The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out
[Campaigns] [McConnell Unit] [Texas]
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TDCJ: File Grievance to Fix Grievance System

04/09/2010

This is a response to the grievance petition a Texas participant sent to the TDCJ Ombudsman Coordinator. The same information was mailed as a response from the TDCJ Executive Director as well.

"If you wish to comment on the effectiveness and credibility of the grievance procedure, write a letter or send an I-60 Request form to the grievance investigator on your unit, or file a Grievance regarding that issue...

"If you have already pursued this issue through utilization of Step 1 and Step 2 of the Offender Grievance Procedure; no other administrative remedies are available to you on this issue at this time and you may pursue the matter in any manner you choose outside the Agency."

Basically, the TDCJ administrators claim no responsibility for a grievance procedure that is completely broken. These letters show that they will not grant us what is just without a power struggle. We push forward the campaign for the proper handling of grievances as a means of bringing these lines in the sand into plain view.

History shows that the most effective way to end all oppression — including the oppression of mishandled grievances, and beatings endured because of filing grievances against staff — is to work toward building a communist society. History also shows that the best way to do this is by organizing ourselves into revolutionary factions and building public opinion for national liberation struggles.

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[Legal] [Campaigns] [California]
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Prison Law Office and Grievance Petition

https://www.prisoncensorship.info/imgs/20100311.jpg

Above is a response from the Prison Law Office (PLO) to the petition for proper handling of grievances in California. Without addressing the systemic reasons for oppression, the PLO's efforts to fight against parole denials and revocations is futile on the group, and especially international, level.

The PLO "represent[s ] all California prisoners who have 'a major mental illness' under the class action lawsuit known as the Coleman case." In effect, Coleman v. Schwarzenegger led to the conclusion that "severe" overcrowding of prisons is the reason why most prisoners have no access to mental health care, and nominal efforts are being made to reduce the prison population. However, we know that imperialism, capitalism and national oppression are why mental health resources are inadequate within CDCR, and why prisons in Amerika lead to mental health issues in the first place. Prisons in China under Mao led to greater social awareness and responsibility, not mental illness.(1)

We challenge single-issue organizations to broaden their perspective. Parole assistance may lead to "freedom" for hundreds or even a few thousand individuals. But if we are organizing as internationalists, we can affect more people in a more profound way, and for a longer period of time. We do this by building communism. The least the PLO can do is recognize the importance of the grievance campaign and join it.

Notes:
(1) Prisoners of Liberation, Allyn and Adele Rickett

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[Campaigns] [California]
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DOJ Claims They Will Investigate if Shown Pattern of Abuse

02/18/2010

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) responds here to a comrade's petition for the proper handling of grievances in California. This governmental body may be helpful in pushing our campaign forward if they receive several petitions from different participants, enough to "determine whether a pattern or practice investigation is warranted." Participants in the grievance campaign should mail copies of their signed petitions to each party listed on the campaigns page so that we are maximizing the effects of each signature.

When we succeed with a campaign under imperialism, we are making more room for revolutionary organizing. When prison administrators, courts, and the DOJ obstruct or are non-cooperative in achieving our campaign goals, we have still drawn attention to an unresolvable problem with the status quo, as well as brought more people into the struggle against oppression. Whether the DOJ becomes involved in this battle or not, it is still important to spread the campaign as much as we can under this unjust system.

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[Organizing] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California] [ULK Issue 13]
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Petition for Proper Handling of Grievances

I have sent MIM(Prisons) a letter of grievance for use by CDCR prisoners. Its purpose is to petition the Director of Corrections to investigate the purposeful failure of the 602 procedure [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation grievance process] within California State Prison - Los Angeles County. This is something somebody put together for the general population here on C-yard. It is our intention to flood the Director's office with these petitions in hopes that it will shed some light onto the illegal acts in which these pigs are willing participants. We are being forced to file these petitions due to the unfortunate fact that the vast majority of our 602s are not being filed or properly heard.

The idea is to distribute this petition to all CDCR facilities and to have as many people sign and mail the petition to the Director's office as possible. Once all parties receive their responses concerning the petition, all responses along with contradictory paperwork should be sent to the Prison Law Office (which is specific to CA), the Office of Internal Affairs, etc. Our goal is to expose CDCR, its administration, and facilities as tools of repression and the lengths that they will go to to cover their crimes.

If correctly done, this action can be one in which quite possibly hundreds or thousands of prisoners will have the opportunity to make their voices heard and their wrongs known. It will be very hard for the Civil Rights Division of the Dept. of Justice and other agencies to ignore us. At worst, if we still fail, then we will at least have further proven that this "justice" system is not for us but against us.

My hope in sending this to MIM(Prisons)'s legal aid clinic is that you will redistribute this petition to those working with MIM and explain the concept to our comrades struggling from within so that we may all work together as one in a concerted effort to expose and hopefully create favorable conditions for the masses concerned in whatever they may be struggling for. I think that what I'm proposing here with the coordinated form of "legal attack" is of course a good use of MIM's legal aid clinic time and it would benefit all prisoners, not just in California.

