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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Kansas]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Kansas

Kansas Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of Kansas Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Secretary of Corrections
Landon State Office Building
900 Jackson, 4th Floor
Topeka, KS 66612

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140


*PDF updated October 2017*
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[Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Abuse] [Campaigns] [South Carolina]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, South Carolina

South Carolina Prisoner Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of
South Carolina Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Officer of General Counsel
PO Box 21787
Columbia SC 29221-1787

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140


*PDF updated October 2017*
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[Abuse] [Gang Validation] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 41]
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Colorado Punishes "Associates" for Actions of Others

Recently a new program was launched to further erode the self-esteem and morale of captives within the bowels of neocolonial Colorado, "the violence reduction program." This program claims to target lumpen-on-lumpen violence by "group punishment." In essence, if violence breaks out between individuals or groups, the prison can punish 5 known associates of those who participated in the violence, even when those 5 had nothing to do with the incident. The administration says this will help ease tension so all "offenders can live in a safe environment and take advantage of what DOC has to offer." Right, that's bullshit.

Because of our tribal, religious, or political affiliations they will hold us as a unit responsible for one another's actions. Wouldn't isolation as a group only promote that much more strength of the group anyway? If we as individuals came in alone and will ultimately go home alone, why are the staff and administration telling us that we are responsible for the actions of people we hang out with?

I know a lot of comrades in Colorado read this, so let's get this rolling. If they will do this to us it won't be long until we all live just like we already do in segregation (Ad-Seg). What more can they take from us at all level IV places, maximum, etc.? We are only allowed two hours out a day for showers and recreation. Two hours! With 22 hours of isolation, we might as well be in Ad-Seg anyway.

I keep thinking of something I once read in MIM literature, that "people will not live under oppression forever." I can't blame my comrades who wish to resort to focoism, but we must remember violence and premature acts of resistance will no doubt set us back. If you really care and want to stop what's happening, it's time to bleed those pens. Unite — fight back.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This practice of punishment of "associates" is not unique to Colorado. In Washington a comrade sent in a copy of a memo about the Group Violence Reduction Strategy policy from Mike Obenland, Superintendent of Clallam Bay Corrections Center dated 22 October 2014. It states, in part,

"If a prohibited violent act occurs, restrictions are imposed on the offender who committed the prohibited violent act (perpetrator) and the offenders who interact with the perpetrator on a regular basis (close associates). Information provided by staff teams is used to identify perpetrators and close associates. This group of offenders is subjected to a cell search and up to six of the following restrictions for 30-days: [list of restrictions]."

This comrade from Colorado raises a good point about the contradictions inherent in the prison system and the repression against prisoners. On the one hand this new policy gives the prison the opportunity to punish and isolate anyone they want just by claiming they are affiliated with someone who engaged in violence, even if they never broke any rules themselves. But on the other hand, this repression will breed greater resistance, both by solidifying the unity of organizations that are punished as a group, and by incurring the righteous indignation of those affected by this arbitrary punishment. We can use this repression to build the revolutionary movement. As this writer says, we need to educate and write about what's going on, and we cannot be pushed into premature actions that bring down more repression.

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[Security] [Abuse] [Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 42]
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Pigs Kill in Oregon, Punish Prisoners while Pretending to Investigate

I've been at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution for a relatively short time and since landing here I've been pretty amazed at the level of abuses carried out by the swine. They make up totally fictitious claims in order to write prisoners up for rule violations and throw them in isolation. In the past four months I've experienced this twice. Both times costing me visits with my family and broken or stolen property by the pigs. Once I was given a fine of $100. Others have been given fines plus 180 days in isolation and moved to extended isolation units called Intensive Management Unit where prisoners will spend at least a year in isolation.

In the regular housing units the swine routinely berate prisoners, threaten us with isolation and violence, put us in potentially harmful situations involving other prisoners, and they use any small rule violation committed by a single or two prisoners to throw whole groups of people in isolation. Most recently I've seen people get shoved into the isolation units for having the tongue of their shoe poking outside of their pants cuff or refusing to sit at chow hall tables belonging to other groups. I'm not arguing the "right or wrong" about divisive grouping or "ownership", I'm only pointing out the fact that pigs are purposely trying to manipulate us into harmful, potentially violent situations. If we refuse, we get shoved into isolation and given fines.

