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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Jordan Unit] [Texas]
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Texas Prisoners Win Victory by Filing Mass Grievances

I have some encouraging news to report concerning the grievance process here on the Jordan Unit in Texas. I am a medium custody G-4 prisoner and per the Texas Dept of Criminal Justice “Offender Orientation Handbook” (I-202) pg 32 which outlines the out-of-cell time requirements, we G-4 prisoners were being shorted our 4 hours daily requirement. We tried many different ways to rectify the problem. First we wrote the Major and then the Warden about this with no response. A group of us tried to “jack the dayroom,” meaning not racking up in our cell when told, while others protested by kicking cell doors, forcefully making our requests and issues known to the pigs. This didn’t work either, it just earned us a 24-hour lockdown.

Several of us wrote grievances periodically over the course of two months with each response being “no policy violation noted.” Finally we decided to send in “a mass grievance.” We submitted approximately fifty five to sixty grievances concerning “out of cell time” at one time. The response by the Warden was the same “no policy violations noted.” The very next day after we all received our grievances back the pigs gave us our 4 hours out of cell time.

It took us over 6 months in trying different tactics, but we finally won. Crazy to think all we won was what we were supposed to have per the rules set forth by these pigs. I would suggest to every prisoner across the state of Texas following our winning process and submit “mass grievances,” the more the better at one time. Persistence paid off in this case.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an encouraging report among many defeats in the grievance battle. And it is important that this comrade wrote up the tactics used so that others can learn from this. We also will stress what the comrade wrote: that all that was won is what was already set out in the rules created by the prison in the first place. We use the grievance system to try to win some improvements in conditions within the criminal injustice system. But we need to understand the limitations of this strategy and continue to educate people about the importance of dismantling the entire criminal injustice system. We can only win that battle as a part of the larger anti-imperialist fight.

(read more on the grievance victory at Jordan Unit)

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California] [ULK Issue 32]
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Taking Grievance Petitions to Next Level

I send my greetings to the reader of this letter. Thank y’all for sending me ULK 30. As always, it was easy, mind-broadening reading. Although I understand and accept the realities presented by your info, it is discouraging to see that we of this line of thought are the minority. As obvious as all of the societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies are, the majority of people still hold on to the lie that Amerikkka is a fair, just, and free society. It’s absurd and obscene.

I had filed a state court petition challenging the staff’s abuse of the inmate appeal process here at California State Prison - Los Angeles County. The judge has issued an order for the prison officials to informally respond, and they in turn were granted an extension of time on responding. The good thing is that the petition was not summarily dismissed as is routine in the California state courts. Nevertheless, the facts, law, and evidence are strong in my claim. If given a fair shake in litigating I absolutely expect victory in the case.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade filed a state court petition in the same vein as the campaign for the proper addressing of grievances which is now three years strong. Many participants in this campaign are still circulating petitions in their facilities and mailing them to their respective wardens, prisoner support groups, etc. But others, like this comrade, have applied their knowledge of the legal system to push the campaign even further.

We hope the state court petition this comrade filed does have its fair shot at success in the courts, as these victories can contribute to the larger struggle of the oppressed in this country. Sadly, we know this is unlikely, and it is for the same reasons why Amerikans choose to ignore the “societal contradictions, imbalances, and institutional hypocricies” we report on in Under Lock & Key. Even though all Amerikans have at least some general idea of the terrible things this country does across the world and within its own borders, they receive so many great things from being Amerikan that they are willing to accept and even back those actions. We are in the minority in this country. Rather than stay discouraged, we should do as this comrade does and take that as a cue that we need to work that much harder and with more creativity in order to pave the way for revolution. And always keep in mind that we are in the majority globally.

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[Campaigns] [Censorship] [Santa Barbara County Jail] [California]
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Loved Ones Fight Santa Barbara Ban on Letters to Prisoners

The fiance of a prisoner in Santa Barbara County Jail is leading the call to oppose a new rule banning all letters to prisoners. The Sheriff has restricted incoming mail to postcards only citing “security” reasons, as they always do. They say this, despite the well-established fact that ties to family and the outside world help prisoners rehabilitate and reduces conflicts. This is why we question how prison authorities define “security.”

