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Under Lock & Key

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [ULK Issue 58]

Censors in Their Own Words - September 2017

U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of political life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revoluion in China. There are a number of books available in this country that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda books. Here in Amerika free speech is reserved for those with money and power.

In prisons in particular we see so much censorship, especially targetting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. Fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech is a battle that MIM(Prisons) and many prisoners waste a lot of time and money on. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. There are prisoners, and some entire prisons (and sometimes entire states) that are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in educational material, or study courses, or even supply a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many cases.

Denying prisoners mail is condemning some people to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.

We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help us with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage.

North Carolina fears ULK promotes insurrection

Doug Pardue, Chair of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety's (NCDPS) Publication Review Committee (PRC) censored ULK 55, for the article "Regarding Daily Body Searches", stating that it "promotes insurrection." After appealing this censorship, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services upheld the decision citing these lines:

"Persynally I believe that we should shut down all movement but still go to Yard, programs and accept our food. Just make the pigs do all the work... the only way we know how to deal with an opposition is thru the motion of our resistance."

Ms. Sullivan writes, "These statements could possibly lead to insurrection which is a violation of our policy on publications." Apparently insurrection is a passive activity, and peaceful protest is a threat to institutional safety. Kind of ironic from a state that has a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. inscribed with the following words:


Still can't stay true to MLK's message in 2017.

Last year, NCPDS censored ULK 53 for the control unit survey. This was even more surprising. Upon our appeal, Nicole E. Sullivan, Director of Rehabilitative Programs and Services upheld the decision, writing:

"[T]he issue lies in the first sentence of the article which describes Control Units in inflammatory language equating them with political repression and torture. Control Units are not used in that manner in our facilities. Such language can encourage insurrection and disorder. Therefore the original decision is to withhold delivery is affirmed."

Ms. Sullivan ruled no free speech for MIM(Prisons) because any critique of eir agency's practices might cause an insurrection.

Just recently, one comrade who had ULK 55 censored and received our appeal letter responded:

"The NCPDS is quick to make any kind of negative judgment against prisoners. A man can say 'boo' and they feel threatened. I would like to know how they can even mention this material being against the prisoners' rehabilitation, where there is no such thing as rehabilitation in the department of NCPDS anymore. If a prisoner gets any rehabilitation, he gets it on his own.

"All the classes that might have been helpful with getting prisoners any rehabilitation have been closed down. More than that, most of the time after completing the class, proof of graduation completion certificates aren't worth the paper they are written on.

"I totally agree with the analysis of the appeal letter."

Missouri bans ULK

A subscriber at Jefferson City Correctional Center forwarded a copy of eir censorship notification for ULK 56. This comrade believes the state has banned all ULK although no formal notification has been given to either recipients or MIM(Prisons). The case manager for the prison refused to give this prisoner a grievance to file so ey could not even fight the ruling.

"The Censorship Committee has reviewed materials sent to you. Pursuant to our review of this material, we conclude that the security of this institution will be at risk if the material is delivered to you within this institution because the material:
1. constitutes a threat to the security, good order or discipline of the institution;
2. may facilitate or encourage criminal activity; or
3. may interfere with the rehabilitation of an offender

"Additional comments: contains articles that could constitute a safety and security risk."

Virginia DOC denies ULK 55 for lots of reasons but nothing specific

The Virginia DOC at least followed their rules in informing MIM(Prisons) that our publication was denied. Although the letter was sent months after this issue of ULK was mailed to subscribers. And still they claim we get only 15 days to appeal!

"You are hereby advised that the following issue(s) of publication(s) sent to an offender of the Virginia Department of Corrections have been disapproved for delivery to offenders of the Department:
Under Lock & Key March/April 2017 No. 55 page 5, front cover
for the following reasons:
D. Material, documents, or photographs that emphasize depictions or promotions of violence, disorder, insurrection, terrorist, or criminal activity in violation of state or federal laws or the violation of the Offender Disciplinary Procedure.
F. Material that depicts, describes, or promotes gang bylaws, initiations, organizational structure, codes, or other gang-related activity or association."

Hamilton CI in Florida censors guide to fighting censorship

In clear proof that Florida isn't reading the mail they censor, on July 20 we got a censorship notification from the Florida DOC along with the letter back that they had denied. This letter is our guide to fighting censorship in prisons. It contains information about regulations and laws, and how to appeal censorship. It's quite a stretch to consider any of the below reasons applicable to this document. More likely the mailroom is now just censoring all of our mail for these reasons.

"Your correspondence is being returned for the following reason(s):
"Otherwise presents a threat to the security, order, or rehabilitative objectives of the Correctional System, or to the safety of any person.
"Depicts, describes or encourages activities which may lead to the use of physical violence or group disruption.
"Encourages or instructs in the commission of criminal activity."

ULK 57 banned from Pennsylvania prisons for "advocating solidarity"

Apparently Pennsylvania considers any unity among prisoners to be dangerous. And so they banned all Pennsylvania prisoners from receiving ULK 57 because it "advocates solidarity." The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines solidarity as "unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards." Perhaps Pennsylvania hopes to keep prisoners distracted fighting one another rather than united against the abuse of the injustice system.

