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[Legal] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California]
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No law library acces at Kern Valley

The one most important problem we have here at Kern Valley State Prison is being allowed access to the law library.

We have a law library with a fire hazard safety code of 25 people max at a time. So there is never more than 20 people allowed in the library. There are only 4 law books total, and 4 CD Rom computers which 20 inmates have to share in a time frame of 3 hour sessions.

You have to take into account that there are 8 buildings on each facility with 160 prisoners in each building, and due to prison over crowding we now have 80 level III gym sleepers illegally sharing a lever IV yard. They can not come out with us due to the fact that they will be sued if one is attacked. But they share our library and visiting room.

So you have 1200 plus prisoners, some of whom are true litigators, sharing a law library that only 20 people can get into at a time. As you can imagine, the waiting list is 2 to 3 months every time. I turned in a request to do some legal research on September 22nd. Here it is 62 days later and I'm still waiting. There are several grievances being circulated on this issue. Administration has proposed to adopt a paging system where we can fill out forms for supplies and have them brought to our cells, but that dose not solve the problem for people who need physical access to seek what they are looking for.

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[Legal] [California] [ULK Issue 2]
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Law library access restricted

I will soon encounter a new roadblock [in researching censorship lawsuits to help fight the censorship of MIM]. Our law library will be shutting down soon. The library clerks told us that after the 29th of November the law library will only be running for a day or two out of the week. The reason for this, or excuse rather, is that since our gym is due to be emptied out within the next couple of weeks, the population on the yard will be substantially smaller, there is no need for law library to be open every day. Of course this is just an excuse for them not to run the library for us. So most likely the only people allowed inside will be those with "PLU" status, no chance for the rest of us to do any research. However, people are already preparing to draw up 602s and those that are more experienced with the law have promised to pursue the matter. As long as the library remains open, I will hopefully be ready to file the complaint with the district court.

I also want to mention, I just acquired a Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook a few weeks ago. It only instructs prisoners on how to file 1983s. I've checked out a couple other similar manuals and this is most certainly the simplest and straight to the point manual I've come across, very easy to understand. You can have people download it for free on the internet, or you can write to the National Lawyer's Guild via a letter and request it for free. For a copy, write to: The Prison Law Project, National Lawyers Guild, National Office, 132 Nassau St, Rm 922, New York, NY 10038. Download it at http://jailhouselaw.org.

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[Education] [Legal] [West Valley Detention Center] [California] [ULK Issue 1]
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No access to legal materials or education

I am writing to let MIM comrades be informed on ever more injustice in our so-called system. As of today I have been awaiting trial almost four and a half years, since I was sixteen years old. At sixteen I was placed in a juvenile facility, then the day after my eighteenth birthday was placed in West Valley Detention Center for women in California.

There is not one program at this facility for those awaiting trial - we barely have a library that contains mostly old romance novels. I am not even convicted and have no access to any legal or educational materials. The facility will only provide "Christian" religious materials so any other religions basically do without unless materials can be provided by the outside. We even have some of our religious materials sent back saying they are "gang-related materials" because they are not common beliefs.

How am I to defend myself if I can not get any law books, or educate myself with no real library or any programs? I am 20 years old and have been facing 25 to life since age 16. I now sit idle with my life in the hands of California's injustice system.

Those who have no financial support must also do without personal hygiene and writing materials as these things are not provided free to indigent inmates. Our canteen prices are so high you'd think they could pay to provide us with something! At least get rid of all the gnats, roaches and rats in our facility! Some prisoners here are even kept in ad-seg for their whole waiting process with no real infractions.

I am only one young female inmate and I need the help from my comrades to fight this ridiculous system. I hope to be able to help in this fight, but I can't do it alone.

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[Legal] [California]
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Prisoners Denied Right to Public Records

Greetings from one of the realms of concrete and steel within California's massive prison industrial complex on the central coast in the sleazy valley. In my efforts to re-obtain copies of some records that have been improperly seized I have presented numerous written requests to prisoncrats who tend to ignore such requests.

If or when a prisoner seeks to present such matters on administrative appeals they are customarily mysteriously lost or screened out by the appeals coordinator who acts as a risk manager who systematically rejects administrative appeals on any manufactured ruse he can phantom with impunity, so after going through such headaches one tends to seek alternative means of accomplishing his endeavors.

