The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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

Alaska Petition
Click to Download PDF of Alaska 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.

Director April Wilkerson
Alaska Department of Corrections
PO Box 112000
Juneau, AK 99811-2000

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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[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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[Censorship] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 47]
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Virginia Censorship Battle Seeking Way Forward

Censored
Enclosed is a Facility Notification of Disapproval of Under Lock & Key No. 45. The effort your group puts forth, and your commitment to your ideology are examples of dedication. But the continual rejection of your materials by the prison is costly to your limited resources. And my returning them to you without getting to read them is costly to me. You should receive a package from me containing materials the prison withheld from me.

I propose you cease mailing your materials to me. I am still going to contribute articles for you to publish. I have an issue of ULK that I've saved in order to show others who you are, what you represent, and so forth. I will use this to encourage them to work with you.

I have considered filing a lawsuit. But upon reviewing decisions in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, it is plain that the court sides with the prison system except in cases involving religious books. (The one non-religious victory: the court did rule in favor of a prisoner denied Ulysses by James Joyce because the prison permitted Playboy and the prison's claim that Ulysses was disapproved for sexual content is ludicrous and hypocritical.)

When it comes to political materials – especially radical views – the court is extremely conservative. The Fourth Circuit (which hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) also has the dubious distinction of being the harshest toward prisoner complaints.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are working with this comrade and a few others in Virginia to determine how best to proceed with the censorship against MIM(Prisons) in that state. We agree that the legal track record in the Fourth Circuit suggests that it's not worth the effort for a prisoner to file a lawsuit fighting the censorship. There is some precedent for organizations and individuals outside of prison having better luck and we do have some strong comrades like this one who can help with legal work. But we need an outside lawyer, knowledgable individual, or organization who can help spearhead the fight in Virginia. If anyone reading this has people on the outside who would be willing to work with us on this important battle, please let us know. And if you are in Virginia, be sure to tell us whether or not you are receiving your copies of ULK, and if you'd like to help with this battle.

In the end this comrade is right that it is only in the long battle that we can really win, when we take power for the oppressed out of the hands of the oppressors. But in the short term, making it possible for comrades to get study and organizing materials behind bars is of critical importance because this is how we can build the movement. Education is our principal task, and this education is hard to accomplish without the ability to communicate and study.

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[Censorship] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 46]
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Pennsylvania Censors Textbooks

Oppose Censorship
Prison administrators here in State Correctional Institution (SCI) Huntingdon have recently begun to deny all of the programming textbooks that have come in the mail for me, stating that the books contain writings which advocate, assist or are evidence of criminal activity, or facility misconduct. I am unable to properly appeal the publication denials to the facility's superintendent, who told me in person "You're not getting your fucking books." He told me that the decision by the Inmate Publication Review Committee (IPRC) is final, and his responses to my attempts to appeal publication denials reflect this statement. I am unable to use the facility grievance system to file complaints about my mail and incoming publications, which are meant to be handled some other way. I am unable to ask exactly what misconducts or crimes the books advocate, assist in, or are evidence of, and facility staff have been unable to specify.

I am writing to your organization to respectfully request any assistance, or information you may be able to provide which could help to right this wrong. These books are purely educational, and as such are entirely neutral. Disallowing them could not serve any legitimate penological interest.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter shows that education can never be "entirely neutral" under imperialism. Educational textbooks, while generally devoid of any progressive political content, still present a threat to prisons because of the opportunity they provide for educational advancement. Through this education prisoners may become more aware of the basis of the criminal injustice system and their own oppression, and it could lead them to seek out more revolutionary education. Keeping prisoners uneducated is a good way for the oppressor nation to maintain its privileged position.

Denial of books can also be used as punishment for a prisoner who is seen as a trouble maker. The fact that this comrade knows how to file grievances and is working to gain education may be the cause of these denials. Part of the system of social control in prisons is the use of arbitrary rules to contain prisoners who might be a threat because of their understanding of legal rights and their ability to fight for these rights.