Because of the swine insisting on pushing us into conflict scenarios with each other at constantly escalating levels, people are beginning to lash out under the pressure. Unfortunately, for the extreme majority of prisoners, we really have no education in organizational strategy or structure; we've never been taught proper modes of function and effective progress. Unfortunately we've got this idea that taking lessons and direction from those more qualified than ourselves somehow diminishes us as individuals or makes us somehow inferior. Instead of making positive steps to educate ourselves and to apply ourselves productively, we fall right into the trap and lash out at each other.

Falling into that trap and lashing out at each other is actually the most counter-productive thing we could possibly do. Aside from reaffirming to ourselves that gang and race divisions are necessary for self-protection against our peers, it also confirms and justifies the pigs' assertion that we need to be constantly repressed, punished, abused — essentially victimized. They treat us like animals, so because of our refusal to take productive direction or self-educate, we resort to reactionary, self-inflicting outbursts. By reacting in these ways all we're doing is contributing to our own escalating repression.

Possibly the worst part of all this is all the fucking snitchery goin' on. Ben Franklin said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." I whole heartedly agree. In the context of this environment here. The "temporary safety" these coward rats are seeking is safety from the pigs who would otherwise make their lives even more hellish than it already is. If you don't tell on your peers, the swine will target you, write you up, take you shit, or put you in the hole. But if you do tell, they let you be.

The reason I can say these cowards are not interested in safety from other prisoners, but from the pigs themselves is because the rats are mostly those so-called "good dudes." It makes sense too. It's the "good dudes" who are always in the loop, who know shit. The meek among us simply want to be left alone for the most part.

So there you have it. The pigs crack down on us, we talk about doing something about it, we get snitched on and the snitches get less cracked down on than the rest of us while the pigs crack down harder. Those of us who chose to retain our sense of dignity and self-respect in the face of all this while also valuing our sense of self-preservation are left with the recourse of keeping our mouths shut, our eyes shut, our ears shut and trying to attract as little attention to ourselves as possible while we all get crushed together — even the coward rats.

Well, yesterday things took to a new level. On 29 August, a Friday morning, two friends of mine got into a simple minor fist fight. Instead of firing a warning shot, the pig fired into the chest of one of them. I watched him fall and as he rolled on the ground another pig came up and sprayed him then jumped on him. I watched my friend struggle to get a pig off of him while he choked to death on his own blood.

It took several minutes for the medical staff to even get to the yard. While waiting, I looked at the proud pig standing like Captain Morgan with his rifle laid across his arm. When he saw me looking at him as I lay on the ground, he put his rifle up to his eye and pointed it at me. Hopefully he saw my mouth say "fuck you" through his scope.

Finally, when the medical staff showed up to the yard, they walked slowly, across a basketball court, while a nurse was giving my friend chest suppressions and mouth-to-mouth. They shuffled across the track, while we all yelled for them to run, to hurry, they moseyed across the soccer field. The swine cleared everyone off the yard before the medical swine would do anything to save my friend. By then he was already gone. He was a young kid in his early 20s, and a phenomenal artist in any medium you could imagine. He applied himself to his own personal development and excellence with passion and he studied hard and made a point of constantly improving himself on a daily basis. He was funny and brilliant and had an endless depth of potential. And he was the victim of an ignorant murderer whose only purpose in life is to maintain a system built on the misery of us and our families.

Now the whole institution is locked down. All of us — white, black, brown, red — have been slammed down in our cells, and they say we'll be slammed for at least a week. Why? Because one of them killed one of us. We'll be eating sack lunches. Our family visits will be canceled. They've been pulling people out for "interviews" all night. I watched the ambulance pull out of the parking lot from my cell window. It was driving slowly. No rush.

Sure, I blame the pigs. But even more, I blame all you slimy little rats who do the pigs work for them. You little worms who deceive your friends and inflict them with isolation at the hands of your enemies in exchange for scraps and pats on the head. As much as you fuckers disgust me, I'll also say though that it's not too late for you to stop informing on your friends and peers. The moment we can create a real and true structure of unity — even a disorganized one at first — will be the moment we have the power to shape our own communities.

