I am writing to you concerning a lawsuit which my defense team members are currently preparing on my behalf. It protests my false prison gang validation as an associate of the Black Guerrilla Family on December 31, 2009.
It is my position that this validation is solely motivated by retaliation and racial profiling due to my ongoing campaign to stamp out corruption involving some "Green Wall" correctional staff within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) who are currently engaged in organized crime, which is a clear threat to the safety and security of all CDCR institutions.
I was recently responsible for disciplinary and employee discharges against three corrupted CDCR prison staff at California State prison - Sacramento, Salinas Valley State Prison, and High Desert State Prison.
Since my false prison gang process, me and my defense have come across strong evidence. Some corrupted "Green Wall" staff are very prejudiced and racist, sanctioning use of the false validation process for some Black, Brown and white prisoners, to pursue false prison gang investigations. Many prisoners have strong evidence of being wrongfully validated for reading materials on their culture. Institutional Gang Investigators have taken a race-based shortcut and assume anything to do with African or Mexican culture can be banned under the guise of controlling gang activities.
Any California prisoners who have relevant information on the false prison gang process should write to MIM(Prisons), to get involved in this case.
My purpose of this lawsuit is to shed light on this abuse of power and human rights violations, including torture tactics through criminal activities and organized crime.
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure or censorship of music and literature. 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.
Tom Clements, Director of Adult Institutions P.O. Box 236 Jefferson City, MO 65101
Chris Pickering, Inspector General (MO DOC) P.O. Box 236 Jefferson City, MO 65101
U.S. Department of Justice PhB 950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20530
Marianne Atwell, Director of Offender Rehabilitative Services (Missouri) P.O. Box 236 Jerrerson City, MO 65101
And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!
MIM(Prisons), USW PO Box 40799 San Francisco, CA 94140
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades in High Desert State Prison's Z-Unit (administrative segregation) who are experiencing brutality and cruel living conditions. Send them extra copies to share! For more information 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.
Prison Law Office General Delivery San Quentin, CA 94964
Internal Affairs CDCR 10111 Old Placerville Rd, Ste 200 Sacramento, CA 95872
CDCR Office of Ombudsman 1515 S Street, Room 540 N Sacramento, CA 95811
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
On 19 January 2011 High Desert State Prison (HDSP) was visited by administrators from the headquarters of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in Sacramento, as well as the inspector general. These administrators finally listened to the many complaints from prisoners and outside advocacy groups and started an investigation into the corrupt policies and actions in place here at HDSP. In this struggle, MIM(Prisons) was instrumental in sending us petitions to submit regarding the appeals process.
This investigation had two parts. It was carried out by several administrators and started in the morning and continued into the early evening. Several prisoners were interviewed, some once, while others twice. I was one of those who was interviewed twice, first by a Correctional Counselor II from headquarters. We discussed the appeals process here at HDSP. During this interview we mostly talked about how our appeals are continuously screened out, denied, lost or simply ignored. The interviewer asked meaningful and intelligent questions and took detailed notes, and he appeared surprised by the lack of meaningful access to the appeals process. This interview only lasted between 10 and 15 minutes.
Later that same day, at around 5:45 p.m., I was again taken from my cell for an interview. This time it was with a captain from headquarters (Sacramento) and the inspector general. During this interview I was told that they, Sacramento CDCR Headquarters, were doing these interviews due to the pressure and complaints coming into Sacramento from prisoners, advocacy groups, and prisoners' families. They said they were simply conducting fact-finding interviews. This interview was more in-depth than the morning interview. We discussed a wide range of topics during the interview from the mass validations of the northern Hispanics on 4 August 2009, the poor conditions here in Z-unit (administrative segregation), to the many violations of our constitutional rights. Again the interviewers asked many valid questions and took notes, giving the appearance of taking things seriously. I did not buy into the act.
During this meeting they showed me copies of petitions I had mailed out which included the MIM(Prisons) grievance petition. I don't know if this is going to make any difference because I think (and hopefully I'm wrong) this was only a smoke and mirror show to attempt to pacify those of us who are fighting against these corrupt and unjust policies. But only time will tell how big a victory this truly was, because it was a victory!
I seriously doubt anything comes of this so-called investigation that is a significant improvement to the quality of life for us here in the zoo (Z-Unit). The reason I think this is the day after the Sacramento officials left HDSP, staff on Z-Unit started their retaliation. They cut our food portions almost in half, and the law library was denied to those of us who are Priority Library Users and have court deadlines. So I expect things will go back to normal in a week or two. Its the same every time anyone visits up here. One of the Sgts did say that they are totally redesigning the entire appeals process and we did get beanies (to protect us from the cold on the yard).
However this is not enough, we cannot afford to be satisfied with this token gesture of a beanie and some promises. No, we must continue to fight and put the pressure on HDSP until we are given all of our rights as well as everything we are entitled to by law and common human decency.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Contact us for more information about the campaign to end the Z-Unit Zoo, and the grievance campaign which is active in multiple states. If there are problems with the grievance system where you're at, spread it to yours!