The California legislature enacted California government code section 6250 which in the pertinent part states "that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state." This being a right and not a privilege when you look a bit further 6252 definitions sub (c) "persons" include any natural person, etc. sub (d) "public agency" means any state or local agency. Sub (e) "public records" include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics, etc. sub (f) "writing" means any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying….any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored. Sub (g) "member of the public" means any person…etc.

The definitions nowhere state that a prisoner is not a person so the provisions should be equally applicable for a prisoner as it applies to anyone else one. Now pursuant to 6253(c) "each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall within 10 days from receipt of the request determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records…" sub (d) "nothing in this chapter shall be construed to permit an agency to delay or obstruct the inspection or copying of public records…"

When considering the mandatory language of 6253(d) one would conclude that the legislature did not intend for any state agency, including the CDCR to have the right to delay or obstruct anyone from the obtaining of non-confidential public records. In fact 6258 "proceedings to enforce right to inspect or to receive copy of record" state: "any person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record or class of public records under this chapter…"

All of this is quite clear and simple language, right? I challenge everyone to look up the public records act commencing at California government code section 6250-6276. Nowhere does it say that anyone can adopt regulations that are not applicable or conflict with the public records act provisions. Section 6253.4 reads "agency regulation and guidelines which authorize every agency to adopt regulations stating the procedures to be followed when making its records available in accordance with the section". In fact at 6253.4 (b) "guidelines and regulations adopted pursuant to this section shall be consistent with all other sections of chapter and shall reflect the intention of the legislature to make records accessible…"

How then can the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation simply ignore a prisoner's public records act request? When one presents the matter to the court for consideration, the state court would then take the position that the petitioner has failed to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to 15 CCR 3084.1 because he is under the jurisdiction of the department! Yet no where in the provisions of the public records act do I see where it states that the provisions of Cal Gov. C. 6250 does not apply to persons under the jurisdiction of the CDCR or revoke the right to access public records.

It is wrong to compel a prisoner to submit an administrative appeal regarding obtaining a non-confidential information needed as of a result of a federal court order that directed the plaintiff to add some other specific information to an amended complaint within a specified amount of time. Prisoncrats know this and purposely seek to cause the prisoner to not comply with the federal order so as to indirectly cause an action to be dismissed for non-compliance with the courts directive. Well luckily I was able to make some of the required corrections without a complete copy of the administrative appeals. This problem serves to further expose the injustice that prisoners are subjected to in the pursuit of the legally guaranteed rights. Not to mention that a 602 can take over 6 months administratively.

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[Political Repression] [Racism] [Control Units] [Legal] [Abuse] [Red Onion State Prison] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 1]
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Red Onion State Prison: Obstruction of Justice

"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people, by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law: it invites every man to become a law unto himself."Olmstead v. U. S., 277 U. S. 439, 485 (1927)

In April 2007, Richard Rowlette became the new Assistant Warden at Red Onion State Prison (ROSP). Rowlette had previously worked at ROSP in the position of Security Chief from the time that the prison opened in 1998 until December 1999. During that time he was a principal administrative player and ringleader in the racist abuses that won ROSP its reputation for prisoner mistreatment. He was instrumental in helping ROSP gain national notoriety as one of the country's most abusive prisons.

Since his promotion to Assistant Warden, I have filed an official complaint with Rowlette concerning ROSP officials refusing me telephone contact with two attorneys who had offered me their professional assistance. I presented a request to Rowlette to allow me to call these two lawyers.

Months before, both of these lawyers had verified their credentials and their intent and efforts to advise and assist me in litigation against various ROSP staff, including my assigned counselor John Sykes and the chief warden Tracy Ray. One of these lawyers is Mr. Malik Shabazz. Upon being informed of my ongoing experiences of abuse at ROSP (abuse which is a response to my political activism and continuing exposure of abuses at the prison), Mr. Shabazz decided to support me. Mr. Shabazz happens to be the Chairman of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), an organization with which I have no affiliation.

Rowlette's response was that if he had anything to do with it I'd never talk to a lawyer. When I pointed out that this was a basic constitutional right, he responded, "Your people have no rights." I am New Afrikan (Black) so his meaning was obvious. I filed a complaint. I also filed a complaint about being denied contact with my lawyers for months, despite their repeated attempts to arrange legal calls with me. Rowlette responded to my complaint with a memo stating that my request to have confidential legal calls to these lawyers was "DENIED." In this memo he rationalizes denying me legal calls by claiming that no attorney-client relationship exists between me and these lawyers.

