The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Typewriter Supplies Seized for Helping Others with Grievances

It is October 2019, and I am forced to send this hand-drafted communication due to an act of retaliation by the property officer, Ms. Scott, on this Ellis Unit. Ms. Scott took from me eight of my purchased commissary typewriter ribbons, two of which were staged in my typewriter, with two print wheels of different font sizings. Thus turning my $225 typewriter, which took me 9 months to save up for, into an expensive paper weight.

I wish I had someone out in the world who would/could call, advocating on my behalf for returning my personal property. It was taken in retaliation for my drafting grievances for prisoners subjected to the same by the property C.O., C.O. Scott. If I must litigate for my property’s return I will go all out.

Yes, I have it in my blood to help those in need of it. And I do just that when I can. I do the best I can with what I have; always studying and collecting viable information from every source available. That is one reason these guys come to me for advice and legal draftings. The administration is aware of this, and this is why they collusively have crippled my typewriter as they have.

They are forcing me to initiate a writing campaign to Congressmen seeking readings of my grievances against them in their violations [brought to the state by way of the 14th Amendment] of my 1st, 4th, 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Another one I am compelled to notify is the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice. There are no less than a dozen inmates on this Ellis Unit whose step two grievances are in severe default; being 60 days beyond the extension by the OGP (offender grievance program). Therewith voiding any certification bestowed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Agency’s Grievance System. Allowing us to circumvent the PLRA’s prerequisted administrative remedies so as to go straight to the federal court, because Texas has no court designated program that inmates might seek relief through.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is a dire need for people on the outside to do public advocacy work for our comrades inside, which is a need that MIM(Prisons) members can’t take on. To this end, MIM(Prisons) supports Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS) chapters around the country. Contact us to get involved!

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[Civil Liberties] [COVID-19] [Calipatria State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 70]
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Prisoners Win Phone Rights During COVID-19 Restrictions

Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back at you all with a little update on the struggle here at Calipatria State Prison A-Yard. CDCR and its C.O.s here have a corrupt culture of denying prisoners our rights. An issue was brought to my attention about prisoners in A2B class not receiving they phone calls during this time of war. The institution has been on a modified program to further promote social distancing in response to COVID-19.

Where there is oppression, it breeds resistance. The people must stand and the young mwenzi stood up and at the end had something to smile about. Privilege breeds complacency, so some mwenzi stood with hate in their eyes. I just love to see the peoples shine so i smile with the young mwenzi. C.O.s tried to take our constitutional rights from us because the prison officials were acting and behaving in a prejudiced manner toward the A2B class making aggravating remarks, dividing A1A against A2B, done in a retaliation for complaints by prisoners filed against guard misconduct. So we made that pen bleed back to normal program (everybody gets phone calls). Power to the People!

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[Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Legal] [Minnesota Corrections Facility Oak Park Heights] [Minnesota]
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Censorship Battle Waged in Minnesota

I’m not sure if any of you have heard of my recent censorship battles, but let me catch you up on this ongoing and illegal censorship being perpetuated by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, or what we inside refer to as the Minnesota Department of Corruption.

While I was housed in Minnesota’s only Maximum Custody Prison, Oak Park Heights, I had been subjected to a bit of censorship. First it was censorship of my outgoing legal mail to national organizations for legal assistance in my Federal Suit. I had sent mail out in sealed envelopes, clearly marked “Legal Mail” to The Exoneration Project, The Innocence Project, The Equal Justice Project, The Legal Aid Society, The Lewisburg Prison Project, The Constitutional Rights Center for Prisoners and every envelope was opened outside of my presence by mailroom staff member “S. Henry” and sent back to me with a notice of non-delivery in which it said I had “sealed it in violation NOT Legal/Special as addressed.”

This is actually a violation of the mailroom’s own policy. DOC Policy 302.020 Procedure L.3 states that “An incoming or outgoing item purporting to be special/legal mail that fails to meet the policy requirements for designation as special/legal mail, or is otherwise questionable, is opened in the presence of offender by a supervisor.”

