In January 2018, I was written a case at 9:45pm for creating a disturbance along with six other comrades. The case was read to me at approximately 10:30pm the next day. I had read that they have 24 hours to read you a case after it is written. This was the first in a long list of procedural errors that followed. It did not matter that one elderly lady was heavily medicated after the death of her sister and was asleep on the night in question. It did not matter that we all wrote a statement for her. One lady had an answer to go home, three ladies were waiting to see parole, and I had just requested a special review. We were all found guilty, but not of creating a disturbance. We were all found guilty of a charge they added while we were at court: Disobeying a direct order.
Needless to say I grieved the case, which was a major infraction. I knew the Lt. involved was involved in an alleged beating of another comrade some years ago, so before I sent in my grievance I sent a copy to my mom. Yes! Us women are beaten, raped, sexually harassed and/or assaulted, and placed on chain gang/hoe squads as punishment. I made a carbon copy of the grievance, and my mother sent a copy to the Regional Director's office and the Ombudsmen. Someone from the Regional Director's office visited me to ensure I was not being harassed.
Of course Step 1 was returned claiming "no procedural errors were noted." A blatant lie. I sent in a Step 2 and am awaiting a response. In the wake of these bogus cases one lady’s parole answer was revoked and three others fear the same fate awaits them. I was denied the opportunity to take correspondence courses for a bachelor’s degree. In situations like this I have to remind myself that the worst case I ever caught was the one that put me here. I will not live here in fear.
I do not yet have the TX Pack, but I advise you all to read your rulebook thoroughly, learn your A.D.s (P.D. 22s get kicked back often as unprovable, your word against theirs). A.D.s aren’t so easily denied, and Step 2 EVERYTHING! When necessary Step 3. Also, obtain a list from sub counsel of all the reasons you can successfully appeal a case. Last, keep your nose clean. There are people who tell me they will never write a grievance. They find it insulting when a pig tells them to “grieve it”. “I would NEVER” they say. Then some injustice is done to them and they come to me. I give them a code to go look up. The seed is planted in this way.
Another response I get is “write it for me and I’ll sign it”. Comrades, it seems nearly impossible to gather the troops. However, don’t look at it from that angle. Writing 20 people's grievances is just like doing their homework so they can graduate. They still won’t be able to peep the science nor do the math. When you have 2-3 people who are willing to campaign with you then each of you are known for activism, you’ll have people coming to you. When that time comes, guide them, don’t do their homework. In this way, “less is more, it’s plenty of us”.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is clearly leading by example, and one of the examples ey sets is ey doesn't let small failures upset em: "I will not live here in fear." Success takes sustained effort over a long period of time. COs will discourage us every chance they get. The DOC administration will do everything they can to shut down our protests even when we play by their own rules. This all is part of the battle, to expect it, and keep doing what we're doing in spite of any discouragement. Often our grievances will fail, but that doesn't mean we give up. It just means we need to look at our plan of attack.
The more successful we are, the more people are gonna hate on us. The better we get at filing grievances and lawsuits, the more the state is gonna repress us. Strong comrades like this writer stand up to this repression and continue to demand their rights be respected.
This writer also brings up an important point about leadership. Leaders need to prepare people to do things themselves, how to fight their own battles. The important thing is not filing the grievance itself. The important thing is teaching people how to fight these battles, and helping them build confidence that they can fight back. These lessons will carry over into other parts of their life and political work. We need more leaders to step up and provide this education behind bars. In this issue of ULK there are lots of suggestions for ways to engage people and do organizing work. Find a way that works for you to become a leader in the anti-imperialist movement!
2017 DECEMBER — My beloved comrades at ULK, please take whatever steps necessary to convey this information to your readers, particularly those on the Texas plantations. It is my hope this will move a few to join in this all-out attack against mass incarceration, which those brothers on the Eastham Plantation are being persecuted for.
