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[Censorship] [Union Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Censorship and Grievance Appeals Ignored in Florida

Other publications routinely and completely banned are: Black and Pink (newspaper), Community Church of Boston (we grieved the rejection, now get 1 or 2 then start over again), and Prison Legal News newsletter is banned outright.

Although ULK48 is still officially rejected, it was delivered to me today. Note: the petition about Florida grievances you provided to me was sent to all provided addresses and have been ignored. Any hints as to what's next?


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this update from one of the many comrades in Florida who have tried to use the petition to demand their grievances be addressed. We are unfortunately not surprised to hear that there has been no response to these petitions. There is no real justice in an imperialist system that locks up oppressed nations and resisters while giving big payouts to the criminals who run the government and corporations. The system is not set up to provide rights to prisoners. However we can sometimes gain small victories by using the imperialists' laws and regulations against them. And in this case, with campaigns like the demand for grievances to be addressed, we can also use this opportunity to educate people about the system that we are fighting.

Because of this we do not expect instant results, and in fact can not expect that campaigns such as this one provide relief to people after just sending in a few protest letters. However, the collective force of many people sending these to the same addresses might have an impact on conditions prisoners actually face. We ask our comrades to send us an update in every state where we have a grievance campaign so that we can assess if there is further action that can be taken. If anyone else in Florida has had success, write in and tell us what you have done so that this comrade and others can learn from your experience. If you have received no response, let us know that as well. And if you have other ideas about next steps for this campaign, please share them with us so that we can continue this fight.

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[Censorship] [LA State Penitentiary] [Louisiana]
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New Afrikan Books Censored in Louisiana

On 13 February 2015, the books Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Dubois, The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, and Blood In My Eye by George Jackson arrived at the Louisiana State Prison in Angola. They were sent to me by a family member directly from the Amazon.com as per the requirements of this institution. However, I wasn't notified of their arrival until six months and two weeks later. Added to that outrage was the rejection of the absolutely essential, must-read piece of literature for the New Afrikan Guerilla, Blood In My Eye.

The institution, perhaps on some "legitimate self-interest" grounds, could have possibly raised a plausible objection to the book. For it is known throughout the corrections racket that the book "Blood In My Eye" has been known to elevate the consciousness of the oppressed captives subsisting behind its walls. And of course conscious elevation equals prison population deflation, I get that. What I didn't get was this institution rejection the book on the grounds that it contained nudity or sexually explicit material. Yes you read that right. The book by Comrade George was rejected, according to this institution, because it contained nudity or sexually explicit material.

I of course immediately appealed the decision through the administrative remedy procedure. Three and a half months later - mind you that policy only allows 40 days for a response - I received an answer. Amazingly the book was now being rejected because it "contains material that could lead to inmate unrest for racial reasons." Not the nudity issue I addressed in the appeal! If it wasn't for the fact that I understand how the administration does battle, they would have totally thrown me off course with that move. But they didn't so I continue to fight on. Just another episode in the never ending series of "Administrative Justice". A Luta Continua.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for continuing the fight in face of the prison changing rules and reasons, failing to follow their own policies, and unjustly denying em educational material. We should all strive to have this same attitude of perseverance when we are repeatedly put down by those in power. We will lose most of our battles right now because we do not have power. This is why our tactical battles, like the one against censorship, must always be in the context of the larger struggle to overthrow imperialism. Only when we have a government that is serving the interests of the majority of the world's people, rather than one serving the minority of wealthy people, will we be able to implement real justice. This power will not come with a few petitions and legal battles, but these campaigns are part of the long hard work we do at this stage of the struggle.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Graterford] [Pennsylvania]
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Censorship Victory in Pennsylvania

I have received some good news. Executive Secretary of Corrections Shirley Moore-Smeal of Pennsylvania DOC has fired two of the mailroom staff here at this prison. These staff were found to be stealing and discarding mail from prisoners that they didn't agree with or didn't like the contents of. The study group material was among the mail these two staff stole and destroyed. Ms. Moore-Smeal made it clear to all staff here at this prison that prejudice or bias displayed against any prisoner regardless of political viewpoints, religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. will not be tolerated unless a significant security or penological interest warrants it. You might remember me sending you a letter to forward to Ms. Moore-Smeal, concerning this issue or something very similar.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is very good news, and if this comrade or anyone else in Pennsylvania has a copy of an order from Ms. Moore-Smeal about censorship and discrimination please send it to us. If this order exists in writing it will be very useful in appealing future censorship. Of course we know these victories are temporary and often reversed or ignored so we will take advantage of it and encourage our Pennsylvania comrades to write in to request study material while they can. Be sure to let us know what work trade or payment (stamps and checks accepted!) you can make in return.