Yet, more than 10 “outgoing item[s] purporting to be special/legal mail” were opened outside of my presence and refused to be sent in a sealed envelope.

It gets worse though. After being forced to send these letters in unsealed envelopes, when these organizations replied, even when stamped with “LEGAL CORRESPONDENCE OPEN ONLY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ADDRESSEE” i.e., me, the mailroom still opened all of this mail outside of my presence.

And when I had to file internal grievances to exhaust all remedies due to the PLRA, of course the DOC said that staff did not act in violation of anything, and of course the mailroom staff opened this mail outside of my presence again violating their own policy and court decisions. And so I filed in the Tenth Judicial District Court, only for the judge, Gregory G. Galler, to dismiss it as frivolous or malicious.

And then I was given disciplinary segregation for allegedly “lying and/or misrepresentation.” Which is illegal retaliation, but what does the Department of Corruptions care? None. Next came the censorship of publications I had been receiving from Critical Resistance “The Abolitionist”, this publication “ULK” and other mail from MIM(Prisons) including over 10 different mailings, News & Letters – all of which are political publications geared towards enlightening people on real world issues and express anti-Prison ideology.

When fighting the censorship, according to our “policy” we have to send an appeal to the Correspondence Review Authority(CRA). Yet when I did, the mailroom staff, Nancy Leseman responded instead. I had included the disclaimer that MIM(Prisons) affixes to ULK only for Leseman to state “All publications are reviewed on an individual basis & can at any time be denied for violating policy. An article advocates to organized disturbances within prison walls, activities in violation of facility rules.”

So, not only does she violate her own policy by not forwarding the appeal to the CRA, she violates the law when censoring publications as well.

But it only gets better from here.

Being as N. Leseman didn’t follow policy I was forced to send the appeal to her supervisor, Lt. Jason R. Hills, in which he replied, “The publication has contents that are not allowed per DOC Policy. Appeal Denied. You may appeal to the CRA.” Again clearly he violates law for censorship, and policy.

So I was forced to send the appeal directly to the CRA, which was comprised of Cris Pawelk the Associate Warden of Operations, Sherlinda Wheeler the Associate Warden of Administration, and Byron Matthews the Captain.

In their reply they said, “We have read the material and determined the content should be denied for violating MN DOC Division Directive 301.030 Contraband. One of the articles advocates for organized disturbances within prison walls and activities in violation of facility rules. All issues are reviewed on an individual basis. Any issue can be denied if any part of the publication violates policy. Publications that [sic] doesn’t violate policy is allowed. Therefore the Correspondence Review Authority is in agreement with the Mail Room’s decision and your appeal is denied.”

The next step was to appeal to the Assistant Commissioner of Corrections Nate Knutson. His reply was, “This newspaper contains graphic depiction of violence that pose a threat to facility security in violation of DOC Division Directive 301.030 Contraband. Appeal denied.”

But that’s not the end, after that I filed suit in the Tenth Judicial District Court, only for the order to be dismissed as “frivolous or malicious” because it “has no arguable basis in fact or in law.”

Now the next step is Federal Court, and and will involve even more defendants and more evidence of censorship illegally conducted. As MIM(Prisons) can accede, more than 10 of their mailings to me have been met with censorship, causing loss of money, and all with absolutely no notice or reason given by the DOC.

Censorship is this country’s way of blinding the people to only seeing what is “favorable” to them. Freedom of speech is only true if you don’t speak out against the regime. Any advocacy critical of the standard is demonized and made to look as extremist and insane. And no wonder, when 90% of the population lives only to work, the power rests upon the sweating, bleeding, starving faces of those that toil in the dirt beneath their polished shoes. Take comfort in this: If you’re being censored, it’s because they fear the truth and its power. If you’re being retaliated against, it’s because they fear you and your truth and power. People only get mad at the truth, so go piss off those pigs!

MIM(Prisons) adds: We can confirm that we received no notification of censorship as required by law for at least 10 pieces of mail sent to this comrade in 2019 that ey reported not receiving. One of these items was our guide for dealing with censorship in prison.

