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[China] [Mental Health] [Medical Care] [Drugs] [ULK Issue 59]
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Opioids on the Rise Again Under Imperialism

On 26 October 2017, U.$. President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The declaration should lead to more federal funding for grants to combat opioid abuse.(1) As we explain below, this epidemic disproportionately affects euro-Amerikans. Trump linked his campaign to build a wall along the current Mexican border to the battle against this epidemic, despite the fact that prescription painkillers are at the root of it. This is consistent with the Amerikan government's solution for drug problems created by imperialism. For the crack epidemic of the 1980s Amerika responded with mass incarceration of New Afrikan men as the solution. As opioid addiction continues a steady rise, Trump offers further militarization of the border.

Opioids have been used by humyns for thousands of years both medicinally and recreationally, with many periods of epidemic addiction. Use began with opium from poppies. Morphine was isolated in 1806. By the early 1900s heroin was promoted as a cure for morphine addiction in the United $tates, before being made illegal in 1924. There was a lull in heroin use during the 1980s, when cocaine and crack overshadowed it. Various prescription pain killers began to come back into vogue in the 1990s after the "Just Say No!" mentality was wearing off. Since then, use and abuse has been on a steady rise, feeding a new surge in the use of heroin as a cheaper alternative. This rise, in the economic centers of both the United $tates and China, is directly linked to capitalism.

The Danger

While K2 is one dangerous substance plaguing U.$. prisons these days, partly due to its undetectability, opioids are by far the biggest killer in the United $tates, and we expect that is true in prisons as well. Drug overdoses surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United $tates in 2007 and has continued a steady rise ever since. The majority of these overdoses have been from opioids.(2)

While the increase in deaths from opioids has been strong across the United $tates, rates are significantly higher among whites, and even higher among First Nations. One reason that use rates are lower among New Afrikans and [email protected] is that it has been shown that doctors are more reluctant to prescribe opioids to them because they are viewed as more likely to become addicted, and Amerikan doctors see them as having a greater pain threshold.(3)

We did see some evidence of this trend in the results of our survey on the effects of drugs in U.$. prisons. The most popular answer to our question of whether certain groups did more drugs in prison than others was no, it affects everyone. But many clarified that there was a strong racial divide where New Afrikans preferred weed and K2, while whites and usually [email protected] went for heroin and/or meth. Some of these respondents said that New Afrikans did less drugs.(4) A couple said that New Afrikans used to do less drugs but now that's changing as addiction is spreading. In states where K2 has not hit yet (CA, GA, CO) it was common to hear that whites and "hispanics" (or in California, "southern" Mexicans) did more drugs. The pattern of New Afrikans preferring weed and K2 seemed common across the country, and could have implications for strategies combating drug use among New Afrikans compared to other groups. In particular, stressing that K2 is completely different and more dangerous than weed could be part of a harm reduction strategy focused on New Afrikans.

If prison staff were doing their jobs, then we would expect rates of both overdoses and use in general to be lower in prisons. But we know, and our survey confirmed, that this is not the case (78% of respondents mentioned staff being responsible for bringing in at least some of the drugs in their prison). In hindsight, it may have been useful to ask our readers what percentage of prisoners are users and addicts. Some of the estimates that were offered of the numbers using drugs in general were 20-30%, 90%, 75%, and many saying it had its grips on the whole population.

Deaths from opioids in the general U.$. population in 2015 was 10.5 per 100,000, double the rate in 2005.(5) This is higher than the rates in many state prison systems for overdoses from any drug, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania that all reported average rates of 1 per 100,000 from 2001-2012. California was closer at 8 per 100,000 and Maryland exceeded the general population at 17 deaths from overdoses per 100,000 prisoners.(6) At the same time, prison staff have been known to cover up deaths from overdoses, so those 1 per 100,000 rates may be falsified.

In our survey of ULK readers, we learned that Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, is quite popular in prisons (particularly in the northeast/midwestern states). Survey respondents mentioned it as often as weed as one of the most popular drugs, and more than heroin. Suboxone is actually used to treat heroin addiction. And while it is not supposed to be active like other opioids, it can lead to a high and be addictive. It is relatively safe, and will not generally lead to overdose until you combine it with other substances, which can lead to death.

Prescription drugs are not as common as other drugs in most prisons, according to our survey. Though in some cases they are available. We received a few responses from prisons where prescription drugs prescribed by the medical staff seemed to be the only thing going on the black market. Clearly there is variability by facility.

Two Paths to Recovery

The increases in opioid abuse in the United $tates has been staggering, and they cause a disproportionate amount of the deaths from drug overdoses. About 10% of opioid addicts worldwide are in the United $tates, despite only being less than 5% of the world's population.(7) At the same time, only about 1% of people in the United $tates are abusing opioids.(8) This is not the worst episode in U.$. history, and certainly not in world history.

british feed chinese opium

Around 1914 there were 200,000 heroin addicts in the United $tates, or 2% of the population. In contrast, some numbers for opium addicts in China prior to liberation put the addiction rate as high as 20% of the population around 1900, and 10% by the 1930s. That's not to dismiss the seriousness of the problem in the United $tates, but to highlight the power of proletarian dictatorship, which eliminated drug addiction about 3 years after liberation.

Richard Fortmann did a direct comparison of the United $tates in 1952 (which had 60,000 opioid addicts) and revolutionary China (which started with millions in 1949).(9) Despite being the richest country in the world, unscathed by the war, with an unparalleled health-care system, addicts in the United $tates increased over the following two decades. Whereas China, a horribly poor country coming out of decades of civil war, with 100s of years of opium abuse plaguing its people, had eliminated the problem by 1953.(9) Fortmann pointed to the politics behind the Chinese success:

"If the average drug addiction expert in the United States were shown a description of the treatment modalities used by the Chinese after 1949 in their anti-opium campaign, his/her probable response would be to say that we are already doing these things in the United States, plus much more. And s/he would be right."(9)

About one third of addicts went cold turkey after the revolution, with the more standard detox treatment taking 12 days to complete. How could they be so successful so fast? What the above comparison is missing is what happened in China in the greater social context. The Chinese were a people in the process of liberating themselves, and becoming a new, socialist people. The struggle to give up opium was just one aspect of a nationwide movement to destroy remnants of the oppressive past. Meanwhile the people were being called on and challenged in all sorts of new ways to engage in building the new society. There was so much that was more stimulating than opium to be doing with their time. Wimmin, who took up opium addiction in large numbers after being forced into prostitution in opium dens, were quickly gaining opportunities to engage at all levels of society. The poor, isolated peasants were now organized in collectives, working together to solve all kinds of problems related to food production, biology and social organization. The successful struggle against drug addiction in China was merely one impressive side effect of the revolutionizing of the whole society.

In contrast, in the capitalist countries, despair lurks behind every corner as someone struggles to stay clean. The approach has ranged from criminalization to medicalization of drug addiction as a disease. "Once an addict, always an addict", as they say. Always an individualist approach, ignoring the most important, social causes of the problem. That drug addiction is primarily a social disease was proven by the practice of the Chinese in the early 1950s, but Western "science" largely does not acknowledge the unquestionable results from that massive experiment.

