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
[Legal] [Censorship] [Missouri]
expand

The First Amendment is Disregarded by Prisonkrats

Under the United States Constitution, in particular the First Amendment, is Our fundamental right of freedom of speech, expression, association and religion. This means that people have the right to freely express themselves socially, politically or religiously no matter how radical or backwards the ideas may seem. Everyone has the right to believe what they choose and to freely express those views. At lease that is what the law says.

However, prison administrators across the country have continuously and deliberately violated prisoner's rights based upon the false assumptions that the social, historical and political material that they are receiving is somehow a threat to the prison safety and security.

What this amounts to in reality is the prisonkrats suppressing Our right to associate with, receive mail from, correspond with, possess the literature of, or be part of any group or organization that is political in nature, and especially those groups or organizations which are critical of the prison industrial complex. The last thing the prisonkrats want to see is a bunch of prisoners who are socially and politically conscious and active. They want Us to stay ignorant and in the dark, as We are their job security.

Everyone who is currently incarcerated must learn not only mailroom policy and procedure, but what federal case law supports and protects Our rights. If you aren't doing anything to challenge the repressive/oppressive conditions, then you really have no right to complain. I am encouraging all of you whose rights have been violated to appeal those decisions through the grievance process and to exhaust all of your administrative remedies. Once this is done, you should prepare and file suit under 42 USCA 1983, which is the federal civil rights lawsuit and the proper legal avenue to challenge the system's censorship of your mail.

For those of you in Missouri, I am currently preparing a federal complaint and once filed, you may be able to become a part of this suit if it is "certified" as a class action, meaning that the censorship policy is violating our rights as a class.

I am asking all of you on the outside who support Our right to receive literature and information to write letters to the Director of the Department of Corrections. and the warden here and let them know that you are aware of their illegal activity of violating Our rights and that you support Our right to receive information, correspond with and be members of outside social and political organizations.

For those who are not too abreast of the law, here are some cases that the courts rely on regarding censorship. These are your weapons, use them well.

Turner v. Safely 482 U.S.78. 107 S.Ct 2254
Proconier v. Martinez 416 U.S.396. 94 S.Ct 1800
Thornburgh v. Abbott 490 U.S. 4o1
Johnson v. Raemisch 557 F.Supp 2d 964
Jacklovich v. Simmons 392 F.3d 42o

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Thank you for your support. You can also contact me through MIM for more information. Send letters of support/protest to:

Larry Crawford, Director
Missouri Dept. of Corrections
PO Box 236
Jefferson City, MO 65102
(573) 526-6607

Troy Steele, Warden
Southeast Correctional Center
300 E. Pedro Simmons Dr.
Charleston, MO 63834
(573) 683-4409

chain
[Censorship] [Florida] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

More Vibe, King, XXL Subscriptions cancelled

Last night at dinnertime they served what you call "baked chicken" and it had blood running out of it. It had a stink to it. You can catch salmonella this way and it can kill you. The canned greens had sand all in them, the carrots had mud stains on them and the rice was raw. None of these foods were washed or cooked properly. This is done regularly. I've written grievances and complaints to no avail. This is just inhuman, we are human beings not pigs out in a barn.

I canceled my XXL Magazine subscription. My Vibe and King subs should be about up too. They rejected Vibe November 2008 for so-called "gang signs" as well as my first issue of King. I'm sending you the copies of both of the censorship notices so you can contact them for me. I sent grievances (formal and informal) out about my Vibe magazine and never saw a response- it's December now, this is ridiculous.