We commend this comrade’s persistence and eir attitude. These battles are small ones. As our regular readers know, we win some and lose some. But either way we win when we use these battles to inspire others and expose those set on oppression.

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[Elections] [Civil Liberties] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 69]
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Tulsi Gabbard Appeals to Amerikan Thinking on Injustice System

At the latest Democratic Party debate among candidates for U.$. President, Tulsi Gabbard made headlines by appealing to emerging views on the criminal injustice system among younger Amerikans. Ey did so in attacks on former California District Attorney Kamala Harris. Gabbard focused on two issues of particular interest to the petty bourgeoisie: drug decriminalization and prison labor.

Senator Gabbard opened eir comments by expressing concerns for the "broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately, negatively impacting Black and Brown people all over this country." Ey went on to say that Harris "kept people beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California" and condemned Harris for imprisoning people for marijuana possession and then laughing when ey was asked if ey had ever smoked it.

The prison labor point was specifically about concerns Harris's office raised about losing firefighters if they complied with court orders to reduce the prison population.(1) The court had ruled that overcrowding in the state had led to cruel and unusual punishment. As we've established in our own surveys and research, most prison labor is for the state, and most of it is to maintain the prisons themselves. Fire fighters are the exception in terms of the important role their work plays in protecting humyn life, and no doubt Harris's legal team was playing that up at a time when wildfires were a major headline in California. But the fire fighters are typical in that they are not producing value or part of the profit-making of private corporations.

Prison labor (and the privatization of prisons) has been an ongoing issue of concern for Amerikans in the age of mass incarceration. MIM(Prisons) has long demonstrated that there is a myth that exploiting prison labor is a motivating force for mass incarceration in this country.(2) It is important to point out that the petty-bourgeois obsession with this myth is largely based in class interests. On the one hand there is a fear among the labor aristocracy about competition with prison labor resulting in lower wages and higher unemployment. This has been the major political barrier that explains why prison labor for profit is so rare in the United $tates. More generally, there is a contradiction between the petty bourgeoisie and the big bourgeoisie that causes the former to be skeptical and fearful of the latter, because the petty bourgeoisie favors small-scale capitalism. This results in a general sentiment against corporations profiting off prison labor, even without the direct concern of wages. In a recent campaign ad, Gabbard condemns private prisons for profiting off prisoners.

Drug decriminalization is also very popular among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie, in particular the movement to decriminalize marijuana. In 2016, Pew Research found 57% of Amerikans supported legalization of marijuana compared to just 12% in 1969.(3) And the younger generations were more favorable of course. In this case, public opinion is based in class interests around economics and leisure time. While there is a financial interest in the booming legal economy of marijuana products for young Amerikans, the broader public opinion is based in leisure-time interests.

The movement to legalize weed will often give lip service to condemning the blatant racism in many U.$. drug sentencing laws, similar to Gabbard's opening statement against Harris's criminal injustice record (above). Yet the scale of your average weed festival/rally versus that of the size of your average protest against torture (of primarily New Afrikan and [email protected] men) tells a clearer story. These reformists for persynal freedoms of the petty bourgeois individual are not going to do anything about national oppression in the form of targetted arrests, sentencing, concentration camps and torture chambers that make up the U.$. criminal injustice system.

MIM has long used the "Willie Horton"-style of campaigning as an example of Amerikans support for national oppression, especially of New Afrikans.(5) While "tough-on-crime" politics is finally waning, we have yet to see whether Amerika can really start to decrease its prison population now that the infrastructure and economic self-interest has been built up around it.(6) Beyond that, the national question is only more at the forefront today, with Amerikans chanting "send them back" at a recent rally held by current President Trump, where they were calling for female Senators who are not white to be sent back to the countries their ancestors came from.

It is important to be aware of these shifts, as they may provide opportunities for the anti-imperialist prison movement. But there has been no change in the overall orientation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement that sees nation as the principal contradiction both internationally and within the United $tates. We continue to organize with the medium-term goals of building dual power and independent institutions of the oppressed and the long-term goal of national liberation and delinking from imperialism.