Nearby Ventura County Jail already has a ban on letters in place, and has recently rolled out an email program that allows them to charge prisoners.(1) One might think that they’re cutting out the U.S. Postal Service because they can’t get a cut of the money. But as we recently pointed out, another advantage to going digital is easier monitoring of all communications with prisoners.

The rights of prisoners are limited in so many ways, making them a vulnerable population facing increased risks of violence, rape, suicide and many health problems. Even after release prisoners face increased rates of poverty and shorter life spans. Education, communication and integration with the outside world are important parts of any effort to rehabilitate those who are rightfully imprisoned.

MIM(Prisons) supports this campaign to allow prisoners in Santa Barbara County Jail to receive letters, just as we combat censorship in prisons across the country. Those facing censorship from Santa Barbara can provide public records to our online Censorship in Amerika Documentation Project.

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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The System Isn't Broken, it Works for the Oppressor

Fifteen years of prison, so-called, life, and still I am surprised at times by the way these pigs are willing to sink to new lows.

This 602 appeals system at Corcoran is extremely scandalous. Not only have I received the 602 appeals of several other people, having to get their mail back to them by a transporter and fishing line, in 2012, 5 appeals I sent to my “counselor” (nothing but a plainclothes CO) to be referred to the appeals coordinator, had just disappeared! And yet the pigs still ask you to submit evidence to them with your appeal. Why? So they can throw it away? 2013 is not any different. We get a total runaround and boldfaced filibuster.

In the past months I have been 602ing the issue of the pigs only choosing English on these silly movies they play. They know I have an issue with a few court rulings associated to it, and the game this time was to wait a month with my 602 in their hooves and send it back to me one month to the day, unanswered or stamped or even declared “rejected” which they do for incredible “reasons.” Now, when I refile, they will say I didn’t “take action” within 30 days, as if they didn’t sit on my 602 for a month. As if I didn’t do anything.

The other issues include trying to get SHU inmates to be allowed chess and cards, like on the mainline. I have received 10 dirty trick filibuster moves from them. One appeals coordinator says I attached “inappropriate forms” in my appeal, my response was to show how the form I got came from another appeals coordinator!!! Then they say I have to resubmit the original appeal because the new one duplicated what they stamped as “rejected.” So, I tore up parts of that and submitted them as proof that the original is torn up, “can’t retrieve from sewers” I wrote. They will reject that too for some ridiculous pretext. I am collecting all of their confetti, to show to the new convicts and people on the outside who don’t know yet, this system isn’t broken, it is meant to work exactly as it is, that is against us, against our interests.

I am incensed and enraged that I am undergoing the same type of gimmicks that I have read about describing the state craft of “Israeli rejectionism” where only if you are an obedient Israeli can you get a license to drive or build a home or work on a farm: they “reject” all attempts at life outside their monopoly. They want to maintain jurisdiction over me.

The same gimmicks were employed in South Africa, under apartheid where we learn from studying the example of that tyranny, how it “thrives on details.” Bureaucratic delays and technicalities employed ad infinitum to deliberately runaround any application or petition or appeal. The paperwork would not work if filed by a Black African. “I can’t hear you, I can’t see you, I can’t say anything.”

The courts will reject you too if you don’t exhaust your administrative procedures. It’s good for prisoners to get this runaround game out of the way as soon as they get here, to learn that, wherever one class of people is slave to another class whether in a colony or the pen, or on a city street, such gimmicks have to exist alongside of the oppression. And its vital to know the futility of trying to beat the pigs, at a game played by pig rules. And it guarantees an explosive response.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree that it is good to work through the administrative procedures for grievances even though they are set up so that most grievances will fail. This does teach prisoners a lesson about the game that is played by pig rules. But we can also use these rejections to educate others to fight the system on their own terms. This rigged grievance system is why United Struggle from Within initiated the grievance campaign in California, which has now spread to many other states. The petition is just one more way to put pressure on the criminal injustice system to play by their own rules. Some victories have been won with persistence. But we know that even with a systematic campaign we can not hope to fundamentally alter the criminal injustice system under imperialism. This is why the grievance campaign is just one small part of our larger anti-imperialist battle.