It is also worth pointing out the correlation between drug abuse and addiction, and capitalist economics specifically. Whether it was colonial powers forcing opium on the Chinese masses who had nothing, in order to enslave them to their economic will, or it is modern Amerikan society indulging its alienation in the over-production of prescription pills from big pharmaceutical companies marketing medicine for a profit.

China Today

And now, opioid addiction is on the rise again in capitalist China after decades. A steady rise in drug-related arrests in China since 1990 are one indicator of the growing problem.(10) As more profits flowed into the country, so have more drugs, especially since the 1990s. We recently published a review of Is China an Imperialist Country?, where we lamented the loses suffered by the Chinese people since the counter-revolution in 1976. It goes to show that when you imitate the imperialists, and put advancing the productive forces and profits over serving the people, you invite in all the social ills of imperialism.

In China drug addiction has now become something that people fear. Like it did with its economy, China has followed in the imperialists' footsteps in how it handles drug addiction. Chinese policy has begun treating addicts as patients that need to be cured to protect society. Rather than seeing those who give up drugs as having defeated the oppressor's ways, they are monitored by the state, lose social credibility, and have a hard time getting a job.(11) Under socialism, everyone had a job and no one needed recreational drugs to maintain themselves mentally. The path to combating drug addiction and abuse is well-established. Attempts under imperialism that don't involve liberatory politics of the oppressed have little to no effect.

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[Release] [Mental Health]
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No Help for PTSD After Release

I graduated college and was quite active in community prior to 2014. Well, one word: PTSD. I exited fedz with quite a serious case of it, which I sought counseling for. After a year the fedz canceled funding so I was left to fend for self. Entering campus with massive crowds saw one experience anxiety attacks. Two successive altercations with tribal members where one reacted as if back on the yard and resulted in other's physical harm, and my dormant insomnia/stress returning. Due to my aiding state in suppressing documented evidence of my PTSD ongoing crisis, it never got introduced at trial. Causing one to appear to have beat people up for no reason. And the introduction of party validation into a weak case served its desired purpose: incite fear.

Presently doing 45 years as I was given more time than a murderer. Prayerfully the appeals gain one some justice. However I hold no faith in a system designed to entomb the poor and silence the militant. My remaining days of life shall be devoted to the destruction of my/our oppressors. By any means necessary!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This story is all too common: prisons cause physical and mental health problems, which in turn make it difficult for people to survive on the streets. And so many people end up getting locked back up.

It's hard enough to stay on the streets finding housing and a job. It's even harder if you want to continue with your revolutionary activism. This doesn’t mean you should give up, but it does mean you'll need support. We at MIM(Prisons) are working to improve our Re-lease on Life program so that we can provide some of that support. Right now that's limited to political support. We can help you build the structures necessary to stay active on the streets. But you'll have to do your part by communicating with us regularly and working to build the necessary self-discipline. If you’re reading this newsletter and you haven't engaged with us around your release plans, get in touch now!

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Mental Health] [Theory] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 57]
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Disabilities and Anti-Imperialism

disability in prison

[Co-authored with PTT of MIM(Prisons)]

Nowhere is the necessity for the societal advancement to communism more apparent than in the realm of disability considerations. No segment of society, imprisoned or otherwise, is in greater need of the guiding communist ethos proclaimed by Marx: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." This humynist principle applies to no demographic more than the disabled.

When communist society is realized, the intrinsic worth of each and every persyn and their potential to contribute to society will be realized as well. In return, communist society will reward the disabled population by adequately providing their essentials and rendering all aspects of society open and accessible for their full utilization. In a phrase, communism will respect the disabled persyn's humyn right to a humane existence. We communists strive for the elimination of power structures that allow the oppression of people by people. The disabled population, as well as all peoples that have hystorically been subjugated by the oppressive bourgeois system of capitalism/imperialism, can then work toward the implementation of a truly democratic society.

Considering MIM(Prisons) recognizes only three strands of oppression in the world today (nation, class and gender), able-bodiedness is a cause and consequence of class, and in countries with more leisure-time it is intimately tied up in the gender strand of oppression. This essay intends to analyze disability as it relates to class, gender, and the prison environment.

Disability and Class

In the United $tates the greatest source of persynal wealth is inheritance. It can be said the ability to create and maintain able-bodiedness may be inherited also. For the most part, class station is determined by birth. By virtue of to whom and where a persyn is born, their access, or lack thereof, to material resources is ascribed. The bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy have access to nutrition and healthcare the First World lumpen and international proletariat and peasantry do not. The likelihood of a positive health background renders the labor aristocracy and other bourgeois classes attractive prospects to potential employers, lenders, etc. This allows them to continue to enjoy nutrition and healthcare not common to the lumpen, proletariat, and peasantry.

It would be extremely uncommon to find a First World lumpen, an international proletarian, or a peasant with a membership to a health and fitness club. This privilege is reserved for the bourgeois classes, including the petty-bourgeoisie and its subclass the labor aristocracy. This, of course, further enhances the prospect of maintaining good health, and compounded with employer-supplied healthcare, does act as prophylaxis against the onset of debilitating and degenerative physical ailments.

It would be unreasonable to ignore the possibility that a member of the bourgeoisie might be genetically infirm, or a labor aristocrat debilitated by an accident. But, due to their class position, these classes are better prepared and equipped to minimize the adversities resulting from such an unfortunate occurrence.

Able-bodiedness may also affect upward class mobility. An able-bodied First World lumpen that can find employment might enter the ranks of the labor aristocracy. A blue collar labor aristocrat may be promoted to a managerial position, and so forth. Of course other factors, such as national background, do play a role in one's mobility (or stagnation for that matter), but disability also plays a significant role.

Disability and Gender

Gender only comes to the fore after life's essentials are secured, thereby standing out in relief on its own aside from class/nation. In the First World leisure-time plays a major role in gender analysis. MIM(Prisons) defines "gender" as:

"One of three strands of oppression, the other two being class and nation. Gender can be thought of as socially-defined attributes related to one's sex organs and physiology. Patriarchy has led to the splitting of society into an oppressed (wimmin) and oppressor gender (men).
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. ... Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. ..." - MIM(Prisons) Glossary

This system of gender oppression is commonly referred to as "patriarchy," which MIM(Prisons) defines as:

"the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over wimmin and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over wimmin in society in general; it implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that wimmin are deprived of access to such power."(1)

Professor bell hooks's description of patriarchy in eir work The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love has also contributed to this author's understanding of gender oppression:

"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence."(2)

Professor hooks's definition of patriarchy not only recognizes terrorism as a patriarchal mechanism, but that patriarchal forces do not intend only to oppress, dominate, and subjugate females or even just females and children, but patriarchy's pathology is to hold down anything it regards as weaker than itself. Patriarchy is a bully.

Children are one of the most stigmatized and oppressed groups of people in the world. Patriarchal society considers children physically disabled due to their undeveloped bodies and therefore susceptible to patriarchal oppression — regardless of the biology of the child. This firmly places children in the gender oppressed stratum. Due to disabled people's diminished bodies (and/or cognizance), disabled people can be categorized similar to children subjected to patriarchy, ergo, disability falls into the gender oppression stratum as well as class.

