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[First Nations] [Religious Repression] [Medical Care] [Political Repression] [Civil Liberties] [Legal] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 79]
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Native Religious Rights and Cool Housing Struggles in TX

I’m attacking the “Heat Sensitivity Scoring (HSS).”

We feel that being classified as “Heat Sensitive”, which requires a cool-bed housing assignment, is a medical treatment and a medical diagnosis. A diagnosis that you should be able to choose if you want the “treatment” or not. We have a right to refuse medical treatment but they will not let us opt out of this “classification” and will not explain how this “Heat Score” was calculated.

The best information I’ve gotten on the Cool-bed litigation came from Nell Gaither at the Trans Pride Initiative PO Box 3982, Dallas, TX 75208 (214) 449-1439, tpride.org. She copied and pasted Document 59-2 from Sain v. Collier 4:18-CV-4412 and I had her letter entered in my case. It is a 4 page letter and you can buy it for $0.50 per page from the Clerk in the Western District, Austin Division @ 501 W. 5th St., Suite 1100, Austin, TX 78701.

TDCJ makes First Nation practitioners take a religious knowledge test before they will approve them for a Designated Native American Unit and if you can’t pass the test you can’t meet with clergy or attend ceremonies, etc.

I was shipped off of my Designated Unit and put in High Security in Allred because I was “Heat Sensitive.” SO they denied me of my religion due to my health conditions and wouldn’t tell me I had to re-take the test to re-apply for a Designated Unit (which is unconstitutional). Anyway, what they’re really doing is shipping [lawsuit/paperwork] filers off to high security claiming they are “Heat Sensitive.”

If this happens to others, all they need to do is contact the Chaplain and apply for a transfer to a Designated Unit again. They will have to take the test again as is TDCJ Religious Policy AD-07.30 policy number 09.02(rev3)p.1 &2 and policy 09.02(rev2) Attachment A.

We are looking to do away with this unconstitutional religious discrimination and teach our own religion. TDCJ’s text is based on Lakota religion and there are no Lakota tribes in Texas, so it is difficult to get Native Chaplains willing to teach a religion that is not their own.

People are fired up about ULK 78! I’m going to be ordering all of my grievances to send to TX Prison Reform. Thank you Triumphant of T.E.A.M. O.N.E.! for the good info. I’ve already ordered my grievances, I have 56! You can purchase them from the law library for $0.10 each.

Note to my Connally Unit comrades: As of 1 August 2022, TDCJ will no longer make legal copies, which is fucked up! I’m having to send my original documents through the mail to the court and hope they don’t steal my mail. Warden Rayford has banned inmate-to-inmate legal visits and there is no drinking water in the Law Library and no bathroom breaks. If you need to go to the pisser, your session is over.

No legal copies and legal visits hinders our access to courts, but I suggest sending an I-60 in and getting a denial on paper even if you don’t need a jailhouse lawyer. Then, if you loose your case you can say this was because you didn’t have your “helper.” Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 490(1969) says you have a right to get legal help from other prisoners unless the prison “provides some reasonable alternative to assist inmates in the preparation of petitions.” And if they are still retaliating after that, make sure you got a lot of witnesses. It is a federal crime for state actors (the prison officials) to threaten or assault witnesses in federal litigation 18 U.S.C.§1512(a)(2).

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[Religious Repression] [Civil Liberties] [Grievance Process] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Grievance Tips & New Grooming Policy in TX

In ULK 76 you printed an article by the Connally Committee of Texas T.E.A.M. O.N.E. titled “Connally Unit Denying Grievances & Retaliating”. I cannot vouch for the retaliation from here in High Security, but as for not responding to grievances and being chronically understaffed, I can vouch for.

I filed 2 grievances back in early April and have had zero response to them. I found a good cite in Prison Legal News June 2022 edition. It says, “A prisoner’s administrative remedies are exhausted when prison officials fail to timely respond to a properly filed grievance.” (Haight v. Thompson 763 F. 3d 554 (6th Cir 2014)) According to this, if they do not respond to our grievances we can go on to a §1983 Civil Action.

My suggestion to TEAM ONE here at Connally is to go ahead and file §1983 Lawsuits with hand-written copies of your Step 1’s and try to file a Step 2. But your remedies are exhausted when TDCJ fails to respond to your grievances. They have 40 days to respond to a Step 1 or file an extension. If it has been more than 40 days and you have no answer, your administrative remedies are exhausted. I’m sending a handwritten copy of my Step 1 into the District Court this week. They will file, stamp it and assign it a document number and I’ll use it as evidence in my case.

