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Under Lock & Key

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

South Carolina Prisoner Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of
South Carolina 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.

Officer of General Counsel
PO Box 21787
Columbia SC 29221-1787

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


*PDF updated October 2017*
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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Kansas]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Kansas

Kansas Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF of Kansas 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.

Secretary of Corrections
Landon State Office Building
900 Jackson, 4th Floor
Topeka, KS 66612

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


*PDF updated October 2017*
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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia]
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Virginia Hides List of Censored Publications

I've been doing follow up on your letter of 10 September 2014 to the Publications Review Committee [regarding the inclusion of MIM publications on the Master Disapproved list]. So far I've discovered three different Disapproved Publications Lists. To clear up the confusion I wrote to the law library requesting the most recent list. Instead of receiving the list, I was instructed to obtain the list from the pod librarian. I attempted to do so, but the pod librarian has only the Disapproved Books List and not the Disapproved Periodicals List. Of course, MIM Theory and ULK are on the latter, not the former. I've submitted yet another request for the Disapproved Periodicals List. If I am not given the list this time, I will initiate the grievance.

In your response to Lou Cei you indicate that he states MIM Theory and ULK have been disapproved for reasons other than the reasons on the Disapproved List I sent to you. Lou Cei also states that 5 of the MIM Theories are on the list as approved for inmate purchase.

I have located a Disapproved List that is dated March 2014. This is not the most recent updated list. It does have 4 MIM Theories listed as approved and 3 MIM Theories listed as disapproved. But here is the problem: the rows and columns of the chart are not in agreement. For example, the publication titled "Mermaids" shows an author "Elijah Muhammad" but on the row directly below is the book "Message to the Black Man in America" showing as author "C. Gatewood." Obviously the column listing the author's names is out of sync with the column listing titles. So it then becomes impossible to know if the column that lists the approval status is correct. For instance, Mermaids is disapproved but Message to the Black Man is approved.

Since I'm unable to have the list photocopied I copied pertinent portions by hand:


MIM Dist. Level 1 Study Group Disapproved
MIM Theory 2&3 Approved
MIM Theory 4 Approved
MIM Theory 11 Disapproved
MIM Theory 13 Disapproved
MIM Theory 9 Previously Disapproved
MIM Theory 5 Diet for a Small Red Planet Approved
MIM Theory M. Baalbaki Approved
Under Lock & Key #37 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key Feb. 2011 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #15 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #27 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key July/Aug 2013 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #25 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #37 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #37 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #20 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #26 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #23 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #36 Disapproved
Under Lock & Key #28 Disapproved

To further muddy the waters, this list shows certain publications that are approved whereas the other lists show only those publications that have been disapproved.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of the difficulties we encounter trying to appeal censorship in Amerikan prisons. We are often given incomplete or incorrect information, when we can get the prisons to respond to our protest letters at all. And prisoners trying to do the work to gather policies and lists in order to file the appropriate grievances are given the run around and denied necessary information. In spite of this, we do win censorship battles through perseverance. This comrade is doing the hard work of fighting on h end, and so we will continue to support this battle with letters of protest of our own. We encourage all prisoners whose mail is denied to follow up and file grievances. And let us know what's going on and what steps you are taking so we can support your fight from our end.

Censorship is nothing more than an attempt by the prisons to keep us from raising the level of education and political consciousness of prisoners. Material that educates and organizes is disapproved, often as a "threat to the security of the institution," while material that pacifies (the bible, pop culture magazines and fiction novels) is allowed in. Politically we are opposed to the U.$. prison system; the revolution we are fighting for to overthrow imperialism will put an end to the criminal injustice system in the United $tates. But this is a political question, which our bourgeois democracy deems illegal for government agencies to repress discussion of. The practical question of whether literature sent to prisoners by MIM Distributors is a threat to the institutional safety and security is clearly answered in the negative, as we know that prisoners who get involved with political organizing are less likely to engage in violent conflicts with other prisoners and with the prison staff.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Benner] [Pennsylvania]
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Publication Discrimination

It's amazing how some of these institutions specifically discriminate against Black publications from entering into their prisons, stating their writings are offensive and inappropriate to prison standards. This is how prejudice and bias their views are when it comes to Black literature.

I received a notice from the Incoming Publication Review Committee at SCI-Benner, stating that the Movement Newsletter is being denied. They indicated that three of its pages advocated violence, guerrilla warfare against the government, assist in criminal activity related to prison misconduct, and its material is racially motivated that could cause a threat to inmates, staff, and security in the prison.