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[Censorship] [Legal] [ULK Issue 49]
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All Censorship Should be Appealed

I would like to comment on one recurring theme I've observed in recent issues of ULK. I've noticed a willingness from prisoners who seem to accept a prisoncrat's word that they cannot appeal the censorship of your - or others' - literature. I have yet to encounter a prison system which does not have a process for screening books, magazines, etc. While they may be loathe to follow those procedures, we need to force them to at least go through the motions of properly reviewing our literature, as once that review is completed, then we can take our complaints to the local federal courts. While they don't always afford us the relief we deserve, sometimes we do prevail, and if nothing else our lawsuits are expensive to defend. At some point the attorney general's office will tire of defending policies which don't comport to the state's own regulations. If we continue to give up at the first sign of resistance, we will never accomplish any of our goals. Those who are unwilling to defend their rights deserve none.


MIM(Prisons) responds: There are no rights, only power struggles, so we agree with this comrade that it is important that everyone step up to fight the censorship battles that are preventing revolutionary material, or any other mail, from getting in to the prisons. Unfortunately many states do have "unappealable" (per policy) censorship. For example, in Texas the [email protected] Power book was recently banned. Per Texas policy, this book is effectively censored forever. We are pushing comrades in Texas to take this to court to not only get the book in to prisoners in Texaztlán, but to attempt to change this policy across the board.

We are not so optimistic that the attorney general's office will tire and give up, and in fact we know that even in victory the courts and the government are likely to just change the laws on us rather than let us win. But we do agree that these battles are sometimes winnable, and it is persistence that pays off. At the same time, everyone taking up these legal battles should use their fight as an opportunity to educate others about the struggle, and why we are facing so much censorship of anti-imperialist educational material. In this way, even if we lose in the courts, we have made good use of our time by helping others to learn from the fight and building resistance outside the legal realm.

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 49]
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Prison Scares off Subscribers of ULK

I request that you stop writing or sending me any of your publications. I am not involved in promoting, recruiting, security threat groups of Latin Kings, promoting hunger strikes, or any other disruption of the institution. I received a notice of rejection or impoundment of publication on 1/7/16. Also on 1/7/16 I was placed in confinement under investigation that I believe your publication caused. Therefore, I wish not to have any involvement with this publication or MIM Distributors.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have removed this writer from our subscription list but we print this letter to show people just how far the prisons will go to try to intimidate people and stop them from learning from anti-imperialist literature. Unfortunately this persyn never even saw a copy of ULK and so does not know just how far off the claims are. There are no prison policies or laws that legitimately allow for the isolation of a prisoner due to receipt of educational material, nor can literature like ULK identify a prisoner as a security threat. However, we know that the prisons see revolutionary education as a threat to security because of the consciousness this brings. A conscious prisoner is more likely to fight for eir legal rights, and to advocate for the rights of others. A conscious prisoner is more likely to educate others and organize them to fight for their rights. And so, the prisons consider this a "threat to security." What we really threaten is the security of their system of social control. We respect that there are some who are not ready to suffer for this struggle, but for all those who stand strong and maintain their right to receive ULK, in spite of reprisals, we know that sometimes even this is a revolutionary act.

This article referenced in:
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[Censorship] [Education] [State Correctional Institution Benner] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 49]
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Communist Education Threatened with STG Status

Last week I received a visit from Deputy Superintendent Ondrejka, who is the head of the security department of this institution. He told me that he received word that I'm having some "undesirable contacts" sent to me in education materials. He stated that the mailroom supervisor is a Christian and that she feels offended when she sees communist materials in the mail when she searches it. Ondrejka said that he is aware that a lot of my communist mail is burned by the mail lady, even though it is illegal to do so.

