The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out
[Censorship] [Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 18]
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Keeping Rules a Secret Makes them Easier to Break

First and foremost I hope this letter reaches you. Officer Sherry A Conrad over in the mailroom has been opening and reading my legal mail. She has also confiscated every legal document I have tried to send to you, along with the letters I've written to you about her. I used the prisoner grievance system against her and ever since then she has used retaliation against me. She has written 3 major disciplinary reports on me about my mail; one of these major disciplinary reports was concerning a letter I wrote you. I appealed this major disciplinary but Warden Jimmy Banks has violated my due process rights and refused to answer my appeal.

Under Lock & Key was also confiscated and sent to the Unit Publication Review Committee for "illegal discrimination, violence, verbal or sexual abuse or inflammatory attitudes towards any racial, sexual, age, handicapped or individuals or groups." I appealed the decision of this committee but it also has been refused to be answered. Now Warden Jimmy Banks and Law Library Officer Ms. Smith are refusing to make copies of my legal documents so I can mail them to you and the United States District Court to file a claim against them.

I've also requested the Administrative Regulation and Directives of the Arkansas Department of Corrections so I could send them to you and the court but I've been denied access to these by Warden Jimmy Banks. Warden Banks does not want us to have these Administrative Regulations or Directives because he or his officers at the Varner Super Max Unit do not follow the Administrative Regulations and Directives. So many of our rights are being violated by Warden Banks and his officers, it's not even funny.

This is the good ole south, "the good ole boy system" and they will do everything it takes to keep the public, media, or any other group or organization in the dark about how prisoners are being violated in the Arkansas prison system. The prisoners in Arkansas will not stand or stick together, write grievances, or write the public, media or any other groups or organizations out of fear of major disciplinaries or retaliation used against them for doing so. If a prisoner writes a grievance, public officials, media or groups or sticks together to take a stand against the ADC, they are placed in the Super Max under false charges, written major disciplinaries that will keep them from being released, are placed in the hole without any of their property, and the list goes on and on.

If a prisoner keeps on doing these things to stand against the ADC then the officers will use all kinds of force on the prisoner and make the reports look like the force was justified. I have been held in the Varner Super Max for one year under false banding together, escape, possession of tobacco, and possession of cell phone charges. Now they are using retaliation against me by confiscating my legal and personal mail and writing me major disciplinary reports for the mail they confiscate when I've broken no administrative regulation, directives, policies or rules. They are also refusing me law books, legal copies, and administrative regulations and directives that I need. I've been told by the Warden himself that I'll never be released from Varner Super Max into population.

I know many prisoners who want to write your organization but they have seen everything that has happened to me and others who have written letters about the ADC and they are afraid. I refuse to just lay down and go quietly away. I try to stay in the law books, and follow all rules, policies and regulations. A lot of prisoners come to me for legal advice and I try to help all I can. I'm working on filing a big claim of many violations against Interim Director Ray Hobbs, Warden Jimmy Banks, Officer Sherry A. Conrad of the ADC in the United States District Court.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This account of retaliation against prisoners who fight censorship and other illegal actions in prisons should strengthen our resolve to get Under Lock & Key in the hands of all prisoners who can receive it. We know receiving ULK can be a risk, which is why it is important that our subscribers share. But if you're not organizing, then nothing's gonna change. Those on the outside willing to help with these legal battles can aid us both in fighting censorship and exposing the criminal injustice system. As long as the state is not following its own rules, there will be countless legal battles to take on.

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[Censorship] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 17]
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Activists in SHU Still Face Total Censorship

I want to send a fraternal embrace to everyone. I am writing from the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU). I write this letter in response to some stepped up repression that seems to have increased here starting last year in 2009. It is important to understand when these restrictions occur so as to see more broadly if such occurrences are random or a wider campaign. I have within the last year had "returned to sender" eight pieces of mail from MIM(Prisons). I was never notified from the prison, and I had no idea of these returns or rejections until MIM(Prisons) notified me of these refusals. I reach out to highlight this situation, this tragedy that is occurring to me so that these lessons may be used by a receptive ear, worked with in some way, and possibly overcome in the future.

