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Under Lock & Key

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[Legal] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 18]
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Next Steps for an Effective Grievance Campaign

I received the Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) summary from October 2010. First off, I have to say that this is a good format, with various people sharing ideas and expertise. This format will definitely push the legal struggle forward.

Concerning the grievance petition initiated in California, while i'd initially thought the campaign was a good idea, i have to say that i had my doubts concerning the effectiveness of it. Its entire success hinges on mass participation and not just on 10 or 15 individuals getting involved. Even then i think its effectiveness is a longshot unless of course you're already involved in a legal battle within the judicial system, as presentation of responses entered into evidence as exhibits would help to prove to the court that the handling of grievances by prison officials has some serious faults, which we know they do.

Instead, I like the comrade from California's idea of suing CDCR and attacking its entire appeals process. We can ask that a truly independent institution take over the entire appeals process, or be created if need be. I think this is very much a winnable battle were it to enter the judicial arena. Copies of the grievance petition from prisoners who've already completed the campaign and have received responses should be forwarded to the PLC for forwarding to whomever should decide to initiate and fight the legal battle.

I also have here a copy of a §1983 "Findings and Recommendations Recommending Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be Denied" which was filed by CDCR officials in California against a prisoner in which the pigs tried to have the plaintiff's §1983 dismissed due to supposed failure to exhaust claims. The motion was dismissed and the court found in favor of the prisoner plaintiff. While I do not know of the outcome of the case, i believe this motion is worth a look. As soon as i'm able to obtain copies i will forward them to the PLC for review and dispersal.

For now, however, here is relevant case law pertaining to the exhaustion requirement:


Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. 910, 918-19 (2007)
McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Circuit. 2002)
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, 121 S. Ct 1819 (2001)
Porter v. Nussle, 435 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S. Ct 983 (2002)
Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003)
Ritza v. Int'l Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union, 837 F.2d 365, 368 (9th Cir. 1998) (per currium)
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 126 S. Ct. 2378, 2383 (2006)

The following case law was cited to the plaintiff's favor:

Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir. 2008)
Aquilar-Avellaveda v. Terrell, 478 F.3d 1223, 1225 (10th Cir. 2007)
Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006)
Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006)
Boyd v. Corrections Corp. of America, 380 F.3d 989, 986 (6th Cir. 2004)
Abney v. McGinnis, 380 F.3d 663, 667 (2d 2004)
Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2002)
Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687, 698 (8th Cir. 2001)
Powe v. Ennis, 177 F.3d 393, 394 (5th Cir. 1999)
Underwood v. Wilson, 151 F.3d 292, 295 (5th Cir. 1998)
Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523, 529 (3d Cir. 2003)
Brown v. Croak, 312 F.3d 109, 113 (3d Cir. 2002)
Miller v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001)

These next citations are concerning requirements for the establishment of law libraries in prisons. I got these out of The Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook 4th edition 2003:

Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977)
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996)
Benjamin v. Fraser, 264 F.3d 175 (2d Cir. 2001)
Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 242 (3d Cir. 1999)
Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517 (9th Cir. 1991)
Corgain v. Miler, 708 F.2d 1241 (7th Cir. 1983)
Cruz v. Hauck, 627 F.2d 710 (5th Cir. 1980)
Shango v. Jurich, 965 F.2d 289 (7th Cir. 1992)
Lindquist v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 776 F.2d 851 (9th Cir. 1985)
Cepulonis v. Fair, 732 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1984)
Marange v. Fontenof, 879 F. Supp. 679 (E.D. Tex 1995)


MIM(Prisons) responds: In assessing the effectiveness of our campaigns we have a twofold approach. One goal is to win small battles that increase, or maintain space for, the free exchange of political ideas and the freedom of affiliation. Our second goal is to train the oppressed in mass action and power struggles.

The lawsuit idea suggested here might be more effective in meeting our first goal in relation to establishing a legal process for prisoners to have their complaints addressed under the current injustice system. But, ultimately, a real prison movement needs to mobilize large numbers of prisoners into participating in struggling for humane treatment and the freedom to fight for a better world. Without struggle there are no so-called "rights."

While the petition campaign has still been limited in the numbers reached, we are working to better streamline our support for USW campaigns, including the grievance petitions in states where these campaigns are active. We need more than a couple articles in ULK to launch a successful campaign. We need more regular USW cadre who are willing to take these agitational points to the masses on a regular basis. Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) today to get copies of the petition, or to contribute to building a legal case around this battle.

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[Censorship] [ULK Issue 18]
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Fighting Injustice is Uphill Battle

Your article on gang validation in ULK 17 was on point. I'm in a California state prison and every word that he spoke on was true, you have to watch what you say, who you with, what you read and receive and basically what you have in your cell.

