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Under Lock & Key

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[Censorship] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Repression in Texas

I would like our community of revolutionaries to know what is going on in the confines of Preston Smith Unit. The gang intelligence officer took all of my property, saying that I was trying to recruit a feline pen pal into the ALKQN. When my property was returned to me I was missing people's birthday dates, the names of people getting married, and all my addresses and phone numbers.

The reason that was given was "dangerous contraband." I don't know when such things became "dangerous," none of the people have tried to break me out of prison or smuggle in contraband. I have been incarcerated for a little over eleven years, I have had the gang intelligence take my property several times. At no time have they tried to take my addresses, they have taken pictures, names and numbers of inmates and even raps. At no time have they gone this far.

I have no way to contact anyone that I know and it is infuriating. The gang intelligence has cut me off form society and I still have a little over seven years before I see parole.

The grievance system is a joke, here are people who are chummy with those who we "write up." Do we actually think that we will get results? Of course not. That is a fallacy that only novice prisoners might believe in. The truth of the matter is, the injustice system gets away with so much due to those who are outside of it, not doing anything to assist those who are inside.

This [Under Lock and Key] is a forum, sort of a think thank. We know far more collectively than we do individually. All that needs to be done is to set the stage for a movement. That's why they really took all my addresses, they fear my mind and power to build.

It is time to unify into one, we must set objectives that we reach on a deadline. How beautiful it would be to have 7,000 people call and write letters about one issue at a time.

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[Censorship] [California]
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Disregarding mail regulations in California

I'm still hoping that Imperialism and Class Structure in 1997 shows up. These people here have gotten so audacious that they don't even bother to follow their own regulations. One, there's absolutely nothing whatsoever that "threatens the safety or security of the institution" regarding this piece of economics. Two, they're illegally blanketing censorship of all materials from you without even looking at them. And three, they have a procedure that they're supposed to follow, i.e. send the prisoner a rejection of mail form, stating why it's being rejected, and give the prisoner an opportunity to send it back, destroy it, or challenge it via a 602 form.


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
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[International Connections] [Censorship] [ULK Issue 4]
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Some Ammo for China v. Bush

"We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights, not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential." - U.$. President George W. Bush (1)

Last week MIM(Prisons) released our biannual censorship report, which cites documented incidents of censorship of our literature in more than half of the states in the united $tates of amerikkka. That's just the documented incidents of one organization with a tiny distribution.

Comrades in our movement have been yelled at, kicked out, ticketed, physically attacked, arrested and many are currently sitting in isolation cells for the crime of trying to speak about or distribute literature expressing our ideas. For prisoners in isolation, it's usually just a matter of possessing said literature.

If China changes its policy of not publicly criticizing the internal affairs of other countries, documentation of the extensive censorship we face is provided right here on our website for their use.

Let there be no mistake, freedom of speech in a class system is a bourgeois myth.

notes: (1) Washington Post. August 7, 2008.

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[Censorship] [Texas]
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Censorship at Texas Estelle Unit

This brief letter is not a complaint but only to raise my voice against the injustice I'm experiencing here at the Estelle High Security Unit.

I understand the implications pursuant to Correspondence Rules BP-03.91, of which each out-going and in-coming letter to and from offenders are indeed subject to inspection and if such letter is denied then the offender and the sender will be provided a Correspondence Denial Form within seventy-two hours of rejection. This is designed to go into detail informing the offender of the appropriate cause and the evidence relied upon for this denial, and whether he intends to appeal. If he does not wish to appeal, then he has the choice either to have the letter destroyed or sent back to the sender at the offender's expense. This rule, policy or procedure is not being followed.

As stated, there is no question a uniform procedure for denying out-going and in-coming mail is needed. I don't have a problem with the policy. I have a problem with the process. The BP-03.91 policy is a complete method of procedures, which establish a way of doing things and each procedure shall be related in accordance to policy.

What the mailroom staff (Office of Intelligence) are doing is shifting/switching procedure from one day to the next to cover whatever actions they've taken. In a very plain term, its unfair and totally inappropriate to shift or switch procedures in midstream without giving prior warning to offenders. How can any offender follow rules which constantly change without any notice? Rules, policies and procedures that change without notice confuse me as well as other offenders.

