Surprisingly, when mail came today, issue 36 of ULK had been returned to me. Sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe in and not give up. For anybody who faces the rejection of the ULK newsletter, I would like to make known, that ULK does not contain a significant security risk to prisons, and therefore is constitutionally protected. If your newsletter has been rejected, I strongly recommend that you fight for it on this basis. Do not allow anyone to silence the struggle.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Mental Health] [California]
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Pantries, Poisons, and Gassings: Abuse of Mental Patients in Security Housing Units

It seems that change in our society is only brought about by those of our populace who are considered to be radicals, so this piece is written for those radicals who are compassionate enough to care and who will take the necessary efforts to make a lasting difference for those of us who are held and tortured in Security Housing Units (SHUs), which are specifically dedicated for those prisoners who are supposed to be under the care of an institution's mental health system. These american gulags are also known as "Psychiatric Services Units" (PSUs).

These specially dedicated SHUs are rarely, if ever, visited by outside prisoner rights organizations, to my knowledge; and the prisoners housed therein are simply forgotten. These prisoners have no representatives and no means to voice their concerns and so the atrocities accumulate unchecked.

Aggressive and sadistic prison guards have been known to pepper spray an individual until they cannot breathe due to the accumulation of micronized capsicum (pepper essence) absorbed into their lungs after the guard empties onto the individual several canisters of the corrosive irritant chemical weapon. This is not third party hearsay, I know of it personally, for it has happened to me. Of course nothing is done about it when you have the foxes guarding the henhouse.

Think a prisoner can obtain justice through the prison's administrative grievance systems? You had better think about it again, no way. And the courts, including the federal courts, will not entertain themselves of the issues of complaint where the completion of the administrative appeals process has been denied by a corrupt prison administration; it has been made law, a statutory prerequisite otherwise known in litigation circles as a "procedural bar." It creates gross injustice and perpetrates unchecked human abuse which is tolerated by our society, it is a blatant indication of how cruel and vicious we have become as a people.

Even more sinister is the presence of food pantries created within each of the blocks of SHU/PSU units, which are independent from the main kitchens where mainstream prisoners receive their meals. These food pantries are not under the control of licensed food service employees and are in fact totally controlled by the guards assigned to that block. Those prisoners who are targeted by the "system" quite often find themselves physically sickened by the meals they are served, meals which stink with rotten foodstuffs. Milk cartons are served bloated with full-blown contamination.

The milk is a favored vehicle to get an inmate victim to ingest a "knock-out" drug and get raped while he is unconscious. This is a fact; it has happened to me twice. Also milk is utilized in these modernized dungeons as a tool to get unsuspecting targeted prisoner victims to consume psychotropic substances which has the effect of a "truth serum" and is used as an aid in covert interrogation of all prisoners suspected by debriefer informants and snitches. And, for the same purpose targeted prisoners are placed in cells with low pressure or dysfunctional ventilation systems which are used to force irritant gasses, pepper spray or other toxic obnoxious chemical weapons through to be inhaled by the occupant of that particular cell. In addition to the above abuses, the usual torture routine includes the air cooling system on full blast in mid-winter, and the heating system turned full up in mid-summer.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We appreciate the risk that our comrades take to get reports of such horrible abuses to Under Lock & Key. Information like this is important to get out because, as this writer points out, very few people are looking at these prisons or monitoring the treatment there. But Under Lock & Key is more than a tool of exposure, it is a rallying point for activists and leaders to bring together others and work out strategies and tactics in our fight against the criminal injustice system. We should read reports like this one and be outraged. And then we should turn that outrage into action, working to educate others and build support for our fight to put an end to this system of injustice.

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 37]
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Texas Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence Campaign Update

When a prisoner writes the TDCJ Executive Director it will always be forwarded to the Ombudsman. They (Ombud) will always reply that they do not respond to prisoner complaints and that the grievance procedures should be followed. It's a "closed loop" to prisoners.

The Call to Action that I wrote which included the contacts were primarily for our family and friends to put pressure on authorities so that our grievances are more effective - eg. our families should contact the Executive Director and Ombudsman to file an official complaint about the policy change.

I got my Step 2 back around November and I sent it to the Texas Civil Rights Project to see if they would be interested in representing this issue in a lawsuit. I am yet to get a response from the Texas Civil Rights Project. It could be worth while if someone could contact them (TCRP) about this issue to prompt a response to my correspondence to them as I know they get piles of mail every week.