In order for the rest of the prisoner population held in different prisons to correctly use this petition, they will of course need to change the name of the facility to that of their own. They will also have to look up their own "Departmental Operational Manual" citations in order to be in compliance. Someone will also have to take the lead for everyone in their facility, individual yard, etc.

MIM(Prisons) Adds: We see this campaign as a great use of our resources because our ability to fairly have our grievances handled is directly related to preventing arbitrary repression for people who stand up for their rights or attempt to do something positive. Spreading revolutionary literature, including Under Lock & Key, is a huge part of MIM(Prisons)'s organizing work. We support this petition in light of our anti-censorship work and anti-repression work in general.

We have sent this campaign to our United Struggle from Within and Prison Legal Clinic comrades in California, but this is an issue that should be spread to wherever it is relevant. Prisoners outside of California facing similar problems may be able to re-write the petition using their state's citation and policy numbers. [Ed.- A comrade in Texas has already translated the petition for use in the TDCJ system.] You will also need to research which administrators the petition should be sent to in your state. Write to us if you want to work on this campaign in California or elsewhere!

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[Campaigns] [California State Prison, Los Angeles County] [California]
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Warden Turns a Blind Eye to Staff Misconduct

02/18/2010

This is a response from Warden B. M. Cash at California State Prison, Los Angeles County to a participant in the campaign for proper handling of grievances. In this response, Warden Cash avoids addressing our comrade's petition, effectively supporting the illegal activity of his staff.

The Warden received this petition from several prisoners, not just one, and s/he still doesn't see a need to conduct h own investigation. This is just one example of the lack of redress afforded prisoners within the imperialists' bureaucratic runaround. It is proof of our need for a new society; one where writing a letter to an administrator in charge of dozens of employees who are actively perpetuating your oppression leads to at least an investigation!

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Protest Sanitary Conditions in North Carolina Polk CF

The sanitary conditions in the dining halls, bakery, freezer, dish room, stock room, serving line and other areas within Polk Correctional's kitchen are appalling. Prisoners voice their concerns to an unresponsive administration and continue to suffer from their lack of concern for the health of the inmate population.

A rat infestation is only the first and most prevalent of a long list of problems stemming from an environment where amateurism and incompetence prevail. This can be seen when a prisoner finds a rodent, or evidence of one, in the food and his overseer - in one particular case a Mr. Covington - told him "what the hell do you want me to do about it?" We merely wish for you, or apparently someone else with high qualification for the position, to do their job. Prisoners will no longer tolerate an administration which, in a bout of penny-pinching due to a cash-starved Department of Corrections, sweeps their problems under a rug. We will no longer accept this as a fact of prison life.

Gone are the days when a prisoner grievance form was the only effective means to make the necessary changes occur. (Which was more often than not a hit or miss process for justice in these matters, and that was if the paperwork did not eventually become "misplaced" or "fall through the cracks" as one Sargent commented on an unrelated matter involving paperwork.)

We have by passed the ineffective administration on the Polk compound and wish to raise awareness, not only to the Division of Prisons, but the Prison Ministries of the Rural People's Party and Maoist Internationalist Movement respectively and the daily newspaper, The News & Observer, that the health/sanitary conditions are only dealt with when the top officials of the state prison system converge on Polk (as was done several weeks ago) or when State Health Inspectors notify prison authorities of an upcoming visit (as was seen on May 28th when guards could be seen running scared with mops and buckets of paint).

We do not wish for cleanliness only on state visits, but as a permanent fact. Officers Covington, Miller, Evans, Gardner, Frazier and Hawkins (to name a few) have been fully aware of this inconvenient reality for quite some time (several have been employed for a decade or more) and have perfected the art of polishing off an apple which is rotten from within.

Polk Correctional, and doubtless the majority of the 73 correctional institutions in the state, need an administrative overhaul to replace officials who are all too familiar on how to cut corners and achieve only the minimum. United Lumpenproletarians from Within (ULW) demands a long-overdue shake-up of the top prison administration at Polk Correctional and other facilities in order to replace incompetent officials with competent and qualified ones. We do not want their overseers to just slap them on the hand which triggers a 2 week "cleanliness is godliness" program and the dismissal of several "trouble-making elements" within the prison kitchen service in retaliation for their higher-ups actually making state employees do their jobs.

As I have stated earlier, the rodent, insect (cockroaches, ants) and severe mold and mildew (asbestos) issues are just one of many problems that prisoners must deal with. As you read other prisoner's testimonies, several have revealed their concern not only of the multiple infestations, unjustified disrespectful conduct by our handlers, but also of a severe shortage in shoes and clothing.

Prisoners are facing sanitary concerns on two fronts. I will elaborate further upon request, but at this time I will post this out in the hopes that the most prevalent of our concerns (physical evidence enclosed) will be brought to light and properly addressed.