As far as being understaffed, I can certainly agree with the writers of that article. Every end of the month into the first of the month this place is a ghost town. We are locked in our cells and fed sack lunches.

We did recently win a small victory as far as the grooming policy goes. AD-03.83 & SM-06.16 (Rev5) were updated on 10 May 2022 to allow male prisoners to grow long hair and wear pony tails. There were a lot of §1983 lawsuits pending on this subject. I’m still not totally satisfied with the updated policy because TDCJ reserves the right to force cut our hair for disciplinary reasons and they do not do this to the women. Growing our hair is a religious right, not a privilege to be revoked so I still have it listed in my lawsuit.

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[Civil Liberties] [Abuse] [Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Successful Method in Overcoming Malfeasant Adminstrators

I write this in an effort to educate and bring into understanding one successful method of overcoming malfeasant administrators at their own game when they write a fraudulent disciplinary case on you – even though your actions fail to fulfill the elements of the charged offense while the Agency staff lie in support. Utilizing the Time Lapsed Video (TLV) camera footage evidence when cameras are installed on your unit.

In brief: After gaining authorization from the Floor-Boss I zipped upstairs to another cell, delivering a legal document (E.D.-02.01 TDCJ Ethics Policy) to an inmate. Within six second, I was back on the One Row Run. The units O-3 (warden) confronted me upon my coming down ordering me to return to my cell (we were being let out to go to showers).

In the course of returning to my cell of assignment, I encountered the Floor Boss going the other way. I asked him to inform 0-3 that he had given me permission to deliver the document to another cell as we passed each other. Three seconds later, this 0-3 came up from behind me grabbing my wrist and puts handcuffs on me while proclaiming “I’m tired of you ‘Mother Fuckers’”. While walking me the rest of the way to my assigned cell: the 0-3 yanked the cuffs backwards, forward and side-to-side in efforts to get me to go off – too smart for the 0-3: I didn’t go off.

I immediately filed a grievance against this 0-3 for Non-Provoked Aggravated Excessive Use of Force, implementing penal codes, PD-22 Rules, and E.D.-02.01 “TDCJ Ethics Policy” standards in slamming this malfeasant warden.

Nine days later: following the 06-01 “Grievance Investigation Sheet” was presented to this 0-3 the warden initiated disciplinary charges against me claiming that I was Out-of-Place and Created a Disturbance. Yeah, done in retaliation. Success demands that I be found guilty; and my Grievance was shot-down by the unit’s 0-2 warden.

Thirty four days after the occurrence (the time limit is 30 days) the administration illicitly ran this disciplinary case – taking four & 1/2 hours – where the C.O. I called as a witness in my defense was blatantly compromised (suborned) by the 0-3, the charging officer. on camera in front of me and several others.

After a 30 minute conference with the Hearing Officer: The C.O. came and got me to return to the hearing officer’s office. Where the C.O., of course, lied while supporting the lies of the 0-3’s that ensued.

At the hearing as well as in my grievance I repeatedly gave notice that the TLV, when viewed, will show absolute support to all my standings while revealing the malfeasance of this 0-3. At no time did the disciplinary hearing officer view this TLV footage evidence. The video was acknowledged, yet, misrepresented by my counsel.

Of course I was found guilty, maxed-out on the punishments, G-5ed, and then I was shipped to another unit. Being the hardheaded individual that I am, while knowing I am not guilty of the lies I was charged with, I filed in the local Judicial District Court for an injunctive order and successfully gained an order from the court directing the TDCJ’s Executive Director to ensure that the TLV footage evidence of the occurrence; with the suborning of the C.O. video, be preserved and not done away with. The Court bench warranted me for this action.

By the time I finished processing back into the TDCJ the disciplinary hearing’s guilty finding was – miraculously – overturned. Who’d of thunk!?! Presently, in that same District Court, I have filed a Cause of Action against the TDCJ Agency for retaliation. Naming each person involved in this fraudulently run railroading of that case premised solely on lies and retaliation. Naming each individual as “Persons of Incident.”

You see, all too often, the TDCJ Agency will: in the course of “Taking Case of Our Own,” intentionally ignore the TLV footage evidence. Herewith, I have figured out how to force them to acknowledge the video footage evidence as well as achieving accountability for their illegal conducting: getting liability to duly attach on their heads.

