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[Abuse] [Legal] [Medical Care] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 56]
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Clarifying Legal Tactics: Deadly Heat in Louisiana

In response to the article in ULK 55 titled "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article," I am equally compelled to struggle my point across to my Texas comrade and all other comrades within the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit. Our Texas comrade has committed the error of "seeing only a tree instead of the forest," please allow me to explain.

While it is correct that the 5th Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court with an order to apply the injunction to only the three plaintiffs in Angola's death row – Ball, Magee and Code – if one would read and digest the discussion of the 5th Circuit's ruling then one would see that it is obvious that in order for "all" prisoners to receive this relief then "all" prisoners would have to file! And I am fairly sure that most comrades can "come up" with a medical condition! In section 3 of the opinion under "disability claims" the court stated in the last paragraph that because the plaintiffs failed to properly introduce their ADA claims that it was fatal as to that claim, therefore "reading between the lines" one can grasp the nugget of wisdom!

So in conclusion there has been and is a victory against the deadly heat in Louisiana, so I urge all comrades to flood the courts with their own "personal" suits and bypass the stacked deck of the PLRA, entiendes? Please read the "entire" case with footnotes etc.: it was declared that the heat can be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. (The ADA provides "endless" major life activities and functions so everyone can find a niche). So if the heat is a violation of a federal right then – (quote from opinion) "such relief shall extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the federal right of a particular plaintiff or plaintiffs!"

Be that plaintiff!

Please read the case: Elzie Ball, et al. v. James M. Leblanc, et al. U.$. District Court for the Middle district of Louisiana, 988 F. Supp. 2d 639; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178557 Civil Action No.: 13-00368-BAJ-SCR. This is on order from Ball v. Leblanc, 792 F.3d 584, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11769 (5th Cir. La. 2015).


MIM(Prisons) responds: In "Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article", another writer responded to this writer's original article on this lawsuit from ULK 53. The responder pointed out that the 5th Circuit Court's decision only afforded people with pre-existing medical conditions relief from the dangerous heat in Louisiana prisons. And so ey clarified that the ruling does not automatically apply to all of Louisiana's death row. We are glad that both writers chimed in on the topic, to clarify the ruling and the suggested tactics.

We need to think creatively about how to use this court decision to expand protections to anyone with any medical condition. In conditions like this that are truly dangerous (as we approach summer once again) we encourage people to follow this comrade's lead and look for ways to use the legal system to improve safety of your conditions.

Perhaps others will disagree with this tactic and propose other better uses for people's time and legal research. It's slow to engage in debate through the pages of a bi-monthly newsletter like Under Lock & Key but this is beneficial to all readers and a part of the unity-criticism-unity process. It's a healthy debate over tactics that will keep pushing our work forward, so write to us and let us hear your thoughts.

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[Abuse] [Legal] [Kentucky] [ULK Issue 56]
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Access to Courts Denied in Kentucky

I'ma start this letter out by sending all my respects to all involved in educating and enlightening those who is fighting such as myself. These past couple of weeks have been very hectic. Here at Kentucky State Reformatory, we have difficulties with the administration denying legal help from legal aids on cases and with research and filing.

In Kentucky, prisoners in administration and punitive segregation are being denied legal representation by legal aides on filing motions, briefs, etc. and on research. Most of us have active cases and are filing new cases, but the administration have told us "prisoners" that the legal aides can't assist us on any cases and they have notified the legal aides not to assist us on our cases. The legal aides have been told that they can only assist us and represent us at adjustment committee hearings.

Everyone knows that you have to and need to do research before an active case can even begin and finish, so this bureaucratic red tape is just another arbitrary denial of access to courts, and a violation of the Kentucky Constitution and the U.$. Constitution. Right now I am seeking out accurate factual materials to write out a petition to send to the warden, and accurate factual civil and human rights and constitutional Kentucky and federal laws to fight this injustice.

