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Under Lock & Key

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Menard Correctional Center] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 24]
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Fighting Back in Menard

Here at Menard, a prison within the Illinois Department of Corruptions, the prisoners have said "no more." We now are making a full and united front against the swine who confine us.

We have tried for years to voice our objections in a peaceful and civil manner to the hierarchy of this morally bankrupt system. However, these pigs refuse to listen. In fact it has now become completely and utterly impossible to exhaust any and all grievances with any kind of legally sound argument within its body, thereby stopping a prisoner from presenting any claim in any court.

Here in the segregation unit they have gathered together a group of sadistic pigs who torture at will. The head and ringleader of these cowards seems to be Officer Davis. The hierarchy put in cameras to curb the abuse. The piggies found blind spots, where prisoners' blood stains the concrete, and those responsible are allowed to hide.

There have been at least five severe and bloody staff assaults here in a row. The brass in their state capital keeps asking, why? Why, because you have left us with no other course of action. We have become intolerant of the consecutive abuses. We have finally found ourselves in a corner with nowhere to turn. I see no end to the bloodshed. Even after these pigs put those they believe responsible in extreme isolation, it continues!

Defiance and refusal to submit to these pigs has become a movement within itself. It has become much too large to squash. When things attain a certain size they become permanent. One can dredge a lake, but not an ocean.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter illustrates an important fact: when people are pushed into a corner, tortured and given no option of running away and no peaceful way to fight back, they will be forced into a violent response. It is ironic that the prisons are constantly censoring MIM(Prisons) as a threat to the security of the institution when it is their own policies and practices that threaten the safety of staff and prisoners the most!

We do want to point out that there is an alternative to short-term violence against the pigs. We need broader organization among our comrades behind bars so that they are not taken out one by one for fighting back. While we cannot judge individual cases of desperation, we know that the long battle is one that requires the building of unity and the education of our allies.

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[Abuse] [North Branch Correctional Institution] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 25]
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Maryland Abuses Prisoners, Tortures Mental Health Patients

I'm incarcerated at Maryland's North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI) in Cumberland, Maryland. I have been getting Under Lock & Key for about six months now. I'm writing this for me and my fellow prisoners; we need help. I have been here at NBCI in the segregation unit for two years now and there is a serious problem here. There is a big ring of corrupt racist white renegade prison guards employed here. These guards are anti-social/racist towards Black prisoners. They provoke, curse, challenge to fight, call them niggers, bitches, etc.

They broke the legs of one of my fellow comrades who I'm close to, and no one did anything to help. These prison guards take our food, recreation, and showers for days at a time. They spray us with pepper spray out of the blue for reasons that are still unknown. I have been a victim of that twice. I have tried to fight back but I'm one lone prisoner. Other prisoners are afraid to back me because they fear losing what little they have: single cells, TVs, etc. They are afraid of having their property sent home, being beaten, and/or thrown in the segregation unit.

The mental health patients housed in the prison who have Axis 1 diagnoses throw feces on other prisoners on the tier and the prison guards feed prisoners while the feces are on the tier. Prison guards abuse these Axis 1 diagnosis mental health patients; they agitate, provoke, mock, and call them stupid and retarded. These corrupt guards also constantly break their chain of command. They are not disciplined for their violations of Maryland Division of Corrections Directives. Even the Request for Administrative Remedy process is corrupt.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter describing the abuse and corruption at NBCI raises a concern directly related to campaigns MIM(Prisons) is leading. Staff in Maryland are not accountable for their actions. This is true in prisons across the country and this abuse of power inspired prisoners to initiate a campaign to Demand Our Grievances be Addressed. It's spread from California to Arizona, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. And anyone can help spread it further by requesting the form from us and doing the research on policies to cite for your state.

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[Abuse] [Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 25]
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Texas Limits Privileges and Denies Grievances

Due to the budget cuts and Governor Perry refusing the stimulus package, in Texas prisons they've attacked those housed here. They ceased serving prepackaged cartons of milk, and went to powdered milk, and now they have attached a fee of $100 annual to medical. If you need medical care you will be charged for a toothache, diarrhea, headache, etc. But what's devastating is TDCJ doesn't pay its offenders money. Instead it uses good time which they take away as a punitive measure, causing you to do more time.

