The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got $20? Slip it in an envelope and send to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140. Help cover printing costs. help out
[Mental Health] [Medical Care] [Organizing]
expand

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.

chain
[Mental Health] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 36]
expand

Solo Estoy Haciendo mi Trabajo, El Experimento de Prisión de Stanford

Un artículo publicado recientemente desafia el concepto sicológico de "prejuicio de conformidad" que evolucionó del experimento de prisión realizado por Zimbardo y del experimento Maestro/Estudiante de Milgram.(1) El artículo establece conexiones a un trabajo reciente sobre la opresión llevada a cabo por los Nazis en la Alemania de Hitler, el cual concluye en general que la voluntad de las personas para lastimar u oprimir a otros en situaciones semejantes es "menos sobre gente que sigue ordenes a ciegas y más acerca de conseguir que las personas crean en al importancia de lo que están haciendo."

En el experimento de prisión de Stanford (1971) estudiantes fueron asignados papeles de guardias y prisioneros en un simulacro, pronto de que los dos grupos tomaron el comportamiento típico de su papel, con los guardias tratando a los prisioneros con tal severidad que el experimento se detuvo prematuramente. MIM(Prisiones) ha utilizado esto como ejemplo de que la opresión es sistemática y no podemos reparar las cosas simplemente con emplear los guardias adecuados, mas bien debemos cambiar el sistema. En ULK19, otro camarada se refirió al artículo en una discusión de como el comportamiento de la gente en prisión está condicionado.(2) La conclusión más determinista que la gente se lleva de esto es que la gente se comportará mal para conformarse a las expectativas. El experimento Milgram (1963) involucró a participantes que eran el "maestro," siendo fuertemente animado a que aplicara falsos choques eléctricos a "estudiantes" que contestaren preguntas incorrectamente. La conclusión aquí era que los humanos seguirán ordenes ciegamente en vez de pensar por si mismos si lo que están haciendo está bien.

"Esto pudo ser la defensa a la que se inclinaron cuando buscaban minimizar su culpabilidad" (31), pero la evidencia sugiere que funcionarios como Eichmann tenían un buen entendimiento de lo que estaban haciendo y tomaban orgullo en la energía y aplicación que ellos le traían a su trabajo.(1)

El análisis en este artículo reciente es mas apropiado para un análisis de clase social. Como los autores señalan, está bien establecido que los alemanes como Adolf Eichmann, entusiásticamente participaron en el régimen Nazi, y es la evaluación de MIM(Prisones) evaluación que existe una clase y perspectiva nacional que le permitió a los alemanes ver lo que estaban haciendo como bueno para ellos y su gente.

Mientras que nuestro análisis del experimento de prisión de Stanford se presta para promover la necesidad de cambio sistemático, esto no sucede con la sicología que surgió de él. El concepto "prejuicio de conformidad" respalda la teoría del gran líder, la teoría de la historia, en donde figuras como Hitler y Stalin eran todopoderosos y omniscientes y los millones de personas que los apoyaban eran robots sin mente. Esta teoría evidentemente disuade un análisis de condiciones y de las fuerzas sociales que interactúan y cambian esas condiciones. En contraste, observamos la teoría psicológica mas reciente en este artículo como afin hacia un análisis psicológico que incluye clase y nación.

Como la mayoría de nuestros lectores reconocerán rápidamente, guardias de prisión en la vida real frecuentemente hacen sus cosas con gran entusiasmo. Aquellos guardias que no creen que se necesita golpear a los prisioneros para crear orden n o los maltratan. Claramente los diferentes comportamientos son decisiones conscientes basadas en las creencias del individuo, como los autores de este artículo afirman. Existe un fuerte componente de clase y nación en el quien se manda a prisión y quien trabaja en prisiones. Esto ayuda a justificar la metodología más opresiva en la mente del personal de prisión. A pesar de ser superior a las conclusiones originales que se han hecho, este artículo reciente está limitado al dominio de la psicología misma y así falla en proveer una explicación al comportamiento de grupos de gente con una posición diferente en la sociedad.

