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[Legal] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 18]
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Next Steps for an Effective Grievance Campaign

I received the Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) summary from October 2010. First off, I have to say that this is a good format, with various people sharing ideas and expertise. This format will definitely push the legal struggle forward.

Concerning the grievance petition initiated in California, while i'd initially thought the campaign was a good idea, i have to say that i had my doubts concerning the effectiveness of it. Its entire success hinges on mass participation and not just on 10 or 15 individuals getting involved. Even then i think its effectiveness is a longshot unless of course you're already involved in a legal battle within the judicial system, as presentation of responses entered into evidence as exhibits would help to prove to the court that the handling of grievances by prison officials has some serious faults, which we know they do.

Instead, I like the comrade from California's idea of suing CDCR and attacking its entire appeals process. We can ask that a truly independent institution take over the entire appeals process, or be created if need be. I think this is very much a winnable battle were it to enter the judicial arena. Copies of the grievance petition from prisoners who've already completed the campaign and have received responses should be forwarded to the PLC for forwarding to whomever should decide to initiate and fight the legal battle.

I also have here a copy of a §1983 "Findings and Recommendations Recommending Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be Denied" which was filed by CDCR officials in California against a prisoner in which the pigs tried to have the plaintiff's §1983 dismissed due to supposed failure to exhaust claims. The motion was dismissed and the court found in favor of the prisoner plaintiff. While I do not know of the outcome of the case, i believe this motion is worth a look. As soon as i'm able to obtain copies i will forward them to the PLC for review and dispersal.

For now, however, here is relevant case law pertaining to the exhaustion requirement:


Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. 910, 918-19 (2007)
McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Circuit. 2002)
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, 121 S. Ct 1819 (2001)
Porter v. Nussle, 435 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S. Ct 983 (2002)
Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003)
Ritza v. Int'l Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union, 837 F.2d 365, 368 (9th Cir. 1998) (per currium)
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 126 S. Ct. 2378, 2383 (2006)

The following case law was cited to the plaintiff's favor:

Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir. 2008)
Aquilar-Avellaveda v. Terrell, 478 F.3d 1223, 1225 (10th Cir. 2007)
Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006)
Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006)
Boyd v. Corrections Corp. of America, 380 F.3d 989, 986 (6th Cir. 2004)
Abney v. McGinnis, 380 F.3d 663, 667 (2d 2004)
Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2002)
Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687, 698 (8th Cir. 2001)
Powe v. Ennis, 177 F.3d 393, 394 (5th Cir. 1999)
Underwood v. Wilson, 151 F.3d 292, 295 (5th Cir. 1998)
Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523, 529 (3d Cir. 2003)
Brown v. Croak, 312 F.3d 109, 113 (3d Cir. 2002)
Miller v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001)

These next citations are concerning requirements for the establishment of law libraries in prisons. I got these out of The Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook 4th edition 2003:

Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977)
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996)
Benjamin v. Fraser, 264 F.3d 175 (2d Cir. 2001)
Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 242 (3d Cir. 1999)
Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517 (9th Cir. 1991)
Corgain v. Miler, 708 F.2d 1241 (7th Cir. 1983)
Cruz v. Hauck, 627 F.2d 710 (5th Cir. 1980)
Shango v. Jurich, 965 F.2d 289 (7th Cir. 1992)
Lindquist v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 776 F.2d 851 (9th Cir. 1985)
Cepulonis v. Fair, 732 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1984)
Marange v. Fontenof, 879 F. Supp. 679 (E.D. Tex 1995)


MIM(Prisons) responds: In assessing the effectiveness of our campaigns we have a twofold approach. One goal is to win small battles that increase, or maintain space for, the free exchange of political ideas and the freedom of affiliation. Our second goal is to train the oppressed in mass action and power struggles.

The lawsuit idea suggested here might be more effective in meeting our first goal in relation to establishing a legal process for prisoners to have their complaints addressed under the current injustice system. But, ultimately, a real prison movement needs to mobilize large numbers of prisoners into participating in struggling for humane treatment and the freedom to fight for a better world. Without struggle there are no so-called "rights."

While the petition campaign has still been limited in the numbers reached, we are working to better streamline our support for USW campaigns, including the grievance petitions in states where these campaigns are active. We need more than a couple articles in ULK to launch a successful campaign. We need more regular USW cadre who are willing to take these agitational points to the masses on a regular basis. Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) today to get copies of the petition, or to contribute to building a legal case around this battle.

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