The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
expand

More Appeals Sent to CDCR, Protest in Sacramento

MIM(Prisons) sent another stack of letters in support of the prisoners on hunger strike across California to the so-called Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with the cover letter below. There will also be a demonstration in support of the prisoners' demand outside of the CDCR office today:

Monday, July 18th
1-4PM
Demonstration outside CDCR Headquarters. 1515 S. St. in Sacramento, CA


Warden Greg Lewis

Pelican Bay State Prison

P.O. Box 7000

Crescent City, CA 95531-7000

18 July 2011

Dear Warden Lewis,

Two weeks ago we sent dozens of letters from residents of California who are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison. As the conditions outlined by the prisoners have still not been addressed by the CDCR we are sending additional letters of support (see enclosed). We are all aware that the conditions of many prisoners are becoming critical and we urge you to take immediate action to remedy the conditions. The conditions addressed by the prisoners demands are in no way conducive to rehabilitation and no one should have to die for these basic requests.

We have also forwarded copies of these letters to CDCR Internal Affairs and CDCR Office of the Ombudsman.

Sincerely,
MIM Distributors

P.O. Box 40799

San Francisco, CA 94140

chain
[Abuse] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

More on Anti-Strike Propaganda

"Solitary confinement is not something that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations engages in," according to CDCR Spokesperson Terry Thorton.(1) According to our surveys, California has around 14,444 people in Control Units, defined as "permanently designated prisons or cells in prisons that lock prisoners up in solitary or small group confinement for 22 or more hours a day with no congregate dining, exercise or other services, and virtually no programs for prisoners." This is more people than any other state.

Thorton claims that prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU) have access to cable TV, books, yard time, the law library, weekly visits with family, and correspondence courses.

Yes, it is true that prisoners can occasionally receive books through the mail, as long as they aren't by or about Blacks or Mexicans. If you're not in SHU yet, such books might be used to validate you as a gang member and throw you in SHU on an indeterminate sentence. Otherwise they are often just censored as "gang material."

Correspondence courses are occasionally allowed, too. But we've confirmed 35 incidents of study materials from a MIM(Prisons) correspondence course being censored in California, 15 of which were at Pelican Bay. We've also been told that a radio show that broadcasts to Pelican Bay was shut down there after broadcasting a correspondence course on a show popular among prisoners.

Interaction with family, inmates and staff is greatly exaggerated by Thorton. We've known comrades whose only physical contact with another humyn being for many years has been guards putting cuffs on their wrists. And while Thorton makes family visits out to be a regular thing, the distance to Crescent City, California for most families is the first barrier that makes visits rare at best. One family member who spoke with MIM(Prisons) at a table while we did outreach in support of the strike described how they went to visit their brother at Pelican Bay once and had to talk through a TV screen. They have not gone back since. Others who visit Pelican Bay talk about how their freedom of association is limited just as the prisoners' is. If they are seen speaking to the wrong persyn (another visitor) while going on visit they can be restricted or banned from coming back.

Thorton described "the two ways" one can get into SHU in California, painting prisoners as either violent attackers or mob bosses running organized crime. Yet, as those who were there when Pelican Bay was being conceived can attest, it was built in response to those who dared to organize and stand up for their rights as the thousands of prisoners who went on food strike across California have done. As prisoners continue to organize and move in a positive and united direction, it will become harder and harder for the state to paint the organizations of the oppressed as enemies that deserve any torture or punishment they receive.

chain
[Abuse] [Kentucky State Reformatory] [Kentucky] [ULK Issue 22]
expand

Beating as Retaliation for Filing Grievances

I was brutally beaten by seven correctional officers (COs) in December and was transported to the hospital as a result. They almost killed me. My hands were restrained the whole time while they maced and punched me in the face continually. I was kicked in the stomach and elsewhere.

This is the second time that I have been sent to the hospital for officer brutality. The first time was when CO Goins cut my hand wide open and I had to get stitches. I have been forced to endure constant harassment, degradation, malicious behavior, discrimination, etc. All of this has happened to me as a result of "retaliation" for the many grievances that I've submitted for CO Goins stealing my jewelry out of my property bag. When I started grieving this and other matters, other officers joined him in retaliation against me.