"Please be advised that the following publication has been denied to all inmates housed in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections:
"Under Lock & Key, #57, July/August 2017.
"The publication was denied for the following reasons:
"Information on page 11 advocates solidarity."

Pennsylvania denies ULK for article about PA prisons

"The following publication addressed to you has been reviewed and found unacceptable for the reason(s), indicated below, based on the criteria set forth in the DC-ADM 803 'Inmate Mail and Incoming Publications' policy Section 3.E.3.
Name of publication: Under Lock & Key – July/August 2017
Volume/number: 57. b. security issues
"(4) Racially inflammatory material or material that could cause a threat to the inmate, staff, or facility security; page number(s) 21, 24.
Brief description: States that 'the strip searches in the PA DOC are only for harassment purposes and we the people need to learn to fight and take a stand against the "pigs" in the prisons' referring to the correctional officers."

Illinois claims ULK is on Disapproved Publication List

Denying ULK 56 , the Illinois DOC offered only this justification to the prisoner's appeal: "Based upon this review, the following action is recommended: Denial – The publication is listed on the Disapproved Publication List."

Georgia censors ULK for being "reading material"

ULK 56 was sent back to us with a rejection form. The reason for rejection: "Other: reading Material (denied by legal in Atlanta)".

Washington rejects ULK 57 for article by prisoners

Washington DOC sent us individual rejection slips for at least ten prisoners, all claiming that ULK 57 violates law, policy, code or rules. Rather than give specifics, they offered several rather vague reasons as justification including info on STGs, overthrowing the government, and articles by other prisoners in other facilities. It's pretty hard to fight such general claims. And in fact most of ULK is written by prisoners, but that's not a legal justification for censorship.

"Reason 8. Contains plans for activity that violates state/federal law, the Washington Administrative Code, Department policy, and/or local facility rules. "Comments/other reasons: 8. contains security threat group information and threat to penological object on overthrowing the government page 3, 11, and 13. A lot of articles that other offenders from other facilities."

Illinois returns study group lesson unopened

A letter sent to an Illinois prisoner was returned to us, unopened with the reason "unapproved correspondence." The envelope contained a 4 page intro to MIM(Prisons) and an invitation to our mail-based study group with the first reading and questions attached. How could Illinois know this was not approved if they didn't bother to open the letter to look at the contents?

Read More Censorship Reports
[Legal] [National Oppression] [Civil Liberties] [California] [ULK Issue 58]

Case Law to Help Those Facing Unjust Gang Enhancements

In response to "CALIFORNIA: Challenges and Reports" (in ULK 56), the comrade/s at MDF, Contra Costa County Jail being hit with gang enhancements and other unjust treatment. Faulty gang allegations was a major error in my trial as a southern [email protected], hence my return on appeal, which also made case law (Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3, California. The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Jerry RAMIREZ and Catherine Rodriguez Villarreal, Defendants and Appellants. G052144 Decided: February 05, 2016). I hope this can be of assistance. Should be in the lexus by now but is also attainable via internet. They have been trying to turn our culture into a crime for the last 500+ years. It's going to take a lot more than a STEP act to get rid of us. In commemoration of "Black August" and the "Plan de San Diego", I send mine to all comrades North, South, East and West.

[Hunger Strike] [National Oppression] [Civil Liberties] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 58]

Strike Against Arbitrary Group Punishment at MDF


Contra Costa County Martinez Detention Facility (A) module is a General Population (GP) setting that houses northern Hispanics and African American prisoners. The prejudiced treatment of hispanics who are classified on (A) is a continuous issue and the rules seem to bend for us. As a result of an incident in 2011, we were separated from all other GP races. This continues today although we can program in all other GP modules. In 2012, we were subject to lockdown style program of 3 hours free time a week, no bible study, etc. This lasted up until 2015. Note that none of us were even involved in violating Title 15 §1083, yet were treated as we if we were in fights even straight from intake.

We on (A) live amongst GP African American prisoners, as well as others, and other hispanics. Yet we are still "Administrative Separation"(Ad-Sep). We seek an integration process to all other GP units, including the other jail (Contra Costa County - West Detention (WCDF)), which is for less serious offenders and offers more opportunities, programs and privileges. We acknowledge current overcrowding issues. However, there is no reason why us GP prisoners are deprived of those same opportunities: vocational, parenting, etc. Especially those who qualify for such housing. Being deprived of such opportunities is a punishment, which is the underlying issue here. We've been battling administration through verbal and written remedies to no avail. Our valid requests and grievances go nowhere, don't reach the chain of command, are ignored, we are given inadequate responses, and denied appeal rights. Even when attempting to follow policy regarding grievances it falls on deaf ears.

Another thing we seek to battle is the biased intake process, where we are left on (2) intake/disciplinary mod for unreasonable amounts of time without write-up, hearing, or a procedural due process.

As of 4 August 2017, approximately 72 inmates are on hunger strike due to these injustices. The following are the demands turned in to the administration:

We've been seeking just treatment through verbal and written remedies to no avail. This does not get us nowhere. We will be boycotting such prejudicial treatment. Following are more than fair demands that are not out of reach to administration and just according to inmate rights:

1) Cease Ad-Sep label: Equal treatment to those who've not committed any infractions within the jail. Non-existent Ad-Sep label creates a negative aura which pursues us all the way to our cases. We're forced to leave (A) in shackles giving negative impressions in court, lobby visits, etc. Ad-Sep does not exist in Title 15 and inmate handbook. No one asked for Ad-Sep, Ad-Seg, or special housing during intake process. We are GP, should be treated and labeled as such. Just like (B) and (C) inmates who've not broken any rules. Cease punishment violating T.15 §1083(c) over 2011 incident, cease Ad-Sep label because of a bad environment created by classification affecting us in our case.