The TLV cameras are there to record the truth. I here have opened the door so many have overlooked. Use the cameras to reveal their malfeasance in office. For a small donation I am certain that MIM will be glad to forward a printing of the TDCJ E.D.-02.01. The Ethics Policy is an extremely powerful Executive Directive when quoted in your grievance. It scares them so much that they removed it from the Law Libraries Holding’s list back in 2015.(1)

notes: 1. for a list of documents not being provided on the law libraries holdings list, see Censorship of TBCJ, TDCJ Policies, Procedures and Rules

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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [Download and Print] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Repression of Juneteenth Boycott Organizers has Begun

With just a month remaining before the first series of actions around the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, we have received reports of repression of activists by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ).

One of the hearts of this campaign comes out of the brutal Allred Restrictive Housing Unit(RHU) where people have spent decades in isolation. We’ve recently learned that one organizer at Allred hasn’t received half a dozen letters we’ve sent em over the last few months. Eir outgoing mail is also delayed or gone missing. This mail tampering is illegal. We wrote the warden of Allred to stop this censorship.. If he doesn’t stop it, we know this political repression is intentional from the top of the TDCJ to suppress our boycotting of Juneteenth.

We are asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and these activists in Allred to freely communicate. The pdf below can be downloaded, printed on card stock and cut into four postcards. Then you can ask people to sign them, put a postcard stamp ($0.40) on them, and drop them in a mail box. Over the next couple months we want to show TDCJ that people outside are paying attention and supporting the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative. This is one way to do that. You can also call Warden Jimmy Smith @ (940) 855-7477 (**069).

protest Allred censorship of activists mail
Click image to download pdf and print postcards.

Stevenson Unit in Texas has also stepped up censorship related to materials about the Juneteenth boycott. The TX Team One Primer was censored for the reason:

“Page(s) 4 contains information advocating prison disruption.”

Prisoners are very limited in what they can do when their grievances are ignored. Most actions will lead to repression. A boycott is the most passive action. There are no calls to violence nor do the plans threaten security in any way. Just a peaceful demonstration of solidarity, demanding some basic humyn rights be applied in Texas prisons. Yet this is being outlawed by the state.

Even worse, in eir most recent update, one comrade in Stevenson reported that:

“last night I was placed in handcuffs and marched off to solitary confinement, the place from where I currently write. I woke this morning to find I’m being charged with 2 new rules violations: 1) Attempt/threat to assault a correctional officer and 2) Assault of a correctional officer.”

There was no assault. In fact this comrade is not even supposed to be housed on the second floor because of eir health conditions. Ey believes this is retaliation for the appeals ey filed against the censorship of literature sent by MIM Distributors. Meanwhile, MIM Distributors was not given the opportunity to appeal, and only received the final decision from TDCJ.

As our comrade in Stevenson Unit so eloquently concluded,

“They will never succeed in snuffing out my flame and their attempts to silence the truth only causes it to roar even louder! They cloak themselves in legitimacy and the trappings of power because deep down they know they are weak and the system is crumbling – to be swept aside along with all the silly liberal reformers and we build a better world over their ruins, a new society based on equality and respect and compassion and truth and justice and”love" – a human society fit for fully involved and determined human beings at peace with themselves, each other, and the world around us."

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[Civil Liberties] [Campaigns] [Legal] [Telford Unit] [Allred Unit] [Michael Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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JFI: More Join Lawsuit to End RHU Torture in Texas

Organizing is spreading around the Dillard v. Davis, et al. Civil Action No. 7:19-cv-0081-M-BP lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s use of long-term solitary confinement. Prisoners held in Allred Unit, ground zero for the Restrictive Housing Unit, and Michael Unit have filed motions to join the class action suit.

A comrade in Stevenson Unit wrote to say that there are only 12 restrictive housing cells there and they are only used very short-term. But ey is sharing the motion and other campaign materials with contacts inside and outside to support those in RHU fighting for their humyn rights.

Shutting down long-term solitary confinement is one of the key campaign demands of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, calling for a boycott of Juneteenth until real freedom is attained in this country. The lawsuit points to the irreparable harm on mental health caused by long-term solitary.

Anyone who is in a Restricted Housing Unit in Texas can use the linked example motion to join this lawsuit. The motion should be sent to all three addresses listed at the end of the attached PDF. Please download and distribute to those you know in Texas torture chambers!

28 May 2022 UPDATE from Tx TEAM ONE member - Telford Unit: I have submitted my interest in becoming a co-plaintiff to all inhumane conditions in all Ad-Seg/RHU buildings, especially on this unit, and the inhumane/treatment and living conditions endured by all alleged STG prisoners. Because for almost forty (40) years, those of Us that are considered STG’s have been in these living conditions.

I have already written to the Eastern and Northern Districts, United States District Courts. And I have also written to the United States Department of Justice.

