by a North Carolina prisoner November 2012 permalink
The prison system in North Carolina does not have a law library. The courts say they don't need to provide law libraries because we have the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Service, Inc. (NCPLS). The truth is NCPLS helps maybe one or two prisoners a year.
Recently NCPLS sent me a letter telling me not to write back about the publication class action lawsuit case Urbanial v. Stanley until I have filed a grievance and the grievance is appealed to Step 3 and I get the response back. When I did that I sent the grievance and response to NCPLS, only to have them send the materials back without any letter explaining why they sent them back.
I have requested assistance from NCPLS in civil matters 25 or more times. This is going back to the 1990s when my civil rights were being violated over and over again. As NCPLS states in one of their letters, it's a price we the prisoners must pay for being prisoners. I am not allowed to even touch a staff member, and they should not be allowed to unjustly pepper spray me, etc. When they do, I have to go through a grievance system before I can file the lawsuit in court, and when I do file lawsuits they are dismissed. As you can see, I am given no legal assistance in filing these lawsuits either.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade continues to fight repression and censorship with the odds stacked against h. Over the years, others in North Carolina have been researching and fighting the lack of law libraries. Unfortunately, on paper, the nominal existence of the NCPLS enables North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) to skirt the Constitutional requirement that it provides its prisoners access to courts.
Bounds v. Smith 430 U.S. 817 (1977) permits prison authorities to provide either law libraries or counsel to satisfy this requirement, but it does not need to provide both. When a prisoner's appointed counsel is useless, and they don't have a law library in which to research a case to challenge this, their only hope is assistance from outside organizations and supporters.
The Prisoners' Legal Clinic is one such organization, under the MIM(Prisons) umbrella, which was reestablished a few years ago in an attempt to provide some of this much-needed legal support to our comrades with an anti-imperialist focus. One of the help guides we distribute for prisoners to use and build on is related to access to courts. This help guide is in very rough format currently, but with the expertise of our jailhouse lawyer contacts we can clean it up, and begin to distribute it more widely.
To get involved in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic, write to MIM(Prisons) and say you want to put in work on this project!
Greetings. The struggle is long and arduous, and sometimes we do etch out significant victories, as in the case of our brotha in In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012).
It's important to emphasize that this victory is a significant step in reaffirming that prisoners are entitled to a measure of First Amendment protection that cannot be ignored simply because the state dislikes the spiel. New Afrikan prisoners have a right to identify with their birthright if they so choose, as does anyone else for that matter — Black, White or Brown. ...
[California prison officials] have gone so far as to boldly proclaim that the term New Afrikan was created by the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) and that those who identify as or use the term are declaring their allegiance to the BGF, which has been declared a prison gang. They have sought to suppress its usage by validating (i.e. designating as a gang member or associate) anyone who uses the term or who dares mention the name George Jackson. ...
Our brotha's case In Re Crawford was filed June 4, 2012, and certified for publication June 13. In a brilliant piece of judicial reasoning, a panel of justices in a 3-0 decision finally reaffirmed a prisoner's First Amendment right to free speech and expression, stating:
Freedom of speech is first among the rights which form the foundation of our free society. "The First Amendment embodies our choice as a nation that, when it comes to such speech, the guiding principle is freedom — the unfettered interchange of ideas — not whatever the State may view as fair." (Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett (2011) 131 S.Ct. 2806). "The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people ... All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests." (Roth v. United States (1957) 354 U.S. 476, 484."
The programs embodied in the New Afrikan Collective Think Tank, New Afrikan Institute of Criminology 101, the George Jackson University and the New Afrikan ideology itself are inclusive programs emphasizing a solution-based approach to carnage in the poverty stricken slums from where many of us come. The CDCR Prison Intelligence Units (PIU) have sought to suppress these initiatives simply because they do not like the message. They have marched into court after court with one standard line: New Afrikan means BGF and these initiatives are promoting the BGF. In re Crawford continues,
As recently noted by Chief Justice Roberts, "[t]he First Amendment reflects 'a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.' [Citation.] That is because 'speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.' [Citation.] ... Speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection." (Snyder v. Phelps (2011) 562 U.S. _,_ [131 S.Ct. 1207, 1215].
In re Crawford is a very important ruling because the justices said these protections apply to prisoners as well. ...
George Jackson cannot be removed from the fabric of the people's struggles in this society any more than Malcolm X can or Medger Evers or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Harriett Tubman or Sojourner Truth or Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks or Frederick Douglass, or the countless others who've fought and struggled for a brighter future for generations to come.