An injustice to one is an injustice to all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is not an issue unique to Kentucky. Prisoners in Texas are also being denied access to courts because of a "cite only" rule. And in Georgia our comrades are denied access to the courts because they are on Tier II restrictive housing. In North Carolina there are no law libraries, and the agency that is designated to satisfy the requirement of access to courts is almost entirely useless.

For all our comrades who advocate working through the courts for remedies, we have as many comrades who write in saying it is impossible for them to access legal material or assistance. This is one of many reasons why we don't believe the oppressors will ever set up a system that grants real power or dignity to oppressed people, including U.$. prisoners. We work within the system when we can, but we also need to build our own independent institutions, outside the current criminal injustice system, in order to meet and maintain our goals.

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[Legal] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 55]
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Expose Texas Denial of Access to Courts

Estelle Unit operates a "cite only" method of providing prisoners access to courts, requiring prisoners to submit "cite specific requests" to Access to Courts (ATC) officials in order to receive legal research materials. Courts have repeatedly ruled cite-only access fails to satisfy constitutional de minimis, explaining it is unreasonable to expect a doctor of jurispridence to request cites by note, let alone a pro se laypersyn prisoner.

Recently I was told by law library staff a case I cite-specifically requested didn't exist. I called bullshit stating the Texas Criminal Practice Guide, John Boston's and Dan Manville's Prisoners' Self-Help Litigation Manual, and Manville's Prisoners' Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual don't lie. I was then threatened with disciplinary action. I invited such, desiring the denial of access to courts be documented. The next day when admitted to the so-called law library I was confronted by the ATC Supervisor in possession of the case at issue, and all kinds of papers for me to sign, validating I had in fact received the cite in question.

The very same day the above phantom caselaw was produced, I requested another case by cite, and again told the case didn't exist. I then set a trap. I have repeatedly trapped and caught ATC pigs claiming specifically-requested case citations did not exist which do indeed exist. Case in point: I requested a denial of access to courts case per the Estelle "cite only" method. I was told the case did not exist. I waited a short period, then requested the supposed nonexistent case be Shephardized, a method of cross-reference. At the next day's so-called law library session the Shephardized lexis.com download was presented to me showing the case in question had been published in 1997. Priceless. Absolutely priceless. Dumb blank faces blinking back at me.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The oppressors will never give the oppressed the tools to overcome their oppression. This anecdote is an example of exactly why we believe we need to build a revolutionary movement to force the state to give up its power, so we can put an end to Amerikkka's prison system!

This article referenced in:
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[Legal] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 55]
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Correction to Deadly Heat in Louisiana Article

There was an entry in ULK 53 I am compelled to address under the heading "Deadly Heat Victory in Louisiana." It was erroneously reported the 5th Circuit ruling in Bell v. LeBlanc, 792 F. 3d 584, mandated the temperature be maintained "at or below 88 degrees in Angola's death row buildings."

Not so. The 5th Circuit held the U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana ruling encompassing all of Louisiana's death row overly broad, and therefore an abuse of the District Court's discreation, violation of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The 5th Circuit pared down the District Court's ruling to affect only the three named plaintiffs: Elzie Ball, Nathaniel Code, and James Magee. The only reason the 5th Circuit upheld the District Court's ruling as pertaining to these three plaintiffs is because all three are afflicted with pre-existing medical conditions that are susceptible to heat-induced complications.

