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[Education] [Censorship] [California]
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Education is essential, must fight censorship

Revolutionary greetings to your staff. I just received your letter with the information on prison censorship. I'm fully schooled with the state's so-called laws. In the past I have not had any problems receiving MIM Notes or the study books. I fully understand that problems do come up behind the hands of the oppressor. This is why freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Let's test the water for now and please start sending me educational material. The struggle can not be stopped, I refuse to let them take control of my mind. I'm 50 years old, been in prison on and off for 30 years, and now three strikes have me. I refuse to lay down on myself or other oppressed people. The most dangerous weapon in this world is a fully focused mind.

MIM adds: MIM was banned in California prisons by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in December of 2006. We are working with our comrades behind bars to fight this ban. We need support from prisoners to join this struggle, and support from people on the outside to demand an end to this ban. Write protest letters to: James Tilton, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S. Street, Sacramento, CA 95184


Campaign info:
MIM Banned in CA!
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[Censorship] [New York]
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Help Fight Censorship in NY

The lady in the mail room here has committed so many mail fraud violations she should be my neighbor.

I didn't know anything about the package sent back to you, but I did receive about five MIM Notes and one MIM Theory on the 24th of July minus several pages, courtesy of media review. They said that the material excited rebellion, as if any rebellion isn't a direct result of this systems abuse and oppression.

Around the same time I sent you my initial letter conveying my interest in your organization, I also wrote the SYDA Foundation, which is also based in Cali. It's basically a yoga study course. Anyway, after my first lesson they began taking pages out of each lesson, which destroyed the lessons. After that I lost interest in the course.

Media Review is just another way for them to control population, they label almost everything gang related if they don't understand it, and any group that is not on the commissioner's approved list is unauthorized organization material, etc.

These people have little regard for our rights, as long as they can hide they harrassment behind the goose of "security reasons" and get away with it they will.


MIM responds: This report is more evidence that NY State Dept of Corrections is violating its own rules regarding censorship, not to mention the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Despite the department's stated purpose of, "encourag[ing] inmates to read publications from varied sources if such material does not encourage them to engage in behavior that might be disruptive to orderly facility operations," it now appears that "varied sources" is often interpreted to mean a small selection of publications hand-picked by department officials.

There have been numerous reports of prisoners being charged with 105.12 violations for possessing materials from certain political groups, including MIM. We are currently working with comrades from the New Afrikan Maoist Party, who are leading the efforts to bring a class action suit against these violations of our First Amendment rights to communicate and affiliate with people thru prison walls.

Rule 105.12 doesn’t prevent NY prisoners from, writing about, writing for, possessing the literature of, corresponding and associating with, or being members of any outside organization, so long as the organization is not a gang and the prisoners don’t organize inmate chapters of it within the facility without approval. But due to incompetence, lack of training, and prejudice many staff members are applying Rule 105.12 to written materials related to outside organizations they’re not familiar with or don’t like or agree with. This tactic has been effective in scaring a number of potential comrades away from working with us, or even reading our literature.

Prisoners in NY can join and contribute to this case by writing affirmations attesting to the facts around this struggle. If you have faced a 105.12 charge or similar censorship it is even more important that you help out. Write us to request more information on the case and how to compose an affirmation. Readers on the outside will be able to get more information about this battle soon at www.prisoncensorship.info.

This article referenced in:
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[Legal] [Censorship] [Washington]
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Inmate Mail and Communications in WA

According to WAC 137-48-050 procedures for restrictions of incoming and/or outgoing mail, the Department of Corrections does not usually comply with paragraph (1) or (2) of this section on 137-48.

The Department of Corrections is not sending publishers or senders a copy of the mail restriction according to the mandatory language of shall.

For example, WAC 137-48-050(1) states in pertinent part:

...This notification shall be provided to the inmate and the sender of the specific publication, letter, or package which has been restricted and the reason for this action.

Another example, WAC 137-48-050(2) states in pertinent part:

The inmate and sender shall be advised in writing of his/her right to seek review of the decision to restrict his/her mail...