Censorship exists, not censorship of some technological weapons or some type of recipe for a plague of sorts but censorship of ideas, banning of political theory that is not compliant with the state norm. I have always taken on legal battles, jailhouse lawyer activities, anything to right a wrong and resist an injustice system that was built on the land of my ancestors. For this prison resistance I am rewarded by the state with an aggressive push to keep excellent political theory from reaching me, from comrades being able to send a letter of encouragement or perhaps a book on political science.

I was receiving literature and Maoist books from MIM for several years while on the "mainline" general population and I delved into those works so many times that even though I am currently subjected to censorship of political correspondence from MIM(Prisons) I have a strong understanding of the society we live in and the need for political power. It is situations like what I am currently undergoing that really drive home the need to liberate oppressed nations. Here in the SHU, Raza cannot even learn or read about their ancient pre-Columbian languages as the state says this is gang related. Now political science, the ability to theorize and have ideas of a society outside of what currently exists, is denied us.

Occupation is done on many levels all over the world. In some countries occupation may be more subtle but if you look close enough the similarities are there. When the Japanese occupied Korea after the war the Korean language was banned; the Korean people could only speak Japanese. All Korean history and political literature outside Japanese imperialism was censored. We must learn from history; not just our specific history of our particular country of origin. A study of all histories will show that what is occurring here has occurred many times.

The situation in California prisons in particular should be noted and learned from; the censorship we are experiencing has been employed in years past. This targeting of political organizations has been seen and felt on many levels, but today's censorship comes at historic times. It is because contemporary ideas and revolutionary theory in general and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in particular is essential for future struggles and because of the current "awakening" of oppressed nations people in prisons that CDCR has begun a program of censorship particularly in its control units, i.e. SHUs where it is no coincidence that the most politically advanced are held captive. Getting the independent press, such as ULK, in the hands of the imprisoned masses is of extreme importance.

The people are fighting to educate the political prisoners, uplift the consciousness of prisoners, and bring politics to the prison houses nationwide, and build the prison base for revolution. At the same time the ruling class sees the 2+ million potentially revolutionary prisoners behind bars and knows that every prisoner who takes up the struggle for a better society is another addition to resist their program. They understand that prisoners in general are becoming radicalized yet they know they can't shut down all so called "freedom of the press," so they spend their time and resources on what they feel are their prime target group or persons of influence which are what they label the people held in control units. By doing so they are basically isolating these comrades from correspondence, political literature or study material of any sort, even of basic contact with comrades on the outside.

This is being done to dull or attempt to dull the revolutionary edge in the prison population, starting in SHUs and expecting this dullness to permeate the rest of the population. The need for people who still have the ability to receive any papers, newsletters or literature from MIM(Prisons) to do so is of utmost importance, with vigor and hunger as if you will never get the chance again because once in a SHU you will be censored. The need to support independent press like ULK is on top of the priority list and should be done financially or any other way. It is times like now that I appreciate a crisp uncut publication like ULK; when only watered-down periodicals are allowed to reach me I see how precious ULK is.

I am embarking on another legal battle for the censorship here in Pelican Bay and i encourage others to do the same. United we will overcome this battle.


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
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[Legal] [Censorship] [Arizona]
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Advice on Censorship Fight in Arizona

I am a Jailhouse Lawyer of the High Rolla Jailhouse Law firm. I was appointed by the chief Jailhouse Lawyer of the Jailhouse Law Firm to aid and assist the MIM(Prisons) Legal Clinic. I have reviewed the Prisoner's Legal Clinic letter dated October 4, 2010. Upon review I have taken the opportunity to offer my legal experience to assist MIM(Prisons) in responding to the statement made by the Director of Arizona's Department of Corrections.

According to the Director of Arizona's Dept. of Corrections, he states Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 369 (1974) was overruled and your reliance on that case is misplaced. The Director of Arizona's Dept of Correction further states that there is nothing that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal a decision to exclude its material on an administrative appeal level and you are not entitled to a forum within the prison system.