2) Start process of integration to all GP units including WCDF. If this is not immediately possible there is no reason why we can't receive access to all other programs available in those parts of the jail, such as vocational, parenting, etc. Those who qualify for WCDF should receive opportunities. To deny such opportunities is to bestow a punishment we don't have coming, which is the underlying issue here.

3) Create adequate grievance process, following policy, and chains of command when there is in fact a valid grievance. Provide appeal rights that are denied and give adequate responses.

4) Cease biased intake process where inmates destined for (A) are left on (Q) for unreasonable amounts of time deprived of GP setting and privileges without write-up, hearing, creating negligent meal service by having PCs serve food. You make room for those punished from other mods, you can make room for those without any type of infractions.

Note: We have set forth reasonable and realistic requests and grievances. In a nutshell we simply wish to cease biased treatment and be treated like all other GP inmates. We acknowledge overcrowding problems regarding housing circumstances. However, we should not be denied access to those programs and opportunities. We are separated/segregated from other races unnecessarily. As well as treated with prejudice from setting foot in intake to court.

  • Title 15 §1083(c)4019.5 "Punishment to inmate/group over others actions" (2011 incident)
  • 14th Amendment "equal protection of the law" - cannot treat inmates differently than others without reason (race is not a valid reason)
  • Title 15 §1053 Ad-Seg (not fitting criteria)
  • 8th Amendment "Due process procedural rights" (violated)

MIM(Prisons) adds: In July 2013 prisoners at MDF staged a hunger strike from Ad-Seg. Some of the demands related to clear classification and adequate rec time echo those of the comrades on strike now. Despite the report of victories, we see similar problems continuing at the same jail in 2017. This is why winning some reforms should only be seen as the first step of a struggle and not the end. The imperialist system is based on national oppression after all.

We support these comrades' just demands, which ally with ongoing campaigns to end long-term isolation as well as to provide proper avenues for having grievances heard. As the comrades point out that this treatment based on supposed affiliation with people who did things before they were even in this jail is an obvious violation of basic civil rights and just treatment. We work to build the anti-imperialist movement so that we can replace the current system with a just one.

[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison] [California]

911, "I have a crime to report."

I was transferred to California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (CSATF). Me and a companion from the former prison we arrived from knew that we had arrived at a concentration camp that was as shitty of a place as we could have ended up in. One can always tell the make-up of a prison by the writings on the walls of its R&R. If its toilets look like something that one could catch a disease from just staring at, and the pigs search out the property seizing every single object that the average person would assume allowable; face it, you're in hell.

Time has found me here, but since the 30th of March, and there have already been several incidents forced before me, one of which surprised the living world out of me. And this isn't something I say lightly. I am a person with pretty thick skin who would like to believe can handle just about anything. But on 6 May 2017, I was revealed a sign that showed me maybe I am not quite ready to handle it all.

1. I was solicited for murder of an inmate by a California correctional officer.

2. On the date of 6 May 2017, at CSATF, approx. 12:05 p.m. after returning from rec. yard to the assigned living quarters D2-211 to be informed by the cell-mate occupying the quarters with me that the facility unit officer Pano had conducted a punitive cell search of the quarters in response to the cell-mate's failure to return to the living quarters in a timely matter, having my cooling fan confiscated.

3. The cell-mate mentioned is an XXX YYY ZZZZ, 28-years-old.

4. I reported to the officer in question C/O Pano, who was covered by colleague C/O Barajas — female floor officer — and C/O Martines — male tower officer — where I opened a dialogue with Pano in regards to an explanation for the confiscation/seizure of my cooling fan; at a time when the temperatures of the living quarters are rising to high levels.

5. C/O Pano replied that the objective of the search was to "give him the attention that he was looking for" referring to XXX YYY ZZZZ.

6. I notified C/O Pano that I had nothing to do with him and XXX YYY ZZZZ problem, and it was unfair that I'd had my personal property confiscated as a result of another person's actions. I informed this officer that I would not be held accountable for another prisoner's actions unless he was somehow asking me to rectify the problem between him and XXX YYY ZZZZ by "handling it."

7. By "handling it", I for all intents and purposes meant to do bodily harm to XXX YYY ZZZZ, as physical force is the only power I have over another, to harm an inmate — being an inmate myself — I went so far as to describe "bashing his head into the wall", as to getting a clear understanding to the degree of violence that officer Pano smiled at me and said, "You know how it goes, it's just business."

9. But I didn't "know how it go." I am not accustomed to officers soliciting my service to do harm to another inmate. Though I have experienced in the past, officers of CDCR attempting to incite violence between myself and a cell-mate out of retaliation for a cell-mate's misbehavior. [Officers conducted a punitive cell search of my assigned living quarters, destroyed only my property and then informed me that it was because of my cell-mate that the nature of the cell search transpired as it did, hoping I'd take my anger out on him, See, KVSP-APPEAL-602-0-10-00887]

10. I am a political prisoner freedom fighter with many years of experience in dealing with crooked officers who abuse their power, invested into both badge and seal by the republic of California to cross up prisoners and have them framed for rule violations and criminal charges in the local courts. My particular history can be reviewed in the Superior Court of CA County of Kern, "People of California v. David Cauthen DF010469A."

