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Under Lock & Key

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[Hunger Strike] [Calipatria State Prison] [California]
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Calipatria Hunger Strikers United for Week Long Protest

I'm writing to report on the hunger strike from Calipatria State Prison. Everyone here on the facility showed their support. Not all of us agreed on the tactics that some chose to pursue but nonetheless we all participated. Some people refused to go to work while others chose only not to accept food. Everyone who chose not to go to work received write ups (CDCR 115) for refusing to work and participation in security threat group (STG) activity. So now those people have STG points against them. Some guys were trying to force everyone not to work but calmer heads prevailed and they allowed people to make the choice themselves.

Out of the 850 prisoners on this yard, at least 700 participated. It only lasted for a week. The staff passed out a flyer on what can happen medically to a person who goes without food for long periods of time. They sent the nurse from door to door asking if people were alright but it didn't get to the point where they had to start weighing people.

A lot of questions are now being asked like what did that accomplish? Although we had a high level of participation we had no one to actually explain what the strike was for or what are the goals we are trying to accomplish. Most guys just get involved because they were told to. The people who are socially conscious and politically conscious didn't want to speak up for fear of being labeled as inciting the strike which will land you in the SHU. A lot of guys who have been down for 30 years have been broken and refuse to stand up to the administration.

All in all we here at Calipatria showed our support until next time.


MIM(Prisons) responds:First let us recognize what this comrade said about prisoners receiving STG points against them for a peaceful refusal to eat or go to work. This is what the CDCR is using to label people a Security Threat Group member and put them in torture units for years or even decades - the main thing that the strike is protesting in the first place! Such outrageous injustice should fuel the struggle for basic humyn rights in Calipatria.

Second, let's acknowledge the amazing accomplishment of having 700 out 850 prisoners participate in a united action that was part of a planned strategic approach towards change in the interests of all prisoners. This is historic, and it is happening all over California!

That said, the masses are correct to ask, "What did this accomplish?"
This report exposes the importance of building political consciousness and educating our comrades behind bars both before and during protest actions. We must build leadership to ensure that the political message of these protests is effectively conveyed, both to those participating and to the target of our protests.

Of course, the application of leadership in such closely monitored conditions should be done cautiously as the comrades in Calipatria did. Materials like Under Lock & Key can be tools for spreading education and providing leadership. But even then we face censorship, and prisoners get written up just for possessing literature, which presumably was given to them by prison mail staff in the first place. The solutions to this are tactical questions that should be part of the sum up of the experiences in California prisons this summer. As the masses are struggling for answers, now is the time to step in and have these discussions however you can in your locality. What is the opinion of the actions? What do people think should have been done differently? How did leadership fail, and how could you build differently in the future? If you come up with universal conclusions send them to us to share, however as conditions vary over time and place, most of these conversations should be applied locally.

On the large scale we can make a few points. First, the strike was about ending conditions of torture in California prisons, in particular in the long-term isolation units (SHU, ASU, etc.). And the strike continues with almost 300 people having not eaten for over 40 days according to the CDCR, and an unknown number of others still participating who are not being counted. So the struggle continues there.

If comrades in Calipatria are asking what their one-week actions accomplished, we encourage them to look back at the agreement to end hostilities and the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement on page 2 of Under Lock & Key that were used to form a basis for the massive support seen this time around. The goals of these projects are to unite prisoners around their mutual interests as prisoners and prevent the state from pitting them against each other as a form of social control. We hope that comrades in Calipatria were inspired by the tremendous level of solidarity this author reports on. There are many ways to build on this unity through things such as study groups, health campaigns, literacy programs, and other forms of mutual support. In our own work we model such programs after the Black Panthers and Chinese Serve the People Programs, which had the purpose of providing for survival needs pending revolution.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Medical Neglect as Another Hunger Striker Goes Down

On July 19th I was escorted to the medical clinic to request liquid nutrients, vitamins and proper directions on the re-feeding process after hunger strike. I was denied all requests. I was specifically told by nursing staff that CDCR officials have told all medical staff not to intervene in the on-goings of hunger strike patients until otherwise directed. I continued to request said items during daily nurse/medical rounds for the days leading up to July 21st only to be denied with some sort of unprofessional response.