We not only need to file grievances but also strongly encourage our freeworld friends and family to contact all the contacts on the Call to Action to put a lot of pressure on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice to repeal the policy.

I believe it is futile to send the Texas Grievance Petition to the Executive Director because of the closed loop with the correspondence being forwarded to the Ombudsman. It could be worthwhile for freeworld people to send a version of the petition to the Exec Dir but I think prisoners need to start directing the petition to someone else.

I also want to mention that this mail restriction should not affect legal/privileged correspondence - prisoners should still be able to send 5 per week.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We received information from another prisoner on this same issue:

Comrades in Texas, do not send your petitions to the Executive Director or Central Grievance office because they are not working in our favor. They only forward the petitions to departments that don't address these issues, who contacted me and said "address this grievance related issues on a unit level with the grievance investigators."

We on the Polunsky plantations are sending our petitions to: ARRM Division, Administrator, PO Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099. I suggest that all Texas prisoners do the same so that we will be in solidarity. Let's flood their office with our complaints. If this doesn't work we will flood the DOJ in Washington DC. Let's work in solidarity!

We agree with these comrades' recommendations that prisoners focus sending their grievances to somewhere other than the Executive Director. We suggest the following addresses:


ARRM Division, Administrator
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342-0099

Senator John Whitmire
PO Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

Oliver Bell
Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice
PO Box 13084
Austin, TX 78711-3084

We also now have a sample Step 2 grievance available to those who had their Step 1 on this issue rejected. Write to us if you need a copy of this.

We know this campaign is not going to change the criminal injustice system in any significant way. But restrictions on mail access is equivalent to cutting many people off from the outside world. And for those who are engaged in educational and organizing work, this is a significant problem. For this reason, focusing a campaign on restrictions on indigent correspondence is important to our broader organizing work.

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[Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 37]
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Pelican Bay SHU Update, Small Progress After Hunger Strike

I want to give you some updates on some new developments around here. In the last couple of months here in the PBSP SHU we are now being given more privileges. We are now allowed 3 hour visits and the items/property that we may buy and possess was expanded so that we can now have 40 pictures, up from the previous allowed 15 pictures, we can have a bowl and cup, slippers/houseshoes, jalapeƱos, hot sauce, 2 pairs of sweats and thermals and two appliances, and others have already received a CD player/tape player for the radio. So it just goes to show that there was no reason to deny us such things in the first place.

Also, on 11 February 2014 Assembly Member Tom Ammiano introduced Assembly Bill No. 1652, which if passed and signed into law would limit the time validated inmates would spend in the SHU solely based on validation status to 36 months. It would also allow validated prisoners to earn and receive good time credits again. Write to: Legislative Bill Room, State Capitol, Room B22, Sacramento, CA 95814, and request a copy of the bill, or have someone on the outside go to www.leginfo.ca.gov.

Lastly, a new favorable validation case came out last year: In RE Cabrera, 216 CAL. APP. 4th 1522 C CAL. APP. 5th Dist. 2013. There's some good news but let's not get comfortable as we have a long way to go to abolish solitary confinement. Getting Assembly Bill No. 1652 passed would be a big step in the right direction, so get involved in any way you can and spread the word.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've said before that you can't reform torture. California Assembly Bill No. 1652 would certainly improve individuals' lives by shortening the length of torture they face. But the state will still be terrorizing prisoners with the threat of 3 years in isolation for talking to people the state doesn't like or sporting a tattoo they find offensive or being a member of an organization they are opposed to.

The In RE Cabrera on Habeas Corpus case may make it a little harder for the CDCR to torture people for just a tattoo as it requires that one piece of evidence used to label a prisoner a Security Threat Group member must prove a two-way relationship between the prisoner and the group. Still, the process of "validation" using secret evidence remains in place making it hard for SHU prisoners to even know if this case applies to them.

As this comrade says, we still have a long way to go to abolish solitary confinement. But the progress in terms of organizing and building an opposition to this blatant torture and social control shows that the oppressed will not put up with this forever. Once a symbol of the state's strength over the oppressed, the torture kkkamps across the United $tates are becoming a point of weakness that exposes its oppressive nature while rallying resistance to its repression.

