The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Legal] [ULK Issue 76]
expand

Litigation To End Indefinite Restrictive Housing in TDCJ

Dillard v. Davis, et al. Civil Action No. 7:19-cv-0081-M-BP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: TX. Team O.N.E. Legal Representative 113 Stockholm, #1A Brooklyn, NY. 11221

Incarcerated individuals currently housed in the Texas Department of Justice’s Restrictive Housing (Solitarty Confinement) are moving to intervene in the civil action [No.7:19-cv-00081-M-BP] filed by fellow incarcerated individual, Daniel D. Dillard, challenging the constitutionality of TDCJ using Restrictive Housing as a form of punishment and also challenging the cruel and unusual conditions of confinement that are known to cause irreparable mental harm. Dillard filed this civil action in 2019 after being falsely accused of assaulting a correctional officer, the false disciplinary proceeding resulted in Dillard being removed from the general population on the George Beto Unit and reassigned to administrative segregation on the James V. Allred Unit under the conditions that has repeatedly consisted of deprivations of exercise, showers, and meals in retaliation of exercising his First Amendment right to the redress of grievances. Dillard, the original Plaintiff, filed his first amended complaint adding several new defendants’ (including TDCJ-CID new director- Bobby Lumpkin) and brought claims of widespread abuses on behalf of the Restrictive Housing population and ALL those similarly situated to him. After word got out that Dillard is challenging Restrictive Housing others began moving in to intervene on the grounds that Restrictive Housing seriously effects their mental health when used in the long-term or for prolonged periods of time. Some of these people have been in solitary confinement from 3 years to 30 years without reprieve. TDCJs Restrictive Housing does not allow any audio/visual stimulation, people are kept in their cell for 22 to 24 hours a day, they are prevented from educational, vocational, and/or religious programming, they are continuously isolated for years on end. The Nation is turning away from using solitary confinement but Texas continues this…To intervene on this litigation use the contact information above but first see Dillard v. Davis, et al., civil action No.7:19-cv-00081-M-BP.

chain
[Legal] [ULK Issue 76]
expand

New Class Action for Prisoners Who Did Not Receive Stimulus Money and Filed Taxes

Dear MIM,

I’m writing to advise of a need for you to publish in your next issue a Notice of Pending Civil Action concerning those that did not receive the $3,200.00 EIP #1,#2,#3 Thirty-Two Hundred even after filing correctly. There are lots of prisoners who filed by mail and were discriminated on by IRS and such violates a prior order. If you can, please publish in Next Volume:

Clay v. Director of IRS Mnuchin No4:21-CV-08132-PJH

Sub Class Representative Thomas H. Clay advises all prisoners who filed for EIP from Oct. 2020 – August of 2021 and did Not receive any check in mail or Direct Deposit. After filing Form 1040/1040SR or letter with SSI# and copy of such to show proof of filing; then write To:

  United States District Court
  Northern District of California
  Oakland Division
  Attn: Hon. Clerk/Presiding Judge
  1301 Clay Street Ste 400 S
  Oakland California 94612-5212

If you are filing the following criteria below:

  1. Non-disabled or physically or mentally impaired prisoner in State or Federal Prison Institution in the United States
  2. Correctly filing legal letters to IRS or 1040/1040SR Form 2019/2020 from October 15,2020 thru tax season of January – August 17, 2021
  3. Utilizing only Institutional Regular Legal/or Indigent Legal Mail System in State of Federal Prisons.
  4. Who did not receive any payment from IRS of EIP #1 #2 #3
  5. In the form of “Check in Mail” or “Direct Deposit to Account”.
  6. Who can “Prove upon Request” proof of the correct timely filing by: copies of letters to the IRS office in your State area, Prison Mail Room Record of Legal Mail logged letters showing IRS address. Indigent mailing file showing letter sent to IRS or 1040/1040SR copies or responses from IRS during that period from any of its offices.
  7. And you were not issued any checks for EIP #1 $600.00 EIP #2 $1200.00 or CVRP/EIP #3 $1400.00 totaling $3,200.00

The court is reviewing Contempt of Court Order and Sub Class Action from prior suit Scholl v. Mnuchin that does not protect the rights to amount of payment withheld from prisoners in a discriminatory manner by IRS.