The Arizona Dept. of Corrections Director is partially correct and partially wrong. Basically what the Director is telling MIM(Prisons) is that it does not have an entitlement to use the prison grievance system to appeal administrative decisions. The Inmate Grievance System is a forum within the Department of Corrections for prisoners to avail themselves of if they are dissatisfied and wish to appeal an administrative decision. This system is for use by prisoners, not publication companies. The Director is correct, in that there is no case laws that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal on an administrative level. If MIM(Prisons) wishes to challenge the administrative decision of the Director to exclude its publications, the proper forum would be for MIM(Prisons) to file a §1983 Civil Rights action in Federal Court, or to provide the prisoner with the appropriate arguments, case laws and legal authorities and have the prisoner himself file the appeal by going through the Grievance System and then the Administrative Law Court.

However, MIM(Prisons) should notify the Director that it is fully aware of the fact that it does not have the right to appeal on an administrative appeal level. MIM(Prisons) should notify the Director that it is fully aware that it is not entitled to a forum within the prison system. MIM(Prisons) should notify the Director that it was only making an effort at an informal appeal or request for the Director to reconsider its decision. Because contrary to what the Director stated Procunier v. Martinez 416 U.S. 396 (1974) is still applicable in part. Just as prisoners have a first Amendment Right to receive and send mail, so does publication companies and publishers. When the complaining party is the prisoner, then Turner v. Safely 482 U.S. 78 (1987) is the applicable standard, however when a publisher complains that its first amendment right has been violated then Procunier v. Martinez and Thornburgh v. Abbott 490 U.S. 401 (1989) is the appropriate standard.

I say all that to say this, if the Director cannot show that the restrictions placed on mail received by a prisoner is rationally related to a legitimate penological interest, then the Director's reliance on Thornburgh v. Abbott and Turner v. Safely is unsupported and misplaced, then the correct standard would be Procunier v. Martinez. The United States Supreme Court clearly held in Thornburgh v. Abbott, that prison officials could reject incoming mail if it was deemed detrimental to security, but if no such penological interest is involved, the Director can not rely on this case nor Turner v. Safely to justify its restrictions on incoming mail. The question is now "Is there a legitimate penological interest to justify its restriction of the MIM(Prisons)'s Under Lock and Key??" The only way to force the Director to answer this question and identify the penological interests involved is to file a §1983 Civil Right Action against the director making him accountable to the Federal Courts. The prisoner has the additional alternative of the Prison Grievance System which we know is unreliable. At this moment my advice and suggestion to MIM(Prisons) is to challenge these censorships from a different angle. From my research dealing with a recent line of cases i.e. Beard v. Banks 126 S.C.T. 2572 (2006), Overton v. Bazzetta 539 U.S. 126 (2003) Ramirez v. Pugh 486 F. Supp. 2d 421 (M.D. Pa. 2007), Brittain v. Beard, 932 A.2d 324 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007). The Courts seem to be interested in whether the regulation challenged promotes rehabilitation. Recently the term "Rehabilitation" has been used by prison officials to uphold prohibitive regulations and thus far have been successful. It would be a strategic legal maneuver to argue that such restrict regulations actually discourage rehabilitation, and expert testimony from a psychologist or sociologist would help to support this argument. This would be a more strategic angle to strike from.

MIM(Prisons) also was inquiring about cases concerning prisoner's rights to read newspapers as well as write for them and concerning inmate to inmate correspondence. Well I do not know right off top a specific case that involves prisoners rights to read newspapers as well as write for them, but there is a case that states "prisoners may not be punished for posting material on the internet with the assistance of a third party," I don't think it's what MIM(Prisons) is looking for though.

I do know as far as inmate to inmate correspondence is concerned, that the United States Supreme Court held in Shaw v. Murphy 532 U.S. 223, 121 S.Ct. 1475 (2001) that a prisoner who was working as a prison law clerk claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when he was disciplined for statements he made in a letter to another inmate in which he gave legal advice. He was disciplined for violating a prison policy prohibiting insolence and interference with due-process hearings. The court found that inmates do not possess a special First Amendment right to give legal assistance to other inmates. If they did possess such a right, it would mean enhancing the usual protection given to inmate to inmate correspondence. Thus his letter, regardless of its content, was subject to the same regulations as all other letters sent between inmates. At least as far as South Carolina is concerned inmate to inmate correspondence is only allowed if the inmates are immediate family members or if the inmates are involved in a joint legal action and the correspondence is related to the legal action only. SCDC Policy 10.08 Section 18.