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Mental Health] [Campaigns] [State Correctional Institution Albion] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania Prisoners Petition to End Torture and Abuse

MIM(Prisons) received this petition from one of our readers. We print it here in full because it does a good job exposing the neglect and abuse at SCI Albion. We do sometimes engage in petitioning government officials for reforms in prison, though petitions with such a broad scope of abuses do not have a history of success. Nonetheless, campaigns such as this one are important educational tools and we hope this one inspires activists to get involved in fighting the criminal injustice system in Pennsylvania. Our one point of disagreement is with the introductory quote from the Anarchist organizer Anthony Rayson: as we have repeatedly demonstrated, prisons are not "for-profit" and in fact take a big loss subsidized by the U.$. government.

A Call to End Oppression: United We Stand

"Prisons aren't about crime control, they're about for-profit repression. In fact they are a huge, government-run, criminal enterprise wildly profitable, & completely paid for by ripped-off taxpayers." - Anthony Rayson

The State Correctional Institution Albion in Western Pennsylvania, is a notorious prison for frequent abuse & torture of prisoners, some are held years in solitary confinement without any chance to see daylight, medical negligence has led to the suffering and death of thousands of prisoners. Lack of adequate mental health care has driven many to commit suicide. The taxpayer's money is being used to prop up an untamed beast that only the people of Pennsylvania can stop.

We ask that you support the struggle for humane conditions and rehabilitation by signing the attached petition, copying it, and mail it to the listed officials, or sacrifice a few minutes of your time by calling the officials and stating the demands/issues in the petition.


Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
202-353-1555

Secretary of Corrections
John E. Wetzel
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
717-728-0312

Senator Ronald Waters
6027 Ludlow St - Unit A
Philadelphia, PA 19112
215-748-6712

Senator Shirley Kitchen
1701 W. Lehigh Ave, Suite 107
Philadelphia, PA 19132
214-227-6161

Senator Le Anna Washington
1555-A Wadsworth Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19150
215-272-0475

Governor Tom Corbett
225 Capitol Bldg
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-2500



Public Complaint & Petition
To: U.S. Department of Justice
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania State Senators
Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel

From:

Date:

Re: Stop prisoner abuse - inadequate medical/mental health treatment & care - real rehabilitation
This petition comes pursuant to and in full compliance with the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution and Pennsylvania Constitution Article 1 Section 20; the people have the authority to petition government officials and to redress of grievances.

Inadequate Mental Health Treatment

SCI Albion officials are not providing adequate mental health treatment to mentally ill prisoners that are warehoused in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) (Solitary Confinement) that exacerbates their mental deterioration (i.e. cutting/self-mutilation, suicides attempts, smearing/throwing of fecal matter & bodily waste, etc.)

Mary Beth Anderson, an unlicensed psychologist assigned to the RHU to provide and assist prisoners with psycho-therapy, fails to comply with the PDOC policy DC-Adm. 6.5.1 that states: "Psychologist is to visit the RHU 5 days a week and evaluate each inmate in the RHU every 30 days," Ms. Anderson clearly acts hostile to, and in an unethical manner towards prisoners under her care who have sought assistance. Two such prisoners under Mary Beth Anderson's personal responsibility committed suicide, Stoney Schaefer on October 25, 2012, and Harry Cooper on December 9, 2012. Prisoners continue to deteriorate detrimentally in the RHU due to the lack of treatment, with no apparent signs of improvement.

Dr. Steven Reilly, (LMP), is the supervisor of all the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologists" at SCI Albion, who allegedly has been known to manipulate a prisoner's diagnoses, and also dictates to the institution's psychiatrist Dr. Gottsman how to prescribe to the prisoner(s), even when it doesn't conform correctly to a mental disorder; a review of a prisoner's dispensed "psychotropic" medication(s) and their joint-diagnoses will bear this out as occurring.

He also allows the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologist" staff to neglect prisoners who seek help. Two cases in point were of James Whitman who committed suicide September 22, 2013, and a prisoner named Myers who set fire to his cell on the Special Needs Unit (housing unit for mentally ill) October 9, 2013, in an apparent attempted suicide as a result of being denied the treatment that's offered by the department.

Officials at SCI Albion house prisoners who attempt suicide in a Psychological Observation Cell (POC) these cells are designed as torture chambers where prisoners arey confined 24 hours a day with no counseling or therapy, the lights stay on round the clock, and they are forced to wear only a smock (cloth dress mode). These torture chambers only intensify their psychoses that only make them worse upon their return to general population, causing them to receive misconducts and then warehousing them in RHU (Solitary Confinement).

