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[Medical Care] [Lynaugh Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 34]
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No Longer Human

In 2001 at the Lynaugh Unit in Fort Stockton while at medical out in the cage "outside waiting" a man came out of medical and turned around and hit the door, then fell out. The guard kicked the man and told him to go to his cell. Then the guard kicked him once more and told him once more to go to his cell. The man was dead! He had gone to medical to complain about chest pain. The doctor and nurse checked him out and told him that nothing was wrong. This is due to the lack of real medical attention given in prison.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Medical neglect is a serious problem in Amerikan prisons. While the government reports deaths in custody, they do not report how many of those were avoidable. Under Lock & Key reports many deaths as well as cases of medical neglect that do not immediately lead to death, but we only cover a small number of the incidents. Exposing this abuse is a critical element in our fight against the criminal injustice system. We need to share this information both with other prisoners and with people on the streets, and urge them to think about why we have a prison system that wants to let people die of neglect. This is not a system trying to rehabilitate people, it is a system of social control, serving imperialism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Control Units] [Medical Care] [Mental Health]
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The Health Effects of Solitary Confinement

The author Charles Dickens (in American Notes for General Circulation) wrote these words about solitary confinement in 1842:
"I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers, and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body, and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh, because it's wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear, therefore the more I denounce it."

Upon reading a study on solitary confinement I reflect on the following effects of this legalized tool of torture.

Significant decrease in the ability of the nervous system functions:

  1. Significant disruptions in hormone levels
  2. Absence of menstruation in women with no other physiological, organic cause due to age or pregnancy (secondary amenorrhea)
  3. Increased feeling of having to eat: Zynorexia/cravings, hyporerexia, compulsive overeating
  4. In contrast, reduction or absence of thirst
  5. Severe hot flashes and/or sensations of coldness not attributable to any corresponding change in the ambient temperature or to illness (fever, chills, etc.)

Significantly impaired perception and cognitive ability
  1. Serious inability to process perceptions
  2. Serious inability to feel one's own body
  3. Serious general difficulties in concentrating
  4. Serious difficulty, even the complete inability, to read or register what has been read, comprehend it and place it within a meaningful context
  5. Serious difficulties, even the complete inability, to speak or process thoughts in written form (agraphia, dysgraphia)
  6. Serious difficulties in articulating and verbalizing thoughts, which is demonstrated in problems with syntax, grammar and word selection and can even extend to aphasia, aphrasia, and agnosia
  7. Serious difficulties or the complete inability to follow conversations (shown to be the result of slowed function in the primary acoustic cortex of the temporal lobes due to lack of stimulation)

Additional limitations
  1. Carrying out conversations with oneself to compensate for the social and acoustic lack of stimulation
  2. Clear loss of intensity of feeling
  3. Situatively euphoric feelings which later transform into a depressed mood

Long-Term health consequences
  1. Difficulties in social contacts, including the inability to engage in emotionally close and long-term romantic relationships
  2. Depression
  3. Negative impact on self-esteem
  4. Returning to imprisonment situation in dreams
  5. Blood pressure disorders requiring treatment
  6. Skin disorders requiring treatment
  7. Inability to recover in particular cognitive skills (e.g. in mathematics) the prisoner had mastered before solitary confinement

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[Mental Health] [Medical Care] [Organizing]
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Building Healthier Revolutionary Lives in Prison

Amongst the four goals put forward in ULK issue 31 was the humyn needs such as healthy food and water along with fresh air and exercise. To some these things are assumed to be met, many especially out in society would be shocked to learn that in fact these things are not met for many in U.$. prisons. Indeed ULK is one of the few prisoners rights publications which not just highlights these oppressive conditions in U.$. prisons, but which also keeps perhaps the largest archive on prisoner's rights violations, particularly on censorship of U.$. prisons. This dedication to prisoners, those cast off of U.$. imperialism, is what first brought me to work with ULK and USW. This is what stood out to me when I would open up a MIM Theory or MIM Notes and see Amerika called out in such bold fashion. This drew me to learn more, especially when a lot of the substance of their articles were prison-based, a section of society that even many so called "progressive" peoples have abandoned.

As prisoners, healthy food is out of our reach for the most part. The truth is if we were to eat everything on these trays we would still not consume the essential vitamins and nutrients needed to call our meals healthy. Most of this slop would make a raccoon's stomach turn and could not be sold to the public, so it finds its way to the dungeons. A review of your past issues of ULK would show that prisons across the United $tates have slop. This is no surprise but what needs to be developed is how can we acquire the healthiest food under our circumstances. We got to do what we can with what we have as there is a connection between the body and mind. How can we be good revolutionaries if we are sick, have no energy or have diseases because of foul eating habits? This would hinder our ability to exist as people, much less as revolutionary people, which demands more energy, more focus, and more strength.