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[Civil Liberties] [Release] [Texas] [ULK Issue 78]
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Texas Prisoners Launch Attack on the Parole System

Greetings Comrades.

Imagine a lawsuit attacking the constitutionality of the Texas Parole System being filed in every U.S. District Court in Texas, by 100 or more prisoners. Well this is exactly what the Khufu Foundation is attempting to do. However, it can only be done with MASSIVE Prisoner participation. The Texas Legislature does not meet again until 2023, and any hope of them changing this system is slim to none. Thus, it is up to the Prisoners to effect a change.

For the prison system to function constitutionally, there must be a system in place that works. The continuous rejection of parole based solely on the commitment crime does not justify the denial, and is constitutionally unacceptable. Thus, the Khufu Foundation is calling on those hundreds of prisoners who have been repeatedly set-off for 1D and 2D, SERIOUS NATURE OF OFFENSE and CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR PATTERN to file Civil Rights Lawsuits for Declaratory and Injunctive relief.

Every human, town, state, and country has a History. History is a fact that can never be changed, but redeemed. What is rehabilitation? It is a redemption of a past history of conduct. The Texas Legislators claim that incarceration “is the punishment” for the crime committed, and the parole system is the rehabilitation. Yet, without a workable parole system, without the intervention of “Board Members”, a prisoner is continuously punished by the system which is unworkable. The fact is, the Texas Parole Board needs to be dismantled and replaced with a workable Parole System. The Khufu Foundation has compiled a Template Lawsuit based on the following, along with a Memorandum of Law:

“While the U.S. Supreme Court has not defined the minimum process required by the Due Process Clause for a denial of parole under the California system, it made clear that the requirements were satisfied where the inmates were allowed to speak at their hearings and to contest the evidence against them, were afforded access to their records in advance, and were notified as to the reasons why parole was denied.” – see Pearson v. Muntz, 639 F.3d 1185.

I am the Plaintiff in the lawsuit against members of the TBPP, as well as the litigator in another cause against them: Hicks V. TBPP, 6:22cv134 Armour V. TBPP, 6:22cv33 in the Eastern District-Tyler Division. This is an update to enjoin each of you who read this and have received multiple set-offs to file your own lawsuit and/or file motions to join these. Also, know that there has been an order to Replead issued in Armour v. TBPP with the Court alleging that TBPP is protected by the Eleventh Amendment. Thus, I urge you to name Chairman David Gutierrez and Rissie Owens as defendants.

I will be arguing that the TBPP is not protected by the 11th Amendment in light of the Ex Parte Young doctrine, which states:

“In determining whether the doctrine of Ex Parte Young avoids an 11th Amendment bar to suit, a federal court need only conduct a straightforward inquiry into whether the complaint alleges an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as prospective.” Const. Amend.11 - See Verizon MD. Inc v. Public Service Commission of Maryland, 535 U.S. 635, 122 S.Ct. 1753 and McCarthy ex rel Travis V. Hawkins, 385 F.3d 407, 412 (5th Cir. 2000)

Next, please find enclosed my letter to the Court in F. Martinez, et al., v TBCJ, et al., 3:21cv337. Please send a copy of my letter along with my name to the Plaintiff in this cause for it is very important that he not settle unless he gets something in writing from the Court. TDCJ will rock one into believing they are going to do the right thing; and they will do the right thing for just long enough for you to think all is well until one of their people violates someone then you find out there is nothing in writing that binds them. Examples: Ruiz and Brown.

The Khufu Foundation is currently seeking to hear from those who have been repeatedly set-off, and is asking them to file this lawsuit. If you would like a copy of this lawsuit, send a SASE and 3 stamps to:

THE KHUFU FOUNDATION
910 LONEY ST.
FORT WORTH, TEXAS 76104

MIM(Prisons) adds: We do not know anything about the Khufu Foundation and cannot vouch for them if you choose to send them stamps. However, this campaign for parole reform is in line with some of the demands of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative and we thought some of the legal strategies herein might be useful to others. We are not lawyers. We are revolutionaries.

As revolutionaries MIM(Prisons) does not spend time working for parole reform. We do work to build independent institutions such as our Re-Lease on Life program to help comrades be successful and stay involved in the struggle when they are released. If you have an upcoming release date or parole date, it’s never to early to start working with us.