According to the Department of Correction's policy "All Correctional Officers shall receive an annual psychological evaluation," yet SCI Albion officers completely ignore this policy, guards at SCI Albion have not had their psychological evaluations done in years, for some decades, the resulting neglect ramps up the intensity leading to abuse and guards assaulted. The psychological evaluation is also necessary for guards who are active in the military that go to war and return to work with prisoners seething with a combat mentality. Data collected by the International Academy of Suicide Research indicate that prison guard's suicide rates are 39% higher than similar averages for other jobs. If proper psychological evaluations are carried out, it may prevent suicides of guards.

Inadequate Medical Treatment

Prisoners at SCI Albion are being denied proper health care. Prisoners held in the RHU (Solitary Confinement) that send in a request for medical treatment (sick call) get a physician's assistant at their door who attempts to diagnose them based on a brief conversation. Because of this, most prisoners are misdiagnosed, thus violating federal law (Privacy Act), by openly allowing prisoners' medical information disclosed within earshot to everyone on the "pod" (including prisoners).

Many prisoners who request medical treatment in general population and go to see the doctor or physician assistant, are often told to come back or are briefly seen and misdiagnosed. Derrick Jones, a former SCI Albion prisoner won a $312,000 lawsuit for medical negligence at the prison due to a misdiagnosis of a broken ankle as a sprain and inadequate treatment.

Many prisoners with serious medical conditions remain in general population in unsanitary conditions (housing) where they spread their diseases to other prisoners. Prisoners who are on the verge of their demise get housed in the infirmary where they are met with hostile nurses who don't have much regard for life. Dennis Austin died at the infirmary with bed-sores that were grossly infected, confirming a clear disregard for life even at the infirmary. Prisoners continue to die/suffer to death due to lack of adequate care.

No Access to Courts

Valarie C. Kusiak (CCPM) and acting Deputy Melinda Adams are both in charge of the law library at SCI Albion where prisoners' access to the courts and law library are denied. The law library sessions mostly are canceled with no make-up dates; also prisoners are allowed only one 30 minute slot per week access which hinders their research abilities to type up documents and make copies. Also, Ms. Kusiak and Ms. Adams took all the law books out of the law library denying prisoners vital information needed for research. In times of court deadlines, prisoners are not granted extra time to prepare documents and are denied the means to make copies, often leading to losing appeals.

Inadequate Food

Prisoners at SCI Albion are given unhealthy food. The food served to prisoners is uncooked, and the meat is old and freezer burnt. Vegetables and fruit are rotten; milk is 3 days past its sell-by date that most prisoners throw away. Prisoners are getting sick due to these unhealthy food diets.

Inhumane Working Conditions

Prisoners at SCI Albion who are assigned jobs work without proper safety gear to protect them against many dangers. Prisoners working as plumbers do not wear any suits to protect their skin from exposure to the dirty pipes and water that carries Hepatitis C, HIV-Aids, and other viruses from others' body waste that they can be infected by due to a lack of appropriate safety gear. Painters that have to stand on ladders to paint do not have hard hats or eyewear that can protect them from a fall, or paint going in the eyes causing damage to sight. Warehouse workers do not have any hard hats, gloves, eyewear, or safety belt that puts them in great danger. Work related injuries happen quite frequently as a direct result of non-safe standards; also there are other various jobs without any safety measures.

Inadequate Programming & Education

Programs being offered to prisoners at SCI Albion have proven to be ineffective to a prisoners' rehabilitation. Prisoners are lectured in groups (i.e. Violence Prevention, A.O.D., Thinking for a Change, etc.) by coordinators who read from books and do not engage prisoners in critical thinking necessary for rehabilitation, also they allow prisoners to just sit around and talk amongst themselves, when they don't feel like reading and dismiss the group early; this happens a lot. Valarie C. Kusiak and Melinda Adams, who are in charge of programming, do not investigate the efficiency of the groups or prisoners' complaints that the groups are not beneficial.

There are no vocational programs/courses offered for prisoners that coincide with or compliment outside job market trends for ex-felon hiring's at sectors with available openings, leaving an unprepared prisoner upon release to continue a former life of crime that's due to the lack of proper occupational/preparatory instruction. SCI Albion has a 3-in-4 prisoner recidivism rate within a years' time.

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