This accusation is not only a derogatory attack on Black publications, but also towards Blacks in general. They have the audacity to link a race of people to a criminal behavior as though it's inbred in them.

The Black community frowns on criminal activities, as well as violence, much more so than anyone else because many are personally affected by it one-way or the other. And for anyone to imply they abet it, is in a state of illusion, because many of them are unfortunate victims of crime, not participants.

Most of the Black publications are structured to educate readers on past, and current events, give encouragement to those in despair, and to let the community know that they are not forgotten. We're fortunate to have a newsletter of sure caliber as the Movement that's fearless, judicious, and full of profound data that's reliable. Newsletters such as the Movement, Graterfriends, Fortune Society, Innocence Denied, and many others that give a voice to those whose voices have been disregarded. They advocate justice for those who have been denied it, and advocate humane treatment to those men and women in captivity.

It is judged inappropriate for Black publications to denounce racial discrimination, corruption, oppression, hypocrisy, injustice, and whatever else infringe on the rights of others. Are they permitted to execute their so-called Constitutional rights under the First Amendment to freedom of speech, which includes the rights to criticize the government or state officials? Is censorship in effect or is it just my imagination?


MIM(Prisons) responds: The Movement is a newsletter published by the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), which describes itself as: "HRC’s quarterly news magazine, The Movement, is a powerful source in public awareness that serves not only to tie prisoners to the outside world, but also to tie the public into prison issues. It represents the voices, faces, causes, and ideas of prisoner families and prisoners themselves." This is not even a New Afrikan publication, except in that it covers prison issues and a disproportionate number of prisoners of the United $tates are New Afrikan.

MIM(Prisons) is not surprised to see this censorship because we face constant problems with censorship of Under Lock & Key in prisons across the country. Prisons make up bogus reasons to deny ULK as a threat to security because of our work educating and organizing prisoners. Any publication that reports honestly on the Amerikan criminal injustice system is going to include coverage of national oppression and the struggles of New Afrikans and [email protected] in particular. This reporting and organizing work is seen as a threat to the prisons, but we must fight for our right to this legal form of education.

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[Censorship] [Spanish]
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Washington Prohibe Publicaciones en Lenguaje Extranjero

Estoy peleando esta política del Departamento de Correcciones del Estado de Washington; "c ) Publicaciones en lenguaje extranjero no serán permitidas con la excepción de publicaciones religiosas." Ellos dejan entrar cartas en lenguaje extranjero hasta 10 paginas. Antes del 2010 ellos acostumbraban a dejarme pasar libros y magazines en español, pero entonces ellos cambiaron esa norma.

Estoy familiarizado con el paquete de censura de MIM(prisons), pero no hay nada que aplique a este asunto. Yo agote todas mis quejas. Su última respuesta fue que ellos tenían intereses de seguridad y que esto era una amenaza a la seguridad de la institución.

He escuchado que hay Estados que dejan entrar literatura en lenguaje extranjero, ademas oí que el sistema Federal también lo hace. Estos puercos me dijeron que no hay ley constitucional del Estado o Federal que me apoye a recibir libros o revistas en un lenguaje extranjero. Estoy pidiendo la ayuda de los lectores de ULK alrededor del país que me aconsejen con una causa o ley que yo pueda usar en un argumento o juicio. Yo no sé cómo presentar una demanda pero tengo que aprender de algún modo. Ya escribí al ACLU y a otras organizaciones, pero ellos nunca me dieron respuesta.

Si ustedes tienen algún consejo por favor mándenlo a MIM(Prisons). Yo realmente se los agradeceré. Y finalmente a todos en el estado de Washington, sería bueno si podemos unirnos en este y muchos otros asuntos.

MIM(Prisons) agrega: Esta es una importante batalla porque esto es un claro rechazo al acceso de materiales educacionales para toda raza, y es especialmente importante para estos prisioneros quienes no dominan el idioma ingles. Esta evidente opresión nacional tiene que ser peleada. Esperamos con ansias oír de nuestros lectores con sus sugerencias de como enfocamos mejor esta campaña.

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

Texas Petition
Click to Download PDF of Texas 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.