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[Censorship] [ULK Issue 16]
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July 2010 Censorship Report

This Report is an analysis of the censorship experienced by MIM(Prisons) from July 2009 through June 2010. In January 2008, MIM(Prisons) released our first censorship report, documenting what we can and can't get into which prisons. Last year we decided it would be best to analyze our censorship status annually instead of biannually because it often takes months to determine the status of a piece of mail.

To compile this data we rely solely on censored mail that is returned to us by mailroom staff and reports from prisoners themselves. From July 2009 to June 2010, we sent in five digits worth of mail, of which 83% were unconfirmed as received or censored. In the last reporting period, only 80% of the mail was unconfirmed. This trend shows us that even less people are reporting what mail they've gotten from us than last year, which makes drawing conclusions from our records nearly impossible. For example, when reading the state-by-state chart, it is important to remember that "no censorship reported" does not mean that all the mail got in, just that we don't know what happened. Some states with no censorship reported were: Colorado were 96% of the mail was unconfirmed; in Indiana 92%; in Mississippi 93%, and in Nebraska and New Hampshire, 100% of the mail was unreported.

This lack of data continues despite the fact that every issue of Under Lock & Key and many of our letters request that subscribers tell us what they receive from us and when each time they write. At our congress this summer we voted to adjust our policies to require subscribers to notify us of their mail status in order to stay on our mailing list. We have started sending comrades we are in correspondence with Unconfirmed Mail Forms that will list what mail we have sent them that we do not know the status of to encourage reporting. But even if you don't receive one of these forms, you should still let us know what you get from MIM Distributors or MIM(Prisons). In fact, if you tell us what you get from us before we send out the form you'll save us printing and postage costs!

Across the country, it appears that our censorship is gradually decreasing. However, if we aren't facing state repression, then we're probably doing something wrong politically. For this reason, we don't expect to ever be completely free of censorship while the United $tates is still an imperialist state. We attribute these decreases to the hard work our comrades inside have been doing to file appeals when their mail gets censored. Another reason it may appear that our censorship status is decreasing is our incomplete data — there may be censorship in places that we just don't know about.

Prisoners' Legal Clinic

In the last year we started coordinating our legal efforts in a more structured way with comrades inside through the MIM(Prisons)-led Prisoners' Legal Clinic. Members of the PLC have edited and added to the Censorship Guide that we send to prisoners who have had our lit censored; shared info and analysis about important legal issues relating to our anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist work of fighting censorship and political repression; and contributed several articles to the legal strategy issue of ULK issue 13. In this reporting year, we doubled the amount of Censorship Guides we sent out in the previous reporting year, so the help we've gotten on this guide is invaluable. We hope the PLC will eventually expand to offer counseling and preparation assistance to comrades filing anti-censorship lawsuits in the next year.

The PLC is facilitated by MIM(Prisons) but it is only as useful as the comrades who are contributing to it from the inside. Anyone who wants to engage in this important work should hook up with the PLC via MIM(Prisons); no experience necessary.

Grieving Censorship is Crucial

At Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois, Under Lock & Key issue 9 was censored from dozens of comrades because of alleged "STG references and depictions of violence." A prisoner filed a grievance, and Central Review in Springfield approved ULK 9 for entry into Menard CC. We only received confirmation from this one prisoner that he received the newsletter, so it is possible that Central Review only permitted it to him. That is one example of why it is so important to file grievances about censorship.

California Ban

In November 2009 we reported that the ban of literature from the Maoist Internationalist Movement was lifted in a settlement between Prison Legal News and CDCR. Even after this settlement, High Desert State Prison and Pelican Bay State Prison still returned or trashed all mail from MIM Distributors. Finally, in April 2010, High Desert Warden Mike D. McDonald assured us that ULK would be reviewed on an issue-by-issue basis instead of being automatically rejected based solely on the return address. We recently sent out issue 14 and it got in to at least some prisoners without a hitch. No such luck in Pelican Bay where even a letter saying "Hi, how's it going?" is still illegally returned to sender uninspected. The San Francisco Bay View newspaper and Revolution (by the rcp=u$a) have complained of similar problems with their publications.