"Based on its findings of fact, we affirm the district court's conclusion that housing these prisoners in very hot cells without sufficient access to heat-relief measures, while knowing that each suffers from conditions that render him extremely vulnerable to serious heat-related injury, violates the Eighth Amendment. ... The district court also erred because it awarded relief facility-wide, instead of limiting such relief to Ball, Code, and Magee. ... Because the district court's injunction provides an unnecessary type of relief and applies beyond these three Plaintiffs, it violates the PLRA. Accordingly, the district court abused its discretion. ... We emphasize, however, that the finding of substantial risk regarding a heat-related injury is tied to the individual health conditions of these inmates." Ball v. LeBlanc, 792 F.3d 584, 596-600, FNG.
The 5th Circuit opined Ball, Code, and Magee could be housed in cells closer to the death row guards' station, which is air conditioned, thereby cooler than the remainder of death row cells. Or, at most, a single death row tier could be air conditioned as a heat-relief measure for prisoners similarly situated to Ball, Code, and Magee. But as for requiring the Louisiana Department of Corrections to maintain temperatures below 88 degrees at Angola's death row altogether, the 5th Circuit judged that was not necessary to comport with the Federal Constitution.

Moral being, if it sounds too good to be true.. perhaps MIM(Prisons) should submit to me these litigous tidbits for vetting and verification.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Thank you to this comrade for setting the record straight, and helping to keep our subscribers from venturing down a wrong path in seeking their own relief from extreme heat, especially as summer is fast approaching. We rely on our subscribers to share their knowledge with us, whether it be their legal expertise, organizing experience, or theoretical understanding. Everyone should be making an effort to increase our collective abilities, which our oppressors try so hard to eliminate.

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[Legal] [Virginia]
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Potential Legal Argument for VA Grievance Battle

I read with interest the article on the lack of a constitutional right to a grievance procedure ( Prisoners Unite Against Suppression of VA DOC Grievance Procedure) in ULK 54. This happens to be an issue I researched a few months ago. Unfortunately I'm Federal, not state, so I can't file a §1983 anyway, which is a shame because I'd just love to take this one to the Supreme Court.

This legal argument should work. However, the only place I can see it working is at the Supreme Court itself. I offer it in the hopes that someone else can run with it.

The article is quite correct. There are many 4th circuit opinions throwing out prisoners' §1983 actions for denial of or retaliation against filing grievances, most of which go back to Adams v. Rice 40F.3d.72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994). This opinion, however, was before the 1995 Prison Litigation Reform Act, 1997(e). The argument is that, as 1997(e) came later than Adams v. Rice, and congress could not have intended to make a constitutional right (the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances under Amendment 1) contingent upon conduct that is not constitutionally protected, that therefore Adams v. Rice and all subsequent case law should be declared null and void.

Digging a bit deeper, I found that Adams bases its opinion on Flick v. Alba, 932 F.2d 728, 729 (8th Cir 1991) claiming there is "no constitutional right to participate in grievance proceedings."

The problem with this is that Flick v Alba states, "When the claim underlying the administrative grievance involves a constitutional right, the prisoner's right to petition the government for redress is the right of access to the courts, which is not compromised by the prison's refusal to entertain his grievance." After 1997(e), of course, that last clause is false, 1997(e) specifically and deliberately makes a prison's refusal to entertain grievances compromise the right of access to the courts. That's what 1997(e) is for!

If there be any justice, this is a slam-dunk argument. Of course, there isn't any justice. But occasionally a judge, wanting to gain status by overturning a long-held precedent might do the right thing, if only accidentally. It might also have some value as a rallying point for activism.

One might also argue a violation of equal protection under the fourteenth amendment, but I'm not sure how much that would add. A couple of paragraphs couldn't hurt, though.

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 55]
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Nevada Further Restricts Grievance Process in New Regulations

I am writing to update you on comrades' struggles against the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) grievance process. I have been fighting against the inmate grievance process as employed by the NDOC for over a year now. Last week, the caseworker came to my door and informed me that all of my grievances had been rejected as improper grievances due to a new Administrative Regulation (AR740) regarding grievances, which among other things states that:

  1. Inmates cannot state more than one claim per grievance,
  2. Inmates may file no more than a single grievance in any 7 day period,
  3. Those who violate these rules will face disciplinary action.

On this date, the case worker had over 300 grievances which were denied as improper. The NDOC has implemented this revised AR740 to circumvent inmate grievances so that they do not have to address our concerns.