MIM responds: We have also attempted to contact Harris Publications a number of times regarding racist censorship of their publications, but we have not received a response either. This is just one of an increasing number of reports we are receiving regarding the censorship of these three publications in prisons across the country. So far, they seem unconcerned with the subscription cancellations. We encourage prisoners to change to an Under Lock & Key subscription and support a publication that will stand up for your basic constitutional rights. Even though we offer free subscriptions to prisoners, anyone who can afford to should be contributing to our printing and postage costs. We are a 100% self-funded by comrades in the movement.

chain
[Organizing] [Legal] [Censorship] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
expand

Combat their Violence with the Law

I'm in solitary and they have strict magazine/newspaper rules, meaning no magazines/newspapers and just this last week they said no books. I'm grieving them on the books and all the returns using this case law: Prison Legal News v. Lehman 397 5.30 692 (9th Cir. 2005) - prisons may not prohibit prisoners from receiving non-subscription mail and catalogs, Sonnels v. McKee, 290 F.30 965 (9th Cir 2002) - prisons may not ban gift publications for which prisoner has not paid, and Morrison v. Hall, 261 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2001) - prisons may not ban receipt of subscription publications sent by bulk, third or fourth class mail. I've tried writing to the mailroom and explaining the way they've been in the wrong, nicely. But it seems there's no other way but to grieve and most likely prosecute.

It's not just mail and books I've been grieving and this might be why they have been holding/denying my mail. I've grieved mental health all the way to level three and also medical for deliberate indifference. They have mentally ill prisoners over here in solitary who regularly get peppersprayed, stun gunned, thrown around, thrown on strip cell, and even end up killing themselves. The C/O's kick their doors every count, waking them up. Calling them names, egging them on. Sgt. Feikert commented just last week as they zipped up Mark in his body bag, "No big loss, this scumbag did us a favor, we need the bedspace."

I read a piece by Emile Capouya called, "Laying Down the Gun," that says this about C/Os, "The policeman's... training... [is] directed to a single object... making the system safe for the powerful. The deformation of character he suffers may be greater or less than that of the 'other' born losers he is paid to keep in line, but I imagine it must be substantial." And I can see it in their faces. They're in the belly of this beast called prison even though they go home to sleep. I've been locked up for six years, but against my will. They drive their sorry selves here each day.

But isn't the key in the general strike? If that was awakened again I believe it could work. It's not about violence, is it? I don't know but like I told these other organizations, if you could have talked to me one year ago I wouldn't have been able to tell you there's 2.3 million people caged in the U.$. of A's prison industrial complex. In my mind I knew something wasn't right and I literally saw no better way than to take a couple cops with me, hence my disarming an officer charge. But now I have something larger and more pressing to put my weight behind. I just hope others like myself see the truth before it's too late for them.

MIM(Prisons) says: We also spend a lot of time explaining to prison mailrooms and administrators when they are breaking their own rules and laws. But often they will not address the misdeeds and it is then necessary to prosecute in the courts, as this comrade explains. Unfortunately, this is usually the case, as years of reporting in Under Lock & Key have documented. Like the quote in this letter implies, this is only to be expected from those who are trained to serve the interests of the state. While oppression of certain groups serves the state, so does a semblance of bourgeois democratic rights. That is why we can usually count on the courts to give us a more fair shake than the pigs will. Such battles are necessary survival tactics for the oppressed and for the movement.

The author, like many who write us, is someone who used to think killing cops was the only way to defend himself from the attacks he faced. Prison staff abuse and disregard the lives of prisoners regularly as he describes. Lives are at stake in the amerikan prison environment, both prisoners and cops. Yet official policy institutionalizes violence by encouraging a culture of punishment while often denying any administrative recourse for those who are being abused. In many of these same facilities, even outside parties such as MIM(Prisons) have no recourse with these state employees, nominally servants of the people, when they violate our guaranteed rights by preventing us from communicating and associating with others.

MIM(Prisons) works with comrades like this to find a real solution to these problems because fist fights and stabbings are not the answer to abuse in prisons. We hope that the prison administration will recognize this and begin treating prisoners like humyn beings. Studies have shown that the u$ prison system inherently breeds abuse, while history demonstrates that only a socialist prison system that puts the interests of the world's people first can provide a viable alternative where those who have committed real crimes are restored and not victimized. So it is important that we use long legal battles to build outside pressure and oversight on what is going on inside u$ concentration camps today, in order to bring this contradiction of capitalist society to the forefront while building a broader anti-imperialist united front.

chain
[Censorship] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia]
expand

King Mag wants Subs but Silent on Censorship

Dear King,

I have received you all renewal notice stating that October will be my last issue. Well, I would really like to continue my subscription, but for some strange reason, when I attempt to reach out to the company on numerous occasions to inform you all that Red Onion State Prison is stopping the magazine at the first level of a three level panel because they consider it to be promoting violence, gang-related, among other reasons used to reject you all King Magazines to those of us at Red Onion State Prison who paid in advance to receive the King Magazine each month.