Patriarchy and Prisons

U.$. prisons are, from top to bottom, patriarchal structures. Prisons are institutions where the police, the judiciary, and militarization have crystalized as paternalistic enforcer of bureaucracies of patriarchy; prisons, the system of political, social, cultural and economic restraint and control, are fundamentally patriarchal institutions implemented to enforce the status quo — including patriarchal domination. Disabled prisoners in Texas have long been labeled "broke dicks," illustrative of their "less-than-a-man" status in the prison pecking order.

There are laws mandating disabled prisoners not be precluded from recreational activities, or any other prison activity for that matter. Yet enforcement of these laws are prohibitively difficult for disabled prisoners, especially prisoners with vision or hearing disabilities, or cognitive impairments. The disabled have few advocates in bourgeois society; they have virtually none in prison.

The likelihood that prison officials discriminate against and abuse disabled prisoners is readily apparent. What is most disheartening is able-bodied prisoners are often the perpetrators of mistreatment against disabled prisoners, frequently at the behest of prison administrators so as to procure favorable treatment. In fact, the most telling aspect of the conditions of confinement imposed on disabled prisoners is the abuse of the disabled prisoners at the hands of able-bodied prisoners. The able-bodied prisoners are quick to manhandle and overrun disabled prisoners in obtaining essential prison services which are commonly inadequate and limited. When queued up for meals, showers, commissary, etc. the able-bodied prisoners will shove and elbow aside disabled prisoners; will threaten to assult disabled prisoners; and have in fact assaulted disabled prisoners should they complain or protest being accosted in such a fashion. All this invariably with the knowledge and/or before the very eyes of prison administrators and personnel.

It is far too common for the victims of sexual harassment and assault in prisons to be gay, transgendered, and/or disabled. Whether the perpetrator be prison officials or fellow prisoners, this practice is condoned by the culture of patriarchy and the hyper-masculine prison environment.

In the Prison Justice League's (PJL) report to the U.$. Department of Justice titled "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Use of Excessive Force at Estelle Unit" the PJL outlined the routine and systematic abuse of disabled prisoners by prison personnel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Regional Medical Facility for the Southern Region, Estelle Unit.(3) Prisoners assigned to the Estelle Unit per their disabilities are regularly and habitually denied medical treatment for their disabilities, ergo oftentimes exacerbating the causes and effects of the disabilities which brought them to Estelle initially; are denied auxiliary aids so as to accommodate their disabilities as required by law; are physically assaulted by prison administrators and staff, or their inmate henchmen; and with egregious frequency are murdered at the hands of state officials.

Since the PJL's report and subsequent Department of Justice investigation, there has been a bit of a detente in the abuse visited upon disabled Estelle prisoners by prison personnel. But the pigz are barely restrained. Threats of physical violence directed at disabled prisoners are still a regular daily occurrence, and prison personnel assaults on disabled prisoners are still far too common.

Another recent example of the persistent difficulties disabled prisoners face, even with the courts on their side, can be seen in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) recent settlement negotiated with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDC), after it neglected to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from a 1995 settlement, Langford v. Bullock. In 2005, the ADA requirements were still not met, and despite the Circuit Court's order requiring Montana to comply with the 1995 settlement, it is not until 2017, and much advocacy later, that negotiations are being finalized between the ACLU and MDC. We can't dismantle systems of gender oppression one quarter-century-long lawsuit at a time. That's why MIM(Prisons) advocates for a complete overthrow of patriarchal capitalism-imperialism as soon as possible.

Another patriarchal aspect to be observed in prisons is ageism. As children are included in the gender-oppressed stratum, so should the aged. As the able-bodied prisoners' ability to work subsides due to age in the First World, especially in the United $tates where the welfare state is minuscule and the social safety net set very low, the propensity for a once able-bodied persyn to be relegated to the ranks of the lumpen is intensified. As the once able-bodied persyn becomes aged and disabled, their physical, as well as mental, health becomes more and more jeopardized, accelerating the degeneration of existing disabilities as well as increasing the likelihood of creating the onset of new ones (e.g. the First World lumpen are notorious for developing diabetes due to poor diet and lifestyle issues).

Disability as a Means of Castration

Holding people in locked cages is an acute form of social control. Solitary confinement creates long-lasting psychological damage. And prison conditions in general are designed (by omission) to create long-lasting physical damage to oppressed populations. Prisons are a tool of social control, and exacerbating/creating disabilities is a way prisons carry this through in a long-term and multi-generational fashion.

Prisoners, who are a majority lumpen population, are likely to already have unmet medical needs before entering prison, as described above in the section on class. Then when in prison, these medical needs are exacerbated because of the bad environment (toxic water, exposed asbestos, run down facilities, etc.); brutality from guards and fellow prisoners; poor medical care including untreated physical traumas, improper timing for medications (see article on diabetes), and just straight up neglect.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's battle to receive treatment for hepatitis C, which ey contracted from a tainted blood transfusion ey received after being shot by police in 1981, is a case in point. Mumia belongs to an oppressed nation, is conscious of this oppression, has fought against this oppression, and thus is last on the priority list for who the state of Pennsylvania will give resources to. And medical care under capitalism is sold to the highest bidder, with new drugs which are 90% effective in curing hepatitis C coming with a price tag of $1,000 per day. In a communist society these life-saving drugs will be free to all who need them.

Disability in the Anti-Imperialist Movement

The fact that people with disabilities will be treated better after we take down capitalism is obvious. Our stance on discrimination against people with disabilities in our society today is obvious. What is less obvious is the question of how we can incorporate people with disabilities into the anti-imperialist movement today, while we are so small and relatively weak compared to the enemy that surrounds us. This is an ongoing question for revolutionaries, who are always pushing themselves to be stronger, better, and more productive. After all, there is an urgency to our work.

Our militancy tends to be inherently ableist. With all the distractions and requirements of living in this bourgeois society, we have precious little time to devote to revolutionary work. We are always on the lookout for things and people that are holding us back and wasting our time, and we work diligently to weed these things and people from our lives and movement. Often when people aren't productive enough, due to mental or physical consequences of capitalism and national oppression, we can't do anything to help them — especially through the mail. No matter how sympathetic people are to our politics, and how much they want to contribute, we just don't have the resources to provide care that would help these folks give more to overthrowing imperialism. Often times all we can do is use these anecdotes to add fuel to our fire.

Disabilities amongst oppressed people are intentionally created by the state, and a natural consequence of capitalism. If we don't take any time to work with and around our allies' disabilities, then we are excluding a population of people who, like the introduction says above, are in the greatest need of a shift toward communism. We aim to have independent institutions of the oppressed which can help people overcome some of these barriers to political work. At this time, however, the state is doing more to weaken our movement in this regard than we are able to do to strengthen it.

[Of note, the primary author of this article has devoted eir life to revolutionary organizing in spite of being imprisoned and with multiple physical disabilities. Even though it is extremely difficult to contribute, it is possible!]