When I asked Ondrejka if he is going to stop it from happening again, he said "Why should I? Stop getting things like that sent in and you won't have to worry about your mail being burnt." I stated to Ondrejka that I find it funny that the mail lady, who claims to be a Christian, gets offended at political study material, but lets all types of pornography in to inmates via the same channels. Ondrejka said that he could care less about the smut, he is concerned about the communist literature that gets sent into his prison. He told me that the administration is about to start cracking down on anarchist and communist materials, and start labeling those who possess them as Security Threat Group (STG). He said that any further MIM literature will be stopped and deemed contraband.

This being said, I can see for myself just how critical political study really is. If the slavemasters are threatened by it, then it must have incredible worth. I am a firm believer that knowledge is the ultimate power, the greatest weapon there is. The pigs try to stop real education in the gulags, because they know that when we have a true education and know the truth about the way things really are, they are defeated.

I call all my fellow prisoners to arm yourselves: not with knives or guns, but with educational resources - knowledge. With these weapons we can defeat the powers of imperialism and capitalism! I salute all of my fellow comrades who are fighting the pigs on a consistent basis. I am right here on the battlefield with you. The pigs censored my first study assignment from MIM(Prisons), but I will not give up! My motto is and always will be resist, resist, resist! I want to thank MIM(Prisons) for giving me ground to stand on in this political battle we are fighting. I look forward to receiving more from MIM(Prisons).


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that knowledge is a very powerful weapon in our advance toward communism, and it is essential to a successful movement against all oppression. However knowledge alone is not going to enable us to defeat the powers of imperialism and capitalism. When we are strong enough and the conditions are right, we will be forced to pick up knives and guns in order to assert power over the oppressors — they won't have it any other way.

We distribute a Censorship Pack, which has basic information on how to fight censorship of political materials. The mailroom staff in this anecdote is acting in complete violation of established caselaw on the issue of censorship in prisons. Below is an excerpt from the Censorship Pack, citing relevant caselaw.

"The decision to censor or withhold delivery of a particular letter must be accompanied by minimum procedural safeguards against arbitrariness or error." Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S.396. 94 S.Ct 1800
"Wardens may not reject a publication 'solely because its content is religious, philosophical, political, social[,] sexual, or . . . unpopular or repugnant,' or establish an excluded list of publications, but must review each issue of a subscription separately." Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401
"When a prison regulation restricts a prisoner’s First Amendment right to free speech, it is valid only if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Lindell v. Frank, 377 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2004), citing Turner v. Safely, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987).

We are looking forward to continuing to study and struggle with this comrade, in whatever way is possible. It might mean fighting off this illegal censorship first, and our Censorship Pack is a good place to start that battle.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania Censorship Victory

Fuck CensorShip
This is a followup letter to notify you fine folks of the outcome of the article in ULK 46 about textbooks being censored by Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC). Any time a prisoner receives a publication it gets screened for any possible reason they might be able to withhold it. This is done by a committee, and these people may consult other prison employees for help in the decision on whether or not to allow a given publication into the prison. If this committee, the Incoming Publication Review Committee (IPRC) deems a publication does not fit the criteria to be possessed by a prisoner, they hold it, and send the prisoner a notification. The prisoner has a certain amount of time to reply before it gets destroyed. The prisoner can request the publication get mailed out, at their expense (only first class postage), or they have the option to appeal IPRC's decision to the superintendent.

I had three computer programming textbooks denied over the course of 5 months and appealed each one in turn. The superintendent here at SCI-Huntingdon responded to me by saying that I wouldn't be getting my books. He told me that IPRC's decision is final, and that he can't approve them. Around that time I wrote to you and got your censorship packet. I appealed the superintendent's decision to central office by writing a letter to the department policy director Dianna Woodside. In the letter I told her that, although the IT department was consulted, they were incorrect in determining that the books were a threat. I demonstrated my preexisting knowledge of the subject, and listed several cases where the prisoners were awarded monetary damages for being denied books, including one that was specifically about programming textbooks. I told the official that I was sincere about trying to pursue a possible career in programming computers, and reiterated my willingness to go to court. I am unsure of why exactly she decided in my favor, but in the end I got all three of my books sitting right here with me. I am sending copies of the decisions along with this letter.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The books this prison initially denied were Java in a Nutshell, Build Your Own Website the Right Way Using HTML & CSS, and Object Oriented Programming. This shows both the random and unfounded basis on which prison administrators decide what literature to censor, and the potential for successful appeal with persistence. It's obvious that prisons in Amerika can not possibly have a rehabilitative goal if the very books required for education into a productive career post-prison are denied for no reason.