11. Officers at Kern Valley State Prison made me the target of a physical beat down, while in handcuffs, for my leadership role in a ten man protest on the rec yard. KVSP officials came together in an effort to frame me in disorder to cover up their attack on me. False statements were made in reports used to have me prosecuted by Kern Valley District Attorney Lisa Green, Officer of the Court, in a criminal complaint based on charges of ATTEMPTED MURDER OF A POLICE OFFICER. I spent nearly two years in California's Security Housing Unit defending myself in court on bogus charges.

12. When it comes to the struggle being waged between California and its most advanced political prisoners, I may be considered an expert. Identifying the sneaky tactics of officers/pigs instigating problems amongst the prison population to justify their failure to correct & rehabilitate. I have made it a point to single-handedly lead the charge of political prisoners uniting and holding the state accountable for their actions.

13. I believe it is in a database held by the state that I am who I say I am and C.O.s may and often do access this data for their own personal information. Officer Pano had to have accessed this information to make himself familiar with me as a prisoner with capabilities of committing violence against another prisoner.

14. After standing in the center of the dayroom of the unit, pleading with Officer Pano that as it had begun to get extremely hot in the cells [The staff at CSATF TURNS THE HEAT ON IN THE SUMMER TIME] his decision to enter my living quarters and confiscate the cooling fan used to keep me cool, would be construed as inhumane & cruel treatment. He just smiled and walked away to retrieve the fan.

15. Pano returned the fan, but not without making a smug statement about how I needed to "get at my celly" and how he'd return to confiscate the fan if the particulars of a situation did not check out.

16. I returned to my assigned living quarters without any further dialogue with Pano. Upon my return I opened a dialogue with my cell-mate XXX YYY ZZZZ in relation to his actions having an effect upon my program, bringing about unnecessary altercation with the Babylon, and what could be done to rectify the situation.

17. I informed XXX YYY ZZZZ that the Babylonian officer had acted in a manner that would cause the two of us to be placed in a cross. It was intended for me to act rash in response to the level of disrespect suffered at the hands of both "Ant" and the Babylons, but as a righteous member of the Black Riders Liberation Party and leader of the United Struggle from Within Chapel Group Ra'star Far I, Prison Ministries I would not be puppeted by the pigs.

18. I informed "Ant" that there were two options. 1) The two of us could file a complaint and get paid from the Babylons' willingness to break the law, or 2) we could fight, like the pigs wanted, for the disrespect suffered to my character and make our people look like fools. I explained to him how I aspired to be a member of the African People's Socialist Party and could not in good conscience support the second option and preferred the first alternative. He too agreed and settled for the first option.

19. I immediately got to work drawing up the statement of facts for the entire incident. Once I had concluded my works I took my outcome to the young ndugu "Ant" to read over. To my surprise he lit up and seemed on fire to bring justice to the situation. We agreed that the facts I outlined were best and should be moved forward on.

20. But on the following day, 8 May 2017, things took a turn for the worst. I reported from my work assignment as a Main Kitchen Baker, making about $0.15 an hour :( Upon arrival to the living quarters I discovered that my cell-mate had rolled up, voluntarily removed himself from the yard and was in the process of being transferred to a more safe/comfortable living environment.

21. This young African stole close to $400 worth of property from me and the Babylons helped him pack it up and travel to the program office. The pigs actually inventoried my belongings as being inside of his property and tried to tell me that it was nothing they could do about it when I brought it to their attention. This alone confirmed to me that the Babylon had planted this lost ndugu amongst my ranks to distract my mission and disorder my campaign to unite the prisoner masses.

22. This ndugu was allowed to roll up with a variety of valuables, but what was of a tell-tale sign that the individual was a plant is that he: 1) Took the complaint that I had put together, 2) He stole letters from the latest supporters of my United Front for Peace in Prisons project "FREE KING DAVID" as a means to interfere with communications, and 3) He stole the goods of commerce to support the economical needs of an initiative to finance the subscriptions to: "The Burning Spear," "The 5% Power Paper," "The Final Call," "The Bayview Newspaper," and "Under Lock & Key."

23. After establishing a partnership with the leader of "Peace Behind Bars" to develop a system of exchange inside prisons using photos of women, to remind men what they struggle to be released to, for postage I convinced this brother to begin printing photos for my project so that I can begin accumulating postage stamps, and in turn offer them to the comrades employed by the above publications in order to have the publications mailed in to the yard with hopes of raising the awareness level. I had a total of 50 wonderful photos prices at the least 8 postage stamps alone. Taking care of the bill of one subscription, dues to he who made it possible and postage for a new 50 photos to be mailed. But all was delayed by Babylon.

