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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania]
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Filth and Retaliation in PA

I'd like to expose the abuses and misconducts of correctional staff here at SCI Huntingdon. I begin with conditions of confinement. I am surrounded by vermin as well as roaches. Although the institution provides an exterminator service, the infestation is a continuing dilemma. Cells are generally too cold. I usually have to wear 2 pairs of socks, 2 shirts, and my jumpsuit just to barely keep warm. At times I must wear this while utilizing a blanket just to sleep.

Lights are kept on 24 hours a day. The toilet is on a timer, and if you flush too quickly you must wait for the timer to reset. Not exactly comfortable if you have a cell partner! Food is generally served cold. Trays usually have water or condensation around them because they sit for long periods of time before being served. Water seeps into food posing health risks. Although Department of Corruptions directives state that RHU prisoners shall have the same portions; portions are not equal to those of the general population.

Clothes is laundered once a week and if you have a cell partner you must use the same laundry bag. Clothes generally come back dirty! Correctional staff liked to "burn" or not provide trays or yard periods to those who they pick on, although DOC policy forbids such retaliation. Grievances are addressed, but the rationales do not specifically address issues cited and the specific issue is generally ignored. If you are served with a misconduct report, the hearing examiner is not impartial at times known to say that he believes his officers over the prisoner. Clearly a statement made by someone who is biased. The Program Review Committee is basically the same way.

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[Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Fighting Abuse of Authority in Texas

I am currently fighting a battle in court regarding the abuse of authority and unconstitutional treatment of prisoners here in Donovan. I currently have the court ordering RJDCF an informal response to my allegations. It is due July 23rd and it's July 19th.

I have been housed in administrative segregation for 14 months awaiting a non-adverse transfer to a lower level institution. Ad-seg is for prisoners who are serving a period of disciplinary detention for committing wrong acts. I have not done any wrong. I have been in adseg because of someone else's security concerns.

So here I am 14 months later, unfairly without any privileges I have rightfully earned. I lost my paying job, my ability to attend religious services, go to normal yard, socialize with friends, regularly attend law library, lost my property because staff failed to pack it up as required. The guards constantly degrade us and call us names. They threaten us, and harass us, feed us portions of food not suitable even for a small child. They act as if their shit don't stink and like they're better than us. I don't like it and I have decided to take it to the courts. But as you likely know, it's the legal system. The injustice system. I don't expect to win. But I sure am going to try. It's just sad that most of the other prisoners are too chicken to do anything about it.

I have a small group (6) who have joined my fight because they get the same treatment. I have tried to get more and still am, but most of them fear the likely retaliation from the guards. I only have just under 12 months left. I'm tired of their (the guards) shit and how they get away with it because they keep scaring people from stepping up to the plate. I'm going to do this. I want to prove to them that they are no better than we are.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia] [ULK Issue 10]
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Abuse in West Virginia

I recently read an article in your ULK #7 that really caught my attention. It was from a New York prisoner who was assaulted by correctional officers. I too was recently assaulted by correctional officers here at Mount Olive Correctional Complex, the Supermax, located in West Virginia where I'm currently incarcerated. I have filed grievances, my family has contacted the governors office, attorney general's office, even local news stations informing them of what happened, and nothing has been done about it. I was recently informed by another CO that the people who did this to me were considered to be "pretty high up on the food chain" around here. Those people include Associate Warden, The Captain, the Prison Investigator, and another Correctional Officer.

I am in need of a civil rights attorney to represent me, but this is a small town. Everyone knows everyone and nobody wants to get involved. What this prison administration doesn't cover up, the government officials in this area cover up for them. I need your help, let's stop the abuse, I'm not the only victim in this prison, I'm just the one who's speaking out against the violence that's taking place inside these walls.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Protest Sanitary Conditions in North Carolina Polk CF

The sanitary conditions in the dining halls, bakery, freezer, dish room, stock room, serving line and other areas within Polk Correctional's kitchen are appalling. Prisoners voice their concerns to an unresponsive administration and continue to suffer from their lack of concern for the health of the inmate population.

A rat infestation is only the first and most prevalent of a long list of problems stemming from an environment where amateurism and incompetence prevail. This can be seen when a prisoner finds a rodent, or evidence of one, in the food and his overseer - in one particular case a Mr. Covington - told him "what the hell do you want me to do about it?" We merely wish for you, or apparently someone else with high qualification for the position, to do their job. Prisoners will no longer tolerate an administration which, in a bout of penny-pinching due to a cash-starved Department of Corrections, sweeps their problems under a rug. We will no longer accept this as a fact of prison life.

Gone are the days when a prisoner grievance form was the only effective means to make the necessary changes occur. (Which was more often than not a hit or miss process for justice in these matters, and that was if the paperwork did not eventually become "misplaced" or "fall through the cracks" as one Sargent commented on an unrelated matter involving paperwork.)

