The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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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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[Censorship] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 39]
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We Interrupt This Program: Censorship of TV and Radio in Prison

In today's world we're seeing the courts and media minimize the fact that U.S. prisons are run by criminals worse than the so-called worst confined within them. They have attempted, and have succeeded to a degree, in demonizing the prisoners being tortured and thereby desensitized the general public on that subject.

This is why it also seems the jury in the court of public opinion is still out regarding what process is due, and how the experimental implementation of political censorship known by its official misnomer "Obscene Materials Regulations" is already in progress on San Quentin State Prison's (SQ) four death row Security Housing Units (SHUs). The normalization of censorship in all its forms continues right before our eyes in SQ and beyond.

Consider how an invasion force imposes their will upon their victims preserved alive. One of the first things it does is knock out all means of communication. After installing a puppet governing body it then promotes its own agenda through the mass media. The San Quentin Antenna Cable System (SQACS) can be described as a one-sided propaganda bomb with a signal jamming warhead. It is a weapon of mass corruption in the hands of terrorists embedded in the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and other affiliates using the CDCR as their puppet to lord it over in the micro-societies of prison. Their fee for this is deducted from your paycheck, education, and social services for the disabled and elderly.

The SQACS (AKA SQTV) consists of expensive technology similar to that used by cable providers. Most cable companies receive their programming via satellite and then rebroadcast it on frequencies that boxes atop your television can receive. SQTV also consists of 14 converter boxes and several DVD players. As you may know, these devices require your TV be on channel 3 or 4 to operate. However, the SQACS rebroadcasts each on a different frequency. It even rebroadcasts free over-the-air digital signals on different frequencies in QAM (cable mode) and the UHF band.

Not only are the 14 now obsolete converters a huge waste of electricity (they've been on 24/7 nearly 5 years!) they also block free over-the-air broadcasts on the VHF channels they're rebroadcasted on. Contrary to popular belief prisons don't make money for the state. Only those working at prisons make the money and since the SQACS wastes YOUR money and not theirs, they don't care - especially when it can be used to give them job security.

Public broadcast stations KQED and KMTP are just two stations multicasting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked/restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. I argue it is actually intentional because these provide programs such as World News, Democracy Now, and even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long term torture by indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons.

San Quentin is by no means the only California prison using this technology to censor over-the-air broadcasts that don't fit their oligarchy's agenda. Radio stations received via these systems at various SHUs have reportedly cut out as the hunger strikers were being commended for their peaceful protest. The broadcast was then turned back on when the CDCR representative began demonizing it.

As stated in the essay "Free your mind; reversing the effects of prison censorship" by S. Muhammad Hyland, "The bottom line is simple. The institutional restrictions on revolutionary political material are in place for a reason: to keep us from learning how to go about securing our freedom, and destroying the system responsible for our lack of success in Amerika."


MIM(Prisons) adds: Unlike most U.$. prisons found in rural areas, San Quentin is right in the Bay Area where, as this comrade points out, there are many sources of progressive information on television and radio. It is quite damning that the state finds it necessary to censor these channels, which anyone just outside of the San Quentin compound can watch and listen to just fine. It speaks to the truth that prisons are all about social control. And it underscores the importance of not just having control of our own independent media, but also fighting for our First Amendment rights to distribute and share that media. Distribution networks are constantly threatened by bourgeois interests, from eliminating public bulletin boards, to the attempts to prioritize corporate website traffic on the internet, to blocking television and radio stations within prisons. Under Lock & Key is perhaps the most censored news source in the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System, and we are always engagedin ongoing battles in many states. We need more jailhouse lawyers and legal help on the streets to help with this fight.

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[Censorship] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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North Carolina Bans Legally Permitted Activities, Nominal Victory

In early June of this year, MIM Distributors received a letter from Assistant Director Cynthia Bostic of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) upholding the censorship of Under Lock & Key No. 37 (March/April 2014). Bostic censored ULK 37 because it mentions the options legally available to prisoners, to not buy from commissary, not order packages through the prison's vendor, and to file civil action suits. None of these activities are illegal, or even against NCDPS's own policies. Since the newsletter talks about activities which prisoners are legally allowed to engage in, but which give the prisoners a tiny notion of agency and self-determination, it is not permitted in the state.

As a North Carolina comrade wrote almost two years ago, censorship of ULK under the guise of illegal activities was triggered by a surge in subscribers in that state and the development of a campaign by USW comrades in North Carolina to petition the state's ineffective grievance system.

MIM Distributors has written multiple letters to NCDPS administrators in an effort to defend the rights of prisoners to read our newsletter, and to exercise our right to free speech. One of these letters helped convince Bostic to approve the delivery of Under Lock & Key No. 36 (January/February 2014). According to Section D.0105(d) of NCDPS's Policies and Procedures, upon approval, the Publication Review Committee and Wardens are supposed to work together to deliver the previously censored issues of Under Lock & Key to their intended recipients. In Bostic's letter, she "permits" MIM Distributors to resend ULK 36 at our own expense. We recently checked in with our subscribers in North Carolina to see if this issue was delivered to them via the channels outlined in NCDPS Policies and Procedures. If you were a subscriber in January 2014, you should have received issue 36 from your Warden. Let us know if you haven't!