For both of these reasons, instead of arguing about what constitutes "legitimate penological interests" we point out that the penological interest really being served by the Amerikan criminal injustice system is social control. Censorship is a key tool the prisons use for this end. And for this reason we focus some of our limited time and resources fighting against censorship. For this comrade we have provided a copy of our guide to fighting censorship. But what we really need, in many states across the country, are lawyers who can help us bring censorship cases to court to establish legal precedent. Of particular priority to us are those cases where the censorship is of explicit political material. Textbook denials like the one described above do happen, but they are far less common than the denial of Under Lock & Key and other revolutionary literature.

This article referenced in:
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[Censorship] [Stiles Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 44]
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Texas Denies Prisoners All Access to Paper and Envelopes

I'm writing because here in Texas the legislature or some "committee" got the bright idea to forbid prisoners the ability to purchase stationary materials (writing paper, typing paper, envelopes of all kinds, and carbon paper) from outside vendors. This really is felt by those who do legal work and those who refuse to support this state. We are now obligated to further support it by purchasing stationary from commissary.

Before this rule was adopted and enforced, one could purchase stationary items from the outside. This was especially good while on a unit lockdown when one needed paper (especially in litigation), because one could do an outside purchase and still get the paper. On a unit lockdown all movement comes to a halt! No commissary, nothing. So no commissary, no paper.

Now, of course, this system has a rule where after seven days on a lockdown one can use the state's "indigent" process, even having funds in one's account. But what the rule states, and what the indigent supply supervisor (usually the law library supervisor) does, are two different things. Let's say it's a four week lockdown. So the first week is "free" or s/he doesn't have to worry about filling out stationary requests. Then week two comes along and all those requests come in. Now the supervisor claims that there's "too many" requests and can't get around to sending the requester their "assigned" indigent supply envelope (ISE). There goes week two, with no paper. Now, each building has their "assigned" request day so this wise ass stupid-visor knows which day is the building's request day. S/he then sends the ISE on the day that the requests are to be made — there goes week three. Week four, you finally make your request, but you come off lockdown, with no supplies sent, and you haven't written in a whole month. Then you have to wait to go to the store.

By the time any grievance is heard the stupid-visor now has his goons kicking down your door searching all your "legal work" under the guise of "probable cause" of written contraband, but really it's retaliation. After all your shit has been ransacked and possibly stolen, in the end you've been fucked good with no claim upon which relief can be granted.

eCommDirect usually allows people on the outside to purchase commissary items for prisoners, but they are not allowed during a lockdown. And if you're in a custody level of what's known in Texas as a G-4 or closed custody there are no eComms allowed any time anyway.

So what does the system do to stop you if you're a writ writer? Make you a G-4 or closed custody. And you can be disciplined for anything! The way the rule reads, an open bag of chips is "contraband" cause it's not as you bought it! Everyone with a little sense will know that the prison system disciplinary process is only a means of control.


MIM(Prisons adds: Beyond just the disciplinary process inside prisons, the entire prison system, from denial of writing materials, to long-term isolation, is set up for social control. There's nothing rehabilitative or corrective about the Amerikan criminal injustice system. Denial of paper and envelopes is a clever way for Texas to try to stop people from using the grievance and legal system to address injustices. It is no surprise that many prisoners turn to physical violence when all other avenues are cut off. But in the face of this increased repression we call on all prisoners to come together, build unity and peace and join a broader movement to fight both these specific injustices and the broader imperialist system. United we can have an impact and build for revolutionary change!

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[Censorship] [National Oppression] [Perry Correctional Institution] [Lee Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 45]
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Reading is Fundamental

Throughout the history of our uncivilized world, those who invade, conquer, colonize, and oppress the people without fail make their first order of business to uproot and destroy the educational facilities and libraries. The oppressor nations and their oppressive apparatus know the importance of books and a proper education.