I am disappointed with the customer services department for not having their staff effectively communicating on this matter. No one responded to my letter and no one at Harris Publishing is showing any type of concern to battle Red Onion State Prison for slandering King Magazine and what you all represent, which is a Black popular culture magazine.

Now, like I mentioned above, I'd love to reorder. But the conditions are not stable and you all not showing support to fight the struggle with these people and I'm a customer. This document I'm enclosing is how they categorize King. Now, it didn't spread mainstream through the whole Virginia system yet, but it's coming very soon. So what is King going to do to maintain thousands of their worthy customers?

View rejection notice

chain
[Censorship] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 5]
expand

Censorship Hypocrisy Continues at Red Onion

I included two pages of a book titled "Hip Hop Lil Wayne", by Janice Rockworth [see below], which the library is issuing out for prisoners incarcerated at Red Onion to read. Now, this particular book literally speaks in details about gangs. But yet, they (ROSP) constantly keep stopping ULK & Black magazines from coming into this facility for the reasons that they promote gangs or gang activity. It is not fair for these people to try and dictate what we can receive with the money we spend, especially when we have personal property approval slips to receive them. These pages are evidence to support any case brought against ROSP pertaining to discrimination and publication censorship.

chain
[Censorship] [Snake River Correctional Institution] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Censorship and Unjust Fines in Oregon

I am doing life here at Snake River C.I. in Oregon. Oregon prisons in general censor lots of publications such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Rune books, and the Satanic Bible. Books/magazines with pornography photos or adult content are censored.

Also, there are monetary fines. We here in Oregon get fined for things like disrespect, disobedience of order, etc. The way fines work is if you get fines, and you get money sent in, they take half up to $60. After that they just leave you $30. Then at the end of the month they take whatever you have left so you can never save money, can't buy a decent pair of shoes, can't buy anything. If you were to get money put on the last week of the month, you're burnt. They will take the rest. The disciplinary system here is totally inept and unjustified.

The Intensive Management Unit (IMU) is totally out of whack. We are maximum security prisoners, not in a disciplinary unit, but a programming unit. We have no access to phones, we don't get mainline commissary, we aren't able to have personal shoes. Yet any other maximum security prisoner is allowed these things.

These issues are some of the things that are wrong with the Oregon prison system. I won't even begin with the sentencing system!

chain
[Censorship] [Colorado]
expand

Censorship in Colorado

Colorado – 3rd in per capital prison spending
47th in per capital education spending
6th fastest growing prison population in the U.S.
No surprise here, is there?

Hello and greetings! I am so glad to have found you. I have been an anti-imperialist since I was fourteen, and more recently I have been studying Marxism. Would you please subscribe me to your publications.

I am intrigued by your URL name “Prison Censorship” [www.prisoncensorship.info is the MIM(Prisons) web site]. Prison censorship has gotten out of control, especially here in Colorado. I should never have come to Colorado, this is truly the quintessential police state if I ever saw one. This is my first (and last!) trip to prison and I would have received probation for my first time offense in any of the prior states I have lived. They don’t screw with our political or religious mail here. That’s one of the only things the ACLU has ever done for us here. As payback, they terrorize all of our other mail and reject numerous legal and constitutionally protected correspondence.

chain
[Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Responses to ULK4 on censorship

I'd like to comment on some of the articles written by prisoners in September's ULK. While I haven't finished reading it just yet, only the prisoner articles, I quite enjoyed the ULK. This edition should've been titled "The Censorship Issue."