Possibly those who read MIM will donate something once they receive their compensation entitled after requesting to be a class member.

Thank you M.I.M.

chain
[Censorship] [Legal] [Texas]
expand

Lawsuit Against Members of the TBCJ and TDCJ re: Mail Policy

Cause #:3:21-CV-00337

Styled name: F. Martinez and all inmates similarly situated in TDCJ-CID, “Doll” and “Pineapple Pictures” versus members of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, TDCJ-CID, Director, Members of the MSCP, Members of the DRC, and mailroom supervisor at the Terrell Unit.

Dear Friends,

I am writing you in regards of the lawsuit filed on 3 December 2021, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division.

I am the leading plaintiff and I am representing all inmates similarly situated in TDCJ, Doll and Pineapple Pictures, both outside vendors.

The reasons in filing this lawsuit is to challenge the unconstitutionality of rules 1 (C), IV(A)(10)(11) of the “Uniform Offenders Correspondence Rules” (BP-03.91) of the TDCJ-CID.

Rule 1(C), which limits to receive ten photos per envelope, and rule IV(A)(10), which is a total ban on “sexually explicit images” coming into the general prison population, and rule IV(A)(11), which bans any altered photos, all in disguise of rehabilitation purposes. I am challenging these rules under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

I am writing you to request your support of this lawsuit by notifying the inmates in TDCJ, publishers, outside vendors of commercial photos and catalogs, and all persons affected for the enforcement of these rules in the TDCJ-CID.

Inmates may join to the lawsuit by writing letters to the U.S. District Court to the following address:

U.S. District Court
Southern District of Texas
Galveston Division
601 Rosenberg Street, Room 411
Galveston, Texas 77550

They need to include the styled name and number cause above written.

Thank you for your support and assistance.

chain
[Abuse] [Legal] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 76]
expand

CO's Sabotage Programs Out of Spite Over Court Order

Ever since prison officials at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) were made by a Federal court order to wear body cameras and to cease their terrorist practices and abuses upon the most vulnerable prisoners, the disabled and elderly, (see: Armstrong vs. Newson, et al. Case No. C94-CV-02307 CW) the RJD prison has experienced total lack of programming abilities resulting in lockdowns, modified programs, and other programming restrictions which impede or otherwise undermine one’s opportunities to earn sentence-reducing credits and to perform in a manner expected by/from the Board of Prison Terms, in order to parole. Especially on the weekends, when the Warden and other Department of Corrections administrators are unavailable to mandate corrective actions.

RJD ranking officials will tell you that this is due to a staff shortage, training mandates etc. The truth, however, upon my information, is that these are calculated and coordinated efforts of something more sinister indeed. A Union-coordinated boycott.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) at the RJD prison complex is, apparently, unhappy with the fact that years and years of beatings, false reports, lying for one another and even murder, yes MURDER, has resulted in a Federal court order in the Armstrong case, requiring the staff to wear body cameras. Cameras that not only record the video interactions of sworn personnel and those they speak to, but the audio versions thereof as well.

The actions and omissions of RJD’s sworn officers and other CCPOA members is organized, timed, and planned for maximum effects, and is very clearly a snubbing of their proverbial noses at the RJD Warden and other Corrections administrators.

Through this sophistication these officials protest and boycott the lawful orders of a Federal court judge – a judge they have subsequently claimed was/is biased and therefore should not have presided over those proceedings leading to the court-ordered wearing of body cameras.

If you’re doing what you are paid to do by the public, and if your tactics and demeanor is not disturbing and offensive, why worry about body cameras? They are allowed to turn them off in the bathrooms even.

Through a sophisticated scheme, these prison officials organize and conduct mass strikes via fraud and the misuse of sick leave and personal days, holding prisoners’ access to programs and such hostage. Knowing that, without access to and completion of which (many times, in a set time frame), the prisoners participating in such (now unavailable) programs and activities, will suffer by not being able to benefit from good time sentence reduction for successful completions.

