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Under Lock & Key

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[Censorship] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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First Class Censorship in California

Censorship is often associated with editors of major news media sources such as The National News or The New York Times, but there is a face of censorship functioning with total immunity and blessings from the Postmaster General in Amerika's public institutions. The antics of this menace are adversely affecting the lives of at least 2,000,000 citizens in California alone.

Recently it came to my attention that prisoncrats at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) regularly trash-can, delay, and deface legal documents, spiritual materials, submissions to media outlets, personal correspondence, and other mail sent to various publications, media sources, and individuals. Defacing includes stamping the body of these manuscripts with big red blocks of ink, rendering them illegible, and otherwise useless for their legal, spiritual, and personal intent.

Currently California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) warehouses over 160,000 captives representing an average of 11 other friends, family and contacts that they correspond with; therefore, nearly 2 million (1,760,000) are being subject to oppressive techniques of prisoncrats who are boldly executing a campaign of censorship with an arbitrary, malicious, and political agenda designed to undermine the captives efforts to maintain family/community unity and liberate themselves from the evils of ignorance. As a first termer captive surviving my 42nd year, I have observed several patterns in the pigz who squander long work-hours committing malicious acts of censorship/oppression.

The first observation is the geographical location which acts as a shield from public scrutiny. While the prison experience in the United $nakes of Amerikkka today is such that one in every eleven men will be imprisoned during his lifetime. (For Black men, the figure is disproportionately higher - more than one of every four.) Yet most new prisons (koncentration kamp$) are built not in Black communities, but in white ones, usually rural white ones. A century ago, when most prisoners were white and many had lived on farms, this might have made sense. But not anymore. Today, most prisoners are Black (49%) or Latino (18%). Typically, they come from the cities. Sticking them in the boondocks, where family members have a hard time visiting, where pigz have likely never encountered anyone like them, almost always leads to problems, often violent ones. Yet this is where Amerika builds prisons.(1) Due to location, captives are forced to rely primarily on written correspondence to maintain and build strong family relationships.

The next observation is the general profile of those who commit such malicious acts. On average the pigz working in these rural isolated kamps are typically ultra-conservative, middle-aged, marginally educated, white men who have little-to-no prospect for employment beyond being prisoncrats/oppressors. An interesting paradox to note is that in spite of their lack of higher academic learning, they earn an average annual wage which rivals that of most teachers and health care providers. While the state has an unemployment rate of over 7%, HDSP, like many kamps, purposely does not hire a full workforce; therefore, creating a scheme to reward certain fractions of pigz with overtime hours and rates; resulting in them working excessively long hours. These prisoncrats generally have a hostile attitude towards Blacks and Latinos - particularly those Blacks and Latinos who are cultured, politically conscious, and strive for strong family/community unit. These oppressors actively seek out night shifts where they are designated to search outgoing mail for contraband when given probable cause; however, to have probable cause is the exception. Without probable cause, these pigz openly express a passionate disdain for the relationships their captives have with family/community. With malice, they seek to destroy these relationships by defacing, delaying, and throwing away their personal, legal, and spiritual mail.

Consider an incident on 16 February 2015 when an elder captive in A-section became the victim of a brutal attack via several reactionaries acting as agents for certain pigz who were attempting to suppress the litigation of the elderly captive pursuing his rights to seek access to the courts for human rights violations. While packing the victim's property, a prisoncrat was observed throwing away large volumes of the victim's legal and spiritual documents. This man was sent to isolation while none of the oppressors' agents were subject to the same procedures. On 9 February 2015 this writer became the repeat victim of legal/business mail tampering when an envelope from friends beyond the walls was delivered without a letter inside. Previously this writer's minister sent a tax letter and form in response to my donation, which had been defaced with red blocks of ink lettering stamped on the body of the enclosures.

The aforementioned policies and practices may appear to be mere acts of personal mischief of pigz, but the series of reports on www.prisoncensorship.info demonstrate that this is a systematic pattern of abause. The latent effect has far broader implications than the receipt of one piece of mail. It's interesting to note that while it's the intent of these prisoncrats to disrupt and break down the family nucleus and community ties, the stated objectives of CDCR is exactly the opposite to the degree it reports to encourage reform via affording prisoners to develop strong family and community ties.

There are at least three ways the larger community should respond effectively to this form of oppression. 1) Write the Post Master General (cc to Warden) and serve notice how this practice is adversely affecting you as a free-citizen emotionally/personally, spiritually, and legally. 2) File (save) any legal, personal, spiritual, business, and artistic images you have received that have been defaced in this way that could possibly be used as evidence of unnecessary defacement. 3) Be willing to give your material, moral, and legal support to any who have dared to file a meritorious claim. Be advised the prisoncrats will attempt to justify their actions by citing safety and security, which is actually a euphemism for oppressive and malicious actions with the intent of suppressing communication between family and community.