Notes:
1. From MIM(Prisons) Glossary, Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy, Oxford University Press, 1987, p.239 Appendix.
2. bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, Washington Square Press, 2004, p. 18.
3. Erica Gammill & Kate Spear, Cruel & Unusual Punishment: Excessive Use of Force at the Estelle Unit, Prison Justice League, 2015.
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[Medical Care] [Mental Health] [ULK Issue 53]
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Cell Exercises to Build a Revolutionary Body

The stressful conditions of imprisonment, through its tactics of oppression and the aggressions of the prison system, not only take a toll on our minds, but on our bodies as well. Lockdowns and constant hours confined in a cell erodes our bodies through inactivity. It's important to work on our physical stamina to aid us in our struggle against this oppression and this can be seen as an effort against this tyranny, furthering our revolutionary efforts. So exercise is important and one should do some kind of exercise every day as an action against our confinement.

Here are some simple exercises that can be done in a cell or the yard and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes.

Warm-up: This is an easy warm-up to try when you feel you're not in the mood to exercise yet. Do some calf raises, they're fairly easy. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, then get up on your tip-toes, then go back to standing normally; that's one. Do this about 10 or 20 times, or however many you feel is enough; it's a great way to get your blood flowing.

As you do these, if you want, you can hold your arms out to your sides, about shoulder level, for two counts, then straight up over your head for two counts. Then back to the start position. You can do this anywhere with any type of footwear.

Isometrics: Isometrics are when an exercise position is held for a few seconds in order to gain stamina at exercise. It's a great way to strengthen your core.

Here is a simple set of three exercises that shouldn't take more than 3 minutes to complete.

  1. Forward Lunge - Starting with your feet shoulder width apart, step forward with your left leg until it is in a 90 degree position in front of you, your back leg bent forward it's lower leg (or calf) parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then go back to the standing position. Next do the right leg. If you need to, between each exercise you can rest for 10 to 15 seconds, or until you have recovered. When doing the forward lunge try not to rest your hands on your leg or knee, as this will weaken it during the exercise.

  2. Front Leaning rest - Get in a push-up position, and sink to the floor as if to do a push up, holding yourself just off the floor (or down and hold it, as it's known) then hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.

  3. Squats - Stand with your legs shoulder width apart; then bend your knees, bringing your upper torso down while keeping your back straight, until your knees are bent at 90 degrees, or what you can manage. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

During these exercises you can take small breaks of about 15 to 20 seconds in between each one, but it's best to do them one after the other, with as short a break as possible in between. If you want you can extend each exercise to 60 seconds and see if you can finish the whole set in under 5 minutes.

Quick Cardio: here are some exercises to work on your cardio. The whole set can be done in under 5 minutes.

  1. Push-ups - do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds. Later, if you want you can increase this to 60 seconds.

  2. Jumping Jacks - do as many jumping jacks as you can in 30 seconds, you can also increase this to 60 seconds.

  3. Flutter kicks - lie on your back, on either the ground or your bunk, put your hands under your hips, on either side of your spine, so that your pelvis doesn't touch the floor (the best way to do this is to ball your hands into fists). Then bring your feet up so they and your legs are about 2 inches off the floor. Lift your left leg up until it is in a 45 degree position from your body. Then bring it back down to the start position. Next do the same with your right leg. Keep alternating legs at a steady pace (like walking or jogging) for about 30 seconds. This exercise can create stress on your back, so it's best to build your strength by doing the exercise moderately before you increase the time to 60 seconds.

Remember directly after your exercises you should walk or pace around for a few minutes, or do some calf raises. This is so your body can adjust itself to having been active after being in a cell all day. Make time in your schedule to try some of these exercises. To strengthen your body is an action against the tyranny of imprisonment and a demonstration of determination against the actions of imperialism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer's analysis of the importance of exercise to a strong mind and body, especially when both your mind and body are under attack in prison. A physical exercise program should be combined with mental exercise of political study and struggle as well as political organizing work. Some comrades have used exercise programs as a tool for political organizing, building unity in the yard by bringing together groups to work out together and then conducting education classes after these workouts.

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[Release] [Mental Health]
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Surviving on the Streets is a Challenge after Abuse Behind Bars

It has been some time since we connected, 7 or 8 years I'd say. I was a regular subscriber and poetry/prose contributor over the years I was a fedz prisoner.

As I'm sure the question looms, "how does one find himself back inside?" Especially after having done 17 years fedz? Well, while one exited within a progressive state of mind; obtaining an AA in 15 months; doing 40 hours a week volunteering at a program benefiting those with felony backgrounds; rebuilding broken ties to my three adult children; getting into Junior University even!

What I did not get enough of was mental health treatment! All of those yard riots, overt violence and isolation took a toll it seems! After an all-out melee while attending a birthday party, i began suffering flashbacks, nightmares, and chronic insomnia. A professional diagnosed me with PTSD and recommended medication for sleep and anxiety. I refused out of ignorance, erroneously thinking it'd tamper with my brain. Shortly thereafter, an infrequent sexual partner spit on me. My response was to hit her repeatedly. An act i am ashamed of and totally out of character. While there were no bodily injuries (serious), i was convicted at a farce of a trial of multiple charges including burglary 1, assault 2, assault 4 x2, etc.

And given what is called "dangerous offender" enhancement "45 years"! More time than a murderer. My attorney deliberately aided state in suppressing my mental health files and permitted my past organizational ties/prison B.S. to be used as fear inciter. Thankfully, they were in such a rush to get the so-called "gang leader" they made a multitude of errors! Any one of which could/should get one a new trial. Picture a trial where three separate jurors have a connection to the DA or testifying witnesses. Or a defendant with documented PTSD being purposely misdiagnosed (via reading past fedz writeups) as having "personality disorder" so as to justify and legitimize the dangerous offender enhancement. The struggle continues.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter because it's a good example of what happens to comrades once they hit the streets. Even those with the best of intentions and solid connections and infrastructure on the outside can struggle to stay out of trouble after years of torture and abuse behind bars. This is something we are interested in hearing more about from released and re-admitted comrades alike: what can be done to address mental health issues, both before release and on the streets, to help people stay out of prison?

We understand this comrade's hesitation in participating with mental health programs even after eir diagnosis of PTSD. There is a long, long history of unethical medical experimentation on oppressed peoples, even those considered U.$. citizens. And the medical and psychology industries in the United $tates are so closely tied up with capitalist ventures, it's difficult to know if you're getting accurate or truthful information about treatment or drugs being prescribed.

This anecdote also paints a portrait of how prisons are used for social control even beyond the prison walls. Violent prison conditions lead to psychological traumas, there's no treatment, and then those psychological traumas carry on post-release and infect interpersynal relationships, ultimately landing people back in jail.

In general, bourgeois psychological treatment focuses on helping people adapt to the fucked up conditions of imperialism. If you are depressed about how unfair and disgusting humyn societies are, that's a valid and natural response. Bourgeois psychology would try to put you on anti-depressants and convince you it's your problem you're depressed — something wrong with your brain. MIM(Prisons) would highlight that this is a social problem, that your brain is in perfect working order, and try to rally you to channel that depression and frustration into working to change these conditions. 9 times out of 10 working on a political project you really believe in will help relieve psychological symptoms caused by the alienation of capitalism.