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[Grievance Process] [Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [McConnell Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 77]
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TDCJ Upholds Censorship of their own Grievance Manual

For many years, MIM Distributors has been providing legal resources to prisoners in Texas, including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ)’s own Grievance Operations Manual. In 2010, USW launched the grievance campaign in Texas, developing petitions to notify regulatory bodies when the TDCJ was violating its own grievance process. Four years later a comrade reported that on 30 September 2014 the TDCJ removed the Grievance Operations Manual, which lays out the TDCJ’s relevant code and policies, from all prison libraries(1) where it used to be available for prisoners to reference. Soon after, MIM Distributors began offering this document to comrades who were trying to fight grievances they had against the TDCJ.

In May 2019, we received a report from a comrade that the copy of the Grievance Operations Manual we sent em had been confiscated by a Correctional Officer(C.O.) in the law library!(2)

Turns out, they have continued to step things up a notch to keep this public information out of the hands of prisoners. On 12 January 2022, MIM Distributors was notified by the staff that the TDCJ Grievance Operation Manual was censored at McConnell Unit on 10 December 2021 for the following reason:

“in contradiction with BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules”

That was all the detail given. And we have not determined any portion of BP-03.91 that could possibly be applied to TDCJ’s own public policies. These types of cases should be easy wins for us. Unfortunately, we do not have the support we used to have to deal with prison administrators and hold them accountable. Outside supporters, get in touch to help us rebuild our capacity to fight these blatant injustices. Comrades inside that are falling victim to this repression, keep filing paperwork and provide us with all the info you can on what is going on.

notes: 1. A Texas Prisoner, November 2014, Texas Hides Grievance Manual from Prisoners, Under Lock & Key 42.
2. A Texas Prisoner, May 2019, Texas Confiscating Offender’s Grievance Operations Manual.

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[Revolutionary History] [Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Security] [Texas] [ULK Issue 76]
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A Message to the Movement

In the forthcoming piece We would like to point out the particular inter-connectedness of many of the enemy-states’ recent counter-offensive to Our collective progress. When We speak to ‘progress,’ we’re speaking to the strategic goal of establishing a national prison movement - a revolutionary oriented prison movement. A national revolutionary prison movement that is intrinsically connected with a national revolutionary oriented united front on the outside. In this piece We’ll attempt to illuminate to the reader that recent and present ‘security’ and censorship methods enacted by the enemy-state are indeed counter-offensives and are intrinsically inter-connected both outside and inside.

Any conscious observer will readily concede that in recent years, particularly within the prisons across the empire there has been an increase in censorship tactics. In some cases these methods border on extreme.

For all intents and purposes We can understand that the current prison movement took its first primitive steps forward towards nationalization with the hystoric hunger strikes organized in California from 2011-2013. The underlying blueprint for these actions, the Agreement to End Hostilities, showcased the way forward for many around the empire. Furthermore, and what’s harder to measure, is the amount of inspiration that those actions initiated.

We have a small window into this reality, as it has been recorded that prison officials in other states, by the advent of the third and final strike, began pleading with CDCR to settle the issues the comrades in Califas raised, as they had began dealing with similar unrest in their state’s prisons.

Here it may be necessary to pinpoint that the prison movement as We know it today didn’t begin in 2011. Rather there have been other organizations that have connected the functions of prison to the human rights movement. A notable organization is the Human Rights Coalition led by elder BLA and BPP veteran political prisoner/prisoner of war Russel Maroon Shoatz. [Rest in Power, Shoatz died on 17 December 2021, at age 78, less than 2 months after eir release from prison with cancer.] However, beginning with the Califas hunger strikes there was a substantial qualitative leap forward in both participation and interest, inside and outside countrywide.

Moving forward towards the 2016 National Prison strike; the collective action, along with its subsequent 2018 sequel, did wonders in nationalizing the Prison Human rights movement gaining corporate media attention and subsequently grasping the attention of previously uninterested parties. Some of these parties were prison officials, C.O. unions, police unions, and others intrinsically woven into the criminal injustice apparatus. Others were concerned persyns: a new generation of abolitionists began to spring up, usually deriving from the college campus sector. The spokesperson of the national prison strikes, Sis. Amani Sawari, along with imprisoned activists within key organizations like Jailhouse Lawyers Speaks, Free Alabama Movement, and many in Califas helped bring the key “Ten Demands” of the National Prison strike to the mainstream as these issues began to be debated among presidential candidates throughout 2019 and 2020.

Before We move on it is important to pinpoint here that the Prison Human Rights Movement, has had and continues to have much stratification within its ranks. The first and major stratification point derives from differences in political line surrounding the role of the movement.