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[Security] [Civil Liberties]
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Reddit (Temporarily) Suspends MIMPrisons, Shows Limits of Centralized Communications Networks

Everything is political. While originally developed around a subculture with ideas of "free speech", reddit.com is an Amerikkkan corporation controlling major segments of online traffic and information. It's policy of public anonymity made it a platform that MIM(Prisons) had actively participated on for the last 5 years. We say public anonymity, as over time the site has done more and more to track the identities and patterns of its users privately. But it is unlike Facebook where you must publicly identify yourself in order to participate.

MIM(Prisons) official Reddit account, /u/mimprisons, has been suspended by Reddit for "suspicious activity" and is seemingly unrecoverable. [UPDATE: After some more work on this issue Reddit has since recovered the /u/mimprisons account. We still don't know what the cause was of this temporary suspension. But it has been resolved.] This came one month after the account began actively promoting tactics for secure online organizing in the /r/mao_internationalist subreddit. This comrade will now be posting as /u/mimonline. We will see how long that is allowed.

When we originally set up our official Reddit account it was partially an insurance policy in case we became inaccessible via email, as happened when the FBI shut down our email provider, lavabit.com. While Reddit and Facebook are centralized communication platforms controlled by one entity, email is a federated system with many central email servers inter-operating with each other. However, setting up and maintaining an email server is not easy, so the options are still limited and anonymous email has been challenging at times.

Decentralized systems of communication are the only model that is truly censorship resistant. This is why tools like Tox are important and something our movement is beginning to use and promote more. Tox provides censorship resistance, encryption and verifiable identities. It is also available for all major platforms.

Totalitarianism in the United $tates masquerades as freedom by allowing you to pick your toys in the color of your choice, or even by making statements that are nominally outside the mainstream as long as they reinforce systems of oppression (i.e. pornographic denigration of wimmin). Meanwhile it successfully paints the image of socialist countries as grey, drab and unsexy in contrast. The internet embodies this contradiction, by offering an endless stream of content, with almost all of it controlled by the corporate gatekeepers of Google, Facebook, Reddit, Cloudflare and others.

MIM has always promoted a free internet, whether under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. This can only be ensured with the proper technological infrastructure, which is currently being built by volunteers and fringe organizations. Under socialism these technologies will receive state sponsorship to ensure the integrity of mass communication in the digital age. Currently, the vast majority of the Third World are stuck in closed corporate ecosystems like Facebook and QZone. We have strategic confidence that the vast majority of the world has an interest in building communism, and unfettering their communications will contribute to that project.

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[Civil Liberties] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 68]
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Whether Gangster or Rev; Oppressed Nations Labelled Enemy

We are caught in a system of competitiveness, manipulation, one against the other, brother against brother, family against family, people against people, gangs against gangs, ethnic groups against ethnic groups, color against color, class against class, instead of minority or lower class against the ruling class.

We focus too much on meaningless self-imposed politics that were manipulated into our minds growing up. Like ditch school, destroy your own neighborhoods, sell drugs to your own people, we gang bang, we fight our own over colors and sides only. The only way you can make it is by rapping about killing your own people or selling drugs to your own. As a Chicano I grew up not only hearing this from my peers but that's also what the music I was told to like and listen to said. The television also told me my people are only on TV as gang bangers, drug dealers, etc.

As I grew older I started to realize something is wrong here, where did I go wrong? What have I done for myself? For my family? For my people? Nothing but self-imposed distraction. I am soaking in my own blood and that of my people. I got a hunger for knowledge. Why is it things are the way they are?

The more I studied, the more I realized this is not new but a very old cycle set up by a system to manipulate my mind. A system that went after Martin L. King, a peaceful man, a pastor on his quest for civil rights. The government unlawfully wired his phones, tried to break up his family, tried to unlawfully disrupt his movement by all means to an end. We've learned how the CIA was helping Pablo Escobar flood our streets with drugs. How they dismantled and unlawfully disrupted the Brown Berets and Black Panthers because they were trying to teach and uplift the people; telling them there is a system in place to oppress you, know and understand your rights, bear arms to protect your neighborhoods from pig brutality. After both Brown Berets and Panthers fell our children were open to assault by this system, poor schools, no jobs, drugs. Then record labels signed groups who furthered the system's wishes singing and rapping, "kill your own," "sell drugs," "it's cool to go to prison."