We certainly don't win the right to our incoming mail often, but it is well worth the time to appeal every instance of censorship possible. If nothing else, it provides documentation of the denials and lack of reasons, and may pave the way for a future court case. For those facing censorship, write to us for a copy of our censorship packet that will guide you through the appeals process. And be sure to send us any documentation you have on censorship of our materials, your appeals, and administrators' responses to your appeals. We put these documents on our website at www.prisoncensorship.info.

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[Abuse] [Censorship] [Florida] [ULK Issue 47]
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Punishment for Reporting Abuse in Florida

Regarding the rejection of Under Lock & Key 45, I have yet to see the publication. Yet allegations that it depicts "sexually oriented content" make no sense to me. We may be able to use this false review and classification as a means of obtaining relief against arbitrary censorship. I am currently in confinement and was unable to make a copy of the grievance and response for my safe keeping.

My current confinement is a serious retaliation against me resulting from an incident on September 8, when a prisoner who was in handcuffs was brutally assaulted by a Sergeant A. Arana. Shortly after the assault I wrote a kite to a prisoner in confinement, informing him that a few other prisoners had witnessed him being brutalized by Sergeant Arana. I listed the names [of 3 other prisoners] in the kite, informing him that he needed to write a grievance to the Inspector General ASAP, listing those names as witnesses, that he gotta go all the way through with it, that he could sue and that I was writing the secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections Julie Jones asking her to look into his brutality.

On September 12 all those names I mentioned in the kite and myself got rounded up and placed in confinement under investigation. The Captain showed me my kite even though it was not written using my government name. I was being placed under investigation for "conspiracy to defraud the state." No such charge was delivered. Everybody else was released on September 16, and I was released from confinement on September 18.

Once released I learned that Sergeant Gaucin, Sergeant Arana and Sergeant Sanders were telling prisoners on the compound that I am an FBI snitch. They are obviously trying to get me stabbed or killed. While being escorted to confinement on September 12, Sergeant Gaucin searched me and found an FBI/Department of Justice Civil Rights Division agent's business card. The agency has visited me twice due to my reporting on brutality of prisoners. So I carry the card and give prisoners their information if they need it. I wrote the Secretary a letter about being called a snitch by officers. On October 2 I was placed in confinement under protective management. On October 5 I was released.

The very next morning, October 6 at 8 a.m. count, Sergeant Juliano approached my cell. The cell door was already open. Sergeant Juliano ordered me out of the cell. I stood at the rail outside of the cell in perfect view of the surveillance cameras. Sergeant Juliano opened my locker and started dumping all my property on the floor, loudly stating: "You snitch, you baby rapist, I don't want no snitch in my dorm, you're getting out of my dorm right now, you wanna write up my officers? If you don't stop writing up my officers, I'm gonna fuck you up myself, you damn snitch, you baby rapist," making sure he was heard by the whole wing. He continued, "I'm not Sergeant Arana you snitching mother fucker, you're going to jail."

I was placed in handcuffs while he found my address books stating, "you won’t be writing the Secretary and FBI and whoever else you like to write about what's going on here, you won't be seeing these anymore, snitch bitch," putting my address books in his left cargo pants pockets.

I was escorted to the Captain's office by Corrections Officer (C/O) Hunter who stated, "you need to mind your own business, you write too many grievances, you talk to much."

At the Captain's office I informed the Captain of everything that was said and done by Sergeant Juliano and C/O Hunter. The Captain simply informed me that I was being placed in confinement pending a disciplinary review (DR) for disrespecting Sergeant Juliano; something I never did.

On October 7 the DR was delivered. Sergeant Juliano stated that while counting, he smelled smoke in the area of my cell and asked me if I was smoking. He claimed I replied, "Bitch, ain't nobody smoking, get the fuck out of here and go do your job."

On October 8 the DR hearing team informed me that I was being sentenced to only 15 days rather than 30. They really wanted to let me go, but they said that they feared for my safety and would decide what to do by the time my 15 days would be up. I'm waiting to see how it works out.