Notes:
1. Jospeh T. Hallinan, Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, Random House, 2003, pp. 28-29.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We echo this comrade's call for people both behind bars and on the streets to fight the censorship going on in California prisons. For year's all mail from MIM Distributors was banned in California prisons, and that ban was overturned by coordinated legal efforts and appeals. But censorship has not ended, it is a constant power struggle to maintain basic First Amendment rights for the oppressed. Mail is particularly important not only for maintaining family and community ties but also for political education and organizing. This is why activist prisoners find their mail specifically targetted. It's not about security, it's about social control. Grieve every incident of censorship and join the California campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. Write to us for a copy of the grievance petition.

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[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Arizona]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Arizona

Arizona Petition
Click to Download PDF of Arizona Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones 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, which are also on the petition itself. Supporters should send letters of support on behalf of prisoners.

Warden
(specific to your facility)

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

ADC Office of Inspector General
Mail Code 930
801 South 16th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Senator John McCain
4703 S. Lakeshore Drive, Suite 1
Tempe, AZ 80282

Representative Raul Grijalva
810 E. 22nd Street, Suite 102
Tucson, AZ 85713

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

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

*Petition updated January 2012, July 2012, December 2014, October 2017, and April 2019*

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Kansas]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Kansas

Kansas Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of Kansas Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their 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 listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Secretary of Corrections
Landon State Office Building
900 Jackson, 4th Floor
Topeka, KS 66612

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

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

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


*PDF updated October 2017*
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[Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Abuse] [Campaigns] [South Carolina]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, South Carolina

South Carolina Prisoner Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of
South Carolina Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their 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 listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Officer of General Counsel
PO Box 21787
Columbia SC 29221-1787

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

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

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


*PDF updated October 2017*
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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia]
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Virginia Hides List of Censored Publications

I've been doing follow up on your letter of 10 September 2014 to the Publications Review Committee [regarding the inclusion of MIM publications on the Master Disapproved list]. So far I've discovered three different Disapproved Publications Lists. To clear up the confusion I wrote to the law library requesting the most recent list. Instead of receiving the list, I was instructed to obtain the list from the pod librarian. I attempted to do so, but the pod librarian has only the Disapproved Books List and not the Disapproved Periodicals List. Of course, MIM Theory and ULK are on the latter, not the former. I've submitted yet another request for the Disapproved Periodicals List. If I am not given the list this time, I will initiate the grievance.

In your response to Lou Cei you indicate that he states MIM Theory and ULK have been disapproved for reasons other than the reasons on the Disapproved List I sent to you. Lou Cei also states that 5 of the MIM Theories are on the list as approved for inmate purchase.

I have located a Disapproved List that is dated March 2014. This is not the most recent updated list. It does have 4 MIM Theories listed as approved and 3 MIM Theories listed as disapproved. But here is the problem: the rows and columns of the chart are not in agreement. For example, the publication titled "Mermaids" shows an author "Elijah Muhammad" but on the row directly below is the book "Message to the Black Man in America" showing as author "C. Gatewood." Obviously the column listing the author's names is out of sync with the column listing titles. So it then becomes impossible to know if the column that lists the approval status is correct. For instance, Mermaids is disapproved but Message to the Black Man is approved.

Since I'm unable to have the list photocopied I copied pertinent portions by hand:


MIM Dist. Level 1 Study Group Disapproved
MIM Theory 2&3 Approved
MIM Theory 4 Approved
MIM Theory 11 Disapproved
MIM Theory 13 Disapproved
MIM Theory 9 Previously Disapproved
MIM Theory 5 Diet for a Small Red Planet Approved
MIM Theory M. Baalbaki Approved
Under Lock & Key #37 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key Feb. 2011 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #15 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #27 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key July/Aug 2013 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #25 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #37 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #37 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #20 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #26 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #23 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #36 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #28 Disapproved

To further muddy the waters, this list shows certain publications that are approved whereas the other lists show only those publications that have been disapproved.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the difficulties we encounter trying to appeal censorship in Amerikan prisons. We are often given incomplete or incorrect information, when we can get the prisons to respond to our protest letters at all. And prisoners trying to do the work to gather policies and lists in order to file the appropriate grievances are given the run around and denied necessary information. In spite of this, we do win censorship battles through perseverance. This comrade is doing the hard work of fighting on h end, and so we will continue to support this battle with letters of protest of our own. We encourage all prisoners whose mail is denied to follow up and file grievances. And let us know what's going on and what steps you are taking so we can support your fight from our end.