Those who are financially able to purchase food items from the canteen or from packages (once a year here in SHU) have a choice of mostly junk food i.e., food that is saturated in sodium, transfats and unnatural chemicals which work as artery cloggers. These junk foods are unhealthy, so how can we be revolutionaries but spend all our money on candy and chips? This is akin to considering yourself a revolutionary but being a dope fiend at the same time, or being a revolutionary but an alcoholic. This applies to comrades out in society as well. Indeed, studies have recently found that in the lab, mice have become addicted to fast food and that this addiction was stronger than being addicted to crack. In prison being addicted to junk food is destroying your body and this destruction is serving the imperialists not the people, because with a revolutionary out of commission, inflicted with high blood pressure, heart disease, etc., it is one less revolutionary on the front line.

Now if we look at this from an economic perspective, by us purchasing all the junk food we are basically lining the enemy's pockets with the few dollars our families or comrades have been able to send us. We are basically providing financial support to the terrorists=U.$. capitalists. We are funding them and supporting their business. If we are to truly empathize with the oppressed of the world and analyze the world from a Third World perspective, how can we do so by being consumed with corporate products? By us living in a capitalist society we are already forced to utilize corporations for everything we do. Even in prison we are forced to use electricity owned by corporations, consume and use hygiene products from corporations, even the paper I use and envelopes I purchase are not exempt. But these are items we must purchase for our work, we do not however have to purchase chips and candy, just as the comrade out in society does not have to purchase that big mac or french fries all the time. Of course we are not robots and as humyn beings it is ok to celebrate and indulge in something you like once in a while, but this is different than always chasing these items and living an unhealthy lifestyle.

If we are attempting to set an example to others this should also include our eating habits. So how can we revolutionize our food while in prison? Some will incorrectly think we can do nothing because the 'all powerful' state we live under controls this, but we need to toss out this self-defeatist thinking and learn from Mao when he said the imperialists are paper tigers. As with all battles with the state we just need to find the contradiction and focus our efforts therein.

As far as our trays we really only have two paths, one is the appeal process, like finding a violation or lack of calories, and two is how we have included this in our demands in the strike here in Cali. But in the realm of canteen or package items there is much more potential as nothing hurts the capitalists more than the economic pinch. What happens when nobody buys that certain toothpaste or soap for months? It is usually replaced with a different brand. And why have some items such as Folgers coffee been on the canteen list for decades? Because this is bought by many, so there is a market for this. Why then can't we replace or have them replace all the candy and chips with healthy foods? We can and I will tell you how with an example from a recent struggle.

Most recently we had an issue here in SHU where we wanted access to purchase a combination TV/Radio since we are only allowed 1 appliance, we wanted to receive a TV with a radio combo. The prison said no. This was included in our demands during the strikes of 2011 as well, the prison finally broke it down saying we could get the TV/radio combo, but that the manufacturer has to make a clear model. Time passed and nothing. The manufacturer finally made one clear but with a speaker so the prison said they must make it without a speaker. We waited and nothing. The prison blamed the company and the company said nobody from the prison contacted them so we got creative and persistent. The short corridor collective issued a statement to prisoners in California calling for everyone to write the company demanding a TV/Radio combo should be made available to us or we will boycott their company. Friends and family on the outside were told to call and e-mail the company doing the same. With the thousands of prisoners in Cali who keep this business afloat the pressure was too much, and within 60 days the company provided the TV/radio which we can now order for the first time in the 20+ years this prison has been open. So this is a way to get vendors to sell us the products we want and has proved to be effective, but it must be done by all prisoners in a state as we did it here.

Some may wonder how can all prisoners in a state know about a project like this. This is the importance of prisoners to subscribe to prisoners' rights publications which address issues. If prisoners in all prisons in a state subscribe to certain publications then when issues arise the people won't be in the dark. ULK is one such publication, write to ULK for a subscription, communicate and let your voice be heard!

If we don't buy junk food and we write companies to demand they start selling us more healthy goods that are more in line with our culture, once the companies know that they may be boycotted they will break it down as they did with our TV/radio combo.

Certain diets also provide healthier non-processed food like the halal kosher or veggie diets. Those rare times when I get a few bucks and go to canteen I buy the most healthy products. We will never have the ideal healthiest products in prisons under capitalism but the best we can do is with dry goods such as dehydrated rice and beans. I also will get the saltine crackers since this prison forbids us from having salt, which our bodies rely on, and the crackers at least give a small bit of salt. I try to get the dry oatmeal as well for fiber and iron. The beans give me protein which the mystery meat does not give. Some prison canteens allow people to purchase beef jerky which is good as well, all this allows us to supplement the shitty prison food with reasonably healthy food. Packages for those who are able provide items such as power bars, granola, nuts and beef jerky, wheat crackers, and for those on the mainline more opportunities exist like peanut butter, dried fish, mushrooms, spices, honey and salami, cheese etc. We must see that our eating habits are tools, they are weapons in our battle to be the best revolutionaries possible. While under lock and key, our health should be seen as our first line of defense! This is because with piss poor health how can we advance the revolution? How can we advance our nation if we are bed-ridden or all drugged up on meds for diseases? It slows us down in our work.

