The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Hunger Strike] [Migrants] [US Penitentiary MAX] [Federal]
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Federal Supermax Prisoners Fight Complacency and Injustice

I began a hunger strike here at the federal supermax 16 days ago with several peers. My body is weak but my indignation is as powerful as ever and fuels my determination to not give up. The federal prison system controls us by giving us email, MP3 players, and huge meals daily. But under all of this we are not free and we must not ever trade our freedom and dignity for entertaining distractions and sugary snacks.

As many states slowly begin to close prisons, the federal government now seeks to use illegal immigration as an excuse to incarcerate thousands of poor migrants en masse. Only a corrupt, cold, capitalist society would justify incarcerating children simply because they were brought to America seeking food, shelter and a better life. Wall Street crooks haven't spent one day in a jail cell yet thousands of migrant children sit piled into cells so tightly there is no room to walk.

We must not become fat, lazy, complacent and compliant in the destruction of the social and moral fabric of our society (any more than it already is). We must all resist oppression for as Frederick Douglass once said, "The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree wholeheartedly with this prisoner's sentiments about prisons, immigration and capitalism. And we join his call to all to resist oppression and complacency. We do, however, have some concerns about people initiating hunger strikes without clear demands and goals as this can lead to the weakening and even death of comrades who still have much to contribute to the struggle. This is a question of strategy and ensuring that we carefully plan actions so to maximize our energies and efforts, rather than bringing down repression without any gains. Sometimes we do take on losing battles, but in the course of these fights we are able to use the struggle to educate many and gain new supporters. We do not have more details on this comrade's hunger strike so we offer these cautionary words without judging h particular situation.

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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 39]
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Hunger Strikers in NC Protesting Basic Conditions

Smash the SHU

On Monday, 19 May 2014, 7 prisoners at Polk Correctional on the H-Con Unit began a hunger strike due to inhumane conditions, and finally some getting fed up with the mistreatment. It is day 4 and 8 comrades refused their breakfast this morning. Some of the demands are:

  1. need brooms to sweep cells
  2. need nail clippers to exercise proper hygiene
  3. need outside recreation
  4. need new trays, ones now are cracked, split, peeling causing us to find plastic in our food
  5. staff need to wear hair nets/change gloves for food preparation and serving
  6. need headphones sold separately in canteen so we don't have to buy a whole new radio
  7. stop taking mattress and religious property as punishment for up to 3 days
  8. special housing cells need to be cleaned daily - currently have blood, bodily fluids in them and comrades are placed in them naked on suicide watch, only given 4 sheets of toilet paper, no hygiene, forced to eat with dirty hands
  9. need a law library
  10. stop use of nutraloaf as punishment
  11. stop keeping us on H-Con 18-24 months before letting us off even without getting write ups
  12. stop using restraints as punishment

These are just some of the most important of 33 demands. I am asking other comrades to join in support and fast or to write to:

Frank L. Perry, Secretary
Division of Prisons
4201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4201

and,

U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20530

or other forms of protest that do not cause you to receive an infraction. Also, pump them fists as we got a victory in the Central Prison Unit 1 case. They have to use a hand-held camera during all use of force, specifically after the use of force or during/until you are put back in your cell and no longer in contact with corrections staff. So hear it, can I get a hell yeah from all my comrades!

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 38]
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Georgia SMU Prisoners Fight to Maintain Peace

Comrades here at Special Management Unit (SMU - long-term isolation) are doing what they can to protest and fight against the illegal housing that they are being subjected to. Prisoners here are going on hunger strikes and are suffering due to the lack of outside support. Further, the DOC has taken actions to keep outside inquiries from being made public and the news media is refusing to expose the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Georgia's SMU unit.

Prisoners are being transferred to SMU for refusing to participate in the so-called tier step down programs they've started in Georgia. The DOC is trying to force lumpen groups to be housed two men in a 24-hour lockdown cell, thus placing prisoners in physical jeopardy, in order to start a war. Just another attempt to enact the Willie Lynch mentality amongst these prisoners. Before, the prisoners enacted peace and brotherhood policies amongst and between the lumpen groups, and there was no tier step down program. So this program is to create strife amongst the brotherhood by building enough stress and confusion to destroy peace that prisoners worked hard to establish.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have received a lot of reports about the hunger strike in Georgia, and the struggles against SMU classification. The unity and awareness being built in Georgia prisons is definitely frightening the prison administrators. This is an important lesson for organizers: when we build for peace among the lumpen organizations our enemies will take this as a call to war. The United Front for Peace in Prisons is bringing together organizations and individuals in this important battle. Get involved today in building peace in your prison.