This letter came with 10 testimonials from other prisoners at Polk. Below are 3 of those statements

I work at a State Correctional Facility and have seen rats in the storage room, have seen fruit flies on old bananas. I've seen floors mopped with cold water only to keep from stripping the wax. I've seen spills left for days in segregation units. Ants are slowly taking over some of the building. Prisoners ask if they can clean their rooms and the Sargents or unit managers say no. The stairwells are filthy, and there are so many dust bunnies, you could make blankets out of them. Management wonders why some of the staff doesn't want to work.

I am writing this complaint because of the lack of the kitchen's effort to keep the kitchen a clean and sanitary place to prepare and serve food fro the prisoners at Polk Correctional Institution. On a number of occasions I have seen mice running free about the kitchen. I have seen them in the area where the food is stored, prepared, cooked and on the line where the prisoners were served. In one occasion I even saw mice droppings in the breakfast meat that was being stored in the cooler at the time. I have seen holes that have been bitten into loafs of bread. I hope that whoever receives this statement will take action as soon as possible. This type of neglect is unacceptable.

I've been working in the kitchen for a month and a half. The kitchen is very nasty. There are always flies everywhere in the kitchen. I've also seen bread that has been eaten by rats, it is very disturbing. There is another problem, there are rat feces in the food and the freezers. They also expect us to wear the same clothes we use for work in the kitchen even though our clothes are always filthy after work. If someone could please help us with these problems we would all be thankful for your help.

We are asking people to write to the NC DOC to protest these conditions
NC DOC Division of Prisons
831 W. Morgan St
Raleigh, NC 27603-1659

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[Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 9]
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Contaminated Water OK by CDCR

Today I received a response to my Administrator's Appeal (602) on the contaminated water here, from the director of California Corrections and they denied it of course, stating that the levels of arsenic in the water here are not high enough to pose a threat that'll put our (the prisoners') health at risk enough to grant the prisoners clean drinking water. But I say it's bullshit!

I first found out about the high levels of arsenic in the water here at Kern Valley State Prison from the Institution TV Network. They had released a CDC memo stating that the prison's water was contaminated with arsenic and lead levels that are over the EPA's legal limit, and some people who drink such water may be put at risk of having cancer. [Prisoners at Kern Valley have been fighting this battle for over a year.]

[In other news]...Early this week the pigs got mad at me because I'm aiding and assisting this brother to get paid off. The pigs fucked up and put a level 4 prisoner in the cell with a level three, and the level 4 attacked the level three, so I put him up on the game of getting free money from these pigs.

They tried to play me and my cellie against each other by tearing up his personal property and belongings, then leaving my things as they were. We just laughed at the shit though! We see what they were doing from a mile away, and the struggle goes on. They can't stop our forward motion or development.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Once again, state employees are trying to promote violence in state prisons and comrades of MIM(Prisons) are avoiding conflict, while struggling for justice. The CDCR claims to censor MIM(Prisons) because we are a threat to security. If prisoners can no longer be manipulated by staff into fighting each other then the security of the institution is at risk according to the CDCR logic.

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania]
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Urgent Action Alert: Camp Hill SMU torture

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HRC-FedUp! URGENT Action Alert: 6 Prisoners
Assaulted in the SMU at Camp Hill; Chemical and
electro-shock weapons used; racist violence and
repression on the rise again; take action Today
Tomorrow and Next Week.

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Forward further and wider than ever because enough is enough!

On January 20, 2009 guards in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at the State Correctional [sic] Institution (SCI) in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania assaulted six prisoners, reportedly citing as reasons that these men file grievances against guard misconduct and are engaged in civil litigation against DOC officials; contact outside organizations (HRC/Fed Up! and www.prisoners.com in particular) to expose conditions of torture; also to send a message-in their words: "fuck a historical day, y'all always going to be niggers."

Seven men inside the state's premier torture unit have testified to the following events in reports to HRC/Fed Up!, including six men who submitted Declarations of Truth pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 and subject to the penalty of perjury, adding to the hundreds of pages of prisoner reports, additional Declarations, institutional paperwork, and civil litigation documents sent to our offices from the SMU at Camp Hill alone since only June of 2008. The incidents have been verified in a personal interview with Mr. Damont Hagan, who has since been transferred (as we've been demanding for 5 months). Superintendent's Assistant Robert Volciak further verified that four or five men were subjected to forcible cell extractions on the 20th in a telephone conversation of January 26th. Several others around the state and the country, from Louisiana to California, have received reports of these assaults as well and contacted our offices.

We are asking that you read the alert, become angry, and act accordingly to help protect the men in the SMU and by extension all others subjected to the normalized white supremacist torture occurring on a daily basis inside prisons in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S.

Inauguration Day

David Smith #FZ5176: On 1/20/09 C/O Liddick, C/O Zeigler, and Lt. Kuzar approached Gary Tucker's cell upon the pretext of wanting to conduct a search, despite having conducted one on 1/15/09. When Tucker came to the door, Liddick said, "Since this guy likes filing grievances, let's make an example out of him." Tucker refused to leave his cell after Kuzar denied his request to have a Captain or Unit Manager present. Willie Robinson then refused to leave his cell out of fear for his safety. David Smith then consented to a cell search, and was promptly assaulted by the above named staff and thrown in another cell, separated from his property. Mr. Smith reportedly suffered undisclosed injuries.