I used to listen to the rap group 'Dead Prez' talk about eating healthy and the need to be healthy. They had it right because there is a connection between our health and our mind, one affects the other and if one is off the other will follow suit.

But not everyone has the ability to buy canteen items or get packages, some folks are broke and have no outside support so what is to be done? One way to get around this is to cultivate a support system. Comrades here have developed a 'peoples support system' (PSS). This PSS ensures that anyone in the pod who goes to canteen or receives a package distributes these goods to everyone who has not received a package or canteen. In this way no one goes without. This process of building a PSS is easier when prisoners involved are conscious or at least have been doing time for a long time, and is more challenging when those involved are new to prison or suffer form extreme forms of parasitism. But even then it can be developed with time and the use of modeling behavior.

Modeling behavior occurs when someone sees a behavior and then mirrors this same action. For example, a child who sees their parent pick up the toys and throw them in the toy box, the child eventually picks up the toys herself and tosses them in the toy box without ever having been told to do so. In this same way when someone enters a pod or block and sees prisoners looking out for each other regardless of ones nationality or LO the new person will soon begin mirroring this behavior, so it is up to us conscious prisoners to set the tone on a tier, pod, block or yard. This is revolutionizing our environment, it is putting theory into practice.

Don't get it twisted I'm not saying this is always easy. It may take months or years to get someone to take a class approach, and some will never grasp that prisoners as a whole are a class, but this does not mean we will stop what we do. The Brown Berets - Prison Chapter (BB-PC) have come to understand the PSS is needed in every prison in order to cultivate our united front efforts in our battles, and we know this also leads to raising the consciousness of prisoners when coupled with other forms of education and agitation. At times building a PSS will start with one or two people, but as time goes on more and more people will do so and then all the new people will adopt this "tradition" and these are the revolutionary traditions, the kind of revolutionary culture we want to create so that when we get moved or transferred we know we left a foot print that will continue onward.

Healthy water is also essential, I have had many cellies who really did not drink water, but as humyns we need water to exist. We are supposed to drink about 8 cups of water a day to stay healthy, not 8 cups of coffee or koolaid but water. Water helps us flush out our system and maintain healthy kidneys. Water is free to us, and people in the Third World wish they had access to clean water. Many die because of lack of clean water so let us drink this clean water in order to stay healthy so we can help the struggles of Third World peoples. If it was up to the imperialists they would rather deny us clean water, at times some prisoners are denied clean water. Those who have been to Tracy prison in Cali know about the brown water. Likewise in ULK issue 9 we read the article Contaminated Water OK by CDCR. There was arsenic in the water at Kern Valley State Prison and the prisoner reported that "lead levels that are over the EPA's legal limit" were found in the water. So I'm sure comrades across Amerika can speak about foul ass water in dungeons all over.

Exercise is another aspect that needs to be taken seriously by all revolutionaries, exercise is so important that the state has targeted it and labels it STG activity. They will validate you and send you to solitary confinement for decades for doing push ups with a comrade. This is how much they see exercise as a threat, because it strengthens us as humyn beings and it is a weapon we use to combat the effects of prison life. The state seeks to strip us of any forms of resistance, anything we draw strength from hinders there project of instilling a sense of helplessness in all prisoners so that we go along with their oppression and never dare to resist the oppressor.

As revolutionary prisoners we need to develop methods of exercise to keep our bodies in top shape. This helps us not only physically, but science tells us that there is a connection between our physical health and our mental health. Exercise prevents not only disease but also depression, stress, anxiety and anger. Our world in these dungeons is filled with all this negativity which harms us just like the bullets and batons even though we often cannot see this damage in its physical form but we react to it in negative ways, so exercise helps us keep this stuff in check. These emotions will not go away but exercise helps us better deal with them without them overpowering our lives.

A good exercise regime is from forty five minutes to an hour, this is usually done from four to six days a week. I have found burpies and calisthenics to be the most fulfilling. Our bodies need to sweat in order to flush out the toxins and many times push ups just won't do it. California prisons no longer have weights so in the holes and SHUs people mostly do burpies. This tradition, which many Cali prisoners are not aware of, came from George Jackson and his comrades who developed exercise regimes utilizing burpies and calisthenics. At the time, in the 60s and 70s, prisoners were not exercising in this way as these were military style exercise regimes. Comrade George was a step ahead in identifying the inter-connection between a strong body and mind. The early 80s saw Chicano prisoners from Northern Cali develop this same exercise regime, and the late 90s saw Chicano prisoners from Southern Cali along with white prisoners soon follow this tradition that started with Black prisoners. This is good that prisoners exercise, it is a positive thing, but now the state is using it against us so we must find ways to combat this.