Feds Use Censorship to Make Room for Infiltrators

At the United Snakes Penitentiary - MAX in Florence, Colorado, ULK issue 13 was censored because it contains the article "Security in the Prison Movement" that is MIM(Prisons)'s analysis of how we should deal with potential infiltrators, agent provocateurs, and snitches in the movement. Our advice was basically to treat everyone as a potential pig, and only give out information on a need-to-know basis. We also defended our work with prisoners on Sensitive Needs Yards and Protective Custody for similar reasons. While such prisoners are often viewed as working with the state, we pointed out that many comrades have had to leave their LOs for SNY in order to stop working for the state.

The state sees this perspective as a threat to the security of the institution (of white supremacy, no doubt). The reason given by the USP mailroom staff for its censorship is that "p. 6 and 11 discuss what to do with potential infiltrators who join the movement, not suitable for a prison environment." We wonder who they are targeting in our circle in USP Florence, that it would blow their cover to share this advice with them. The answer is probably everyone.

This report was written by our legal coordinator who took over the job shortly before our last yearly report. While building on previous work, s/he is responsible for many of the advances we made this year. Fighting censorship is central to our work with the imprisoned lumpen population in the United $tates and we always have projects for volunteer lawyers and legal assistants. The easiest thing our subscribers can do to help us out is tell us exactly what mail you have received from us and when, each time you write.

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[Censorship] [National Oppression] [Texas]
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Mexicans targeted for censorship

I am caged up here in this racist Texas Department of Criminal Justice where Mexicans and African-Americans are treated unfairly. As everyone knows, this justice system is one of the biggest in the country. It is so overcrowded. Texas is in debt so bad that they need to make budget cuts to save money. But they won't even consider releasing people as a way to save money.

Well, another reason I'm writing is to address the issue of racism and censorship. Whenever Mexicans attempt to order books on our culture, especially revolutionaries, it is denied. Their excuse is that it is "gang-related." The general library here at this facility has a few books, maybe 5, on a little Mexican history. But when we take notes for our knowledge, and future use, these notes are confiscated by officers during routine cell searches, and labeled as "gang-related." Then the person who was in possession of it is placed on a watch list.

So these people all across Texas prisons do this to us, we are being denied our culture, to be able to study it without fear. Meanwhile, all of their racist propaganda material is readily available, and allowed to enter with no problems.

We've also had to deal with officers racist remarks toward Mexicans and Blacks. The grievance system here is useless. This is a whole network of klansmembers. So they all cover for each other. When we speak up and make it known we won't tolerate any of this, we are retaliated against.

I really appreciate your newsletter. It is very informative. I can relate to the revolutionary mindset completely. I educate myself as much as possible and I do my best to get others around me to do the same. I stand up for my rights as much as possible. These people know I won't be intimidated. They can lock me up but they won't take my pride or will to fight for what is right.

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[Censorship] [Abuse] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 14]
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Abuse in High Desert hits mainstream, ban lifted

In May 2010, the Sacramento Bee published a series of articles detailing abuses of prisoners in long-term isolation in several CDCR prisons, including at High Desert State Prison (HDSP). (1, 2) On 10 May 2010 they reported on the American Friends Service Committee's attempt to have the brutality claims brought against High Desert investigated by the state Senate, in hopes that an official investigation would lead to restrictions on the use of long-term isolation. (3) We commend the Sacramento Bee for bringing such an important issue to their mainstream audience. (Although judging from the comments left on the article at sacbee.com you would think members of the CCPOA are the only people who read it.)

These articles by the Sacramento Bee reconfirm much of the information published in Under Lock & Key and on www.prisoncensorship.info since January 2008 that staff at HDSP commit a long list of atrocities against prisoners to manipulate them into submission, or for just plain fun. These abuses include, but are not limited to: tampering with mail, privileges, food, and medical care; calling prisoners racist names; tampering with/discarding/ignoring grievances; and the sweeping use of excessive physical force and sexual coercion. (4-6) Recently we received reports of a racist, oppressive lockdown of so-called "northern Hispanics", which further proves that these injustices are still going on today.

As an outside organization sending literature to prisoners inside, the form of repression MIM(Prisons) is most familiar with at HDSP is their strong commitment to keep prisoners isolated by using arbitrary, outdated, and illegal censorship practices. They have consistently returned mail to us unopened. When asked for an explanation, they cited an outdated ban that was overturned in a settlement between Prison Legal News and CDCR in April 2007.

