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[Campaigns] [Texas]
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Fighting Unjust Grievance Denials in Texas

I just got my issue of ULK24 today. Not sure if it's the one they tried to deny or not. But I got it. I wanted to write to ask about this grievance campaign on page 12. I see Texas listed here, but have not heard of any inter-state attempt to rectify the grievance problems. So, could you please tell me of this and possibly who to contact?

I am struggling to keep our basic rights here. Yet, our prisons have been known to steal grievances (as they did to me last February on a solid case against them), scratch out lines written on step ones, hold step ones for extra time to ensure it's impossible to file a step two, and lastly they grade/investigate step two grievances here instead of sending them up the ladder to Huntsville, as policy says they must.

So I would like to hear more of this Texas campaign. Can you help me gain a better understanding of this and who I need to contact? I'm up for release this year and will take this fight to the outside world with me.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This grievance campaign has been growing since the initiation in California. We now have petitions for seven states, including Texas, which comrades are using to fight unjust grievance systems. Write to us for a copy of a generic petition that you can customize for your state if we don't already have a campaign in your state.

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[Campaigns] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 25]
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Joining Grievance Campaign

In order to file a §1983 prisoner complaint, one must exhaust the facility grievance procedure on any issues beforehand. The pigs here claim procedural defect, frustrating the exhaustion requirement of the PLRA. Now that the institution has been made aware of my pending §1983 suite, they block the third and final grievance process. I am submitting a revised complaint with denial of access to the court added, and I will keep you informed.

I passed two grievance petitions on down the line. Colorado chain gang is just as messed up as you might think, but I do help those who at least show some heart. I pass all of my info on to other people, to maybe spark some fight.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The grievance campaign is spreading from its start in California to Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas. Write to us for copies of the grievance petition for your state. If you are in a state not currently covered by the grievance campaign you can use the current petitions as a format, but will need to look up citations and policies specific to your state for reference in the petition. If you do this research and send us what needs to be rewritten for your particular state, we will gladly send an edited, accurate copy to other USW and Legal Clinic folks in your state.

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Legal] [Censorship] [Colorado]
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Downloadable Petition to Protect U.$. Constitution, Colorado

Colorado Petition
Click to Download PDF of Colorado Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure, or mandatory polygraph testing. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Mr. Tom Clements, Executive Director
Colorado Department of Corrections
2862 S. Circle Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, PHB
Washington DC 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
PO Box 9778
Arlington, VA 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*Petition updated July 2012, October 2017, September 2018*

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[Abuse] [Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 25]
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Texas Limits Privileges and Denies Grievances

Due to the budget cuts and Governor Perry refusing the stimulus package, in Texas prisons they've attacked those housed here. They ceased serving prepackaged cartons of milk, and went to powdered milk, and now they have attached a fee of $100 annual to medical. If you need medical care you will be charged for a toothache, diarrhea, headache, etc. But what's devastating is TDCJ doesn't pay its offenders money. Instead it uses good time which they take away as a punitive measure, causing you to do more time.

Since TDCJ doesn't reward or pay offenders, money needed has to come from gifts via family, friends etc. In other words they're extorting our loved ones, and this will follow those who parole with money to be paid and attached to parole fees.

Upon being released from the Texas system you'll receive a bus ticket to your county of conviction and $50. Upon reporting to parole you'll receive the second $50 from which parole fees of $12, victim fees, educational fees, and restitution fees will be deducted, so you're to reenter society on a very small amount of money.

Texas's systems practically operate on what they produce themselves for consumption. Clothing, shoes, food, etc., is all made at the multiple units, sent to central stores and resold to each unit.

TDCJ has the offenders scared. They will stack free world time on any act of violence - any kind of unions or solidarity will be attacked as Security Threat Groups and figureheads will be placed in level III Administrative Segregation.

