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Under Lock & Key

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[Legal] [Education] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Fighting for a library

Thank you for sharing the struggle of others bearing much heavier crosses than mine. At this prison I'm trying to establish an Inmate Library Committee - which legally we should already have. The law library is our most powerful tool from within institution walls and the administrative authorities here at this prison have turned our law library into nothing more than a copy room to promote their agenda. The law library here at Mule Creek State Prison does not even have typewriters or provide legal envelopes for purchase or otherwise.

This is my struggle, this is our struggle! The Department of Corrections has coordinated an attack at our ability to be heard by the courts - and the tide is on their side.

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[Organizing] [Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Who's talking in code, pig?

i received your letter today. My Brotha, i did receive your letter in Feb, and i had responded to it, but it was confiscated by the Institutional Gang Investigation Unit (IGI). They claim it was gang related, they claimed New Afrikan Collective is a code word for BGF, now you know how silly my keepers are.

For the past 18 years IGI/ISU [Institutional Gang Investigations/Investigative Services Unit], have used their gang policies as a tool/tactic to circumvent our free speech right, they are using every means at their disposal to censor my voice.

In April and May they all of a sudden decided that my Muslim name was a fictitious name, so, between April 1st and May 29th they confiscated about sixteen outgoing letters under the fictitious name policy. Enclosed is just an example. i have been using my Muslim name since 1982. This had nothing to do with my Muslim name. IGI/ISU were attempting to censor my voice.

i filed a 1983 civil suit (Free Speech & Religious violations). i also sent to the court as an exhibit photo copies of the front of at least 20 letters i had received between Jan and May 29 2008 that clearly shows my Muslim name on each envelope and they passed through IGI/ISU. So this is clear proof that their actions had nothing to do with my name.

...
Your Beloved Brotha,
a California Prisoner

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade has been a leader in an effort to build peace among the warring groups within the California prison system. The letter that was held by IGI from reaching MIM(Prisons) was regarding these efforts. The Catch-22 that this comrade, and many of us, find ourselves in is that if he writes honestly about the work he is trying to do then he is labelled a gang member and censored. The pigs do everything they can to prevent a peace process from moving forward in a system that has hundreds of race riots every year that have spilled onto the streets, particularly in Los Angeles County. You would think that it was the pigs jobs to encourage violence so that they can further repress certain groups rather than to put an end to this senseless killing.

One of the charges brought against MIM(Prisons) and many prisoner activists to justify censorship of our communications is that we are writing in code. Yet, our track record speaks for itself. The Maoist movement has continuously and tirelessly worked to put an end to oppression and exploitation. Within the prison movement we have put massive resources into providing hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature to help educate prisoners across the country to provide guidance and hope for a better future.

Meanwhile, it is the pigs who use code words such as "gangs" and "security threat groups" to target the oppressed and any efforts to bring peace and progress, without sounding like the racist arms of imperialist oppression that they are. If talking in code is a crime, censor the pigs, and let those of us who have solutions to the social problems of drugs abuse, violence, and national oppression get to working on putting these solutions into practice.

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[Abuse] [California]
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Conditions deteriorate at Kern Valley

What is the deal at Killa Kern Valley State prison here in California? Is it Amerikka's society economic meltdown, or is it CDCR's capitalist truly saying "buck the world, let's get paid". At the moment Kern Valley prisoners are experiencing some major difficulties with obtaining the things we have coming from the state. And it is becoming worse and worse with each day that goes by. They have come up with a new budget cut campaign, and they aren't doing any playing, or half stepping.

Recently they came with a variety of snake tactics that will help them take from us to save funds, and not be seen doing it. It will be done in a manner that would make society respond with a "so what" attitude.

At this point administration has succeeded in limiting the general population's usage of flushing toilets in order to cut back on the prison's consumption of water. They've shortened the amount of toilet tissue from a small roll to an extra small one. Basically they've forced us (two prisoners per cell) to make what was used to last one person whole week, last two people a whole week. Not only can we not sit on the toilet and pass gas freely while the smell is flushed away to the pipes, keeping the scent out of the cell. We have to figure out a way to keep ourselves wiped properly without using up all of the tissue. It's kind of barbaric if you ask me.