This policy is vague and ambiguous, leaving major openings for misinterpretation and giving unreasonable discretionary power to unit Gang Intelligence Officers that TDCJ-ID has left largely unchecked and unquestioned and untrained in key areas of the policy which, in return, causes animosity towards myself and other offenders. They use these misinterpretations to vastly exaggerate accounts of supposed gang-related information, and to justify denial of out-going mail. When mail is denied it often takes weeks before an offender is notified or if the correspondence is not denied it is sent out weeks later. All this is under the guise of security.

If the G.I. (reader) decides my letter contains dangerous content the letter will automatically be denied. How these readers define such content, and who plays a role in making that determination are questions without clear answers. And while such denials require written notification, in practice that rarely happens.

A review of the process exposes a policy in which sections of the policy either contradict each other or are shifted from one day to the next so that no one is responsible. The mailroom, the G.I. and/or Wing officer or even other offenders have access to our mail. The policy isn't even uniformly applied. These type of standard procedures will continue to exist because the mailroom staff insists on denying out-going mail without providing a written notice and without returning back offender's stamped envelopes.

For over two years on this unit, when out-going mail was denied the offender was informed and his stamped envelopes were confiscated. Only after the mailroom staff became so sloppy that they no longer even passed out any denial forms were there enough questions raised that it was discovered that the offender was supposed to receive his stamped envelope back, how nice! However, if questioned about where the thousands of stolen or wrongly confiscated stamps when to the past two years, there is no answer. In fact, any offender ho dares to ask will be retaliated against. Even when caught, the mailroom staff will deny that their conduct was unlawful in any respect.

Enclosed in this letter are grievance step one and two proof of my effort to remedied the problem but as you can see their response is always the same "...The Estelle Unit mailroom is processing all incoming and outgoing correspondence in accordance to BP-03.91. No further action is warranted..." I have other grievances that consist of the same issues but were handled with the same answer.

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[Censorship] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 5]
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Hypocrisy continues at Red Onion

Peep this out! You all remember sending me a document of someone saying that ROSP [Red Onion State Prison] allowed his January 2008 issue of GQ to come through when it had an article concerning the Crip gang lifestyle? Well, I went and ordered GQ in hopes that they slip up, to help in our defense in this battle. Well, in the August 2008 GQ, under the topic crime, there is an article titled "Mexico's Red Day" on pages 96,97,98,100,102 and 103. In it they talk about gang/drug cartels, rapes, small gang war, killing left & right behind the gang & drug war, cops getting killed & using their rank to get over on people.

I mean, how could these three levels of review miss this, especially when it's dealing with Mexico and they are aware of the conditions of poverty there? It's disappointing to see such blatant racism go unchecked, just because GQ is deemed a white publication while XXL and others are "Black." But it's alright because these fools insist on placing themselves in a position that they can't justify. They want a strictly enforced policy that they don't even honor.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is an ongoing battle against censorship in Virginia, where the prisons are rejecting all MIM(Prisons) literature as well as any other publications considered "Black" like XXL. We are appealing this through the legal system and also need letters of protest sent to: W.D. Jennings, Ph. D., Management Lead Analyst, Virginia Department of Corrections, PO Box 26963, Richmond, VA 23261-6963

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 4]
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SHU time for MIM lit

I'm writing regarding the 7/24/2008 rejection notice concerning my MIM publications. The claim for such action: "Inappropriate material for the correctional environment." There was no explanation in how my publication's were classified as inappropriate. I didn't receive the notice until four day's later, 7/28/08, so that I wouldn't have an opportunity to protest and appeal the rejection of my publications.

As of this moment, I've filed my informal complaint concerning the matter. Once I've received a response, the next step is laying the foundation for 42 U.S.C § 1983. The actions of this Hitler-style concentration camp is unacceptable!

Comrade, I've been locked down in the SHU since February 24, 2008, following the first rejection of my MIM publications on false allegations of organizing a riot! The length the Amerikans will go to silence the voice of an eminent revolution is unbelievable. The time is coming, they can't stop the unstoppable comrade!