We have by passed the ineffective administration on the Polk compound and wish to raise awareness, not only to the Division of Prisons, but the Prison Ministries of the Rural People's Party and Maoist Internationalist Movement respectively and the daily newspaper, The News & Observer, that the health/sanitary conditions are only dealt with when the top officials of the state prison system converge on Polk (as was done several weeks ago) or when State Health Inspectors notify prison authorities of an upcoming visit (as was seen on May 28th when guards could be seen running scared with mops and buckets of paint).

We do not wish for cleanliness only on state visits, but as a permanent fact. Officers Covington, Miller, Evans, Gardner, Frazier and Hawkins (to name a few) have been fully aware of this inconvenient reality for quite some time (several have been employed for a decade or more) and have perfected the art of polishing off an apple which is rotten from within.

Polk Correctional, and doubtless the majority of the 73 correctional institutions in the state, need an administrative overhaul to replace officials who are all too familiar on how to cut corners and achieve only the minimum. United Lumpenproletarians from Within (ULW) demands a long-overdue shake-up of the top prison administration at Polk Correctional and other facilities in order to replace incompetent officials with competent and qualified ones. We do not want their overseers to just slap them on the hand which triggers a 2 week "cleanliness is godliness" program and the dismissal of several "trouble-making elements" within the prison kitchen service in retaliation for their higher-ups actually making state employees do their jobs.

As I have stated earlier, the rodent, insect (cockroaches, ants) and severe mold and mildew (asbestos) issues are just one of many problems that prisoners must deal with. As you read other prisoner's testimonies, several have revealed their concern not only of the multiple infestations, unjustified disrespectful conduct by our handlers, but also of a severe shortage in shoes and clothing.

Prisoners are facing sanitary concerns on two fronts. I will elaborate further upon request, but at this time I will post this out in the hopes that the most prevalent of our concerns (physical evidence enclosed) will be brought to light and properly addressed.

This letter came with 10 testimonials from other prisoners at Polk. Below are 3 of those statements

I work at a State Correctional Facility and have seen rats in the storage room, have seen fruit flies on old bananas. I've seen floors mopped with cold water only to keep from stripping the wax. I've seen spills left for days in segregation units. Ants are slowly taking over some of the building. Prisoners ask if they can clean their rooms and the Sargents or unit managers say no. The stairwells are filthy, and there are so many dust bunnies, you could make blankets out of them. Management wonders why some of the staff doesn't want to work.

I am writing this complaint because of the lack of the kitchen's effort to keep the kitchen a clean and sanitary place to prepare and serve food fro the prisoners at Polk Correctional Institution. On a number of occasions I have seen mice running free about the kitchen. I have seen them in the area where the food is stored, prepared, cooked and on the line where the prisoners were served. In one occasion I even saw mice droppings in the breakfast meat that was being stored in the cooler at the time. I have seen holes that have been bitten into loafs of bread. I hope that whoever receives this statement will take action as soon as possible. This type of neglect is unacceptable.

I've been working in the kitchen for a month and a half. The kitchen is very nasty. There are always flies everywhere in the kitchen. I've also seen bread that has been eaten by rats, it is very disturbing. There is another problem, there are rat feces in the food and the freezers. They also expect us to wear the same clothes we use for work in the kitchen even though our clothes are always filthy after work. If someone could please help us with these problems we would all be thankful for your help.

We are asking people to write to the NC DOC to protest these conditions
NC DOC Division of Prisons
831 W. Morgan St
Raleigh, NC 27603-1659

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[Abuse] [Pine River Correctional Facility] [Michigan]
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Toxic Water at Pine River in Michigan

I know the water here is severely polluted here from the big PBB (fire retardant) scare back in the day, when some knucklehead mixed it into feed. The state, in another brilliant knee-jerk reaction, had all the PBB-tainted cattle slaughtered and buried here in St. Louis right next to the river. So naturally all the local water is toxic. Plus, a nearby abandoned chemical plant, formerly owned by Velsicol Chemical Co, is leaking chemicals into the ground water and river from rusting barrels, vats and unmarked buried areas on the 52-acre grounds.

This plant is one of the country's largest Superfund clean up sites, known as the Pine River Superfund clean up, and the EPA has already spent $51 million removing and hauling away sediment from the river bottom and running the water through a high tech treatment plant. Estimates in 2004 were for $100 million to finish the job but the Superfund is out of money and the containment, known as non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) is still oozing into the river and they don't know the exact source. They say this NAPL is composed of 82% DDT, and a host of other toxic chemicals including chlorobenzene, a known carcinogen. (See Greg Nelson, "Pine River cleanup funds secure for now," and "Task force seeks origin of 'cocktail,'" The Saginaw News, c. 2004; and Brad Heath, "Delayed toxic cleanup puts public at risk," The Detroit News, 8/9/2004, p1A&7A.)