Update: I was pulled out for an "interview" last night. It was a detective from the Oregon state police. They interviewed every prisoner who was on the yard when my friend was murdered. The detective told me I was the last one he would be interviewing, which I found interesting and a bit suspicious. He informed me that as a matter of protocol it's his duty to read me my Miranda rights before the actual recorded interview. He read it to everyone, just a routine, ya know. Okay, I said. Go ahead. Let me stress certain points of what he said: He said anything I say will be used against me. He also said I have the right to remain silent, and that I also in fact have the right to an attorney. When he finished reading me this list of my so-called "rights" what I said in response was: "I have no problem speaking with you, but I'd like to invoke my right to an attorney before we begin." He looked at me in surprise and said "well...okay then" and shut off the tape recorder. After it was off, he said "Wow, I've interviewed almost 200 people today and you're the only one who asked for a lawyer." I asked if anyone chose to remain silent and he said only about four or five people. I said "imagine that."

Thanks to you all in solidarity.


MIM(prisons) responds: We share this writer's call for unity among prisoners. The pigs will try to turn people against one another, and will take advantage of those who want a few privileges in exchange for snitching. Building unity is one of the key principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons: "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity." It is not enough for us to criticize the snitches. We need to build unity with all who can be won to the side of anti-imperialism, and by solidifying this core we will isolate the snitches and make their jobs harder.

The existence of snitches underscores the importance of a solid security practice. You can't be sure that someone overhearing your conversation won't run to the pigs with what they learn. As one of our USW comrades wrote recently: "So often we hear prisoners commenting on how great the power of snitches and provocateurs are, and it bothers me that we are able to concentrate so much energy on them instead of on the tactics of countering their elementary crosses, and their state." Security is a key part of self-defense for the revolutionary movement at this time. We cannot predict what tactics you need to use where you're at, but we urge all serious about revolutionary organizing to think carefully about security and communications.

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[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Pig Beats Prisoner, Lies About It

On 10 August 2014 at approximately 1:35 p.m., Dakota Davidson, a white male prison guard who works at the Wynne Unit located in Huntsville, Texas, brutally attacked a white male lumpen prisoner. During an in and out egress Davidson initiated a verbal conflict with the prisoner. The prisoner asked Davidson "what are you going to do, hit me?" At which point the pig began to punch the prisoner in the face and head until he was knocked to the ground. The prisoner was really stunned and caught off guard by this violent attack. The guard actually sat on the prisoner's chest and beat him unmercifully. When ranking supervisors showed up, Davidson could be heard saying "stop resisting! Put your hands behind your back." This was all game to give the appearance that the prisoner was the aggressor.

The prisoner was handcuffed and taken to the disciplinary wing (B-Wing). Davidson actually wrote a disciplinary report claiming the prisoner assaulted him. All this played well for the corrupt ranking officers and investigative staff who didn't bother to look into it thoroughly. Unknown to them, an eye witness decided to come forward. In spite of the witness affidavit, the prisoner may do 6 months on medium custody for being a victim. We need to expose this incident to the public.

Beatings such as this are all too common in Texas prisons. But it is the culture of coverups and corruption which keeps sadistic officers like Davidson employed with this agency. Cronyism, nepotism, and obstruction of justice is the Texan way.

All power to the people!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with the author on the importance of exposing incidents like this, both to help the individual prisoners demand justice, and to educate people about what really goes on behind bars in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. But we are under no illusion that eliminating the culture of coverups and corruption will get rid of sadistic officers. It's the criminal injustice system that turns COs sadistic and corrupt, if they were not already. Only by eliminating the criminal injustice system will we do away with sadistic and corrupt officers. The first step is building public opinion and uniting allies in this struggle. Become a field correspondent for Under Lock & Key if you are in prison, and send us news about repression and resistance where you're locked up.

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[Spanish] [Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 43]
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Las Prisiones de Texas Matan de Calor a la Gente

“La misión de la División Institucional es proporcionar seguridad y apropiada reclusión, supervisión, rehabilitación, y reintegración de criminales adultos, y para efectivamente dirigir o administrar instalaciones correccionales basados en estatuos estandares constitucionales.” Gobierno de Texas, código 494.001.

Para los que estamos alojados dentro de las prisiones operadas por El Departamento de In-Justicia Criminal de Texas (TDCJ), sabemos que esta declaración no es más que mentiras bien-redactadas!

Recientemente La Clínica de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Texas saco este reporte; “Mortal calor en prisiones de Texas.” Basicamente el reporte prueba lo que muchos de los grupos ya saben: Que las condiciones dentro de las prisiones de Texas en el verano violan la prohibición de la octava enmienda contra el castigo cruel e inusual. TDCJ sigue diciendo al público que ellos tienen tácticas en el área para combatir el calor. Sin embargo, Brian McGiverin, un abogado del Proyecto de Derechos Civiles de Texas, dijo durante una conferencia de noticias sobre el tema; “catorce muertes de prisioneros son fuerte evidencia que las medidas de la delegación de la prisión no hacen mucho para vencer los riesgos de salud ante el calor. El continúo, “la respuesta de que sus tácticas son adecuadas hoy, es ridícula.”