One way to fight the STG labeling of exercise is for all prisoners to work out together. If all prisoners work out at once it can no longer be seen as STG activity. I believe this is a positive step forward for a united front, however I don't think the state will thus be prevented from labeling group exercise STG activity, just as all prisoners of all nationalities participate in hunger strikes yet it is still seen as STG activity. But prisoners working out together would also be an unprecedented step forward. Since most group exercise are done in the hole and most holes consist of cages side by side, I can see a future exercise regime consisting of each cage calling out an exercise, regardless of what nation or sub-group one belongs to, and everyone exercising together. In the SHU we can't see no one, as everyone is in an individual cell. Some people work out and some don't so this is a little more difficult. If you find yourself in a hole and people are in individual cages, one is free to jump in and participate with those exercising but the ideal is to have everyone participate. This is something to work on and begin discussing, by working out together it does not mean we are one car, it does not mean you're joining another nation or LO, it's simply exercise. If we can starve together why not sweat together?

Today's prisons are no longer like the prisons of our grandfathers, conditions have changed and we must find ways to change with these times. If we are to ever regain things like trailer visits for lifers, weights, parole dates for lifers, and all the rest, we must be more in sync. If we want the 'end to hostilities' to really last than we need to do more, we need to implement methods which reinforce such policies as an 'End to Hostilities' and group exercise involving all nationalities and subgroups reinforce this.

The transformation of prisons should begin in every dungeon, and those who find themselves in prisons which are not conscious should learn from prisons who have already taken steps toward this transformation. Those prisons which have already taken such steps should constantly find new ways to push our momentum even further.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Florida]
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Violence and Medical Neglect Caused by Prison Guards

On August 21st I was stabbed by a white supremacist while I was in full restraints. Though I didn't know the man, I can't help but wonder whether this guy thought I was someone else, or he was following orders from these tyrants (COs). It seems to be a common thing for prisoners to harm another prisoner, in the hopes of staying in the Correctional Officers (COs) good graces.

Anyways, I was sent to medical. While at medical the nurses glued up my wounds, with a liquid stitch. Without verifying whether I was internally bleeding or not, they decided to place me under 23 hour watch. The captain happened to walk in the room, and asked me how I felt. I told him I was having trouble breathing, and so he decided to overrule the nurse and send me to an outside hospital.

By the time I reached the hospital I had already lost 40% of my blood. I was bleeding internally in my lung, stomach, spleen, large intestine, bladder and bowels. Long story short, the surgery went well. I stayed in the hospital for about 3 weeks.

While I was there the COs tried to persuade me to be cool with them enough to not file a lawsuit. You see I was stabbed while in full restraints, and the officer watching us said absolutely nothing to aid me away from harm. It didn't work because I've begun to take the proper steps in order to file a lawsuit against DOC.

They failed to properly search the other prisoner before allowing him to leave his cell, and while I was being stabbed the CO just sat there and watched. The whole situation just seems too funny to me. I don't know the guy, I've never had any beef with a white supremacist, I'm not a rat and I'm in good standing amongst my LO.

But I was building with two comrades and was recruiting other POWs to file grievances on various issues within the DOC. I'm not into conspiracy theories but I can't help wonder whether the system purposely allowed me to be harmed in the hopes of discouraging me from the revolutionary path. Nonetheless here I stand, still fighting for freedom no less.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We're saddened but not surprised to hear this story of brutality and suffering caused by prison guards, and their subsequent attempts to stop a lawsuit that might expose this system. We commend this comrade for standing strong in the face of this violence. We know that our comrades in prisons often place their lives in danger just by advocating for peace and an end to injustice. This is an inevitable part of the revolutionary struggle and we must continue to expose these incidents in the pages of Under Lock & Key.

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[Medical Care] [Mental Health] [California]
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Medical Malpractice in the PSUs

One of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) current problems is not enough bed space inside the psychiatric housing units. As a result of this consistent problem prisoner's health and federal rights are being compromised more and more. Currently there are 4900 prisoners in Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) programs, but a large number of EOP prisoners have been awaiting admission into the CDCR Psychiatric Services Unit (PSU) for way too long.

This problem could have been solved by the prison administration a long time ago, but with the CDCR, money takes precedence over prisoner's health and well being. They just do their best to camouflage that fact creating legal technicalities to prevent liability. EOP Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoners who are currently in the PSUs are suffering and paying the cost of overcrowding. Due to the prison administration's desperation to create bed space for EOP SHU offenders awaiting admission to the PSU, many EOP prisoner's level of care is being lowered without regard to their medical needs by the interdisciplinary treatment team (IDTT) committee members.