Censorship is nothing more than an attempt by the prisons to keep us from raising the level of education and political consciousness of prisoners. Material that educates and organizes is disapproved, often as a "threat to the security of the institution," while material that pacifies (the bible, pop culture magazines and fiction novels) is allowed in. Politically we are opposed to the U.$. prison system; the revolution we are fighting for to overthrow imperialism will put an end to the criminal injustice system in the United $tates. But this is a political question, which our bourgeois democracy deems illegal for government agencies to repress discussion of. The practical question of whether literature sent to prisoners by MIM Distributors is a threat to the institutional safety and security is clearly answered in the negative, as we know that prisoners who get involved with political organizing are less likely to engage in violent conflicts with other prisoners and with the prison staff.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Benner] [Pennsylvania]
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Publication Discrimination

It's amazing how some of these institutions specifically discriminate against Black publications from entering into their prisons, stating their writings are offensive and inappropriate to prison standards. This is how prejudice and bias their views are when it comes to Black literature.

I received a notice from the Incoming Publication Review Committee at SCI-Benner, stating that the Movement Newsletter is being denied. They indicated that three of its pages advocated violence, guerrilla warfare against the government, assist in criminal activity related to prison misconduct, and its material is racially motivated that could cause a threat to inmates, staff, and security in the prison.

This accusation is not only a derogatory attack on Black publications, but also towards Blacks in general. They have the audacity to link a race of people to a criminal behavior as though it's inbred in them.

The Black community frowns on criminal activities, as well as violence, much more so than anyone else because many are personally affected by it one-way or the other. And for anyone to imply they abet it, is in a state of illusion, because many of them are unfortunate victims of crime, not participants.

Most of the Black publications are structured to educate readers on past, and current events, give encouragement to those in despair, and to let the community know that they are not forgotten. We're fortunate to have a newsletter of sure caliber as the Movement that's fearless, judicious, and full of profound data that's reliable. Newsletters such as the Movement, Graterfriends, Fortune Society, Innocence Denied, and many others that give a voice to those whose voices have been disregarded. They advocate justice for those who have been denied it, and advocate humane treatment to those men and women in captivity.

It is judged inappropriate for Black publications to denounce racial discrimination, corruption, oppression, hypocrisy, injustice, and whatever else infringe on the rights of others. Are they permitted to execute their so-called Constitutional rights under the First Amendment to freedom of speech, which includes the rights to criticize the government or state officials? Is censorship in effect or is it just my imagination?


MIM(Prisons) responds: The Movement is a newsletter published by the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), which describes itself as: "HRC’s quarterly news magazine, The Movement, is a powerful source in public awareness that serves not only to tie prisoners to the outside world, but also to tie the public into prison issues. It represents the voices, faces, causes, and ideas of prisoner families and prisoners themselves." This is not even a New Afrikan publication, except in that it covers prison issues and a disproportionate number of prisoners of the United $tates are New Afrikan.

MIM(Prisons) is not surprised to see this censorship because we face constant problems with censorship of Under Lock & Key in prisons across the country. Prisons make up bogus reasons to deny ULK as a threat to security because of our work educating and organizing prisoners. Any publication that reports honestly on the Amerikan criminal injustice system is going to include coverage of national oppression and the struggles of New Afrikans and [email protected] in particular. This reporting and organizing work is seen as a threat to the prisons, but we must fight for our right to this legal form of education.

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[Censorship] [Spanish]
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Washington Prohibe Publicaciones en Lenguaje Extranjero

Estoy peleando esta política del Departamento de Correcciones del Estado de Washington; "c ) Publicaciones en lenguaje extranjero no serán permitidas con la excepción de publicaciones religiosas." Ellos dejan entrar cartas en lenguaje extranjero hasta 10 paginas. Antes del 2010 ellos acostumbraban a dejarme pasar libros y magazines en español, pero entonces ellos cambiaron esa norma.

Estoy familiarizado con el paquete de censura de MIM(prisons), pero no hay nada que aplique a este asunto. Yo agote todas mis quejas. Su última respuesta fue que ellos tenían intereses de seguridad y que esto era una amenaza a la seguridad de la institución.

He escuchado que hay Estados que dejan entrar literatura en lenguaje extranjero, ademas oí que el sistema Federal también lo hace. Estos puercos me dijeron que no hay ley constitucional del Estado o Federal que me apoye a recibir libros o revistas en un lenguaje extranjero. Estoy pidiendo la ayuda de los lectores de ULK alrededor del país que me aconsejen con una causa o ley que yo pueda usar en un argumento o juicio. Yo no sé cómo presentar una demanda pero tengo que aprender de algún modo. Ya escribí al ACLU y a otras organizaciones, pero ellos nunca me dieron respuesta.