No deberíamos limitar nuestro análisis a guardias de prisión y policías, los cuales son los ejemplos obvios del problema de la nación opresiva. Ward Churchill recordó el nombre de Eichmann en su infame pieza sobre el segundo ataque al World Trade Center para mencionar aquellos que trabajaron en las torres gemelas. Como aquellos americanos, Adolf Eichmann no era un asesino, sino un burócrata que estaba dispuesto a tomar decisiones que le costaron la muerte a millones de personas. Churchill escribió:

"Apelar a la 'ignorancia' — después de todo una palabra derivada de 'ignorar' — es menos que una excusa entre esta élite relativamente bien educada. Esto fue hasta el punto de que muchos de ellos, teniendo éxito en las actividades en que estaban implicados, no eran conscientes de los costos y consecuencias a los demás. Esto ocurrió por el negarse absolutamente a ver."(3)

Los autores de este artículo reciente recalcan que el llevar a cabo algo como lo que los Nazis hicieron en Alemania requiere creatividad apasionada para sobresalir y reclutar a otros que creían en lo que estaban haciendo. Es lo que llamamos el factor subjetivo en el cambio social. Alemania se enfrentaba a condiciones objetivas de aflicción económica debido a haber perdido sus colonias en la primera guerra mundial, pero tomo el desarrollo subjetivo del Socialismo Nacional para crear el movimiento que transformó la gran parte del mundo. Es por eso que nuestro camarada, quien escribió sobre psicología y condicionalmente, estaba en lo cierto al recalcar el conocimiento es necesario para contrarrestar la opresión institucional que los prisioneros enfrentan.(2) Transformando el factor subjetivo, la conciencia del ser humano, es mucho más complicada que una necesidad inherente para conformarse u obedecer ordenes. Periodos de gran cambio en la historia ayudan a demostrar el elemento dinámico de conciencia grupal el cual es mucho mas flexible de lo que la psicología determinista nos haría creer. Esto es el por que la psicología nunca podrá determinar verdaderamente el comportamiento humano. Es estudiando, clase, naciones, genero y otros intereses de grupo que podemos predecir y cambiar el curso de historia.

chain
[Mental Health] [Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]
expand

Pigs Attack Mentally Ill Man on Estelle High Security Unit

On Friday, December 28, 2012 at approximately 8pm I witnessed an unnecessary and excessive use of major force. The main perpetrators were correctional officer Mendez, Correctional Officer Burns, Lieutenant Patrick R. Eady, and Sergeant Gundacker. The victim was a prisoner, (B) a Black man, who was housed on F-wing at the High Security Unit on Estelle; which is located in Huntsville, Texas. Please note it is well documented that prisoner B has a history of mental health issues that stem from his long-term confinement in 23 hour a day lockdown settings. It is further worth noting that B's hands were cuffed behind his back during the assault which left significant bruising, swelling, and lacerations to his face.

I observed Officer Burns, Officer Mendez, and an Officer Bake approach B's cell (F-125) and inform him to prepare for a "shake-down" or cell search. B was cuffed and removed form his cell. During the time outside his cell, B engaged in profanity laced name calling with Burns and Mendez, all three were talking major "trash." Officer Mendez seemed to have been offended; he (Mendez) pushed B in the back shoving him in his cell.

Burns and Mendez entered the cell and you could hear blows being given to B, who was cuffed! A female officer named Yancey was working the F wing. Apparently, she sounded the alarm and many officers and supervisors arrived at the scene of the crime. Upon arriving, Lieutenant Eady and Sergeant Gundacker did not stop the assault on B, they joined in. Punching and kicking B in the head and face while officer Yancey stood by in obvious shock. Lieutenant Eady saw the look of shock and revulsion on officer Yancey's face and he ordered her off the wing and that is when the "cover-up" was put in full effect.

The Cover Up

The attackers quickly exited the cell as B writhed in pain on the floor of his cell - his face a bloody mess. B's cell door was shut, he was left cuffed. Lieutenant Eady was attempting to make it look as if B had refused to relinquish the handcuffs. Sergeant Harrison arrived after the fact and he was bamboozled by Lieutenant Eady. Lieutenant Eady placed Sergeant Harrison in charge of the use of force. I immediately yelled out at Lieutenant Eady "you're not going to get away with that Eady I got you!" His response "I got away with that, now shut the fuck up or you're next!" and with that I shut my ass up. Fearlessness is a wonderful trait but we must learn when to be quiet and let our pen talk!

The Aftermath

After the incident, officer Yancey, who was actually the wing officer, came to my cell visibly upset. She said "that physical abuse of was uncalled for, they know he is a psyche patient, we all know!" She continued "I think some of these officers were bullied as kids because it seems they get off on hurting inmates."

I wrote the incident up via a Step 1 (I-127) Special Use of Force grievance. B was shipped to another unit 2 days after I filed. This is one of the many tricks the pigs use in Texas in order to obstruct justice. I suppose that would work if they were dealing with "willy lump lump" or "flunky bob" but I am a highly motivated, well trained USW comrade and in the words of comedic genius Damon Wayans "Homey don't play that!" I have contacted many prisoner rights activists and discussed ideas that may serve as solutions to protecting mentally ill prisoners held in captivity by the State of Texas.