24. I have submitted the report as a complaint of C.O.s soliciting murder from me as of 22 May 2017. So I trust Babylon will bring its fire. All of this comes right after the announcement published in "Turning The Tide" of my works to move along the United Front for Peace in Prison and a complaint filed at the previous prison against "UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS" in support of the 2016 nationwide prison work stoppage. [See, CSATF Appeal-STAFF COMPLAINT-D-17-02787- ]

I write this statement to describe to brothers & sisters behind the wire inside Babylon of what staying strong under pressure looks like. When you sign up to join forces with groups like the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Police Brutality, Anti-Racist Action/People Against Racist Terror, Black Riders Liberation Party, Uhuru Movement and the United Struggle from Within, Babylon is going to bring its death game. We must remain strong under fire and lean even greater on the teachings of the groups mentioned above, and those not, placing the people's principles into practice.

No matter who you are, radiate the teachings and uphold good conduct. Feed other prisoners who wander the path of the freedom fighters and trust in the teachings, not the student. The Babylon will scratch and claw at what it fears threatens its existence as a system of power oppressing the people. All of the above mentioned groups are feared because they bring light to the minds of prisoners, who are essentially the most capable mass of people in the United $tates to free themselves from the strongholds of imperialism.

Educate yourself on the methods of government interference with United Front culture campaigns, that you will be prepared. Both state and federal government agencies will go out of their way (the District of Columbia) in order to intimidate the members. In the newsletter publication of Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, ULK No.56, there is a story published titled, "No TX pack tactics have worked," by a Texas prisoner. This story really touched me because I know the struggle. It feels like it's all a waste of time, but it's not! I've learned that we won't see the works of our labor filing charges against the Department, but it will be NOTICE.

At the moment the Campaign Demanding that our Grievances be addressed is in a phase where supporters of the campaign in states across the U.$. are familiarizing themselves with the art of serving NOTICE to the office that corruption is taking place. Once prisoners master the art of serving NOTICE, then they will learn to FILE CHARGES against the office with the right people/agency, forcing the Department to make a public statement officially ANSWERING to our charge :)

The comrades being released will then begin holding court with the agents/representatives in the streets. Until then, just keep documenting the corruption until you have a book to release. And you will see the movement that has been here all along. Keep it sharp, keep it tight.

In struggle, David S. Cauthen, Jr.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Since receiving this report, the comrade has asked for supporters to call CSATF on eir behalf at (559) 992-7100. Ey is going to initiate a civil complaint. The appeals coordinators are not even processing the appeals, they’re just rubber stamping them. Callers should inquire:

  1. Why wasn’t a report filed? A crime occurred.
  2. Why was a complaint against a C.O. processed as a first level appeal when it was accepted on its charges of “An Officer Soliciting Murder”?
  3. Why was appeal log #SATF-D-17-03418 against SATF Appeals Coordinators for failure to process appeals canceled by a Lt. N. SCAIFE – an officer who wrote themselves into the coordinators office?

As this example paints quite clearly, the campaign to have grievances heard in California prisons, which began over 7 years ago, is a campaign to get the CDCR to put a stop to life-threatening behavior by their staff. The lives of the oppressed nation lumpen are given little regard in this injustice system. Those in power manipulating their wards to fight and kill each other has long been a practice in California prisons to control those who the state sees as a threat. The notorious "gladiator fights" staged by staff in the Corcoran Security Housing Unit is just one blatant example of this. So while the right to have grievances heard may seem like a nicety of civil society, it is more than that. It is about the oppressed having recourse when their lives are threatened by their captors.

Our comrade has already been retaliated against with a transfer for filing a complaint on the above incident, filed by a grievance when the Appeals Coordinator refused to NOTICE the complaint. We expose this case to rally support on the inside and the outside for the campaign for a meaningful grievance process in California prisons, and in all the states across the country waging this same battle.

[Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [California]

CDCR Not Upholding Ashker Settlement on Due Process

In August of 2016, a comrade was written up for possession of Security Threat Group (STG) contraband and given a 115 Rules Violation Report(RVR). This was in direct violation of the Ashker v. Brown class-action settlement agreement terms around "Due process" as described below. The new rules to reform isolation practices in California didn't even eliminate the outrageous practice of using drawings and greeting cards as reasons to put people in isolation in California. The "due process" clause was the only promising term of the weak Ashker settlement, and it seems CDCR does not intend to uphold it.

Political repression is the clear motivation here, as the target is a well-known anti-imperialist who works tirelessly for the improvement of the New Afrikan nation.


On August 4, 2016, CO J. Hunter reviewed [XYZ]'s outgoing mail and found a drawing that included the image of a gorilla.

He based his conclusion that the drawing constituted "STG contraband" on:

  1. In past investigations, he received information from unnamed BGF members and associates that the "Silverback Gorilla is symbolic for the strongest force of the Guerrillas much like how the Silverback Gorilla is considered to be the dominant leader amongst a family of gorillas."
  2. The word "Gorilla" can be found in various documents used by the BGF. He provides one example: The "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF includes a verse stating "Long live the graceful guerrilla."
  3. The BGF recognizes the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power.
  4. The Office of Correctional Safety has established the credibility regarding the meaning of these symbols.

[XYZ] was found guilty of this offense and given 30 days confinement to cell, leaving only to shower. I have written him for these documents.


[XYZ] points out that item #1 above is based on unnamed confidential informants who allegedly have connected the "gorilla" animal with the BGF. However, CDCR has not complied with its own rules regarding confidential information (no 1030s, etc.) Also, this sentence makes no sense. Who are the "Guerrillas"? Does he mean BGF members or BGF leadership?

