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[Abuse] [North Carolina]
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Grievance System Protects Abuses by PERT Team in North Carolina

In May of 2012, when I was at my previous prison, the "Prison Emergency Response Team" (PERT team) did a full facility shake down. These are regular corrections officers who have been certified to be a member of this "special" group. They wear black t-shirts with "PERT" spelled on the front breast and upper back, with camouflage pants that are tucked into black military boots. They have no name tags, so there is absolutely no way of identifying any officer.

They make you strip naked, squat and cough. Then, in nothing but your white boxers, they handcuff you, and escort you through a metal detector, while other officer tears your cell apart looking for any form of "contraband." If you return to your cell before the search is complete they make you stand facing your cell door. You cannot watch them search your cell! If you try to watch, your get verbally assaulted and/or sometimes physically man handled to the position they want you in.

During the search of my cell a personal property item of mine (electric shaver with trimmers) was broken into 3 pieces. When I asked for the names of the officers involved in the cell search, I was told it was "none of you fucking business." So, I filed a grievance. The first response was that I did not list the names of the officers involved, and there was no proof of the condition of my shaver. (Though they had current paperwork of the personal property that I had and what condition it was in.)

I appealed this response. The second response said that the first response answered my grievance. I had no names of officers, and no proof of the condition of my property before the search. "No further action is needed." I once again appealed the response. The last and final response I received was: "This examiner has reviewed this grievance and the response given by staff in the DC-410A response. My review of this grievance reveals no violation of applicable division of prisons policy nor does it show any evidence of disrespect or abuse of authority by staff. Therefore, this grievance is dismissed for lack of supporting evidence." So my grievance was turned down because I had no names of the officials that changed my property. But there is no way that I could have gotten their names in the first place!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is yet another example of the failure of the prison grievance system to address abuses and legal violations by prison staff. Grievances are little more than a formality where the very people violating policies and laws are the same ones reviewing the complaints. They back each other up and dismiss grievances based on criteria that they know are impossible for prisoners to meet. This is why the grievance campaign is spreading across the country. North Carolina has a grievance petition customized for that state, as do many others. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state, or for a generic petition that you can customize if we don't have one already.

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[Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Exposing the Clique of Oppressors at Estelle

Because of my activism and revolutionary actions I have become a target. My mail is being delayed, and recently these prisoncrats have been denying recreation, not just to me but our entire block - E-wing High Security (Estelle).

Two days ago I watched a white male sergeant named Curtis Jordan pull a Mexican male out of his cell violently and slam his head against a wall, and continue to smash his head against the wall and he looked up at my cell where I was watching and said "Tell that, Bitch!" I wrote a detailed affidavit to Senior Warden Cody Ginsel of Estelle Unit requesting that he review the video. This was an unprovoked use of force! Believe it or not, major David M. Forrest ordered the brutality against this innocent Mexican prisoner, who has some mental health issues. These racists target the weak, elderly, and mentally ill prisoners who can't fight back.

Comrades, I need your help in exposing these swine. Here is a list of the "Clique." My goal is to break this "good ole boy" clique up and possibly improve the living conditions in this slave pen of oppression for all.

  1. Assistant Warden Steven T. Miller, in charge of the High Security Unit at Estelle — extremely vindictive, and promotes inhumane treatment of prisoners.
  2. Major David M. Forrest — Eight years ago was a Senior Warden, was demoted to Lieutenant after being involved in the murder of a prisoner. This is our Chief KKK grand wizard! We must destroy him!
  3. Lieutenant James H. Kent — His father is a Deputy Directory. In the past six months the prison watchdog service, con-care service, received 16 prisoner complaints from prisoners housed at this High Security Unit. Kent was a main actor in five of the 16 complaints. He is cocky, arrogant and believes he is invincible.
  4. Lieutenant Deward Demoss — Big racist. Made a death threat against me in May 2012. I filed a complaint with DOJ.
  5. Sergeant Curtis Jordan — An unapologetic racist. He will tell you to your face "I hate niggers and wetbacks. I'm a redneck." Too many wrongs to list.
  6. We have two house negroes on the payroll. They are flunkies and dupes:
    A. Sergeant Terell Beverly — A sado-masochist with a history of abuse aimed at prisoners.
    B. Sergeant Brooks ("the snake") — A young Black man who is so wicked and brainwashed it sickens me.