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[Civil Liberties] [Hunger Strike] [Gang Validation] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Denial of Constitutional Rights to STGs Spreads to North Carolina

Lanesboro Correctional Institution, in Anson County, North Carolina, has just enacted a gang program, which is nothing shy of draconian. Even for a state that is draconian to begin with.

It started when these pigs separated all of the inmates who were not listed as "STG" from the inmates who were considered part of the "Security Threat Group." Federal law allows violation of prisoners' Constitutional rights during times of emergency, when there is a "threat to the security of the institution." By naming inmates a "security threat," they are basically saying that these inmates have no Constitutional rights. They are being forced to shower in chains, handcuffs and shackles, and are pretty much being denied any and all rights.

The gang program is locked down 23 hours a day, and requires going 6 months infraction free to step down a single step. There are 3 steps in all, and a class of "STG associate" after that. This could force prisoners to go infraction free for 2 full years to get out of the program. Along with this program came a whole new set of rules which makes it nearly impossible to go infraction free without favoritism from the police. Of course, the only way you get that is by snitching, which in such an environment would get a prisoner killed. Being listed as an associate could be justified by something as small as an officer's claim that you said something gang-related, or even my writing this article.

In response to this new policy, prisoners on 3 of the 8 STG blocks have declared a hunger strike. More prisoners on the STG unit are doing the same, in an attempt to break down this program in its infancy. The pigs are responding by cutting off their communication so they cannot be heard. I only learned of this by accident when a "Non-STG" prisoner was moved into my block to make room for more STG blocks.

This policy is being carried out in many states as we speak. Gang members are still human beings, and therefore entitled to the same protections as everyone else. Prisoners need to stand together everywhere and shut this down before it goes into full effect.

This article referenced in:
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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fasting to Protest Keefe Commissary in Virginia

A friend and I decided to observe a fast during the month of March because of the religious holidays such as Lent. Some people abstain from meat when they fast. Others won't eat anything during daylight hours. My friend and I decided to abstain from Keefe Commissary food during March. Our fast is prompted by the lack of economic justice and by the extortion of us by Keefe Commissary.

Our captors neither provide basic items such as deodorant, toothpaste, stamps, stationary, etc., nor pay us wages to allow us to purchase these items. So we are forced to ask our wimmin for financial support. And we are taking money from our wimmin when that money is also needed by our children.

But the united snakes is not satisfied by sinking its fangs into our necks just once. No, it strikes again by limiting our vendor to just Keefe Commissary. And Keefe Commissary sinks its own fangs into us by charging us exorbitant prices.

The united snakes bites us again by deducting 10-15% of all the money sent to us. Now 10% is supposedly for our "savings accounts" and is to be returned to us "upon release from prison." But in this settlement of Virginia, parole was abolished in July 1995. The prisoners whose release dates exceed their life expectancy (I know several men who cannot be released before the year 2300) still have 10% of all incoming money put into their "savings account."

It's very revealing that the Virginia Department of Corrections keeps the earned interest on these so-called savings accounts. If those accounts existed for the purpose of providing the prisoners with spending money upon release from prison (supposedly this will reduce recidivism), then wouldn't it be logical to also give the prisoner the earned interest?

It's also quite telling that the pittance paid for prison labor was cut from $10.50 per week to $4.05 per week. Paying us less money means our families send us more money which increases that 10% collected.

My friend and I came up with a list of these injustices. I wrote the list and sent it to a prisoner advocacy group for forwarding to the Virginia legislature. I included a letter stating we would be abstaining from Keefe Commissary for the month of March, and that the listed injustices are the reasons for it.

A captive working for the captors gave information about a copy of this letter that could be found in my friend's work desk. We are currently charged with "participating/encouraging others... in group demonstration" because other politically conscious prisoners have decided to join us in our fast. Not sure how many as of yet.

But according to Thornburg v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401 (1989) the captors must have a penological interest in depriving prisoners of First Amendment rights. A religious fast is an expression protected by the First Amendment and by 42 U.S.C. 2000 et seq. The captors must show that our fasting is a threat to the security of the slave pens. Won't it be very revealing if the captors claim capitalist profits from Keefe are essential to the security of these gulags?

Of course our captors know they can, and most likely will, convict me of the offense even though the law is clear. The imperialist injustice system rarely grants punitive damages to a prisoner after the captors knowingly give a prisoner a conviction for actions that are both constitutionally protected and permitted. Pigs snub their snouts at the law without fear of repercussion.

I invite all prisoners in every gulag who read MIM(Prisons) publications to participate in fasting from commissary purchases during March. We can still eat from the prison slop trough. Decide which injustices you want addressed. Tell your friends why you are fasting. Send a list of injustices to the Chief Pig in Charge, your Governor, and report on your actions for Under Lock & Key.