Regardless of tribe, set, race, if you are classified as Security Threat Group (STG) you are on the same boat as me. STG is a Homeland Security term for a domestic terrorist. First rule in war, identify your enemy. We have been identified and classified as enemies of the state. What else is there to be said? Are we to continue letting our self-imposed politics disrupt reality? Such insignificant things and views like colors and sides or race hinder our lives? They can stop one arrow not a hundred. There's nothing wrong with being part of groups, families, etc. But it is wrong when those groups lose focus of the message and cause. It is not okay to soak in the blood of your own people, period.

Learn from our oppressor, they are some cold operators, they understand the power of knowledge and education. The ruling class in the United States is composed of men and their families who use ivy league universities and elite law schools as private schools for their offspring and as training grounds for their corporate livelihoods. They rule us with iron precision through the military, the CIA, the FBI, private foundations and financial institutions. Their control of all the media of education and communication comprises an extremely effective system of thought control.

We must learn from someone who defeated this system. Ho Chi Minh understood the power of education. His mandated policy for his warriors and cadres was spot on. Fighting and violence is easy. You must have balance. You must be able to read and write, be able to teach others and most importantly fully understand and be educated in your political paradigm and why you are fighting.

Chicanos in Colorado are currently in a struggle for our true history. We hunger for knowledge because that knowledge has ended all violence between tribes, shown us our common interests, not the blind mentality of colors and sides. We are currently under assault by Colorado Department of Corrections, not allowing us to receive our real education, stopping all education or history on the concept of Aztlán, Chicano unity, Mexica movement, claiming it's STG. Since when is history and education a crime? Well for us, always.

If there is to be a movement, then there must be leaders. Those leaders must be judged by their ability to give not take. Leadership must convey confidence, not egotism, one who sacrifices, not one who is an opportunist. Leadership is the act of using power to free people, not to control them. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The destruction of the Black Panther Party, the flooding of cities with drugs, and the rejection of literature on [email protected] history in prison are all manifestations of the same system. This system seeks to peacefully control oppressed nations by keeping them from learning about the history of this oppression and the many examples of resistance. And when that fails it locks up the oppressed, or even targets activists for death.

What can we do about this system with so much more power and resources than we have as activists and anti-imperialists? The truth is our side has more power; we have 80% of the world's population, which is exploited and oppressed by imperialism, on our side. The imperialists are paper tigers, that appear fearsome, but in reality are propped up on a fairly fragile structure of power.

That said, dismantling that structure will take a lot of organization, trial and error. As this comrade points out, we need to focus on education and fight to get true history into the hands of the oppressed. And then we need leaders to step up and organize and educate others. There is no special qualification for this leadership. Anyone who sees the problems in the world around them can take up organizing others to fight back. United Struggle from Within is an organization for these leaders, and MIM(Prisons) supports USW organizers with literature and resources. Get in touch today to get started with a local study group or campaign against repression in your prison or elsewhere in the world.

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[Religious Repression] [Civil Liberties] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 63]
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Judge to North Carolina Prisons: Humanism is a Faith Group

As of March 2018, the North Carolina prison system must recognize humanism as a faith group, allowing its adherents locked within the imperialistic belly of the beast the opportunity to meet and study their beliefs, a federal judge has ruled. The American Humanism Association, and a prisoner with a life sentence, sued state Department of Public Safety officials in 2015. Prison leaders were accused of violating the religious establishment and equal protection clauses of the Constitution by repeatedly denying recognition. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle (Eastern District NC) wrote that prison officials failed to justify treating humanism differently from those religions already recognized within the walls of oppression. Humanist prisoners have the same Constitutional rights to study and discuss their values as a group — non-theistic.