Since TDCJ doesn't reward or pay offenders, money needed has to come from gifts via family, friends etc. In other words they're extorting our loved ones, and this will follow those who parole with money to be paid and attached to parole fees.

Upon being released from the Texas system you'll receive a bus ticket to your county of conviction and $50. Upon reporting to parole you'll receive the second $50 from which parole fees of $12, victim fees, educational fees, and restitution fees will be deducted, so you're to reenter society on a very small amount of money.

Texas's systems practically operate on what they produce themselves for consumption. Clothing, shoes, food, etc., is all made at the multiple units, sent to central stores and resold to each unit.

TDCJ has the offenders scared. They will stack free world time on any act of violence - any kind of unions or solidarity will be attacked as Security Threat Groups and figureheads will be placed in level III Administrative Segregation.

They have sought out to break any sort of groups and unauthorized activities. Since I've been involved in prisoner rights we've lost more than gained: We have lost smoking products, canned goods, beans, meats, fruits, educational classes, GED, college courses, radios with speakers, cable TV, art privileges, and even carton milk. Long hair and facial hair were banned. They hold supposed good time above these bamboozled offenders and make them comply.

I recently received a major rule infraction, just because I told the law library trustee to stop throwing my photocopies on the floor. So he filed a LID (life endangerment) on me: he forged a letter and signed my name to it - saying I asked another to beat him up, so I received a major rule infraction for Penal Code 71-02 Organized Crime. I've filed 4 grievances on his department and security staff for sabotaging my legal request and destroying my letters. All were denied.

So I wrote to the law library supervisor with no response. I then wrote to the senior warden to no avail. The Office of the Attorney General offered nothing, but they found a dummy letter forged and they promptly protected their SSI (Support Service Inmate).

In Texas you're only allowed to file one grievance a week, and I've been here two years plus. I've filed approximately 94 and all have come back denied - no proof.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This story of grievances being denied over and over for legitimate cases is all too common, not just in Texas but in prisons across the country. This is why United Struggle from Within initiated the campaign demanding our grievances be addressed. We currently have petitions for California, Texas, New York, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arizona and the campaign is spreading. We need legal researchers to create petitions for other states. And if you are in a state that already has a petition, write to us for a copy and join the campaign to demand grievances be addressed in your state. It's time to destroy the idea that people can effectively go to the state for protection from abuse in prison.

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[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Scotland Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Fight Oppression at Scotland Correctional Institution

This is a cry out for help from the brothers in the struggle at the confinement of Scotland Correctional Institution located in Laurinburg, NC under the ruler and dictatorship of Karen Stanback, Asst. Superintendent of Security. It grieves my heart to know and witness an African American woman, apply rules of oppression to camp populated by 80% minority races. Actions of oppression ordered by K. Stanback are:

  1. To ban all Under Lock & Key publications
  2. No state or local newspapers
  3. No shirt jackets worn in the dinner hall, school, or any religious programs (no matter what the temp is)
  4. No showering from 6pm until 9pm (with a population of 1500 prisoners)
  5. No jobs for close custody prisoners once they lose their assigned job. (All jobs are then referred to medium custody prisoners)
  6. Confining over 145 prisoners in one unit called Green D,E,F or "Gangland". This is where all the gangs are housed at, mixed together, and not giving any opportunity for regular programs or employment like the regular population.
  7. Only 1 hour of recreation. Without proper exercise, fresh air, and movement an individual develops a mentality like a caged in animal.

    She and the admins here have created a very hostile environment and seem to enjoy it.

    Brothers and sisters please! This is our cry for relief the hammer of oppression being applied to us at Scotland CI under the watch of K. Stanback. Please contact the appropriate resources to aid us in our struggle.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this comrade's call for prisoners to stand up against oppression. This prisoner and others are leading the struggle at Scotland and they provide an example to prisoners across the the criminal injustice system who are facing similar conditions.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia]
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Fighting Segregation, Inspired by ULK

I have just recently been introduced to Under Lock & Key. I regret that I've been ignorant to the existence of such an inspiring movement. I commend you all in exposing the harsh reality that is the Department of Corruption nationwide.