El senador John Whitmire, presidente del Comité de Justicia Criminal del Senado de Texas, dijo esto sobre el tema; “Pero yo puedo decirte que la gente de Texas no quiere prisiones con aire acondicionado, y hay muchas otras cosas en mi lista muy por encima del calor.” Las “otras cosas” eran educación, cuidado de salud, y programas de rehabilitación, pero este racista pontificador jamás dijo que el estaba comprometido aponer fin a las muertes sin sentido de prisioneros de Texas por empleados de TDCJ! Whitmire, quien ha estado en el senado de Texas cerca de 30 años, continúa poniendo ojos ciegos al abuso y discriminación sistemática de prisioneros alojados en las instalaciones de TDCJ. Sufrimos de discriminación racial, discriminación religiosa, asaltos sexuales, azotes y abusos violentos, y Whitmire continúa jugando a la política de los buenos viejos amigos.

Para demandas en asuntos específicos de la prisión, yo encontre una estrategia que ha estado trabajando. He estado promoviendo que miembros de familia de los lumpen presenten demandas al ombudsman por internet. Ellos mismos pueden presentar demandas públicas formales sobre una amplia variedad de asuntos y ahora estas demandas tienen que ser puestas en la internet para que el público las vea. ¡Hemos estado teniendo mucho éxito! Toda esa mierda de P.O. Box 99 a Huntsville es un desperdicio de tiempo y papel. Háganlo en internet y pongan a esos culeros en la calle frontal.

MIM(Prisons) agrega: Esto es solo un ejemplo del incontrolado abuso de prisioneros en Texas y a través del país, eso esta bien expuesto y documentado en ULK y en nuestro sitio web prisoncensorship.org. Pero tenemos la intención de hacer más que solo exponer la brutalidad del sistema de injusticia criminal Amerikana. Nuestra meta es organizar y educar para hacer un cambio significativo. A corto plazo peleamos batallas como la campaña para poner demandas de prisioneros dirigidas a que puedan crear mejores condiciones para nuestros camaradas detrás de las rejas. Pero a largo plazo sabemos que ningún político Amerikano jamas estará fundamentalmente yendo a cambiar el sistema de injusticia. Esto tomará a los oprimidos a unirse juntos para demandar un cambio para poner un fin al imperialismo antes de que podamos terminar el sistema de injusticia criminal.

!Envuélvete en esta pelea a largo plazo hoy!

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[Mental Health] [Gender] [Abuse] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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Defining Rape

I have initiated a lawsuit alleging that Officer Mary Brockett at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sac) subjected me to sexual harassment. This occurred in the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) which is part of the mental "health" services in the California Deparment of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). When I reported Brockett's predatory acts to other top ranking prison officials, they did not believe me because I'm Black, and Brockett is a white amerikan. They also did not understand why a prisoner would file a staff sexual misconduct complaint against an officer. As a direct result of Brockett's sexual misconduct against me she was terminated, but CDCR top ranking officials refused to have her arrested and identified as a sexual offender.

I requested an Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) investigation against Brockett for her predatory behavior towards me. In December 2003, I was interviewed by Special Agent Jill Chapman of OIA, and I agreed to assist her with an investigation against Brockett in order to prove my sexual harassment allegations. During said investigation, the OIA dropped the ball, and OIA agents allowed Brockett to sexually assault me four times after the start of the investigation.

On 15 January 2014, Judge Hunley of the United States District Court, ruled that officer Brockett's conduct violated clearly established law of which Brockett should have been aware. The court found that Brockett is not entitled to qualified immunity on my Eighth Amendment sexual misconduct claim.

My investigation has revealed that many other prisoners who reported rape and other forms of sexual assaults by CDCR personnel are sent to SHU as a form of retaliation and/or intimidation. My defense team and I have been able to identify many other cases of corrections, medical and mental health staff sexually abusing the mentally ill prisoners, plus many coverups by supervisors, at several California state prisons.