The picture depicts several fierce animals (lions, tigers, elephant, Pharaoh hound) and various male fighters who look more Aztec than African (to me). The gorilla does not dominate, nor is there anything else in the picture to suggest an STG.

The word "Gorilla" does not appear in the "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF. I was unable to find such an oath on the internet, but did find a BGF oath on a police-oriented website — see attached memo. It does not contain this term or phrase. The officer cites no authority for this claim, or is citing the confidential informants described above, without providing proper documentation.

The BGF's view of the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power is also asserted without attribution, or it is attributed to confidential informants.

The statement about the OCS establishing credibility is insufficient. Credibility is a term referring to people — the statement does not say who the people are. But broad reference to another CDCR office establishing the credibility of an informant or the reliability of the information seems like an end run around the responsibility of the hearing officer.

Finally, on what authority does the mere drawing of an animal among other animals constitute gang contraband?

Additional information:

I have done a little internet research on the "Silverback gorilla." Apparently, this refers to a mature male gorilla whose back hair has turned grey with age. He is the "alpha male" among the group of gorillas that he lives with. The drawing does not purport to be a Silverback gorilla. It doesn't say it is a Silverback nor can you see his back. We can guess that the gorilla in the picture is male, but even that is not necessarily true. That the officer brings up the "Silverback gorilla" is suspect to me. He is making himself sound like he knows more than he really knows. He does not purport to be an expert himself, yet by throwing out this term, he is making himself sound knowledgeable.

[Civil Liberties] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 56]

Surveillance Cameras in Prison a Double-Edged Sword

Greetings to everyone at MIM. I am a prisoner held captive here at High Desert State Prison, in Susanville, California. I'm writing to inform the people of this new and improved form of repression tactic hidden behind the name of public safety and security. An investigative report came out in December 2015 by the Inspector General about the abuse and cover-ups by officers at this prison for 2 decades. Since then, the powers that be have started to install the video recording cameras in the prison, which is not a bad idea. Most prisons have cameras on the yard. However, these new high-tech cameras now have audio/voice recording which is new for CDCR.

They have also installed them just about any and everywhere, in the chowhall, gym, dayroom, yard, medical, law library, chapel, laundry, school/education, even in N.A. (Narcotic Anonymous) and A.A. (Alcoholic Anonymous), which begs the question, who're they really keeping an eye on and watching? Now don't get me wrong I'm all for holding these pigs/officers accountable for their actions. But now they're watching and listening to our conversations in the chapel during our religious services where prisoners talk freely and enjoy open discussions on religion, race, politics, without the eyes and ears of the custody staff. N.A. and A.A. is suppose to be Anonymous where prisoners can get help and talk openly and privately with each other and the sponsor about our addiction and recovery. Now the Anonymous is out the picture when custody can see and listen when they choose to.

Medical is suppose to be between the prisoner and doctor to talk and review medical issues and problems without custody knowing your business. Visiting always had cameras but if the state choses to take out the old and put in the new, then they will be able to listen to our intimate conversations with our family, friends, wives, children etc. All in the name of what? Public safety and security? Or is this just a new and improved way for CDCR to watch & now listen to everything a prisoner does? You decide.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We're glad to have this point brought up for consideration as most of what we've printed on this topic has been in favor of increased surveillance. A prime example was the campaign in North Carolina, centered around a lawsuit filed against staff for assaulting prisoners, focused on getting better camera coverage in state prisons to monitor staff. We supported this comrade in promoting eir efforts, recognizing the vulnerable situation that prisoners are in at the hands of the oppressor. Yet, for those of us outside prison, the call for more surveillance cameras gives one pause. It has come up in relation to police on the streets, but we dismissed that as not addressing the problem. The same could be said inside prisons.

The privacy struggle is one that is very relevant to us. At the same time it is mostly dominated by oppressor interests on both sides. In other words, it's hard to campaign for civil liberties in a general way that is anti-imperialist. There are engineering solutions to privacy that can be used as tools, tactically, by revolutionaries.

There have been reports on the chilling effect of surveillance in the United $tates, showing that people are less willing to visit certain websites after the Edward Snowden leaks exposing NSA spying operations. While we disagree with the Liberals who call for a freedom of speech that allows people to promote profits over humyn needs, we also propose a program for a dictatorship of the proletariat that expands freedom of speech in many ways compared to current conditions in this country. We would ban the Orwellian "smart TVs" and other technology that is recording and collecting data on people in their homes. We would guarantee not only net neutrality, but internet access to all. Below are some planks from the MIM platform on subjects related to the First Amendment:

  1. Restrictions on public postering will be eliminated except on residential buildings.
  2. Large and convenient bulletin boards will be placed on every block. Boards covered over will be evidence for the need to build more.
  3. There will be convenient places to leave literature along with such bulletin boards.
  4. There will be no arrests in any non-residential building or premise for quiet distribution of literature. The only exception will be for high government officials meeting and who face threat of assassination—the Central Committee and government officials above a certain rank.
  5. Arrests for vocal discussion will be limited to places where there is a need for meetings and orderly work. Cafeterias, outdoor sidewalks and most indoor hallways will be legally required to allow vocal discussion.
  6. Meeting halls of public buildings will be made available for meetings to the public. If necessary more will be constructed.