Recently a fellow prisoner comrade of mine went to his IDTT hearing, which are held every 90 days. At the hearing he was told that because he is "high functioning" his level of care would be reduced back to Correctional Clinical Case Management System (CCCMS). He told them that he has many medical reasons to stay on EOP level of care to help control his symptoms, including hallucinations and inconsistent changes of behavior. They ignored his medical history and dropped him from the EOP program.

The CDCR takes a mental health patient who isn't functioning well at a CCCMS level of care, and changes his level of care to EOP, to help the prisoner function better. Then they see the positive changes the prisoner has made due to the level of care change, and so they decide to change him back to CCCMS. But there is no help for these prisoners to sustain their progress on CCCMS. That's what the IDTT members are doing to current PSU EOP prisoners simply to make bed space. There's a huge difference in treatment given when in CCCMS compared to being in EOP. there is no possible way a prisoner that requires an EOP level of care can cope at a lower inadequate non-suitable level of care CCCMS! That's medical malpractice! It's the same as forcing a disabled prisoner that can't walk to be restricted from using a wheelchair!

As a United Soldier from Within member I'm asking for the EOP prisoners who are experiencing this type of medical malpractice to come forward by sending a letter to Under Lock and Key and let us know your situation. If we can demonstrate that this is indeed a pattern someone from United Soldiers will be assigned to look into the matter and work on putting a cease to this form of injustice and inadequate medical care.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade demonstrates well the failure of the health care system in Amerikan prisons.

First there is the failure of care in general: prisoners receive abysmal health care services that amount to outright neglect. This got so bad in California that a federal judge put California prisons in receivership under a mandate to fix the health care services. Denial of adequate care leads to an unknown number of deaths and illnesses every year in Amerikan prisons.

In this case, the author is talking about inadequate mental health services. It's important to understand what is meant by "mental illness" under capitalism to put this neglect in context. Prisoners who are locked in isolated cells for years at a time are going to lose their ability to function in society. This is just one example of how the criminal injustice system literally drives people to mental illness.

We don't see mental illness as a fixed situation but rather a result of society. And in fact the definition of this "illness" changes based on who has power in a society. There are many examples in history of communists being labeled "crazy" for their beliefs in the equality of all people. Further, those who are angered and depressed by the exploitation, murder and oppression of the majority of the world's people are given drugs by the capitalist doctors to help make them happier.

There are many people in prison who have been abused by society and then abused by the criminal injustice system. And it should be no surprise that they now have difficulty functioning. We are under no illusions that a little "mental health" treatment is going to fix this problem. But neglect and punishment is certainly only going to make things worse. And the casual moving people from program to program with little regard for their well being described in this article is just a financial and numerical exercise for the prisoncrats.

As we have described in other articles on mental health, we need to keep in mind that we can't rely on the enemy to solve our problems. The criminal injustice system is behind many of the mental health problems in prisons. And so they can not be counted on to provide the solution, which requires more than some capitalist counseling and drugs. We support our comrade's call for adequate health care, but we know that this must be a part of the larger fight against the imperialist system, because the imperialists are the cause of many of our health problems.

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[Medical Care] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Texa$' Extortion of it's Prisoners Reaches New Heights

Prisoners working for free will now pay $100 per year for healthcare. Governor Rick Perry and the Texa$ legislature have signed a bill into law that will charge prisoners a one hundred dollar per year medical care fee. This new law (Sec. 501.063) will take effect September 1, of this year, and is a desperate attempt by the powers that be in Austin to save money on a prison system housing 160,000 people which is the second largest in the nation.

Charging prisoners for medical care, room and board, etc., is not a new idea; but in contrast to most other states, Texas doesn't pay their prisoners to work. Since Texas prisoners have no way to support themselves while incarcerated, they are financially dependent on friends and family members. It's their money they use to buy items like stamps, fans, t-shirts, hygiene and food items.

The new healthcare law will not only be taking from what little money prisoners get, it's in essence taxing the ones who send them money. If the prisoner doesn't have enough money in their trust fund account to cover the $100 fee, then 50% of all incoming funds will be deducted until the debt is paid in full.

Some prisoners only get 50 or 100 dollars a year - usually for their birthday or Christmas - meaning all that money their families sent and intended for them to have, will be seized by the state for something they shouldn't be charging prisoners for in the first place.

Workplace injuries and ailments due to prison conditions comprise a considerable percentage of prisoner requests for medical care. With the new law, they will be charged to receive medical care for on the job injuries; the same jobs they receive not a dime for.

