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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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[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] [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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[Abuse] [Pennsylvania]
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Disciplinary policy torture

We have been engaging in nonviolent protest because certain individuals (pigs) wish for the capital case population to fall under disciplinary status, for punishment, when they haven’t committed any infractions against the institution.

For instance, on March 15th 1998, Supt Varner implemented a disciplinary policy that forced us in one day to ship all personal property, except for what could fit in one box. We were told we are now on D status. No more food items, no 6 hour visits, no sneakers, boots, and only cosmetics would be soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and toothbrush. We had to stop eating in order to get the media attention and people on the outside to help us. We were restored all privileges.

Then we had to face the matter of access to legal property. They wanted us to have access once a month when we needed access every week. They gave us access once a week after we stopped eating again.

Then, in September 2001 we had to stop eating once again because Supt Stickman wanted us to fall under the torture policy of sleeping with the lights on 24 hours a day. This is a disciplinary tactic that’s designed for population prisoners to stop committing infractions against the institution. We requested our own policy separately from Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), so we could be distinguished from disciplinary tactics. They gave us our own policy and exempted us from being punished with the light being on in our cells 24 hours a day.

Now on May 14, 2009, captain Walker and Unit Manager Guyton decided to place capital case population back under disciplinary policy by turning on the lights in our cells for 24 hours a day. We are asking that Deputy Martin, Captain Walker and Unit Manager Guyton be removed from handling capital cases because they’re responsible for placing us under disciplinary policies. Finally, Mr. Guyton issued a policy that will not permit us to wear hats to cover our heads during inclement weather.

We are asking for your assistance in helping us bring awareness to the ongoing punishment tactics. We ask that a letter, email, phone call or fax be sent to Jeffrey Beard the DOC Secretary of Prisons, Supt Louis S. Folino, and Ernest D. Preate Jr.

Ernest D. Preate
Mellon Bank Bldg.
400 Spruce St, Suite 300
Scanton, PA 81503
570-558-5970
570-558-5973
(contact him to contact Jeffrey Beard DOC Secretary of Prisons for us)

Supt Louis S. Folino
175 Progress Dr.
Waynesburg, PA 15370
724-852-2902

Secretary Jeffrey Beard
Dept of Corrections
PO Box 598
2520 Lisburn Rd.
Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Allred Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 9]
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Step up to expose and fight brutality

I am here in the Allred unit in Texas. I was reading a homie's Under Lock & Key paper back in Connally Unit and I would like to give thanks to him for putting me on this kind of work. I was reading that article about Peace in the Streets and I would like to comment on it. It's time to step up and help our people move up in this oppressed world. I've seen a lot of things that go on this side of the walls at Allred Unit.

For example, me and my cellie were going through shake down one day, and before we got to the front I told him not to disrespect them because these pigs are so dirty that they will mess us over. So we went through shakedown and everything went right, and then in a heartbeat this pig slammed him right on the ground with his face down. I told them we need to get medical down here for him and the only thing they said was he asked for it. So that's why I ask my people in the struggle to please not put yourself in that situation because what I have seen in these walls is like what happened to that prisoner Larry Cox in Huntsville TX who died due to shortage of medical staff in 2007.

I think about how many people die behind these prison walls and nobody knows what's going on. It's time to step up because we've been oppressed all this time.

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[Abuse] [Federal Correctional Complex Coleman USP II] [Florida] [ULK Issue 9]
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Pig Enables Stabbing of Prisoner in Riot

I'm a prisoner currently in the SHU in an Atlanta, GA transfer unit writing to you in regards to a legal matter I need assistance with. On January 25, 2009 at 2:10 P.M. on the USP Coleman 2 (Florida) recreation yard a major riot involving over 100 Hispanic inmates jumped off on the soccer field here while I and hundreds of other prisoners were watching a football game. The emergency announcement system was activated at which time I complied right away by getting down on the field.

I feel I was a victim of racial profiling for the simple fact that while complying, an unknown officer overlooked all other non-Hispanic inmates around me and restrained me. While I was face down on the ground and being restrained by this officer, I was then attacked by unknown assailants. While this officer held me down on the ground I was kicked, beat and stabbed. While I was repeatedly beaten and kicked, this unknown officer showed a great deal of negligence and blatant disregard for my life and safety when instead of protecting me or even helping me to a safe place, he just abandoned me, leaving me at the hands of my assailants. With this officer nowhere in sight, I made my way off the soccer field and to the safety of another officer who detained and cuffed me.

I was finally seen by Coleman medical staff who noticed the severity of the stab wound to my stomach and at which time I was air lifted to an Orlando, Florida based hospital where I underwent emergency surgery.

Coleman officers and staff failed to react properly and whether it was a lack of training or whatever, were obviously not prepared for such a major riot, and in being so unprofessional ultimately resulted in my near-death assault. I've unsuccessfully been trying to make contacts with legal firms or people who could help me with a lawsuit against the FBOP. A chaplain over here in Atlanta gave me one of your newsletters (Under Lock & Key) and told me your publication could help me find legal assistance with me filing a lawsuit. So with that said, I'd appreciate your help and response.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Unfortunately we do not have the resources to help the many comrades like this one who write to us for assistance with their legal battles. We are not even able to put sufficient resources into our own legal battles like the fight against censorship of Under Lock and Key. We print this letter to expose what is going on behind bars and encourage those with legal knowledge to step forward to help others.

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[Legal] [Abuse] [Mule Creek State Prison] [California]
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Retaliation for Fighting for Legal Rights

When last I wrote I shared my struggle to get typewriters in our prison law library. Makes sense to have typewriters in a law library, doesn’t it?

Well, for my efforts I was thrown in the hole when I was attempting to use the law library facilities in order to finish some work for a case that was scheduled for a telephone hearing the following day.

Now similar to my brother’s situation in North Carolina (ULK #7, March 2009) I was placed in a “security cage” (California prisoners are familiar with these) and left there from 6 am until 2 pm and I had an abscessed tooth at the time (documented and since crowned) and medical refused me my antibiotics and pain medication. By 2 pm I was so delirious with pain that they felt the need to cover the security cage I was in with a wool blanket and dump two fire extinguishers full of chemicals; one of them is known as 505 (lethal).

The next thing I recall was waking up in a cold bare cell with no means of comfort (mattress, blanket, nothing).

Since that attempt on my life I attempted to file a board of claims to the state, but it disappeared after my CCI got it from me. I had to give it to him because I had to get a registered trust statement from him to file with the state. California keeps her “ducks” in a row.

So, as a result of my injury, the state of California’s prison at Mule Crrek accommodates their medically assigned bottom bunk prisoners to bare naked cells in the hole. No property, no bunk, just a mattress on the floor. This is common practice, my neighbor is a seventy plus year old man, forced to sleep on the floor!

If a nation is judged by the way she treats her prisoners, this country is damned.

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