The Department of Corrections in Washington State is not abiding with this mandatory language in the code.

Publishers and senders are not receiving notice and this is a Due Process issue according to the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and also violates 1st Amendment Rights for the publisher and senders of publications.

Inmates probably have no standing to challenge the issue, but the publishers do. My advice to all inmates in the Washington State Department of Corrections to do is send the publisher or sender a copy of the restriction. Inform them of the WAC 137-48-050 mandatory language. Also explain to them the fact that they have standing to challenge the Department of Corrections under 1st and 14th Amendment grounds for censorship and Due Process. The more inmates that do this, the more prison mailroom and administration will be working that prisoners will start seeing less mail restrictions coming to them.

Also challenge on your appeal how the rejection affects you by not allowing the publisher notice since prisoners cannot even see what is being restricted, how can a prisoner effectively appeal the mail restriction? This is another issue every prisoner should challenge in court too. The fact us prisoners cannot see what the Washington Department of Corrections is censoring or restricting there is no effective appeal process because it leaves the keepers with total control without giving prisoners a "meaningful" avenue to peaceably redress government violation of the 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment grounds.

The more people that unite together the more we can expose the hypocrisy of the so-called state administrative governments. Exercise your rights, because if you don't they will continue to take and take until you are totally defenseless. It is better to try and fail than not doing anything for yourself and fellow man. Past generation prisoners have died for what few rights we have such as clean conditions, medical care, food, mail, etc. Don't let the new prison administrators take without a fight.

MIM responds: This comrades points are in the spirit of Black August, which is now coming to a close, when we commemorate the history of the prison movement behind bars; the struggles, both successful and failed and those whose lives were taken. And as the comrade points out, it is still worth fighting even if you don't win immediately. Particularly when there is a movement that you are fighting as a part of. With enough appeals from prisoners and outside groups we can put enough pressure on the prison administration in Washington and elsewhere to at least follow their own rules, if not change their rules.

In 2001 we passed two resolutions in Congress calling on MIM's Prison Ministry to take leadership in fighting censorship. The first resolution took ownership for the censorship of our literature as a violation of all writers for MIM Notes, many of whom are tax-paying amerikkkan citizens. So, we fully agree with this comrade's call for distributors, particularly anti-imperialists who are being targeted with this censorship, to demand their so-called "rights" to free speech and association be respected. Our Prison Ministry regularly fights the censorship we face through legal and administrative challenges. Prisoners can help by letting us know when they do and don't receive the literature we send them and sending us copies of any rejection notices and facility regulations. And of course, those who are serious about winning this battle can contribute through articles like this one and by leading legal battles on their own behalf as the writer suggests.

The second resolution we passed in 2001 established a regular report of humyn-rights violations in u$ prisons, with a focus on censorship. Following this resolution we also began reaching out to other groups working with prisoners to compile information on censorship. Only recently have these efforts become visible to the public on the Prison Ministries new website www.prisoncensorship.info. This site will feature news from prisons, including everything printed in ULK, a searchable database of censorship incidents, and rules and regulations compiled by state and facility. (On the site you can view the most recent rejection notices that Washington DOC sent MIM for political cartoons that contained swastikas.) We will be using this site to begin issuing regular censorship reports again, which will be more detailed than we were able to do in the past. We will also be accepting submissions of censorship incidents from other organizations and individuals and incorporating them into our work. We hope these efforts will encourage more collaboration with other groups, lawyers and prisoners in fighting censorship within the u$ injustice system.

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[Censorship] [MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility] [Oregon]
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WA Youth share MIM Theory

Comrades,

It is with mixed blessings that I report that so far in Oregon at MacLaren Youth Corruptional Facility, no editing or censoring has yet taken place for MIM Notes or MIM Theory. It is just a matter of time before it does happen here though. Until that day, I will leave my copy of MIM Theory on the bookshelf for others to pick up and read. Lets hope that it opens their eyes to the Evils of Capitalism and amerikkkan imperialism. May the best be brought to its knees and slayed by the might of the people united under true equality. Long live the Maoist Internationalist Movement! Long live Communism!