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[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia]
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More Reasons for Georgia Hunger Strike

I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the prisoners of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison - Special Management Unit (SMU). I was beaten brutally by SMU's cert team. My ribs were fractured and I was denied any medical treatment. This happened in June 2012. In January of this year I was assaulted (while in cuffs and shackles) by Lt. Micheal J Kyle, he punched me in my face 5 times with a closed fist. This was retaliation because I reported him for sexual harassment after he showed me his fully exposed penis and told me to "suck it."

Right now there are about 9 prisoners on a hunger strike because of the hardships being placed upon us. We are being deprived of our property without proper due process. We face daily ongoing hardships and abuse such as those described above. Our right to religion is also being violated due to our windows being completely covered, so Muslims cannot determine when to pray and prisoners like me who study all religions cannot receive any religious material for certain religions for reasons they will not share with us.

We are in desperate need of a change!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We are getting a lot of mail from Georgia describing the conditions and the need for struggle and change in prison there, especially from the Diagnostic and Classification prison. This unity among the prisoners, and their outreach work to inform media and work with prison activists are all good signs for this struggle. We look forward to working with these new comrades to build the level of political education and organizing in Georgia so that our fight against the criminal injustice system will win both short term and long term battles.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 37]
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Georgia Prisoners on Hunger Strike Since February 9

man behind bars
On 9 February 2014, prisoners at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison Special Management Unit (SMU) lockdown began another hunger strike to protest conditions. The hunger strike is to address abusive conditions, bugs being served in food repeatedly, sexual harassment, sexual assaults, beatings by officers while in handcuffs, being thrown on strip cells without food, feeding prisoners only 1500 calories daily when we are supposed to be given 2800 daily, refusing E-Wing yard call, refusing access to law library, and staff trying to poison prisoners. We are facing threats by staff that if prisoners remain on hunger strike they will die under their watch and it will be covered up.

Prisoners in the Georgia State Prison SMU have had enough of the oppression and decided to take a true stand to fight for our rights. Prisoners in the strike include many of the same prisoners from the 9 December 2010 and 11 June 2012 hunger strikes, and these prisoners are refusing to eat until conditions change.

On 25 January 2014, prisoners received trays at the SMU lockdown with bugs in the food. And after the bugs were pointed out by the prisoners to staff, they were told that either they eat the food or don't eat at all. Then when the prisoners tried to keep the trays to show the proof to the warden they were threatened by the daytime Officer in Charge, that if they didn't give up the trays he was going to suit up with his Correctional Officers and gang rape the prisoners. The prisoners still refused to give up their trays and were threatened again the next day: if they didn't give up the trays they were going to be refused their tray meals for that day. The prisoners had to go two days without eating just to show the warden the bugs in their food. And when the prisoners finally got a chance to show the bugs in the food, the warden only replied that it's nothing but a little bit more meat to add in their chili. This is not the first time that bugs had been served in food, but nothing has been done about this issue. Even though we file grievances, nothing but denials.

These prisoners have even been beaten by staff while in handcuffs. Nothing has been done about these employees' abusive actions. There is a coverup by Warden Bruce Chatman, Deputy Warden June Bishop, Warden of care and treatment William Poinel, Cpt. Micheal Nopen, Lt. Michael J. Kyles, aand even down to medical staff Mary Tsore and mental health staff Mr. Whitmoore.

Georgia prisoners are being denied access to the law library as guaranteed by the Georgia and U.S. law. Prisoners are only allowed two court cases per week to be delivered at their door on a piece of paper, and no books.

Medical staff are refusing to take notice of the hunger strike even though SOP VH47-0002 guarantees strikers health service.

The legal system refuses to respond, grievances are ignored or destroyed, and there is very little that Georgia prisoners can do to fight for their rights. Our only choice is to put our lives in danger by refusing to eat, and plead for some outside support.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The past few years have seen a sharp increase in prisoners using food refusal as a tactic to demand some improvements in conditions. Considering the powerlessness of prisoners, and the complete failure that is the grievance system in many states, it is not a surprise that people feel their only option to demand basic rights is to starve themselves.

We print many reports on these strikes in the pages of Under Lock & Key, and we know this inspires others to learn of similar struggles across the country. But we also encourage everyone to study these actions and learn from their mistakes. In Illinois, prisoners were manipulated by the pigs to end their strike prematurely. In South Carolina lockdown coordination problems ended their strike. In Nebraska prisoners failed to make clear demands and gained nothing after a two day protest. Even in California where prisoner unity is remarkably high, the response to the massive hunger strikes has been little more than lip service and program name changes. We must be prepared for such lack of response from the state with a long view of how to make change.