On July 21, during my allotted rec time my body shut down. I fell, hitting my head on the concrete and knocking myself unconscious for at least two minutes. I was brought to the emergency prison hospital and once again provided with inadequate medical care. After blood/urine/vitals samples and testing I was told there was the possibility of death if I were to continue hunger strike for 24 hours. I obviously requested liquid nutrients/vitamins/etc. And I was denied. I was told by the doctor that CDCR officials are not letting med staff intervene in hunger strike participants and was told to go back to cell with no medical help.

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[Hunger Strike] [Mental Health] [Martinez Detention Facility - Contra Costa County Jail] [California] [ULK Issue 34]
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Debating Mental Health Treatment in Ad-Seg

[In response to the article MIM(Prisons) printed about the Martinez hunger strike demands, calling on prisoners there not to isolate the "mental health" prisoners from the "non-mental health" prisoners, we received the following update and clarification.]

Maybe we were not clear on the housing of mental health prisoners here in Ad-Seg. Our point is that there is an entire module for mental health prisoners where they can get help for their issues with trained staff. There is no mental health staff stationed in Ad-Seg, and no groups or therapy for prisoners. Bottom line is, mental health prisoners should not be housed in Ad-Seg on the whims of classification unit. Yes these guys are a headache to have in Ad-Seg, but more importantly they receive no help and deteriorate further by being warehoused in Ad-Seg. We are not trying to cause division in the prison population.

There are 53 inmates housed in Ad-Seg here. 13 prisoners did a 24 hour support strike while 5 of us continued for 6 to 12 days. We continue to support all those still on strike. Our strike is suspended, not stopped. If we do not continue to move forward in our demands or we come to a place in time when it is warranted, then we will continue our strike.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This letter addresses our criticism of the demand by MDF prisoners to "immediately cease and desist the unconstitutional custom, practice and unofficial policy of improperly housing inmates with mental health issues among the non-mental-health-status Ad-Seg detainees" as unnecessarily divisive. The original demand complained of the disruptive behaviors from the mental health prisoners but did not mention the lack of treatment options for these individuals. If conditions are better in the mental health module, it would be an improvement for these individuals to escape Ad-Seg and be placed there. However, the "treatment" for people with mental health problems in the United $tates is, at best, a targeting of the symptoms, and at worst leaves people either physically or medically restrained in a drug-induced stupor.

Mental illness in prisoners can often be linked to the conditions in which they are housed, especially long-term isolation. So we are naturally skeptical of any treatment offered by those same captors who insist on locking people up in conditions that induce the health problems in the first place. But we appreciate the additional explanation that the MDF prisoners did not intend the demand for mental health prisoners to be divisive but rather targeted treatment for these individuals. We hope they will consider carefully the wording of such demands in the future.

In the short term, we know that capitalism will continue to produce new cases of mental illness which can not be successfully treated until we address the problems of a society that generates these illnesses. We look to China under Mao for an example of successful treatment of mental health conditions by addressing both the immediate problems and the systemic roots of these conditions.

Meanwhile, the comrades in Martinez are not the only ones on suspended hunger strike. A number of comrades have reported a willingness to restart in support of the five core demands as the struggle heightens.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Hunger Strike Day 23 Report from San Quentin

On 7/30/13 (day 23 of the hunger strike) at approximately 1pm, prisoners on my tier began alerting adjustment center custody staff that one of the hunger strike participants was unresponsive. Prisoners kept yelling "man down, man down!" and banging on their doors until a goon squad was formed. One member of that goon squad was Officer Persaud, who sarcastically ordered the semi-conscious man down to come to the door and cuff up. During this potentially life threatening delay, the man down actually found strength to get his hands behind his back and through the solid door's food port. The prisoner reports he was then held by his wrists and then by the cuff chain as a mechanical issue getting the cell door to open ensued. Ultimately Persaud let go of the cuff chain and the prisoner then explains he fell face first into the concrete floor. The door was finally opened and the goon squad stormed in as if pouncing, ordering the prisoner to stand up.

The same day a second man down situation followed, with a similar response. Custody staff are expressing blatant resentment and disrespect toward participants in the hunger strike. It is my suggestion to those pigs that if their current job is not to their liking they should go back to "Bob's Burgers" or convince their torture unit overlords to grant the reasonable requests for basic human needs set for in the open letter, instead of throwing vigilante green wall style shit fits.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Upstate Correctional Facility] [Auburn Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 34]
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New York Prisoners Strike, Support California Struggle

16 July 2013 - I would like the brothers in the struggle to be aware that their movement is being felt all the way on the east coast. As you are aware I was last at Auburn Korrectional Facility. I was put in the box and given a 180 day sentence for rallying 22 other komrades on this end to go on a food strike in support of our brothers out west. It got so bad that 8 of us were held in the kamp's hospital and a court order was given to force feed us. I just got out of the hospital yesterday and I have restarted my strike along with the other 7 brothers I spoke of.