Pictures, articles or drawings of George, Jonathan, a guerilla, gang banging and even some Muslim literature is not allowed. It's a shame that there is a long list of books that you cannot have because they say that it promotes unwanted activity, when in reality they just want to limit your understanding of the injustices that have been going on for decades in the system.

They have taken everything from us and are still taking everything from us; things that the ones before us shed blood, lost their lives, and are still locked up in the SHU fighting for. Every day it's something and by design you can't win fighting by their rules.

I just wanted to give big respect to y'all for this newsletter telling the real.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While the rules are set up to keep people in their place, we have strategic confidence in our ability to win. This is based in the fact that most people in the world suffer under the oppression of imperialism and have an interest in overthrowing it. By connecting the struggles of prisoners in the U.$. with the Third World workers, peasants and lumpen we will be on the right side of history.

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[Censorship] [Campaigns] [California]
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DOJ Likes to Pick Bad Apples

California Petition
Dept. of Justice response to grievance petition

In this response to a grievance petition from California sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ), they minimize the widespread scale of corruption of the grievance system in the California state prison system. Instead they are asking for facts and dates related to single incidents or perpetrators.

In "Bad Apples" in the Pig Pen we explained why a focus on targeting individual pigs is incorrect in most cases in our struggle because the problems we address are societal. Although societal problems manifest in individual pigs, focusing all of our energy trying to get one or two pigs fired from our facility doesn't significantly impact society as a whole.

One may argue that the DOJ just needs a place to begin their investigation. However, the petition makes it clear that this problem is widespread throughout the system. Realistically they could interview prisoners at random for details and receive enough information to begin an investigation. Their narrow and sterile approach to "justice" is just a cover for their interests in maintaining the status quo.

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[Security] [Censorship] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 18]
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Watching Me

The pigs at CCI Tehachapi SHU are monitoring revolutionary correspondence and materials coming through the mail; not censoring but delaying them by as much as three to four weeks. This specific instance was a personal experience, but it can be concluded that if one individual's revolutionary activity is being monitored, then all revolutionaries may be monitored.

Due to a medical condition, I must be taken out of my cell and to medical for a weekly injection which I use as an opportunity to butter up loose-mouth pigs and gather intelligence, catching a general idea of the internal condition of the pigs' camp. Never at any time have I mentioned or alluded to my revolutionary standpoint or activities in any way.

While going to medical this past week a pig made a very revealing statement inadvertently, immediately tipping me off that my mail was being monitored, specifically what I'd mailed to MIM(Prisons) the previous week. The pig's statement could not have been reaching because it contained the word "revolution" and related content of a letter to MIM(Prisons).

Let this be a warning to revolutionary activists and comrades across the U.$. injustice system, and California concentration camps in particular, that even if there is no censorship at your facility, if you participate in any serious revolutionary activities, then it's sure to be monitored.

Practical steps may be taken to combat this issue, such as working with and notifying MIM(Prisons) of censorship issues while going through the grievance and court system, if able to do so. Keeping eyes and ears open to detect if you are being monitored is not difficult to do.

If it feels like you are being watched, then you are. Remember, paranoia can be the better part of prudence in the control unit.


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
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[Political Repression] [Censorship] [Green Bay Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 18]
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Reading Non-Fiction = Threat to Security

Last month in October a brother was written a misconduct report for having Soledad Brother and From Niggas to Gods. They reasoned that George Jackson is a "known Panther" as if that is a valid reason to write him up. They said From Niggas to Gods was banned in Green Bay Correctional Institution. I guess 'cause they don't want us to go from calling ourselves niggas, behaving like niggas, to calling ourselves children of God or behaving as such. They want us to still be their niggas and we best not be caught trying to learn or read any books of substance. But we can read an "urban" novel that promotes all type of Black-on-Black murder and violence. He was given 210 days in the hole.

On November 2 2010 my comrade's bunk was searched and the racist pig Van Laden took several books from him, i.e. Soledad Brother, Noam Chomsky, Niami Akbar, Cornel West's Reader and a couple more. They also took some 4struggle newspapers because they mentioned the Black Panther Party. For several days they didn't give him the conduct report. They usually come within 2 days. He was called out to talk to the pig Van Laden and Van Laden told him that he will see him in court, meaning at the conduct report hearing.