I had to hire a private investigator to assist me in light of the fact that going to ranking officials kept getting me put in lock-up units. Instead of charging Brockett with sexual assaults, the CDCR prison officials in Sacramento allowed me to be subjected to a series of retaliatory transfers attempting to intimidate me. On 8 September 2009, prison officials were informed about my lawsuit and that same day I was placed in administrative segregation (ASU) on false allegations of fighting. In December 2009 I was ordered placed in ASU pending a false prison gang validation. Retaliatory transfers are a violation of CDCR policy.

The evidence will show that correctional and medical and mental health staff sexual harassment and sexual assaults were not isolated incidents within CDCR's EOP. I would ask you to help me and my defense team to spread the word. Other victims are out there. My purpose of the lawsuit is to shed light on sexual abuse against the mentally ill in California, including torturing tactics through criminal activities and criminal organized crime within CDCR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: People usually conceptualize patriarchy as those biologically categorized as male oppressing those biologically categorized as female. But sexual assault of bio-male prisoners by bio-female guards is an example of how gender oppression is not necessarily linked to one's biological sex category. In the first issue of Under Lock & Key we wrote about prison rape, and using the best statistics available, we suggested that Black bio-men might be gendered female in the United $tates, largely due to imprisonment rates and the sexual abuse that comes with imprisonment. The abusing bio-female guards are certainly gendered male, and are part of what we call the gender aristocracy.(1) Amerikan (and especially white) bio-wimmin enjoy benefits in leisure time based on their national ties to white bio-men, based on a long history of lynchings, suffrage, and Third World oppression.(2)

Fighting sexual abuse through the courts can be difficult for anyone, and especially for prisoners. As this correspondent writes, white Brockett was not even charged for the sexual assault. When sexual assault cases do go to court, the judge/jury, like much of U.$. society, get hung up on the debate of whether the sex was "really rape," a subjective measure of whether the victim gave consent to the sexual activity or not. Prisoners are assumed by the courts and society to have a low moral standing, and this subjectivity bleeds into the judgement of whether they were "really raped," and whether they should be protected even if they are considered to have been raped. People have debated for decades about where to draw the line with consent, and this debate has recently resurfaced in First World Maoist circles.(3)

When deciding whether a sexual encounter was a rape, a tendency is to focus on whether the victim of sexual assault verbally said they did or did not want to have the sexual encounter, what words they used, in what tone, how many times they said it, if they were intoxicated, how intoxicated, their sexual history, what they were wearing, etc. Others even draw the line where "Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(3) But all these criteria are based on subjective social standards at the time. Many people don't start calling a sexual incident a rape until months or even years afterward, because they have since learned more about sexuality and social norms, or the social norms have changed. The courts change their definition of rape depending on public opinion as well. When mini skirts were racy, it was considered by many an invitation for sex. Now that mini skirts are normalized as pants in our society, almost no one would make this argument. Social norms and subjective feelings are untrustworthy as measures of gender oppression. They focus too much on individuals' actions and feelings, ignoring the relationship between the group and the individual.

Rather than falling into this subjectivist trap, MIM(Prisons) upholds the line that all sex under patriarchy is rape. Among the general public, living in a highly sexualized culture with a long history of material consequences for granting and withholding access to one's sexuality, no "yes" can be granted independent of group relationships. This is especially true for a captive population; saying "yes" to sex as a trade for privileges, or to a guard who quite literally has your life in their hands, cannot be consensual, even if everyone involved "liked" it or "wanted" it. Power play is very tied up in leisure time to the point that a coercive sex act can feel pleasurable to all involved. Granting consent in a society with gender oppression is a moot point. People always behave in a way that is determined by group relationships, and this is no different for the gender oppressed under patriarchy.

While Liberals are concerned with how we define rapists so that we can lock them up and ostracize them, we look at the systematic problem rather than essentializing individuals. We don't adhere to the bourgeois standard of criminality for theft, so why would we follow their standard for rape? Instead we want to build a socialist society that allows jobs for everyone, separate from the sex industry. We would then ban all sex for profit, all pornography for profit, and all sex trafficking. We wouldn't criminalize sex slaves or people choosing to have sex for their own subjective pleasure, but we would criminalize anyone making a profit off of sex work, especially the multi-billion dollar porn and abduction rackets. Low-level pimps and "self-employed" sex workers would at least need to go through self-criticism and reeducation and take a cold, hard look at how their activities are impacting others. Anyone who wanted to leave these anti-people industries would have other viable options, something we can't say for the vast majority of sex workers in the world today who were either kidnapped, or subject to manifestations of national oppression such as homelessness and drug addiction.