What CDCR and its PIU are trying to do is make a run around the First Amendment by shielding its suppression activity under the guise of preventing gang activity, just as it's done historically, which gave rise to Procunier v. Martinez (1974) 416 U.S. 396, 413.
In In re Crawford, CDCR argued for an exception to the Martinez test for validated gang members. The court declined to make such an exception, holding: "Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail."
The fact that they even argued for such an exception shows their mindset. Their intentions are to suppress that which they believe to be repugnant, offensive and that which they believe a prisoner ought not be thinking! In their minds we have no right to think or possess ideas, concepts or vision beyond that which they believe we should possess.
Until In Re Crawford, these highly educated judges were sanctioning this nonsense with twisted, perverted rulings permitting a newspaper article or magazine layout or book to be used against a prisoner for validation purposes [to put them in torture cells - editor]. They issued twisted rulings like those in Ellis v. Cambra or Hawkins v. Russell and In Re Furnace, where the petitioner was told he has no right to his thoughts and the First Amendment only protects a prisoner's right to file a 602 [grievance form].
These kinds of fallacious rulings ought to be publicized so as to show the skillful manipulation of the law by those sworn to uphold it. In Re Crawford reestablishes that First Amendment protections apply to prisoners and that we too enjoy a measure of free speech and expression. We ought not be punished with fabricated notions of gang activity for merely a thought!
However, if we are to continue to meet with success, we need our professors, historians and intellectuals to step up and provide declarations that we can use in our litigation, defending our right to read, write and study all aspects of a people's history, like Professor James T. Campbell did in In Re Crawford. This is the only way a prisoner can challenge the opinion of a prison official. ...
Much work remains to be done, like stopping the bogus validations based on legitimate First Amendment material. We know that many individuals are falsely validated simply for reading George's books or a newspaper article, for observing Black August or for simply trying to get in touch with one's cultural identity.
These legitimate expressions should carry no penalty at all. You're not doing anything wrong, and a lot of brothas who've been validated simply shouldn't be. Nor should folks be frightened away from reading or studying any aspect of history simply because the state doesn't like its content. Judges who issue fallacious opinions permitting prisoners to be punished for reading a George Jackson book or researching your history should be exposed.
Literary content and cultural and historical materials are not the activities of a gang; they are political and social activities that we have a right to express, according to the unanimous decision in In re Crawford.
The First Amendment campaign continues to forge ahead, although we still don't have a lawyer. The campaign still exists, and we anticipate even greater successes in the future. ... We've cracked one layer of a thick wall. Now all prisoners should take advantage of this brilliant ruling and reassert your rights to study your heritage, Black, White or Brown.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The issue in this case was one that we have experienced first-hand as well. For example, in 2008 a letter from a comrade in California was censored before it could reach us because it discussed the New Afrikan Collective, which allegedly was a code word for the Black Guerrilla Family.(1) But in reality, the New Afrikan Collective was a new political organization in New York focused on bettering the conditions of New Afrikans as a nation, with no connections to any sort of criminal activity.
The first thing that strikes us about this case is a quote from the proceedings cited by the author above, "Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail." Unfortunately this is not part of the final opinion explaining the decision of the court, and it is specific to outgoing mail from the prison. Nonetheless, it would logically follow from this statement that anything that can be connected to a gang is not automatically dangerous or illegal.
"Gang members" have long been the boogeyman of post-integration white Amerika. The pigs use "gang member" as a codeword to excuse the abuse and denial of constitutional rights to oppressed nation youth, particularly New Afrikan men. And this has been institutionalized in more recent years with "gang enhancements," "gang injunctions" and "security threat group" labels that punish people for belonging to lumpen organizations. Often our mail is censored because it mentions the name of a lumpen organization in the context of a peace initiative or organizing for prisoners' humyn rights. While criminal activity is deemed deserving more punishment with the gang label, non-criminal activity is deemed criminal as well.
As the author discusses, it becomes a question of controlling ideas to the extreme, where certain words are not permitted to be spoken or written and certain symbols and colors cannot be displayed. So the quote from the court above is just a baby step in the direction of applying the First Amendment rights of association and expression to oppressed nation youth. Those who are legally inclined should consider how this issue can be pushed further in future battles. Not only is such work important in restoring rights to people, but we can create space for these organizations to build in more positive directions.