The underlying lesson in all of these struggles is the need for stronger education and organization before taking action. Greater unity will be achieved through education, and organization will build a solid system of communication and a strong and winnable list of demands. One quick lesson for all: when sending information to the media about your strike include something clear that people on the outside can do to support you. It can be a number to call or place to write to register their support.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Nebraska State Penitentiary] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 36]
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Failed Nebraska Protest Demonstrates Importance of Studying Political Theory

Just recently we had an incident here at the prison. There was a boycott from eating and a refusal to lockdown, leave the yard, or go to our bunks. There were a few fires started and prisoners made it hard for officers to do count.

As good as it might have felt to buck the system, this "two day" short lived revolution seemed to be useless because there was no bottom line or demands, and they ended up putting us on more restriction than we were on before. They feed us 2 cold bag lunches for breakfast and dinner, no visits, no church, no club activities, no yard, no one works, no phones (now restored), no outgoing mail (now restored), no library or law library, and officers give you disciplinary reports for every minor thing you do (passing food, sharing books, talking after 10pm, etc.).

The outcome of this "lost cause" shows the importance of studying MIM's concepts and ideology. One thing it did do is show the oppressor that the oppressed do have the will and intent to stand up. But a revolution that's lead by emotions will never win.

Another issue at hand here is the refusal to let prisoners out on parole because one person who was let out murdered 4 people (he did his full time, no parole, and he asked for mental health help before he was let out but they refused him.) Now the system wants to make us do more time on our sentence (80% instead of 50%), and make it a longer wait to go to work centers. They haven't taken into consideration all the successful parolees and how broken the system is in preparing prisoners for society.

One thing we must keep in mind is that "a man who stands upon the corners of the paths and points the way, but does not go, is just a pointer and a block of wood can do the same."


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade raises a very important point about how we must learn from our failures as well as our successes. And in the case of this protest, as well as many other spontaneous acts of resistance in prisons across the country, the lesson is often that we need to do more to build our level of political knowledge and study theory and strategy so that we can formulate the best approach to our local situation. There is an organizing strategy called focoism that attempts to promote and utilize the spontaneity of the masses to launch a revolution. There is a long history of spontaneous attempts at protest and the focoist strategy of revolution around the world that show us this approach generally leads to more repression, not to victory for the oppressed. We have a responsibility, as revolutionary leaders (and this extends to all readers of Under Lock & Key) to learn from this history and apply these lessons to our work today. MIM(Prisons) has a lot of literature on spontaneity, focoism and organizing strategy. Write to us to request study materials on this topic.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California] [ULK Issue 36]
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California Strike Negotiations Update

Since the July 8, 2013 hunger strike/work stoppage was suspended (5 September 2013) we've faced extreme retaliation ranging from multiple large scale cell searches to very small portions of food, etc. In Pelican Bay State Prison comrades have reported losing some of the granted supplemental demands (I told 'em so). Updates from October on the negotiations are basically saying CDCR is are not willing to break/compromise any further on the 5 core demands.

A few COs allegedly got attacked, isolated incidents for whatever reasons. In all, we hope to remain a peaceful protest, at least until a final resolve. We remain committed in supporting the New Afrikan and/or prisoner class regardless of the torturous/inhumane conditions to which we're currently enduring. "Knowledge is power, information is freedom, and education is our mandate." Long live Comrades George Jackson, Frantz Fanon, Mao Zedong, Malcolm X, VI Lenin, and Karl Marx. We will endure.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This report on the California prisoner strike is unfortunately just the news we expected from negotiations with the state over improvements in conditions. Promises to address prisoner concerns are easy to make in the face of massive protests and media attention, and quick to be broken as soon as the attention dies down and prisoners stop their protest. We know there are thousands of prisoners in California committed to this cause and ready to take up action again. Leaders must take this opportunity to once again build the support of California prisoners as a whole, and work out a strategy that will lead to the best possible outcome for those in this fight. In a previous article we discussed the possibility that tactical changes are needed, including the possibility of demands being formulated locally in each prison, while trying to achieve as much unity as possible across the state. Regardless of the tactics, we must be building revolutionary education and creating a cadre of solid activists in every prison so that we are prepared for whatever the state throws at us.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Lieber Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 36]
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Setback in Food Refusal Protest

We recently had a blow to morale here in my dorm. A refusal to accept cold food went wrong as only a quarter of us refused. Since we were locked down, and only eat twice a day on weekends, most just took it. That left a few saying they would never participate again. However, you would be a good morale boost (Under Lock & Key) because it shows that the struggle is being fought everywhere. Maybe it will help them focus on the real issues. All I can do is keep trying.

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