The prices of various canteen items are on the rise like gas prices. Top Ramen noodle soups are 25 cents, up from a recent 20 cents, and the price of rice, beans, and peanut butter is up as well. The dinner trays are ridiculously short, sometimes missing a whole part of the meal. And the nutrition sack lunch isn't so nutritious at all. At the moment California prisoners who owe restitution fees are being taxed 55% of whatever funds their hard working families send them. Coffee is up $7.50 from $4.50, and they are planning to boost the restitution fee by 5%. That's more than half of California prisoner's money taken before they've even got the opportunity to shop at the overpriced shopping market.

They've let this yard off lockdown for the moment, but it seems to be something they've done on paper just to cover their asses and the asses of the California senate. Blacks can't get the same working/education opportunities as other races. Nor can the convict population as a whole receive adequate access to the law library (or religion services).

This institution and its officials are foul. It's as if we're truly being physically attacked by the capitalistic forces, and no one of society is taking note.

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[Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Gang validation of the politically active

A revolutionary abrazo given and sent to all, from the depths of the gallows of chain link fences and barbed wire that has met the consumption in the harvest of plantation Amerikkka. Deprived of our livelihood and recruited in this Industrial Army. We have removed the yoke of oppression creating a commune that refuses to bow to the dictates of this prison industrial complex. Our single cell of multicultural backgrounds has fought against the system since birth. Victims to the judicial demagogue, comprehending that the blind lady of justice is only weighing our pockets.

Because of our political beliefs (that always get misconstrued) we've landed in these deprivation units, for our individual cases as men, we the people, are now prisoners of war. We are labeled and branded from the many scattered sheep entwined in hives of "rehabilitation". We have been singled or rather targeted by networks of a controlled government that uses force to impose rules against our race from above, suppressing individual initiatives in the interest of maximizing these control units, to meet their economic consumption that exploits our people.

Those of us who do not prostrate before CDCR economic, political, and militant demands, can be branded associates to prison gangs. These aggressive policies will not be the means of our demise. I am a Marxist-Lenninist-Maoist and I will not subside my resistance to this Abu-Grahiization (torture). But, on the contrary, I will attack the social injustices that commonly validate our people. CDCR has openly declared its intention to agress and colonize our people by rapid and violent assimilation.

Ideologically, CDCR validates [as gang members] groups cast as enemies by the states hegemonic myth or by the need to isolate people who can be portrayed as the embodiment of absolute evil. CDCR has also campaigned to control the mindset of our people to impose a solution to tough on crime legislation by forcing gang validation as a means to deliberately destroy our culture, which systematically liquidates all of our characteristics of our national society.

In closing, the battle has only begun. The proletariat will mobilize in mass demonstration in words with a singe of revolutionary fervor. Our social being has led to our consciousness, we serve as the vanguard for and of the oppressed. So, it is our obligation to help awaken the nucleus of all our peoples, in seeing that we've all been validated in classes and singled out by this fascist plutocracy.

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[Theory] [California]
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Imperialism is disgraceful, not communism

I’m writing to let you know that I received Under Lock and Key #3 and MIM Theory #4. I’ve been reading everything you send and other readings on communism and revolutions. I’ve also been sharing with others the reading material you’ve sent. I’ve been trying to have discussions about MIM and communism with as many people as I can.

I’m not well educated but I know in my heart that communism is the purest form of democracy. I know there are people who believe in the proletarian struggle, but don’t believe in communism when both go together like a pair of shoes - they have to be the same colors and size in order to fit, right? People tend to get offended by the word communism. They don’t like it, they think communism is the most disgraceful, evil word they’ve heard. But they’re over here calling their girls bitches and each other niggas, some even call themselves democrats or republicans (they’re not even allowed to vote).

They must not know about the death squads and bomb and arms the imperialists supply or force on the world to destroy itself for their profits, benefits and well being. People don’t think that’s disgraceful, but they think communism is. They think it’s mythical, they don’t take it to the heart.

Just the other day I was having a discussion about MIM Notes and someone said something like “I don’t read that cause you might get black listed.” That showed me that people are still not free enough to think for themselves. I know this was the propaganda talking but there’s always that fear in your head which the imperialists put there so you won’t get out of hand.