First, we have launched an attack on the totality of the living conditions on this plantation: double-celling, sleep deprivation, extreme heat, contaminated water, no toilets in the day rooms and rec yard, overcrowded showers. At present we have 5 lawsuits filed and hoping to have 5 more by the first of the year. They are listed at the end of this missive for those who might want to obtain copies and/or file for intervention. I would urge each plantation to file because each plantation has different violations, which in their totality are cruel and unusual.
Next, we have launched an at attack on the symbiotic-parasitic-relationship between Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). Last year we sent numerous letters to the ACA headquarters in Virginia with various complaints including the delayed posting of scheduled audits. Apparently someone was moved to do the right thing. Then notices for the January 2018 audit were posted here in October. As a result, we of the Community Improvement Committee (CIC) here on the unit have sent petitions with hundreds of names with numerous complaints of ACA violations and requests for a Q&A in the gym or chapel. This is being done with individual letters as well. Plus, we have sent the actual notice to various reform organizations requesting them to visit the unit during the audit and act as overseers pointing out particular areas of violations such as the giant cockroach infestation beneath the kitchen.
Next we have and intend to continue to urge the public to stay on top of their legislators to change the law, making it mandatory that prisoners be compensated for their labor.
Finally, we have filed an application for Writ of Habeas Corpus requesting to be released immediately due to the fact that the time sheet shows one has completed 100% of his sentence – that even without the good time, the flat time and the work time equals the sentence imposed by the court. In addition we are drafting something similar for those sentenced under the one-third law. We are submitting to the court that these prisoners have a short-way discharge date. The application for Writ of Habeas Corpus was first filed in the state court in Travis County and denied without a written order in the Texas court of criminal Appeals (#WR-87,529-01 Tr.Ct. No. D-1-DC-02-301765A). We are now in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District Tyler Division (McGee v Director, #6:17cv643). This info is supplied so that those with the means may download the info and/or keep track of the case. The following are the case numbers for the totality of living conditions complaint, which is also in the U.S. District in Tyler:
Walker v. Davis, et al., #6:17cv166
Henderson v. Davis, #6:17cv320
Douglas v. Davis, #6:17cv347
Burley v. Davis, #6:17cv490
The Devil whispers: "You can't withstand the storm"
The Warrior replied: "I am the storm." - The Mateuszm
MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are pushing the struggles to improve conditions inside Texas prisons along its natural course. Countless prisoners have sent grievances, grievance petitions, letters to the Ombudsman, letters to elected officials, and letters to various TDCJ administrators on these same issues. We have seen some victories, but mostly we've had barriers put in our way.
The next step laid out for us is to file lawsuits, which is another kind of barrier. Lawsuits take years and sometimes decades to complete, and innumerable hours of work. When we do win, we then have to go through additional lawsuits to ensure enforcement. And on and on it goes...
If we expect the lawsuits to bring final remedy, we must be living in a fantasy. A quintessential example of how the U.$. government behaves regarding lawsuits can be seen in how it totally disrespects treaties with First Nations. When the U.$. government, or its agencies, doesn't like something, they don't really give a shit what the law says. This has been true since the beginning of this government. We don't see any evidence that this will ever change.
Yet, lawsuits aren't all bad. They can sometimes create a little more breathing room within which revolutionaries can operate. Lawsuits can also be used to publicize our struggles, and to show just how callous the state is, if we lose.
Yet, most importantly, lawsuits keep comrades busy. Before any lawsuit, there needs to be a solid analysis of winability, and the likelihood of other options. While we are relatively weak as a movement, lawsuits are a fine option, and building a movement around these lawsuits will give them strength. But if your legal strategy doesn't also include building up collective power to eventually protect people without petitioning the state to do it, then your legal strategy is as useless as a feather in a tornado.
The comrades fighting these battles inside Texas have done a great job of spreading the word to outside organizations to garner support and attention for their lawsuits. We support their efforts to make Texas prisons more bearable for the imprisoned lumpen population, and we support their efforts to link these lawsuits to the greater anti-imperialist movement. And when they decide that lawsuits aren't enough to bring a real change in conditions, we'll support that too.