Here in West Virginia the nature of incarceration is mostly mental and emotional torture. Segregation time is handed out in 30- and 60-day increments for infractions of the pettiest kind: borrowing someone else's CD can get you 30 days. Giving a man a soup because he's hungry lands you in SHU for 30 days. Multiple class 2 writeups get you 60 as well as any class 1. Tobacco products get you 60 days. Then god forbid you get caught with a weapon... that's 2 years minimum on the "Quality of Life Program."

The SHU is sensory deprivation to the fullest. There is no access to reading books from the library, and of course no radio or television. If you get no newspapers or magazines in the mail, you have nothing. Get caught passing reading material and it's another 30 days. It's a very stressful game to hold on to your sanity.

Though the atmosphere is not very violent, it is taxing mentally. Behind every face is a potential informant. There are few that can truly be trusted and even fewer who can be depended on. We have no unity. Some try to open the eyes of others to see the true enemy, but often times to no avail. Administration members play us against each other at every turn. They oppress religious freedoms and the mere freedom of thought. Voicing opinions in grievances gets you put in the SHU.

I anxiously await the next issue of Under Lock & Key for advice, direction, and inspiration.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The torture of prison control units, like the SHU described by this prisoner, is widespread in Amerika. It is something we have been fighting against for years, many comrades decades, but with little success in actually stopping the torture. Isolation units are used as a tool of social control for a population that the imperialists have no productive use for. In this system, prisoncrats work hard to set prisoners against one another by rewarding snitching as another method of control. Division and fear are powerful tools for the criminal injustice system. Under Lock & Key is an important tool for prisoners to fight back, organize, and unify. Share this publication with others, form discussion groups to talk about the articles, and get in touch with us to share your stories and struggles. There are many more people like the one above who have plenty of experience with repression, but have had little access to comrades and forums for analyzing and struggling to end it. We are working to change that.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Florida]
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Violence and Medical Neglect Caused by Prison Guards

On August 21st I was stabbed by a white supremacist while I was in full restraints. Though I didn't know the man, I can't help but wonder whether this guy thought I was someone else, or he was following orders from these tyrants (COs). It seems to be a common thing for prisoners to harm another prisoner, in the hopes of staying in the Correctional Officers (COs) good graces.

Anyways, I was sent to medical. While at medical the nurses glued up my wounds, with a liquid stitch. Without verifying whether I was internally bleeding or not, they decided to place me under 23 hour watch. The captain happened to walk in the room, and asked me how I felt. I told him I was having trouble breathing, and so he decided to overrule the nurse and send me to an outside hospital.

By the time I reached the hospital I had already lost 40% of my blood. I was bleeding internally in my lung, stomach, spleen, large intestine, bladder and bowels. Long story short, the surgery went well. I stayed in the hospital for about 3 weeks.

While I was there the COs tried to persuade me to be cool with them enough to not file a lawsuit. You see I was stabbed while in full restraints, and the officer watching us said absolutely nothing to aid me away from harm. It didn't work because I've begun to take the proper steps in order to file a lawsuit against DOC.

They failed to properly search the other prisoner before allowing him to leave his cell, and while I was being stabbed the CO just sat there and watched. The whole situation just seems too funny to me. I don't know the guy, I've never had any beef with a white supremacist, I'm not a rat and I'm in good standing amongst my LO.

But I was building with two comrades and was recruiting other POWs to file grievances on various issues within the DOC. I'm not into conspiracy theories but I can't help wonder whether the system purposely allowed me to be harmed in the hopes of discouraging me from the revolutionary path. Nonetheless here I stand, still fighting for freedom no less.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We're saddened but not surprised to hear this story of brutality and suffering caused by prison guards, and their subsequent attempts to stop a lawsuit that might expose this system. We commend this comrade for standing strong in the face of this violence. We know that our comrades in prisons often place their lives in danger just by advocating for peace and an end to injustice. This is an inevitable part of the revolutionary struggle and we must continue to expose these incidents in the pages of Under Lock & Key.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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PBSP Strike Update - CDCR Still Breaking Laws

1 October 2011 - As of September 26, 2011 we have re-started our hunger strike. It was evident that Scott Kernan isn't going to uphold his end of the original agreement on the 5 core demands from our first hunger strike, so action was necessary.