They have sought out to break any sort of groups and unauthorized activities. Since I've been involved in prisoner rights we've lost more than gained: We have lost smoking products, canned goods, beans, meats, fruits, educational classes, GED, college courses, radios with speakers, cable TV, art privileges, and even carton milk. Long hair and facial hair were banned. They hold supposed good time above these bamboozled offenders and make them comply.

I recently received a major rule infraction, just because I told the law library trustee to stop throwing my photocopies on the floor. So he filed a LID (life endangerment) on me: he forged a letter and signed my name to it - saying I asked another to beat him up, so I received a major rule infraction for Penal Code 71-02 Organized Crime. I've filed 4 grievances on his department and security staff for sabotaging my legal request and destroying my letters. All were denied.

So I wrote to the law library supervisor with no response. I then wrote to the senior warden to no avail. The Office of the Attorney General offered nothing, but they found a dummy letter forged and they promptly protected their SSI (Support Service Inmate).

In Texas you're only allowed to file one grievance a week, and I've been here two years plus. I've filed approximately 94 and all have come back denied - no proof.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This story of grievances being denied over and over for legitimate cases is all too common, not just in Texas but in prisons across the country. This is why United Struggle from Within initiated the campaign demanding our grievances be addressed. We currently have petitions for California, Texas, New York, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arizona and the campaign is spreading. We need legal researchers to create petitions for other states. And if you are in a state that already has a petition, write to us for a copy and join the campaign to demand grievances be addressed in your state. It's time to destroy the idea that people can effectively go to the state for protection from abuse in prison.

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[Campaigns] [California] [ULK Issue 24]
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Advance the California Hunger Strike through Strategic Unity and Criticism

I have much unity with Loco1's piece concerning a strategic retreat and after reading his essay I now have some things I'd like to speak on concerning the strike. However, as I myself am not currently housed in the SHU my words should be taken merely as food for thought, as it is up to those participating directly in the movement to analyze their own conditions.

Firstly, I believe that the SHU prisoners are currently in a crucial period. They have successfully completed the first stage of their struggle but if they are to successfully complete the next stage then they must enter into a period of criticism, self-criticism as it is the best way to avoid any left-deviations or rightist errors. The SHU prisoners are the vanguard in this struggle and it is up to them if the movement moves forward or dies a humiliating death. By moving forward I in no way am implying that the struggle must continue full steam ahead regardless of their present conditions.

Loco1 is correct to point out the fact that this is a protracted struggle, and the SHU prisoners aren't going to go anywhere anytime soon, except to another SHU. This is especially true for the ones that are "validated;" they have all the time in the world to sit and hammer shit out. Or as the Afghans like to say of invading oppressor armies: "you have the clocks, but we've got the time."

Thus, here are some points of attention:

  1. The life and death of the struggle depends on the willingness of the prisoners to remain united. It is essential that contradictions between the oppressed and the oppressors do not become contradictions between the oppressed themselves.

  2. The main force of the movement are the SHU prisoners. The immediate reserves are the general population prisoners. Loco1 is correct to call out specific LOs as they have the ability and influence to organize the vast majority of the prison population. Therefore they should exert all their power and energy into catapulting the masses to complete victory.

  3. It is integral to the struggle that a correct political line should be developed so that the masses may gather round it to find guidance in the movement.

  4. Indeed, practice is principal but this is also the time for studying theoretical knowledge and to concentrate on concrete study, criticism and self-criticism. Weakness in the ideological level will turn into errors in the political field, which will ultimately manifest themselves into mistakes in the organizational level.

