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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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[Censorship] [Illinois]
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Pro se victory against censorship in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has the authority
and obligation to establish rules and regulations to provide
prisoners with access to published materials including newspapers
and magazines approved by the Director of the IDOC. (730 ILCS 5/3-
7-1)

The IDOC's regulations for prisoners' access to publications is
set forth in title 20, Sections 525.200 through 525.230 of the
Illinois Administrative Code (20 Ill. Admn. Code Sec 525.200
through 525.230). A prisoner may subscribe to, solicit free copies
of, or buy individual copies of approved newspapers, magazines,
books and other publications for delivery to the facility of
confinement. "A member of the [prisoner's] family or a friend may
also order, solicit or bring approved publications to the
facility." 20 Ill. Admn.Code Sec 525.210(c).

The warden of the Pontiac Correctional Center implemented his own
personal policy which prohibited friends and family members of
prisoners from bringing in approved publications.

A complaint for mandamus was filed in the Circuit Court of
Livingston County, Illinois, seeking an order compelling the
warden to allow family members and friends to bring in approved
publications for prisoners in accordance with established
regulations.

The warden filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the decision to
allow friends and family members to deliver approved publications
to a prisoner is a discretionary act. The warden argued that the
use of the word "may" in the last sentence in Sec 525.210(c)
indicates a discretionary act. Thus, mandamus is inapplicable.

In response to the motion to dismiss, the prisoner argued that the
use of the word "may" does in fact allow for discretion. However,
the plain reading of Sec 525.210(c) clearly indicates that the use
of the word "may" refers to what the prisoner's family and friends
may do, not to what the IDOC employees may do.

The Circuit Court agreed with the prisoner and denied the warden's
motion to dismiss. In its holding, the Court ruled that Sec
525.210(c) indicates that discretion lies with the prisoner's
friends and family members, not the warden. The Court further
ruled that the IDOC must allow prisoners' friends and family to
bring in approved publications.

The warden subsequently rescinded his policy and permitted friends
and family members to deliver approved publications to prisoners.
[See Markiewicz v. Gilmore , No. 97-MR-22 (Order Filed
July 1, 1998)]

(Note: This action was litigated pro se.)

MIM organizes the Serve the People Prisoners' Legal Clinic
(PLC). This is a revolutionary program geared toward serving needs
of the oppressed masses as we build opposition to imperialism. PLC
activities vary widely (with room for expansion) and include
fighting censorship, prisoners providing guides on grievance
procedures and the publication of MIM Legal Notes. MIM leads this
program with the knowledge that only armed revolution to seize
state power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat will
liberate the oppressed. This is one aspect of how we fight
winnable battles to create more maneuverability for political
organizing within the current corrupt system.

MIM Legal Notes is researched and written by comrades behind the
walls. We publish these articles because we believe that the legal
research and information will be useful to other prisoners. But
comrades should be aware that differences in laws between states,
changes in laws and legal precedents over time, and different case
circumstances all mean that even something that was successful for
one person might not work for others. We print the best legal news
and information available to us with the understanding that this
program will only grow stronger with increased exposure and
participation. We encourage prisoners and non-prisoners to
contribute to this program with research and writing.

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