The pigs have violated our property and they have destroyed our books, including my Afrikana, Assata, and my Black's laws dictionary that my dad bought for me before he died. To make things even worse they destroyed my pictures, including a lot of my parents who are both in the essence now. I don't have any family outside these walls, so my komrads (and a deep seeded hatred of how these pink pigs treat us) are all I have.

I wanted you to print this in your next issue because I know how them brothers are struggling and they may think that they are in it by themselves. But I want them to know that they have some real militant brothers who have lost a lot now to join them in their struggle. There are only 7 others with me out of the 22 of us who put this thing into effect over here. The rest of my komrades have been scattered in other koncentration kamps. New York State has about 65 prisons from maximum security, which we are in, to minimums. What I do know is that we are on watch and soon will be whisked away where these pigs will fill us up intravenously so they can say they care. But we will continue our movement on y'all behalf until we hear or read that y'all have received the basic necessities in which you are fighting for.


MIM(Prisons) adds: While they are no doubt facing significant repression and conditions that merit struggle in New York, these comrades have stepped up to fight on behalf of the hunger striking prisoners in California. This prisoner and his comrades demonstrate the important principals of unity and self-sacrifice that are so critical to building the communist movement. While we frequently appeal to prisoners' self-interest in calling them to action, when this self-interest in aligned with the interests of the anti-imperialist movement, ultimately communists will act without regard for self-interest, in the service of the oppressed.

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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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CCI Prisoners Hunger Striking for Long Haul

29 July 2013 - On July 8th the hunger strike went as planned and continued until Friday. On Saturday 7/13 prisoners ate and also on Sunday. However, again on 7/15/13 some resumed the hunger strike [at California Correctional Instiution].

Medical personnel are coming by to check on us here hunger striking. We are not getting our weight taken nor blood pressure. Medical staff are just asking us if we're ok. A memo was given out before the strike saying we are able to get 2 appliances, a typewriter and other various items: shorts, bowl, tumbler, unlimited soups in canteen. But this stuff cannot be realized or verified as I haven't seen anybody get a lot of soups, radio/typewriter or cup and bowl.

No prison official has come by to ask of what's going on or what, although a C/O came by and asked if we are hunger striking and if so what for. I haven't heard of anyone going to medical so far. Mail is going slow and only about a couple pieces a section are getting passed out.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran SHU Sentiment Opposes CDCR Step Down Program as Hunger Strike Continues

29 July 2013 - The hunger strike seems to be struggling along. Corcoran Security Housing Unit stopped running yard for about a week. CDCR seems to be about to implement the "step down program" here at California State Prison - Corcoran SHU. And its so-called "conditional inactive release, monitored status" for guys who are being reviewed for inactive status by CDC DRB (review board). From what I've heard, guys aren't biting on the "banana-in-the-tailpipe" bullshit.

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[Hunger Strike] [Organizing] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California]
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Day 15 Hunger Strike Report from San Quentin

Day 15 of the Death Row SHU (adjustment center) hunger strike. Almost 50 participating and the administration is scratching its ass in frustration, using every dirty track in the book (operational procedure [OP608]).

After 3 days we're official hunger strikers. Within only 2 days we were getting set up to be declared "leaders" by a sergeant or lieutenant under the guise of negotiations. By day 5 the facility captain started sweating us. At this point our peaceful action shows potential to expose human rights violations due to imminent media attention, so prison officials hoping to cover things up deem this a disruption to facility operations while part of their clique forms an Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) which then threatens us with a Rules Violation Report based on their wild stretch interpretation of 15 CCR 3315 (a)(2)(L). This makes each of us a documented/validated participant in a Security Threat Group (STG) action (OP608, sec419 B.m.n.). If that fails to halt the advance of our struggle for basic human needs, CDCR's playbook then calls for an intensified sensory deprivation program to be implemented (OP608, Sec. 419 C/Sec. 815). All this clearly demonstrates CDCR's premeditated response to our peaceful action is the continuation of violent torture methods with malice under the guise of "security."