Since Judge Boyle's ruling, some individuals have reported to Convicts of Righteous, Reform and Liberation (CORRAL), that they are faced with harassment — cell property searches up to eight times a day, water being turned off, mail delayed, and structure issues. One of our board members spoke with the "admpigs", providing a copy of this ruling. And we have been able to establish some middle ground.

CORRAL is a united group that non-violently addresses issues affecting those incarcerated. MIM has been instrumental in our quest, and we are proud to be in association. We developed our study group and board. We have three chapters. "Imperialism must be defeated", so we do our part. Our motto: "Conscience stimulation, comes from education — which propagates liberation!"

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a progressive victory for prisoners in North Carolina. One of the strategic areas our movement focuses on is defending the Constitutional rights of affiliation and association of prisoners of the United $tates. This is particularly good news in the context of protecting the rights of humanists to come together and discuss their values and beliefs. The first line of the Wikipedia page on humanism reads, "Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition." While there are many forms of humanism and many insightful critiques of it, in general it is a belief in progressive change at the hands of humyns.

Source: Gaston Gazette
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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [Censorship] [Federal] [ULK Issue 61]
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Feds Ban MIM(Prisons) on CorrLinks, Disregard 1st Amendment

fists

On 15 March 2018, MIM(Prisons) received dozens of emails from corrlinks.com, a website used by some U.$. prison systems to provide email access to prisoners. All were from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and read in part:

"This message informs you that you have been blocked from communicating with the above-named federal prisoner because the Bureau has determined that such communication is detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, or might facilitate criminal activity."

It has long been established that it is legal for staff to open and read mail sent into prisons, and to not allow such mail that might pose a threat to safety like communicating information on plans to hurt someone or commit a crime. Quite frequently, publications and even letters from MIM(Prisons) are censored by prison staff for being a threat to security. Legally, this must be based on the content of that mail or publication containing information that poses a direct threat. In practice it often is not, and sometimes we can fight those battles and win.

What the Federal Bureau of Prisons is trying to say here is that members of MIM(Prisons) are not allowed to communicate or associate with prisoners they hold captive, regardless of the content of those communications. This is of course a violation of U.$. law and founding principles. (for more background on related laws and court rulings see our censorship guide)

Such blanket bans have been attempted in the past. Sometimes openly like this one, or like the ban in California, which ended after an out-of-court settlement with Prison Legal News because, well, the CDCR knew what they were doing was illegal. MIM(Prisons) is submitting appeals to this and will update our readers. In the meantime our comrades in federal prisons should continue to contact us via postal mail and keep us updated on censorship on their end.

Electronic Communications

There have been some recent discussions around the use of electronic communications and devices within U.$. prisons and how comrades should approach them. While CorrLinks has been around for some time, more recently prisoners in many prisons can purchase tablet computers for persynal use. Just as we warn people in general about how they use these technologies, those warnings apply even more to prisoners. While the internet provides opportunities for anonymity and free flow of information, this is not really true for the services provided by the state to prisoners. So there is little benefit, and much risk in terms of surveillance and control over a persyn's communications from within prison when using these tools. Thanks to profiteering, we are not even aware of any email services for prisoners that don't charge ridiculous rates.

In general, technology does offer solutions, that are at times better than what we can achieve in real life interactions in terms of both security and thinking more scientifically. To look at some principles of communication that we can apply both online and off, we will look at Briar (briarproject.org). Briar is still in Alpha, and only currently available for Android OS, but has received promising security reviews so far. Briar is an interesting example, because it addresses decentralization, cryptography and anonymity.

One of the biggest problems with the internet today is the centralization that a handful of multinational corporations have made of the traffic on the internet by locking people into certain services. When it comes to email, prisoners have little choice but to use the CorrLinks, centralized service, and face potential bans like this one. On the internet, centralization of activity on certain platforms allows the corporations on those platforms to decide what a majority of the population is seeing, who they are communicating with and when they are no longer allowed to communicate. With Briar, in contrast, one does not even need an internet connection to set up a network of communication with your associates. And even with the internet, each client serves as a node on a decentralized network, so that there is no one powerful persyn who can decide to shut it down. This same principle is applied in real world organizing, where an organization is decentralized to avoid being paralyzed if an individual is removed or repressed.