I know that there is no specific race or ethnicity associated with oppressors, and it is a huge mistake to think if we traded all these white men in for "brothers" all problems would cease. That is idealistic bullshit.

Unit Grievance Investigator Allen Hartley is the Senior Grievance Investigator. He is super corrupt and in league with these racists. The grievance system is so broken. The main problem is the grievance staff do not practice objectivity or operate with any integrity. There just isn't any incentive for them to mete out justice and render fair decisions. People have been killed because they fail to do their job properly. Hartley's modus operandi is cronyism, nepotism, misplaced comradery, and obstruction of justice.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Exposing structural relationships like this highlights the continuing importance and need for national liberation of the internal semi-colonies. As this comrade points out, replacing all the white men with Black men (integrationism) would not change anything. Similarly, replacing them with more progressive-minded people in general would not lead to significant change because the fundamental problem is the criminal injustice system. It is set up so that police, courts, and prisons serve as tools of social control, and the individuals working within the system can do little to change that.

This is why we must put our battles against individual oppressors and policies in the context of the fight against imperialism as a system. Without liberating the oppressed nations from imperialist oppression we will never make fundamental change to the criminal injustice system that attacks us. So we must take up these smaller battles as agitational tools to mobilize the oppressed and as battles to exert the will of the oppressed in small ways that benefit our ability to educate and organize together.

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[Abuse] [Censorship]
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Gang Officer Blackmails to Create Intelligence

I was taken out of my cell one day and brought to the Security Threat Group (STG) Officer (AKA the gang officer). He tried everything to get me to give him some gang information, and when I would not he got mad and told me he was going to validate me as a STG member for a gang tattoo I was written up for in 2008. Since I would not give this man some gang information and put my life on the line for him, he is going to STG me. I have not had a gang charge in over three years, and as I said the charge for the tattoo was four years ago. This is crazy and it needs to stop now!

Comrades, keep your heads up and don't stop fighting these pigs and this oppression. One day it will end! MIM(Prisons), thanks for all you do!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is just one example of a common occurrence that exposes the emptiness of the term "Security Threat." The "STG" label is a tool of national oppression, nothing more.

This comrade also wrote us about the censorship of MIM Theory 13: Revolutionary Culture and Under Lock & Key 27, which he appealed to no avail. The administration justified it by saying the literature encouraged "disruption of operations." We wonder if that can be construed as a bad thing given how they operate.

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[Abuse] [Download and Print] [ULK Issue 29]
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Campaign for Adequate Food in Nevada

Petition for Adequate Food
Click on the pdf to download and print the petition

Enclosed is a document which has been generated for circulation within the Nevada DOC. The purpose of this correspondence is to raise awareness and begin a resistance campaign which transcends all lines drawn. It is to respond to the Nevada Department of Corrections's increasing inhumanity, malevolence and brutality being forced upon prisoners.

They are starving and abusing us on a record scale. There have been more than 11 prisoners shot since January 2012 in Protective Segregation alone. I know of several more in surrounding units with at least one fatal. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence is rising due to forced housing even amongst enemies. We also suffer from sexual assaults by pigs on prisoners, and coordinated retaliation and attacks on prisoners at the behest of the hats. Is this what we will allow ourselves to be reduced to?

This petition addresses the inadequate, contaminated and sometimes nonexistent food we are being served in Nevada. It is already in circulation where I am. Originally the petitions were sent to the facility Warden and Director. A few of us sent copies to the Department of Justice and Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC referred me to the Nevada Health Division. The Warden, to create an illusion of propriety, referred the matter to the Nevada Department of Corrections Inspector General. I contacted the Health Division who apparently also contacted the Inspector General within two weeks of notice of referral. An investigation was begun and is ongoing. In addition to these above noted, a copy was also sent to Nevada CURE and the United States Inspector General.