As with any form of oppression under imperialism, we encourage people to use the courts when we think we can win material advantages, set a useful precendent for other cases, or make a political point to mobilize the masses. But kicking Brockett out of the facility will just replace her with another gender oppressing officer. Ultimately we need to change the economic conditions that underly the coercive gender relations in our society and attack the system of patriarchy itself.

Notes:
1. For more on gender get ULK 1, ULK 6, and MIM Theory 2/3.
2. In contrast to the strand of class oppression which is based in work relations, the strand of gender oppression is based outside of work, or in what we call "leisure time." To speak of prison as "leisure" can sound odd because it's certainly not a day at the beach, but the point is that it is not labor time, and not based in class. See "Clarity on what gender is" 1998 MIM Congress Resolution.
3. Comments on "All Sex is Rape". 20 July 2014, LLCO.org. Write to us for a more in depth critique of this piece.

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[Abuse] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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The New Court-Approved Device of Torture in California SHUs: Guard One

Guard One was implemented in the middle of June per mandate of a court-appointed mental health expert in Sacramento. The device resembles a pipe about the size of a closet pole cut to an 8" length. It either flashes or beeps to indicate a welfare check has been recorded. Similar devices are in use throughout selected prisons, especially in the Security Housing Units (SHUs) where statistics reveal most prison suicides occur.

While it is being promoted as a high-tech device able to create an electronic record that prison guards are actually performing their assigned duty of half-hourly welfare checks at each cell, it is also supposed to be showing how much CDCr cares about reducing the number of suicides on its four death row SHUs at San Quentin.

In San Quentin's SHU II D.R. the sensor which the beeping pipe must make contact with is attached to each cell's food port. That's a small metal door on hinges which is padlocked closed unless the cell has no occupant, the prisoner is attending some other program, the cleaning bucket is being used, or there is a phone in use. When the food port is open, for whatever reason, it must be lifted to the closed position so contact can be made with the beeping pipe. Normally, upwards of 100 food ports are left open every day between the hours of 9am and 1pm as various programs are in session. During that time there is continuous banging, clanging and beeping. That's hardly conducive to anyone's mental health!

At around 9pm the beeping pipes are traded in for a non-beeping Guard One device. So between the hours of 9pm and 5am the padlocked metal food port doors continue clanging each time a contact is made. The banging of food ports on empty cells as they're lifted and dropped also echoes throughout the night while the prison guard flashlights would probably remind you of a prison break scene from an old movie as the spotlights search up and down for prisoners crawling the walls. Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of mental and physical health issues.

By 5:30am the beeping starts up like a small brood of electronic rooster chicks fighting for dominance in a cast iron coop and a few cocks get to crowing about the "easy money overtime" coming from the taxpayers.

Many prisoners have died in their cells due to heart attacks, cooking, or other things which might not have been fatal if they had received timely medical attention. So these must be some of the factors considered by the "expert" who armed prison guards with these devices seemingly designed to preserve prisoners and create jobs. I hope I separated the truth from fiction for you.

We call for the elimination of the Guard One device because it is causing more torture and anguish for prisoners.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the criminal injustice system implementing new costly practices in response to serious problems, but the new practices do nothing to help prisoners. In this case, it is a real problem that prisoners die due to medical neglect. But spending lots of money creating more jobs for guards and increasing sensory torture for prisoners is not a solution to this problem. We can never expect the injustice system to reform itself or address its problems fundamentally. We must continue to demand an end to torture like long-term isolation and these new devices, while we build a broader movement that can attack the fundamental injustice of a system that uses prisons as a tool of social control.

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Bringing the Truth to Light: The Result of Sunlight Deprivation at San Quentin

A recent study concluded that even a moderate deficiency of vitamin D results in a 53% increased chance of developing dementia. The most abundant source of vitamin D on earth comes from a chemical reaction that occurs naturally when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight.

Sunny California's torture units feature dog run style walk-in closets called "walk alone" or "small management yards" (SMY). These usually consist of four solid walls and a plexiglass or metal grating for a roof, both of which obstruct sunlight. Depending on the time of day, a prisoner may not get any direct sunlight at all.