"Over a long period we have developed this concept for this struggle against the enemy: strategically we should despise all our enemies but tactically we should take them all seriously. This also means we must despise the enemy with respect to the whole but that we must take him seriously with respect to each and every concrete question. If we do not despise the enemy with respect to the whole, we shall be committing the error of opportunism. But in dealing with concrete problems and particular enemies we shall be committing the error of adventurism unless we take them seriously. In war, battles can only be fought one by one and the enemy forces can only be destroyed one by one. The same is even true of eating a meal. Strategically, we take the eating of a meal lightly - we know we can finish it. But actually we eat it mouthful by mouthful. It is impossible to swallow an entire banquet in one gulp. This is known as piecemeal solution. In military parlance, it is called wiping out the enemy forces one by one." - Mao Zedong

Knowing that the prisoncrats hate to lose ground to the prisoner population, whether it be an inch or a mile, it then becomes the duty of the strikers to focus all of their efforts into wiping out the most debilitating aspects of their oppression one-by-one. One way of doing this is to de-fang their paper tiger (SHU), thereby rendering it next to useless.

Some might argue that the most debilitating aspect of the SHU is the long-term isolation. We must keep in mind that the oppressors will never give up this method of torture and oppression; it's too effective.

Instead We must focus on winnable battles and while We can't at this time shut down the SHUs, We can fight going there.

It is the debriefing process that keeps people sent to the SHUs and locked in the SHUs past their kick-out dates, and it is the debriefing process that turns people into snitches and ensures that more people enter the SHUs rather than leave it.

If and when the debriefing process is finally defeated then the strikers can move on to a secondary and less crucial aspect of the 5 Core Demands which should then be able to gain primary importance, and so on and so forth. It is in this way that the piecemeal solution is applied.

Stay strong and stay committed!

All power to the oppressed!

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Last Men Standing in CA Hunger Strike

[This letter was just received from one of the few comrades who has continued to stick to the pledge to strike until the 5 core demands were met. While it is unclear why others in Pelican Bay have stopped striking, this comrade is pushing for a re-orientation that addresses the torturous conditions of long-term isolation head on while reaching out to the general prison population.]

18 October 2011 - Well, they had a busload, about 1/2 of it, full leaving Pelican Bay State Prison for Corcoran. All hunger strikers, and all descendents from south of the border, Mexico and further, with only a few whites. How they chose us out of all is difficult to say. They immediately isolated me, and in the last few days have gone to great lengths to convince me the strike is over. The CDC is even lying publicly saying it has ended (see CDCR Star) via Terry Thornton, a mouthpiece propagating on behalf of the state.

I've been told if I relent and eat I can go to the block with the others, but so far I've been lied to at every potential turn of events. [State employees have lied to prisoners throughout the hunger strikes in an attempt to undermine their unity. -editor]

One of the prevailing misconceptions is that this is primarily a legal issue, and there's a metaphysical conception of this too, in that "legality" is viewed in isolation without grasping its interconnections with all that is around it, ie. politics, economics, etc.

This lack of political consciousness is reflected in our goal. If there had been a more elevated ideological grasp on circumstances, even rudimentary comprehension of dialectics - scientific materialism, the distinction between "form" and "essence" would likely have been made once analyzing our strategy, before agreeing on it and pursuing it. You see, we must alter our strategic objective. The validation is only one "form," a vehicle, amongst a few to permanently isolate one within a sensory deprivation unit - the "essence" in this dialectical connection.

Had we made this analysis, instead of confronting a peripheral, a formal manifestation and means to permanently isolate us, we would have gone to the source of the disease, essentially, the permanent isolation itself.

People are sympathetic to the "dehumanization" that one is subjected to. One becomes, if enough time passes in such isolation, a social vegetable incapable of any form of social intercourse. This is caused by the severe lack of interaction with others, the context necessary for the personality's development, which not only identifies us as individuals distinct from one another, but it is social intercourse that binds us together as a collective, wholly as a single species.

If we achieve our goal, we've struggled only to put a Band-Aid on one of these sores manifesting from a diseased spot - Solitary Confinement. So long as it exists, even if we dismantle validation, we'll still be subjected to perpetual isolation by different methods, excuses, justifications, etc.