The memo states that unless I prove that they are actively representing me in litigation pending in a court of record in Virginia, I will be denied legal calls. It specifically states that a letter from a lawyer stating the she is representing me "will not suffice." The memo also states, "Your request is further DENIED in regards to Mr. Malik Shabazz due to his involvement with the New Black Panther Party. To allow unrecorded phone calls between you and the President/Founder of the New Black Panther Party would present an unacceptable risk to the Security of this Facility."

For the benefit of any doubters, I've attached a copy of Rowlette's initialed memo.

Rowlette's memo breaks a barrel full of criminal laws. In Virginia it is a crime for any person to interfere with the relationship of confidence and trust that must exist between a lawyer and her/his client. It is also a crime for any one not licensed to practice law to present himself as qualified to give legal opinions. Both of these acts constitute the crime of "unauthorized practice of law."'

Rowlette has no legal training or authority to define the attorney-client relationship. He certainly cannot use any such unauthorized definition to block confidential communications between a lawyer and client. Indeed, the Virginia Supreme Court itself has defined what constitutes an attorney/client relationship. The court's definition is quite different from Rowlette's. In the U.S., it is the function of the courts to define and interpret the laws and the functions of executives (including prison officials), to enforce and apply those laws.

In its definitive document "Practice of Law in the commonwealth of Virginia" (PLCV), the Virginia Supreme Court defines the attorney-client relationship as follows:

"Generally, the relation of attorney and client exists and one is deemed to be practicing law whenever he furnishes to another advice or services under circumstances which imply his possession and use of legal knowledge or skill.

"Specifically, the relation of attorney and client exists, and one is deemed to be practicing law whenever (I.) One undertakes... to advise another... in any matter involving the application of legal principles to facts or purposes or desires. (2) One ... undertakes, with or without compensation, to prepare for another legal
instruments of any character...(3) One undertakes, with or without compensation, to represent the interest of another before any tribunal judicial, administrative, or
executive..."

Rowlette's memo presumes to overrule the high court's definition of the attorney-client relationship. Using his unlawful definition, he has barred me from confidential contact with these lawyers. The bigger absurdity is the obvious Catch-22 in Rowlette's position. A lawyer must be able to consult with a client in order to gather the information necessary to file a lawsuit for him/her. If I am blocked from confidential communications with lawyers, then they will never be able to bring litigation on my behalf. This is the real intent behind Rowlette's game.

As for Mr. Shabazz's NBPP membership, Rowlette presents no evidence that this affiliation threatens prison security. As a federal lawyer, Mr. Shabazz is foremost an officer of the courts. If his private organizational affiliations conflicted with his professional status, Mr. Shabazz would not be permitted to maintain his legal license.

Furthermore Rowlette has directed ROSP mailroom clerks to intercept, open, read, and refuse to send out mail that is clearly identified as "legal mail" intended for lawyers. These mailroom officials, based upon Rowlettes' position, refuse to treat or process mail to and from lawyers as confidential legal mail in blatant violation of VDOC mail policy. This is a federal crime, obstructing U.S. mails,2 and violates my constitutional rights to free speech and to privacy in my legal mail.


History of Abuse at Red Onion State Prison

When ROSP first began operating in 1998, it developed almost instantly a nationwide reputation for racism and abuses of its predominantly nonwhite prisoner population by its near exclusively white staff.

In response to receiving a flood of letters from ROSP prisoners complaining of unjustified transfers to ROSP and of frequent and widespread racism, brutality and general abuse, Human Rights Watch (HRW) attorney Jamie Fellner conducted an independent investigation into conditions at the remote Virginia prison. Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) officials refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Ms. Fellner's findings were set out in an April 1999 HRW report entitled Red Onion State Prison:Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia.3

This report touched on the various abusive conditions and treatments suffered by ROSP prisoners and found that many of those assigned to the prison did not meet the criteria for "supermax" confinement. Actually almost none did. Seven pages of the report focused on incidents and practices in the "Use of Force" at the prison. One incident described in that section stands out and is particularly relevant here:

"One inmate told HRW that immediately upon arrival at Red Onion in September 1998, he and other inmates were told to strip and permit a visual body search, including by spreading their buttocks. Female staff were present—indeed one was taking a video of the proceedings—and the inmate was reluctant to do as ordered in front of them. A captain shot him with the taser in the presence of the warden, associate warden and a major. After the inmate had been tasered, the major screamed in his ear, “Boy, you’re at Red Onion now” and then told the other officers to “get that nigger out of here.” The inmate filed a grievance because he felt—correctly—that he should not have had to submit to a visual body search strip in front of female staff.