Si ustedes tienen algún consejo por favor mándenlo a MIM(Prisons). Yo realmente se los agradeceré. Y finalmente a todos en el estado de Washington, sería bueno si podemos unirnos en este y muchos otros asuntos.

MIM(Prisons) agrega: Esta es una importante batalla porque esto es un claro rechazo al acceso de materiales educacionales para toda raza, y es especialmente importante para estos prisioneros quienes no dominan el idioma ingles. Esta evidente opresión nacional tiene que ser peleada. Esperamos con ansias oír de nuestros lectores con sus sugerencias de como enfocamos mejor esta campaña.

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[Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Abuse] [Campaigns] [Texas]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Texas

Texas Petition
Click to Download PDF of Texas Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their 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 listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

TDCJ Legal Affairs
Attn: Leonard Peck
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, TC 77342-0099

TDCJ - Office of the Inspector General
Investigations Department
P.O. Box 4003
Huntsville, TX 77342-4003

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

State Bar of Texas Grievance Commission
1414 Colorado
Austin, TX 78701-1627

ACLU of Texas
William Harrell, Executive Director
P.O. Box 3629
Austin, TX 78764-3629

Committee on Criminal Justice
Sen. John Whitmire
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

Governor Rick Perry
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, TX 78701

Senator John Whitmore
Committee on Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711

TX Civil Rights Project
Attn: Atty Scott Medlock
1405 Montopolis Dr.
Austin, TX 78741-3438

Brandi Grissom
Texas Tribune
823 Congress Ave., Suite 210
Austin, TX 78701

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

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

*Petition updated September 2011, January 2012, July 2012, January 2013, October 2013, August 2014, and October 2017*

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[Censorship] [Nebraska]
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Nebraska Forces Prisoners to Overpay for Postage

Mail in Trash

There are many instances of postal fraud/institutional strong arm robbery occurring here. In the canteen , when purchasing a large sized envelope (6x9 or larger) the facility requires the purchase of two first class U.S. postage stamps or three first class U.S. postage stamps, two for 6x9, three for larger.

In the event that someone desires to mail fewer than the two or three ounces permissible with the two or three stamps and removes a stamp in order to not overpay for postage, he receives a misconduct report from the mailroom and often the mail is returned to the brotha's cell. The envelope is usually sealed and then cut open rendering it unfit to be utilized again.

Essentially, they're forcing us to overpay for postage under the auspices of Title 68 of the Nebraska Administrative Code. Specifically, Title 68 Chapter 5 Section(2) III (N) and III (C) "violation of regulations" and "possessing or receiving unauthorized articles." Of course they write the misconduct report so that removing the extra stamp is considered alteration of a canteen item and thus becoming an "unauthorized article." The "violation of regulations" is a result of the dubious unauthorized article.

What, if any, information or experience do you all have with this type of institutional criminality? Postage stamps are highly regulated. How can a state institution, or anybody for that matter, force an individual or collective to overpay for postage? And, how far reaching is this practice? How high does it go? How can we stop this?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good example of prisons denying prisoners' freedom of speech. It is difficult for prisoners to pay for stamps, and by forcing them to overpay, the prison denies valuable opportunities to send out mail. It is censorship before the mail is even sent out. We encourage Nebraska prisoners to get together to fight this policy. Send in your thoughts on how to best take this up as a campaign.

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[Censorship] [Aztlan/Chicano] [National Oppression] [Washington]
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Washington Prohibits Foreign Language Publications

Walls Closing In

I am fighting this Washington Department of Corrections policy "c) Publications in a foreign language will not be allowed with the exception of religious publications." They let letters come in in a foreign language, up to 10 pages. Before 2010 they used to let me get books and magazines in Spanish, but then they changed the policy.

I'm familiar with the censorship pack from MIM(Prisons), but there is nothing that applies to this issue. I exhausted the grievances. Their last response was that they had security interests and that it was a threat to the security of the institutions.

I've heard that there are states that let foreign language literature come in, also I heard that the federal system does too. These clowns told me that there is no state, federal or constitutional law that supports me to get books or magazines in a foreign language. I'm asking for the help of ULK readers around the country to advise me with a case or law that I could use in an argument or lawsuit. I don't know how to file one but I have to learn somehow. I wrote the ACLU and other organizations, but they never gave me a response.

If you do have some advice please sent it to MIM(Prisons). And finally to all those in Washington state, it would be good if we can come together in this and many other issues.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an important battle because it is clear denial of access to educational materials for all Raza, and is particularly important for those Spanish-speaking prisoners who are not fluent in English. This blatant national oppression must be fought. We look forward to hearing from our readers with suggestions for how to best approach this campaign.

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