Instead of taking its direction from the federal court (by court order), RJD corrections officers turn their ire on their employers: the CDCR and RJD’s Warden. Under injunction, the very corrections officers who so blatantly demonstrated a propensity for criminal thought processes, activities, brutality upon disabled and other prisoners, and other such criminal misconduct, now employ further, separate and additionally questionable practices intended to undermine, and to otherwise circumvent the lawful processes of the Federal court and the Honorable Claudia Wilken, United States Federal District Court Judge.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT AND IT’LL GO AWAY, RIGHT?

That is called ‘blackmail’ where I come from. It is illegal, anti-people, and is being committed here by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Whether by approval or turning a blind eye thereto. It is still an anti-people and illegal violation of a Federal court order in Armstrong v. Newson, C94-02307 CW.

In fact, a recent order in the above case acknowledges that many of RJD’s correctional officers have assumed a gang-like culture and behavior. The CDCR does not contest these assertions and the Federal court has openly acknowledged the veracity of same. RJD has many Mexican corrections officers who have acclaimed and begun carrying themselves in a manner akin to their Mexican Mafia prisoner counterparts. Both in vernacular, actions and conduct. Including secret identification to one another of membership. And this is anything but the first time. For more on the history of this kind of behavior in California prisons read The Green Wall by D.J. Vodicka.

Racketeering: Today, racketeering often has the broad sense of “the practice of engaging in a fraudulent scheme or enterprise.” Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2nd Ed. by Bryan A. Garner.

chain
[Civil Liberties] [Censorship] [Legal] [Minnesota Corrections Facility Oak Park Heights] [Minnesota]
expand

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.

chain
[Censorship] [Legal] [Florida] [ULK Issue 67]
expand

Supreme Court Denies PLN Florida Censorship Appeal

On 7 January 2019 the Supreme Court refused to take up a First Amendment case challenging the statewide ban of Prison Legal News (PLN) in the Florida Department of Corrections. The ban has been in place since 2009. This appeal was the final attempt to challenge the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which sided with the Florida DOC.(1) Each year thousands of cert petitions are filed with the Supreme Court and most are not heard. As is typical, no reasons were given for the PLN case denial.

The Florida DOC maintains that they are censoring PLN for safety and security reasons. The appellate court found this censorship justified related to certain advertisements in PLN including ads for pen pal services, businesses that purchase postage stamps, and third-party phone services.

We know there is no real safety and security justification for censoring PLN. It's an educational publication that helps many prisoners gain legal knowledge and fight back against injustices. PLN is, however, a threat to the institution of prisons in the United $tates. Prison Legal News fights for prisoners' rights and exposes injustices around the country. This is counter to the interests of a system that is focused on social control.

A number of groups stepped up to file or sign briefs in support of PLN. Of particular interest is one from a group of former Correctional Officers, including some from Florida. They argue, very rationally, that the complete censorship of PLN is an exaggerated response to security concerns and a constitutional violation.(2) Of course these former C.O.s, and many others who support allowing PLN into the Florida DOC, made very narrow arguments that still protected the DOC's "right" to censor anything they deem dangerous. These supporters are just opposing censorship for something so obviously not dangerous as it exposes the falsehood that prisons are censoring mail in the interests of safety and security.

This PLN lawsuit sets a very bad precedent for others fighting censorship as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision stands. Fortunately it should not directly impact ULK as we don't run these third-party ads. Though Florida did censor ULK 62 for "stamp program advertisement." While we do accept stamps as donations, we run no stamp programs. This goes to show that when there is no justification for censorship, the prisons will just make up things not even in the publication.

Any ruling upholding censorship in prisons is a bad one. This ruling further exposes the reality that there are no rights, only power struggles. The First Amendment only protects speech for those privileged enough to buy that protection.

chain
[Legal]
expand

To Grieve or Not To Grieve

I read with interest "Why Take Action?" by Texas Prisoner in Under Lock and Key No. 63. The article starts by encouraging resistance simply because of who we are, that it is our nature to stand up. While this makes for an excellent mythology, and I heartily agree, the sad truth is that the majority of prisoners are intimidated into doing nothing.