It's true that institutions throughout the country focus only on Black and Brown oriented magazines, citing "pornographic material" or "gang paraphernalia." Now this doesn't just have to do with "Vibe" or "XXL" or "Maxim en Espanol." Even "ESPN en Espanol" has begun to be targeted within SVSP. Now last I checked "ESPN en Espanol" focuses on soccer and sports in Latin America in general and last I checked there weren't many scantily clad women in this magazine. So what's the deal? It seems that since many adult institutions so successfully banned pornographic materials, such as pictures and magazines, now they're trying to stop us from appreciating our own women who aren't even naked in these magazines. Now that they see that they can get away with this they seem to move on to sports magazines stating that they can't understand the language therefore there's a possibility that coded messages might be hidden somewhere in the text or some other frivolous, ridiculous reason.

To me this seems like a type of aggressive assimilation. You can't look at brown/black women, but you can look at some fancy white model in Vogue magazine. Also I recall seeing an issue of GQ magazine sometime back with an article about a supposed member of the CRIPS gang in Watts. In this article there were a few pictures which, if found in Vibe or any other culturally oriented magazine, would've deemed the magazine a "safety and security risk" to the institution, but because it was in good 'ol GQ, no one batted an eye. I'm sure they don't even bother to crack those open for inspection in the mail rooms inside institutions across Amerikkka.

Another article that caught my attention in the ULK was the plight of the South Carolina inmate. There seems to be a lot wrong with what's going on over there. To begin with, by law every institutional law library must be properly stocked and equipped with adequate and up to date legal materials. Off hand I can't remember the title of the case but I believe this has already been decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. Next time I go to law library I'll try to find it.

Also concerning the New Mexico inmate whose grievances are not being responded to, it would be a good idea if he acquired declarations from other inmates there who've gone through similar experiences he could use these declarations to show the court how the prison refuses to let prisoners exhaust their remedies. This is what I'm doing for a couple of guys here whose civil suits were dismissed in the district court due to supposedly not exhausting the remedies. They are now appealing in the 9th Circuit and my declarations of how I found 602s and legal mail in the trash will hopefully be helpful.

chain
[Censorship] [Gender] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

NY promotes Sexual Harrassment and Violence


8/12/2008

Yo, I just want you to know that I received your letter and that I didn't get the MIM Theory #7. I am waiting for the grievance that I filed on 8/5/08 and I just wrote to the superintendent of programs about this. I got the manila envelope that they send the MIM Theory in, but the MIM Theory was not in the envelope, instead there was a pictorial sex book.

...I don't know if it was on tv out there but the jail got locked down for like 4 to 5 days and 4 C/Os got cut or stabbed, so shit's been crazy.


8/18/2008

I just wanted to let you know that I didn't get the MIM Theory #7. I wrote to M. Putnode, Deputy Supt./Programs Services and they said that they do not have it. I wrote a grievance and they didn't write back.


- a prisoner in Clinton Correctional Facility

MIM(Prisons) comments: We can document a history of abuse and targeting of politically conscious prisoners at Clinton Correctional Facility going back years and naming names. Numerous prisoners have filed complaints regarding these staff members, and groups like the Correctional Association of New York (in 2004) have reported on these trends. Yet the state has still not put an end to it.

This example is similar to others at Clinton, where there is no paper trail, allowing the administration to say that nothing happened and deny responsibility. In other words, the NYS DOCS has granted staff the freedom to act however they see fit to repress efforts at organization and education in Clinton.

We have written in previous issues about the gender oppression of prisoners. This act of sexual harassment is just one more example of that. A Black man tries to educate himself about the liberation of his people and some cracker steals the literature we send and replaces it with porn. He sees the Black man as having no interests outside of smoking weed and chasing pussy, and this is how he reacts when faced with reality.

Upstate and Five Points have recently censored mail from MIM(Prisons) as well alleging that it promotes violence. Once more, for the record, MIM(Prisons) does not promote violence, we promote a world free of oppression. Only the oppressor can decide how that will come about. Unfortunately, we do not have the power to do so ourselves. We can only transform the world we find ourselves in by understanding its internal nature.