As of September 29, 2011, CDCR removed all representatives in the short corridor as well as the organizers of the hunger strike. They were all placed in Ad-Seg (that's the story CDCR is giving). No one has access to them. We don't know what their condition is, because they are also on the hunger strike.

Scott Kernan issued a memo stating that "Inmates who participate in the hunger strike will be disciplined." On September 29, 2011, Pelican Bay staff started pulling prisoners out of their cells, so they could take all food out of their cells. Even those prisoners who couldn't participate in the hunger strike because of poor health and serious medical needs. Their canteen and food was taken away as a result of the hunger strike.

Today is October 1st, 2011, and we were just told by CDCR staff that prison visits are cancelled due to the hunger strike. This is a direct retaliation by CDCR. It's obvious that Scott Kernan doesn't want information to leak out to the public about how this situation is beyond his control. By CDCR denying our family and friends direct access to us they place uncalled for stress on them as well as a financial burden.

So far CDCR is still using old standards to keep us validated as gang members/associates. I received 1030s stating "other prisoners were caught with my name in their cell," so CDCR is using that to validate me, along with drawings that have a huelga bird on it.

I have to file a 602 on these issues, because in the 2005 Lira v Herrera case, the courts decided that laundry lists and drawings are not to be used as active gang material. So I have a lot of legal research to do on this.

Also, I have just filed a 602 on CDCR for "withholding" a letter from MIM(Prisons). They cited that MIM is asking prisoners to disrupt daily operations of CDCR. So I'm in litigation to get CDCR to give me that letter.

I have to say, our daily struggles from behind the walls will continue as long as this corrupt system continues to abuse the mass of the prison population who are wrongly accused of gang ties, etc.

Long term and indefinite isolation is by all standards inhumane and excessive punishment for any person no matter what his crime is. This places serious stress on any person's psychological and mental state of mind. I personally have experienced a lot of this oppression and abuse by CDCR for the past 12 years here at Pelican Bay SHU.

Things have to change. The current cycle of abuse and the systematic way in which it's applied is more than any human spirit can take. It's a miraculous accomplishment that so many of us still housed here at Pelican Bay SHU still have our sanity.

Well it's no surprise that CDCR just told all those on the hunger strike that they will not be allowed to see/talk to their visitors because their visits were canceled. But those prisoners who didn't take part in the hunger strike will be allowed to visit their loved ones. It's a sad disturbing turn of events, but it's our reality.

My viewpoint on this hunger strike is that these material items such as sweats, photos, colored pens, etc., are not what we really want, but rather are items that should have been part of the established curriculum for the SHU all along.

I am a lifer, as you know, and I can't imagine having to spend the rest of my life living here at Pelican Bay SHU. And I don't want to see youngsters brought to the SHU behind CDCR lies and have to suffer the same fate we are all suffering now.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Calipatria Prisoners Staying Strong in Hunger Strike in Face of Harassment and Abuse

This strike is being done peacefully, but yet one of my fellow prisoners in support of the hunger strike was assaulted by IGI [Institutional Gang Investigations]. Not once did he try to resist, and everywhere we go we are in restraints.

I've already lost 2 pounds, which is nothing yet, but I'm a man who will see this through till my body seizures. I'm well aware that my medical disorder (seizures) is something not to be playing with. I will stay positive and focus on the big picture of what's important: change. I'm not in Pelican Bay, but I've been validated and since March of 2009 I have yet to receive what I got coming.

This memo was given to us on September 27. No advance directive was given to any of us who are food striking [an advance directive form allows food strikers to designate a person to make health care decisions on their behalf in case they become seriously ill]. I requested an advance directive and submitted it on September 26. I also sent a copy to my family.

I'm not alone here in Calipatria fighting the struggle. There are over 70 of us validated here who have been stuck here for over two years. Last year there were over 80 cell extractions here in ASU. This was for TVs, jackets and laundry they are not providing us. Nothing is being fixed here. All Calipatria administration did was ship out 12 prisoners who they considered the organizers.

I know the Calipatria administration isn't taking this hunger strike seriously. And in response to the September 27 memo some prisoners got intimidated and decided to eat. Many do not see the bigger picture and feel it is a lost cause.