Gary Tucker #FG8520: In his own words: "A little later that morning a cell extraction team came to my cell. I was then told to come to the door and cuff up. When I walked to the door a guard opened the slot and sprayed me in the face with a whole lot of OC mace. I backed away from the door blinded; seconds later more mace was sprayed inside the cell, trapping my lungs up, that's when about 7 guards (including Lt. Kuzar, C/O Brant) charged into the cell slamming me to the bed with electric shields [that discharge 50,000 volts of electricity]. These electric shields were pressed against my body and held there for several minutes while the 6 guards took turns beating, kicking, and shocking me with hand held stun guns. After cuffing me they continued beating me down and shocking me. The guard holding the camera maneuvered the camera so that the beating couldn't be caught on it. From D-12 I was dragged out the cell and hoisted into the medical cell. There the beating continued (shocking, choking, and punching) and a male nurse squirted a liquid in my eyes that didn't seem to help at all. Next I was airlifted up a flight of stairs (after protests from several inmates about my medical condition [which requires me to be] bottom tier status. I was taken into D2-20, slammed face first to the metal bed frame and the 6 or 7 guards continued jumping and shocking me with stun guns. After several minutes of this I was stripped naked, dragged to the floor and pulled up to the tray slot and the cuffs were taken off after they tried to break my wrists. I requested to see medical but was denied the request so my injuries weren't [recorded]. The injuries suffered were as follows: face swollen both sides; wrists with deep cuts from the cuffs; stiff neck (I can barely move my neck); severe pain in my lower back which makes it hard for me to move; my right arm dislocated; badly swollen right ankle that I can't put pressure on and a bloody mouth. Several inmates witnessed this assault and the Lt. Kuzar kept yelling, "Stop resisting" which was merely a means to justify their actions in assaulting me. Truth was I never resisted; I couldn't resist at all."

Damont Hagan #DS9488: In his own words: "I was approached by C/O Brant who threatened me, informing me that I had to come out for a search, stating 'the camera can be manipulated Hagan, remember that.' He also called me a 'nigger.' . . . After a while, I told Unit Manager Chris Chambers [about the threats] . . ., and informed him that 'I fear for my life.' He retorted, "Hagan, I'm tired of this complaining to HRC and www.prisoners.com and preliminary injunctions. Y'all did this to y'all selves, now y'all scared. You're coming out regardless, so write HRC [which he did-let's be there for him] or have .com write the Attorney General again, who cares.' . . . A cell extraction team came and the same SMU staff (Brant, Kuzar) were in suit. I also witnessed them abuse Gary Tucker. They told me to cuff-up and I told them I feared for my life (on camera). Sgt. Maxwell then sprayed me with OC which got in my lungs and eyes, forcing me to cuff up." After being cuffed Hagan was taken to a cell where his clothes were cut off of him and Sgt. Maxwell whispered sexually lewd comments to Hagan regarding Lt. Flowers (a female) being present. Mr. Hagan was denied water for two days, his food was tampered with when it wasn't denied altogether, and he was left naked in a freezing cell, which caused him to become sick. He was transferred on 1/27/09 to SCI Pittsburgh.

Ronald Jackson #CF3994: Mr. Jackson refused to exit his cell because of the threatening and assaultive behavior of the guards, and was subsequently attacked with mace and punched several times in the back and head by C/O Brant, carried to another cell where C/Os Brant, Liddick, Ziegler, Lt. Kuzar, and Sgt. Maxwell cut off his clothing and cut his dreadlocks. Mr. Jackson was left bleeding behind both ears, had numbness in both hands, and cuff markings remained on his wrists for 6 days. Mr. Jackson was left naked and without property or state issue items for six days-like all the others assaulted on this day. On January 26th he was returned to his cell, which was still contaminated with mace. C/O Huber, Jones, Sabolsky, Banks, Martz, and a Lt. stole and destroyed much of his personal and legal property. In a written response to Mr. Jackson regarding this theft, Superintendent Palakovich justified yet another unmistakable effort on the part of SMU staff to deny access to the courts under the pretext that his property was contaminated with mace and needed to be destroyed as a result. Given that several of the prisoners extracted that day have reported being returned to cells still contaminated with mace, this explanation cannot be taken seriously. Mr. Jackson's lawsuit against the DOC will likely be sabotaged by this theft and destruction of his legal documents, which is a widespread practice throughout the PA DOC.

Willie Robinson #FX7258: After refusing to exit his cell for obvious reasons, Mr. Robinson was attacked by the same guards with mace and thrown in a cell that had dried blood on the walls and floor for 6 days without bed sheets or underclothing. Following this he was returned to his former cell, which was still contaminated with mace, including his bedding.