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[Abuse] [Michael Unit] [Texas]
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Unprovoked Beatings of Prisoners in Texas Must be Stopped

I would like to bring your attention to something that's going on here in Texas. There are repeated staff attacks of prisoners in Ad-Seg, and prison staff seem to always get away with this.

On October 16 I was on the rec yard where you can see inside to section 4 day room. A prisoner with a mental illness for which he takes meds was inside the day room. He was sitting at the table and two officers walked inside. He didn't get up from the table, and the officers walked on both sides of the table where the prisoner was sitting down and both of them rushed the prisoner and took him to the floor of the day room beating him, punching him with handcuffs, and using the food slot bar to hit him in the head. They ended up with blood on them from the beating of this prisoner. He lay on the floor and they dragged him from the dayroom in handcuffs and called on the radio that they just had a use of force on a prisoner.

There are many cells that saw this incident in addition to people in the rec yard; a total of 18 people witnessed the beating. But only two people wrote a witness statement. When I asked the two officers why they did this, they told me that this has nothing to do with me, and that the prisoner had this coming.

I write grievances to stand up to staff who hurt people, but the grievances just go right to the ranking officers and they call the officer to invite a statement and the staff just deny it. So the grievance comes back with the staff denying any misconduct and that's the end of it. I talked with other prisoners and told them that the only way to stop this is coming together as one and standing up.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is ironic that this prison claims that MIM(Prisons) and our USW comrades behind bars are a threat to the safety and security of the institution while violence is carried out by those supposedly ensuring this safety and security. We know that the entire criminal injustice system is set up to defend the actions of guards like those described by this comrade, and it will never be easy to take them down through grievances or lawsuits. Even if we win, it is only to replace one oppressor with another. But we cannot stop fighting the oppression because battles like this one are a good opportunity to educate and organize against systematic brutality. Mass consciousness and mass organizing is the only way to win against oppression. United Struggle from Within comrades across the country fearlessly take on these battles even while knowing that they may face brutal retaliation themselves for standing up for their fellow prisoners. This is truly fighting for peace. As the first principal of the United Front for Peace in Prisons states: We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression.

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[Abuse] [Sullivan Correctional Facility] [New York]
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Fighting Special Needs Prisoner Abuses in New York

I am going through a situation here at Sullivan Correctional Facility fighting grievance issues similar to what has been reported in other prisons in Under Lock & Key. I have a long history with this jail dating back to 2009 with civil cases in court against these people. I am writing because our grievance process here is totally unreliable. The same people who you write the grievances on are the people who investigate them and then wash them under the table.

I'm in a special needs unit, some of us are slow, some can't help themselves, that's why they call it special needs. These officers here take full advantage of our disabilities because they know that we can't fend for ourselves. They are constantly jumping on us and using our medical status as an excuse to justify their actions, claiming we tried to hurt ourselves. Then they throw us in the box.

As an example of this situation, I'm kept on lockdown now because of an officer that I've been having an ongoing problem with. Just the other day he told me after he locked me up that he's going to cut my wrist and say I tried to kill myself. This goes on everyday here.

Reading your article diligent grievance petitions expose oppression in NC that led to hunger strike made me think back to my past experiences here at Sullivan. Something has got to be done. There are some things that I'm going to try to do that I rather not speak about. But you will definitely be hearing from me. In the mean time keep my name ringing along with other brothers that have similar problems and just maybe we will overcome this together.


MIM(Prison) adds: Together is key. Individuals fighting alone mostly lose the battles to combat the oppression they face on a day-to-day basis. The grievance campaign we've been promoting in many states is one way to come together on these types of issues.

In some prisons abuse is more common because the people are more dis-empowered, and organizing becomes even harder. It is important for outside supporters and prisoners in other facilities to stay connected with you to shed a light on abusive conditions. A United Struggle from Within comrade (Amare Selton, Rest in Power) was killed behind the walls of one of New York's mental health units on 17 September 2009. Conditions are dire, and as this comrade is doing, we need to be trying new ways to ensure real safety for those in these vulnerable situations.

