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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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[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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[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] [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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[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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