Part of this criminalization of a specific sector of society is the use of self-created and perpetuated so-called experts on gang intelligence. Most of our readers are all too familiar with this farce of a profession that is acutely exposed by the court's opinion in this case. The final court opinion calls out CO J. Silveira for claiming that the plaintiff's letter contained an intricate code when he could provide no evidence that this was true. They also call him out for using his "training and experience" as the basis for all his arguments.
The warden's argument is flawed for two reasons. First, the argument is based solely on the unsupported assertions and speculative conclusions in Silveira's declaration. The declaration is incompetent as evidence because it contains no factual allegations supporting those assertions and conclusions. Second, even if the declaration could properly be considered, it does not establish that the letter posed a threat to prison security.
As great as this is, as the author of the article above points out, they usually get away with such baseless claims. More well thought out lawsuits like this are needed, because more favorable case law is needed. But neither alone represents any real victory in a system that exists to maintain the existing social hierarchy. These are just pieces of a long, patient struggle that has been ongoing for generations. The people must exercise the rights won here to make them real. We must popularize and contextualize the nature of this struggle.
On 3 October 2011 I was notified by prison authorities that I had received the September/October 2011 No. 22 issue of Under Lock & Key (ULK) in the mail. I was further notified that I could not have ULK because it is banned throughout the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). I grieved this unconstitutional banning of ULK since IDOC cannot validate its claim that ULK is a threat to security. On 27 July 2012 I filed a Section 1983 Civil Suit against the director of IDOC, S.A. Godinez.
This lawsuit is based on the grounds that IDOC cannot substantiate the banning of ULK and that the banning of ULK violates my Constitutional Rights to: 1) Receive and own reading material; 2) Have freedom of speech; and 3) Have freedom of political expression.
In my Statement of Claim I gave a brief definition of what MIM(Prisons) and ULK are. However, I was wondering if you would like to prepare a statement about what exactly MIM(Prisons) and ULK are and the purpose of their existence.
In further news, on 16 August 2012 another prisoner and I received a notice saying that we had received the July/August 2012 No. 27 issue of ULK in the mail and that we couldn't have it because ULK is banned. We are both currently in the second of three stages of the grievance procedure and will be filing a Class Action lawsuit within the next six months challenging the banning of ULK. This suit will merge with my already existing one.
Any information that you can send me on this topic would be greatly appreciated.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The comrade above has not received an issue of Under Lock & Key since November 2011. Appealing the censorship and going through the grievance procedure will often successfully get you the mail that the authorities are attempting to deny. If that doesn't work, we need to be prepared to take the censors to court when possible.
Unfortunately, due to our very limited resources, it is very difficult for us to offer legal assistance directly on your case. Instead we run the Prisoners' Legal Clinic in an attempt to empower and encourage our subscribers to do their best putting together and filing their case on their own. Recently another comrade offered h legal services to help fight censorship in Illinois, which is not just an ongoing problem for the author of this Civil Suit. We are attempting to facilitate this anti-censorship battle and push it to a head. Remember to send in your censorship documentation and status updates on your anti-censorship grievances and cases so we can publicize them on our website. If you are a lawyer on the outside and want to work on this issue, please get in touch.
Upon deep review/research, I've been completely unable to find any Oregon Law (ORS) to justify and allow the prisons in this state to charge prisoners fines. There is no law allowing it. But there is a law saying only a judge can change/impose fines of any kind. "The Oregon Property Protection Act of 2000" prohibits the forfeitures of property and funds, without a criminal conviction involving that property: article 15 section 10(2)(b), section(3), section 10(7)(b) of the Oregon constitution. Also, "the property of a person should not be forfeited in a forfeiture proceeding by the government unless and until that person is convicted of a crime involving that property."(10)(3) The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) is a political subdivision of the state.
Well, ODOC has taken it upon themselves to impose fines of hundreds of dollars and automatically withdraw the money from an inmates account. Normally, to withdraw money from our account we need to sign/and authorize them to do it by signing a CD28 giving permission. So what they are doing amounts to theft! And is part of their money making racketeering illegal bullshit. Yet they'll never get charged with racketeering because it's okay when pigs break the laws.
Also, there is a new tool the imperial swine have up here for ensuring their prison population grows. It's called Measure 57. In the past 10 years the female prison population has grown by 86% because of the lengthening of prison sentences for drug offenses and property crimes. And this measure will more than likely affect females more than men. (Source: Justice Matters Spring 2012 issue)
The grievance process is a joke here. I've filled my allotted six a month every month on every single rule violation that happens and none of them have gotten anything other than "we find no evidence in your claim."