Jamar Perry #DQ4432: Mr. Perry was also attacked with mace and cell extracted on this day. According to Michael Edwards, in a Declaration subject to the penalty of perjury, Mr. Perry is severely mentally retarded, constantly covers his cell and his person with bodily waste-which he also ingests-and suffers from suicidal tendencies. Staff, including C/O Flynn, Sgt. Jones, and Lt. Kuzar, frequently call him names such as "retarded nigger," and encourage him to kill himself. Mr. Perry has been constrained in a "restraint chair" on several occasions, including the first three days of February. These devices are widely recognized as implements of torture. He reportedly wants to die, and ranking officials, including Regional Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore-Smeal have witnessed his fetid condition and taken no remedial action, despite policy provisions against housing severely mentally ill and developmentally disabled inmates in the SMU.

White Supremacy and Repression

In another Declaration from Michael Edwards, Unit Manager Chris Chambers is again alleged to have threatened Mr. Edwards for his correspondence with HRC/Fed Up! Chambers and Huber and others have repeatedly threatened Damont Hagan and Gary Tucker about their involvement with HRC and www.prisoners.com, along with other efforts to expose torture and officially-sanctioned sadism inside the SMU at Camp Hill.

An all white staff in the SMU is holding hostage and waging a one-sided war against a captive, defenseless population that is "99.9% blacks and latinos," according to Mr. Edwards.

A small sampling of racist remarks made by SMU staff, according to Declarations submitted by Michael Edwards, are as follows:

*1/19/09: C/O Brant stated over the PA system, "I have a dream that one day all of you niggers will be dead," after which he laughed, clapped his hands, and lit a smoke; *1/20/09: Lt. Kuzar stated, "He [Obama] may have won, in my eyes he's still a nigger." Brant and C/O Flynn started laughing at this, and Kuzar continued, "There will be no showers or yard today. We are going to show you niggers who run this SMU."
*1/20/09: When told Tucker has a medical condition and is not to be housed upstairs, Chambers replied, "I don't give a fuck what medical says, I want that nigger upstairs now."
*1/30/09: After Chambers told Mr. Edwards he would not be receiving any law books or property in retaliation for his working with HRC/Fed Up!, Huber told the inmate, "Hey listen up nigger, I have the green light to kill your black ass," before walking away from the cell laughing.
*2/1/09: Lt. Kuzar stated to Mr. Edwards, "Nigger do you honestly believe we are going to let you, or any of these other niggers get away with what you are doing?"

Hagan, Jackson, Tucker, Robinson, Smith, Edwards, Terry Brooks, and others in the SMU are being targeted for their refusal to be silenced and submit to a regime of white supremacist torture. These men continue to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, and write family, friends, and other allies on the outside to expose the illegal and degrading conditions they are being subjected to.

Despite being starved, gassed, electrocuted, beaten, sickened, and subjected to racist death threats on a daily basis, these men refuse to submit, they continue to resist, and they are calling on us to take action again.

This action alert is more comprehensive and far ranging in the targets it lists than the ones in November and September (provide links). We have watched the Emergency Response Network grow considerably over the last 12 months, especially during the last 4, and countless people have answered the call to defend the rights and lives of prisoners. This is why we are asking even more from our allies this time, because we trust you will continue to intensify your efforts, channeling your outrage into action and building this movement against torture and racism and for human rights.

As Michael Edwards recently wrote from the SMU: "Keep doing what you are doing, because it surely is working. Some of these guards are just walking around here banging on any and everything, and using racial slurs. This means we are winning the war." I take this to mean that this latest outburst of hate and violence by SMU guards is a desperate reaction to growing outside pressure. They are trying to silence the men in the SMU through daily acts of terror, but it is not working. Resistance continues, and the outside pressure is growing. . . .

Action Alert Targets and Talking points

DOC Targets

DOC Secretary Jeffrey Beard-717-975-4918
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Superintendent John Palakovich
SCI Camp Hill
P.O. Box 200
Camp Hill, PA 17001

Office of Professional Repsonsibility
Director James Barnacle (formerly with the FBI (i.e. u.s. political police) for 30 years-see the book Agents of Reprssion by Churchill and Vander Wall for more on the criminal nature of the FBI)
717-214-8473
2520 Lisburn Road
Camp Hill, PA 17001

1)-Report the truth of the Inauguration Day atrocity: six men were targeted for assault with chemical and electrocution weapons by guards calling them "niggers" in retaliation for these prisoners continuing to file grievances, pursue civil litigation, expose prison conditions to the public, and otherwise seek justice. Be specific, name the names of the prisoners, guards, the threats made and injuries suffered. Tell them that you are sickened by the endless reports of flagrant racism on the part of guards and the obvious approval of such by top officials in Camp Hill and the DOC. Grievances and civil suits reach Supt. Palakovich and Secretary Beard by the thousands regarding the racist attitudes and actions of staff under their command, and they refuse to take action