As we know from history, the Africans who were brought to Amerika and turned into slaves were forbidden to read and write. In fact, to be caught with a book or even attempting to learn how to read and write was a crime for them. These are facts that trouble me immensely, because the more things seem to change, the more they actually remain the same.

In September of 2012 while being housed in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at Lee Correctional Institution, in Bishopville, South Carolina, I filed a grievance, because on 25 April 2012, the then-acting Warden (Michael McCall) had the Rapid Response Team (Red-Team) confiscate all books, newspapers, magazines, etc. from SMU prisoners. I was left without one single piece of paper in the cell; they even took the toilet paper.

And though this was against their own policy (SCDC Policy OP-22.12), it has still been upheld on appeal. It is criminal to hold a human being inside of a cell for twenty-four hours a day with absolutely nothing to read and occupy the mind. While on SMU for almost four years, I developed high blood pressure and mental health issues. Since being off SMU I no longer have signs of high blood pressure and I have resolved my mental health issues on my own. I was taking medication for high blood pressure and the mental health issues and currently I am medication-free.

Some prisoners get their families to order books for them, but some bookstores such as Barnes & Noble have refused to let my family order books that must be sent directly to me, because they've had so many problems with the institutions sending books back. Companies have simply gotten fed up with having to send refund checks, because so many books, magazines, newspapers, etc. (primarily literature pertaining to Black history and culture) are unauthorized and thus, we can't receive them.

Currently I am being held captive at Perry Correctional Institution (PCI), which is in Pelzer, South Carolina. Here at PCI they not only deny prisoners on SMU books, but they've shut down the regular library services as well. The general prisoner population's library services have been shut down for about five months now. We have been told that the books that are currently part of the regular library will be divided up and placed on shelves and/or carts that will be built in the respective dorm units. I have written requests to the staff here concerning the library services (or lack thereof) and they give me the same run-around. I have even pointed out to them that they are not abiding by their own policy (PS-08.04 Library Services) when it comes to how they've shut the library down.

The truly sad part about this whole injustice is that the warden here (Larry Cartledge) is Black (his skin anyway), the Major here (Curtis Early) is Black (his skin anyway), and even the person in charge of the educational building (Linda Bratton) is Black. All of these people should realize the significance and importance of books to a people who have been beaten, lynched, and murdered for attempting to educate themselves in a nation that has done everything possible to stop them from educating themselves. We cannot give Black officials a pass simply because their skin is black. We must hold these "Black people" accountable not only for their actions, but for their inactions as well. This entire system is corrupt and bent on further maintaining and supporting corruption, oppression, and an imperialistic agenda.

The South Carolina Department of Corruption's policy GA-01.12 (Inmate Grievance System May 12, 2014), p. 5 states: "Responses: in most instances, grievances will be processed from initial to final disposition within 171 days." It is no accident that the South Carolina Department of Correction (SCDC) has taken well over two years to process my grievance in question and many many more.

Once the grievance process has been exhausted, the prisoner can file civil suits for various violations committed by the SCDC, but most civil suits have to be filed within a two-year time frame of said violations. The SCDC has developed, maintained, and even nurtured a system of crime and corruption against the very people who they have the audacity to call criminals. They prolong and hinder the grievance process in their attempts to stop prisoners from having their day in court.

When "our people" represent the interest of the oppressive imperialist state, they are not "our people" and we must replace them with those who actually hold our best interest at heart. It is clear that these people are complicit with this corrupt, unjust system of racism, oppression, and imperialism. And though they do not want us to read books, they throw the book at us each and every opportunity they get.


MIM(Prisons) responds: One of the main similarities between present-day U.$. prisons, and the days of U.$. slavery, is the use of people from oppressed groups to act as agents of oppression on behalf of the oppressor Amerikkkan nation. The Uncle Tom phenomena is most clearly exemplified by Barack Obama, the Black President of the United $tates, the world's leading imperialist power. Since the destruction of the 1960s national liberation movements, the New Afrikan nation, and other internal semi-colonies, have been increasingly bought off by the spoils of imperialism. New Afrikan guards in prisons are an ironic example of this integration.