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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W.L. Nolen Mentorship Progam Cited as Gang Material

Know Your Role

Community Bulletin from the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement - First Amendment Campaign

This bulletin is to alert and update the community on the current fascist offensive that is being waged by one sadistic pig named S. Burris of the Pelican Bay State Prison - Prison Intelligence Unit (aka IGI). Officer S. Burris is going through some very drastic measures to try and criminalize the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program (WLNMP). This is typical of any fascist!

For example, within the WLNMP's Mission Statement, it states that our objective is to provide the community with alternatives to joining gangs, along with tools of violence prevention and intervention. Only a complete idiot would insist that this constitutes gang activity!

Officer S. Burris is attacking the WLNMP, not because we're involved in criminal activities, no! The WLNMP has been placed under attack because it possesses the potential of educating and unifying the oppressed masses to their real purpose in life. And this truth makes the WLNMP a viable threat to the prescribed social order of U.$. capitalism.

I have provided the community with factual evidence, wherein the courts have determined that George Jackson and W.L. Nolen were not Black Guerilla Family "prison gang members." They were actually members of the Black Liberation Movement. To receive a copy of this documentation, write to the below address and ask for the Request for Judicial Notice dated February 24, 2014 in the legal case of Marcus L. Harrison v. S. Burris, et al. - Case No: C-13-2506.

Attn: Central Texas ABC
c/o John S. Dolley
PO Box 7187
Austin, TX 78713

In the month of April 2014, I was issued four Stopped Mail Notices and one CDC 115 Rules Violation Report for communications relating to the WLNMP. For example, a comrade of the Maoist Internationalist Movement has contributed to the WLNMP by typing some of our study documents. I personally wrote these study documents and sent it to our MIM comrade via regular mail, but when s/he attempted to send me a copy it was disallowed on the grounds that W.L. Nolen and George Jackson are "prison gang members."

In conclusion, it must be noted that this contradiction is a continued manifestation of the Dred Scott court decision from 1857, wherein the U.$. Congress announced to the world:

"The negro lies so far below whites on the scale of created beings that they have no rights that whites are bound to respect."

We New Afrikans have committed to absolving ourselves from this contradiction via our collective efforts to restore and protect our human rights with the creation of the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement - First Amendment Campaign. We urge the community to get involved and check out our mission statement in the SF Bayview.


Dare 2 Struggle!
Dare 2 Win!

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[Censorship] [Security] [Civil Liberties] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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Facebook Shuts Down South Carolina Prisoner Accounts

facebook in prisons
I have initiated this correspondence in reference to the most recent arbitrary action taken by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of incarcerated, and non-incarcerated, citizens. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

However, the SCDC, which is not even a legislative body, has implemented a policy that impedes and infringes upon the constitutional right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The following offense was amended to SCDC Policy OP-22.14, Inmate Disciplinary System:

"905 Creating and/or assisting with a social networking site: The facilitation, conspiracy, aiding, abetting in the creation or updating of an internet web site or social networking site."

This SCDC policy has resulted in Facebook, a social networking site, taking the following arbitrary action on accounts created by, or on behalf of, prisoners within the SCDC:

"Your account is locked because it doesn't comply with inmate regulations. People who are incarcerated may not be eligible to use Facebook if:
* It is prohibited by state law or regulations of the facility
* The account is being maintained by someone else"

These actions on the part of the SCDC and Facebook are of significant public interest due to the fact that they prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to be able to create and update internet websites and social networking sites, utilized to advocate for family and legal support on behalf of their incarcerated family members or loved ones. Further, these actions by the SCDC and Facebook prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from being able to publicize the conditions, and rehabilitative efforts, of their incarcerated family members and loved ones. Such decisions by the SCDC do not serve any "legitimate penological interests" and are in direct conflict with any rehabilitative and re-entry agenda. Most importantly, they are violating non-incarcerated citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech.

The SCDC may cite "security concerns" but this is not a valid response. To prohibit the creation and/or updating of all websites and social networking sites by, or on behalf of, any prisoner within the SCDC is not a sound defensible position. It would effectively negate the hundreds of prisoners who want to establish a true re-entry plan or proceed on a path of rehabilitation. It would also prohibit non-incarcerated citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. In addition, it would punish prisoners for the exercising of this protected right by non-incarcerated citizens.

In a similar case, the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, decided against such policies and made the following ruling:


"Prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of non-incarcerated third parties." Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty v. Ryan, 269 F. Supp. 2d 1199 (D. Ariz. 2003).

My family created and updated a Facebook account on my behalf to advocate for the support of my family and friends, and to publicize my conditions of confinement and rehabilitative efforts and progress. Facebook has locked that account due to SCDC's arbitrary policy. My family and I are preparing to take legal action against the SCDC, because although they can limit the rights of prisoners due to "legitimate security concerns," they do not have the legislative power to impede upon non-incarcerated citizens' rights.