However, in some cases simply acting doesn't break one out of a mental health crisis. As much as we try to overcome it on our own, sometimes addressing the psychological challenge head-on is an important accompaniment to, or sometimes precursor of, political activism. We're not saying to just go along with whatever treatment plan some quack doctor recommends. But it's important to smartly tap into these resources in order to further one's ability to do political work on an as-needed basis. For example, if this comrade got treatment for their PTSD, ey may have been better able to control eir anger, and thus may have avoided catching another bid.

Eventually we aim to run our own Serve the People medical programs, like the Black Panther Party was doing in their heyday, combining much-needed services with political education against imperialism. Until then we just try to use the few helpful resources available to us to better our ability to do political work, while we build toward that future.

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[Control Units] [Mental Health] [ULK Issue 43]
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Who's Defining Mental Illness?

Psychological diagnoses made in bourgeois society seek not only to isolate and treat mental illness on an individual basis, but also says the illness neither affects, nor is affected by, others.

Taking isolation in prisons into account (where research shows that being locked up in itself can cause mental illness) one begins to see the so-called facts in bourgeois reasoning behind individual diagnoses as fallacious. Individual diagnosis benefits the bourgeoisie by separating the individual from h environment, forcing the illness to be considered through the biological lens where it is said to be internally developed. This method negates a persyn's social and cultural influences, economic plight, outside forces acting upon h social milieu, as well as individual interpretation of all the above.

Inside isolation pods in U.$. prisons we are subject to sensory deprivation, restricted movement, lighted cells 24 hours a day, the constant clanging of metal doors, bullying by guards, unhealthy food, as well as sporadic screaming and banging by those even more deeply affected by imperialism's woes. This constant barrage of negative stimuli over a period of time is agitating, if nothing else. Agitation leads to the need for an outlet for the release of pent up tension. That tension leads to anger and resentment. This anger can have far-reaching, long-term effects. This awareness is underlined by my own persynal experience of having a quick temper, blurred reasoning after being agitated, and less thought-out reaction to anger with little to no thought of consequences.

The bourgeois system is backwards because it is idealistic (diagnosing as biological and as not affected by environment) and metaphysical (mental illness affecting only the individual and unchanging). Both these are world outlooks that imply things are what they are and will always be what they are. These outlooks are supported by the bourgeoisie because they compel apathy (indifference to the rule of the bourgeois because there seems to be little we can do to change things) and acceptance of the "order of things" by the masses who come to accept the conditions as inherent and the dominance of bourgeois leadership as unchanging. Basically the bourgeois classes push this line of reasoning because it allows them to hold on to power.

While the bourgeois classes perpetuate imperialism and deny responsibility for world conditions (including the systematic incarceration of oppressed nations) they also label all who refuse to subscribe to their world view as sick, radical, deviant, disillusioned and, of course, mentally ill.

In Under Lock & Key 15 after asking the question "who is mentally ill?" MIM(Prisons) quotes MCB52 that those who are diagnosed with mental health problems are mostly "pissed off people rationally resisting the hegemonic culture one way or another."

The method of diagnosis will change once the people begin defining and deciding our own conditions. Fed up with the conditions we find ourselves and the world in, fed up with being agitated, let's begin to agitate back. And let's build independent institutions that operate outside the diagnosistic structure of the bourgeoisie, where the people decide who is mentally ill based on their contributions to the further development of the people's interest, not because we refuse to take part in a system that oppresses us and others.

Revolution starts in the gulags.
All power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade on the problem of individual diagnosis for mental illness in bourgeois society. This standard especially benefits Amerikkka because it justifies drugging up oppressed nationals full of psychotropics in the name of psychology, while leaving the structure of prisons and solitary confinement intact. We have heard reports from many comrades in prison that the so-called therapists want to prescribe them strong psychotropic drugs (or even force them to take these drugs), which they refuse because it will have a negative impact on their ability to engage in politics. Yet these comrades' requests for a resful night's sleep, or adequate nutrition, are ignored. Individual diagnosis permits individual (mis)treatment.

The most progressive of psychologists in the bourgeois countries do see a connection between the individual and society. But the vast majority of those are reformists who do not see the link of the individual's mental illness to the capitalist economic system itself. These academics can be our allies, such as those in the struggle to abolish long-term solitary confinement. But their reformist leaning is inherently limiting.

There is use for mental health practitioners and counselors to work with revolutionaries in our present social context in order to help us resolve the mental illnesses we pick up just from living in an imperialist society. The goal of this mental health work should be to make us better revolutionaries, and not just so we can feel more comfortable going along with the status quo.

Of the few mental health practitioners that do see the bigger connections between capitalism and mental illness, most present-day radical counselors are found in the anarchist movements. A challenge with anarchism is it often seeks persynal "liberation" from capitalism today without a long-term plan of how to achieve liberation on a worldwide scale and for the most oppressed peoples in the world. We are not opposed to anti-imperialists of all stripes achieving a higher level of mental health. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that mental illness can be a persynal motivating factor for many people into revolutionary politics ("i am depressed because this world is so fucked up and makes no sense"), and a resolution of persynal mental illness combined with the frustration many feel by the dead-end strategy of First World anarchism is a perfect formula to push people to age out of political struggle for good.

Professional psychological standards in the United $tates push for "objectivity" of the therapist, which is actually just institutionalized Liberalism. In Communist China, mental health workers were educated in political economy and would use Mao Zedong Thought to help people understand how their depression, suicidal tendencies, or even schizophrenia fit into an international and material context. Rather than being limited to defining somone's "personality" or persynal chemical defect, mental health was seen on a mass scale as a product of society. Anecdotal evidence from our prisoner comrades and outside recruits has shown that mental health challenges can often be resolved on an individual level by taking up revolutionary politics and studying to understand all the nonsense of capitalism.

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[Mental Health] [Abuse] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California]
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Psychiatry Tortures Prisoners

Psychiatric prisons, gulags and dungeons are the worst of the worst when compared to the standard human warehouses. These foul dinosaurs are established under the guise of compassionate medical intervention (yes, they actually expect you to believe such garbage). Mental health treatment in psychiatric prisons can be and is torture.

Currently in California, the prisoners are rounded up daily, drugged and forced through the cattle stockades of court cells and into the courts where they are dragged before those of black robe who arbitrarily and capriciously commit them to a virtual (if not actual) life in prisons now designated for those thought to be mentally ill from the viewpoint of imperialism's labor aristocracy. However, one need not be actually suffering from mental illness at all. I was not, and am not, yet this fact had no effect. I myself and many others have been railroaded into psychiatric imprisonment with doctor approved authorization to be at all times heavily sedated. In my case it was only for the use of body building steroids with no prior mental health history requiring medical intervention of any kind.

And, while being held within these psychiatric prisons and jails I have been, and many others are, tortured and abused, starved and injured, sometimes on a daily basis. I have observed young guys whose faces are now a mass of scarring due to them being drugged to the point of unconsciousness and where massive enforcer brutes are purposefully let into their cells to beat those who are drugged, and the victims of such beatings are left to suffer within their cells with no medical attention at all.