Some recent censorship was justified because it was critical of prison labor, the physical abuse of a prisoner in New York, and advertised lawsuits that are pending against the state. The most recent prison censorship case, Lorenzo Johnson v. Rick Raemisch, Daniel Westfield, and Michael Thurmer, Case No. 07-C-390-C, upheld that prisons cannot censor literature because it is critical of their department. And attempts at stifling support for class action suits is just one more effort to prevent prisoners access to legal protection. The recent attacks at Clinton reported here show what happens when you don't allow prisoners access to legitimate grievance procedures when staff becomes abusive, as they inevitably do in such an oppressive situation.

The policy of the NYS DOCS of supporting staff committing these abuses for years demonstrate a clear attempt by the department to promote violence. Even if they can't learn from their own experience, we've been telling them this for years, and we know they read our literature, so they can't claim ignorance. They want violence, because they use violence as an excuse for further repression. Repression is against the interests of the oppressed, so the oppressed (MIM(Prisons) included) oppose this violence that is being promoted at Clinton.

see censorship records

chain
[Censorship] [California]
expand

Censorship at Pelican Bay State Prison

For the past eighteen years a clear pattern of racial discrimination and political persecution has reared its ugly head, its presence is vivid clear and profound, a procedural manifestation within the protocols of official -sanctioned practice here at Pelican Bay. Which simply means the inherent propensity to discriminate against New Afrikan (Black) prisoners, an antiquated evil which is still prevalent in today's society and is magnified ten-fold within the concrete confines of the U.S. penal system and its deplorable code of conduct.

Though we can concede to the observations that socio-demographics contributed and facilitates the proliferation and perpetuation of racial discrimination, being that the majority of U.S. prisons are located in white rural areas where New Afrikan people are only an image on the 5 o'clock news. It is only inevitable that racism flourishes in these areas. Many of the local rural citizens are hired to work in these new prisons, and they don't leave their racist beliefs/attitudes at home. In fact these folks bring/import their racist attitudes with them, and these attitudes manifest themselves within the core penological psyche of the Prison Industrial Slave-Complex thus influencing every aspect of the Prison Industrial Slave-Complex and this is applicable to the entire U.S. penal system.

In Pelican Bay State Prison the inherent racism has manifested in a very blatant but unique way. The Institutional Gang Investigation Unit (IGI), Investigative Service Unit (ISU) and the Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) out of Sacramento have reduced New Afrikan (Black) history and culture to prison gang politics. By doing so they have limited New Afrikan politically conscious prisoners ability to learn and teach our history and created a method to circumvent our first amendment rights, for example: New Afrikan revolutionary prisoners presently being housed in the security housing unit (SHU - Solitary Confinement). We are forbidden to possess any book, literature/material or pictures/drawings by or about George Jackson, we can't even write about George Jackson. This is considered contraband and gang activity. They have reduced George Jackson to a prison gang symbol. This is a method they have employed to conceal their racial and political persecution. But it don't stop there, we are also forbidden to possess any literature or publication about/or that mentions Black August. Though New Afrikan people in every major state including the New Afrikan Independence Movement/New Afrikan Liberation Movement commemorate Black August. It is considered gang activity for us to write about it or commemorate it.

They have also criminalized the New Afrikan Independence Movement by reducing its primary ideology (i.e. New Afrikan Revolutionary nationalism) to prison gang politics. They have confiscated any/and all relevant literature. They have reduced our political activities to gang activities. For example, about 8 years ago I wrote a pamphlet titled "The Bell Curve Conspiracy - A Recipe for Black Genocide." Two of the New Afrikan prisoners who contributed to this booklet were also alleged members of the Black Guerrilla Family (like myself). For this reason alone this pamphlet was confiscated, claiming we were involved in gang activity. Anytime we come together to participate in a clear political act it is reduced to gang activity and every literature that is associated with that project is confiscated.