While I do not look down on those who do not resist, I am not content with the status quo. Only massive group actions has a chance to succeed. This article is an attempt to persuade more prisoners to fight. A Texas Prisoner then points out that action can make a difference, especially in numbers. This is quite correct.

One of the most powerful ways to effect change is the federal civil rights lawsuit (1346 and Bivens for federal prisons, 1983 for others). Courts often make good decisions. Then the prisons stretch the case law beyond the breaking point or simply disregard it. They do this because they can. They get away with it because not enough prisoners file.

In 1996, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (1997e) made lawsuits against prisons much more difficult and less likely to succeed. As a result, prisons and jails have gotten much worse than they were at that time. Most onerous is 1997e(a), which states, "no action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions [] by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted."

While it is sometimes possible to get a court to declare the grievance process (for administrative remedies) unavailable, this takes a lot of effort. For the most part, prisoners simply have to follow the grievance process, being careful to meet all the deadlines.

Though the process of filing grievances seems (and usually is) futile, it has to be done. "[W]e will not read futility or other exceptions into statutory exhaustion requirements where Congress has provided otherwise." Booth v. Churner, 532 US 731, 738 n. 6 (2001); (When only a date is in parentheses and no circuit or district, it's from the Supreme Court.) There is no way to escape. "[W]e hold that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life," Porter v. Nussle, 534 US 516, 532 (2002). A prisoner simply has to exhaust the grievance process.

The trouble is that the prison can retaliate for filing grievances, even including beating prisoners. One might think that a prisoner could sue for such retaliation, but for decades the courts held that prisons are perfectly within their rights to retaliate for filing grievances, without fear of suit.

Here is the story.

Courts have held it is only possible to sue for civil rights violations over retaliation that chills the constitutional right. "Retaliation against a prisoner is actionable only if it is capable of deterring a person of ordinary firmness from further exercising his constitutional rights." Morris v. Powell, 449 F. 3d. 682, 686 (5th Cir. 2006). Also see Crawford-El v. Britton, 93 F. 3rd 813 (D.C. Cir.1996). The D.C. circuit is just under the Supreme Court in terms of power, and all other circuits have followed.

The question is whether filing grievances is a constitutional right. Up until recently, the courts have held it isn't. "[I]nmates do not have a constitutional right to have available or to participate in an effective grievance process. "Miller v Williamson, 2016 US List. LEXIS 63498 (4th cir. 2006). See also Adams v. Rice, 40 F. 3d 72 (4th Cir. 1994).

This idea can be traced back to an opinion in 1991. "[T]he prisoner's right to petition the government for redress is the right of access to the courts, which is not comprised by the prison's refusal to entertain his grievance." Flick v. Alba, 932 F. 2d 728, 728 (8th Cir. 1991).

The trouble with this is that a mere five years later, 1997e changed the situation, making it so that the right to access the courts very much depends on the grievance process. Yet until after 2016, courts did not recognize this extremely obvious fact.

Finally, they did. "Given the close relationship between an inmate filing a grievance and filing a lawsuit — indeed, the former is generally a prerequisite for the latter — our jurisprudence provided a strong signal that officials may not retaliate against inmates for filing grievances." Booker v. South Carolina DOC, 855 F.3d 533, 544 (4th Cir. 2017). Also, "The Second, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. circuits have all recognized in published decisions that inmates possess a right, grounded in the First Amendments' Petition Clause, to be free from retaliation in response to filing a prison grievance." id. at 544.

There are lessons in the fact that it took the courts so long to recognize the obvious.

The courts move slowly. More importantly, they only move when pushed. Seldom does a court decide anything on its own, not even something as obvious as this. They generally wait for litigants to make arguments and decide if the arguments are good.

So it is essential that we all push the courts, not only for our individual benefit, but for the benefit of all. We must make even obvious arguments, even ones so obvious we imagine should have been raised a hundred times before us.