Similar to the days of the Civil Rights movement, when the question of ‘non-violence’ was seen by some as a philosophical or theological commitment, while for others it was simply a tactic, one to be discarded if/when it proved un-useful. The current prison movement has many of the same components. While there are many more revolutionary oriented groups/persyns who see the success of the prison movement with the advent of voting rights, or other prison reforms. Instead many of these groups agree that prisons can not be reformed, as it is an intrinsic part of the state apparatus. These groups agree that revolutionary consciousness and commitment are the most meaningful things that can come of the prison movement.

Simultaneously, in recent years there has been an upsurge in radical activity on the outside. Much like in the prison movement there are many youthful combatants, and much decentralized activities. The fact that these movements have risen parallel among each other should not be considered a coincidence, nor should the corresponding and parallel counter-offensives be seen as unrelated coincidences.

As BlackLivesMatter and abolitionist praxis protests arose around the country, particularly in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, reactionary lawmakers (persuaded by reactionary constituents) began implementing new repressive laws to quell protest. Federal lawmakers, led by the Trump-Pence duo led the way and most states followed suit. Such laws, or rather counter-offensives, included making the blocking of traffic, as had been done repeatedly in recent years, a first degree felony. In states like Tekkk$a$ that means that such protests would be punishable with sentences of 5-99 years!

Also, in a move to revamp Black Liberation era counter-offensives, federal legislators (followed by various states) felonized crossing state boundaries to partake in protests. Some students of the movement may recall that this measure was first enacted against Imam Jamil Al-Amin, the former H. Rap Brown of SNNC, BPP, and RNA at the apex of the Black Liberation struggle.

These are only a few key examples of the criminalization of radical dissent as it pertains to those on the outside. However, C.O. unions, DOC headquarters, and various reactionaries began their countervailing efforts on radical and revolutionary forces on the inside first.

In the almost immediate aftermath of the 2016 National Prison Strike, DOC’s around the empire all began complaining of the same issue: an illusionary influx of drugs coming through the mail. Reading from the limited research materials i have in my cell, it seems that the counter-offensive attacking prisoner mail under the pretext of a major drug influx began in 2017, and the first states to initiate this offensives were Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Florida. States like Tekkk$a$, initiated a different sort of attack on prisoner correspondence by severely limiting indigent mail in 2015. However, relating to the “influx of drugs” ruse, many other states have since followed suit. Another related component to the attack on prisoner mail is the wide spread switchover to digitized mail services. States have begun denying all physical snail mail and mail that have implemented this repressive tactic have also by and large prevented prisoners from receiving books from “unauthorized” vendors, basically mandating that reading material be sent from a sole approved vendor.

All these measures described above are ‘on trend’ among the various states around the empire, meaning these measures are likely to be making their way to a prison near you. What We’re experiencing now is a proving ground for the state, in which they’ve been observing to see which countervailing measures will stir the masses the most, which ones will survive the initial jailhouse lawyer onslaughts.

Again, it must be understood that the major drug influx cited by (all) these state DOC’s is illusionary. That isn’t to say drugs aren’t in prison, but they’re flowing in the same frequency as prior to 2016 (national prison strike). So why now? Why suddenly the state-to-state focused attack on prisoner correspondence, and the digitizing of mail, only after 2016? The answer points to a New-COINTELPRO type program (NCTP). Part and parcel with this NCTP is the widespread, coordinated countervailing attacks against progressive and revolutionary prisoners. From Califas, Oregon, Nevada to New Mexico, Indiana to Pennsylvania; from Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina to Florida, Alabama to Tekkk$a$, dissident prisoners are under attack. These attacks range from down right malicious assaults to poisoning of food/water supplies, from permanent solitary placement to the systemic silencing of these militants. In places like TDCJ’s Allred Unit, which Texas uses to isolate and torture political prisoners and captive journalists. They’ve employed a specialized individual, ex-military/ex-cop, to survey ‘specific inmates’ mail and book deliveries. Is it clear yet?

As the 2020 summer uprisings raged on into the late fall in some areas of the empire the Trump-Pence regime had already began laying the foundation to begin the mass warehousing of political dissidents on the outside utilizing some of the new laws mentioned above. As these protests raged on, political radicals have filled up prisons and jails around the empire. Do you all understand what this could mean for the prison movement?

The last time in movement hystory that We experienced a mass influx of militants and revolutionaries entering the prisons was during the Black Liberation era (late 1960’s into the 1970’s). Atiba Shanna, and the New Afrikan Prisoner’s Organization did a superb job illustrating the effect political prisoners entering the prisons in mass had on the already bubbling prison movement:

"As a result of the repression exercised upon the struggle taking place outside the walls in the late sixties and early seventies, leaders and activists in these struggles were captured and imprisoned. These were the political prisoners and prisoners of war. Their initial imprisonment was a result of consciously motivated political actions.