Another example: I had Professor Dorothy B. Fardan (Sojourner Truth Forum School, Center for Human Growth) send me a printed copy of a proposal I had written back in 1996 and revised in 2002. this proposal is designed to eradicate hunger/starvation among all children, Black children in particular, because they content I had intended to distribute copies to other alleged Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) members it was confiscated and I was accused of participating in gang activity.

People, what I have described to you above is only a brief glimpse of what we as New Afrikan prisoners are going through. We are also being penalized for our political activities, when they reduce our political activities to gang activities. They are then able to write negative reports which can and have affected our release to the general population, many of us have been in solitary/isolation over 20 years, for me it has been 25 years in the hole. At least 12 of us have lawsuits pending in the Federal Court, and many more are in the process. Before I end this, I would like to provide you with one more example. On January 30, 200, special gang units from Sacramento along with IGI that ISU raided our cells, the following is a listing of what all they had confiscated stating it was gang related, list one consists of my personal writings and list two consists of Black historical, cultural and political literature and artwork and religious material:

List one: 1. New Afrikan Criminology 101 textbook. 2. Other literature pertaining to New Afrikan Criminology 101. 3. Bell Curve conspiracy (pamphlet). 4. The U.S. fradulent annual crime report (pamphlet) 5. All material pertaining to the George Jackson University and Marcus Garvey Study Group. 6. Pan-Afrikan Community Dept. of Agriculture proposal. 7. Support the Pelican Bay State Prison peace summit (proposal). Note: unbeknownst to many, California prison system averages 300-500 race-based riots/melees a year and this does not include the individual race-motivated stabbings. This has been going on for the past 20 years and now it has spilled over into the streets of Los Angeles. 8. Save the Black Farm (proposal) 9. How to stop the spread of the Control Unit Prison (proposed strategy) 10. All my writings concerning George Jackson and Black August. 11. All my notes and rough drafts to at least 15 proposals. 12. Over 40 poems.

List two: 1. Blood in my Eye, by George Jackson. 2. Malcolm X Last Speech. 3. Revolutionary Handbook, by Kwame Nkrumah. 4. A pamphlet on the Black Liberation Army. 5. A pamphlet commemorating those members of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army that was murdered during the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. 6. All literature pertaining to George Jackson. 7. A picture and art work of George Jackson. 8. A painting of dead Black Panther members. 9. Revolutionary artwork. 10. All literature pertaining to Black August. 11. A CD cover: one song titled Long Liver the Guerrilla, one song dedicated to George Jackson. 12. Approximately seven newsletters from the New Afrikan Black Panther Party. 13. Pictures. 14. A number of handwritten material. 15. Chairman Mao interpretation of Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism. 16. Swahili dictionary. 17. Seven Christian pamphlets by the army of god. 18. Black history book catalog. 19. A class action petition (note: they claim this legal petition is a cover designed to disguise a roster of alleged BGF members).

All the property listed in both list one and two were all confiscated under the fabricated contention it was all prison-gang related. In addition to the censorship, political persecution, we are being intentionally further isolated, New Afrikan prisoners are often assigned to one cell in a pod, while our racist oppositions can occupy up to five/six cells in a eight cell pod, leaving us with no one to communicate with or share our political views. This is a deliberate act by IGI, OCS and the administration.

People, we are presently developing a campaign, if you are interested in helping us put an end to official censorship and political persecution contact MIM(Prisons).

Petition Against Censorship and Political Persecution

1) We demand the immediate end to the IGI/ISU censorship program targeting New Afrikan politically conscious prisoners being held in the security housing unit 1, 2, 3 and 4.
2) We demand the immediate end to the ban on all material concerning George Jackson
3) We demand the immediate end to the ban on all material concerning Black August
4) We demand the immediate end to the political persecution of those New Afrikan revolutionary prisoners who are presently being held in Pelican Bay security housing unit 1, 2, 3 and 4.
5) We demand the immediate end to the racial isolation of those New Afrikan revolutionary prisoners being held in the Security Housing Unit 1, 2, 3 and 4.


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
chain