TDCJ Legal Affairs
Attn: Leonard Peck
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, TC 77342-0099

TDCJ - Office of the Inspector General
Investigations Department
P.O. Box 4003
Huntsville, TX 77342-4003

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

State Bar of Texas Grievance Commission
1414 Colorado
Austin, TX 78701-1627

ACLU of Texas
William Harrell, Executive Director
P.O. Box 3629
Austin, TX 78764-3629

Committee on Criminal Justice
Sen. John Whitmire
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

Governor Rick Perry
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, TX 78701

Senator John Whitmore
Committee on Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711

TX Civil Rights Project
Attn: Atty Scott Medlock
1405 Montopolis Dr.
Austin, TX 78741-3438

Brandi Grissom
Texas Tribune
823 Congress Ave., Suite 210
Austin, TX 78701

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

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

*Petition updated September 2011, January 2012, July 2012, January 2013, October 2013, August 2014, and October 2017*

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[Censorship] [Nebraska]
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Nebraska Forces Prisoners to Overpay for Postage

Mail in Trash

There are many instances of postal fraud/institutional strong arm robbery occurring here. In the canteen , when purchasing a large sized envelope (6x9 or larger) the facility requires the purchase of two first class U.S. postage stamps or three first class U.S. postage stamps, two for 6x9, three for larger.

In the event that someone desires to mail fewer than the two or three ounces permissible with the two or three stamps and removes a stamp in order to not overpay for postage, he receives a misconduct report from the mailroom and often the mail is returned to the brotha's cell. The envelope is usually sealed and then cut open rendering it unfit to be utilized again.

Essentially, they're forcing us to overpay for postage under the auspices of Title 68 of the Nebraska Administrative Code. Specifically, Title 68 Chapter 5 Section(2) III (N) and III (C) "violation of regulations" and "possessing or receiving unauthorized articles." Of course they write the misconduct report so that removing the extra stamp is considered alteration of a canteen item and thus becoming an "unauthorized article." The "violation of regulations" is a result of the dubious unauthorized article.

What, if any, information or experience do you all have with this type of institutional criminality? Postage stamps are highly regulated. How can a state institution, or anybody for that matter, force an individual or collective to overpay for postage? And, how far reaching is this practice? How high does it go? How can we stop this?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good example of prisons denying prisoners' freedom of speech. It is difficult for prisoners to pay for stamps, and by forcing them to overpay, the prison denies valuable opportunities to send out mail. It is censorship before the mail is even sent out. We encourage Nebraska prisoners to get together to fight this policy. Send in your thoughts on how to best take this up as a campaign.

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[Censorship] [Aztlan/Chicano] [National Oppression] [Washington]
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Washington Prohibits Foreign Language Publications

Walls Closing In

I am fighting this Washington Department of Corrections policy "c) Publications in a foreign language will not be allowed with the exception of religious publications." They let letters come in in a foreign language, up to 10 pages. Before 2010 they used to let me get books and magazines in Spanish, but then they changed the policy.

I'm familiar with the censorship pack from MIM(Prisons), but there is nothing that applies to this issue. I exhausted the grievances. Their last response was that they had security interests and that it was a threat to the security of the institutions.

I've heard that there are states that let foreign language literature come in, also I heard that the federal system does too. These clowns told me that there is no state, federal or constitutional law that supports me to get books or magazines in a foreign language. I'm asking for the help of ULK readers around the country to advise me with a case or law that I could use in an argument or lawsuit. I don't know how to file one but I have to learn somehow. I wrote the ACLU and other organizations, but they never gave me a response.

If you do have some advice please sent it to MIM(Prisons). And finally to all those in Washington state, it would be good if we can come together in this and many other issues.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is an important battle because it is clear denial of access to educational materials for all Raza, and is particularly important for those Spanish-speaking prisoners who are not fluent in English. This blatant national oppression must be fought. We look forward to hearing from our readers with suggestions for how to best approach this campaign.

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[Censorship] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 39]
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We Interrupt This Program: Censorship of TV and Radio in Prison

In today's world we're seeing the courts and media minimize the fact that U.S. prisons are run by criminals worse than the so-called worst confined within them. They have attempted, and have succeeded to a degree, in demonizing the prisoners being tortured and thereby desensitized the general public on that subject.

This is why it also seems the jury in the court of public opinion is still out regarding what process is due, and how the experimental implementation of political censorship known by its official misnomer "Obscene Materials Regulations" is already in progress on San Quentin State Prison's (SQ) four death row Security Housing Units (SHUs). The normalization of censorship in all its forms continues right before our eyes in SQ and beyond.