On the issue of the Grievance Campaign (page 8, ULK16), first off, we are Alaska DOC prisoners at a Cornell Company corrections facility, which GEO Group (formerly Wakenhut Corrections) just bought into. The grievance system at this private for profit facility is a total farce. The grievance coordinator, as with most other employees at this corrupt facility, is totally untrained. His name is Rob Marseden, and he has no clue of the Alaska DOC policies and procedures, ACA standards, etc.
If the grievance is replied to at all, it is not in the specified time frame and is always devoid of merit and factually incredible. All grievances are frivolous, according to the corrupt facility heads, Rick Veach Superintendent, and his two cronies Williams and Vineyard. So yes, we have an extreme problem with the grievance system at this totally corrupt and illegally operated facility.
I am in the SHU MOD due to a confrontation with a Cornell employee in May. I am denied the grievance system by the corrupt superintendent, who claims I filed too many grievances over staff misconduct, the garbage served as food, which is in non-compliance, and medical.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is just one of many letters we get from prisoners across the country who can not use the administrative system of grievances to address wrongdoings by the criminal injustice system. Without being able to show a process of internal grieving, prisoners in the U.$. are not allowed access to the external courts to plead their case either. This pattern underlines the need for independent institutions of the oppressed to fight for basic humyn rights.
We are campaigning to get grievances effectively addressed, and to expose the corruption and oppression going on behind bars. Contact us for more information and to get a copy of the petition to join an existing campaign or to start organizing in your state.
As our readers already know, MIM(Prisons) runs political study groups with our comrades behind bars. And as some of you know, and have experienced, the state generally finds our non-violent, non-law breaking, communist study in poor taste. In October 2009, a study group assignment for the pamphlet "What is MIM?," which included other participants' responses to the previous assignment, was mailed to a participant held in Arizona. This study group assignment was censored because allegedly it "may be obscene or a threat to security" generally, and "promotes racism and/or religious oppression" specifically. Yes, this is coming from the state that is fighting the federal government in court to be allowed to use the color of one's skin as probable cause for investigating immigration law violations.
Our comrade imprisoned in Arizona appealed this decision, and MIM(Prisons) wrote to the prison administration to request an explanation as to how this study group assignment could "promote racism and/or religious oppression" without even mentioning races, nationalities, or religions:
"It is truly fascinating that your mailroom staff could find the promotion of racism and/or religious oppression in this document. Nowhere in the letter are the following words even mentioned: religious, religion, christian, muslim, baptist, KKK, white, mexican, latino, asian or arab. The word "black" is written once in the context of a reference to the Black Panther Party's education programs. How can you even talk about religion or race enough to speak against it if you don't use any of the above mentioned words?" - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant
No attempt has ever been made by Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) administration to address this point. ADC General Counsel Karyn Klausner offered her opinion: "I have reviewed the materials sent by MIM Distributors and find the decision to exclude the publication due to content 'promoting racism and/or religious oppression,' was appropriate." She gave no explanation of how she came to the conclusion that it was an "appropriate" violation of Constitutionally protected rights. In a later letter Ms. Klausner clarified that with this statement she didn't mean she was "upholding" the censorship in her official capacity as General Counsel of the Office of the Director of ADC, just that she agreed with it on a persynal level.
Instead of explaining how the study group mailing in any way promotes racism and/or religious oppression, ADC administrators then began to rely on their policy of violating MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech and association to censor this study group assignment:
"There is nothing in case law that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal a decision to exclude its material on an administrative appeal level. . . You are not entitled to a forum within the prison system." - ADC Director, Charles Ryan
Director Ryan clearly had not investigated the matter on the prisoner's end either. He claimed that our imprisoned comrade had not appealed the decision to censor, yet s/he had, on multiple levels, and submitted requests for the results of these appeals.
"You claim that MIM Distributors has no rights to appeal the censorship of their mail. While we are not lawyers, and may have put too much weight on the Procunier case, we still uphold that we have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights according to federal law. As employees of the state you may not deny anyone their rights to free speech and association arbitrarily and without due process. In fact, if you read Thornburgh v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401, which you referred [COLLEAGUE] to, you will see that its procedural protection was provided because the publisher was notified of the censorship and given the right to independent review. A number of U.S. Court of Appeals decisions have upheld the right of the publisher in such instances (Montcalm Publ'g Corp. v. Beck, 80 F.3d 105, 106 (4th Cir.), Trudeau v. Wyrick, 713 F.2d 1360, 1366 (8th Cir.1983), Martin v. Kelley, 803 F.2d 236, 243-44 (6th Cir.1986) )." - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant
And ADC's response?