I, and others, will of course, continue our struggle against the NDOC grievance process. If you or anyone else has any ideas on a path we should take to get this issue to court, I would appreciate it.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We do have a Nevada grievance petition for use by prisoners to fight the violation of First Amendment rights based on the AR740 rules. We will need someone from Nevada to volunteer to re-write this petition to cite the updated rules. But the bigger problem is that these rules were changed to essentially limit the ability of prisoners to file grievances, which of course is required if we're going to demand these grievances be addressed. This sounds like a case that needs to be taken to court, and perhaps would interest one of the legal advocacy organizations in Nevada. Short of that we are stuck fighting within their (arbitrary) rules.

This regulation change underscores our message that we're not going to beat the criminal injustice system at their own game. We can sometimes use their own rules and laws to gain small victories, but in the end the courts and prisons are set up to perpetuate the injustice system. We can only win by organizing independent institutions and dismantling this system.

Write to us for a copy of the old Nevada grievance petition if you can help update it based on these new regulations.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Legal] [Virginia] [ULK Issue 54]
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Prisoners Unite Against Suppression of VA DOC Grievance Procedure

"This operating procedure provides an administrative process for resolving offender issues and complaints through fair, prompt decisions and actions in response to complaints and grievances from offenders incarcerated in Department of Corrections institutions."

These are the clever introductory words of Virginia Department of Corrections (VA DOC) Operating Procedure 866.1 governing "Offender Grievance Procedure." While offenders — captives — suppose to enjoy non-repressive rights to utilize the grievance procedure, captives have experienced for many years repressed rights by the Department's Human Rights Advocates (commonly called Institutional and Regional Ombudsman) and administrative personnel. The VA DOC is at odds over effective administrative application of the captive/offender grievance procedure.

Since my incarceration in 1993, the captive/offender grievance procedure has always been a medium, used by captives, to receive redress for their issues and problems. The Institutional Ombudsman, once upon a time, investigated captives' issues/problems with proper handling, meaning they would speak to both the captive and staff before rendering a decision. Ombudsman would render decisions reasonably, appropriately — even if it was to the neglect of the system. After all, that's the job of the Human Rights Advocate.

Over the years, the captives have grown to understand completion of Offender Grievance Procedure is the first step to satisfying the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA Federal statute). Before the legal court system will entertain captive lawsuits, the first level one must meet is exhausting all available administrative remedies. With this understanding, VA DOC Institutional and Regional Ombudsman began seeing a rise in filed complaints and grievances, and civil lawsuits (42 U.S.C. 1983). A conspiratorial plan was hatched by the department to suppress captives' grievance procedure and opportunities. Something had to be done. VA DOC was being held liable, costing thousands of dollars.

The first step in repressing and suppressing the captive grievance procedure was that many prisons and institutions removed captives' complaint forms and level 1 grievance forms from availability. This means, in order for captives to receive said forms, they must make requests to officer/building sergeants. Captives must divest their issues/problems to authorities. If the officer or sergeant disagrees with your issues or problems, they refuse to give you needed forms. When they do give you forms, it's usually because the issue/problem is not really a threat. Captives are left with suppressed and repressed grievance rights, by the same system that swore to uphold these rights.

Once a captive completes the informal complaint process, an administrative grievance can be filed. With next-level repression, the Ombudsman uses fraudulent claims to deny grievances; such reasons as: time barred, inquiring on behalf of other "captives," not enough information, and in some cases stating "If you're not satisfied with response file to next level — regional ombudsman." (Some complaints/grievances are not returned.) These alleged claims are used by the institutional ombudsman to deny grievances, not logging grievances, or otherwise repress the process. Regional Ombudsman, being the last level of grievance process, usually side with Institutional Ombudsman.

Captives who file complaints/grievances, at times, are faced with reprisals. These reprisals, although forbidden by Operating Procedure 866.1, are usually felt in not receiving jobs, non-favorable housing, denied transfers, and more. Captives face extreme difficulties seeking to prove they are experiencing reprisal, due to filing complaints/grievances. Often times, captives who file these documents are labeled "paper-pushers," and the new term, "paper terrorist.=" (yeah, such a machination by the oppressors).