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[Abuse] [Environmentalism] [Calipatria State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 29]
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Using Toilet Flush Limit to Torture Prisoners

I want to bring up an issue that should be addressed and included in the struggle for positive change. Back around 2005 the Department of Corrections began installing timers on our toilets, to limit us to two flushes every five minutes. The reason given for the timers and limits on the flushes is for the purpose of water conservation. I'm all for saving the planet and conserving Earth's resources, but not at the expense of my own health and well-being.

The timer and two-flush limit has emphasized the impact of living with a toilet in the compact space where we also eat and sleep. No man should have to be forced to endure prolonged exposure to the revolting stench of human waste! To limit us to two flushes every five minutes is simply unreasonable, but what is unconscionable and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment is the so-called "penalty flush!" especially when we have no way of knowing when the toilet's timer has reset itself. Here at Calipatria State Prison if we inadvertently or purposely attempt to flush the toilet a third time before the toilet's timer has reset itself, a 15 minute penalty will incur. This means the toilet will not flush for 15 minutes and anything in the toilet will remain there throughout the duration of the 15 minute penalty.

In other prisons I hear that the penalty flush can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour! There's simply no penological justification for the penalty flush because the two-flush limit every five minutes serves the penological interest of the water conservation. It is inhumane to punish a man for simply trying to use the bathroom. So please include this stinking issue into the struggle. United in struggle we will prevail.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Actually, water conservation is not a penological interest at all. Like this correspondent says, a two-flush-per-five-minute rule would be enough to prevent any attempts to abuse toilet flushing. The penalties for attempting to flush the toilet show us clearly that this is just another method to make prisoners’ lives extra miserable, and dangerous, for no good reason.

It might be argued that flush rules are in the state's interests to save water, because water is money. But either way, the "greening" of Amerikan prisons highlights the dominant pro-imperialist slant of so-called environmentalism in this country. Water conservation can be used to improve production for California agribusiness, or it can be used to provide people with clean drinking water across the world. Which goal you choose is a political question. Really environmentalism that is not internationalist in perspective is not true environmentalism at all because it ignores most of the biggest problems humyns face interacting with our natural environment in favor of the local interests of small, privileged groups.

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[Abuse] [Bowie County Correctional Center] [Texas]
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Fighting Unjust Treatment and Prisoner-on-Prisoner Violence in Texas

In the past month, I've witnessed more prisoner-on-prisoner assaults than grievances filed on the unjust conditions of confinement here at Bowie County Corruptions Center. One week alone had at least three fights with two resulting in serious injuries that sent prisoners to the hospital.

Often these assaults take place when corruptions officers are not present at their assigned stations. These very officers who neglect their duties are also forced or coerced into writing false infractions with forged and falsified statements that make it appear as if they were on their assigned stations during these altercations. It's a lose-lose situation for the prisoner because the prisoners who receive the injuries are usually coerced into pressing charges against the prisoners who assaulted them.

For example, on 21 September, a prisoner-on-prisoner assault took place which resulted in one prisoner being slightly injured. When the assaulted prisoner demanded that ey be removed from the housing unit, it was discovered that ey was in an altercation. But the officer who was assigned to the station was asked about information concerning the altercation and eir whereabouts, and nothing could be said.

According to the injured prisoner, ey was "jumped" by several prisoners. One of the accused prisoners even confronted corruptions officers asking where was the officer assigned to that station? That officer laughed - knowing that ey was not on eir station. The prisoners were threatened with felony assault charges and later received disciplinary infractions. The prisoners were even found guilty on the infractions after thirteen other prisoners wrote statements for the accused.

There have also been officer-on-prisoner assaults such as one prisoner having his collarbone broken and his hip broken. When the prisoner initiated his 42 USC $1983 Civil Rights Complaint, Ad-Mini-$nake$ (administrators) bribed or attempted to bribe the prisoner by ordering that ey be released from their custody while ey was in the hospital. The prisoner still pursued eir complaint.

The majority of problems here at the Bowie County Corruptions Center generate from falsified infractions that officers write when there exists no officers on their assigned sections, therefore, resulting in a rise of tension amongst prisoners.