Government bureaucrats interfering with the "free speech" of the public will be transferred to jobs where they have no such possibility.


  1. Those advocating opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat as defined at the top of the document will go to prison or re-education camp and thereby not enjoy all full public citizenship rights.
  2. Sale of pornography will be forbidden. Distribution of nude photographs paid for by the photographer or persyn who signed a consent form to be displayed in photographs will always be legal, but government authorities may require a registration for financial bookkeeping purposes. Those publicly distributing nude photos of children 12 and under will be sent to re-education camp, whether money spent was their own or not.
  3. Any non-party literature or other device for public opinion building will be paid for by individual members of the public with money from salary and no outside capitalist money or stolen sources of wealth will be used to promote any opinion of the non-party public.


  1. MIM will not order the government to censor the INTERNET except on questions of the dictatorship of the proletariat and party rule.
  2. USENET groups such as talk.rape, alt.activism.death-penalty, alt.politics.greens etc. will be permitted, partly for stimulation of the minds in imperialist countries, partly to bring to the surface bourgeois thoughts in need of professional proletarian refutation and partly because there will continue to be problems in all these areas under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The need for stimulation is especially great in the depoliticized imperialist countries. Many middle-class peoples will come under the dictatorship of the proletariat without ever knowing that the world's majority of people suffered threats to their survival on a daily basis. (1)

MIM Platform: Against prison censorship

Prison officials claim they have security reasons to act as censors. But censorship prevents prisoners from access to legal help, education, and political organization. Political and legal mail and literature are not a direct threat to the security of prisons.

[Download and Print] [Organizing] [Civil Liberties] [Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Political Repression] [Campaigns] [California]

Downloadable Grievance Petition, California

California Grievance Petition
Click to Download PDF Of California Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the 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 below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.

Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC)
2590 Venture Oaks Way Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95833

Prison Law Office
General Delivery
San Quentin, CA 94964

Internal Affairs CDCR
10111 Old Placerville Rd, Ste 200
Sacramento, CA 95872

CDCR Office of Ombudsman
1515 S Street, Room 311 S
Sacramento, CA 95811

U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, PHB
Washington DC 20530

Office of Inspector General
PO Box 9778
Arlington, VA 22219

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

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

*Petition updated September 2011, July 2012, and October 2013, February 2016, November 2016*

[Gang Validation] [Civil Liberties]

Fighting STG Status Using Courts and Elections

As a leader of United Struggle from Within (USW) and the Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) I have a lot of problems organizing with the lumpen proletariat because they don't want any trouble with the pigs and I have been transferred 10 times in this 8.5 years of my imprisonment, but the struggle still goes on! The Security Threat Group (STG) status is moving to every state complex in the empire.

I was reading Under Lock & Key No. 41 and it was saying in many articles by comrades that they are being put on STG status for no reason and they can not put up a defense and they aren't getting any yard time. This is both constitutional violations and human rights violations. The 8th amendment violation of cruel and unusual punishment; and the 14th amendment violations without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states:

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners approved by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council by resolutions 663 (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977:

Exercise and Sport
21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.
Information to and complaints by prisoners
35. (1) Every prisoner on admission shall be provided with written information about the regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of his category, the disciplinary requirements of the institution, the authorized methods of seeking information and making complaints, and all such other matters as are necessary to enable him to understand both his rights and his obligations and to adapt himself to the life of the institution.

(2) If a prisoner is illiterate, the aforesaid information shall be conveyed to him orally.

36. (1) Every prisoner shall have the opportunity each week day of making requests or complaints to the director of the institution or the officer authorized to represent him.

(2) It shall be possible to make requests or complaints to the inspector of prisons during his inspection. The prisoner shall have the opportunity to talk to the inspector or to any other inspecting officer without the director or other members of the staff being present.

(3) Every prisoner shall be allowed to make a request or complaint, without censorship as to substance but in proper form, to the central prison administration, the judicial authority or other proper authorities through approved channels.

(4) Unless it is evidently frivolous or groundless, every request or complaint shall be promptly dealt with and replied to without undue delay.

A lot of prisoners don't understand that they have a lot of political power if they know how to use it, like getting our families, friends and associates connected to the prisoner advocate organizations in their states because political power to change conditions of prisons has to start with us first because we are the ones doing time. Our people and citizens have power in their voting blocks with issues that can demand change in prisons' operations. Prisoners have to put their interests first.

People vote their Senators and Representatives into office at election time and they can vote them out of office as well. These are the people who are supposed to represent the interests of the people in the state legislature and the federal Congress. But if people don’t bring their issues to them how can they properly represent them? We prisoners must become politically conscious of the system of local, state and federal government.

A lot of prisoners don't know that this is the time for change in the prison system, the prisoner advocates movement is very strong right now, and states' governments are seeking ways to save money because it cost states a lot more money to run maximum prisons then lower security prisons. Prisoners are truly going to have to learn their Constitutional rights, because in order for a person to have any kind of rights they are going to have to learn them first. Then you can protect them.