“The escalation of struggle outside the walls also resulted in a significant increase in the number of politicized prisoners already inside the walls… We can admit that the economic and socio-psychological ties that these politicized prisoners had with the oppressive system were such that they represent the most conscious element among us - the most conscious, that is, of the presently waging undeclared war between themselves and those who rule. Thus, they are the most receptive and responsive to the need to become ‘the people in uniform.’ BUT, their politicization resulted primarily from their being members of oppressed nations!” (1)

The people who are responsible for holding people in cages, and keeping us in cages, are acutely aware of the possible and very likely culture shock that is to overtake U.$. prisons that experience an influx of political radicals. Never forget that in the time frame mentioned above by Comrade Atiba, that the activities of the BLA and other similar formations eventually led to the U.$. moving to build more newer, more ‘secure,’ and high tech prisons designed to keep Our political prisoners and prisoners of war within them, and to prevent anymore political prisoners of war from arising from among the captive populace.

Therefore i concur that We’re currently experiencing such countervailing efforts by the enemy-state so that they may monitor captive militants, their networks and families (with the design to turn them into captive militants themselves) and prevent the rise of a more militant, more ideologically consolidated, more revolutionary national prison movement that is intrinsically inter-woven with a more militant, ideologically consolidated, more revolutionary outside united front.

By this point We hope it is clear that just as the prison movement and the movement on the other side of the walls have a dialectical relationship; the enemies on both sides of the wall also have a dialectical relationship, they also work together to the detriment of Our progress. As more revolutionary oriented comrades advance the national prison movement forward, repression will increase in intensity. We must begin to operate in a way that one’s struggles become all Our struggle. If comrades in one state are being overly repressed We must band together in multiple states, letting the pig power structure know “WE SEE YOU AND WE WON’T STAND FOR IT: 1LOVE 1STRUGGLE!” We must reach such a level of organization and operation, and We are on the cusp of it NOW. I encourage progressive and revolutionary captives to begin dialoging, corresponding, with each other. Seek out the means to do so. We must keep each other abreast to the local happenings from unit to unit, state to state. Comrades that is why publications like Under Lock & Key, San Francisco Bay View, and others are so important. However, We aren’t utilizing these platforms to their greatest extent if We aren’t constantly sending in reports, articles, informing other comrades on what’s happening. And We must also begin to support these institutions more effectively as a whole. I challenge all ULK subscribers to raise at least 10 stamps to mail to MIM(Prisons)! Which state can raise the most funds? TX where ya’ll at!? Those 10 stamps can go a long way towards prisoner organizing and educational efforts.

RE-BUILD TO WIN

1. Notes from a New Afrikan P.O.W. journal #1 by Atiba Shanna

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[Censorship] [Security] [Civil Liberties] [Economics] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 76]
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A Strategic Objective to Disrupt and Surveil the Communication Between Prisoners and Our Loved Ones

When I first came to prison in 1995, there were hardly any for-profit corporations doing business inside Virginia prisons. Almost all services including medical care, dental care and the commissary were provided by the state. This began to change in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the introduction of corporations like Prison Health Services to provide substandard prison health care and keep the commissary filled with high priced commissary items. Prisoners’ communication would also be outsourced to JPay, another for-profit company.

The Virginia Department of Corrections administration implemented a series of policies to manipulate us and our loved ones into accepting JPay as our only method of communication. On 6 August 2013, A. David Robertson, the Chief of Corrections and Operations, issued memorandum #073-2013, advising the prisoner class that effective 1 October 2013, our loved ones can no longer send us money orders through the postal mail and that they can only send us money through JPay, which requires our family to pay exorbitant transaction fees. If money orders were received in the mail after that day they were returned to sender.

On 7 May 2014, Robertson issued another memorandum, #033-214, advising the prisoner class that effective 1 July 2014, we can no longer receive more than 5 photographs through the mail. If a letter arrived at the prison containing more than 5 photographs, the entire letter including the 5 photos were returned to sender. This may seem small, but again this was subtle manipulation for acceptance of what was to come.

Perhaps the Virginia Department of Corrections most draconian policy implementation was detailed in a 13 March 2017 memorandum issued by the then warden of Sussex State Prison. In this memo we were advised that effective 17 April 2017,

“all incoming general correspondence, that is U.S. postal mail, will be photocopied at a maximum of three black and white photocopied pages front and back will be provided to the offender. The original envelope, letter and all enclosed documents will be shredded in the institutional mailroom. The entire correspondence and all enclosed items, including photographs, greeting cards, newspaper articles, etc. that exceed the established photocopy or size limit will be returned to sender.”