After we stopped the first strike in July all we got was harassment, cold food and laundry messed with even more. I've been asking about receiving some disinfectant and was informed that we are not going to get it anymore. And we get hand soap, watered down, in a milk carton once a week per cell. We live in dirty filth here.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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PBSP ASU Hunger Strike and Retaliations

I'm writing to inform you about the food strike here in Pelican Bay. Everyone around ASU (administrative segregation) has been passing your articles around and I'd like to thank you and all of the protesters for showing us love and supporting us prisoners in PBSP. The strike has started and there's been a lot of traffic in ASU lately. We received a memo from undersecretary Scott (the liar) Kernan on September 27 stating:

"information has been received that a number of inmates have engaged in behavior consisting with initiating a demonstration/hunger strike event. The department will not condone organized inmate disturbances. Participation in mass disturbances, such as hunger strikes or work stoppage will result in the department taking the following action:... [See a complete copy of this memo in another article here.]"

Tomorrow, Friday [September 30], ASU stand alones start a stand and people here will be striking.

I've been put in ASU because when I was in the CTC a nurse disrespected me and I took a stand and received a false 115 for indecent exposure which never happened. I am currently in the 602 process of filing sexual harassment against resident nurse Joe Carr.

Let me take you on a step-by-step retelling of that fucked up day. After lunch time in the CTC infirmary I was being housed for a fractured jaw but after lunch I observed nurse Joe Carr making rounds so I called him over and asked nicely did he watch the game (football) on Sunday. I'm a big Raiders fan so I wanted to ask him the score. Carr got hostile and told me "none of my fuckin business, I went home on Sunday, that's what I did jack ass." Now I lost my cool and cussed him out so Carr tells me "You better get off your door or I'm gonna put you on strip cell suicide watch." I rebelled more and Carr said "get off your door or I'll write up some paperwork saying I seen you with your penis out masturbating." I told him he's a fuckin' liar and he says "my word against yours" and laughs.

The living conditions in ASU are those of a caveman: 3 showers a week, no phone calls, yard in a human dog cage, and no TVs because there are no plugs.

Quick note P.S.: Today, September 30th, while at yard in our cages, the police came and retaliated at the south siders in the strike. They denied yard and came in their cells and took magazines, books, toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo. The police are inhumane and this proves it.

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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [ULK Issue 23]
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FSP Prisoners Unite for Rec and Against Brutality

On cell block one, prisoners were being denied outdoor exercise. In 2003, prisoners won a class action civil suit (titled Osterback v. Singletary) where the court made the ruling that it was against the 8th Amendment to deny Close Management Unit prisoners outdoor exercise.

Still, we were constantly being denied. The prisoners were griping. Another comrade and I decided the conditions were right to direct the people. Thus we set out on a "grievance campaign," forming a nucleus of seven. We enlisted five other prisoners to each make two copies of exemplary grievances (that me and the other comrade pre-wrote), all with different language. This was necessary because the people themselves would not have spent one minute to place pen to paper.

Altogether a good 25 grievances were written by the core body. They were passed on for the people to sign and date, and for others to copy. A good 30 prisoners participated.

On the next designated day of outside exercise, the pigs went from cell to cell asking if anyone desired outside exercise. It was a small victory (however temporary), but it showed what can be accomplished if conditions are ideal and leaders take initiative to direct a movement.

More recently, during exercise time at the outside dog kennels, a prisoner was pulled from his cage and punched in the mouth while in restraints by a sadistic pig. The prisoner requested that the pig remove the handcuffs. The prisoner was then grabbed in a choke and his head was rammed into the cage, carving a deep gash in his head, and knocking him unconscious.

The pig then plotted with his co-workers that they would say the prisoner tried to slip the cuffs. They said that there is no surveillance cameras, therefore nothing can be proven.

Because of the incident they tried to take us back on the cell block, but we refused, and demanded to see a higher ranking official. When the white shirt came we stated the facts. Further, everyone united together and initiated grievance procedures for the victimized comrade.

Three months earlier this same pig bashed another prisoner's head in the wall twelve times and caved that side of his face in. The prisoner was taken to an outside hospital. This sort of police brutality is an everyday occurrence here at Florida State Prison. It has a history for it.

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