Replacing one guard with another won't change the fact that they are prison guards, and hence determined to fall into the role of oppressor. After all, that's why they get a paycheck! Instead we aim to get rid of the oppressive prison system altogether, by creating a society where this relationship is no longer necessary or legal.

On a country-wide scale, the contradiction between Amerika and the internal semi-colonies is principal. In looking at historical examples, we see that struggles for national liberation have done the most to propel societies out of the oppression of capitalism and imperialism.

Within PCI it sounds like the guards side more with Amerika than they do with their own nation, probably because of all the great "opportunity" that Amerika has provided them. We call this "opportunity" spoils of imperialism: wealth that was stolen from the Third World by the imperialists and divvied up amongst First World citizens on varying levels just enough to prevent revolutionary overthrow of the United $tates government.

And this anecdote from South Carolina paints a picture of why we focus on lumpen New Afrikans, who are easy to locate in Amerika's prisons and have the most subjective interest in overthrowing capitalism, as opposed to trying to organize the New Afrikan petty-bourgeoisie (such as prison guards). The division is a difference of degrees of integration, while on the whole the New Afrikan nation is oppressed by Amerika. In response to the Liberals' demands for less and less discrimination, all we get is increased integration; the underlying national oppression and imperialism is unchanged.

The issue of restricting reading materials to prisoners is a topic with a long history in U.$. prisons and in South Carolina. As much as people like to pretend that policies and legislation have an impact on the ground, they must not get as many letters from prisoners as we do that show just the opposite. As this comrade shows, the laws and policies may be in place, but there is always some way to get around it, usually by citing "security" concerns.

Attempting to hold prison administrators accountable when they do violate their own rules leaves one's grievances to sit unanswered for two years as this comrade's are. And the response from administration is often just a brush off with no practical resolution obtained. Taking them to court over the issue is immensely difficult, even for the most litigious prisoner.

While we can definitely make some significant advances through the court system, we need to always be conscious of the overall picture. The same problems have been going on for decades and even centuries. If bourgeois democracy worked, wouldn't the issues of literacy and free education be resolved by now? Instead we have increased integration (i.e. more parasites leeching from the international proletariat) and individual people battling it out with petty paperwork struggles. Still.

For the lack of response to grievances, a comrade in South Carolina created a petition for the proper handling of grievances. Unfortunately it seems South Carolina does not have a time limit on responding to grievances, which might be a worthwhile issue for a prisoner to take to court if it means there would then at least be a policy in place to limit the time administrators can sit on answering a grievance and thus taking one step closer to satisfying Prison Litigation Reform Act requirements. The campaign to have our grievances addressed is an attempt to show the collective problem of neglect of the grievance procedure, rather than keeping it on the individual scale that is so convenient for prison administrators to disregard. Different states are having different levels of success in their grievance petition campaigns, but overall at least we are further proving how useless the offered forms of relief are in actually resolving problems.

In choosing which campaigns to fight, we assess how they will impact our overall struggle against imperialism. Our role at this point in the struggle in the United $tates is to build public opinion in favor of national liberation struggles of the oppressed, and against the capitalist economic system. Having access to reading materials is hugely important in developing an understanding of revolutionary politics, and by keeping prisoners in the dark with literally no material to read, the state of South Carolina is further delaying our struggle for liberation from all forms of oppression.

Comrades in South Carolina should organize around this lack of access to books and educational materials. If they can manage to get a library back, and to lift restrictions on what books can be mailed in to SCDC facilities, it would have a big impact on prisoner-led study groups and individual study. It would also have a big impact on the breadth and depth of political consciousness in South Carolina prisons, and would be very beneficial for our overall struggle against imperialism. Comrades in South Carolina should write to MIM(Prisons) with their ideas on what United Struggle from Within can do to help fight the censorship in South Carolina prisons!

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