In a letter from HDSP Warden Mike D. McDonald dated April 23, 2010, he uses poor writing skills to ambiguously admit that there is no ban on MIM literature, while still maintaining that all mail from "MIM Publishers" is a threat to security.

"High Desert State Prison has been receiving MIM Publications [sic] from your company which contains information that could pose a threat to the safety of staff and inmates. This publication is in violation of California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15 and the Department Operations Manual (DOM).

". . . All MIM publications that are sent to this institution will be reviewed on an issue-by-issue basis. If it is found that a publication has violated our policies it will be disallowed and the inmate will receive a CDCR-1819 Notification of Disapproval."

Even though Warden McDonald avoided answering the direct question laid out in the letter he is responding to ("Why was MIM Theory 8: Revolutionary Nationalism returned to us with 'Disallowed Item' stamped on the envelope and no further explanation?"), it is still a step in the right direction for him to allege that lit from MIM(Prisons) will be reviewed on an issue-by-issue basis in the future.

Thanks to the articles in the Sacramento Bee, public pressure on the administration at HDSP is at a high point. We look forward to hearing from prisoners in HDSP regarding their receipt of ULK 14, or those promised 1819s!

notes:
(1) Piller, Charles. "Guards accused of cruelty, racism" Sacramento Bee. May 9, 2010.
(2) Piller, Charles. "California prison behavior units aim to control troublesome inmates" Sacramento Bee. May 10, 2010.
(3) Piller, Charles. "Advocates call for probe of prison abuse allegations" Sacramento Bee. May 20, 2010.
(4) "Response to psycho-sexual warfare article" by a CA prisoner. Published in ULK issue 6.
(5) "High Desert, CA Control Units" by a CA prisoner. Published at [url=https://www.prisoncensorship.info
]www.prisoncensorship.info
(6) "High Desert bans MIM, falsifies reports on prisoners" by a CA prisoner. Published at [url=https://www.prisoncensorship.info

]www.prisoncensorship.info

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Censorship] [Abuse] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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Mail and Other Policy Violations by Prison Staff

The current problem that we prisoners here in CCI Tehachapi are facing at the moment is that our captors are ignoring and deliberately going against the same Title 15 Rules and Regulations manual that they expect us, the prison population to abide by.

Our captors are in violation of these Rules and Regulations by not delivering or issuing out our property, packages, newspapers, periodicals, magazines, and books as stated in Title 15 rules and Regulations section 3134 General Mail Regulations. "Inspection of ingoing mail and outgoing packages will occur as follows: (4) Delivery by staff of packages, special purchase, and all publications shall be completed as soon as possible but not later than 15 calendar days, except during holiday seasons such as Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, and during lockdown of affected inmates."

In consequence to our captors unwillingness to abide by their own Title 15 Rules and Regulations manual, they've now created an oppressive environment for new arrivals to this institution by placing them in a cell for long periods of time (sometimes nearly up to three months) without their property, which includes their appliances and reading materials.

Other ways our captors violate our rights is by not honoring the following:

Title 15:
Section 3060: "Institution will provide the means for all inmates to keep themselves and their living quarters clean and practice good health habits."

Section 3061: "Inmates must keep themselves clean, and practice those health habits essential to the maintenance of physical and mental well being." Note, we can't because we only get one small bar or soap per week for both our body and laundry.

Section 3095: "A newly arrived inmate may within 30 days of arrival submit CDC form 184, canteen draw order for any scheduled draw."

Section 3031: "Each inmate shall maintain issued clothing and linen as neat and clean as conditions permit. Weekly laundry exchange shall be provided on a one-per-one basis."

I as well as other prisoners here with me, find ourselves under these oppressive circumstances. We have sent in numerous request slips for our property, packages, and books, but to this date they have all gone unanswered.

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[Abuse] [Censorship] [Texas]
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Property set fire by prison guard

I'm currently caught up in a property situation. Last month one of these pigs and I had an altercation which resulted in the CO setting my property on fire. He also gave another prisoner some of my property as payment for setting the fire for him so that he could burn my property. It took 2 1/2 weeks before the major notified me about my property and he only notified me because he knew that the "grapevine" dropped dime to me the day after it happened.