The PLRA was sold as intended to improve the quality of lawsuits, but what it really did was reduce the quantity. Doubtless this was the real intention. "Congress deemed prisoners to be pestiferous litigants" Kerr v. Puckett, 138 F. 3d 321, 323 (7th Cir 1998).

This has worked. Far too many legitimate lawsuits have been quashed. Increasing millions of prisoners have suffered in worsening conditions. The courts have only sluggishly moved to correct gross violations of civil rights. Prisoners fearing retaliation have not pushed them hard enough.

It is up to all prisoners to push the courts. Even though it seems futile, grieve and sue anyway. You may not be the one to win, but if we all work together, we can improve conditions for all of us.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We respect and admire this comrade's resolve to fight the legal battles. Eir analysis of the value of making space for better conditions for prisoners through court battles is accurate. Courts are sluggish to respond to clear violations of rights, and certainly don't take action unless pushed through a lawsuit.

It's important that we also recognize that we will often lose court battles. For lack of funds, legal knowledge, political power, or just straight up bias, there are many reasons prisoner's lawsuits fail even when the case is good and righteous. We can't count on the imperialist courts to grant us liberty. But we can use them to gain some breathing and organizing space.

The trick is deciding when it's worth the time and expense to pursue cases in the courts. When it really is a potentially winnable battle. MIM(Prisons) doesn't have the legal resources to offer this advice. So we can only provide the broad guidance that everyone needs to analyze the balance of forces in any battle. Try to objectively evaluate our chances for victory, and what harm could come from defeat. In some cases, losing a lawsuit sets a worse legal precedent than not filing the lawsuit in the first place. But if you think you have a good chance at winning, and you have the resources to pursue an important case, then don't just file a lawsuit. Use the lawsuit to educate others and rally them around the cause you're fighting for. Build support and help for the battle, and tie it in to the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system so that everyone learns from this work whether this one battle it ends in victory or defeat.


Related Articles:
chain
[Legal] [Organizing] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 63]
expand

Broader Impact of prisoners' legal work

Revolutionary greetings of love, dedication and resiliency to all freedom fighters and fearless front line generals, soldiers and warriors who dare to struggle and sacrifice for liberty, freedom and equality from behind the walls, fences and cages of genocide and oppression. As we continue to raise awareness and lift up our voices so that we may be heard on the issues of systematic racism and economic exploitation in the criminal justice system, as well as prison slavery, police killings and brutality. We continue to see an evil and determined enemy dig in its heels in the name of white supremacy.

I am a Missouri prisoner who has been imprisoned for 32 years. I am educated with a paralegal degree. With my credentials, I have a legal clinic of 10 comrades. We have taken it upon ourselves to do separate booklets of individual civil complaints such as: censorship, religion, cruel and unusual punishment (prison conditions) etc. We will be sending those to MIM(Prisons) upon their completion. We have made censorship our first priority, and already sent this one in to MIM(Prisons).

However, we only have an ex-amount of time in the law library, so we have to copy case-law (hundreds of them) and take them back to our cells and work on our booklets. Our resources are limited and we need help! So if any of my comrades know of places that will send "unlimited" printed caselaw to us, please contact MIM to pass the message on.


MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are setting an example of how to make your work impact more than just one persyn. Many can benefit from concise information on how to fight specific legal battles. The first guide created by this group, fighting censorship, is a good example of this as it ties directly into a problem that the revolutionary movement behind bars faces regularly — the censorship of our literature. Under Lock & Key and other lit that we send in is often rejected and our only recourse is grievances and legal challenges. Because of the critical role that revolutionary education plays in our organizing work, we prioritize this legal battle. And we distribute a censorship guide to all who have our lit rejected.

We have a few cautionary notes to those working on this legal project and others who are interested in taking up similar legal work. First, there are many guides already out there for prisoners, so anyone putting time into this type of project needs to start by making sure you're not duplicating work.