A lone communist in Youth Corruptions

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[Censorship] [Education] [Fremont Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 2]
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Winning censor battles in Colorado

Thank you for sending in your MIM Notes. We've played hell getting them in to Colorado D.O.C. They don't like your message of truth. Our mailroom here in Fremont Correctional Center likes to act as our moral censor. Every time you send your notes it has to go through our "reading committee." Every time they have to give it to us.

In Colorado D.O.C. we've paid very little for our slave labor. I'm glad to get your writing and I try to pass it on to others in here. The ideas spark some heated talks between us here. Your words to us in here can and do instigate some good thinking. Keep up your good work for us on the "inside". We are appreciative of you and look forward to your mailings.

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[Education] [Abuse] [Censorship] [California]
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Prisons cutting off education access, increasing brutality

I know you are having trouble getting lit in to the prison. In the BMU (Behavior Modification Unit) it seems they are trying to deplete the literature that is already in the system, while not allowing any new lit in. There are also new restrictions popping up around the state on the number of books you can have. The point: they are trying to systematically prevent alternative education. They want to limit you to the education they provide. GED, basically next to nothing. It is no coincidence that the individuals being flooded with 115s, and placed in BMU are, the jailhouse lawyers, the political educators, and non-conformists, i.e. revolutionary minded individuals. All of these adverse policies must be attacked at the same time. If we get them to allow lit back in it is meaningless if they can just put you in BMU and send it home, it is also costly.

Myself and a bro we will call "Z" were fighting the censorship. "Z" has been doing time since 1974. They transferred him to Corcoran SHU in May. In June they vacated my indeterminate SHU, and placed me in ad-seg pending transfer. I now have none of my property. My property was trans-packed pending transfer to SVSP or CSP general population. Transfers have been routinely taking 6 months or so. It is clear these pigs are serious about repression.

This battle may come to the knife. They are getting physical. They pepper spray people around here on a regular basis. As well as beat people. Something as small as complaining about a missing item on your dinner tray is enough to get you splayed and whipped. The attitude of the pigs seems as if it has changed overnight. I mean it is real bad. They pepper sprayed a guy the other day because he refused breakfast. This kind of abuse is condoned by the brass up to the warden. I don't see how it cannot come to the knife if we have no redress. Appeals are met with more abuse. They routinely use punitive measures and intimidation to get inmates to drop appeals, or to keep other inmates from coming forward as witnesses. The tactics and practices of the Green Wall are spreading at an alarming rate. These practices are not just spreading amongst the rank and file pigs, but the administration.

Please note the struggle against censorship is my top priority. I realize that the education of the prison population is important to our overall struggle for prisoner rights. I am trying to do a quick analysis of the situation. We already have a strategy we are just revisiting our tactics to meet the environmental change. Any assistance MIM could provide in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

MIM replies: We know that it often seems like there is no way to beat the prison administrators and brutal guards, who use violence against prisoners daily, without resorting to violence. But we also see that attacking from behind enemy lines almost always leads to greater repression. And so we urge our comrades behind bars to avoid violence. Obviously prisoner on prisoner violence only serves the prisons. But prisoners retaliating for guard brutality just gives them another excuse to beat you up. We must organize our fight strategically especially when it looks like we are losing ground.

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[Censorship] [Education]
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Studying and struggling in spite of censorship

Just because the study group never got started [because of censorship problems in California prisons] it doesn't mean that I'm not studying or learning anything. I repeatedly go over MTs and past study group questions and answers, constantly trying to see if there's something I missed or didn't quite comprehend the first, second or third time around. Right now I'm going over MT10 for the third time and I must say a lot more knowledge and information is jumping out at me this time around that before. I hope everyone else is doing the same.