"The inmate's grievance was denied. The warden acknowledged that a taser had been used because the inmate hesitated to strip and thus 'was failing to obey instructions.' The denial was upheld by the regional director without comment 'based on the information provided.' There was no effort to suggest that application of physical force was warranted by any possibility of danger or that nonphysical effort to persuade the inmate had been attempted and failed. The use of the taser appears more likely to have been a deliberate and malicious excessive use of force calculated to intimidate new arrivals to the facility.

"In denying the inmate's grievance, Warden George Deeds stated that post orders at Red Onion permit females to work at any post in this case, assignment to the video camera. It is widely recognized, however that cross-gender strip searches violate inmates' 'Individual dignity and right to privacy'. The warden's policy at Red Onion ignores basic correctional principles and international standards prohibiting cross-gender strip searches unless in an emergency." (pp. 21-22)

The prisoner who was the victim of this abusive strip search and unwarranted attack was XXXX XXXX. Indeed, most every prisoner assigned to ROSP during that time, including myself, were subjected to this cross-gender strip search process, during which it was often demanded that we repeatedly manipulate our genitals and spread our buttocks.

These searches were conducted under threat of being immediately tasered. A taser was trained on us throughout the strip search process. We were bodily subdued and searched by force by a mob of guards who were always present and dressed out in full riot armor. We were then escorted to our new cell assignment. Most were literally dragged stark naked through the prison while being observed nude by multitudes of guards, both male and female, as well as by other prisoners.

The entire process was calculated to humiliate and terrorize new arrivals and convey the message that at ROSP we would comply without hesitation with any staff demands, no matter how abusive or arbitrary. If we failed to promptly comply or questioned the demands, we would be met with immediate overwhelming force and further humiliation.

To convey this message these officials deliberately created a situation (for example the cross gender strip searches) calculated to provoke our resistance or hesitation and thereby justify the
premeditated intent to use overwhelming force.4

Before Abu Ghraib there was Red Onion.5


Richard Rowlette: Crime Time at ROSP

The Major who was personally present and supervised most of these intake strip searches, the very same major that screamed in XXXX's ear and told guards to "'get that nigger out of here," was Richard Rowlette.

XXXX subsequently filed and won a lawsuit concerning the incident. The court found that the officials had violated his constitutional rights, which is a federal crime.6 XXXX was then transferred away from ROSP and hasn't since returned. However, the multitudes of other prisoners who were subjected to the same treatments and worse, including myself, were granted no relief

In the wake of extensive bad media, the HRW report, and a U. S. Department of Justice investigation, Rowlette was assigned to another VDOC prison in Powhatan County, but not before he acted to settle a long standing vendetta he had against me.

On December 6, 1999, the day before he left ROSP, and in a departing last show of power, Rowlette attempted to force me to talk to him at my cell door. I ignored him. I generally refuse to engage him in conversation. This enrages him, as he believes he can intimidate prisoners to do whatever he demands under threat of having them attacked by guards.

Because I wouldn't talk to him, Rowlette had two extraction teams of some 10 guards assembled at my cell in full riot armor, with two 50,000 volt electric shields and a 36 ounce canister of gas. Under his direct supervision and direction I was gassed for an entire hour while the entire canister was emptied into the cell. This level of gas was far in excess of the 6 grams that federal courts have found to be an "estimated lethal dose" when sprayed into a small closed-in cell.7 He then had me sprayed with more gas from a smaller canister that guards generally carry on their sides. This was a clear attempt to torture and murder me by asphyxiation.

I was then met with violent attack by the two teams of armored guards. After being restrained and strapped down to the bunk in 5-point restraints8 for 48 hours (in the still contaminated cell), I was electrocuted repeatedly. For the entire two days in restraints I was denied water, meals, medication, and restroom breaks. This is all documented and on record in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke.9

Rowlette had remarked that he had hoped I'd refuse to talk to him and that the attack he'd orchestrated was his "going away present" to me. His spell away from ROSP was merely a "cooling off period" and a token move by VDOC officials to create a public appearance of responding to abusive conditions at ROSP. Indeed, there was little effect on abuse levels after he left.