It's a damn shame that the Afrikan nation's ancestors fought and died for their rights and in the 21st century the Afrikan nation has become ignorant of their rights and struggles that we have been going through for the last 400 years of oppression and exploitation. This subject matter of STG can be put in the form of a petition and then filed as a class action lawsuit against these corrupt DOCs for not having a system of redress for being placed on STG status, etc. Prisoners are going to have to stand up for their rights and fight this evil and corrupt system of the prison DOCs across the country, because this same STG system is put in place everywhere.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The 8th and 14th Amendment claims this comrade refers to were the heart of the recent lawsuit in California that ended in a weak settlement. So on the one hand this is right on track, but on the other the PLC must study and learn from what happened in California to do better in other states.

By knowing our legal rights and understanding the law, we can challenge abuse and corruption, both through grievances and then in the courts when the grievance system fails. This particular campaign against STG is important to the ability of the oppressed to organize and escape extreme torture, and is therefore an important one to continue. The legal battle is only a small part of our current strategy because the legal system is a part of the criminal injustice system overall and so it will never provide justice for the oppressed. Any legal victories we do have will likely require mass organizing before hand, and will definitely require mass organizing to enforce afterwards.

Ultimately, we won't change the system through the courts. Similarly we don't focus on elections because we know that the imperialists won't allow people in positions of power who really work in the interests of the oppressed. And the majority of Amerikans do have a vested interest in the existing system of oppression: they support "tough on crime" measures and don't want to see prisoners' conditions improved. So even if relatives of prisoners all try to vote for change, they are unlikely to even find good options on the ballot.

Amerika uses prisons as a tool of social control, and the lumpen who are targeted for this repression are a minority among the mostly privileged classes within U.$. borders. For this reason we will never fundamentally change the system by working within their elections and their courts. We can take up tactically winnable battles, like these that are connected to the basic rights promised in the U.$. Constitution. But we should not mislead people into thinking that anything short of a revolution is required for liberation of the oppressed.

[Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Civil Liberties] [United Front]

To a FL Comrade: Promote Peace, Fight Censorship

I would like to get to the Florida comrade who wrote Is ULK too Hardcore for the DOC? in ULK45.

Comrade, either you're misinformed or an ex-member of these renegade groups you speak of. First, you said ULK should make the newsletter more informative to political theory of education and building community. Comrade ULK created their newsletter as a platform for its readers to supply and share information. The newsletter is very informative and it lets all kkkaptured brothers know what's popping prison to prison, and that you're not alone in the struggle. If you feel something's missing from the newsletter that's your opportunity to supply it. Share the knowledge and lessons from your political education classes with ULK so they can share it with everyone in the trenches.

The reason ULK should continue to teach organization, is because there's brothers in the dark who think that what they're doing is right because it's all they know. In California African gangs have no organization. You mention the BGF putting a worldwide ban on gang banging. In California BGF is considered a prison gang by the pigs. Gangbanging doesn't mean you're a bad person. I've been in prison 11 years and things are very racial here in California. So what might solve a separate problem in New York might not work in California or Florida. There'll never be one fix for all. There has been too much blood shed between different organizations. There can be no peace without war. The fear of war motivates people to keep the peace.

You're aware things may never be resolved, but are you aware that the tone of your words says "why try to resolve?" and "don't even try to resolve because it's a losing battle." Which is your feelings about fighting censorship of ULK.

Your beef really seems to be with gangs and not how ULK does their thing. If you're not the leader of 3 Blood Kingdom you don't know if he opposes peace. Your actions are of choice. They don't define your belief. When supporting something you're still living in the now and have to deal with your current situation.

This brother is part of an organization that makes him a target. He'll need to protect himself the best way he knows how. Even if he denounces his membership he'll be a target for having been affiliated. Those who are never affiliated are targeted by those who are. You're a target either way and will have to protect yourself or get run over.

In the movie "Selma" they did peaceful protest and were still attacked. The lesson here? Do what you must to survive. Nobody's born a gang member. You choose to be one due to your circumstances. Comrade, talking down on gang members is a form of oppression. Let's build these brothas. Each one teach one.

Comrade you speak about rule 33_501.401 fac(3)(g) being used to censor your ULK. ULK doesn't support rioting, insurrection, and disruption of an institution. They support things like the September 9 Peace Day. What ULK does is print the going ons in prisons state to state. The news shows violence daily. Does that mean they support it?

You choose to not grieve the censorship under assumption you won't prevail. The pigs are betting on your pessimism and they're winning. Freedom of speech is a right. ULK exercises that. If you aren't going to fight for what you believe in why expect ULK to?

You say the pigs are the puppeteer, well off the head and the body will follow. It's time to stop venting and start inventing.

Vent: to relieve oneself by vigorous expression
Invent: To create or produce for the first time

Where there's a will there's a way. If you're willing to look you'll find a way. If there's no road to success create your own.

I didn't say all of this to attack you, but with hopes of inspiring you to go get what you want. Peace and Solidarity.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's assessment of the importance of understanding the roots of violence and the inability of pacifism to stop violence. We also call on all lumpen groups and their leaders to join the United Front for Peace and work to advance not only their own organizations but others as well. At the same time, this writer is correct that we must work from where we are and not from idealism. As every issue of ULK demonstrates, we are about promoting organizing for expanding the peace, including the September 9 Day of Peace and Unity.

[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [Download and Print] [Georgia]

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
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*