VA DOC has created a crafty method to suppress, and repress captives' grievance procedure and right. This is reflected in the number of Level 1 and Level 2 grievances "found" versus those "unfounded." Even when the evidence submitted favors the captive's claims, the grievance is still returned "unfounded." The Ombudsman no longer advocates on behalf of the captives, nor upholds the integrity of the grievance policy.

In entertaining plans to file civil litigation (§42 U.S.C. 1883 claims of civil rights violation) one must have satisfied §42 U.S.C. 1997(e)(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." With continuous suppression of captives' grievance procedural rights, this satisfaction will prove to be difficult. These measures are used by the oppressive system to derail, suppress, or otherwise hinder captives' ability to satisfy §42 U.S.C. 1997 (e)(a), and PLRA, and have any legal litigation dismissed for not exhausting all available administrative remedies.

In a recent lawsuit (§42 U.S.C 1983) I filed against a VA DOC prison, and its Director Harold Clarke, alleging Civil Rights violations. I was advised by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Plaintiff has no constitutional right to participate in grievance procedure - citing Adam v. Rice §40 F. 3d. 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) - because plaintiff enjoys no constitutional right to participate in grievance procedure his allegation that his grievances were improperly processed are legally frivolous - citing Banks v. Nagle. Nos. 3:09 CV419-HEH; 3:09 CV14 (2009) WL1209031, at *3 (E.D.VA. May 1, 2009)." Moreover, simply, "ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the [constitutional] violation, see George v. Smith 507 F. 3d. 605, 609-10 (7th Cir 2007)" I alleged in my First Amendment violation claim: Ombudsman at this prison suppressed, obstructed or otherwise denied me fundamental (and meaningful) access to "offender grievance procedure" due to refusal to properly process and answer said grievances. It was, and remains a continuous practice, within VA DOC, to deny "redress to government," in this case, the prison authorities who are agents of the state.

It appears the U.S. District Court has shifted their views and opinions as to whether captives have a constitutional right to grievance procedure. On one hand, the Federal statute §42 U.S.C. 1997 (e)(a) states we have to satisfy the prongs of the PLRA, which requires the exhaustion of all available administrative remedies, before filing a §42 U.S.C. 1983. But then, restrict such requirement in decisions rendered in Adam v. Rice and Banks v. Nagle, which contradicts mandates of §42 U.S.C. 1997(e)(a).

Without protected due process rights, whether in society or behind these walls of horror, the people are in trouble. Captives have seen a consistent erosion of rights, or a limiting of such rights, over the years; from the Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act, of former President Bill Clinton, to the Patriot Act of George W. Bush. High courts have repeatedly sided with state prison administrators, citing "security takes precedence over certain rights, including infringement upon certain civil rights." This could very well open the door for the pigs to get away with vicious assaults, property damages, and other egregious acts that goes on behind these walls. The highway for "organized crime" is without patrols.

Captives are subjected to a wide range of issues and administrative confrontation, leading to needed remedies. Though, each "department of correction" professes administrative remedy outlets, captives' rights to utilize these administrative outlets continues to be repressed, ineffective, leaving issues unsolved. These create an environment of mistrust, instability and an ethos of disorganization between captives and "the system."

Captives here at this VA DOC prison have organized around the "United Front" and "United Front for Peace in Prison - Statement of Principles." We have organized, mobilized, and deputized. We've organized to the point where we have a ten point agenda, designed to address our oppression and oppressor in an organized and systematic way. We wish to accept full responsibility for our actions, educate ourselves in seeking justice, and assure that we remain at peace, on what we've agreed upon, and united around our collective agenda.