The U.$. legal system's role is to keep the United $tates government as a dominant world power, no matter what. The extreme heat in Texas prisons isn't just an oversight by administrators. And it's not even just about racism of guards. It is directly connected to the United $tate's role in the oppression and repression of oppressed nations across the world. If the legal system fails, don't give up. Try something else to bring it down. Lawsuits are not the only option.
When state-level petitions fail, we now have this petition to appeal to the Department of Justice. This federal level appeal may help put pressure on the state corrections departments ignore our appeals
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. 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.
Section Chief – Special Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530
ACLU National Prison Project, 915 15th St NW, 7th floor, Washington DC, 20005-2112 (for those ready to bring class action lawsuits)
Office of the U.S. Attorney General, 1425 New York Ave. NW, Washington DC 20530-0001
Director/Commissioner/Secretary of Corrections (for your state)
Agency or Facility Grievance System Director or Coordinator (for your state)
And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
This is my end-of-year report on our MIM Grievance Campaign. We did one on the "unlocks" here, and we're currently working on the issue of showers. Due to the California drought they claim that we are still in a drought and therefore can only shower on Tuesday and Thursday. Even then there is no hot water so we are showering in ICE cold water. This is in spite of the fact that we are in a medical facility and most of us are older prisoners.
The temp has dropped to 34 degrees in the morning and we have been in these conditions now for over a month. Enclosed please find the grievances.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrades at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility have been pursuing these issue through 602 appeals forms and subsequent appeals. After receiving a response of "partially granted" there was no actual change in conditions and they began utilizing the grievance petition for California. They have done a good job documenting the process, citing case law of Armstrong vs. Brown and the 8th and 14th Amendment.
Comrades in California and other states can write in to get a copy of a grievance petition to use as an organizing tool to bring people together around conditions that are not being addressed at your prison.
Many prisoners have utilized the petition demanding their grievances be heard. The Commissioner simply forwarded the grievances to the person in charge of the grievance system, who wrote a letter to each prisoner that filed a petition. The letter informed the prisoners that they should file a grievance about the issue if they had a problem with the grievance system. Absurd, but true.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We responded to this comrade asking what they think should be done next to resolve this problem. Clearly, writing grievances isn't working. Writing to the Commissioner gets no results. Lawsuits can give some relief, but often only temporarily. And of course lawsuit victories come with the problem of enforcement.
Ultimately we believe we need to completely change our society in order to fix this problem. We try to contribute to lawsuits, but even more importantly we contribute to education and institution-building, so when our lawsuits fail we can still make progress in our struggle to a more just humynity.
My main issue right now is that I cannot get grievance forms to complain and grieve my issues. The 30 days are over on some, and on others I'll still have a chance to grieve my issues "if" I get some grievances! The counselor for my cell house, Ms. Hill, says to ask the gallery officer, but when I do ask the gallery officer I'm told there is none and/or it's due to the no budget in the state! Grievances are like gold and inmates hoard them and sell them 1 grievance for $1! What can I do, do you have some guidance for me on this issue? I'm attaching the response from the warden and I still haven't heard back from the Acting Director for IDOC.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade created a grievance petition for Illinois, which prisoners can use to demand grievances be addressed in that state. So when ey asks "what can I do," ey is already leading by example, building a campaign to address this problem. We would suggest that the Illinois petition should be updated to include this problem of the prison not providing grievance forms. This is a most basic issue that of course needs to be addressed before grievances can even be answered.
And this is also a very good example of the completely unjust nature of the criminal injustice system. Setting up rules that can't be followed (like submitting grievance forms that are impossible to obtain), so that the prisons never have to abide by their own regulations. This is an example of why we don't expect to put an end to the injustice system by working within the system. They will continue to make it impossible for us to win using their process. But we can use the grievance petition to expose these problems and build a united movement demanding our rights. This movement will build the basis of the unity necessary to ultimately overthrow this unjust system.