[MIM(Prisons) also filed an administrative appeal to this censorship, and posted it, along with the censorship notification on our website. We encourage others to write in to support this comrade and protest the baseless censorship, using our letters as a model.]

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[Organizing] [Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 4]
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Who's talking in code, pig?

i received your letter today. My Brotha, i did receive your letter in Feb, and i had responded to it, but it was confiscated by the Institutional Gang Investigation Unit (IGI). They claim it was gang related, they claimed New Afrikan Collective is a code word for BGF, now you know how silly my keepers are.

For the past 18 years IGI/ISU [Institutional Gang Investigations/Investigative Services Unit], have used their gang policies as a tool/tactic to circumvent our free speech right, they are using every means at their disposal to censor my voice.

In April and May they all of a sudden decided that my Muslim name was a fictitious name, so, between April 1st and May 29th they confiscated about sixteen outgoing letters under the fictitious name policy. Enclosed is just an example. i have been using my Muslim name since 1982. This had nothing to do with my Muslim name. IGI/ISU were attempting to censor my voice.

i filed a 1983 civil suit (Free Speech & Religious violations). i also sent to the court as an exhibit photo copies of the front of at least 20 letters i had received between Jan and May 29 2008 that clearly shows my Muslim name on each envelope and they passed through IGI/ISU. So this is clear proof that their actions had nothing to do with my name.

...
Your Beloved Brotha,
a California Prisoner

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade has been a leader in an effort to build peace among the warring groups within the California prison system. The letter that was held by IGI from reaching MIM(Prisons) was regarding these efforts. The Catch-22 that this comrade, and many of us, find ourselves in is that if he writes honestly about the work he is trying to do then he is labelled a gang member and censored. The pigs do everything they can to prevent a peace process from moving forward in a system that has hundreds of race riots every year that have spilled onto the streets, particularly in Los Angeles County. You would think that it was the pigs jobs to encourage violence so that they can further repress certain groups rather than to put an end to this senseless killing.

One of the charges brought against MIM(Prisons) and many prisoner activists to justify censorship of our communications is that we are writing in code. Yet, our track record speaks for itself. The Maoist movement has continuously and tirelessly worked to put an end to oppression and exploitation. Within the prison movement we have put massive resources into providing hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature to help educate prisoners across the country to provide guidance and hope for a better future.

Meanwhile, it is the pigs who use code words such as "gangs" and "security threat groups" to target the oppressed and any efforts to bring peace and progress, without sounding like the racist arms of imperialist oppression that they are. If talking in code is a crime, censor the pigs, and let those of us who have solutions to the social problems of drugs abuse, violence, and national oppression get to working on putting these solutions into practice.

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[Censorship] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 4]
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XXL, Vibe and others should join lawsuit vs. VA DOC

I am writing in regards to the constant discrimination we face here at Red Onion State Prison. We are allowed to order magazines, but when they get here we usually receive a notice stating that the publication has been disapproved. This is very discouraging and has caused me to stop subscribing to XXL and I soon will cancel my subscription to Vibe. These two publications seem to be the most targeted. Out of 12 XXL magazines I only received 7 issues. Out of 14 Vibes I have only received 7 issues. I recently had a King disapproved, but that was the first time since I have been subscribed.

It seems that the same two magazines are targeted at an alarming pace and without any help from the outside they are getting away with it. All of them are disapproved for the same reason and that's for promoting gang activities. These people have no understanding of us or our culture and every Black person is automatically linked and labeled as a gang member of some sort.

I have written both magazines for assistance to no avail, I have received absolutely no response. These companies will accept our money, but won't offer any help. This is a slap in the face to incarcerated individuals. I have every copy of my disapproval notices and I am open to sending them to someone out there so you can see the pattern.

p.s. Once I started pressing the issue of them abusing their power by using the gang activity as a reason for disapproving magazines, they started adding other rules along with the gang rule on why they disapproved the magazines.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Yes, please do send us documentation of this censorship as we are working to get a lawsuit filed against the censorship at Red Onion, and all evidence you can provide will help us in this struggle. For that matter, any prisoners who have copies of rejection notices can send them to us and we will post them on our website at https://www.prisoncensorship.info as part of our Censorship in Amerikkka Documentation Project.