The SMY torture cages designed for Grade A and B death row prisoners warehoused in San Quentin's East Block (SHU II D.R.) are especially cruel and unusual. Unlike the torture cages in the SHU III D.R. (The Adjustment Center) which are completely exposed to the elements with no protection whatsoever, the SHU II D.R. torture cages have a corrugated steel cover over 1/4 of its top and every one of these 40 or so cages are under a gigantic modified metal pavilion which could be comparable to a rusted metal circus tent. The only direct sunlight penetrating this bizarre big top of the CDCr circus pierces through rust holes in the massive metal canopy.

True to form, California's mad scientists conducting the world's most infamous death penalty experiment in numerous SHUs across the sunshine state prefer their own blend of pharmaceutical cocktails to solve the problems they themselves are mass producing. CDCr's "chemical solution" aims to obscure and/or delay known side effects of this particular experiment which subjects humans to sunlight deprivation torture indefinitely. CDCr prescribes Vitamin D/Calcium supplements and "psych meds."

Who will dare to fathom the impact this state-sanctioned torture has on prisoners in the United $tates, and on the prison system's medical and mental health costs. This is a system already overloaded and still under federal receivership.

The bottom line is this is where getting involved in the grievance campaign would be a wise choice. Also keep in mind that no matter what your current classification is, it's always subject to change. Just being in a California control unit is all it takes to become a test subject in this already out of control experiment. Don't think you are somehow immune to this twisted chemical warfare.

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[Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 40]
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Fighting Deadly Texas Heat Through the Legal System

Between the years 2007 and 2011, 13 prisoners died from the heat in Texas prisons. Two wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in a Galveston Federal Court accusing Texas prison officials of negligence in the deaths.

Scott Medock, an attorney for the Austin based Texas Civil Rights Project, which filed the suits with Austin attorney Jeff Edwards, called some east Texas prisons "death traps."

The Constitution does not require prisons to be maintained at a comfortable temperature. However, if there is extreme heat or cold, prisoners' Constitutional rights are affected. Extreme heat can violate the Constitution. Refer to: Brock v. Warren county 713 F. Supp 238 (E.D. Tenn. 1989) - Maddison County Jail Inmates v. Thompson 773 F. 2d 834, 838-39 (7th cir. 1985) - Hamilton v. Love 328 F. Supp 1182, 1190 (E.D. Ark. 1971).

Prisoners with heat restrictions are in "grave danger" of serious injury and possible death. To win a Section 1983 lawsuit you must show that staff officials acted with "deliberate indifference" to your health risk. "Deliberate indifference" exists when an official knows about a serious danger to a prisoner and yet is "indifferent" (unconcerned, uncaring) to that danger. You can use the fact that the conditions were "longstanding, pervasive, well-documented, and/or expressly noted" by officials in the past to prove indifference. It is enough that the official acted or failed to act despite his/her knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm. There are several kinds of circumstantial evidence that you can use to prove an official's deliberate indifference. These include copies of grievances and appeals, copies of informal notes and letters (I-60s) that you wrote to officials, and you can explain in a declaration exactly when and how you told officials about risk in prison.

As a general rule, officials may not refuse to respond to a substantial risk of serious harm on the grounds that it would be too expensive to fix it. Cost is not a defense to Constitutional liability.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.$. Constitution, among other things, protects convicted prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment. The conditions of confinement must not involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain, nor may they be grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime warranting imprisonment (Rhodes v. Chapman 452 US. 337, 347, 69 L.Ed. 2d 59, 101 S. Ct 2392 (1981).) Whether conditions of confinement are cruel and unusual must be determined from the contemporary standards of civilized decency that currently prevail in society. At a minimum, the Constitution requires the state to provide minimally adequate living space that includes reasonably adequate ventilation, sanitation, bedding, hygienic materials and utilities (Grubbs v. Bradley, 552 F. Supp 1052, 1122 (M.D. Tenn. 1981).) Constitutionally adequate housing is not denied simply by uncomfortable temperatures inside cells, "unless it is shown that the situation endangers inmates health" (Smith v. Sullivan, 553 F. 2d 373, 381 (5th Cir 1977).) TDCJ may be held liable under Section 1983 if deprivation of prisoners' Constitutional rights were the result of "custom" or "policy" (Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 463 US 658, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978)).

Texas prison conditions do not meet Constitutional standards!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We print this caselaw for prisoners to use in filing grievances against the dangerous heat conditions in Texas. We have received many reports on the battle against this health risk. Get involved in this fight, file grievances, document the situation, and write to us for the Texas grievance guide.

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