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[Control Units] [California]
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Pelican Bay a dead end

I've been in CU [Control Unit]. We're allowed to go to the yard, but we have to go to the concrete yard. The concrete yard is about two times the size of the cell we're living in. Nobody to talk to or work out with.

The most humiliating thing taking place here in the department of corrections Pelican Bay State Prison is this: the institution shows what are called institutional movies for the prisoners - the movies are purchased with funds from institutional welfare. But the kinds of movies we're allowed to watch are rated PG. It's like they are trying to put the prisoners in a child's state of mind. The whole prison is considered a control institution, but it is an insult to a grown man to have to watch children's movies. We're talked to like children, and when we speak up as men we're written up.

The institutional program is supposed to be racially balanced, but I'll demonstrate just how racist it is in here. A while back I filed a grievance about them taking my walkman. They told me that I couldn't possess a walkman and a typewriter. They denied my petition arguing that I could have both. But another prisoner who is white filed the same argument and they gave him his typewriter. Now they let everyone get typewriters, but only after a petition was filed by a white prisoner.

There isn't any program for a lifer in here. I can't even take care of myself. I have a job in which I make 13 cents an hour, and I get paid for just two hours a day.

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[Spanish] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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No mejora la asistencia medica en prisiones de California pro un prisionero en California

Acabo de leer Under Lock and Key de 007 y era tocante a la asistencia médica en prisiones de California. Estoy mandando una copia de un articulo escrito en el Sacramento Bee por Don Thompson de la Associated Press. El artículo explica que el reporte escritó por el Recibidor Federal Robert Sillew enseña que hay muy poco cambio en la asistencia medica en prisiones de California, a partir de Marzo 2008. El Sr. J. Clark Kelso es el nuevo Recibidor Federal.

Yo ha estado preso por 11.5 años por resistir arresto. Me dieron una sentencia de vida bajo la "Three Straikes Law" de California. Desde que yo estado preso yo ha conocido personalmente tres prisioneros que han muerto de insuficiencia del higado. Cada hombre me dijo que no recibió cuidado apropriado del servicio medical. El CDCR necesita más doctores calificados y más prisiones de la salud mental y prisiones de la salud, por lo general, pero hasta que el problema del sobrepasamiento de la población (173,000 prisioneros) es resolvada, prisioneros van a continuar de morir. Necesitamos que nos vean como seres humanos, no como ganado.

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[Spanish] [California]
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Condiciones del SHU en Upstate Correctional Facility

Yo he estado varias veces en Upstate Correctional Facility en una unidad controlada llamada SHU, y es una unidad especial de doble cama por celda.

Hay entre 800 y 900 presos aquí. Adentro 90% del institución es SHU, los demas son presos barranderos que cocinan y que sirven la comida en los platos y también hacen lavandería. La celda de doble cama es grande porque hay campo para dos y hay una ducha en la celda para bañarse y una jaula atras para hacer ejercicios. Basicamente nunca sale de la celda, solo si tienes visita al hospital, o cuando eres suelto del SHU.

La nacionalidad aquí es de 50% Negro y 50% Latino. Hay numerosas reglas y violaciones puestas en el SHU. Por ejemplo asalto a una policía o un preso, pandillero de carcel, un examen sucio de orina, uso de droga, posesión de arma y todas estas son un ticket de 3 tiras. Cualquier otra cosa baja como 1 or 2 billete no te llevan al SHU. El billete 3 tira es considerado una ofensa seria.

Esta unidad es la más grande en NYS y fue abierto por el ano 1999. Los SHU en NYS han sido expandidos al abrir unos más chicos que detienen 200 presos. Son de doble cama y fueron hechos detras de prisiones de mediana seguridad por todo el estado. Muchos están vacios y es un desperdicio de dinero para los que pagan impuestos.

Yo no he eschucado ni leido que quieran o hagan planes de abrir más SHU en NY. Yo espero que no. Necesitamos escuelas, programas sociales, no unidades de control que no son ocupadas.