2)-Emphasize the role of Unit Manager Chris Chambers-demand he be fired: As our abuse logs indicate (http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/fedup/abusereports.htm), Unit Manager Chris Chambers, who oversees the SMU, bears command responsibility for the actions of Jones, Kuzar, Sabalsky, Banks, Flynn, Brant, and the rest. We want to build his infamy and make him a liability to the PA DOC and SCI Camp Hill. If his superiors lean on him because of the heat they feel from the people, then he will lean on SMU staff to end the torture in order to protect himself. Tell Beard that you have reviewed the accumulated evidence from the 20th and the preceding months, and that Chambers needs to be held accountable for his crimes. Failure to do so will be understood as complicity in torture. Emphasize that several prisoners consistently report that Chambers has personally told them on multiple occasions that he is punishing them for filing lawsuits and contacting HRC/Fed Up! and www.prisoners.com.

3)-Transfers for Tucker, Jamar Perry, Michael Edwards, Terry Brooks, Ronald Jackson: These men need transferred immediately. When speaking of Gary Tucker tell them that his continued confinement in the SMU is a violation of DOC Policy 6.5.1 (which is top secret-forbidden to the public-and has been provided to HRC via clandestine means) which states that an inmate who does not show progress in the initial 12 to 18 months should be deemed a failure and transferred. Mr. Tucker has been in the SMU for 28 months. Furthermore, Jamar Perry suffers from severe developmental disability (i.e. reportedly mentally retarded) and needs an immediate transfer. Edwards, Brooks, and Jackson continue to face retaliation for filing grievances and lawsuits.

4)-Speak your own truths, make your own demands: If you have ideas of who to contact (press, lawyers, the Justice Department, law enforcement, United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, NAACP, ACLU) then tell the authorities of your intention and then get a hold of these organizations and have them contact us to learn more. Each one needs to conduct their own investigations to verify these truths. Also, be encouraged to tell them that they need to close down the SMU for good-it is a failed program that does nothing but torture vulnerable prisoners, and it is irredeemably racist. Please inform HRC/Fed Up! of your efforts so we can keep track of where this alert and the supporting evidence are sent and the various responses it receives. Be encouraged to become a point person for reaching out to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the NAACP, or whoever. Just make sure you are familiar enough with the talking points and the evidence that supports them and stay in touch with us.

5)-Prior Notice: Beard and Palakovich have been notified of the criminal acts of retaliation, racist hate crimes, denial of access to the courts, assault, medical neglect, etc. months ago. There is a paper trail leading to their office and their adamant refusal to accept accountability for the actions of staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers amounts to complicity in torture.

6)-Accountability: Let it be known, finally, that we intend to see criminals held accountable, and that each denial, evasion, and deception on the part of prison officials will only strengthen our resolve to pursue justice by every means possible. We want accountability now.

7)-Special for OPR: The Office of Professional Responsibility (which is neither professional nor responsible, but is-supposedly-an office), the DOC's own internal "investigation" unit assured an HRC/Fed Up! investigator in early January that they were in fact conducting an investigation into documented human rights violations inside the SMU at Camp Hill. After declaring that they always talk to the inmates, OPR Director James Barnacle went on to directly contradict himself by admitting that their "investigation" consisted of cross-checking our documentation with the prison's own records. Given that the prison records will report only what guards say, since the word of prisoners is deemed prima facie untrue according to their totalitarian (and, yes, racist) ideology, Barnacle more or less admitted that his investigation was in fact not an investigation at all. Furthermore, we have specifically asked several of the men in the SMU if OPR has interviewed them, and with one exception (Brooks was interviewed two or three months ago about an assault he suffered in 2007), nobody had seen OPR-despite several having contacted them-by the end of January. Tell OPR that we know they are not engaged in transparent and good faith investigations, because if they were SMU staff under the command of Unit Manager Chris Chambers would not dare perpetrate such atrocities. Demand responsibility and professionalism from Barnacle.

Political Targets

Governor Ed Rendell

See numbers 1-6 above. Rendell was informed at the end of November, with considerable documentation. He sent it to OPR.

Senator Stewart Greenleaf

Inquire into the appropriate process for requesting hearings in front of the PA General Assembly, and then request a hearing-to be organized by HRC/Fed Up! and our allies-regarding torture in PA prisons. Provide him our contact information and ask that his staff get in contact with us. Tell staff what is going on in the SMU at Camp Hill.

Local PA Representatives

Hammer away at them, make these lazy, incompetent, and corrupt parasites take a stand. Demand they petition Greenleaf for a hearing. Who are these fools anyway?

Reminders about demeanor, temperament, manners, composure, etc.

Just a reminder, it is acceptable and appropriate to express anger, be firm in our demands, and not tolerate deceptions and diversions. That said, it is critical that we control our anger and not vice versa, and maintain composure and dignity in our demeanor. We want the functionaries manning the phones and reading the mail to be impressed by our command of the facts and message consistency.