We wish to join on to and with MIM(Prisons)'s campaign "We Demand our Grievances are Addressed." Please send us the petition! ASAP we will work to assure this petition is signed by as many we can from behind these walls. We will continue to educate ourselves towards the process, and our rights under Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

Let's stop the repression of the grievance procedure within the VA DOC. We stand with MIM(Prisons)!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade and others in Virginia have been doing some great organizing work, building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, local study groups, and fighting the corrupt grievance process in that state's prisons. We look forward to the progress of this campaign as a part of building a broad base of united prisoners in Virginia fighting the criminal injustice system under anti-imperialist leadership.

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[Campaigns] [Abuse] [Legal] [Medical Care] [Texas] [ULK Issue 52]
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Perseverance and Commitment in Texas Lawsuits

It has been a while since I've sent you anything due to all the time involved with fighting the Texa$ Legalized Mafia (Texa$ Department of Criminal (in)Justice) in Federal Court. But I've got to the point that I had to make a report on the advances I've made in our struggle.

1. I sent a letter (which a copy of is enclosed) to the Medical Practice Manager on my Unit who works for University of Texas Medical Board (UTMB). I was reimbursed $100 of the $400 I owed them. Upon his response I sent him another letter informing him that though I was thankful for that, it was not enough, I wanted it all back. The next day it was done. Enclosed is a copy of the first letter I sent to the UTMB Practice Manager. I only have one stamp right now, so I will send the rest of the paperwork when I get a chance.

2. My lawsuit against the Texas Board of Criminal Justice is going great. The Court shot down the Ass. Att. General Leah O'Leary's Motion to Dismiss and her Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment and gave me until September 9, 2016 to have all my Despositive Motions in. I've already done that and filed two complaints of Bad Faith on the Defendants' part for attempting to defraud the Court on several occasions. I've asked for two separate sanctions ordered and for the Court to order a Default Judgment in my favor. It won't be long and we will get the Revision to Board Policy-03.91 Correspondence Rules repealed.

My next 1983 Lawsuit in Federal Court against the Texas Board of Criminal (in)Justice is going to be over them violating our 14th Amendment right of equal protection under the law, which prohibits sexual/gender discrimination, due to their grooming standard policy. Women who are incarcerated in Texas can grow their hair as long as they want to, but men can't have it very long at all. This is a gender-neutral act and the state is discriminating between the sexes/genders. I've already gotten my informal resolution back from Warden Butcher at Terrell Unit and filed my Step 1 grievance. When it comes back I will file my Step 2 and so on into Federal Court.

Once I finish that one I am going to file against them for slowly but surely denying us due process by removing the tools we need to fight against unconstitutional acts. First in September 2014 they hid the Offender Grievance Operations Manual, and now I read in your latest ULK that they banned the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook.

It is unbelievable how people watched me struggle day in and day out every day with this fight, and started donating paper, pens, envelopes, and documentation to help me. Please send me everything you can on the ban on the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook and the Offender Grievance Operations Manual. Right now I'm in Ad-Seg because I was given 5 bogus major cases and an illegal use of force. They didn't use a chemical agent; they had it on hand but instead just beat me for 30 minutes on tape.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade on eir commitment to continuing eir lawsuits which benefit all prisoners in Texas, even though ey is facing persynal physical retaliation from prison staff.

We know that unfortunately the retaliation is more consistent than the victories. So while we support this comrade's efforts at this stage in our struggle, we also know that legal action alone won't put an end to the litany of abuses. What we ultimately need is to organize for self-determination of all oppressed peoples worldwide, including the internal semi-colonies within U.$. borders. Until we are free from Amerikkkan imperialism, we will always have a need for these lawsuits, and face even worse conditions. In the meantime, we organize, educate and try to carve out space for our survival.

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[Legal] [ULK Issue 49]
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Exhausting Grievances for PLRA

I write in response to the USW campaigns published in ULK 47. Please be advised, the grievance system is nationally governed by the United States Supreme Court Prison Litigation Reform Act. Although each state has its own format, a DOC failure to respond to a grievance at any stage is a failure of them to make the exhaustion remedies available.