There's a lot more to this matter but this letter is just to reveal some of what I've gone through and am experiencing. This beating took place six months ago, but the campaign of harassment has been going on longer.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Unfortunately brutality is not an uncommon response by prison guards against prisoners who try to fight injustice and illegal guard abuse through the grievance system. This is why United Struggle from Within initiated a campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. There are currently petitions for California, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, and we need help to create petitions for other states. Write to us to get involved.

chain
[Abuse] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
expand

Conditions in California are Problems in Prisons Everywhere in Amerika

I am new to the cause, but not new to the system. I am currently in reception here in California waiting to go to mainline. I am writing to let you know I have received the newsletter and the letter from the comrades in Pelican Bay and their serious issues [concerning their hunger strike], but I am also writing to let you know about some issues we are having with health violations and degrading of prisoners by the pigs.

First, we are being housed in gyms and they are in real nasty condition, black mold in the restrooms, no air to keep us cool, with temperatures that reach over 100 degrees this next month. We have no fire sprinklers and there is an infestation of birds and bird lice that is giving prisoners rashes and bite marks. People are passing staph infection around, and they make us go without soap and other supplies for weeks at a time.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It is conditions like these in prisons across the country that led to prisoners all over California acting in solidarity with the hunger strike initiated in Pelican Bay this July. And these common interests compelled the organization of the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a vehicle to unite the lumpen so that we can organize effectively against the criminal injustice system.

chain
[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Pelican Bay Prisoner Joins Hunger Strike to Protest Sensory Deprivation

On June 21 I received the [Hunger Strike] campaign update and I do truly admire your organization attempting to liberate not only confined prisoners but all oppressed people within the nation. Thank you!

Tomorrow, on July 1, I will most definitely be participating in the mass hunger strike here in Pelican Bay State Prison. I'm under lock and key isolated in administrative segregation awaiting transfer to Corcoran SHU for over 17 months now, and this inhumane, dehumanizing and repressive treatment of these control unit prisoners must come to an end. I am tired of being targeted and psychologically tortured in solitary confinement, which causes severe mental harm to the point of having conversations with myself. This is a form of sensory deprivation and must stop immediately.

Another reason why I will be protesting along with the SHU prisoners is because here in CDCR there are no simple programs such as tattoo removal programs. Some prisoners like myself were incarcerated as juveniles and tried as adults, and we made mistakes by putting tattoos on our bodies. So by attempting to truly rehabilitate myself I want all my tattoos removed. As a prisoner I should have access to programs like this. It makes me question, does California Department of Corrections deserve the title of "rehabilitation?"


MIM(Prisons) responds: There's no question about it, they do not deserve the title "Rehabilitation" which was added years ago without any change in their practice or policies to justify the term. Former prisoners who spent years in these isolation cells can attest to that. The lucky ones have family or find organizations with the resources to support them. But too many are stuck in destructive cycles. Meanwhile, there is a criminal mentality that penetrates the whole populace in the United $tates based in capitalist individualism. It is up to revolutionaries to develop independent institutions that can truly address the rehabilitation needs of the oppressed lumpen who have more interest in revolutionary change than most Amerikans who sit idly by while hundreds of thousands of people are tortured in their country.

chain
[Abuse] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
expand

Letter to Warden Supporting Hunger Strike Demands

Dear Warden Lewis,

I am writing this letter to you to express my concern for the prisoners held in Pelican Bay State Prison's short-corridor Group D. It is my understanding that these people have no disciplinary charges, but are being held in extreme isolation, unable to send photographs to their families or speak to them on the phone, which clearly is in violation of the First Amendment. You must meet the "important" and "necessary" test before you can restrict or censor inmates' outgoing mail. ( Bressman v. Farrier, 825 F. Supp. 231(N.D. Iowa 1993); Altizer v. Deeds, 191 F. 3d 540 (4th Cir. 1999); Stow v. Grimaldi, 993 F. 2d 1002 (1st Cir. 1993). For telephones see: McMaster v. Pung, 984 F.2d 948, 953 (8th Cir. 1993) ).