If you want to work on this campaign in Illinois, send us a stamped envelope for a copy of the Illinois grievance petition.
[These guidelines were compiled by the USW Coordinator of MIM(Prisons) incorporating points made by members of the Countrywide Council of USW.]
The Countrywide Council of USW, or Double C, has been working on a concerted effort to reach out to other organizations as a way to expand organizing with people on the outside, and to build a united front in general. The Double C decided to publish their letter to CURE in ULK as an example of these efforts, and to provide a guide to others. We invite all USW comrades to participate in this outreach campaign, and this article is to provide some guidelines in doing so.
First, many readers may ask, am I a member of United Struggle from Within (USW)? Can I write to other organizations as a member of USW?
Good question. Anyone could send out a letter and sign it "USW", we have no control over that. But we certainly hope you would not do that unless you are pushing USW campaigns and politics accurately. USW has two levels of membership: supporter and leader. Supporters are defined as:
"A USW supporter helps build USW in eir prison/area. This persyn might not initiate projects by eirself, but will readily implement requests from USW leaders and MIM(Prisons). Supporters may contribute in many different areas of work including: writing articles for ULK, producing revolutionary art, translating, sending in donations, running a study group or otherwise educating people and building reading skills, working on a campaign such as the grievance petition, referring new subscribers to ULK, and conducting MIM(Prisons)-directed surveys. This persyn writes to MIM(Prisons) less regularly [than a USW leader] but is responsive to letters and completes work assigned within a reasonable timeframe."
A leader is someone who launches campaigns and efforts to expand USW independent of MIM(Prisons), and/or organizes others under that leadership. Once you've developed a practice of leadership that we can verify over a period of time, you are considered a leader and you become eligible to join the Countrywide Council of USW.
As a mass organization, USW does allow for its members to also be members in other local, lumpen or nation-specific organizations at the same time. Comrades in the Double C should not identify themselves as such. Statements representing the Double C, and USW as a whole, must go through the Double C for approval first. Therefore publicly identifying oneself as a Double C representative gives a false sense of authority, while risking the security of the individual member.
The Double C is currently developing its protocol for conducting official correspondence with other organizations. If you feel comfortable representing USW work and positions, then you can write a letter from "[Your Name], a member of United Struggle from Within." However, since you might not accurately represent certain aspects of USW’s positions because you are new, the Double C will serve to provide official responses from USW to other organizations. You can even mention this in your own letters.
With this guideline, you do not need to be a USW leader to write other organizations about USW campaigns. In fact, if you’ve been reading ULK for a while, perhaps writing such a letter could be your first action taken as a USW supporter. But before you do so, you might ask: What should I write to these organizations about?
The focus should be on USW campaigns, projects and positions, and how they might overlap (and differ) from those of the other organization. A good way to structure your letter is "unity-struggle-unity." Start off talking about some aspect of USW work and how it connects to the work of that organization. If you can identify disagreements with this organization then you might bring those up as a form of struggle next. Or the struggle may just be something like, "hey, I haven’t seen you working on this issue, you should do more on it." Then close with more forward looking unity – try to lay out some practical steps for how they might work together with USW.
You may also write to other publications in response to a specific article or topic to point out a disagreement, or something that they missed. We often print such struggles with readers in ULK. Again, "unity-struggle-unity" is a good approach, and circling back to USW's practical work and analysis is helpful.
Regarding the letter to CURE from the Double C below, we should point out that CURE is a very different organization from ours. CURE believes imperialism can be reformed and it does not stand for the liberation of oppressed nations in this country. But the letter focuses on where we have unity and where we can work together, while pushing CURE to work with us in those areas. That is a good example of building toward a united front, where organizations with different beliefs and missions can find commonality.
We encourage comrades to reach out to other organizations as a USW representative on your own, and in many cases we will have multiple USW members writing the same organization. This will build up USW’s reputation among other organizations, and allow our membership to grow by engaging in these dialogues.