Make sure in between stages to submit a simple delinquent notice if your grievances are not responded to. Make sure to do this twice, and retain copies. Then move through the stages and, if necessary, the delinquent notices will suffice if litigation elevates to court level. Also, a grievance rejected cannot be held by the exhaustion requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) because the rejection deemed the filing a non-grievable issue, therefore you have exhausted the grievance procedure and may proceed if necessary. Please see:

  • 438 f.3d 804, 809, 812 (7th GR. 2006)
  • 569 F. Supp 2d 398, 406-07 (D. Del 2008)
  • 287 F. Supp. 2d 210, 212 (WDNY 2003)
  • 231 F. Supp. 2d 341, 350 (D. Me 2002)
  • 54 F. Supp. 2d 199, 206 (S.D. NY 1999)

MIM(Prisons) adds: Many people facing problems with the grievance procedures where they're held also do not have access to a copy machine, or their cells are tossed and all their documentation is sabotaged. This suggestion of notifying staff of delinquency twice, and keeping copies, appears like a good tactic if possible. We would also encourage subscribers to request the Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual chapter on the PLRA that we distribute for $12 or equivalent work-trade. If you can afford to buy the Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual outright (approximately $30), we can send you the publisher's order form.

The mere existence of the PLRA, plus all the little headaches that make it so difficult to exhaust all available remedies, are signs that the criminal injustice system in this country is a total joke. It's not designed for justice at all - it's designed to frustrate and pacify, and provide busy work for, the oppressed people who are subject to its control. In addition to trying to fight winnable battles through the courts when possible, we encourage our subscribers to get deep into political study and organizing, which gets at the core of this unjust capitalist system and all its organs of oppression.

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 49]
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Making Moves on Indigent Mail Campaign

In 1987, the Guajardo v. Estelle case, modifying the correspondence regulations in the Texas prison system, was finalized. One of the results of Guajardo was prisoners with less than $5.00 in their trust fund accounts were considered indigent, and thereby entitled to five one-ounce First Class correspondences per week, and unlimited legal and privileged correspondences.

Circa 1998, Jason Powers, attorney at law, with the firm Vinson & Elkins, contacted me informing me the state had filed a motion to vacate Guajardo pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Powers solicited my assistance in defending plaintiffs' objection to State's motion. Obviously, the plaintiffs failed to prevail.

My concern regarding recent constrictions in indigent correspondence procedures is: Since vacating of Guajardo, indigent prisoner correspondence has been reduced from the 5 personal letters a week and unlimited legal correspondence, to 5 personal and 5 legal correspondence per month. This, when the indigent requirement has remained less than $5.00 since 1978, never being adjusted per the inflated dollar.

As such, I intend to commence a petition campaign directed at State Senator John Whitmire, State Committee on Criminal Justice, demanding not only that the 5x5 weekly indigent correspondence regulations be reimplemented, but that the standard of indigence required be adjusted to reflect a realistic inflated dollar. So fly this by your grievance writers and gauge their thoughts on the matter.


MIM(Prisons) responds: The reduction in indigent prisoner correspondence envelopes has a direct impact on prisoners' ability to stay in contact with family, fight legal battles, and engage in political education and organizing. The criminal injustice system wants to curtail these activities as a part of the goal of social control. As revolutionaries we support campaigns to expand access to correspondence, as we know this is critical to our ability to reach our comrades behind bars. We look forward to input from other grievance campaign participants about this new tactic in Texas.

Another campaign that is active in Texas is the right to access to a law library. We also recently learned that the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook has been banned across the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice as of October 29, 2015. Texas is continuing a long history of assault on oppressed peoples in that state, and the only way we're going to be able to overcome the new (and old) tactics developed (and re-instituted) daily is to overthrow the state apparatus that makes it possible. Obviously Amerikkka's government system has got to go.

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