See, after the aforementioned altercation took place, I was moved to a different housing section. My property was to be moved to the property-room after I was moved. Well, before my property could be moved the CO that I had the altercation with returned and set my property on fire. MIM, if y'all will please excuse me because I just got my Step 1 grievance back and these hoes are talking about my shower shoes is the only thing they're going to replace. Now I have to end this letter because I need to check these hoes about my shit!

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[Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 13]
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California Ban on MIM Over... Sort of

A December 13, 2006 memo from then-Director Scott Kernan declared a systemwide ban on all publications from the Maoist Internationalist Movement. The memo misquoted and took out of context statements by MIM to justify the ban. Many comrades soon jumped into action to defend the First Amendment rights of California prisoners and their outside supporters. One comrade took this battle further than anyone else, leading to over 2 years of legal battles that ended in April, 2009.

One administrator claimed there were three banned publishers in California Department of Corrections (CDCR): MIM, Penthouse and Playboy. While MIM had received this high honor of a complete ban, others were facing severe censorship by CDCR as well. In April 2007, Prison Legal News (PLN) settled their suit against CDCR's illegal censorship. The settlement was very strategic on the behalf of the PLN legal team in that it included reforms to CDCR mail policy that affected all of us that had been having problems.

As many of our readers probably know, Prison Legal News was founded and is led by jailhouse lawyers. Their consistent work has won them the ability to recruit street lawyers to their battles. Without the leadership of prisoners and former prisoners, defenders of prisoners' rights in the courtroom are few and far between. Yet, litigating from behind the walls is no easy task, as our California comrade can attest:

"The sole reason for my non-opposal of defendants summary judgment is quite simply that I was unable to litigate the case from my current residence here in the hole. As I stated to you before I was not able to obtain the required legal materials needed to litigate, materials such as a basic copy of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), the sufficient or suitable case law required, or even sufficient copies, and typing paper.

"As I am in Ad-Seg, most of the required materials stated above are not in this building's possession, or even on the same yard. We must write to B-yard law library for requested legal texts. This is something no one bothered to inform me of 'til just a few weeks ago. Furthermore, the whole process of requesting materials is usually hit or miss in the sense that sometimes we receive our materials, sometimes we don't. Since I'm in the hole, I had to request photocopies of the FRCP. However, due to 'copyright concerns' I did not get it."

In addition to being denied needed legal materials, this comrade was denied an appeal for a lawyer to be appointed to their case. This was particularly relevant in this case where s/he was being denied access to the materials in question because they were deemed a risk to security.

For a year and a half following PLN's victory, supporters of MIM Distributors argued that the ban on MIM mail was not in compliance with the settlement. Finally, in October 2008 the CDCR released their new "Centralized List of Disapproved Publications," a product of the settlement. MIM Distributors is not on this list, and is therefore no longer legally banned in California. It is against CDCR policy for individual prisons to institute bans that are not on this centralized list.

While the final date for additions to the Centralized List was May 1 (and it is updated annually), we have not seen the new list for 2009. Experience seems to indicate that we are still not on it, since those who continue to ban our mail cite outdated documents. Prisons that continue to return mail from MIM(Prisons) unopened are High Desert and the supermax prison, Pelican Bay. Blanket bans seem to require more stringent review by the courts. Therefore, it may be more strategic for the state to avoid blanket bans in the future, thus making lawsuits like the California prisoner's more difficult to carry out.

The good news is most prisons in California no longer have a blanket ban on MIM (those that do are in violation of court orders). This may have more to do with incompetence of the CDCR staff than a strategic approach. But it also means that the censors must now justify their censorship based on the California Code of Regulations, and appeals cannot be rejected out of hand.

For a while, the prisoner who filed suit was the only persyn in h prison who was able to receive Under Lock & Key. We assumed this was to undermine h censorship claims. Yet, after the ban on MIM was officially canceled in October, all of a sudden ULK was also censored to this comrade. When one of our legal supporters wrote to inquire as to why, the Warden cited the overturned ban on MIM. This was as late as March 2009, and the same thing happened in other California prisons. It was not until 6 months after the new list was released that prison administrators acknowledged that MIM Distributors was no longer banned. We have been assured that proper training of mailroom staff has been conducted in a number of California prisons regarding the new banned list. Still, this alleged "incompetence" has led to over 2 years of no contact with many prisoners across California, and added up to uncounted costs in lost and returned mail and printed materials.