I am concerned that these prisoners, who are under your responsibility, are being denied their Constitutional right to due process, equal protection rights, and cruel and unusual punishment. Not only do these inmates not have any disciplinary charges, but IGI is intimidating and harassing them into fabricating information to avoid false gang validations. This is illegal and upsetting, and meets the "significant and atypical" standard. See: Ayers v. Ryan, 152 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 1998); Taylor v. Rodriguez, 238 F.3d 188 (2d Cir. 2001); and Hatch v. District of Columbia, 184 F.3d 846 (D.C. Circ. 1999). This is a violation of legal ethics, and as a citizen of the state of California, I expect fair treatment of prisoners from a state employee rather than allowing these gross violations of the Constitution to happen right under your nose.

Studies prove time and time again that prisoners who have contact with their family are able to rehabilitate much better than those who are isolated. They are better able to adjust to society when they are released, and avoid being sent back to prison. It is completely irresponsible that you would permit IGI to cause this potential psychological damage to a person, when they are supposed to be allowed these privileges.

Since you are the Warden of Pelican Bay State Prison, I am asking that you intervene in these illegal and irresponsible practices going on in short-corridor Group D. Please allow the prisoners held there their full privileges according to CDCR policies, and end the harassment and intimidation of prisoners, especially ones who have no information, and no disciplinary actions.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I also thank you for your future efforts to resolve this problem.

Sincerely,
a California prisoner

chain
[Abuse] [Campaigns] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Prisoner in CSP-Sacramento Calls on Warden to Address Hunger Striker Demands

Dear Warden Lewis,

I'm writing to express my concerns for the inhuman treatment being inflicted on these disciplinary-free prisoners housed at Pelican Bay State Prison's short-corridor Group D. The conditions there must change because of the nature of the situation. Please allow these people room to have phone calls, send pictures to their loved ones, etc. If we have no respect for the U.S. Constitution how shall I, as a free man one day, respect or honor the rights of others, after witnessing these wrong doings? I'm facing a real challenge when I return to society in September 2011. If we continue to strive to solve problems we must begin in our community and this is one of the largest communities I've ever been a part of and I believe that the strike on July 1, 2011 will begin the process for a collective change as one unity.

I have faith you will resolve the problem.

Sincerely,
[a prisoner in California State Prison - Sacramento]

I will strike with these men in unity.

chain
[Abuse] [Telford Unit] [Texas]
expand

Fighting Inadequate Food in Texas

I'm writing to you to report about the food kitchen meals now being given to us prisoners here in Texas at the Barry S. Telford Unit, even here in Ad-Seg. It is beyond cruelty, and passed unusual. This is punishment with the intent to kill. There are many of us here of both level 3 and level 2 who cannot read or write successfully, who have raised the most hell by protesting the meals on each trays. The grievance department workers state they are doing all they can to get the trays to their proper balanced-diet meals. I have yet to see a balanced meal. This started in 2010! And now on the weekend, the trays are so poor that many have said they can barely stand to eat it. The Johnnies are worst, but they are only cold, not hot meals. Sadder still, the ranking officials, and the on-pod security rovers on the floor refuse to correct meals.

We have been told it's the budget cut passed for Texas prisons. There has been a cut of all carton milk, and powdered milk is now given as a substitute. Coffee has been cut off, given only seven days per month. We hear rumors now that other units are suffering worse still than ours. The rumor is they are receiving a breakfast meal, one lunch, and one johnny sack on last chow meals.

Those who get put on food loaf and think they like it better than the trays have changed their tunes all the way around. The food loaves are the size of a slice of bread, and only as large as a honey bun. And get this, there's nothing but bread in them; no vegetables, no beans, no meat, not even any fruits!!! At breakfast they might put cheerios on top of them, and the guards laugh and joke about it. But it's sad a thing to endure for 7, or sometimes 14 days.

I have been helping many write up each meal, but the only time we get a decent meal is when a holiday comes along, or when an outside prison or government agent is here visiting, and trays are heaped up so high there's extra everything. Then even the snacks get a slice of bologna and cheese, or peanut butter with jelly.

Here on Ad-Seg the prisoners are not even up during the daytime or to go out to recreation due to weaknesses and waves of nausea.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've been hearing a lot lately about budget cuts at prisons leading to cuts in the already insufficient food that prisoners receive. This is a serious matter as prisoners become weak and sick, while staff continue to bring home fat paychecks. Grieving the inadequate food is a good first step to get organized around this battle. For those in Texas whose grievances are ignored, contact us for a copy of our grievance petition demanding that our grievances be heard.

chain
[Abuse] [Organizing] [Lovelock Correctional Center] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 21]
expand

Fighting Repression in PS Housing

On April 28, 2011 a complaint was made against two lieutenants and the associate warden of operations (AWO) at Lovelock Correctional Center (LCC) for threatening the entire Protective Segregation (PS) housing unit population with group punishment if the gambling, homosexual activity, tattooing, etc. continued, despite the fact that those who'd been caught were known and identified and/or already facing disciplinary procedures.