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[Campaigns] [Telford Unit] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 32]
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Fighting for Food in Texas: Grievance Strategy Response to ULK 31

In Under Lock & Key 31, a comrade from Lewis H/S here in Texas wrote about being fed two small corndogs and five prunes for lunch. Here at the Telford unit in Texas we are on unit lockdown at the time, and matter of fact today we were fed two small corndogs and a very small portion of raisins. But this is quite common during lockdown on all units. To our comrade at Lewis H/S, if it’s a regular meal you were referring to, then a grievance will work just right. But like a grievance officer here once told us: “You file one or two grievances and they will not do nothing. But get people together and file fifteen or more, and you will get some action.”

Here we were having problems with our regular and diet meals. Well a fellow prisoner stepped up and filed a grievance on both regular and diet meals. As we can see, he was willing to fight not only for himself, but for others as well. He needed some signatures. Many in Ad-Seg openly admitted being afraid of retaliation. We still got 46 strong to sign, but only after argument among ourselves. Two weeks later our portions were doubled. But that was only on the pod that filed the grievance.

I don’t remember exactly, but according to the grievance we are supposed to be fed a certain amount of calories each meal. Which means that all that is served on our trays has to be measured by weight. Maybe there is a comrade out there somewhere who knows the right amount and can tell us.

Administration does get scared when a large group joins hands. And as we know, there are several organizations out there that will not file a lawsuit for only an individual prisoner. But when a large group joins hands, these organizations will take the case and file for prisoners. We need to file, file, and file. Don’t be afraid of retaliation. If the pigs retaliate, add them to your lawsuit. If they deny your grievances, don’t stop there, file a lawsuit. How will the state look with all these lawsuits coming from prisoners. We need to stick together brothers. Together we stand, divided we fall.

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[Campaigns] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
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Grievances Denied in Texas

A comrade recently sent a grievance petition to the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and he refused to answer and rerouted it to the central grievance office. The entire system is corrupt from top to bottom. However in order to get them in court via 42 USC §1983 or Birens we have to keep filing. I’ve had over 20 lumpen file on this fabricated and bogus case-writing lieutenant and all grievances being returned with same reply: no evidence found - officer denies allegations - no further action warranted. We are going to have to seek outside help: ACLU, media, legislators, etc. I personally have 6 or 7 step 2 grievances pending.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisoners in states across the country are building on the grievance campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. In Texas there has been some success with this petition, though we know that for every victory the prison administration will try to take something else away or implement some other repressive policy. To win in court, as this comrade points out, you must be thorough in documenting the problem as a pattern. In addition to using their paperwork, Under Lock & Key is another way to document patterns of abuse for the masses to agitate around a cause.

We currently have grievance petitions for many states. Write to us for a copy and if you are in a state not currently covered by the grievance campaign, we will send you a template for the petitions and you can look up citations and policies specific to your state for reference.

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[Campaigns] [Jordan Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 32]
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Grievance Victories are Won Through Unity

I would like to inform you of a small but major win for your comrades who have recently joined you over at the Jordan Unit. I was on that unit two years. The entire time I was there I listened to people tell me how they fought the rec issues there constantly to no avail. This was my first flaw; I believed we could not win.

I realized this two years later when I was moved to another wing where the conditions were worse. This prompted a totally different response out of me. I researched the policies myself along with the prior grievances others had filed. I learned several things. One was that we were dealing with tyrants, and two, the people who were filing grievances had been ill-informed and were not formatting them appropriately. Their information was jumbled, they failed to utilize policy numbers, etc. This allowed the administration to play the crazy card.

Long story short, myself and three others went to different individuals educating them on what was and had been going on so that they understood. We got every grievance signed and dropped, and we organized two demonstrations. In one protest we converged on the rec yard simultaneously as a show of solidarity, and once told to disperse we dispersed into smaller groups simultaneously, and once told to disperse again, we went back to what we were doing.

The importance of these steps is to allow the administration to understand: 1) We are together, united on this issue, all peoples, all races; 2) We are structured; and 3) We are willing to follow orders. This is the reason for converging, breaking down into smaller groups, and then dismantling.