On November 8 2010 he was given the conduct report. It is a witch hunt. The pig Van Laden says Soledad Brother mentions the Black Panthers, that 4struggle mentions the Panthers' 10 point platform, and phrases like "clenched fist," "power to the people," "red black and green." This pig said the material and books are "black supremacy" literature! I'm still trying to understand what is Black supremacy and what does that mean. The use of the word supremacy means one group is saying that they are superior to another. Nothing in any of the material points to that because if it did he would have written "page so-and-so of this book says they are superior and whites are inferior." But he can't because that is not what any of the material advocates. He claims to be a Security Threat Expert and states in the report that the Panthers are on the list as a security threat group. Thus any material that mentions it is banned and anyone caught with it is in violation for having this reading material. Same as slavery.

But dig this, comrade has receipts for every book they say is a threat to their security. They let them in, then say you can't have them. They have a list of banned books and none of his books are on the banned book list. Not even Soledad Brother, because nothing in it is a security threat. George ain't advocating nothing of so-called violence or Black supremacy. Like I said before this is just a witch hunt to break us up. The two brothers I mentioned are in the dorm with me, we are in a social environment, not fighting each other, and teaching these younger brothers. That is the security threat to them. They don't want us to learn about our history and gain a sense of self. They want us ignorant running around here being good n's. Reading is forbidden unless it's fiction. He was charged with Group Resistance and Petition and awaits to go on his hearing.

On November 5 2010 I was called up to the CO desk and asked how another prisoner got my book. She said if I didn't give it to him she would write him up for theft. I said the regular CO Zellner that works here said he can read it as long as I get it back by the end of the night. She said "well I'm giving you a ticket for unauthorized transfer of property." She called another brother to the desk and gave him his book back without writing a ticket for him. The title of my book was Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party. That is why she wrote me up but gave the other brother his book back.

I got the conduct report on November 8 2010 and Group Resistance and Petition was on it too. This charge is one that they use to lay someone down in the hole or send to Wisconsin's supermax in Boscobel where I have been for over 4 years already. The report says I gave my book to someone else to read which is a violation 9.e. unauthorized transfer of property. Even if a CO gave you permission it is still unauthorized transfer of property under their 1984 newspeak semantics. It also says that the Black Panthers are an "unsanctioned" group, and the book is confiscated. But I worked in the library here before and I've seen this same book come in on inter-library loan on several occasions; Soledad Brother and From Niggas to Gods too.

The fix is in. My comrade and I still await our hearings. We talked to white shirt and the security director about this fix. This way they have knowledge of it and can be added to the lawsuit. Because none of this is a threat. I had this book for almost six and a half years! We're trying to get the word out about this. They have a list of banned books but none of these books we are written up for are banned.

Also I wrote a book about change and let a young brother read it. His bunk was searched and a new pig brought it up to the Sergeant and he called me up to the desk and asked if it was my book. I said yes. He asked, "who gave you permission to write this?" I said, "my mind! What you mean who gave me permission?" He said he was calling up to security to see if I could do that. About an hour went by and he called me to the desk and gave me the book back. But the thing is "who gave you permission?" As if I need someone's permission to write down my own thoughts. This same pig has a confederate flag tattoo on his left arm.

Saying we can't read or gain a sense of self by learning our history or that we need "their" permission slip to write our thoughts is the same as the slavery that our ancestors went through. But most can't see it. They just see these racist pigs as having a job. This is not a job, this is a form of oppression. Capitalism is a form of oppression. We are a means for them to be employed through our oppression. And I try to get these young and older brothers to see this. Slavery was capitalism. Prisons are capitalism. Whites were the ones that ran the plantations. Whites are the ones that run the prisons. It's all the same just a new way.

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Organizing] [Censorship] [Scotland Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 18]
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Legal Mail at Scotland Opened

I am a prisoner at Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg, North Carolina. I am writing to you because of the fact that the legal mail that you sent out to several prisoners here [containing a letter MIM(Prisons) sent to the Director of Prisons regarding ongoing censorship at Scotland CI] was opened by the mailroom staff and treated as regular mail.

Even though the mail had "Legal Mail" stamped on it, the mailroom staff still opened it. By DOC policy I have to witness them opening my legal mail, and I have to sign for legal mail. By them opening this legal mail, they violated DOC policy and broke Federal law.

This requires some sort of action. I am filing a grievance on this matter and when I receive a response I will send it to you.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This letter is just one example of the long history of mailroom staff at Scotland CI unjustly censoring, banning, and trashing mail from MIM(Prisons), with the collusion of Assistant Superintendent Karen Stanback. While this comrade is filing grievances and organizing other prisoners around the issue, another comrade in North Carolina is working on bringing a case against the NC DOC to hopefully reformat the whole censorship and grievance system. If you want to get involved, or support this case, get in touch. Both methods are correct and necessary if we want to combat censorship.

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[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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