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[Medical Care] [Release] [California]
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Population Cap on California Prisons

In a May 23, 2011 decision by the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata (2011) 563 U.S., the court held that a population limit of 146,000 prisoners was necessary to remedy unconstitutional medical and mental health conditions in California prisons. Although the Court recognized that there were other factors which contributed to inadequate medical and mental health care, the court nevertheless found that the primary cause of those deficiencies was overcrowding. There are just not enough qualified medical and mental health staff to effectively treat 175,000 prisoners in a system designed to house only 80,000 prisoners. These overcrowded conditions are leading to the spread of many diseases and delaying other medical conditions that are going untreated and resulting in unnecessary pain and death. Overcrowding is also affecting staff's ability to properly treat prisoner's mental health conditions. California prisons have a prison suicide rate 80% higher than the national average. 72% of suicides in California prisons involved some measure of inadequate assessment, treatment, or intervention, and were therefore most probably foreseeable and/or preventable had mental health staff not been overburdened with so many prisoners.

Because there was a concern with the consequences of releasing 46,000 prisoners into the community, the court ordered California to immediately start identifying those prisoners who pose the least risk of reoffending and offer them an expansion of good-time credits towards early release. Based on these concerns, it is most likely that those convicted of violence will not be afforded early release. The Court was concerned with the consequences of a previous Court ordered population cap on Pennsylvania prisons in which, during an 18-month period after their release, police rearrested 9,732 prisoners for committing new crimes. Those new crimes included 79 murders, 90 rapes, 1,113 assaults, 959 robberies, 701 burglaries, 2,748 thefts and thousands of drug related offenses. Based on that prior experience, which the Court did not want to repeat, the Court recommended that besides releasing those most likely not to reoffend, California could find other alternatives like diverting low-risk offenders to community based programs such as drug treatment, day reporting centers, and electronic monitoring, instead of releasing violent prisoners.

The California legislature was already working on such a proposal in Assembly Bill 109 which was recently passed and signed by the Governor. AB-109 includes 640 amendments to various California statutes, not all concerning prisoners. As for those that do address overcrowding, only two are worth noting.

The first is an amendment to California Penal Code (PC) 1170(h) which now allows certain persons sentenced up to 3 years to serve that entire sentence in a county jail. Before, only a sentence of 1 year or less was required to be served in the county jail. Those who will not be required to serve a sentence of 3 years or less in a county jail are: anyone who has a prior or current felony conviction for a serious felony as described in PC 1192.7(c ), a violent felony as described in PC 667.5(c ), anyone required to register as a sex offender, and anyone who received a sentence enhancement pursuant to PC 186.11.

The second change worth noting is the promulgation of "The Postrelease Community Supervision Act of 2011." This Act added sections 3000.09; and 3450 through 3458 to the California Penal Code. The Act states that all those released on and after July 1, 2011 who have not been convicted of a serious felony pursuant to PC 1192.7(c ); a violent felony as described in PC 667.5(c ); sentenced pursuant to PC 667(c )(2); PC 1170.12(c )(2); or any person classified as a High Risk Sex Offender, will no longer be on parole nor under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Instead, those persons not convicted of violent or serious felonies as described above will now be released on what will be known as "Postrelease Supervision" and will fall under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff or Director of the County Correctional department for the County that person is released to.

Those persons who qualify for postrelease supervision will be on this new form of supervision for no longer than three years at which time they will be discharged from all supervision. Those on Postrelease Supervision will not be returned to prison for violations of their postrelease supervision conditions. Instead, they will be subject to a variety of other alternatives which will be known as "Community Based Punishment." Such punishment could include what will be called "Short-Term Flash Incarceration" which means that a technical violation could subject the offender to County Jail time of no more than seven days. Other forms of community-based punishment include: intensive community supervision; additional monetary restitution; work, training, or education in a furlough program; placement in a substance abuse treatment program, community service; random drug testing; or home detention with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) monitoring.

Those who are released on and after July 1, 2011 and do not qualify for Postrelease supervision because they were convicted of violent or serious felonies as described above will remain under the jurisdiction of the CDCR and will not see any significant change in their parole conditions and parole revocation procedures.

Those who were already paroled prior to July 1, 2011 will remain under the jurisdiction of the CDCR because they were paroled before the new law took effect. Except that those who were not convicted of violent or serious felonies will have a chance to have their parole reviewed so long as they complete six months of continuous parole without any violations. If the person has not violated parole within six months, he or she will be recommended for Postrelease Supervision and subject to Postrelease Supervision as described in PC3450 through 3458. Those persons also paroled prior to July 1, 2001 but were convicted of serious and violent felonies as described above will remain on parole under the jurisdiction of the CDCR because they would not have qualified for Postrelease Supervision even if they had been paroled after the new law took effect.