The second demonstration was an intentional 23-hour lockdown that drew the administration out to talk to us personally. We learned the policies they were leaning on, and their intended avenue of grievance, and in less than 45 days our first wave of grievances came back denied. And as they said they would do, they took their avenue of defense. But within one more week our last grievance succeeded, and two years of problems were settled in less than 45 days with the appropriate initiative.

There were things I felt could have been handled differently when I look back, but this is the first of many fights to come. The battle cry is far from over. I’m at a new place now, and we will see what experiences are to come. The grievance process as we all know is not always a working thing. How could it be? So in my eyes it is only a method of exhaustion when applicable. So we use it not only for our benefit but for the benefit of all those who stand beside us in the fight no matter what parts they play because they may not be as informed.

The main thing I learned is that the big fight is not our petty battles, but the fight we wage with ourselves. I met many people who could give 1000s of excuses why we couldn’t win and not one reason we could. There are those who even believed that they deserved to be treated with no respect because they are incarcerated. And all I could think is, “Wow! How do we get to that point in our minds?”

So to all those that stood by in the fight I send one message: The fight must go on. It must continue even in the face of adversity, partiality, difference, and wanton tyrannical practices. This is the only thing that is certain. And that certainty is found in necessity of sacrifice. There are no exceptions, not for me, not for you, not for anyone. Prepare to give it all every single time until it becomes practice, and hope for an inch. Because unfortunately this is usually how it is gained, one inch at a time. And when we begin to see far enough, we realize that our fights were not to reap immediate benefits, but an investment in tomorrow. Our jobs are simply to keep the fight alive so that someone, anyone, may receive a return on the investment.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade’s message of the importance of unity, and the reality that we can only expect to win small victories through our day-to-day battles. We know that the grievance system in Texas and elsewhere is set up to defeat prisoners’ complaints. But the USW campaign to demand our grievances be addressed is helping with small battles like those described by this prisoner. At the same time, we must keep in mind that these small victories are part of a larger battle against imperialism as a system. And we can’t expect to win that overnight, but we can build, and educate, as this comrade says “as an investment in tomorrow.”

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [California]
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Gearing up for July 8 California Hunger Strike

Currently all group segments here in the SHU at Pelican Bay are preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage scheduled for July 8th of this year. From what I gather, most are committing to ten days for now, although the Short Corridor Collective wrote a letter to the governor declaring an indefinite hunger strike until all five core demands are met. I’ve read that San Quentin’s death row “adjustment center” is on board and even many female prisoners in California. So this one should be even bigger than the last two combined with all outside the walls brothers and sisters even more prepared than before.

Basically the prison administrators did not follow through with the positive changes that they said they were going to do during the hunger strike negotiations. Yes we were given beanies, allowed to order sweats, and we are allowed to purchase art supplies and take one photo per year if we remain disciplinary free. Plus they added a few food items to the canteen list. Those were all positive changes. However, besides that, the only thing that has changed is that they created the STG/SDP [requiring prisoners to go through a Step Down Program (SDP) to get out of STG, among other changes], which is not beneficial to anyone besides the gang investigators and the prison administrators. It’s counter productive for us as it gives the prison administration an even broader range of prisoners who they will now be able to validate and place in the SHU. These are prisoners who before were not validated due to it being harder to tie them to a prison gang, like the whites and Blacks for instance.

The vast majority of us did not participate in the hunger strike simply to receive a bunch of miscellaneous crap, and since the prison administration did not follow through with their end of the hunger strike negotiations, the Short Corridor Collective has decided that another peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage is necessary in order to force CDCR to the table and make them follow through with their promises of positive changes. This peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage is to continue until they have met the five core demands or until the Short Corridor Collective has negotiated terms that are satisfactory and/or beneficial for all.

As far as the new STG/SDP is concerned, it’s a straight joke that CDCR is actually attempting to push it out to the public that these are positive changes when they are in fact not. They are trying to go on a media campaign saying that seventy something people have been released and so many admitted into the step down program, but it is nothing but smoke and mirrors. It looks and sounds good to the public but in reality it’s business as usual for the pigs.