All the staff claim they drink the water and there is no longer a problem but you'll never actually see them drink the water. We, however, have no choice. I'll probably arrange to have a sample smuggled out and tested like I did in '94. Yep, that one was toxic. Horrifying yet not surprising at all.

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[Abuse] [Maryland]
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Life Sentences in Maryland

In Maryland there are three different types of life sentences. The law in Maryland mandates a regular life sentence, a life in lieu of the death penalty and life without parole.

Regular life means that a person sentenced for the balance of his/her life will not be eligible to make parole before serving at least 15 years less whatever "good-time" he/her have accrued. Some regular life sentences could make parole in 12 1/2 years but only during the early years.

The second form of life sentence is directly attributable to the lobbying efforts of the Stephanie Roper Committee. This applies to cases where the death sentence has been sough by the state's attorney office but rejected by the Courts/Jury. Unlike regular life the lifer is not eligible for parole for at least 25 years less "good time". The earliest possible parole date is after serving 19 1/2 years.

The third form of life is life without parole. This form of life was passed in 1987, also as a direct result of the efforts of the Roper Committee. Under this law a prosecutor can give notice of intent to seek life without parole in any case for which he could have sought the death penalty.

There are currently 2,033 prisoners in Maryland and below is a description of the number lifers who have been paroled by each recent Governor:

Governors; years; paroled

Parris Glendening; 1990-1998; 2
Robert Ehrlish; 1998-2006; 6
Martin O'Malley; 2006-present; 0

Both governors Glendening and Ehrlich has served two terms in office while O'Malley is on his first term.

Such government decisions must be decided on a communist basis where every lifer's case should receive the same fair judgement and sanction.

In Maryland the scale of justice will always remain unfair.

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[Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Mice, Ants and Mold in Polk Kitchen

Two prisoners wrote to MIM(Prisons) with concern about the conditions of Polk Correctional Institution's kitchen. This disregard for the health and safety of prisoners is typical of Amerikan prisons.

The first prisoner writes:

I am a prisoner working in the kitchen at Polk Correctional Institution and I'm a little worried about the rat infestation, ants and mildew problem. The rat infestation is so bad that they food they pass out sometimes has rats or mice in the food. And the ants are all over the place, unless staff hears of an inspection and then they have the prisoners clean the coolers out where most of the mice and rats get food. The mildew is so bad that it has upset my asthma.

The second prisoner goes into more detail:

This letter is to inform you of the conditions of Polk's kitchen. I am a first shift kitchen worker. I have worked in numerous kitchens in North Carolina such as Bob Evans, Red Lobster and others. So I accepted the job here at Polk figuring everything should be rudimentary. What I learned on the job about the preparation of the food has led me to barely eat due to sanitation issues.

As soon as you enter the kitchen you smell an odor of mildew and once you reach the pots and pans and segregation line stations the smell is so unbearable that you get cold chills, goosebumps, etc. They tell us to use dish soap on it or scrub it, but the problem never gets solved.

I remember a time when the potatoes were dropped on the floor and we were told to pick it up and put the lids back on and proceed to delivering them to prisoners. The most dangerous thing in the kitchen besides the mold is the mice. There is a serious infestation in the kitchen that needs to be taken care of.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Abuse and Neglect in Texas Prisons

I have been imprisoned for 12 years. Believe me when I tell you that Texas prisons are not paying prisoners for the hard labor, and this is just one of the many problems they have. Two of the biggest problems are poor medical care and lack of control over the correctional officers.

Let's start with medical. Most of the staff are poorly trained, only here for the pay and benefits. I have personally witnessed RNs and doctors do things that would start a malpractice law suit in the free world. I have seen prisoners have heart attacks, and it took medical 10 minutes to get to them. All the while staff stood over them doing nothing. A co-workers in the kitchen had a hernia, medical department scheduled him for surgery 9 months down the road when he was discharging his sentence in 6 months. He walked around constantly in pain and couldn't sleep. One of my cellies was a seizure patient. Because the medical department could not get his medicine balanced he had more seizures than normal. Doctors prescribe the wrong medicine and prisoners get really sick. I could go on and on.

Because there's no outside oversight these types of things keep happening. Now to the correctional officers. They have the mentality that the uniform gives them the right to talk, treat and do as they will to prisoners. they do just that on a daily basis at all the units in the system. Some will cuss at you, even when you give them respect, because they know nothing is going to happen to them. On two different units I've seen prisoners get gassed, handcuffed, beat until they are bleeding and can't walk, all over a piece of contraband, or because the CO didn't like how the prisoner responded to a question.