Though this practice is common in the corruptions system, we must all stay strong in this struggle together and let these situations and conditions be known to those charged with the responsibility and duties to operate these facilities. If nothing can be done on the administrative level and all remedies have been exhausted, seek relief from the courts and write letters to the media and organizations who may be able to help. Eventually justice shall prevail.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While we agree that eventually justice will prevail, we know that reform tactics such as grievances and court cases will only win temporary or small victories for the oppressed. The criminal injustice system will be willing to adjust its tactics of oppression, but it won't be fundamentally altered through legal battles. We need to undertake these legal battles to win some breathing space from the repression in prison for our comrades, but we can not lose sight of the larger battle against the criminal injustice system overall.

To take on the injustice system more broadly, and end the prisoner-on-prisoner assaults that happen daily, we must take up organizing prisoners for unity and peace. Prisoners ultimately can control prisoner-on-prisoner violence, regardless of what the guards do to encourage it. We must build the United Front for Peace in Prisons to truly end the violence. The first principle of this United Front, Peace, addresses directly the problem this writerr talks about above: "WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [LA State Penitentiary] [Louisiana]
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Angola Louisiana Warden Making Money on Prisons

I've decided to place my pen to paper and let you know about some reprehensible bullshit the imperial pigs who run this whole prison complex racket are up to and are hoodwinking the public about.

I was reading the June 2012 issue of Prison Legal News, Vol 23, No 6 and I was utterly floored when I read the cover article titled "God's Own Warden." [This article was reprinted from Mother Jones magazine.(1)]

There is a Warden of Angola prison in Louisiana by the name of Burl Cain. This man has a full blown racket going on down there, where he not only exploits inmates with blatant slave labor, but then hides it behind religion, and openly broadcasts his money making exploits.

This imperial pig "pays" inmates 2-20 cents to move the wheels of his little prison industry down there. He's got a "museum," farming fields, a gift shop, and a rodeo arena which seats 10,000 people and draws 70,000 people each spring and fall for "prison rodeos."

At these "rodeos" they have "convict poker," where they put 4 prisoners around a table and tell them to remain seated while a 2000 pound pissed off bull charges at them. In another event they call "guts and glory," they tie a poker chip to the horn of an angry bull. While it hangs from the horn "inmates vie to snatch the poker chip off the horn" while the prisoners run after and are chased by said enraged animal. These events are done for the laughs of the people who've bought themselves tickets to this idiocy.

In 1998 Daniel Bergner wrote a book titled "God of the Rodeo" where he himself researched this rodeo and wrote a book about it, saying that he "observed the reaction of the crowd which was electrified, exhilarated, by the thrill of watching men in terror, all made forgivable because the men were murderers." He then goes on to say "I'm sure some of it was racist (see that nigger move) and some disappointed (that there was no goring) and some uneasy (with that very disappointment)." Then he goes on to say "many people were not laughing, were too bewildered or stunned by what they'd just seen."

And of course this industrial pig has prisoners outside the arena selling arts and crafts, crawfish étouffée and Frito pies. In his "gift shop," he sells miniature handcuffs, prisoner-made jelly, and mugs that read "Angola: a gated community." Then people move on to a display of "Gruesome Gertie" which is dubbed as "the only electric chair in which a prisoner was executed twice." (The first time didn't take because the executioners were "visibly drunk.")(2)

So not only does this imperial pig make money off live inmates, he cashed in on their cruel and unusual deaths as well. But that's still not enough for the deep pockets of this racketeering Warden. He contracts his prison out to Hollywood and "allows" prisoners to be extras, all for a nice fee of course!

Cain gets away with it because he hides it all behind religion and converting prisoners to Christianity. So with his money he tosses up a few plywood walls and roof, calls it a church, and says he's "saving souls."

This is the prison where a trio of prisoners had been locked down in solitary confinement longer than anyone in U.S. history, because they were Black Panther Party members (Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace and the now released Robert King). They were put in solitary confinement, and have spent nearly 4 decades there, simply for their political beliefs.