Nobody is acknowledging the so called “SDP” so anybody that they say is in it is actually not participating in anything. Nobody has been transferred yet for step three or four to Corcoran SHU or Tehachapi SHU. They have not raised the limit on canteen for anyone or given anyone a phone call or anything. All they did was dedicate one channel on the TV for a bunch of fake rehabilitation videos that are old and outdated and that nobody even watches. So there is no step down program in our eyes and in reality, just the prison administration’s story of one.

In regards to the so-called reviews that they say they are doing, and the prisoners who are being released back out to the mainlines, this too is a sham, a way to sugar coat the story and make it look as if they are making changes when they are not. There is no reviews taking place here in Pelican Bay SHU, where I’m at, it’s all just for show. All they are really doing is conducting the inactive reviews/gang status updates for those who have already been in the SHU for six years, that’s nothing special. That’s something that we all already have coming to us no matter what we do once we’ve been back here for six years.

The only thing that has changed is that Institutional Gang Investigations is now approving more people for inactive status instead of mysteriously coming up with bogus confidential memorandums. In my immediate vicinity I’ve seen around six or seven people get approved for inactive status, all southern Mexicans. I’ve also seen about four of them get denied as well so not everyone is getting kicked back out to the mainline. Those that were denied were given a new inactive review date six years down the line, so that means that they have to be in the SHU for six more years before they can again be reviewed for release from the SHU. So where is the change in that?

Like I said, it’s all just for show, the only reviews that they are doing are the ones that they have to do and that’s the six years inactive reviews. As far as Contraband Surveillance Watch, aka “potty watch”, they are still using this unconstitutional method as a means of torture and intimidation. However, from what I’ve been noticing they have been utilizing it less than normal in the last year or so. I’ve only seen one or two people here and there when I pass by C Facility and D Facility “potty watch” cells while en route to the law library so that’s better than them being overflowed at least. Although it shouldn’t be allowed at all, because it is wrong and degrading. I speak from experience having been through it myself with my celly back in February 2011.

From what I’ve recently heard the “agreement to end hostilities” is holding here on Pelican Bay A and B yards and everybody is programming with no incidents of violence in a while. Yard visits, canteen and everything else is up and on track and each group segment is giving each other their respects. As a matter of fact northern Mexicans are starting to go to A yard now. After about a five year period of not being placed there by the prison administration, they are being housed in A3 from what I heard.

One more thing in regards to the peaceful hunger strike/work stoppage, you have to refuse food for at least seventy two hours before you are even acknowledged as being on a hunger strike and you’re added to the statewide count of those who are participating. Also you can’t order food nor coffee from canteen in July, only hygiene and stationary because if you accept food or coffee then you won’t be counted as being on a hunger strike.

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[Campaigns] [Control Units] [Gang Validation] [ULK Issue 31]
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Setting Goals in California

In 2011, the organizing in California made connections to the plight of prisoners across the country and even globally. As cipactli discusses in h recent article, the demands from the Pelican Bay prisoners have not been met and a new phase of that battle has begun.

The example set by those who went on food strike in California was like Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus. They weren’t the first to do it, and they didn’t single-handedly change the system, or even significantly reform it. But they did serve as a prime example that continues to inspire those struggling for basic humyn rights behind bars. Since 2011, MIM(Prisons) has been in dialogue with USW leaders in Pelican Bay and across the state about those historic events, and how we can push that struggle forward.

One change that has been proposed by comrades in Pelican Bay this time around is that prisoners develop their own demands locally and hold the CDCR/state to the demands that they think are most pressing. While, ideally we would all unite around one set of demands, we agree with this tactic at this stage. There were many who came out to propose changes to the five core demands for many different reasons. So this approach allows those who had critiques to put their ideas into action.

In practice this means each prison could have their own demands focused on conditions specific to their location, building unity within the prisoner population at that facility. We caution people though that the broader our unity behind core demands the more pressure we can put on the criminal injustice system to make change. As much as possible, prisoners should try to come together around common demands within each prison.

MIM(Prisons) is working to unite United Struggle from Within (USW) in CA around some goals that are strategic for the anti-imperialist prison movement. These are goals that could be won within the realm of bourgeois democracy and will strengthen our cause and more long-term goals.