Promoting Official Criminals as the Norm

Rewarding criminally inclined prison officials in Virginia is the norm. For example, one guard, David Allen Taylor (a prior captain at ROSP), has been found guilty in several prisoner lawsuits of involvement in beatings and abuses of Black prisoners. in one such case, a prisoner YYYY YYYY, won a monetary judgment against Taylor. The state not only paid the judgment for Taylor (your tax dollars at work), but he was promoted in the meantime from lieutenant to captain. Just this year, he was promoted again, to major, at one of the VDOC's new prisons.

Another guard, William Wright, is widely known for assaulting Black prisoners at ROSP while they are fully restrained. His attacks have resulted in broken bones, dislocations, lacerations, and other serious injuries. Wright was recently promoted from corporal to sergeant.

Indeed an unmistakable pattern and long-standing trend in the VDOC is to promote guards who are being sued by prisoners for abuses while they have litigation pending against them. This is a ploy to bolster the professional image of abusive guards in order to create bias in their favor. Furthermore, the state defends abusive guards against prisoner litigation no matter how obvious their guilt and no matter what their offense. And as occurred with David Taylor, the state pays any monetary judgments awarded, no wonder there is no fear of consequences for abuses.

Most of the abuses at ROSP are captured on videotape, but those records are routinely erased, which is a crime in Virginia. 10 So where do the illegalities end and "justice" come into play? Rowlette won't be prosecuted for his crimes. This contributes to the cavalier attitude of officials towards the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Indeed what is a man like Rowlette doing running a prison? Ain't prisons in Amerika supposed to exist to punish and deter criminals? Where are all the tough on crime politicians when you need them?


Power to the People!


Notes;
1 In Part 6 Section II of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, "Introduction," the Supreme Court states: "any person practicing law without being duly authorized or licensed is guilty of a misdemeanor." The statue under which this crime is enforced is Code of Virginia section 54.1-3904. The Supreme Court has promulgated a set of Unauthorized Practice Rules (UPR) which outline some specific acts which constitute a criminal unauthorized practice of law. Rowlette's actions violate the following UPR's:

"UPR 3-101. Attorney Client Relationship": (A) An agency shall not disrupt the relationship of confidence and trust which must exist between a lawyer and his client.
"UPR 9-101. Holding Out as an Expert": (A) A non-lawyer shall not hold himself out as authorized to furnish another advice or service under circumstances which imply his possession of legal knowledge."

Prisoners also have a constitutional and civil privacy right to confidential telephone calls to their attorneys. See Tucker v. Randall. 948 F 2d. 388, 391 (7th Cir. 1991).
2 It is a federal crime to obstruct or delay delivery or processing of U.S. Mails. See Title 18 United States Code sections 1702-1708. Prisoners have a constitutional right to privacy in mail to and from "any identifiable attorney either representing or being asked to represent a prisoner in relation to any criminal or civil problem." See Taylor v. Sterrett, 532 F 2d 462, 474 (5th Cir. 1976).
3 The entire report can be read and downloaded at the Human Rights Watch website at: http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/redonion/
4 The U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment protects prisoners from "cruel and unusual punishment." The federal courts have ruled that officials violate the 8th Amendment when they deliberately "provoke an incident so as to allow" them to attack a prisoner "under guise of maintaining order or defending" themselves. Miller v. Leathers, 913 F. 2d 1085, 1088 (4th Cir. 1990).
5 As XXXX's incident exemplifies, the abuses at ROSP cannot be dismissed as the actions of a few unsupervised low-level staff, but rather was approved by the VDOC's highest administrators. The torture, sexual degradation and abuses at Abu Ghraib were dismissed as the acts of a handful of "renegade" soldiers acting without authority. These soldiers, when targeted for prosecutions, contended that they were doing as instructed by high level military officials, which likely they were, just like at ROSP.
6 Under 18 United States Code, sections 241 and 242, it is a crime for prison officials to violate prisoners' civil and constitutional rights.
7 Based upon tests of pharmacological experts, the federal courts have found that caustic gas is lethal in doses of just 6 grams "in the confines of a small cell." See Williams v. Benjamin 77 F 3d 756, 764 (4th Cir. 1996).
8 5-point restraints is a process where a prisoner is handcuffed and leg shackled to the frame of a steel bunk inside a cell spread eagle on his/her back. A thick strap is then secured across his/her chest to prevent the body from being able to raise up or move.
9 See case file of Kevin Johnson v. Page True, et al.
10 Under Code of Virginia section 18.2-472 it is a crime for any "public officer" to make any false entry into or destroy any government record. Under this statute any such offense committed by an officer "shall" result in the permanent forfeiture of his office and he shall forever be barred from holding any public office in Virginia ever again.