California has until May 23, 2013 to comply with the release of 46,000 prisoners unless it requests a five year extension. The extension may be granted only if California satisfies necessary and appropriate preconditions designed to ensure that measures are taken to implement the release without delay. Because California has already relieved its prisons of 9,000 prisoners through out-of-state-transfers, it now has 37,000 more prisoners to address. After the United States Supreme Court had finished hearing oral arguments and was getting ready to issue its decision, California informed the Court that it was working on AB-109. California did not give the Court a specific number of prisoners that would be affected by AB-109. California only said that "thousands" would qualify under AB-109 to serve 3-years or less in a county jail and be released on Postrelease Supervision. California will eventually have to give a specific number of persons who will not end up in prison as a result of AB-109. Once California gives a specific number of persons affected by AB-109, it will then have to introduce more legislation in order to release more prisoners or prevent them from coming to prison. As of right now, no prisoner has been released, they have just been transferred to another state or prevented from ending up in prison.

This is just a brief outline of what has recently taken place to address overcrowding in California. It is up to those of you who might be affected to do your own research into the information provided above. Because of space limitations, not every detail of the Court's order or Assembly Bill 109 could be described in detail. So if you did not qualify under AB-109, you might qualify for release under another change in the law in the near future. If you will not qualify for early release in the future, you should at least see some improvement in medical and mental health care which was the whole purpose of the population cap in the first place. So everyone should be affected one way or another. Good luck with your struggles.


MIM(Prisons) comments: This is a good overview of the new court ruling about health care and overcrowding in California prisons. While we hope that the net effect of this ruling is the release of some prisoners and prevention of locking up others, we're not optimistic that this will lead to any substantive changes. We have seen court rulings in the past about prison conditions, and as the pages of Under Lock and Key have documented, the Criminal Injustice System is very creative about worming their way out of restrictions to find new ways to oppress. The size of the California prison population represents job security and high wages for staff, and they will not give this up without a fight. It is a condemnation of the imperialist system that it enables people to profit off the torture and destruction of humyns. Only by ending imperialism overall will we be able to truly change the criminal injustice system. Until that time, we hope our comrades behind bars will find creative ways to use this court ruling to their advantage.

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[Medical Care] [Holman Correctional Facility] [Alabama]
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Healthcare in a Nightmare World

Most people are ignorant of the atrocities and tragedies taking place daily in these koncentration kamps. People listen and believe the lies spewed from the deceitful mouths of prison officials who put forth the ridiculous notion that prisoners receive superior medical care to free-world people, FREE! The reality is something far different, sinister and abhorrent.

The rate of prisoner deaths is unreal. Just in a 12 month period from '08 to '09, six prisoners at Holman prison have died. This is not including the deaths on deathrow from natural (i.e. negligent) causes. This is just at one kamp. Word is that it's happening throughout the state.

Alabama is one of a number of states that has implemented "compassionate" release of terminally ill prisoners. There's nothing "compassionate" about this. "Compassion" is not the reasoning of politicians or prison officials. This provision is as compassionate as G.W. Bush's "compassionate" conservatism.

One prisoner had been approved for release under the "compassionate" release for terminally ill provision but died the day before his scheduled release. Imagine what the family went through, thinking and preparing for their loved one to come home "tomorrow" but find out he's dead the morning they were to pick him up. Another prisoner was also approved and released, but died after one day of being released.

What's deceitful, sinister and abhorrent about all these deaths is that with proper preventative healthcare, most, if not all, of these prisoners could still be alive today. Prison officials and the medical providers that are under contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) are allowing these prisoners' medical conditions to deteriorate to save money on medical bills.

People must be made to understand that prison officials and prison medical providers are killing people by their reluctance to send prisoners to free-world hospitals and specialists and provide necessary medicines that prisoners need to survive, just to save money and in return reap huge profits.

In 2006, there was a big scandal at Limestone Correctional Facility in Alabama. Limestone is a medium security prison that also houses the state's HIV/AIDS prisoners. The scandal was about the medical service there. The doctor at the prison was complaining about prison officials interfering and dictating the treatment and medicines to be dispensed to prisoners. The doctor stated to the Birmingham News newspaper that the warden at Limestone had threatened her with locking her out of the prison if she didn't stop complaining about prison officials interfering in medical matters.

Limestone was also the prison that in the 1990s housed dead HIV/AIDS prisoners' bodies in the kitchen's meat freezer next to the food fed to prisoners.

All prisoners in Alabama know that any time there's a new doctor and that doctor shows any kind of humanity towards prisoners, and diligence in providing proper medical care such as sending prisoners to free-world hospitals, specialists, ordering costly tests, prescribing expensive medications, it won't last long before that doctor's gone.

Prisoners in Alabama have scheduled yearly physicals. Out of my 25 years doing time in Alabama prisons, I have had no more than my height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure measured, blood taken (every three years), TB tests and a few rapid-fire questions asked. That's it!

There's much more neglect, incompetence and denial I could list about healthcare in this nightmare world. The above should be enough to shock your conscious and your actions to fight for a world where exploitation, slavery and profit are not the motive for every endeavor. A better world is possible.

