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Under Lock & Key

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[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Wabash Valley Correctional Facility] [Pendleton Correctional Facility] [Indiana]
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Censorship and Grievance Denials in Indiana

Enclosed you should find Under Lock & Key number 14. I am returning it to you because prison staff disallowed it's delivery to me and confiscated it stating 1)"contains information about performing work stoppages" and 2) "photos of dead klan members (cartoons)."

Apparently the issue was confiscated in May/June 2010 while I was housed at the Pendleton Correctional Facility (PCF). I was not notified of the confiscation until July 12, 2011. I was transferred from PCF in November 2010 to the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (WVCF). PCF staff forwarded the confiscated mail (almost a year after receipt) to WVCF staff. WVCF staff notified me of the confiscation.

I have attempted to challenge this confiscation via the offender grievance process. However, WVCF case manager Marty Hale refuses to provide me with a grievance form. On August 9 he responded to my request by becoming irate and yelling at me, "fuck your grievance... every time an issue comes up you want to file a grievance, fuck you... you're just a sniveling complaining bitch", "you bitch", and "stick a grievance up your ass." To date I am still being denied a grievance form.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisons in Indiana are blatantly violating what few rights they tell us prisoners have, both with their illegal censorship and failure to notify both MIM(Prisons) and the prisoner of this censorship, and by denying this comrade the ability to file a grievance. By documenting such abusive denials to grieve we can continue to expose their sacred grievance system for what it really is, a sham. Even if the public buys it, all prisoners need to understand what it means to file a grievance and what it takes to change conditions in prison.

This is the inspiration behind the current campaign to Demand Our Grievances Be Addressed, currently active in California, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Write to us for a copy for your state, or if one does not yet exist, help create one by researching the citations and policies specific to your state and we will type it up and get it circulated.

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[Abuse] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]
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Deaths in Texas Prisons from Heat and Negligence

Five people on the Coffield Unit have been allowed to die due to heat related issues. Now all of the sudden the administration and staff are "concerned" about the prisoners' well being - bullshit or they would have been doing more to prevent needless deaths long ago. Now Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is doing what they call "inmate wellness checks." This is just a real sad attempt (after the fact) to try to cover TDCJ's ass for their lack of concern effectively causing the deaths of inmates due to heat related illnesses (e.g. heat exhaustion, heat strokes, etc.)

We here are only being allowed to shower Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We should be allowed to shower just to cool off (since all Texas prisons are without any air conditioning). We should also have access to ice and cold water, but all of the above is scarce and this unit is observing "water conservation." The heat of Texas summers is not a new thing and neither is the penitentiary system in Texas.

Now the officers are tormenting us by asking every 30 minutes "are you alright", "are you ok?" most insincerely. Yet we are still made to wear very heavy woven cotton clothes in the summer - the same ones we wear in the winter time. Had they ever been truly concerned the five prisoners would have never been allowed to die of heat related illnesses. It is a real shame that so many people had to die before they even acted concerned, it is still hard for me to understand how they avoid any criminal charges behind these deaths.

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[Abuse] [Mental Health] [Dade Correctional Institution] [Florida] [ULK Issue 22]
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FL Grievances Forbid Helping Others

I am a prisoner currently incarcerated in the Florida department of corrections. At this time I'm being held at Dade Correctional Institution, in the mental health dorm transitional care unit.

This unit is for prisoners who have had, or who have developed serious mental health problems. This place is supposed to provide treatment such as counseling, one-on-one therapy, groups, etc. And it does that, but only to a bare minimum.

I am writing this because the prisoners here are being neglected. Not so much the ones who have good sense left, such as myself, but the severe cases of the prisoners who are so far gone they've lost touch with reality; the ones who are truly mentally disabled.

I've been writing grievances about this neglect, but the FL DOC has this rule that if the incident does not affect you personally then you cannot grieve the issue. This makes no sense to me at all. Some of these inmates are gone, and cannot grieve when they are done wrong.

There's an incident here that I continue to grieve of a prisoner who sleeps in the cell across from mine. This comrade has nothing in his cell except his being and a set of blues. He has no mattress, blanket, sheets, nothing. This guy doesn't talk at all. He makes noises sometimes that have no reasonable meaning but that's about it. He's lost to the world and he is mentally unstable. He cannot ask for these things, and he definitely cannot file a grievance. So this prisoner must continue to live like this because of some stupid rule that the DOC made up about this not affecting me directly.

There are a lot of prisoners here who are being literally warehoused. There are guys here who haven't taken a shower for months. They don't ask so it's not offered.

This is a mental health dorm. The staff are suppose to be helping these prisoners who cannot help themselves, and instead they are ignoring them.