Please note that neither USW nor the statewide councils are able to operate on the basis of democratic centralism through postal mail. So while this draft incorporates the ideas of the California Council of USW, it is principally authored by MIM(Prisons) and does not/will not necessarily represent a consensus among council members or USW in general. However, the two principal points are points that MIM(Prisons) has long held to be strategically important in expanding the ability of the oppressed to reach the medium-term goals of organizing for self-determination. So we do not believe that they will be very controversial within our circles. We do hope they will push the limits of what is possible more than what has been proposed so far.

If there are already demands in place where you are, we’d encourage you to push for an inclusion of more focus on these goals. If not you may still need to adjust the document below to meet your local conditions for various reasons. But we should all be able to agree on what the major issues are here, and the more we can speak as a united voice with a united mission, the more successful we can be. There is very little in here that is specific to California, so comrades in other states can also use this as a model.

Here are our demands:

  1. An end to torture of all prisoners, including an end to the use of Security Housing Units (SHU) as long-term isolation prisons.

    Basic humyn needs are centered around 1) healthy food and water, 2) fresh air and exercise, 3) clothes and shelter from the elements and 4) social interactions and community with other humyns. It is the SHU’s failure to provide for these basic needs that have led people around the world to condemn long-term isolation as torture. Therefore we demand that the following minimum standards be met for all prisoners:

    1. no prisoner should be held in Security Housing Units for longer than 30 days. Rehouse all prisoners currently in SHU to mainline facilities.
    2. interaction with other prisoners every day
    3. time spent outdoors with space and basic equipment for exercise every day
    4. healthy food and clean water every day
    5. proper clothing and climate control
    6. an end to the use of and threat of violence by staff against prisoners who have not made any physical threat to others
    7. access to phone calls and contact visits with family at least once a week
    8. timely and proper health care
    9. ability to engage in productive activities, including correspondence courses and hobby crafts
    10. a meaningful way to grieve any abuses or denial of the above basic rights

  2. Freedom of association.

    As social beings, people in prison will always develop relationships with other prisoners. We believe positive and productive relationships should be encouraged. Currently the CDCR makes it a crime punishable by torture (SHU) to affiliate with certain individuals or organizations. This is contrary to the judiciary’s interpretation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We demand that prisoners of the state of California only be punished for violating the law, and that there be:

    1. no punishment based on what books one reads or has in their possession
    2. no punishment for jailhouse lawyering for oneself or for others, for filing grievances or for any challenges to conditions of confinement through legal means
    3. no punishment for what outside organizations one belongs to or corresponds with
    4. no punishment for communicating with other prisoners if not breaking the law
    5. no punishment for tattoos
    6. no punishment for what individuals of the same race/nation/organizational affiliation do unless you as an individual were involved in violating a rule or the law, i.e. no group punishment
    7. no punishment for affiliation with a gang, security threat group, or other organization - in other words a complete end to the gang validation system that punishes people (currently puts people in the SHU for an indeterminate amount of time) based on their affiliation and/or ideology without having broken any rules or laws
The above goals are very similar to the original five core demands. However, you’ll notice that they boil down to two main points, an end to torture of prisoners and freedom of association. Until both of these goals are fully achieved, the struggle continues.

Over the coming months, comrades behind bars need to focus on setting goals, setting deadlines, strategizing, studying and networking. The comrades in Pelican Bay are sticking to similar tactics used in the 2011 food strike. But there are other ways to demonstrate for our goals in a peaceful way that is long-lasting and can have great impact, just like Rosa Parks. One comrade last year suggested campaigns that affect the prison staff directly and financially, and there may be other tactics to consider. As the comrades in California have stressed, networking to break down divisions between prisoners must be a focus by implementing the peace protocol across the state. And as USW leaders have reiterated, study is instrumental in raising the consciousness of participants and allies to provide for a stronger base as the struggle advances.

We’ve heard from comrades in Washington, New Jersey and South Carolina who are organizing their own actions for July 8 or modeled around that struggle. Comrades in North Carolina and Texas have launched peaceful protests of their own in just the last couple months. As we address local conditions and petition institutions at the state level, we build unity around the common demands of the imprisoned lumpen class across the United $tates.