The push for the right to minimal association with other humyns is a strategy that has a historical precedent, tried and tested, with more successful results than not (see the IRA, ETA, RAF, Red Brigades, etc.). They all gained extraordinary international support within the UN and from organizations such as Amnesty International, etc. [Amnesty International released a statement of support for the hunger strikers during round 2 of the hunger strike. They condemned the use of political repression by the state against those who participated.]

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 24]
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The Musings of a Hunger Striker

Sitting here on my 17th day of a hunger strike, in protest of the inhumane and torturous treatment of our confinement in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison, my heart races at 126 beats per minute — at rest! Am I going to have a heart attack? Am I mad for risking my health — my life! — or am I just fed up with having spent 25 years in SHU for non-disciplinary reasons?

My mind is racing just as fast, if not faster, as my heart. A fog has settled in on my thoughts. Everything seems hazy and I'm not sure if I'm even thinking logically anymore.

This morning I was dozing in and out of a dream. I usually don't remember my dreams anymore, so I'm not even sure if I was actually dreaming or if I was awake, just thinking in the fog. But this is what I remember:

I was in this big ol' boat, along with a whole lot of other guys, and we were rowing this boat. It was hard work (and maybe that's what got my heart pumping so hard!), and if any of us slowed down or fell out of sync, these overseers would come over and whip us something awful, so we all had an incentive to keep rowing.

Then an old man, a few rows in front of me, stopped rowing. He started to sway, from side to side, as the overseers whipped him. Regardless of the pain, the old man just continued to sway, from side to side, from side to side, and all he would say is "rock." Everyone thought the guy was mad, that he had lost his mind or something. Then another guy, a few rows back, threw his oar down and began to sway the same way as the old man. Everyone was confused. Then a few more people started throwing down their oars and swaying in sync to each other. Nothing was said except, "rock!" The boat started to sway, just a little, from side to side, and the overseers were frantic to stop the swaying. They were whipping guys viciously, but no one would pick up the oars. In fact, more and more people were refusing to row now and the boat was dangerously close to capsizing. The overseers were terrified and all that was heard was "rock!" The oars with the words "industries," "shirt factory," "wood products," "shoe factory," "dairy," "kitchen workers," "cooks" engraved into them were all just laying there, idle, and we told the overseers, "you want this boat rowed, then you do the rowing!"

About this time, I either woke up or I snapped out of the fog I was in. My heart was racing. Am I mad? Is that really such a crazy thought? Or is it the most sanest, common sense thing that should have taken place years ago?

I thought about this as I drank my tea and the COs passed out breakfast. "Are you gonna eat?" the CO asked. "No" I replied, and with my heart still racing I thought to myself, crazy or not, I say "let's rock!"

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[Campaigns] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Calipatria Strikers Continue, Some Succumb to Medical Conditions

11 October 2011 - I want to keep you up to date on our struggles here in Calipatria State Prison in regards to the food strike. Personally I went 8 days before my body shut down. I lost 11 pounds and am still having a hard time re-adjusting back to normal. There are many men still striking and my heart goes out to them. My medical disorder (seizures) was really affecting my mind and body. I have been working on getting my mind and body back on track.

I am going to start writing letters to the warden and encourage fellow prisoners to do the same thing. I'm going to try my best to get done what I can for us men in here. I know this battle is going to be one hell of a struggle, but I'm going to do my best. I got 9 men on board and we're very serious about the goal we set before us. If they take one of us, there will be someone to pick up where things are left off.

I appreciate your guidance and so do the rest of the men. I shared your pamphlet with every single man here and also wrote a "kite" addressing it to every active soldier. I understand it's not going to be easy, but I strongly believe we'll succeed in struggle together.


UPDATE: The coalition providing outside mediators for the strikers has reported that Calipatria prisoners ended their strike on October 15, two days after leaders in Pelican Bay had done so. While the mediators report that Pelican Bay prisoners believe their individual cases will be reviewed, the state says nothing changed in their plan to trigger an end to the strike. Either way, it is clear that the 5 demands are not being met.

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