The same night, a number of individuals were caught gambling, and the following morning both PS housing units 3A and 3B were locked down. The lockdown was purportedly in response to the gambling incident.

On May 10, 2011 a minor altercation occurred between two prisoners in the LCC dining hall. These two individuals were placed in more secure housing where they received:

  1. telephone access
  2. law library access
  3. library access (i.e. book cart)
  4. cleaning supplies for cells
  5. full food portions in two hot meals per day
  6. yard access
  7. due process prior to loss of privileges and punishment

The remaining PS prisoners in 3A and 3B, having nothing to do with any of these incidents, received:
  1. lockdown for 6 days with showers on first and fourth days
  2. loss of cell visiting privileges (permanently)
  3. loss of open access to cells and toilet accommodations (permanently)
  4. no law library access
  5. no religious access
  6. no library access
  7. no telephone access
  8. no cell cleaning supplies
  9. no tier time/yard time
  10. refused grievances and "advised" not to "fly paperwork if we want off of lockdown"

During the lockdown a shakedown (described as getting the unit into compliance) was done resulting in the confiscation of appliances, which was later returned because "it should not have been taken in the first place."

Upon being let off of lockdown some of the population united around these and other issues long overdue for redress and formulated a complaint alleging several violations of civil and human rights which are embraced by the following acts and holdings among others:
22 USCA 6021 (9)
22 USCA 6401 (in toto)
42 USCA 1997a (CRIPA)
42 USCA 2000cl (RLUIPA)
Bounds v Smith 37SCT1491 430US817
Heck v. Humphrey 114SCT2364 512US477
Wolff v McDonnell 94 SCT 2963 418 US 539
Breenholtz v Nebraska 99 SCT 2100 442 US 1
Estelle v Gamble 97 SCT 285 429 US 97
Turner v Safley 102 CT 2754 482 US 78
All of which are US Supreme Court holdings which are binding upon Nevada (Nevada constitution article 1 Sec 2 Bargas v Warden NSP 482 P2d 317 87 Nev 30 91 SCT 1267 403 US 935 29 LED 715)

The complaint raises the following (and other) issues which are constant and pervasive conditions at LCC among PS prisoners:

  1. unsanitary/unsafe dining hall conditions
  2. inadequate food and medical treatment
  3. compulsory strip searches daily (to boxers) frequently done by females
  4. verbal abuse by staff in the form of derogatory racial, cultural and gender charged epithets
  5. abusive and retaliatory behavior toward adherents of non-traditional religions
  6. inadequate legal access and retaliation for accessing legal process
  7. coercion/harassment in the form of cell searches and theft/destruction of personal property as retaliation and for furtherance of personal agendas
  8. withholding/theft of mail, opening legal mail outside of prisoner's presence
  9. use of prisoners in supervisory capacity and as facilitators/teachers of rehabilitative and psych programs which impact earned sentence credits, parole board decisions and sentence duration
  10. fomenting hostility and animus between prisoners using confidential or otherwise sensitive information
  11. group punishment/threats of collective retaliation and punishments

The above is a summary of the mentioned complaint and does not contain much in the way of detail and specificity. However, it serves to articulate the overall conditions here (and elsewhere) and exemplifies the need for solidarity and presenting a united front against oppression. It should never be allowed to get this bad before action is taken, but it apparently must get bad enough to inspire action.

It is easier to keep what one has than it is to regain what one has already lost, but this is not a message which is widely understood by the new prisoner class.

In any event, if information concerning our struggle becomes available, it will be put "before the world."


MIM(Prisons) adds: We applaud prisoners coming together to fight repression in their housing units. In this case it is prisoners in protective custody, a place our prison comrades are fond of reminding us is rife with people who informed on other prisoners (often falsely) to save their own hides. We cannot often know who, in PC or general population, is a snitch, but we can judge prisoners by their actions and uphold the correctness of struggles against prison brutality wherever they arise.

chain
[Abuse] [Hudson Correctional Facility] [Colorado]
expand

Abuse at Private Prison in Colorado

I am an Alaska prisoner at a Cornell company, Cornell Corrections, a private for profit facility in Hudson, Colorado. This facility is not to be confused with a state or federal operated prison. It has private investors and is contracted to the state of Alaska to house prisoners because of the so-called overcrowding.