Second, as with our anti-censorship work, it's important that we tie our legal work to our revolutionary organizing. There are many legal battles that prisoners are fighting, but these can be a distraction from the larger struggle if we don't tie them to the reality that the legal system isn't going to make real or substantive change for us. We might win a few censorship battles, but we'll never effectively stop censorship through the imperialist courts. We use the censorship struggle to highlight the hypocrisy of imperialism and underscore their fear of revolutionary education, while making some room for us to reach people with politics.

We need to be organizing people to use legal battles as a part of the larger campaigns that the movement prioritizes. We can attempt to use the courts to our advantage, but our goal in the long run is to dismantle the imperialist courts and replace them with a system of people's justice.

chain
[Legal]
expand

Recent Fifth Circuit Rulings, a Blueprint for Relief

Revolutionary greetings to all comrades persevering in the struggle. This article is in reference to the recent rulings in the district courts within the Fifth Circuit, as well as the rulings by the Fifth circuit itself favorable to prisoners. We should seize upon this time to obtain relief for as many comrades as possible within our circuit.

We must exercise caution not to lead any comrades astray into believing that we will ever throw the yoke of oppression by way of the Amerikan nation injustice system and their courts. We can however utilize legal battles in an effort to bring in others from the fringes over to our cause by encouraging and promoting political education and unity, fostering growth and development while continuing to build our strength so that we are able and ready to seize power for the people when that time comes.

With that in mind I now turn to the most recent ruling by the Fifth circuit in August 2017 whereby they confirmed a ruling by the S.D. of Texas in a case on extreme heat. This case: Cole V. Collier, 868 F.3d 354; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15847-No. 16-20505 - an appeal from Cole v. Livingston, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77435 (S.D. Tex. June 14, 20166); is another example that can be emulated by others to obtain relief.

In that case the plaintiffs utilized Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 (a) in order to receive certification of a general inmate class, a heat-sensitive subclass, and a disability subclass; thereby containing a claim for relief for all prisoners in the TDCJ Wallace Pack Unit.

This case follows on the heels of a similar case: Ball V. LeBlanc, 792 F. 3d 584, in which the three prisoners in Angola’s Death Row building obtained relief tailored to them due to the restrictions of the PLRA to extend no further than necessary to correct the violation as to the particular plaintiffs. The plaintiffs at the Wallace Pack Unit however gained an advantage by using Fed. Civ. Rule 23 to obtain a class certification.

In conclusion I would like to encourage all comrades with the ability, to take advantage of these rulings and comb through these cases and the opinions of the judges to address any specific needs so as to obtain relief for their own units where possible. And as for those already engaged in litigation individually to encourage and aid when possible others to be that “Plaintiff” or “Plaintiffs” as I stated in a previous article. As for my own suits against the conditions and extreme heat here at David Wade Concentration Camp I will update my comrades as to any favorable progress. I am currently awaiting a preliminary injunction order to install temperature gauges such as was done in the Ball Case to prove the triple-digit temps. I also want to state that I have just returned here to D.W.C.C. after several transfers that were attempts to frustrate my legal mail and most of my suits. One of these transfers placed me at Camp F on D-tier in Angola’s Death Row building where I was personally able to see the relief provided to the three plaintiffs Ball, Code, and Magree who are housed on C-tier.

To see the full extent of relief provided see: Ball v. LeBlanc, 233 F. Supp. 3d 529; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177911.

DARE TO STRUGGLE. DARE TO WIN. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

chain
[Legal] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
expand

Active Lawsuits on Texas Conditions

2017 DECEMBER — My beloved comrades at ULK, please take whatever steps necessary to convey this information to your readers, particularly those on the Texas plantations. It is my hope this will move a few to join in this all-out attack against mass incarceration, which those brothers on the Eastham Plantation are being persecuted for.

First, we have launched an attack on the totality of the living conditions on this plantation: double-celling, sleep deprivation, extreme heat, contaminated water, no toilets in the day rooms and rec yard, overcrowded showers. At present we have 5 lawsuits filed and hoping to have 5 more by the first of the year. They are listed at the end of this missive for those who might want to obtain copies and/or file for intervention. I would urge each plantation to file because each plantation has different violations, which in their totality are cruel and unusual.