My family and I would be grateful for any aid and assistance, or referrals, that any individual citizen, or group of citizens, may be able and willing to provide. We would respectfully request that everyone help in publicizing this issue, because there are many citizens who are unaware of the fact that they are affected by it. I thank you all in advance for your time and assistance.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We know that many prisoners and their families and friends make use of social networking sites like Facebook to publicize their case and garner help and support. This attempt by SCDC to further limit prisoner's voices comes as no surprise after they banned literature coming from outside sources a few years ago. We have seen an upswing in prisoner activism in South Carolina over the past year, and this policy suggests the prison will do whatever it can to restrict these activists from getting word out about the abuses and injustice going on behind bars.

We know that social networking sites like Facebook are not going to form the basis for successful revolutionary struggles, and that we must build independent institutions of the oppressed, whether online or elsewhere. Yet even that would not address the threat of punishment against prisoners for providing information that is posted online, the basis of this very website. So we stand behind this prisoner's fight and agree that SCDC does not have the right to impose these restrictions. Meanwhile, we call out Facebook for playing along with regulations that shut down the free speech of prisoners and their family and friends.

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[Censorship] [Illinois] [ULK Issue 39]
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Illinois Court Rules Medical Books Not Allowed to Prisoners

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has just rejected an Illinois prisoner's lawsuit pertaining to the refusal of the prison to allow him to receive the Physician's Desk Reference and the Complete Guide to Prescription Drugs 2009. The court's rationale for this rejection was rather convoluted:


"Quite simply, the prison gave the books' drug related content as one of the reasons justifying its decision to restrict Muson's access to the books, and we don't need to look beyond the books' title and the content to know the books contain information about drugs."

By reading this statement, one would assume that the prison was afraid of the information that the prisoner would learn from reading these books, but later in the opinion, the Court indicated that the same books were available to be read in the prison's law library.

The Seventh Circuit has been issuing some rather head-scratching decisions lately concerning prisoners' rights, and this is simply another one. If the prison we are confined in does not have these books available in the prison library this is a point we as prisoners can raise around this case.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This court ruling demonstrates the arbitrary and unjust basis for censorship of prisoners' mail and reading material. The difficulty with fighting these decisions, which start with the mail room rejections, is that courts often uphold censorship with arbitrary and contradictory reasoning. We need the help of jailhouse lawyers and street lawyers alike so that we can take on some of these battles and expand prisoners' access to revolutionary literature in particular.

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[Censorship] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
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South Carolina Censors Writing Guide and Other Letters

I just received the latest issue of Under Lock & Key No. 38 May/June 2014, which is a surprise being that recently a copy of the grievance petition and a couple of guides were forwarded to the DOC's Correspondence Review Committee to see if they will allow me to receive them. The mailroom staff considers the material "questionable & inflammatory."

This censorship comes as no shock since the hypocrisy that they label as a "democracy" in Amerikan society censors the mass media and many other forms of disseminating knowledge, due to material being labeled "inflammatory." Although these restrictions clearly are in violation of their own constitutional laws, these imperialistic powers thrive from being able to control & manipulate mass information, therefore they will continue violating laws to maintain and/or advance their position.

Too much trust is placed in the Amerikan government, their structure and system by the Amerikan people/population. Maybe people still believe that Amerika guarantees the "right" to free speech because they don't have anything relevant to say. Whenever someone has something profound to say that the government may consider to be counter-productive to their message or a "threat," the message will be suppressed from being propagated on a mass level. Then some people don't care because they have never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful, which displays that either they don't stand for anything or they are cowards. Or maybe people believe they have a "right" of free speech because they are supportive of this system, therefore everything they say is conducive to the message the government wishes to convey. In this way, these people never experience this form of censorship or are too blind to recognize it. Controlling or censoring what the media provides to the public is a main component to controlling the public. The Amerikan public is now experiencing martial law in its subtlest form. Too often "state of emergencies" are called for fabricated or manufactured reasons, only to benefit the Amerikan government.

I will notify you of the outcome concerning the study group guide, grievance petition, and guide to writing articles after the Correspondence Review Committee makes their determining decision.

United We Struggle.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This arbitrary censorship by Perry Correctional Institution officials demonstrates the lack of real reason behind their denial of some mail to prisoners. Included in the list of letters censored is MIM(Prison)'s writing tips, which has information on how to write articles for Under Lock & Key, including various grammar and spelling rules. Only if the prison considers education a risk would this denial make sense.

We do not believe that the Amerikan people are pacified entirely because of the control of their media and information. While this is certainly an important part of the Amerikan government's control of the country, there are plenty of Third World countries where governments have similar or even stronger hold on the media, and still the people rise up and organize against their own repression. Important to the Amerikan public's passivity is their material interest in the system. This prisoner gets at this point when s/he accuses Amerikans of having "never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful", a state of affairs common in imperialist countries today where the vast majority of the population has been bought off and enjoys comfortable lives at the expense of the exploited peoples of the world.

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