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[Legal] [Censorship] [Washington]
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Inmate Mail and Communications in WA

According to WAC 137-48-050 procedures for restrictions of incoming and/or outgoing mail, the Department of Corrections does not usually comply with paragraph (1) or (2) of this section on 137-48.

The Department of Corrections is not sending publishers or senders a copy of the mail restriction according to the mandatory language of shall.

For example, WAC 137-48-050(1) states in pertinent part:

...This notification shall be provided to the inmate and the sender of the specific publication, letter, or package which has been restricted and the reason for this action.

Another example, WAC 137-48-050(2) states in pertinent part:

The inmate and sender shall be advised in writing of his/her right to seek review of the decision to restrict his/her mail...

The Department of Corrections in Washington State is not abiding with this mandatory language in the code.

Publishers and senders are not receiving notice and this is a Due Process issue according to the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and also violates 1st Amendment Rights for the publisher and senders of publications.

Inmates probably have no standing to challenge the issue, but the publishers do. My advice to all inmates in the Washington State Department of Corrections to do is send the publisher or sender a copy of the restriction. Inform them of the WAC 137-48-050 mandatory language. Also explain to them the fact that they have standing to challenge the Department of Corrections under 1st and 14th Amendment grounds for censorship and Due Process. The more inmates that do this, the more prison mailroom and administration will be working that prisoners will start seeing less mail restrictions coming to them.

Also challenge on your appeal how the rejection affects you by not allowing the publisher notice since prisoners cannot even see what is being restricted, how can a prisoner effectively appeal the mail restriction? This is another issue every prisoner should challenge in court too. The fact us prisoners cannot see what the Washington Department of Corrections is censoring or restricting there is no effective appeal process because it leaves the keepers with total control without giving prisoners a "meaningful" avenue to peaceably redress government violation of the 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment grounds.

The more people that unite together the more we can expose the hypocrisy of the so-called state administrative governments. Exercise your rights, because if you don't they will continue to take and take until you are totally defenseless. It is better to try and fail than not doing anything for yourself and fellow man. Past generation prisoners have died for what few rights we have such as clean conditions, medical care, food, mail, etc. Don't let the new prison administrators take without a fight.

MIM responds: This comrades points are in the spirit of Black August, which is now coming to a close, when we commemorate the history of the prison movement behind bars; the struggles, both successful and failed and those whose lives were taken. And as the comrade points out, it is still worth fighting even if you don't win immediately. Particularly when there is a movement that you are fighting as a part of. With enough appeals from prisoners and outside groups we can put enough pressure on the prison administration in Washington and elsewhere to at least follow their own rules, if not change their rules.

In 2001 we passed two resolutions in Congress calling on MIM's Prison Ministry to take leadership in fighting censorship. The first resolution took ownership for the censorship of our literature as a violation of all writers for MIM Notes, many of whom are tax-paying amerikkkan citizens. So, we fully agree with this comrade's call for distributors, particularly anti-imperialists who are being targeted with this censorship, to demand their so-called "rights" to free speech and association be respected. Our Prison Ministry regularly fights the censorship we face through legal and administrative challenges. Prisoners can help by letting us know when they do and don't receive the literature we send them and sending us copies of any rejection notices and facility regulations. And of course, those who are serious about winning this battle can contribute through articles like this one and by leading legal battles on their own behalf as the writer suggests.

The second resolution we passed in 2001 established a regular report of humyn-rights violations in u$ prisons, with a focus on censorship. Following this resolution we also began reaching out to other groups working with prisoners to compile information on censorship. Only recently have these efforts become visible to the public on the Prison Ministries new website www.prisoncensorship.info. This site will feature news from prisons, including everything printed in ULK, a searchable database of censorship incidents, and rules and regulations compiled by state and facility. (On the site you can view the most recent rejection notices that Washington DOC sent MIM for political cartoons that contained swastikas.) We will be using this site to begin issuing regular censorship reports again, which will be more detailed than we were able to do in the past. We will also be accepting submissions of censorship incidents from other organizations and individuals and incorporating them into our work. We hope these efforts will encourage more collaboration with other groups, lawyers and prisoners in fighting censorship within the u$ injustice system.