Also, I constantly find myself arguing in the dayroom or on the yard, and it's always about the same stuff. I just can't stand hearing the bullshit that comes out of a lot of people's mouths. Like, for example, if I hear someone talking about "our soldiers" over there in Iraq or wherever getting shot at or blow up. Fuck a pig! A pig is a pig is a pig! I quickly point out that they are not our soldiers, but our oppressors, or a fool of the oppressors. Unfortunately it always seems to be an uphill battle.

Also, the MT on the white proletariat certainly came in handy the other day. There's this guy in here, one of many in here whom I like to argue with on a regular basis. I like blowing holes in his bourgeois theories. Not just that, but more importantly I want to help him understand the evils of capitalism and the science of self-criticism. I think the MT helped a lot.

Anyways, just letting you guys know that the struggle continues.

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[Censorship] [Oklahoma] [ULK Issue 2]
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Censorship in Oklahoma

The mail kops here stole whatever you sent me, using their standard excuses of "incites revolution" tripe. Probably they just got the secret ok from chuckle-head Chertoff to snoop and thieve at whim. With all the government terrorism being spewed by government about terrorism, it's not a good time to be secretly branded with a bunch of black checkmarks by a pack of sociopathic, religion-crazed paranoids-in-power.

They sat on it for a month before finally deciding, for their own obscure reasons, to obey the law and tell me they stole mail that came from you. If it's any consolation, they are not equal opportunity thieves: they show a decided preference for stealing mail from you over the anarchist groups, Hitler huggers, KKK, etc.

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[Censorship] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Censorship of outgoing mail at Pelican Bay

This initiative is being brought forth under the social principles of communal cooperative work. The focus point of this initiative is to combat an arbitrary policy that the Pelican Bay State Prison administrators have initiated, which essentially violates the constitutional 1st amendment right to the freedom of speech/expression, as warranted to the captive class of prisoners that is being held in the SHU (Security Housing Unit). On November 13, 2006, the Associate Warden Ms. C.M. Scavetta authorized a memorandum which mandates that: "all prisoners housed in the SHU shall have their outgoing mail stamped in big red letters (Pelican Bay SHU - Unit D3) on the outside of the envelope, as well as on every single page of the enclosed correspondence, or on the noted contents therein…such as; "drawings, cards, political writings being sent out for publication purposes etc…"

We prisoners firmly oppose this new arbitrary policy, in that it vandalizes, defaces, and undermines the essence of our 1st amendment right to the freedom of speech/expression. Furthermore, this practice is semblance to how the Nazi Germans branded (stamped) the Jews that were being held captive in their Nuremburg concentration slave kamps for purposes of social control and eventual extermination! So in the true spirit of communal cooperative work, we prisoners are requesting the community's support in the form of launching a "phone call/letter writing campaign" in opposition to this arbitrary policy/practice.

For those of you who may be entertaining thoughts of doubt as to why you should get involved in this initiative, my people you should try to understand that we prisoners are an extension of every poor and oppressed community out in Babylon. Meaning that we prisoners remain an integral part of the community that we were removed from, but also our families, friends, and loved ones are also affected by this repressive practice via the mail that we send to them as well. What if your loved one or family member had a very important message to get out to you, but when you received his letter, you were unable to read it on account of it being stamped (vandalized) in very big red letters?

It is a historical truth that repression breeds resistance, so let our call of resistance be echoed in the form of placing phone calls and writing letters to the warden and associate warden of this prison in the expressed form of opposition and to the illegality of this practice. It will also help if you would notify your local politicians and legislatures about this to encourage them to investigate this matter, and to send letters as well. Send your letters to the following address:

Pelican Bay State Prison
c/o Robert Horel, Warden
5905 Lake Earl Dr.
Crescent City, CA 95531

Or:
c/o Associate Warden C.M. Scavetta
same address as above
707-465-1000

MIM adds: in our short experience with this policy we can collaborate this prisoner's statement that the stamps on every page of every letter make SHU prisoner's mail very hard to read. Further, stamping artwork essentially ruins the art. This policy serves no purpose other than harassment of prisoner's and their correspondents.