Consider how an invasion force imposes their will upon their victims preserved alive. One of the first things it does is knock out all means of communication. After installing a puppet governing body it then promotes its own agenda through the mass media. The San Quentin Antenna Cable System (SQACS) can be described as a one-sided propaganda bomb with a signal jamming warhead. It is a weapon of mass corruption in the hands of terrorists embedded in the Calincarceration Corrupted Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and other affiliates using the CDCR as their puppet to lord it over in the micro-societies of prison. Their fee for this is deducted from your paycheck, education, and social services for the disabled and elderly.

The SQACS (AKA SQTV) consists of expensive technology similar to that used by cable providers. Most cable companies receive their programming via satellite and then rebroadcast it on frequencies that boxes atop your television can receive. SQTV also consists of 14 converter boxes and several DVD players. As you may know, these devices require your TV be on channel 3 or 4 to operate. However, the SQACS rebroadcasts each on a different frequency. It even rebroadcasts free over-the-air digital signals on different frequencies in QAM (cable mode) and the UHF band.

Not only are the 14 now obsolete converters a huge waste of electricity (they've been on 24/7 nearly 5 years!) they also block free over-the-air broadcasts on the VHF channels they're rebroadcasted on. Contrary to popular belief prisons don't make money for the state. Only those working at prisons make the money and since the SQACS wastes YOUR money and not theirs, they don't care - especially when it can be used to give them job security.

Public broadcast stations KQED and KMTP are just two stations multicasting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked/restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. I argue it is actually intentional because these provide programs such as World News, Democracy Now, and even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long term torture by indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons.

San Quentin is by no means the only California prison using this technology to censor over-the-air broadcasts that don't fit their oligarchy's agenda. Radio stations received via these systems at various SHUs have reportedly cut out as the hunger strikers were being commended for their peaceful protest. The broadcast was then turned back on when the CDCR representative began demonizing it.

As stated in the essay "Free your mind; reversing the effects of prison censorship" by S. Muhammad Hyland, "The bottom line is simple. The institutional restrictions on revolutionary political material are in place for a reason: to keep us from learning how to go about securing our freedom, and destroying the system responsible for our lack of success in Amerika."


MIM(Prisons) adds: Unlike most U.$. prisons found in rural areas, San Quentin is right in the Bay Area where, as this comrade points out, there are many sources of progressive information on television and radio. It is quite damning that the state finds it necessary to censor these channels, which anyone just outside of the San Quentin compound can watch and listen to just fine. It speaks to the truth that prisons are all about social control. And it underscores the importance of not just having control of our own independent media, but also fighting for our First Amendment rights to distribute and share that media. Distribution networks are constantly threatened by bourgeois interests, from eliminating public bulletin boards, to the attempts to prioritize corporate website traffic on the internet, to blocking television and radio stations within prisons. Under Lock & Key is perhaps the most censored news source in the Amerikan Criminal Injustice System, and we are always engagedin ongoing battles in many states. We need more jailhouse lawyers and legal help on the streets to help with this fight.

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[Censorship] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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North Carolina Bans Legally Permitted Activities, Nominal Victory

In early June of this year, MIM Distributors received a letter from Assistant Director Cynthia Bostic of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) upholding the censorship of Under Lock & Key No. 37 (March/April 2014). Bostic censored ULK 37 because it mentions the options legally available to prisoners, to not buy from commissary, not order packages through the prison's vendor, and to file civil action suits. None of these activities are illegal, or even against NCDPS's own policies. Since the newsletter talks about activities which prisoners are legally allowed to engage in, but which give the prisoners a tiny notion of agency and self-determination, it is not permitted in the state.

As a North Carolina comrade wrote almost two years ago, censorship of ULK under the guise of illegal activities was triggered by a surge in subscribers in that state and the development of a campaign by USW comrades in North Carolina to petition the state's ineffective grievance system.

MIM Distributors has written multiple letters to NCDPS administrators in an effort to defend the rights of prisoners to read our newsletter, and to exercise our right to free speech. One of these letters helped convince Bostic to approve the delivery of Under Lock & Key No. 36 (January/February 2014). According to Section D.0105(d) of NCDPS's Policies and Procedures, upon approval, the Publication Review Committee and Wardens are supposed to work together to deliver the previously censored issues of Under Lock & Key to their intended recipients. In Bostic's letter, she "permits" MIM Distributors to resend ULK 36 at our own expense. We recently checked in with our subscribers in North Carolina to see if this issue was delivered to them via the channels outlined in NCDPS Policies and Procedures. If you were a subscriber in January 2014, you should have received issue 36 from your Warden. Let us know if you haven't!

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