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for researching how the Oregon prisons are violating the State's own laws. It's important that we fight these battles because there are so many laws allowing oppression, those few that we can use to defend the rights of the oppressed must be publicized. It is very common for the pigs to ignore the law, and it's true that they are rarely punished for this.
But we can use these laws to our advantage. The grievance process is just a start. The campaign to demand our grievances be addressed is another tactic in this fight. We have petitions for many states that can be used to fight against the systematic denial of grievances by building support among the prisoner masses. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the one for your state, or if we don't have one help us customize the petition to your state. Legal research and writing like this comrade is doing is essential to our struggle against the imperialist system as a whole.
Grievances are one of the only administrative remedies we have against unjust treatment and staff misconduct. In Oregon we also have discrimination complaints, the right to attempt petition, a department of corrections ombudsman and (any prisoner in any state or federal facility can also do this next step) the ability to file with no fee a Department of Justice (DOJ) civil rights complaint.
In Oregon, grievances come with two appeals. Then you have exhausted the process and can go to further discrimination complaint with one appeal and then that process is exhausted. Using either/or you can lay the groundwork for a federal civil suit and meet the requirements of the 1997 Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) providing you exhaust all administrative remedies available to you. So, you must either exhaust all of your grievance appeals or discrimination complaint appeals to file suit. You may not file a grievance and a discrimination complaint on the same issue. I always advise that you exhaust every grievance and discrimination complaint so you retain your ability to file suit.
You can file a DOJ civil rights complaint at any time with or without exhausting either administrative remedy. However, showing you have tried to address the issue with no satisfaction will help your DOJ complaint. Always create a paperwork trail. Always!
If you are having ongoing issues of some type, but can A) document a new incident of the same type has occurred and B) have new information about the issue, you may file another grievance under OAR 291-019-0140 (6) or another discrimination complaint under OAR 291-006-0015 (6). However, expect the grievance coordinator will try and stop you claiming you have already filed a grievance/discrimination complaint on the same issue previously. This is one of their tactics to keep you from proving an issue is persistent and is ongoing. This is currently happening to me at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. Ms. Reynolds, the grievance coordinator is stopping valid grievances and discrimination complaints when I can clearly prove the Oregon administrative rules are being properly followed.
Always know the rules and laws you are evoking. I suggest you read up on them and copy them so you can cite them in your grievance/discrimination complaint process.
If your process is blocked you can take it to the Oregon DOC ombudsman or internal affairs - or both, to keep the issue alive. Make copies of everything you do and make sure you have followed all processes to the letter of rule before you go to this level. As a last resort per OAR 291-107, you can attempt a petition process as well.
You may face uphill battles but if you are going to use the grievance/discrimination complaint process, so do it right the first time and be persistent. You may not win but you can keep the struggle alive.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Information like this is key to push forward our battle demanding our grievances be addressed. We don't yet have a petition for Oregon, but for many other states we have petitions prisoners can request to push this grievance battle on the political front while filing administrative appeals and working your way into court. For those states that don't yet have a petition, request the generic version and help us customize it to your state.
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure, or mandatory polygraph testing. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.
Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.
Mr. Tom Clements, Executive Director Colorado Department of Corrections 2862 S. Circle Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80906
U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section 950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, PHB Washington DC 20530
Office of Inspector General HOTLINE PO Box 9778 Arlington, VA 22219
And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!
MIM(Prisons), USW PO Box 40799 San Francisco, CA 94140
*Petition updated July 2012, October 2017, September 2018*
Comrades, here is a CDCR regulation that we can use against censorship. Essentially there are no ban lists. Straight from the California Code of Regulations:
15 CCR § 3190(i)(2) "Legal Material, including legal reference material, books, and legal pads not available in the institution canteen, pursuant to section 3161. There shall be no 'Approved Vendor Lists' for any legal publications. Inmates may receive legal publications from any publisher, book store or book distributor that does mail order business."
15 CCR § 3190(i)(7) "All publications, including books and subscriptions to periodicals, subject to section 3006. There shall be no "Approved Vendor Lists" for any publications. Inmates may receive publications from any publisher, book store or book distributor that does mail order business."