What do I do when they respond to my letter? Once that dialogue reaches a point where you are not sure how to respond or proceed, you will want to hand it over to the Countrywide Council of USW or even to MIM(Prisons), depending on the topic of discussion. We will keep you in the loop on the ongoing discussion.
What is the goal of this campaign? There are multiple goals. First, we hope to popularize the work of USW with those on the outside, demonstrating our scientific work on the ground. This will increase the chances of building support for that work in the future. Second, we hope to build working relationships on campaigns and projects with other organizations. We hope to expand the view of these organizations and publications beyond select popular prisoners to the prison masses as a whole. Third, we hope to increase political unity within the prison movement. And where we can't establish unity, we hope to clarify our differences. This will help everyone in the movement better grasp the issues and the different positions that organizations take.
If you think USW is focused on the right campaigns and issues, and you think others should get on board, then this might be a good project for you to get involved in. Let us know who you're struggling with and over what. Or, if it's not too much trouble, even send us a copy of your letters. We can work with you if you want feedback before you send your first letter.
An Open letter to CURE National
from the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 2310
Washington DC 20013
5 September 2017
First and foremost, we would like to give you thanks for the service that you offer to prisoners and the families of prisoners. In these days prisoners find it hard to locate individuals and organizations worthy of praise beyond the worth that most newsletters and papers are printed on. Members of the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within have read the latest few issues of CURE National’s Newsletter back to front and front to back. We must say, it checks out, so thank you.
One of the first CURE National Newsletters that we received included a listing of state chapters alongside the new requirements for state and issue chapters, namely that chapters have to meet, maintain a newsletter, and report the names of their members to their office in Washington. Now, we reviewed the list and see California is listed, but has nothing more than: [an individual's name, email and phone number].
One of our Council representatives wrote Colorado-CURE, Iowa-CURE, Nevada-CURE, New Mexico-CURE and Oregon-CURE of the western branches. Two replied in favor to our inquiry to be involved in local struggles, on account that California has no official branch of its own. Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, Chair at Colorado-CURE, suggested our Council representative write to the national office with comments.
The Countrywide Council is a leading body of a prisoner mass organization under the name United Struggle from Within (USW). USW is the brainchild of members and their students within an organization by the name Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons). Though it is an organization that is political from the vantage point of anti-imperialism and thus is anti-prisons, USW works for any reforms that are scientifically sane with the potential to [contribute to] end[ing] prisons as they stand.
USW has a leadership in prisons across the United $tates and can attest to a strong following in the pages of our bi-monthly newsletter (free to prisoners), published by our mother group, under the title Under Lock & Key. In the state with our strongest source of political activity, California, there isn't even a CURE branch?! We believe CURE is missing out on the greatest opportunity it could have, and this is why the Council is committed to help CURE remedy this.
It is the job of our members to find ways to keep our movement working on issues that have the greatest potential of reducing prison populations and partnering with groups and organizations who share our vision of a world with less to no prisons. We believe that working with CURE National to develop a CURE California, the California Statewide Council of USW can put to use much more of the information and resources available, but only in a more direct way.
Take CURE National’s policy initiative for 2016. USW missed the opportunity to involve itself with the CURE policy initiative for 2016 due to unfamiliarity with CURE and the lack of any direct line of communication with its leadership, which would be needed before we moved for the Council to follow. We commend the democratic process of decision making in regards to what struggles CURE concentrates its resources and power. Particularly, CURE National Policy 924 – prisons. As USW is a group heavily engaged in struggles with nearly every state in the United $tates – addressing "The failure of prison grievance systems", we are sure that we, and our memberships may unite in forces to bring about a uniform grievance system in prisons across the board.
USW, and its supporters, has been working on a national prisoners campaign demanding prison officials address, honor and upkeep prisoners' grievances. Petitions have been developed at prisons in all of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Each state has a petition drawn particularly for its local conditions and regulations. [There is also a more generic petition written for use by prisoners held outside these states.]