Mary Ann Kushner at SCI Fayette apparently told one of our allies that HRC people had been "nasty" to her. Given Mary Ann's less than sterling reputation as a truth-teller, I assume that means you were all doing your job and holding firm to our shared principles in defense of prisoners' rights and lives, which no doubt upset Mary Ann. So, keep the cursing to the minimum amount necessary and get at them day after day after day.

And pace yourself. Make a call today, two tomorrow, another the next day, and keep at it for weeks on end. This is a long struggle and we're in it for life. Invite others to join, today. Thank you.

We need lawyers! Please help us find lawyers with grit, intelligence, and integrity who are willing to go to war with the DOC.

PS-Taking it to the Streets

Phone calls and letter writing are important, very important for providing some measure of oversight and security to the men in Camp Hill and other torture chambers in PA and the U.S. But it is but one tactic amongst many. We need to take this to the streets and get on a move. Be on the lookout for an invitation in the near future, when the entirety of the country-and beyond-will be welcomed into the state to voice their collective outrage over the dehumanizing white supremacist torture of the PA prison system.

HRC/Fed Up! has accumulated over 100 pages of documentation of human rights violations in PA prisons in the last 16 months alone, supported by thousands of pages of prisoner reports, affidavits, declarations, grievances, requests to staff, and civil litigation documents, and further corroborated by hundreds of hours of interviews/conversations with prisoners and their loved ones on the outside. We can assert with absolute confidence and substantial-in fact, incontrovertible-evidence that torture is a widespread, systemic feature of the prison system that deliberately sabotages parole and increases recidivism, hence creating the conditions for continued market growth for the prison-industrial complex.

PPS-Call and/or write us!

Who are you? Have you taken action? Can we know one another and work together to beat back this insufferable brutality? Call, email, write whenever.

Please provide feedback as to your conversations with the peoples above and other efforts undertaken to protect the men in Camp Hill's SMU.

Thank you.

Solidarity, Health, Respect,
Trust, and Struggle

Contact Information
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HRC/FedUp!
5125 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
[email protected]
412-361-3022x4~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Censorship] [New York] [ULK Issue 3]
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NY Anti-Censorship Battle Wages

In 2006, a NY prisoner filed a §1983 civil rights lawsuit in the NY Western District Federal Court challenging the constitutionality of Prison Rule 105.12 and its application. Mitchell v. Goord, et al., 06-CV-6197. Prison Rule 105.12 is the so-called “gang rule” of DOCS, which is used more as a tool to punish prisoners for possessing written materials than to prevent organizational activities within an institution. The plaintiff had been placed in SHU three times for possessing written materials related to New Afrikan organizations on the outside he openly affiiliates with and deals with. He consistently argued he has a First Amendment right to correspond and associate with, be a member of, write for and about, and possess the literature of any outside organization he so chooses, so long as he doesn't organize or attempt to organize a prison chapter of any such organization within a facility without approval.

Upon learning other NY prisoners were being punished for possessing written materials related to the New Afrikan organizations he's a member of, namely the New Afrikan Maoist Party and its affiliates, and upon learning NY prisons were withholding, rejecting or trashing letters and literature form NAMP and its affiliates to NY prisoners, the plaintiff moved to have his lawsuit certified into a class action to protect the rights of those other prisoners and help them seek redress. The district court judge appointed counsel to investigate whether class action certification is appropriate.

It has been reported that NY prisons, like Southport, Auburn, Clinton and Great Meadow are withholding, trashing and rejecting letters and literature from NAMP and its affiliates to stifle their growing influence and support among NY prisoners. So, NY Prisoners who may have stopped corresponding and receiving literature from NAMP and its affiliates because of being punished for doing so, or because of fear of being punished, or who suddenly stopped hearing from NAMP and its affiliates; it's asked that you complain about this directly to the attorneys appointed in the aforementioned case. Also send a copy to the Collective Legal Services and the district judge - all addresses are listed below. Make sure you state that you support the class action certification of Mitchell v. Goord, et al. And if you hope to recover a monetary reward for any punishment or mail tampering you need to file a grievance now.

Contact:
William G. Bauer, Esq. - Lead Attorney
Erin W. Smith, Esq. - Second
Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP
Two State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Hon. Charles J. Siragusa - Presiding Judge
K.S. District Judge
100 State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Collective Legal Services
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

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[Education] [Campaigns] [Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 1]
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California Bans MIM Distributors

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has instituted a ban on educational material within prisons, categorically censoring all literature sent by MIM's prisoner education program. This ban was mandated by Scott Kernan, Director of the Division of Adult Institutions for California, in a memorandum issued December 13, 2006 "directing an immediate ban on the receipt, possession, or distribution of literature/publications from MIM to or by inmates in the custody of the CDCR." This ban has been interpreted by prisons to include dictionaries and history books as well as MIM's own magazine and newspapers. In some prisons the ban has been interpreted to also include all letters written by MIM.

This censorship is in direct violation of legal precedent which requires review of mail for content that violates prison policy. Systematic rejection of all mail from an organization based on disagreement with the sender's politics is not legal, even within the prison system's own rules and regulations.