Next, we have launched an at attack on the symbiotic-parasitic-relationship between Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). Last year we sent numerous letters to the ACA headquarters in Virginia with various complaints including the delayed posting of scheduled audits. Apparently someone was moved to do the right thing. Then notices for the January 2018 audit were posted here in October. As a result, we of the Community Improvement Committee (CIC) here on the unit have sent petitions with hundreds of names with numerous complaints of ACA violations and requests for a Q&A in the gym or chapel. This is being done with individual letters as well. Plus, we have sent the actual notice to various reform organizations requesting them to visit the unit during the audit and act as overseers pointing out particular areas of violations such as the giant cockroach infestation beneath the kitchen.

Next we have and intend to continue to urge the public to stay on top of their legislators to change the law, making it mandatory that prisoners be compensated for their labor.

Finally, we have filed an application for Writ of Habeas Corpus requesting to be released immediately due to the fact that the time sheet shows one has completed 100% of his sentence – that even without the good time, the flat time and the work time equals the sentence imposed by the court. In addition we are drafting something similar for those sentenced under the one-third law. We are submitting to the court that these prisoners have a short-way discharge date. The application for Writ of Habeas Corpus was first filed in the state court in Travis County and denied without a written order in the Texas court of criminal Appeals (#WR-87,529-01 Tr.Ct. No. D-1-DC-02-301765A). We are now in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District Tyler Division (McGee v Director, #6:17cv643). This info is supplied so that those with the means may download the info and/or keep track of the case. The following are the case numbers for the totality of living conditions complaint, which is also in the U.S. District in Tyler:

Walker v. Davis, et al., #6:17cv166
Henderson v. Davis, #6:17cv320
Douglas v. Davis, #6:17cv347
Burley v. Davis, #6:17cv490

The Devil whispers: "You can't withstand the storm"
The Warrior replied: "I am the storm." - The Mateuszm


MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are pushing the struggles to improve conditions inside Texas prisons along its natural course. Countless prisoners have sent grievances, grievance petitions, letters to the Ombudsman, letters to elected officials, and letters to various TDCJ administrators on these same issues. We have seen some victories, but mostly we've had barriers put in our way.

The next step laid out for us is to file lawsuits, which is another kind of barrier. Lawsuits take years and sometimes decades to complete, and innumerable hours of work. When we do win, we then have to go through additional lawsuits to ensure enforcement. And on and on it goes...

If we expect the lawsuits to bring final remedy, we must be living in a fantasy. A quintessential example of how the U.$. government behaves regarding lawsuits can be seen in how it totally disrespects treaties with First Nations. When the U.$. government, or its agencies, doesn't like something, they don't really give a shit what the law says. This has been true since the beginning of this government. We don't see any evidence that this will ever change.

Yet, lawsuits aren't all bad. They can sometimes create a little more breathing room within which revolutionaries can operate. Lawsuits can also be used to publicize our struggles, and to show just how callous the state is, if we lose.

Yet, most importantly, lawsuits keep comrades busy. Before any lawsuit, there needs to be a solid analysis of winability, and the likelihood of other options. While we are relatively weak as a movement, lawsuits are a fine option, and building a movement around these lawsuits will give them strength. But if your legal strategy doesn't also include building up collective power to eventually protect people without petitioning the state to do it, then your legal strategy is as useless as a feather in a tornado.

The comrades fighting these battles inside Texas have done a great job of spreading the word to outside organizations to garner support and attention for their lawsuits. We support their efforts to make Texas prisons more bearable for the imprisoned lumpen population, and we support their efforts to link these lawsuits to the greater anti-imperialist movement. And when they decide that lawsuits aren't enough to bring a real change in conditions, we'll support that too.

The U.$. legal system's role is to keep the United $tates government as a dominant world power, no matter what. The extreme heat in Texas prisons isn't just an oversight by administrators. And it's not even just about racism of guards. It is directly connected to the United $tate's role in the oppression and repression of oppressed nations across the world. If the legal system fails, don't give up. Try something else to bring it down. Lawsuits are not the only option.

chain