What this memo did not mention is that during the process of copying and scanning incoming postal letters from our loved ones, a digital copy of the letter along with the name and address of the person who sent it is uploaded and cataloged in a massive database. This policy was implemented under the guise of preventing the flow of drugs into these prisons, however the real motivation for this policy is reflected in the following one-sentence reminder listed in this memo:

“Individuals will still be permitted to send an offender secure messages, photographs and other attachments through the JPay system as it is currently authorized.”

Many prisoners and our loved ones view the amenity of exchanging emails with our loved ones as incredibly convenient. As a conscious prisoner I recognize that it also makes it easier for prison officials to censor and disrupt our communications and conduct surveillance and intelligence gathering on prisoners and those we communicate with. According to the Virginia Department of Corrections operating procedures 803.1, which governs offender correspondence and JPay emails inside all Virginia prisons, our incoming and outgoing correspondence is not supposed to be withheld for longer than 48 hours. However, our incoming and outgoing JPay emails are routinely withheld for several days or weeks at a time. Sometimes they are held for months at a time.

Operating procedure 803.1 prohibits prison officials from opening and reading our outgoing correspondence absent an approved mail cover from the warden, and reasonable suspicion that the correspondence violates state or federal law, or threatens the safety of the facility. However all incoming and outgoing JPay emails pass through a screening mechanism, whereby the prison’s mailroom staff and intelligence officers sit behind a computer monitor and read the personal and intimate words of prisoners and our loved ones, which, like our photocopied letters, are then cataloged and stored in a massive database.

Operating procedure 803.1 also prohibits the censorship of offender correspondence unless the censorship is based on legitimate facility interests of safety and security. However, JPay makes it easier for mailroom staff and intelligence officers to sit behind a computer monitor and with the click of a mouse block or censor the outgoing emails of prisoners complaining of prison conditions as well as incoming emails of loved ones containing information about the Black Panther Party and other progressive and revolutionary movements from the 1960s and 1970s.

The U.S. Supreme Court in Procunier v. Martinez (1974) ruled that:

“Communications by letter is not accomplished by the act of writing words on paper. Rather it is effected only when the letter is read by the addressee. Both parties to the correspondence have an interest in securing that result. As such, censorship of the communication between them necessarily impinges on the interests of each.”

This U.S. Supreme Court ruling and prison policies of surveillance and censorship listed above reveals that the fascist and repressive nature of prisons extend beyond these prison walls and adversely impacts those of you in the community. This should give human and civil rights activists, including our loved ones, additional motivation to work in solidarity with incarcerated freedom fighters to challenge these Constitutional violations via civil litigation.

Ultimately, what we need to do is develop a collective inside/outside analysis and strategy to dismantle the U.S. imperialist prison system.

All Power to the People!

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [North Carolina] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 76]
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Letters to NC Prisoners Denied by TextBehind

The state is tightening its control on free communication and association in prisons across the country by imposing digital monitoring systems, and in some cases banning hard copies of mail.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has begun using a company called TextBehind to handle their mail and push people towards their digital communications platform. This allows the company to extort people to pay whatever prices they want just to send their loved ones a message, while the state gets to monitor every word.

MIM Distributors began sending mail to TextBehind last month only to have it returned unopened. It turns out TextBehind does not process letters from organizations, only from individuals. As an organization we would be required to set up a corporate account with non-public pricing schemes. In other words, as a member of MIM(Prisons) I cannot just put a stamp on an envelope and drop it in the mail for a comrade in NCDPS custody anymore. This is a blatant violation of our First Amendment rights to speech and association. At this time it appears that newsletters and books are still allowed through the prisons, but we will not be able to correspond with you directly, send you study guides or other information persynalized to you if you are being held by NCPDS.

UPDATE: We just had a package of ULKs returned to us from Roanoke River Correctional Institution saying, “This facility DOES NOT accept friend and family mail directly” and that we must send mail to TextBehind. But TextBehind does not accept publications, only letters that can be scanned. So it seems mail to NCDPS is being blocked on all fronts.

Pigs Bring in Drugs, While Prisoners Mail Suffers

related news from a Wisconsin prisoner:

First thing first, I am still in Wisconsin. They are making all of us have our families and comrades send personal letters and photos to the Phoenix, Maryland PO Box (189) to inspect them for drugs such as K2, even though drugs, cell phones and other contraband items come from the fascist pigs that work in these imperialist gulags. Newspapers, books, publications are still to be sent here.

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