Neither Kernan nor the prison administrators applying the ban have ever supplied any evidence that MIM literature (much less, letters, dictionaries and other books MIM sends to prisoners) present any threat to the institutions. Kernan's letter contains a review of the MIM political line as supposed evidence that MIM represents some danger to California prisons. The California Code Of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, sec: 3135(b) states: "Disagreement with the senders or receivers apparent moral values, attitudes veracity, or choice of words will not be used by correctional staff as a reason for disallowing or delaying mail. Correctional staff shall not challenge or confront the sender or receiver with such value judgments, nor shall such value judgments be considered in any action affecting the correspondents." Further, in Procunier v. Martinez, the Supreme Court upholds the right of prisoners to receive mail, regardless of the prison official’s opinion of the mail content, as long as there are no legitimate restrictions from the prison related to correctional purposes.

There is a strong correlation between education and imprisonment. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (the U.$. Department of Justice's own organization) latest study on 1997 population data, 41% of State and Federal prisoners had not completed high school. This compares with 18% of the general population age 18 and older.(1) Things look even worse among prisoners age 20 to 39 showing that the trend is towards more prisoners without a high school education as younger prisoners are even less educated than older prisoners. Other more recent studies have shown this trend continues. The likelihood of ending up in prison is tremendously higher for young Black men who drop out of school before getting a high school diploma. And a college degree is further protection against imprisonment.

On the other side of education, in-prison education programs have repeatedly been shown to reduce recidivism by helping prisoners to find jobs and opportunities once they are released. Individual and meta studies repeatedly conclude the same thing:

"Since 1990, the literature has shown that prisoners who attend educational programs while they are incarcerated are less likely to return to prison following their release. Studies in several states have indicated that recidivism rates have declined where inmates have received an appropriate education. Furthermore, the right kind of educational program leads to less violence by inmates involved in the programs and a more positive prison environment."(2)

California already has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country, with an astronomical 70% of released prisoners ending up back inside within three years. And in recent years we have seen education programs, visitation, and even mail cut back so that prisoners are left with very little to do behind bars and a virtually impossible task of going straight from prison to the streets with no education or transitional services.

Implementing a state-wide ban of educational material from MIM is one more way to keep prisoners locked up. Prisoners who read our literature frequently tell us they learn to channel their time into productive activities rather than participating in violence behind bars. And the education helps them have a better chance at staying on the street once they are released. We get letters pleading for reading materials like this one all the time: "I'm an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison and am on a yard that's been on lockdown off and on for approximately 4 years. Therefore I'm unable to get to the library here. I've read every 'floater' here. I would be very grateful for any soft back books you could send. Anything you send will be read and reread by many inmates." Surely the CDC"R" knows there is a demand for reading materials in the prisons, but they don't even bother to fill this void with fluff novels. They prefer to spend their large budget on higher salaries for brutal guards and legal defense for their illegal activities like setting up prisoner fights for sport.

Of course, the CDC"R" does have reasons to ban MIM from the prisons. Educating prisoners is counter to their goal. With education comes consciousness, and while prisoners working with MIM report avoiding violent confrontations (both with their peers and with guards), they are also more likely to take up legal and administrative appeals, and to educate and organize their fellow prisoners to stand up for their legal rights. As one California prisoner wrote to us in October of last year:

"In extending my respects to all, I would also like to convey my heartfelt appreciation to everyone working at, working with and/or affiliated with Maoist Internationalist Movement for all that you do and the services you provide. Especially, in regards to prisoners. Speaking from personal experience I can say that in receiving and reading your newsletters, it's both a major source of motivation and encouragement. To say that your MIM Notes have served me well does not cover any specifics, but I can say that your notes have been a potent ingredient towards my transformation: and your free books to prisoners program has nurtured and fed me like a baby at his mother's bosom. The books you have been so generous to send have taught me to respect and value the importance of an education…an education that has taught me that with knowledge comes enormous responsibility. The responsibility that arises from not just knowing the difference between what is said to be right, or wrong, testing an deciphering, truth and lies, but knowing and acting in accordance with what is consistent and progressive in the exercise of self determination and self defense."

We will continue to pursue the fight against this ban in California, working closely with our comrades behind bars to challenge this action in court if necessary. We encourage the CDCR leadership and California state politicians to step forward and overturn this illegal ban before they are forced to waste money needlessly in a legal battle that will only further expose their disregard for Rehabilitation, the welfare of prisoners, and the very laws they claim to uphold.

We need support from prisoners to join this struggle, and support from people on the outside to demand an end to this ban. Write protest letters to: James Tilton, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S. Street, Sacramento, CA 95184

1. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Education and Correctional Populations, January 2003 2. Journal of Correctional Education, v55 n4, p297-305, December 2004. See also The Nation, March 4, 2005: "Studies have clearly shown that participants in prison education, vocation and work programs have recidivism rates 20-60 percent lower than those of nonparticipants. Another recent major study of prisoners found that participants in education programs were 29 percent less likely to end up back in prison, and that participants earned higher wages upon release."

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