MIM(Prisons) responds:Overall, we don't believe that Amerikans are inadequately informed about prison conditions, and that once we tell them how horrible it is their conscience will kick in and drive them to action. In Amerikans: Oppressing for a Living, we explained how the Amerikan constituents demand "tough on crime" legislation and representatives. Their subjective interests in the welfare of prisoners is reflected in the lack of education programming, support to releasees, as well as abhorrent medical care to people locked up. Damn the facts. Amerikans are gonna keep complaining that "criminals are getting better health care for free" than what they pay for. And they'll ignore it if they pay government taxes that go to line the pockets of medical contractors who are letting people die of preventable causes.

Those of us who suffer at the hands of white Amerika, or commit national suicide should get on this comrade's bandwagon to fight for a world where profit is not a motivating factor for any endeavor, because it's true, a better world is possible.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Mental Health] [Iowa]
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Psychological Torture in Iowa

It's after midnight and I am exhausted but the racing thoughts in my head will not allow my body to sleep. My anxiety is at its absolute worst and therefore my insomnia is at its worst.

As a result of having to try to cope with these almost crippling conditions without medication, my depression is also quite severe. Most days I have to force myself to get out of bed. (Keep in mind that when I'm "in bed", I'm not there because I'm sleeping but rather because I cannot find a reason to get up.) When I finally do get up I'm in a constant state of anxiety and panic. I've lived every day of the last year and a half on the verge of a complete nervous and emotional breakdown due to my untreated insomnia and anxiety/panic disorder.

Because of "DOC policy" the medications that were successfully treating these conditions prior to me coming to prison in 2009 were taken from me. The only medication I'm allowed is Cymbalta, which treats my depression.

I have complained to psychology staff and my doctor here that I need these medications back as my mental health is extremely unstable due to not having them. I mentioned to them that it is not unusual for me - since not having these meds - to only get 1-2 hours of sleep a night. I also told them about the panic attacks I've been having. (Anyone who's ever suffered from one of these can tell you just how terrifying they can be.) I've told them all of this and they still refuse to provide me with adequate medications to treat my mental illnesses. Prisoners here do not receive any type of individual therapy to help them cope with such illnesses either.

As a result of IDOC's negligence to my mental health I have suffered immensely. I was forced to drop out of a potentially beneficial academic program as a result of my untreated anxiety and the fact that I could not attend some days because I was not getting enough sleep at night due to my untreated insomnia. When my conditions got so bad that I was contemplating suicide they locked me in a tiny cell with no clothes and no blankets or a bed to sleep on and they left me there for about 2 weeks - the first time. They required me to eat with my hands and would not allow any tangible items in the cell with me, not even a soft covered Bible. Now lets be reasonable here, how am I going to harm myself with a soft covered Bible - or any soft covered book for that matter? They also forced me to let them examine my anus and genital area 3 times per day because they thought I may have had something hidden up there even though I never once left the cell and the door never opened once. It was closed and I never had any type of contact with anyone. Keep in mind someone was outside the cell monitoring me through a fairly large window 24/7.

I believe they secretly thought that keeping me in there for so long under such harsh and inhumane conditions would discourage me from bothering them with my mental health problems anymore as I heard one of the pigs say to the prisoner they appointed to monitor me that "if he wants to keep plain' these fuckin' games he can just stay in there awhile." When he used the word "games" he was referring to me becoming suicidal as a result of their negligence to my mental health needs.

I was recently told by a psychology staff that they could not afford to give me the medications I need because of the recent budget cuts here in this state. I write this letter because I figured people should know that Governor Culver, who claims to so concerned about the safety of Iowa's children, is also the one responsible for the budget cuts that put a barrier between prisoners and adequate mental health treatment which would help all mentally ill prisoners, including pedophiles and other sex offenders, be better rehabilitated and prepared to live as responsible citizens upon release.

So I'll close this letter by posing a few questions. What is more threatening, pedophiles or mentally unstable pedophiles? A domestic abuser or a mentally unstable domestic abuser? A drug dealer who sells drugs to kids or a mentally unstable drug dealer who has a history of selling drugs to kids? I think I've made my point.


MIM(Prisons) responds: As we've written in previous articles about mental health, we look primarily to the environment as a cause for mental health problems like this prisoner describes. It is no wonder that s/he is suffering problems, as s/he is subjected to the torture of isolation that has a documented history of bringing mental health issues. Under imperialism we are forced to accept band-aids for mental health problems, and so many people end up using drugs to bring symptoms under control. As we explained in ULK 13, "As with most problems we face, we can find answers to mental health problems through dialectical materialism and in having the correct political line. In the 1950s the Chinese eliminated the more backwards psychological practices in their society and replaced them with ones focused on getting individuals to connect with and help shape the material world through applying dialectical materialism. Mental health care, like much of Chinese society under Mao, emphasized the importance of both self-reliance and collective help, with the understanding that patients can fight their diseases and lead productive lives in the new society."

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