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution] [Washington] [Oregon]
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MIM United Front lit banned on 2nd Amendment

MIM recently sent free issues of our magazine MIM Theory 14: United Front to many of our comrades behind bars. The response by prisoncrats was widespread censorship, that should be of concern to everyone from the National Rifle Assocation (NRA) to New Afrikan Liberationists.

The Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution sent us a stack of violation notices and a comrade in Oregon State Penitentiary forwarded us a copy of a violation notice that they never sent to us themselves, despite regulations requiring them to notify both the sender and the intended recipient. All of these censored MT14 complaining about page 92 and 96 of the Black Panther Party Reprints section of the magazine. On page 92, Field Marshall Don Cox says, "more and more gun control legislation, the guise under which the people are being unarmed, is being passed every day to take away the democratic right to bear arms, which in turn dehumanizes you by preventing you from exercising your human right to self-defense." While most NRA supporters will balk at the Panthers efforts to unite the oppressed for self-determination, if they want to protect the right to express one's opinions on the right to bear arms and self-defense they should support MIM in this case.

The main article on page 96 is "Message to Revolutionary Women" from Candi Robinson, which stresses the inherent unity of Black people in revolutionary struggle, while acknowledging the need for Black wimmin in the movement to educate Black men about gender inequality, among other things. The prisoncrats did not specify which part of either of these articles was deemed "inflammatory material," the reason given for its censorship.

Washington State has simultaneously issued an across the state ban of MT14, as well as MIM Notes 328, 330 and 331. Despite a US District Court ruling in 1999 that disallowed the WA Department of Corrections (DOC) from an across the board ban of MIM publications based on our declared purpose of "struggl[ing to] end oppression by build[ing] public opinion to seize power through armed struggle," they have blocked all four of these publications from entering WA prisons without providing any specific justifications. The only justification given by authorities at Stafford Creek Correctional Facility is WA DOC 450-100, which includes over 30 different reasons for which Incoming Mail can be rejected.

One comrade in Washington did write us to tell us his MIM literature had been censored, with the reason give that it "advocates armed violent struggle against authority." This misrepresents MIM to imply that we advocate that prisoners use violence against Correctional Officers (COs). On the contrary we expressly discourage prisoners from getting into physical confrontations with anyone. We have a long history of comrades behind bars who have stopped getting in trouble for violence after finding more effective means of self-defense through legal battles and public opinion building.

The idea that MIM can be censored because we recognize the need for armed struggle by the oppressed to liberate themselves from imperialism is illegal despite regular attempts by prisoncrats to do so. According to Procunier v. Martinez, the Supreme Court upholds the right of prisoners to receive mail, regardless of the prison official's opinion of the mail content, as long as there are no legitimate restrictions from the prison related to correctional purposes. Our belief in the need to seize power through armed struggle is a belief that we share with Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers of the United States government.

Just prior to going to print, a comrade in Washington State Penitentiary sent us a Mail Restriction Notice for MT14 and the three MIM Notes issues that did state the reason for censorship as being "Advocates armed/violent struggle against authority" and goes on to cite pages 80 and 94. Curiously, neither of these pages contains even a discussion of armed struggle. The first is our statement "MIM on Prisons & Prisoners", which our readers will be familiar with. It merely explains why we oppose the current prison system, how we would change it and the role of prisoners in the larger anti-imperialist struggle. Page 94 is an interview with David Hilliard explaining the ideology of the Black Panther Party. As far as we can tell, these pages were chosen arbitrarily, but we are currently investigating a more thorough explanation in order to combat these instances of censorship.

These instances of censorship are not isolated incidents, but part of a long history of struggle with various departments of the criminal injustice system. Regardless of their reasoning for singling out certain pages to justify censorship, just as u$ court rulings do not allow the censorship of Abraham Lincoln for his statements on the importance of overthrowing the state, they do not allow the censorship of our materials because someone disagrees with our beliefs. We welcome anyone who agrees with us on this point to join us in our struggle against censorship in Oregon and Washington prisons.

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