Estas unidades de control son muy peligrosas y daniñas para la mente de los presos que son debiles mental. Unos pierden control y son auto-destructivos. Han habido instancias donde compañeros de celda han atacado y casi matado a su compañero de celda y también los han atado. Te ponen en una celda con cualquiera persona que nunca has conocido en tu vida y uno no sabe que intenciones mentales el tenga. Es sobrevivencia para el más fuerte.

Te dan de comer muy poco para comida y los presos pierden mucho peso. Las visitas son detrás de alambre y te separa de tus visitantes para que no hay contacto real con ellos. Ponen restriciones de comida y agua a unos presos. Nos censuran las revistas, y los libros, y violan nuestro derecho de recibir periódicas que no presentan riesgo alguno para la institución. Estas unidaes de control hubien de ser cerradas completamente porque no reducen violencia en las carceles y es una perdida de dinero y daña mucho a la mente de uno.

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[Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Bad food, no visits, and locked down in California

I am currently at Calipatria State Prison however I must say it does not matter what prison you are in because all of them are corrupted the same way. I’m sure you know the things they have already taken from us, which started in 96-97 by taking away weight lifting and family visits for lifers. Then eventually they took pornography, tobacco, the yard privileges were shortened, canned food and personal packages as well, we’re not even allowed personal jeans. Then they even changed our prison state issue clothing to cheaper and more ridiculous uniforms.

The food value is absolutely disgusting and even if it’s an ok meal it has no flavor since they don’t use salt or even offer single salt packets like they used to. The portions are absolutely a minor’s portion that will not fulfill a grown man. Not many of us have people or family members to send us money for store so we rely on state food which leaves us hungry after 5pm. The menus they pass out may sound good but it’s a scheme to show people out there we are eating good. They say certain calories are all we need to survive, however to be hungry: isn’t that cruel and unusual punishment, especially since we are supposed to be living in a civilized country. They say it’s a free country but whether you’re a prisoner or not, there are no rights because every right we have the system seems to have a loophole around it. The latest violation against us now is they are rigging the plumbing system to flush only 2 times every 5 minutes.

Another issue that is really hurting the prisoners is for them to be housed in special housing units which is an all day lockdown with a few hours a week out of your cell. You can be put in the SHU because of a picture or ethnic belief if you are Mexican and have art of your ancestors and forefathers in your cell the prison considers that gang activity. Right now I’m in an administrative housing unit and for us to actually get our yard it has to be less than 108 degrees outside or yard is canceled. We are sent to cages which only give room for you and your cellie, which is basically what the dogs go through when they are put in a pound. Most of us in here always wait much longer than what we were supposed to be here for, it’s just so they can keep these new ASUs open. I’ve been waiting to be put in general population since January, but they say no room.

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[Organizing] [Education] [California]
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Fighting for rights to education and organize

I am a prisoner of the State of California at CSP-Corcoran. I received your address from the Prison Activist Resource Center and was interested in your ad about helping prisoners to organize and educate themselves. Right now I'm prepared to take legal action against this prison for exercising injustice, oppression and corruption against me. They dislike when a prisoner stands up against their injustice and exercises his constitutional right. I personally will not allow my rights to be stripped away nor will I stand by idle when the helpless are being oppressed!

Malik Shabazz stated: "And one of our first programs is to take our problem out of the civil rights context and place it at the international level, of human rights, so that the entire world can have a voice in our struggle!" What a profound speech and lovely concept to strive for. I dislike injustice, tumult and oppression at any level of society. My goal here is to promote justice and human rights in this prison. The only way to fight the system is with the system!

Malik Shabazz also stated: "But all of that violence that they display at the international level, when you and I want just a little bit of freedom, we're supposed to be nonviolent. They're violent. They're violent in Korea, they're violent in Germany, they're violent in the South Pacific, they're violent in Cuba, they're violent wherever they go. But when it comes time for you and me to protect ourselves against lynchings, they tell us to be nonviolent." Luckily we are protected by the U.S. Constitution and this allows us to be nonviolent and utilize the legal system, this is why one of my current objectives is to study, learn and practice legal law. If you can please donate any legal books, i.e. law dictionary, how to file 1983 Civil complaints, or books on how to file motions.

MIM(Prisons) responds: There is a constant demand for law books and other educational materials in prisons. This is an indictment of the prison system which doesn't even pretend to help rehabilitate people.

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