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Under Lock & Key

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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.


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
This article referenced in:
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[Censorship] [Abuse] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 11]
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Kkklinton Censors Article then Cracks More Skulls

Under Lock & Key No. 10 page 11 has been found unacceptable for the following reason:

"page 11 violate guideline IIE of Directive 4572 as they allege that an inmate at a New York State Correctional Facility was being mistreated by New York State Department of Correction Staff. It is the opinion of the Media Review Committee that this article, if introduced into a correctional setting, could incite disobedience toward correctional personnel."

There is no way that an article could incite disobedience toward correctional personnel in this facility. Since my arrival at this very racist, corrupt, biased, gang-oriented facility, security personnel here have been on a war path brutalizing numerous convicts unchallenged. Three guys remain here on SHU who were allegedly engaged in fights with other prisoners who were brutalized by security staff. One of them was not only beaten in general population by security staff, but when he went on an escort call out of the SHU one of the officers who was involved in the first assault against him orchestrated an ambush while the prisoner was being escorted through the hall returning from this call out. The officer busted the man's head open while he was in a waist chain and hand cuffs.

Most of the prisoners assaulted by gang staff members are alleged affiliates of prison organizations, yet none of their cronies raised up to the occasion. So how in the hell could an article incite disobedience?

MIM(Prisons): The article in question was one of a series of reports from prisoners at Clinton documenting the abuse there. As laid out in Johnson v. Raemisch, it is illegal for prisons to censor publications because they are critical of staff. Lesson from Clinton staff: if you utilize legal grievance procedures, you'll have your rights and your persyn violated. But use of violence and abuse on the oppressed will get you a well-paid job with the state of New York!

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[Organizing] [Censorship] [New York]
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Building Peace is Political

Yesterday the study course materials from MIM(Prisons) were withheld by the facility Media Review Committee, who once again stated that study materials promote and incite violence. So I naturally appealed it, because I know for a fact those claims are false and absurd! Last time they did the same thing and I appealed it and won due to those frivolous claims. How many times do we have to show these sadistic pigs that we are not reactionaries, nor do we promote senseless violence or disobedience towards prison staff? I understand they don't want to see growth and development and for one to do progressive things in prison, but I'm a revolutionary with a righteous cause and I will prevail by all means.

I just read an article written by the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project in the Bayview newspaper that dealt with a riot that exploded in Chino concentration camp by Mexicanos and Afrikans once again. The article stated that this violence went on for 11 hours with slashings, stabbing, cuttings and over 200 were hurt and several critically injured! I get highly frustrated when I read Black and Brown people's violence towards each other, this is counterproductive and reactionary to the fullest. This inter- or self-oppression we commit towards each other empowers the pigs and their capitalist-imperialist system. This old "divide and conquer" strategy is really in full effect and as long as the lumpen are at each others throat and can't make an analysis between who are our real enemies and who are our comrades in struggle, then we will never be liberated!

I suggest we do another ULK on Peace, Unity and Solidarity because this is needed in order for us to make revolutionary change! Brothers who are studying with MIM in Cali Concentration Camps need to really put theory into practice and stop this ignorance and senseless violence amongst Black and Brown peoples.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As we have stated before, we see the principal contradiction within U.$. prisons to be that between the different groups of oppressed people. So yes, we will continue to work on this issue of peace, and hope to put out a ULK dedicated to this work again in the next year. We want to be able to make progress in promoting peace agreements and protocols, but as this comrade stated, it is up to those involved to step forward and put the theory into practice. MIM(Prisons) cannot create peace from the outside.

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[Censorship] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
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XXL Just Wants Your $12.99

Revolutionary greetings, comrades. I consider myself to be a conscious brother. I'm also a realist. I can't help but notice that prisoners are writing in, complaining about issues that are minute. And/or of no interest to Us that are dedicated to and about the struggle (total liberation of Our people mentally, spiritually, and physically).

Take for instance the problem with censorship. True, it's a problem that needs attention. However, complaining over magazines such as Vibe, XXL, and King is ludicrous. These publications don't give a damn about these concentration camps we're housed in. As long as that capitalistic business receives our $12.99 they are straight. Let's support those that support us such as MIM(Prisons).

Also comrades, we're all held in an institution that breeds injustice. We're all aware of this fact. OK, let's start fighting this beast with the resources we have. Educate yourself with the law. Know how to attack the grievance system that's a part of this corrupt system. We have to have comrades on the outside that are willing to harass these slave-holders and let them know that you have family/friends that care and are wiling to fight until justice is done. Without that we're on our own and must unite and fight until justice is done. We must want for our brothers/sisters what we want for ourselves.

Texas is one of the worst states to do time in. We have no phones, don't get paid a red cent to work, and we damn near make everything that's sold in the commissary. However that can't break the spirit of a warrior who is dedicated to uplifting my people.

The time is now to unite.

MIM Responds: This comrade is right to assert that the publishers of Vibe, XXL, and King probably only care about their dollar. We've tried communicating with Harris Publications a number of times about the racist censorship of their magazines in amerikan prisons but have still received no response. MIM(Prisons) is against all censorship in prison and would align with the publishers of magazines like XXL, if they were interested. So far they haven't been, but we will still uphold these as examples of the racist censorship policies in u$ prisons.

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[Censorship] [Legal] [New Mexico]
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Legal Mail caselaw needed

I have been getting blocked from accessing the courts by mail due to my indigency and DACDC refusing to send out my legal mail to the courts. I have been writing 2-3 times per week to submit motions and add exhibits as evidence including 40 more mail rejection notices and 10 envelopes from the Supreme Court of New Mexico Law Library that were not processed properly as legal mail. Can you advise me on this or at least give me appropriate case law to cite in this regard?

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