MIM(Prisons) responds: This has been official policy since 2008, yet CDCR staff continue to cite the 2006 ban memo years after a lawsuit put an end to the ban on MIM Distributors's mail in the state of California. Therefore we find it useful to reprint these rules, for comrades to use in their own appeals. Remember to forward us any documentation of censorship and appeals. Many of these facilities have been citing the overturned 2006 memo for years, yet claim it is a mistake when we write them for an explanation. Establishing these patterns is important in building our cases. While they'll never follow the rules all the time, using the law against them is one tactic for organizing resistance and creating more space for education to occur. We have put together a supplement to our Censorship Guide which focuses on the California ban, so write in to get it if you're being given this reason for censorship.
by a South Carolina prisoner November 2011 permalink
Peace, comrades in the struggle! First and foremost, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is a modern day slave plantation. Being political is a crime within itself; once I became aware of the truth then the system considered me a threat. I'm a Black man in solitary confinement due to my passion to stay alive, and I strive to use this time to analyze my legal problems and how to continue to educate myself.
I write to this so-called law library to request certain law books and other legal material, but I am denied because the law library is not up to date and lacks current books we need. So I reached out to receive The Georgetown Law Journal 2010 Edition from Georgetown Law. I was denied permission to purchase that journal out of my own funds. Then I wrote to Prison Legal News, South Chicago ABC Zine Distro, Justice Watch, Turning the Tide, the Maoist Prison Cell, the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights. All these organizations sent me material but I was denied access to have the material and it was sent back because of the so-called policies OP 22.12 and PS 10.08.
The SCDC has designated a ban on all magazines, newspapers, books, photos, etc. that come from outside sources, whether it be from publishing companies or organizations. In Special Management Unit, where prisoners are housed 23 hours a day behind a locked door, SCDC mandates all above material must come from its institutional library, whereupon no newspapers or magazines are allowed, period. Only the inadequate out-of-date law books and library books. Because of this ban many people suffer from lack of information and educational and legal materials.
And the thing about it is the mailroom staff has a list of names of publications that aren't allowed to send mail to this institution. She has no education in security besides searching mail for contraband.
I have limited information I can use to fight oppression as a whole. I have offered my problems at the hands of my oppressor to hopefully serve as a springboard for further war against oppression. Times do get hectic, and recently I was placed in a full restraint chair off the words of another prisoner's statement! I am aware of some cases that deal with censorship, so I'm doing my research the best way possible even though the law books inside the library don't have cases past 2001. Of course I'm aware of the Prison Litigation Reform Act; that's why I am going through the grievance procedures now. I will continue fight this system and hopefully my voice will be heard outside of these walls.
SCDC has no educational programs so it's more about self-education, but as you see I'm limited on that also. They have even started feeding prisoners in here two meals on Saturday and Sunday due to so-called budged cuts, but Monday through Friday we receive three meals per day. This is a very hard battle but my will is to survive physically and mentally until there's no fighting left. I hope you can continue to send me updated info because I can receive up to five pages of material printed out like the Censorship Pack you recently sent. Thanks for your support.
MIM(Prisons) Legal Coordinator adds: Since 2010, MIM Distributors and South Carolina prisoners have been challenging the policy of "no periodicals allowed on lock-up unit." From our study of case law, we don't believe that this policy could withstand the scrutiny of the higher courts, but to date all prisoncrats who have responded to our letters have upheld the censorship and/or evaded our direct questioning.
SCDC is not the only prison administration that is more interested in political repression than rehabilitation. Because national oppression is the name of the game, all prisoncrats try to push the boundaries of legality, and fortunately bourgeois democracy sometimes get in their way. Regarding this particular type of repression, we have received similar reports from prisoners held in North Carolina, California, Connecticut, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.
It is a set-up for backwardness, which is the obvious goal: no programming, no reading materials, and you are barely able to prepare a lawsuit. They can't actually expect prisoners to reform.
As a movement, we are held back by this censorship in South Carolina. But rather than it defeating us, we should be inspired to push even harder to spread ULK, the United Struggle from Within, and the United Front for Peace in Prisons where we are able. Comrades affected by censorship should file grievances and go to court if necessary, so that conditions where they are don't mirror South Carolina's. Those with legal knowledge should write in to get involved in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic.
I wish to apprise you of the recent censored mail to and from your area. As you can probably recall, I promised to send you $20 off my books in exchange for reading material back in August. Well that month has long been left in our background.
I have attempted to get it processed from the start, yet finally it was blocked for the so-called reason that MIM is banned. I find that hard to believe because when you sent magazines and they were returned, the Sergeant who spoke to me checked into it and specifically told me MIM was not on the banned list. Still, in the documentation they refer to a memo from 2006.
Furthermore, the Trust Officer told me that anything over $50 has to be approved by Squad in advance. My donation was way below the $50 mark to go to Squad, yet before responding back to my request, my Counselor forwarded it to Squad. So yes, the Trust Office was just deflecting my question.