Female COs tell supervisors a prisoner said or threw something at them, just so they could see the prisoner eat up, and then stand there laughing. I saw a prisoner in handcuffs, when he initially went to seg he was fine, when they brought him back out 10 minutes later he was bleeding from the nose, eyes were bruised, and limping. Found out later that night that he was beat with a walkie-talkie and pushed down the stairs. Medical was told he fell. This came from a CO. Two weeks later that supervisor was fired.

You constantly see bogus disciplinary cases because an officer doesn't like a prisoner, and wants to see them receive some type of punishment. Most of the time it's recreation, cell or commissary restriction, loss of good time, and loss of class depending on the case. These bogus cases create a lot of problems especially when it's time for a parole review.

There has got to be something that can be done to bring some type of constant oversight from the outside to make sure the state is held responsible for what the staff does. Until this happens the prisoners are basically sitting ducks for abuse. We were sentenced by a judge to do time, and to rehabilitate ourselves, so we can return to society as a free and productive citizen. That can't be done when you have out-of-control correctional officers constantly causing you trouble.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer that the prisons only pay lip service to rehabilitation while actually making it very difficult for people to return to society as productive members. The criminal injustice system is not about rehabilitation or even punishment, it is a system of social control.

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[Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Build Unity and Non-violence

This is your fellow brother in the struggle for equal rights. I am sitting here reading your latest ULK 8 about state by state labor data, and I would love to commend you for another exceptional publication. I never knew so much kickbacks, and in house cooperation was going on from state to state. I completely agree with all the brothers who help to inform unenlightened brothers such as myself. I try desperately to inform a lot of the other brothers. The harsh treatment and neglectful respect for one another continues to tear unity apart.

It has gotten so bad that I hardly stand by a fellow brother because all they do is talk about sex, drugs, violence and gang banging. I left that lifestyle alone almost 3 years ago and I try to keep myself away from that environment. I try to talk and show your publication off but not too many want to read it.

I took a stand of non-violent protest against all injustice becaues what you say is right. I believe violence will not solve these problems that are going on. Here on my plantation in Texas, within the last 8 months these officers killed 2 prisoners and fractured, or cracked one African-American frontal lobe of his skull. I was threatened by a Sgt saying "your grievances don't work so stay out of the way."

I have been denied my religious service of Islam multiple times and there is no help in sight by the administrators. There are times when I come in from my work detail "field squad" manual labor and they have pork for chow. I am a muslim and can't eat pork so they give us 2 slices of cheese instead. I was forced to go out and engage in manual hard labor in my boots which were hanging on by a thread. Both of my boots were torn off and barely together when a C/O and Sgt said it will be a case if I don't turn out for work. I was forced to endure twigs and other stuff puncturing the bottom of my feet to comply with regulations.

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[Abuse] [Allred Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 9]
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Texas Prisoner Framed and Provoked

I'm on lockdown at the Allred unit. I've been placed on high security for the time being for assault on a correctional officer. But the truth is I was actually the one assaulted. These cowards (officers) are abusing their authority by participating in criminal activities and covering up their unlawful behavior.

On March 15, 2009 I was forced to defend myself which resulted in physical violence. Sgt. J. Davis approached me on my way to the recreational area and took an altered t-shirt from me and started talking trash to me about a bogus cause he and one of his female officers wrote on me. I tried to plead my case and explain that the case was not legit, because I wasn't nowhere around to receive a case. When the case was written I was in school, but Sgt. Davis continued to harass me. So, I told him that he can write all the cases he wants I don't care, if that's how he chooses to wage war that he was a weak strategist.

Sgt. J. Davis said "Oyea! Well how do you like this!" Sgt. Davis then assaulted me by hitting me in the face with a closed fist, busting my upper lip. That's when I defended myself. I was then assaulted again by another officer named Moore, and sprayed with chemical agent and slammed on the floor. After being placed in restraints and sprayed I was kicked in the face.

Since then I've had all my property stolen, I've been threatened by numerous officers, and been placed in closed custody (high security). I had one officer threaten to poison my food in front of other officers. They just laughed about the shit! I've filed grievances and other complaints on staff, so far the O.I.G. has contacted me, and are currently investigating my claim. I really don't trust the O.I.G., or any other prison authority figure, is there any advice you could give to help me and my current situation?

I do apologize for not writing sooner, but this is why I haven't been able to respond to your newsletters as quickly as I should. Your Under Lock & Key (news you can use) has really motivated me. I need the motivation right now, so thank you, MIM, and the rest of my oppressed brothers and sistahs that contribute inspiring and important information to Brothers like me.

Under Lock & Key makes my time a lot easier, and I'm starting to understand the prison environment a little bit better.

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