USW's most difficult task is finding public support to move forward our campaigns in a peaceful and legal way. CURE National’s policy initiatives 2015 1185 hinted at what it thinks is the root of prisoners' problems: "Introducing a Constitutional Amendment into Congress that would repeal the exception clause in the 13th Amendment. This clause provides that slavery is not abolished for those incarcerated. Prisoners are exploited, and for many groups the exploitation raises to the level of slavery." For the purpose of saving time and space, we will not share our science on the subject, but instead guide supporters of the amerikkkan Constitution to the very First Amendment and protecting it. The salvation of the entire Constitution relies on the sound voice of the civilized people. If it is believed that prisoners are slaves and not citizens then it should be understood slaves are property, not human beings. Slaves are objects of labor, tasked as tools and instruments to build or destroy an ideal society. Slaves have no voice to speak of injustice, but instead masters and lords who represent them as Power of Attorney.
Prisoners have not signed off of the grid (U.$. citizenship). So it is extreme to take up struggles to have the state abolish prison slavery, however it would be totally reasonable to educate the public about the need for public oversight and community advocacy for the First Amendment rights of prisoners to be protected. It is with greater grievance power that prisoners and their supporters may address the injustices of prisons.
Prisoners, their organizations and the support groups behind grassroots crews lead in civil rights battles with the state. The problem is that the massive so-called grassroots base is alienated when it comes to discussions regarding the general body of the massive population (or masses). We believe this comes at the expense of a care-free public. People aren't interested enough in the affairs of prisoners or their families. The general consensus is that prisoners did the crime and must face the time.
Organizations like CURE National are in a position to change the public opinion. Its members, who are of the public, may interact with communities in ways that prisoners cannot; whether it be due to high levels of censorship applied by prison guards disrupting our lines of communication, or interference from a higher power (the U.$. intelligence agencies). Prisoner leadership behind these walls requires greater socialization opportunities if the Prison Movement is to impact upon our state of existence the change that rehabilitates. So here you have it, an open letter calling on you to serve.
Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140
High Desert State Prison (HDSP), the largest prison in Nevada, housing some 3,500 inmates, has been on total lockdown for 4 days, and will remain so for at least two more weeks. This means that we will receive no yard, tier, phone, canteen, or access to any reading material.
Why is HDSP on lockdown? Because in a single week there was two "staff" assaults, and at least 8 fights.
But the pigs are doing nothing to investigate the cause of the violence. For example, that the temperature of the cells was reaching at least 90 degrees. While we have no cold water to drink, and are forced to be housed with individuals we do not get along with for up to 21 hours a day. And there is nothing for us to do: no programs, work, games, etc. We are literally trapped in cages like animals.
So how does HDSP deal with the violence? They enhance the inhumane and deplorable conditions by locking us down. Most of us do not have televisions, and with no access to any library we sit in a cell and twiddle our thumbs.
Violence and anger can only be expected as a result of such conditions. However, comrades, we must recognize that we do not win when we direct this anger and frustration towards each other.
Our focus must be on targeting the administrative policies which are responsible for our current state of existence. There is already a grievance campaign underway challenging OP516, the level system. And
comrades from the United Struggle from Within in Nevada just started a new grievance campaign in regards to AR801.
AR801 is a programs AR that states that Ad-Seg is to receive a minimum of 3 hours out of their cell, and closed custody inmates are to get a minimum of 5 hours out of their cells per day. This same AR lists a ton of programs which are approved by the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC).
The bottom line comrades, HDSP under Warden Williams has failed to implement any rehabilitative programs. The violence, anger and frustration is his and his administration's fault.
We must heed the USW call for peace and unity and challenge the administration's policies. We need all of you to file grievances challenging these policies. But even more important, we need you to have
your family and friends to call the office of the director and ask why HDSP prisoners are being denied all access to rehabilitative programs, school, and work. Have them call 702-486-9938 and complain.