Course of action: everyone simply states they have nothing to say. Thus, nobody provides evidence of being "leader" or "an organizer" through individual testimony. The open letter with its list of demands speaks for itself in behalf of us all, participating or not, while our non-violent participation in the struggle is an action which speaks louder than mere words. We're simply allowing CDCR's twisted response to unravel, thus exposing their premeditated malice which they have reworded in the OP608.

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[Abuse] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Medical Care]
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Hunger Striker Dies in Corcoran

billy sell rip
Original art by Billy Sell of the torture cell
he died in at Corcoran State Prison.
On Monday, 22 July 2013, 32-year-old Billy "Guero" Sell died in his cell in the Security Housing Unit at Corcoran State Prison. Prisoners near him reported that he had been requesting medical attention while on hunger strike, but his requests were ignored.(1)

MIM(Prisons) has joined the many organizations and individuals who are demanding that the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) address the medical needs of prisoners throughout the hunger strike. These people are hired as public servants, and yet they allow people to suffer and die by denying basic medical care. We don't know what the cause of Billy Sell's death was, but we know a number of comrades who have known conditions that are not being addressed during the hunger strike. While those on strike are not getting the state-mandated medical checks.

In our years of experience advocating for U.$. prisoners, it has not been uncommon for Amerikans to say "let them rot" or even become belligerent towards us for something as benign as handing out a flier. It is no surprise then, that our comrades are reporting similar attitudes from the staff who are overseeing their well-being in California prisons.

This kind of oppression is exactly what the current prison movement needs to combat. There is a social force opposing the lumpen of the oppressed nations. And the only way to stop this abuse is for the lumpen of the oppressed nations to organize as a counter force, which means organizing in a different way than they have been in recent decades. Ensuring prisoner health requires survival programs organized by the oppressed populations themselves. These are rights that prisoners supposedly have in this country. But as we know, no rights are guaranteed unless you fight for them.

As the strike in California passes the 20-day mark, the tens of thousands of people who have completed their solidarity strikes need to be building more long-term institutions - study groups, health campaigns, legal assistance clinics, etc. These are the first steps towards building independent institutions of the oppressed, which are necessary because the existing institutions of the state will kill us.

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[Hunger Strike] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California]
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Corcoran Conditions Worsen As Strike Advances and Many Stand Strong

11 July 2013 - As you well know we are demonstrating and will continue until demands or compromise is met!

As of now everything is running smoothly! All basic modified program - regular medical ducats, regular nurse/pill rounds, regular C/O security checks, nobody in my general area has complaints of negligent or abusive behavior.

Just got word of cell extractions being done to certain individuals in some buildings.

They've passed out CDC 128A forms regarding future discipline if behavior persists.

I received a letter from California Prison Focus in Oakland, it was almost one month 1ate! An obvious stall tactic. It was in regards to the 7/13 rally/march in front of CSP-Corcoran asking to let loved ones/friends know.

No weight checks or medical checks as of now (5:00 pm). Institutional procedure not being followed.

Thank you.

13 July 2013 - Day Six: No weight/med-health checks as of now. Man down response time was thirty minutes yesterday. Rally/march is active outside the walls!

Regular C.O./Sgt/Med staff checks have ceased. Most of us are single cell by choice and won't receive cellmates during demonstration. Nothing more we can do at this point. C.O./Sgt/Med staff definitely not following proper procedure.

Please contact my family if something happens to me.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Hundreds of people did rally outside of Corcoran State Prison on 13 July 2013 in the brutal heat to show support for the strikers inside. Those on the outside who want to support the struggle against torture in California prisons should contact state officials and voice your concerns and help spread the word through demonstrations and sharing information with others.

The reports above were delayed in reaching us, but is the most recent report we have from Corcoran. The latest from the CDCR is that 1,000 prisoners are still on strike in California early in week three. They reported over 12,000 who met their criteria for being on a hunger strike at the peak, and around 30,000 who participated on July 8th. They said only one prison had a significant work stoppage. There's no way for us to get any better numbers than these, but the drop in numbers correlates with the reports we've been getting from some. That said 1,000 people is a lot to take it for the long haul. Outside support continues to rally with more progressive groups and individuals signing on as supporters and making public stands with a coordinated one day fast being coordinated for the end of July.

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