We have already contacted XXL regarding the censorship of their magazine at Red Onion to see if they are interested in working with us in a lawsuit. We encourage everyone to continue to write to XXL to encourage them to defend their right to communicate with prisoners in Virginia. As media that is deemed "Black," XXL, Vibe, Under Lock & Key and many others are being censored as "gang material." But while XXL and Vibe gets in 50% of the time, we are not aware of an issue of Under Lock & Key successfully reaching a prisoner in Red Onion since it became its own publication last year, even though prisoners have documents stating that their subscriptions to ULK are approved. We welcome all who are facing the racist blockade at Red Onion to contact us to join us in this struggle.

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[Censorship] [Legal] [Nevada]
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Correction to ULK1 Legal advice on CA ban

I just got done reading your November 2007 newsletter Under Lock and Key. Impressive reading!

On page 3 “CA prisons ban MIM” you made a serious error. You cited bad case law concerning prisoners receiving mail under the Procunier v. Martinez standard. In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court in Thornburgh v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401, 413-14 partially overturned Martinez. In Abbot the court held that the Martinez standard should apply only to a prisoners outgoing correspondence. For incoming correspondence, a different standard applies. This new standard comes from a case called Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, in which the Supreme Court stated that restrictions on incoming mail are valid if they are reasonably related to a legitimate penological interest. Also see Abbot at 413.

If inmates go to court to fight the ban on MIM and its incoming publications and correspondence, they could wind up loosing hard if they use the wrong case law such as the Martinez standard. On your next publication of your newsletter, I would recommend posting a correction advising inmates to use the Turner standard.


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Censorship] [New York] [ULK Issue 3]
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NY Anti-Censorship Battle Wages

In 2006, a NY prisoner filed a §1983 civil rights lawsuit in the NY Western District Federal Court challenging the constitutionality of Prison Rule 105.12 and its application. Mitchell v. Goord, et al., 06-CV-6197. Prison Rule 105.12 is the so-called “gang rule” of DOCS, which is used more as a tool to punish prisoners for possessing written materials than to prevent organizational activities within an institution. The plaintiff had been placed in SHU three times for possessing written materials related to New Afrikan organizations on the outside he openly affiiliates with and deals with. He consistently argued he has a First Amendment right to correspond and associate with, be a member of, write for and about, and possess the literature of any outside organization he so chooses, so long as he doesn't organize or attempt to organize a prison chapter of any such organization within a facility without approval.

Upon learning other NY prisoners were being punished for possessing written materials related to the New Afrikan organizations he's a member of, namely the New Afrikan Maoist Party and its affiliates, and upon learning NY prisons were withholding, rejecting or trashing letters and literature form NAMP and its affiliates to NY prisoners, the plaintiff moved to have his lawsuit certified into a class action to protect the rights of those other prisoners and help them seek redress. The district court judge appointed counsel to investigate whether class action certification is appropriate.

It has been reported that NY prisons, like Southport, Auburn, Clinton and Great Meadow are withholding, trashing and rejecting letters and literature from NAMP and its affiliates to stifle their growing influence and support among NY prisoners. So, NY Prisoners who may have stopped corresponding and receiving literature from NAMP and its affiliates because of being punished for doing so, or because of fear of being punished, or who suddenly stopped hearing from NAMP and its affiliates; it's asked that you complain about this directly to the attorneys appointed in the aforementioned case. Also send a copy to the Collective Legal Services and the district judge - all addresses are listed below. Make sure you state that you support the class action certification of Mitchell v. Goord, et al. And if you hope to recover a monetary reward for any punishment or mail tampering you need to file a grievance now.

Contact:
William G. Bauer, Esq. - Lead Attorney
Erin W. Smith, Esq. - Second
Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP
Two State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Hon. Charles J. Siragusa - Presiding Judge
K.S. District Judge
100 State Street
Rochester, NY 14614

Collective Legal Services
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

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