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[Campaigns] [California] [ULK Issue 31]
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Hunger Strike to Resume: California Prisoners' Demands Must be Met by July 8

Recently the state of California has created what they call the step down program which those of us at Pelican Bay SHU have rejected. The strikes that swept Amerikan prisons in 2011 were initially kicked off with the intention of obtaining five demands, and the State has so far failed to grant the five demands. This July it will be two years since the prisoner population first mobilized around the five demands and yet the State has been making excuse after excuse to go in circles and drag things out while making more promises.

We have reached way deep for what little patience may be left in us as people who have suffered years and in some cases decades under the brutal torture of the State. And yet this patience was taken as weakness as all oppressors take patience or good gestures coming from the oppressed. We have attempted to resolve this issue with the brutal state through dialogue, and through agreements, to no avail. We now understand that like all efforts for dignity and humyn rights it will take struggle!

Everywhere in the world where the people fought oppression it was done through struggle, with selfless acts of sacrifice in some way. The law of dialectics proves that struggle, sacrifice and suffering produces justice, freedom and peace. One relies on the other in a unity of opposites and a perpetual contradiction and it is this contradiction that prisoners today find ourselves in and which created the conditions in which the 2011 strikes were brought to surface.

California, like all imperialist prisons and jails, has relied on brutal treatment in order to control its prisoners. It is living within a capitalist society that creates these prison camps, these concentration camps that capture our people, capture our youth and have us living under an occupied force, colonized not only physically but mentally as well. The fate of our nations within prisons relies on what we do today.

For the past few decades the movement for prisoner rights has been in a semi coma, many have been bought off with petit bourgeois ideology where everyone is looking out to come up and get money, too many seeking escapism in dope or alcohol, too many times do I hear prisoners talking about ‘get rich or die trying,’ but like dead prez said we need to ‘get free or die trying.’

The question is, do we continue to be locked in oppressive conditions or do we finally stand up and demand our dignity? More and more of our youth enter these concentration camps lining up right behind us and walk in sync to the slaughter house known as SHU or hole. So many of our “privileges” have been taken by the state. Many times our loved ones out in society suffer from traveling to see us, paying outrageously for phone calls or goods and yet we sit and accept it. This has gone on far too long. Our patience has run out, we have grown old, our health is beginning to fail us, our sanity under such cruel and decrepit conditions is at stake and there is no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. So we must make a spark that creates our own light at the end of the tunnel!

We have given the prison until July 8, 2013 to meet all five demands we listed in 2011 and if they are not granted by July 8 then our hunger strike will continue on that day. We will demand to be treated as humyn beings, we will not be tortured any longer.

What we learned from 2011 was the repression that will come from such a non-violent protest and many ideas have since come to the fore. Many lessons were learned since the last strike, lessons that will make us stronger next round. But we call on all those oppressed to use July 8 as your rally cry and to use this historic day to bring attention to your suffering, to your torture and to your oppression. And so we ask all to join us on July 8 as once more we hunger strike in unity for all prisoners, not just in the United $tates but around the world.

United we can accomplish anything, so long as we act as one. We need to remember that our oppressors act as one when they create harsh laws and throw away the key. They act as one when their sticks are breaking our heads and when we are placed in torture conditions. It doesn’t matter their background or nationality, their sticks and boots feel the same on our bodies. So let all prisoners also use this unity in a united front where every dungeon forms their own demands on July 8 to better conditions wherever you’re at.

There are still a few months until this date comes, and it is better to have time to get your mind right and be prepared. California has begun to develop peace zones in all prisons and jails where no longer are prisoners at each other, oppressing each other. Instead we are promoting peace and creating peace zones in all facilities. Now, instead of warring on each other, prisoners in California are beginning to find ways to better their living conditions. They are looking to the true oppressor and developing a more revolutionary culture in all prisons, jails and youth facilities. It is only by creating a more revolutionary environment that real change can come from not only our prison conditions but also in our relations with one another behind these prison walls. Let us create these safe zones and look to those who are also held captive as struggling against the same oppressor.

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