In 2008 Warden Cain had a disposition taken in which Cain says of Woodfox, "He wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant... He is still trying to practice Black Pantherism, and I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize young prisoners, I would have me all kinds of problems, more than I could stand, and I would have the blacks chasing after them."(3)

Never mind the fact that these two heroic comrades are in their 60s and have a near perfect record for more than 20 years. Warden Cain says "it's not a matter of write-ups. It's a matter of attitude and what ya are... Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace is [sic] locked in time with that Black Panther revolutionary actions they were doing way back when... and from that there's been no rehabilitation."(3) Warden Cain then "suggested that Wallace and Woodfox could be released into general population if they renounced their political beliefs/views and embraced Jesus."(3)

Cain's policy is if inmates don't attend church services they don't get the good jobs (that pay 2-20 cents), or other goodies, such as a day or two off from plowing and farming his fields, a good meal, special banquets, ice cream, etc.

There should be a public outcry of complete outrage over this shit. This is the very sickening degeneracy which we as communists strive to stomp out. These atrocities going on down in Angola under the skirts of religion piss me off, and only strengthen my resolve to standup and fight these imperial piggies every step of the way. With every breath I take it fills my eyes with only the color of red. In solidarity we stand.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we've explained in articles on the U.S. prison economy, the exploitation of prison labor by private entities is very limited in scope, with most prison labor contributing to prison maintenance and expenses. In the case of Angola, the farm laborers, making a maximum wage of 20 cents per hour, are actually engaged in productive labor and are likely providing a net surplus value to the prison after factoring in the room and board they are provided. But even in this large, well-organized operation, the income is only an offset to the total costs of keeping these men imprisoned, in particular paying the salaries of guards and administrators.

Those prisoners making jam, and other trinkets for sale outside the rodeo are raising money for Christian organizations.(1) In this case private interests are benefitting financially from coerced labor, but even then there are no capitalist profit interests behind these projects as implied by the myth of the "prison industrial complex." Petty economic interests aside, the bigger story here is the national oppression faced by the 75% Black prisoner population at Angola coerced into supporting Christian organizations and pushed into the rodeo. This is a reprehensible example of treating men like animals and turning social control into a sport for the entertainment of reactionary spectators.

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[Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 29]
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Prison Officials Tighten the Screws at Estelle Unit

On 31 July 2012, there was a small scale race riot on the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, Texas. One person was killed as a result of the prisoner-on-prisoner violence. We were placed on lockdown for 10 days and were fed the most anorexic brown bag meals I have ever seen. The meals were pathetic and it became clear the administration was implementing a draconian behavior modification tactic on the lumpen underclass who are housed in this slave pen of oppression.

Today, 31 August 2012, I was informed that prison officials have initiated a new regulation having to do with day room time for General Population minimum custody offenders on Estelle Unit. From now on, the day room will be closed from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.! Prisoners who are not working will be "racked up" in their cells during these times. I cannot even begin to describe how oppressive, degrading, and inhumane this new control tactic is.

These prisoncrats in Texas force the prisoners to work for free 8-12 hours a day with no pay or benefits. There is no air conditioning in these small cells in population (my cell in super-seg is quite large though in comparison). Furthermore, anyone who has done time knows one of the keys to getting along with your cellmate is to "miss him" as much as possible. However, this concept is lost on the prisoncrat whose only purpose seems to be to oppress and antagonize the prisoners until they are broken or explode in frustration and anger on each other.

It is my strong belief the lumpen must grieve this policy of oppression and subjugation. Moreover, it is time for some revolutionary activism! No day room = no work. Solidarity amongst the lumpen underclass is a must. Conditions will only improve in Texas when the lumpen see clearly that the "real" enemy wears civilian clothes and confederate army gray uniforms!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a follow up to the events reported in Texas Guards Encourage Oppressed Nation Fights, where a comrade explains the role of the pigs in promoting fighting between oppressed nations in prison in incidents like this one. That article also discussed the quick response to the food grievances once prisoners came together with one voice. This restriction on day room access seems to be in response to this activism.

We have since received a correction to that previous article: the prisoner killed was Mexican and not New Afrikan as we reported in Under Lock & Key 28.

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