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[Legal] [Control Units] [State Correctional Institution Houtzdale] [Pennsylvania]
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Retaliation for filing grievances

Here at SCI-Houtzdale, there is little or no action taken by the administration when correctional officers or general staff members go out of their way to intentionally mistreat, harass, and do things contrary to department of corrections policy to prisoners who dare to use the Inmate Grievance System.

Retaliation is very common and many prisoners are fearful of getting a fabricated misconduct report and being sent to the RHU (Hole) or having their correctional file sabotaged with misleading information that could harm them when its time to be reviewed for parole.

Basically if a prisoner files a grievance complaining about being mistreated or the conditions here at this facility, within days their name and photo is distributed throughout the institution on the C/Os good old boy network and that is when the harassment starts. C/Os and staff that the prisoner may have never had an altercation with are now openly harassing the prisoner. Cell searches every day, withholding of the prisoner's mail, being intentionally singled out for frequent pat searches when moving about inside of the prison are just a few of the ways COs and staff show their dislike for having one of their co-workers named on a grievance.

A large number of grievances that are filed at this facility, SCI-Houtzdale, are later dismissed as being frivolous. Specially when issues are brought up that the administration is trying to avoid addressing. Responses to grievances are worded on purpose in a way that dehumanizes and makes the prisoner appeal disgruntled in an attempt to discourage the prisoner from continuing on with the appeal process and filing future grievances. COs and staff regularly make remarks to prisoners they are having a disagreement with that has a sarcastic under tone like "you can always file a grievance" knowing that their supervisor will be the grievance officer and will dismiss it. Plus the repercussion the prisoner will fact.

The inmate handbook says on page 12, policy number 804: All grievances and appeals must be made in good faith and for good cause. You will not be punished or otherwise harmed for good faith use of the inmate grievance system. If only these words were true!

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[Control Units] [Legal] [Washington]
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Washington IMU repression

I have been locked up for 28 straight years; the past few on "state tour" being shipped back and forth between Intensive Management Unit (IMU) facilities.

There are four levels in IMU. Level 1 is a sanction and for those hwo receive infractions while in IMU. Everyone starts at Level 2 (no radio or TV, nor allowed a newspaper or magazine subscription). Level 3 allows one magazine or newspaper subscription; level 4 allows two magazines or newspaper subscriptions. Also, the person on Level 3 is allowed a radio; on Level 4 given the choice between radio or TV.

I am the sort of person they kept and continue to keep on Level 2. Various excuses at different times are given (I have not had an infraction for some time!) The present excuse is because I do not attend monthly review hearing (in writing I am given the choice to attend or not.) I do not attend because of being tired of them writing in reports I said things I never said.

Prison officials may restrict reading material in punitive segregation, although most cases upholding this practice have involved short periods of time:

Gregory v. Auger, 768 F.2d 287, 289-91 (8th Cir. 1985) - inmates in disciplinary detention could be deprived of all but first class mail of a "personal, legal or religious" nature where detention was limited to 60 days), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1035 (1085); Daigre v. Maggio, 719 F.2d 1310, 1312-13 (5th Cir. 1983) - ban on newspapers and magazines in segregation upheld as applied to an inmate who served 10 days); Pendleton v. Housewright, 651 F. Supp. 1354, 1366-68 (S.D. Tex. 1983) - deprivation of publications except for legal and religious material sin solitary confinement upheld where limited to 15 days.

However, the above refers to punitive or disciplinary segregation. They have me on administration segregation. See e.g., Hardwick v. Ault, 447 F. Supp. 116, 128-31 (M.D. Ga. 1978) - mail and reading material restrictions in administrative segregation held unconstitutional. An added interesting note is although I am not allowed magazines or newspapers, I may have books. Isn't that something!?

You can help by sending letters of protest to:

Eldon Vail, Depty Secty, Department of Corrections, PO Box 41118, Olympia, WA 98504

Carol Porter, Superintendent, WA Corrections Center, PO Box 900, Shelton, WA 98584

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