Until then, comrades, do not allow your anger and frustrations with the pigs to be misdirected toward one another.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The United Struggle from Within comrades in Nevada are doing solid work organizing and educating folks in that state. They have set a good example of initiating targeted campaigns that could improve the lives of many prisoners. This is a good way to get folks participating in the struggle in a concrete way. But we must remember to tie these battles to the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system, and imperialism.
If we don't make these connections, we are misleading people, letting them think that these campaigns alone are all that is needed to change the system. And we know that's not true! We know the injustice system won't be reformed into a system of justice. It is rotten to the core because it is serving imperialism, which exists off the oppression and exploitation of entire nations of people. The wealth and power of the imperialists and even the "middle classes" is not something those folks will give up without a fight.
Let's follow the example of the Nevada USW comrades, and build important campaigns relevant to each prison and state. And always keep our work in the context of the anti-imperialist struggle.
I'm writing this letter to update you on my efforts and the outcome of the grievance petition. I filed my petition with the Department of Corrections Commissioner, the Alaska Lt. Governor and to the Department of Justice (DOJ). A few days later another captive and I were transferred to administrative segregation at Anchorage Correctional Complex – East, to the same module where captives who have violated DOC rules are housed. We have been told we are not being punished, however we live under the same punitive conditions.
A few days after our transfer I received a notice from the warden (she calls herself a "superintendent" but she is a warden) telling me that the petition I sent to the Lt. Gov. was forwarded to her to address. She denies all of my claims and tells me that if I still have issues that "the grievance procedure has a specific process to follow, including an appeal process, and the right to seek redress in superior court if the department does not rule in your favor." She then states that the Standards Sgt. is backlogged with grievances and asks for my patience. This letter was coincidentally dated the day before our transfer.
During our transfer our property was seized, was deemed excess and was denied issuance of even the most essential hygiene items. I have filed multiple grievances about this, but the tactic now seems to be to ignore all of my grievances. I have unacknowledged grievances that are over 3 months since filed. The DOC policy states it has 15 working days to investigate and respond.
Now they are retaliating even more by seizing my legal mail, reading and mutilating it. They use excessive force when outside cell by over-ratcheting handcuffs and ensuring we are cuffed whenever outside our cells. If our cell is not shaken down daily, it is every other day. We have been strip searched (unwarranted) at least 3 times. When we are given new clothing to change out, a gay guard glowers at our nakedness. Books that have been sent to me by books to prisoners orgs have been denied for absurd reasons like "contains book" or "unknown substance on book." More retaliatory measures than these have been imposed on me, however it has not stopped me. I still write letters to the Commissioner (who forwards them to the warden I am complaining about), the Lt. Governor, the Governor and any other state official that may listen. Including the ACLU. The ACLU has never responded to any of my letters.
Since being transferred to segregation it is difficult to disperse the grievance petition which I am sure was the reason for my transfer. I did however get it out to close to 60 or 70 people and I believe they will pass it on as well. I have also mailed a few copies to people I know in other institutions. These at first were censored. The reason given: "typed." I eventually had an officer mail them out (after several attempts).
I am not sure what else they can to do me at this point but I am not going to stop fighting.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade's story is a good example of why the grievance campaign was initiated. Prisoners across the country face this same problem with the grievance system of getting no response, or bullshit responses, and never getting grievances seriously addressed. The petition, which now exists for many states, is a simple demand that our grievances be addressed.
Of course we don't actually expect this petition will lead to victory over a grievance system that is purposefully set up to deny prisoners' attempts to demand their rights. But people like this writer are using the petition as an organizing tool; getting others involved in the fight and waking them up to their oppression and the importance of their role in fighting back. We have to combine this work with education about the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control under imperialism so that we don't mislead people into thinking petitioning will fix the entire system. In this way we can take on these smaller battles in the context of the larger struggle to build unity against imperialism.
Send us a self-addressed stamped envelope for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or a generic petition you can customize if one doesn't already exist.