These designated prison and jails have cells with feces on the walls and floors. Desk-type tables caked with old dried foods and grime combined to form an un-cleanable cemented solid. And they are usually air conditioned in winter and heated in summer, especially where these cell occupants are given no mattress and sometimes for days no blankets as well. I currently have prison guards who pass my cell door, which is all steel, every fifteen minutes, 24 hours a day, and bang on it loudly with a steel baton like device. Try attaining a deep restorative pattern of sleep under those conditions. This is the current living environment of Amerikkka's psychiatric prisons and the pitiful inhabitants of its populations.

I am not under the illusion that these facts are not already known by our professionals of community, politics and prisons. Yet, according to a recent news publication, "[in the state of California] the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to construct prisons and jails - and many have been pitched as 'mental health treatment facilities'."... "It should come as no surprise that the BSCC is mostly composed of cops: Jeffery Beard, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections, Sheriffs, probation officers, and chiefs of police."... "It is not shocking when that group of people thinks that the best way to invest in mental health treatment is to build shiny new jails."(1)

What is termed pathological and rooted in psychosis in Amerikka's systems of injustice and unjust forensic psychology are in fact political offenses in nature. Such people incriminated and imprisoned should not be civilly nor criminally committed at all. "Mental health treatment... [should be provided and] funded in the community"(1); preferably by a community of communists. "We need to stop pretending that prisons solve the violence in our communities, or we will never actually end that harm or end mass incarceration."(2)

Onward! in psychiatric prison abolition efforts, and even more so the world-wide abolition of the parasite imperialism.


Notes:
1. Kamella Janan Rasheed, "The New Inquiry", Black and Pink newspaper, December 2014, p.5-6
2. Emily Harris, article in Black and Pink Newspaper, December 2014, p.8


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer correctly identifies a problem with Amerikan prisons that is actually pervasive throughout imperialist society: the use of psychiatry to label people as mentally ill because they do not conform to capitalist behaviors and values. As we explained in the ULK article Mental Health: A Maoist Perspective:

"In imperialist prisons, the ambiguity of diagnosing people as mentally ill becomes very pronounced. Part of the problem is that imprisonment causes mental health problems, so people who may not have had symptoms that would lead to a diagnosis often develop them. Yet it is not in the oppressor's interests to recognize this problem, so staff feel that they must draw a line between the truly ill and the "fakers." Rather than seeing the prisons as causing mental illness, they see people acting out for attention in contrast to those who were born with "real" mental illness. Such silly exercises allow them to keep some prisoners sedated while pushing others to suicide."

Ultimately the purpose of prisons is social control, and the purpose of mental health facilities is the same. They are another tool of this social control which targets oppressed nations within U.$. borders. We must expose these facilities and fight against the torture that this comrade describes.

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[Mental Health] [Gender] [Abuse] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 40]
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Defining Rape

I have initiated a lawsuit alleging that Officer Mary Brockett at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sac) subjected me to sexual harassment. This occurred in the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) which is part of the mental "health" services in the California Deparment of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). When I reported Brockett's predatory acts to other top ranking prison officials, they did not believe me because I'm Black, and Brockett is a white amerikan. They also did not understand why a prisoner would file a staff sexual misconduct complaint against an officer. As a direct result of Brockett's sexual misconduct against me she was terminated, but CDCR top ranking officials refused to have her arrested and identified as a sexual offender.

I requested an Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) investigation against Brockett for her predatory behavior towards me. In December 2003, I was interviewed by Special Agent Jill Chapman of OIA, and I agreed to assist her with an investigation against Brockett in order to prove my sexual harassment allegations. During said investigation, the OIA dropped the ball, and OIA agents allowed Brockett to sexually assault me four times after the start of the investigation.

On 15 January 2014, Judge Hunley of the United States District Court, ruled that officer Brockett's conduct violated clearly established law of which Brockett should have been aware. The court found that Brockett is not entitled to qualified immunity on my Eighth Amendment sexual misconduct claim.

My investigation has revealed that many other prisoners who reported rape and other forms of sexual assaults by CDCR personnel are sent to SHU as a form of retaliation and/or intimidation. My defense team and I have been able to identify many other cases of corrections, medical and mental health staff sexually abusing the mentally ill prisoners, plus many coverups by supervisors, at several California state prisons.

I had to hire a private investigator to assist me in light of the fact that going to ranking officials kept getting me put in lock-up units. Instead of charging Brockett with sexual assaults, the CDCR prison officials in Sacramento allowed me to be subjected to a series of retaliatory transfers attempting to intimidate me. On 8 September 2009, prison officials were informed about my lawsuit and that same day I was placed in administrative segregation (ASU) on false allegations of fighting. In December 2009 I was ordered placed in ASU pending a false prison gang validation. Retaliatory transfers are a violation of CDCR policy.

The evidence will show that correctional and medical and mental health staff sexual harassment and sexual assaults were not isolated incidents within CDCR's EOP. I would ask you to help me and my defense team to spread the word. Other victims are out there. My purpose of the lawsuit is to shed light on sexual abuse against the mentally ill in California, including torturing tactics through criminal activities and criminal organized crime within CDCR.


MIM(Prisons) responds: People usually conceptualize patriarchy as those biologically categorized as male oppressing those biologically categorized as female. But sexual assault of bio-male prisoners by bio-female guards is an example of how gender oppression is not necessarily linked to one's biological sex category. In the first issue of Under Lock & Key we wrote about prison rape, and using the best statistics available, we suggested that Black bio-men might be gendered female in the United $tates, largely due to imprisonment rates and the sexual abuse that comes with imprisonment. The abusing bio-female guards are certainly gendered male, and are part of what we call the gender aristocracy.(1) Amerikan (and especially white) bio-wimmin enjoy benefits in leisure time based on their national ties to white bio-men, based on a long history of lynchings, suffrage, and Third World oppression.(2)

Fighting sexual abuse through the courts can be difficult for anyone, and especially for prisoners. As this correspondent writes, white Brockett was not even charged for the sexual assault. When sexual assault cases do go to court, the judge/jury, like much of U.$. society, get hung up on the debate of whether the sex was "really rape," a subjective measure of whether the victim gave consent to the sexual activity or not. Prisoners are assumed by the courts and society to have a low moral standing, and this subjectivity bleeds into the judgement of whether they were "really raped," and whether they should be protected even if they are considered to have been raped. People have debated for decades about where to draw the line with consent, and this debate has recently resurfaced in First World Maoist circles.(3)

When deciding whether a sexual encounter was a rape, a tendency is to focus on whether the victim of sexual assault verbally said they did or did not want to have the sexual encounter, what words they used, in what tone, how many times they said it, if they were intoxicated, how intoxicated, their sexual history, what they were wearing, etc. Others even draw the line where "Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(3) But all these criteria are based on subjective social standards at the time. Many people don't start calling a sexual incident a rape until months or even years afterward, because they have since learned more about sexuality and social norms, or the social norms have changed. The courts change their definition of rape depending on public opinion as well. When mini skirts were racy, it was considered by many an invitation for sex. Now that mini skirts are normalized as pants in our society, almost no one would make this argument. Social norms and subjective feelings are untrustworthy as measures of gender oppression. They focus too much on individuals' actions and feelings, ignoring the relationship between the group and the individual.