On the internet, we also have a problem of information being available everywhere to almost anyone. It is only recently, with many hacks and data breeches, that people are beginning to realize that encryption is necessary to protect even peoples' basic information. Such information has been used to falsely imprison people, to steal identities, and to just target and harass people. In the real world, people know to talk quietly about certain things, or talk about plans for building peace when that C.O. who is always instigating fights isn't around, etc. On the internet there is the potential for all information to be available for an indefinite period of time, to potentially anyone. So suddenly everything needs to be said in a whisper, or in encrypted form as Briar and other software does.

Related to encryption is anonymity. Whenever one goes online, one must have an IP Address that tells the other machines on the network where you are so they can send you responses. This IP address (typically) is linked to a real world location and often to a specific machine. Previously we have talked about The Onion Router(Tor), which works to hide your IP Address. When on the internet, Briar operates through Tor, when connecting to others on the network. This provides for anonymity. Anonymity does not have as strong parallels in the real world, but might be like putting up fliers in the middle of the night or marching in a protest with a mask on. This is an advantage of the internet. If done properly, we can spread information anonymously, and without fear of reprisal. In addition, anonymity on the internet allows us to share information without the biases that we come across in real world interactions. The internet can be a tool for people to think more scientifically and judge ideas for their merit and not for who is saying them.

As the above example shows, we cannot trust the U.$. government to just obey its own laws and not repress people for their political beliefs. We must continue to stand up to such political repression, while building independent institutions of the oppressed that allow us to continue to organize for a better tomorrow.

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[Political Repression] [Civil Liberties] [California] [ULK Issue 61]
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CDCR Uses Prop. 57 as Leverage Against Prisoner Organizing

It has been brought to my attention that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) is trying to propose changes to family visiting regulations. By using Proposition 57 as leverage to divide the masses, this policy is discriminatory towards our comrades who get family visits. This policy does not reduce violence, and/or decrease contraband and/or promote positive behavior and/or prepare you for a successful release or rehabilitation as claimed in the CDCR proposal.

In a recent announcement of proposed policy changes to the telephone system and family visiting eligibility, the CDCR issued the statement: "All inmates are encouraged to continue with positive programming and to not participate in any mass strike/disturbance. These types of disturbances impact the many programming opportunities for rehabilitation and reduction in sentence afforded by Proposition 57."

This new policy is trying to discourage the masses from using their constitutional right to peaceful protest, by pitting those working for sentence reductions under Prop. 57 against those organizing for justice and change. CDCR is back with their reactionary divide and conquer ideals. CDCR is a functional enemy of using the word rehabilitation. CDCR will never produce justice or correctness toward their captives. So I ask this question to the masses: Does Prop. 57 support us or does it help CDCR maintain and expand a repressive system against captives?

CDCR is abusing Prop. 57 and using it as leverage and against all organizing activity. This direct or indirect association of Prop. 57 to family visiting and discipline of prisoners promotes confusion and non-justice. The people who voted for Prop. 57 did so with the intent of trying to do justice to correct a broken system. They intended to return humyn beings to their families.

Without justice, there is no life in people. Without justice, people do not "live", they only exist and that's good for CDCR. (Wake up comrades!) I have one message for CDCR, "Where there is justice, there is peace."

[Proposition 57 was passed by California voters in November 2016. Its main purpose is to make it easier for prisoners with non-violent convictions to get a parole hearing, and allow prisoners who are not lifers or on death row to earn good time and earlier release through programming.]
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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [ULK Issue 58]
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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:

..."AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND FAIR MINDED PEOPLE OF ALL RACES, ENGAGED IN MASSIVE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE SERVED NOTICE ON THE NATION AND THE WORLD THAT THEY WOULD NO LONGER TOLERATE THE ABUSES OF AMERICAN RACISM. THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HERALDED A NEW ERA IN OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLVE TO ADHERE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF 'LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL'...

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?


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