No matter how it goes I'm filing a civil claim for retaliation. I had just filed my tort claim in state court, been given a case number and awaiting a response on my application for indigency. The tort is about loss of my personal property last October.

We are putting the pressure on the pro-imperialist goons (pigs) down here by simply letting the Secretary know what's going on. The move is picking up. However, they might skip me soon, that's how it always go.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This report of both unfounded censorship (for content that does not exist in Under Lock & Key!) and punishment for reporting on conditions of confinement are ongoing problems in Florida prisons. We've initiated a campaign against the censorship in that state, but we know that it will likely come with retaliation against those who choose to participate in the struggle. We will use the pages of ULK to expose the Florida injustice system, but we also need legal help to take on the broader anti-censorship battle. It is of critical importance (and also legally protected) that our comrades in Florida, facing this sort of abuse, be able to receive political education and communicate their stories to the outside world. Fighting the censorship is an important part of the battle. If you are in Florida and want to get involved in the censorship battle let us know.

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[Censorship] [Gang Validation] [Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center] [MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution] [Connecticut] [ULK Issue 47]
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Validated for Participating in MIM(Prisons) Study Group

UnauthorizedStudy
It's been a while since I have reached out, the delay was due to me acquiring a class A disciplinary report which regressed me from Phase 4 (a month from finishing) to Phase 1 (15 months to completion). Why, you may ask? Due to the fact that I was participating in a MIM study group and happened to spell Afrika (with a k) and Amerikkka (with a k) differently, which was deemed disrespectful to the security risk group (SRG) designation "Crips." After losing trial on the disciplinary report I was given 60 days loss of mail and 60 days loss of commissary as well as 10 days punitive segregation. Also it led to anything MIM-related being confiscated as well as banned in Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center and MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. I have appealed their findings and also included a copy. The copies with this scribe will furthermore prove censorship here in the state of Connecticut. I have also exhausted all administrative remedies and I'm currently in process of filing a lawsuit against Corrigan CI for violation of my First Amendment rights. If you have any case laws that may help my pursuit of justice it will be greatly appreciated. I'm also trying to recover ULK issues #28, 30, 31, 33, 36, 37, 38 and some MIM Theory magazines titled #4, #5, and #14. I will continue to contribute through any means I'm able to.


The enclosed disciplinary report states:


"Description of violation: On May 8, 2015 at 6:10 p.m. in accordance with Administrative Directive 10.7 I, Officer Lorenzen, reviewed an outgoing letter written by Inmate XX. In this letter Inmate XX shows his continued affiliation to the Security Risk Group Bloods by using a total of six five pointed stars which are identifiers used by the Bloods. Twice in this letter Inmate Patterson replaces the letter 'C' with the letter 'K.' This occurs on the bottom of the first page of the letter where he writes 'Afrikans.' The second place this occurs is on the third page of the letter where he writes 'Amerika.' This shows disrespect to the Security Risk Group Crips and is a behavior clearly associated with the Security Risk Group Bloods.

"Inmate XX makes the written statement, 'As of now as the leader of our study group...' This statement clearly shows that Inmate XX recognizes himself as holding a leadership position over other Security Risk Group Members. In the letter he also states, 'We meet twice a week during our recreation period for 15 minutes...' This statement further shows that he is recognized as a leader of Security Risk Group Members that have the same recreation period as him.

"The use of letter replacement, five pointed stars, as well as leading and organizing Security Risk Group Members are behaviors clearly associated with a Security Risk Group which is a violation of Administrative Directive 9.5. For this Inmate XX is being issued a Class A Disciplinary Report for Security Risk Group Affiliation."

The prisoner's appeal was denied.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We will support this comrade in eir righteous battle to have basic Constitutional rights recognized. Whether you're Maoist or Crip, the way you spell can get you punished in the U.$. injustice system. And organizing others to come together to study, well that is a very serious offense for the most oppressed in the good ole' U.$.A.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Georgia]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Georgia

Georgia Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of Georgia Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with their grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses listed on the petition, and below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Commissioner, Georgia Department of Corrections
300 Patrol Road
Forsyth, GA 31029

Southern Center for Human Rights Law Offices
83 Poplar St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30303-2122

GDC Office of Internal Affairs, Investigation and Compliance
PO Box 1529
Forsyth, GA 31029

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*this petition was first put up in November 2014, updated October 2017*

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