In the recent events of hunger strikes I think these pigs are getting petty and they are bringin up their repression tactics by stripping out all property from those who participated. Sending you money from my account seems to be out of the question for the time being.
The policies regarding donations is actually simple. As it states in Title 15 Section 3240.1 Donations, "Inmates may with permission of the institution head make voluntary donations from their trust account funds for any approved reason or cause. Permission shall be denied if any of the following exist: (a) There is evidence of coercion. (b) The inmate's trust account balance is less than the amount of the proposed donation. (c) The inmate is mentally incompetent. (d) The proposed amount of the donation is less than one dollar. (e) The reason or cause advocated could jeopardize facility security or the safety of persons."
None of the above pertain to the case at hand. It is an illegal stretch of the policy for this donation to be denied.
MIM(Prisons) Legal Coordinator adds: Recently, there has been much discussion and some legal challenges to the law stating that corporations are people with the rights to free speech in the form of unlimited spending on political causes. Incidents like this beg the question, are prisoners people? Do they have the rights promised to people in U.$. law? The stories printed in ULK tend to support the answer as "no."
Regarding the alleged ban on MIM, on July 12, 2011, Appeals Examiner K. J. Allen, an employee who investigates Director's Level Appeals, stated in an appeal decision to a prisoner,
“While Maoist International [sic] Movement publications were previously disallowed based upon the direction of CDCR administration staff, the publications are currently not listed on the Centralized List of Disapproved Publications. Thus, a blanket denial on all such publications is inappropriate, and the institution must process the appellant's mail in accordance with applicable departmental rules/regulations.
“As with all publications, the appellant's mailing must be reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with all departmental regulations. Unless this specific Maoist International Movement publication is considered contraband, as noted within the CCR 3006, the publication shall be issued to the appellant and/or allowed to be ordered and received.” (When citing this Director's Level Appeal Decision, it may be helpful to use IAB Case No. 1020001.)
The Director's level is the top of the top within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). A decision made at the Director's level would generally apply to all facilities and all prisoners in the CDCR system. When the author of this article cited the above Director's Level Appeal Decision in defense of h donation to MIM(Prisons), s/he was told to omit it from h grievance because it "belongs to another inmate." How a Director's Level Decision simply re-explaining and re-correcting a CDCR practice can "belong" to only one prisoner is beyond reason.
In ULK 24 we put a call out for donations to keep Under Lock & Key functioning at its current capacity. When a prisoner is unable to send a donation to MIM(Prisons), the prison administrators are limiting our ability to publish and send out literature, thereby illegally limiting our (and the donating prisoner's) First Amendment right to free speech. When they cite a defunct memorandum to limit donations, it is even more egregious.
At least one persyn in the CDCR's Director's office made at least one correct decision, at least once. We encourage our comrades to continue grieving and re-grieving the defunct 2006 ban of MIM Distributors up to the top, and take it to court if necessary. To help in this process, we've put together a history of the ban with quotations for specific facilities. We are sending out this Censorship Guide Supplement for California to help prisoners hold administrators to their word. Write in to get it.
I want to illuminate my thoughts regarding a "secret" Massachusetts DOC policy that this state utilizes to hold us for long stretches in solitary settings. We are frequently charged with violating a secret regulation (103 DOC 514), yet we have no access, nor does the public, to view this secret policy. The DOC expects us to abide by a regulation that we are not allowed to read.
103 CMR 430 seeks to ensure fairness in the prison disciplinary system by clearly defining and providing transparent notice of the procedures by which disciplinary issues are handled. If the goal of 103 CMR 430 is to promote order in the Massachusetts prison system and affect positive change in prisoner behavior, the applicable regulations, and standards, must be clear and readily available to the prisoners who are held accountable for transgressing these behavioral benchmarks. If they are not, the result on the prison population will be confusion, not conformity. Prisoners cannot change their behavior to abide by a set of regulations they are not allowed to view. We are owed due process under the 14th Amendment, but due process is not being afforded to us.
In Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 US 539 (1974), the Supreme Court held that advanced written notice of regulations a prisoner is allegedly violating is one of the minimum requirements of procedural due process. Furthermore, a common person could only guess at what does or doesn't constitute engaging in STG activity. Charging us continuously with STG-related offenses while denying us access to definitions of STG or STG activity conflicts with the purpose of 103 CMR 430, and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. We must stand up and demand that the Massachusetts DOC reveal this secret policy!