"You assert that 'MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech' is not being respected. The Arizona Department of Corrections is obligated to respect, within the confines of legitimate penological interests, an inmate's constitutional rights. It does not follow that ADC is likewise obliged to do the same for an independent distributor such as MIM." - General Counsel, Karyn Klausner
It is apparent that the ADC believes themselves to be exempt from the legal straitjacket of the United $tates Constitution, which they don't see as having an application in the 10th Circuit. This isn't surprising coming from an institution whose administrators believe that one can promote racial and/or religious repression without ever talking about race or religion!
Amerikans like to pretend they hold no political prisoners, yet political repression is an integral part of the U.$. injustice system at every step. In our struggle for a world without oppression, MIM(Prisons) works to build public opinion for national liberation struggles amongst prisoners through our newsletter Under Lock & Key, our free books for prisoners program, and our study groups. Within prisons, there are two primary ways in which the state enacts political repression: through physical torture techniques such as solitary confinement, forced drugging, beatings, starvation and murder; and through the control of the spread of ideas, which also includes solitary confinement as well as the censorship of mail, and outlawing oppressed nation organizations.
In pre-fascist Amerika, we are still promised certain rights under United $tates laws. While we recognize that U.$. law will never lead us to communism (a world without oppression), we still need to fight for more room to organize and educate for revolution. Fighting against the censorship of revolutionary literature is vital to maintaining the connection between the inside and out, which may make the difference between being turned on to communism or not for many people. For those already turned on, we need to fight against censorship so that we can continue to build our revolutionary understanding.
Like a MIM Distributors Legal Assistant mentioned above, we are not lawyers. We do what we can to protect our Constitutional rights from the outside with the resources we have, and we rely on prisoners to fight to maintain their rights from the inside. If there is a lawyer who wants to get involved with this specific incident in Arizona, or with anti-censorship work in general, get in touch!
I received the Prisoners' Legal Clinic letter dated 4 October 2010. I am very glad to see that we're making excellent progress in bringing our ideas together to develop an energetic foundation. MIM(Prisons) has been faithful in their constant commitment to battling oppression. Therefore, I'd like to continue to contribute to this movement and participate in its progressive legal work.
I am obligated to challenge the inhumane conditions of confinement. I wouldn't go so far as indicating that I enjoy doing the litigation part, because it is very confusing. But I have a strong desire to change things for all of us who are oppressed.
I have been in solitary confinement for eight years, and because of the economic crisis around the world, Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has been susceptible to providing sub-standard conditions. Thus I am currently litigating three §1983 federal civil rights complaints. I am hoping to bring my complaints to the courts in an effort to change policy and procedure, but I'm afraid that significant change comes from the legislators, who of course engineers these illegal laws that keep us further oppressed. I understand the real solution is socialism, and the only way to obtain it is in pieces.
I am currently setting the paper trail (framework) to the censorship repression I am experiencing at this time. The policy seems to be used as a safeguard to hinder the process of my studies. Furthermore, it's denying me my Constitutional right to freedom of speech (First Amendment). So I am hoping to be part of these grievance petitions and censorship campaigns.
I am in the process of distributing the grievance petitions to the proper officials out here in Arizona. I have the copies ready to be sent out, but like a comrade in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic said,
"I cannot see how the DOJ would be willing to assist us when it's likely their office is instructing, or giving guidance to, the institutions' appeals coordinators to screen out legitimate grievances at all cost, in an effort to frustrate our access to the courts."
I agree with this comrade. I basically think our grievance petitions go unheard anywhere we address them. But I think if we are going to get any consideration outside the court, it'll be through Senators or legislators. If you can suggest some things that would be a blessing to me, I have no experience or knowledge. But I'm extremely motivated and I must try. Because once I can't try any more, at least I can say "I tried." So sign me up.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Many people are afraid to start making change because they don't know where to start, or they are intimidated because they have no experience. This comrade's attitude toward learning something new is one that we would all do well to adopt.
We agree with h assessment that there are levels to change, with overthrowing capitalism being the only way to eliminate the source of these abuses. Even if new laws are put in place that make it harder for prison administrators and employees to obstruct the grievance process, their effect will be limited without independent power from organizing the oppressed. One reason we support reform of the grievance process is because it makes more space for this valuable organizing work.
If you would like to get involved in the campaign for the proper handling of grievances, write to MIM(Prisons) or follow the campaign page link below.
Determining who to write to regarding a specific issue is a tactical question. One day it may be most important to write to the Director of Corrections, the other it may be the Office of the Inspector General. We make tactical decisions based on our conditions at the time. In this circumstance, participants in the campaign to end the Z-Unit Zoo were bringing this issue to many government bodies, including the Director of Corrections and the Inspector General.
In this response from the office of the Division of Adult Institutions, A. Redding advises the participant to exhaust the appeals process. Clearly in the petition, it says that many grievances have been filed and none have been answered. This response is a good example of how inhumane conditions and abuse can hide behind the bureaucracy of the state under capitalism.
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.