I, fortunately, cannot be ignored. My mental health issues developed from doing long periods of time in close management settings (control units). I admit I became weak in a way. I picked up a bad habit that eventually turned into an addiction: self mutilation — I'm a cutter. But I am not beyond bouncing back. I do time how I want to do time. And that's the way I'm comfortable right now so it is what it is. I've got good sense though, trust that!

I'm going to continue to write up everything that I see these pigs here do, and I'm writing everything they're not doing up too. Someone will eventually listen. They cannot run a mental health unit like this. I'm going to keep on fighting for our rights until something is done.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Health care in prisons across the U.$. is terrible so it's no surprise to hear about the lack of even basic care in these Florida Mental Health units. We are also not surprised to hear the effect that long term incarceration has had on this comrade, leading to self mutilation. This is a good example of capitalism causing so-called mental illnesses. In reality, we should call these torture illnesses, as they are a direct result of torture in prisons. For more information about imperialism and psychology request a copy of MIM Theory 9: Psychology and Revolution.

This article referenced in:
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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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United Front Needed to Fight Texas Prison Abuses

I appreciate you sending me the book I had requested. You see, I've got to stay busy to not allow myself to get sucked into the Texas prisoner slave mentality. Just perhaps, being armed with initiative and the right knowledge, I can get these guys minds off of the TV and gossiping, and onto unity and change. It's a very pitiful state here in Texas (no pun intended!) Last week an officer turned off the dayroom TVs during count and left them off for an hour or so. The prisoners went crazy! They were yelling, cursing, making threats and demanding to speak to rank. They're willing to come together and protest over something trivial like the television, but not over important things like parole, our good time and work time being honored, and getting paid to work.

As we know, slavery and capitalism go hand in hand. This is evident because there's no equality; slaves are less than, and whoever is the richest and most famous, their lives are more precious than the common and poor folk. Capitalism takes on a new meaning in Texas prisons. Since we work for free, and the state has enslaved us in their TCI factories to exploit and profit off of us; it's every "offender" for themselves, and some are doing whatever it takes to survive.

While the warden and major sit in their air conditioned offices, and officers are huddled up in the air conditioned pickets, us offenders are sweating like pigs in the scorching hot day rooms and cells. We're running around like savages hustling and conning for a ramen soup, stick of deodorant, a stamp, or a shot of coffee. And the ones who are fortunate enough to have friends and family sending them money to buy stuff from commissary; they're revered, admired, despised, or the next potential victim. Thanks to the state of Texas, petty criminals and first timers become hardened criminals, and whoever has the most money, has either the most power, or has to make the most protection payoffs.

If prisoners were treated as people and paid for their labor like everyone else in civilized society are, they would in turn, act accordingly. There would be real equality, unity and harmony. MIM, please give me some advice on how to make this come about.

On a related topic, I've enclosed my latest timesheet showing I have 213 percent of my sentence completed with all my worthless earned time credits. I want people to view this state issue timesheet so they can see for themselves what a scam this is. The time credits look great on paper, but they're not worth a damn. If they were, I would have been released last February when I reached a hundred percent.

Also with this letter is my last denial letter from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. I want the people to see this too. To see the absolutely ridiculous reasons why we're denied parole and "mandatory supervision." The following is their most absurd: "The inmate has a previous juvenile or adult arrest for felony and misdemeanor offenses." We've all been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor. We wouldn't be in prison if we hadn't. The parole board might as well deny prisoners because they wear white uniforms, since that applies to all of us too.

Truly amazing the Lone Star State is getting away with such widespread and blatant fraud, and exploitation of its prisoners. But, in our capitalist society and capitalist prison system, money and profit always trump humanity and morals.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is correct about the need for unity to fight the injustice in prison. We point everyone to the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a starting point for developing principled unity to fight our common enemy. We do, however, need to point out that the prison economy does not lead to prisons, the state or the imperialists profiting from prisoner labor. It is a system primarily used for social control, not for profit. Though of all states, Texas probably has the most productive industries in prisons, and workers receive no wages, only room and board.

As we concluded in our article in Under Lock & Key 8 on the U.$. Prison Economy: "A number of articles in this issue include calls from prisoners to take actions against the prison industries that are making money off prisoners, and to boycott jobs to demand higher wages. All of these actions are aimed at hitting the prisons, and private industries profiting off relationships with prisons, in their pocketbook. This is a good way for our comrades behind bars to think about peaceful protests they can take up to make demands for improved conditions while we organize to fundamentally change the criminal injustice system."

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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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

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

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[Abuse] [Kentucky State Reformatory] [Kentucky] [ULK Issue 22]
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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.

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[Abuse] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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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.

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

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

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