This facility as with all private for profit facilities is extremely corrupt. Cornell Corrections has a long history of corruption and illegal actions. I, along with a large percentage of the prisoners at this corrupt facility, should not be here because we are maximum security and maximum custody. The Alaska DOC/Cornell company's contract and the state of Colorado statutes both state that no maximum security, or maximum custody prisoners are to be housed in private, for-profit prisons in the state of Colorado.

The employees at this corrupt facility are not sworn to oath correctional officers. They are untrained or extremely poorly trained private citizens. Cornell employees are not empowered in any official capacity. If indeed they employ a law enforcement or correctional officer, these COs may not exercise their official authority while employed by a private party or contractor. This is a conflict of interest and allows for lawsuits to be filed on them for this illegal action.

I am at present in the SHU, Special Housing Unit, due to a fight instigated by a Cornell employee, Joe Hammock, employee number 17454. Joe Hammock had harassed and humiliated me numerous times prior to this incident which took place in May, 2010. A Black female employee, Larnette Mingo, employee number 17432, joined Joe Hammock in this fight. I had filed several complaints and grievances over harassment, humiliation, and discrimination actions by Mingo towards me and other non-Black prisoners. These two employees were then joined by two more employees, Stephen Mannan, employee #17273 and Paul Price, employee #17219, with Price being the senior employee in charge. I at this point had approximately 900 to 1000 pounds jumping on top of me. Stephen Mannan put handcuffs on me squeezing them down until they cut into my wrist and then stood and kicked me in the lower rib cage. I was then basically dragged through the G-A Mod by pulling and jerking on the handcuffs by Price and Mannan, through two sets of doors and then Mannan and Price threw me in a corner with Mannan then slamming my head into the wall cutting my right eye, while yelling, "I never liked you anyway, I'll make you sorry for what you did you scumbag. I'll make life a living hell for you."

I was then escorted to the SHU unit (the Hole) where I have been since. I ask for law enforcement to be summoned in accordance to law, and they were not. When I ask for law enforcement to be called I was told by a female employee, good luck, as she walked away laughing. Law enforcement was supposed to be called due to this being an assault issue at a private, for-profit prison. I ask at least three times for police to be summoned. A medical employee then came to the cell I was in. I asked to see credentials as to who and what part of the medical profession she was, which she stated she did not have to produce. I then refused to speak to her due to the fact that medical issues are to be confidential, and not to be shared with non-medical employees.

They claimed that I am charged with assault on staff members. I have not received any paperwork from the Colorado court system or law enforcement that any charges were filed on me. I have been hauled to the Weld county courts two times and was appointed a public defender, whose name I do not know.

In June 2010 a disciplinary hearing officer from Cornell Corrections, J. Becker, came to the cell I was in and stated that the District Attorney of Weld county, Greely Colorady had dismissed all charges and that I was not charged by DOC Alaska for assault of a staff member. A disciplinary hearing was held by J. Becker after the charges were dismissed and I was sentenced to 30 days of punitive segregation which I served and was completed. The state of Colorado is now re-charging me for violations I have been sentenced and served my punishment for ending. I find this action to be extremely corrupt and illegal. The public defender appointed to me has done nothing in my defense. I am just one of an extremely large number of Alaska DOC prisoners to be corruptly and illegally treated at this Cornell companies facility. All of the corrupt and illegal actions mentioned prior are promoted by, condoned and endorsed by very corrupt Cornell company and facility heads, superintendent Rick Veach and his cronies, Trevor Williams, and Scott Vineyard.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner gives some good documentation about the private prisons in Colorado along with details about the employees who are perpetuating a system of corruption and abuse. As we explained in our article on the U.$. Prison Economy, private prisons are a small portion of the criminal injustice system, at least partially due to their inability to remain profitable. But we know from reports from other prisoners and our own research, private prisons cut costs in ways that lead to even more atrocious conditions and danger for prisoners. We print this article as further documentation of the conditions in private prisons.

chain