Meanwhile, MIM Theory 8: Anarchist Ideal & Communist Revolution was deemed such a threat that the court would not allow the plaintiff to view the magazine alone in h cell to prepare h case. The CDCR legal team even attempted to seal MIM literature from the public because it allegedly posed such a threat to security. In their motion to have the documents sealed, the CDCR also refers to MIM's "anonymity" as a threat to security. It is not clear to us how identities of those working with MIM are relevant to the security of prisons run by CDCR, but we do see anonymity as justified given the history of harassment and intimidation by CDCR's Investigation Unit and the CCPOA of citizens outside of prison. MIM(Prisons) takes these threats very seriously.

On June 29, 2009, the US District Court issued a summary judgment dismissing the claims against CDCR. In the summary judgment the court recognizes our comrade's exposure of the CDCR for misquoting MIM Theory 8, using ellipses as Scott Kernan did in the 2006 memo. Still, the court deferred to the biased judgments of the prison officials, citing Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 132 (2003).

The comrade responded by writing,

"I am extremely disheartened by the aforementioned facts. Disheartened, not defeated, yet I see no positive outcome to the civil matter."

S/he goes on to state,

"Once again I am extremely and hopefully apologetic. It was not my intention to have done all this work for the past 3 years just to have it all come to a crashing halt in the period of three months. I have let not just myself and the movement down, but the people as well.

"Not all is bad though. This was certainly a learning experience and I definitely learned a lot for a 7th grade drop-out. I have been inspired to take a paralegal course, after which I will be of better use to MIM and the people."

For this comrade in California, it is certainly natural to feel disheartened, and it is good to hear that you are not defeated. In the imperialist countries, the task of the revolutionary movement is to carry out long legal battles. Mao said this in 1975, and it is still true today. This means that many of us will have to spend long hours learning and applying bourgeois law, while recognizing that the law has class character and is not designed to serve the oppressed. In addition, "legal work" does not just mean in the court room. An important aspect for keeping our work focused and sane is to carry it out as part of a larger movement. This comrade didn't have a victory in court, but h efforts were simultaneous to petitioning of the CDCR, to public education around censorship, to other prisoners filing appeals, and to PLN's own lawsuit. We will face many failures along the way, but these failures become easy to accept when we study and understand the weaknesses of imperialism as a system, and see our strategic role in contributing to ending all systems of oppression.

We commend this comrade's drive to continue legal studies. The more effective each of us become in our work the easier it is for all of us to succeed. Becoming more effective requires studying others' experiences, learning from them and developing strategies as a movement.

In a more recent letter our jailhouse lawyer wrote,

"Some key points I've learned from all of this is that you definitely have to be committed when engaging the oppressors and their legal system. You always have to keep in mind that you are facing seasoned veterans with all the tools and obstacles of the state at their beck and call. It's never going to be easy, just less difficult at times. Long periods of research and study are also essential with these legal battles long before you decide to actually bring your case into the courtroom. You can also never let yourself be discouraged because discouragement is key to the oppressor's victories which in turn establishes precedent making it that much more difficult for us to succeed."

Prison Legal News and the lawyers supporting their work are the exception to the rule. Most of the time it is prisoners, sometimes with little or no formal education, as this comrade can attest to, who must fight these battles in a maze of complicated language and jargon, where you are starting out at a huge disadvantage. That is why it is important to keep in mind what we are dealing with. The u.$. state is an imperialist state. The court is not a just and benevolent god. Mumia introduces his new book Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. discussing prisoners who have gone mad after years of learning and applying the law only to lose their just cases, or to have them thrown out before even getting a trial. Such outcomes are to be expected for the oppressed under imperialism and this is an important lesson to learn.

To our readers in California, it is more important than ever that you write in to tell us what mail you are receiving from us so that we can build on this struggle. To date, only a handful of people have acknowledged receiving ULK 10 on Hip Hop.


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