Rather than falling into this subjectivist trap, MIM(Prisons) upholds the line that all sex under patriarchy is rape. Among the general public, living in a highly sexualized culture with a long history of material consequences for granting and withholding access to one's sexuality, no "yes" can be granted independent of group relationships. This is especially true for a captive population; saying "yes" to sex as a trade for privileges, or to a guard who quite literally has your life in their hands, cannot be consensual, even if everyone involved "liked" it or "wanted" it. Power play is very tied up in leisure time to the point that a coercive sex act can feel pleasurable to all involved. Granting consent in a society with gender oppression is a moot point. People always behave in a way that is determined by group relationships, and this is no different for the gender oppressed under patriarchy.

While Liberals are concerned with how we define rapists so that we can lock them up and ostracize them, we look at the systematic problem rather than essentializing individuals. We don't adhere to the bourgeois standard of criminality for theft, so why would we follow their standard for rape? Instead we want to build a socialist society that allows jobs for everyone, separate from the sex industry. We would then ban all sex for profit, all pornography for profit, and all sex trafficking. We wouldn't criminalize sex slaves or people choosing to have sex for their own subjective pleasure, but we would criminalize anyone making a profit off of sex work, especially the multi-billion dollar porn and abduction rackets. Low-level pimps and "self-employed" sex workers would at least need to go through self-criticism and reeducation and take a cold, hard look at how their activities are impacting others. Anyone who wanted to leave these anti-people industries would have other viable options, something we can't say for the vast majority of sex workers in the world today who were either kidnapped, or subject to manifestations of national oppression such as homelessness and drug addiction.

As with any form of oppression under imperialism, we encourage people to use the courts when we think we can win material advantages, set a useful precendent for other cases, or make a political point to mobilize the masses. But kicking Brockett out of the facility will just replace her with another gender oppressing officer. Ultimately we need to change the economic conditions that underly the coercive gender relations in our society and attack the system of patriarchy itself.

Notes:
1. For more on gender get ULK 1, ULK 6, and MIM Theory 2/3.
2. In contrast to the strand of class oppression which is based in work relations, the strand of gender oppression is based outside of work, or in what we call "leisure time." To speak of prison as "leisure" can sound odd because it's certainly not a day at the beach, but the point is that it is not labor time, and not based in class. See "Clarity on what gender is" 1998 MIM Congress Resolution.
3. Comments on "All Sex is Rape". 20 July 2014, LLCO.org. Write to us for a more in depth critique of this piece.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Mental Health] [California]
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Pantries, Poisons, and Gassings: Abuse of Mental Patients in Security Housing Units

It seems that change in our society is only brought about by those of our populace who are considered to be radicals, so this piece is written for those radicals who are compassionate enough to care and who will take the necessary efforts to make a lasting difference for those of us who are held and tortured in Security Housing Units (SHUs), which are specifically dedicated for those prisoners who are supposed to be under the care of an institution's mental health system. These american gulags are also known as "Psychiatric Services Units" (PSUs).

These specially dedicated SHUs are rarely, if ever, visited by outside prisoner rights organizations, to my knowledge; and the prisoners housed therein are simply forgotten. These prisoners have no representatives and no means to voice their concerns and so the atrocities accumulate unchecked.

Aggressive and sadistic prison guards have been known to pepper spray an individual until they cannot breathe due to the accumulation of micronized capsicum (pepper essence) absorbed into their lungs after the guard empties onto the individual several canisters of the corrosive irritant chemical weapon. This is not third party hearsay, I know of it personally, for it has happened to me. Of course nothing is done about it when you have the foxes guarding the henhouse.

Think a prisoner can obtain justice through the prison's administrative grievance systems? You had better think about it again, no way. And the courts, including the federal courts, will not entertain themselves of the issues of complaint where the completion of the administrative appeals process has been denied by a corrupt prison administration; it has been made law, a statutory prerequisite otherwise known in litigation circles as a "procedural bar." It creates gross injustice and perpetrates unchecked human abuse which is tolerated by our society, it is a blatant indication of how cruel and vicious we have become as a people.

Even more sinister is the presence of food pantries created within each of the blocks of SHU/PSU units, which are independent from the main kitchens where mainstream prisoners receive their meals. These food pantries are not under the control of licensed food service employees and are in fact totally controlled by the guards assigned to that block. Those prisoners who are targeted by the "system" quite often find themselves physically sickened by the meals they are served, meals which stink with rotten foodstuffs. Milk cartons are served bloated with full-blown contamination.

The milk is a favored vehicle to get an inmate victim to ingest a "knock-out" drug and get raped while he is unconscious. This is a fact; it has happened to me twice. Also milk is utilized in these modernized dungeons as a tool to get unsuspecting targeted prisoner victims to consume psychotropic substances which has the effect of a "truth serum" and is used as an aid in covert interrogation of all prisoners suspected by debriefer informants and snitches. And, for the same purpose targeted prisoners are placed in cells with low pressure or dysfunctional ventilation systems which are used to force irritant gasses, pepper spray or other toxic obnoxious chemical weapons through to be inhaled by the occupant of that particular cell. In addition to the above abuses, the usual torture routine includes the air cooling system on full blast in mid-winter, and the heating system turned full up in mid-summer.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We appreciate the risk that our comrades take to get reports of such horrible abuses to Under Lock & Key. Information like this is important to get out because, as this writer points out, very few people are looking at these prisons or monitoring the treatment there. But Under Lock & Key is more than a tool of exposure, it is a rallying point for activists and leaders to bring together others and work out strategies and tactics in our fight against the criminal injustice system. We should read reports like this one and be outraged. And then we should turn that outrage into action, working to educate others and build support for our fight to put an end to this system of injustice.

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Mental Health] [Campaigns] [State Correctional Institution Albion] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania Prisoners Petition to End Torture and Abuse

MIM(Prisons) received this petition from one of our readers. We print it here in full because it does a good job exposing the neglect and abuse at SCI Albion. We do sometimes engage in petitioning government officials for reforms in prison, though petitions with such a broad scope of abuses do not have a history of success. Nonetheless, campaigns such as this one are important educational tools and we hope this one inspires activists to get involved in fighting the criminal injustice system in Pennsylvania. Our one point of disagreement is with the introductory quote from the Anarchist organizer Anthony Rayson: as we have repeatedly demonstrated, prisons are not "for-profit" and in fact take a big loss subsidized by the U.$. government.

A Call to End Oppression: United We Stand

"Prisons aren't about crime control, they're about for-profit repression. In fact they are a huge, government-run, criminal enterprise wildly profitable, & completely paid for by ripped-off taxpayers." - Anthony Rayson

The State Correctional Institution Albion in Western Pennsylvania, is a notorious prison for frequent abuse & torture of prisoners, some are held years in solitary confinement without any chance to see daylight, medical negligence has led to the suffering and death of thousands of prisoners. Lack of adequate mental health care has driven many to commit suicide. The taxpayer's money is being used to prop up an untamed beast that only the people of Pennsylvania can stop.

We ask that you support the struggle for humane conditions and rehabilitation by signing the attached petition, copying it, and mail it to the listed officials, or sacrifice a few minutes of your time by calling the officials and stating the demands/issues in the petition.


Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
202-353-1555

Secretary of Corrections
John E. Wetzel
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
717-728-0312

Senator Ronald Waters
6027 Ludlow St - Unit A
Philadelphia, PA 19112
215-748-6712

Senator Shirley Kitchen
1701 W. Lehigh Ave, Suite 107
Philadelphia, PA 19132
214-227-6161

Senator Le Anna Washington
1555-A Wadsworth Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19150
215-272-0475

Governor Tom Corbett
225 Capitol Bldg
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-2500



Public Complaint & Petition
To: U.S. Department of Justice
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania State Senators
Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel

From:

Date:

Re: Stop prisoner abuse - inadequate medical/mental health treatment & care - real rehabilitation
This petition comes pursuant to and in full compliance with the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution and Pennsylvania Constitution Article 1 Section 20; the people have the authority to petition government officials and to redress of grievances.

Inadequate Mental Health Treatment

SCI Albion officials are not providing adequate mental health treatment to mentally ill prisoners that are warehoused in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) (Solitary Confinement) that exacerbates their mental deterioration (i.e. cutting/self-mutilation, suicides attempts, smearing/throwing of fecal matter & bodily waste, etc.)

Mary Beth Anderson, an unlicensed psychologist assigned to the RHU to provide and assist prisoners with psycho-therapy, fails to comply with the PDOC policy DC-Adm. 6.5.1 that states: "Psychologist is to visit the RHU 5 days a week and evaluate each inmate in the RHU every 30 days," Ms. Anderson clearly acts hostile to, and in an unethical manner towards prisoners under her care who have sought assistance. Two such prisoners under Mary Beth Anderson's personal responsibility committed suicide, Stoney Schaefer on October 25, 2012, and Harry Cooper on December 9, 2012. Prisoners continue to deteriorate detrimentally in the RHU due to the lack of treatment, with no apparent signs of improvement.

Dr. Steven Reilly, (LMP), is the supervisor of all the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologists" at SCI Albion, who allegedly has been known to manipulate a prisoner's diagnoses, and also dictates to the institution's psychiatrist Dr. Gottsman how to prescribe to the prisoner(s), even when it doesn't conform correctly to a mental disorder; a review of a prisoner's dispensed "psychotropic" medication(s) and their joint-diagnoses will bear this out as occurring.

He also allows the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologist" staff to neglect prisoners who seek help. Two cases in point were of James Whitman who committed suicide September 22, 2013, and a prisoner named Myers who set fire to his cell on the Special Needs Unit (housing unit for mentally ill) October 9, 2013, in an apparent attempted suicide as a result of being denied the treatment that's offered by the department.

Officials at SCI Albion house prisoners who attempt suicide in a Psychological Observation Cell (POC) these cells are designed as torture chambers where prisoners arey confined 24 hours a day with no counseling or therapy, the lights stay on round the clock, and they are forced to wear only a smock (cloth dress mode). These torture chambers only intensify their psychoses that only make them worse upon their return to general population, causing them to receive misconducts and then warehousing them in RHU (Solitary Confinement).

According to the Department of Correction's policy "All Correctional Officers shall receive an annual psychological evaluation," yet SCI Albion officers completely ignore this policy, guards at SCI Albion have not had their psychological evaluations done in years, for some decades, the resulting neglect ramps up the intensity leading to abuse and guards assaulted. The psychological evaluation is also necessary for guards who are active in the military that go to war and return to work with prisoners seething with a combat mentality. Data collected by the International Academy of Suicide Research indicate that prison guard's suicide rates are 39% higher than similar averages for other jobs. If proper psychological evaluations are carried out, it may prevent suicides of guards.

Inadequate Medical Treatment

Prisoners at SCI Albion are being denied proper health care. Prisoners held in the RHU (Solitary Confinement) that send in a request for medical treatment (sick call) get a physician's assistant at their door who attempts to diagnose them based on a brief conversation. Because of this, most prisoners are misdiagnosed, thus violating federal law (Privacy Act), by openly allowing prisoners' medical information disclosed within earshot to everyone on the "pod" (including prisoners).

Many prisoners who request medical treatment in general population and go to see the doctor or physician assistant, are often told to come back or are briefly seen and misdiagnosed. Derrick Jones, a former SCI Albion prisoner won a $312,000 lawsuit for medical negligence at the prison due to a misdiagnosis of a broken ankle as a sprain and inadequate treatment.

Many prisoners with serious medical conditions remain in general population in unsanitary conditions (housing) where they spread their diseases to other prisoners. Prisoners who are on the verge of their demise get housed in the infirmary where they are met with hostile nurses who don't have much regard for life. Dennis Austin died at the infirmary with bed-sores that were grossly infected, confirming a clear disregard for life even at the infirmary. Prisoners continue to die/suffer to death due to lack of adequate care.

No Access to Courts

Valarie C. Kusiak (CCPM) and acting Deputy Melinda Adams are both in charge of the law library at SCI Albion where prisoners' access to the courts and law library are denied. The law library sessions mostly are canceled with no make-up dates; also prisoners are allowed only one 30 minute slot per week access which hinders their research abilities to type up documents and make copies. Also, Ms. Kusiak and Ms. Adams took all the law books out of the law library denying prisoners vital information needed for research. In times of court deadlines, prisoners are not granted extra time to prepare documents and are denied the means to make copies, often leading to losing appeals.

Inadequate Food

Prisoners at SCI Albion are given unhealthy food. The food served to prisoners is uncooked, and the meat is old and freezer burnt. Vegetables and fruit are rotten; milk is 3 days past its sell-by date that most prisoners throw away. Prisoners are getting sick due to these unhealthy food diets.

Inhumane Working Conditions

Prisoners at SCI Albion who are assigned jobs work without proper safety gear to protect them against many dangers. Prisoners working as plumbers do not wear any suits to protect their skin from exposure to the dirty pipes and water that carries Hepatitis C, HIV-Aids, and other viruses from others' body waste that they can be infected by due to a lack of appropriate safety gear. Painters that have to stand on ladders to paint do not have hard hats or eyewear that can protect them from a fall, or paint going in the eyes causing damage to sight. Warehouse workers do not have any hard hats, gloves, eyewear, or safety belt that puts them in great danger. Work related injuries happen quite frequently as a direct result of non-safe standards; also there are other various jobs without any safety measures.

Inadequate Programming & Education

Programs being offered to prisoners at SCI Albion have proven to be ineffective to a prisoners' rehabilitation. Prisoners are lectured in groups (i.e. Violence Prevention, A.O.D., Thinking for a Change, etc.) by coordinators who read from books and do not engage prisoners in critical thinking necessary for rehabilitation, also they allow prisoners to just sit around and talk amongst themselves, when they don't feel like reading and dismiss the group early; this happens a lot. Valarie C. Kusiak and Melinda Adams, who are in charge of programming, do not investigate the efficiency of the groups or prisoners' complaints that the groups are not beneficial.

There are no vocational programs/courses offered for prisoners that coincide with or compliment outside job market trends for ex-felon hiring's at sectors with available openings, leaving an unprepared prisoner upon release to continue a former life of crime that's due to the lack of proper occupational/preparatory instruction. SCI Albion has a 3-in-4 prisoner recidivism rate within a years' time.

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