A Call to Action

In closing I must remind all of you "We are all (B)!" just like we all are Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and the countless number of oppressed lumpen under class people who have died at the hands of a fascist imperialist pig. Our fallen comrade Fred Hampton said "theory without practice ain't shit!" Practice is theory in action. Will you stand by and do nothing while your fellow comrade/humyn being is unmercifully beat and abused? Are you really about "this life?" Ask yourself when is enough enough? Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The original article included information about the diverse races of the prison staff involved in this assault of a Black prisoner. These references were removed but we note that it demonstrates that there are willing servants of imperialism found in all nationalities. Sometimes that contradiction bites the oppressor in the ass. But either way, that doesn't change the nature of national oppression, or the criminal injustice system's role in perpetrating this oppression.

chain
[Mental Health] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 29]
expand

Psychiatric Matrix of Isolation as Social Control

A comrade from another trench spoke once on leadership and what it means to h: "The answer is that like it or not, people who collect information, analyze and then make decisions on what is true and not true, are leaders. People who do not are not leaders."(1)

Sensory deprivation in solitary confinement creates an inability to make decisions because information flow is very nearly cut off. Another way this bourgeois imperialist society stops leaders in their tracks is by making one's decisions, after analyzing information, seem off, to seem crazy or "mentally ill."

"Another problem relevant to revolutionaries is they have a more intellectual tendency to describe reality independently of the socially acceptable way of so doing. The individual is one who feels manipulated and controlled by outside forces, and is aware of the limitations of his individuality and room for maneuver... he gives himself importance, and does not care what others think, or at least feels that to care about that won't help him to live. He tends to see himself as good and others as wicked."(2)

Prisoners, prison abolitionists and anti-imperialists of all stripes are familiar with the above mindset. It is a mindset that's a prerequisite to successful prolonged struggle against entrenched anti-people systems. Hegemonic propaganda that pigs use to uphold the superstructure inculcates the majority of citizens to turn on non-mainstream individuals. I'm positive some reading these words will be shocked to hear the above quote is the bourgeois definition of schizophrenia.

Comrade Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party, was labeled mentally ill by prison administrators, cops and non-revolutionary whites. His leadership ability of disseminating truths gleaned from study posed such a threat to capitalist hegemony that he had to be discredited by the label "crazy." In prison, pigs forced Newton to visit a psychiatrist. He had this to say:

"From the minute I entered his office I made my position clear. I told him that I had no faith or confidence in psychological tests because they were not designed to relate to the culture of poor and oppressed people. I was willing to talk to him, I said, but I would not submit to any testing. As we talked, he started running games on me. For instance, in the midst of our conversation he would try to speak in psychological questions such as 'do you feel people are persecuting you?' Each time he did this I told him I would not submit to any sort of testing, and if he persisted I was going to leave the room. The psychiatrist insisted that I had a bias against psychological testing. He was correct."(3)

Mental illness is just a form of social control. Just the same as "corrections" and "spreading democracy" are forms of social control. I believe the prison system uses mental health jackets, and society in general tags people as "just plain crazy," to break revolutionary's self-esteem, leadership skills and family connections. When something as large as koncentration kamps throws its weight into convincing people's mothers, fathers and sisters that said person is nuts, it's a short walk away from these individuals actually becoming insane with lack of "free-world" support.

Their tactics are to divide and conquer by pasting "schizophrenic," "depressed" and "anti-social" tags on the foreheads of revolutionary genius. They psychotropically castrate and lobotomize mind-washed leaders into their people's own genocide.

I could leave prison by consenting to swallow my own destruction. I could leave solitary if "all I did" was snitch for them. Most of my family's gone because they believe I'm insane. Forty-six letters sit unmailed because I lack postage. After filing two lawsuits, the Prison Litigation Reform Act bleeds 60% of the $25 a month my dear poor grandmother sends. She could have retired this year, but with all her grandsons in chains.

FDR 25 is a kkkontrol unit policy which I have filed suit on. A policy deputy director for administration Mike Haddon states:

"The policy you are requesting is FDR 25, Intensive Management Unit, it states 'mail, other than first class, privileged and/or religious shall not be allowed for inmates on intensive management and includes newspapers, books, magazines, pamphlets, brochures, etc.' This policy's release could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the Utah Department of Corrections hence it is protected. If this information were to be released into the system, inmates could use that information to fight policy. We do not let that chapter out to anyone who isn't in law enforcement. Your request for a copy of the 78 page policy is, therefore, denied."

A policy that prevents people from collecting information, receiving information and analyzing said information, coupled with the unconstitutional fact that the Utah DOC doesn't provide a law library per supreme court ruling Bivens, halts the ability for captives to "describe reality independently" of that policy. Since only pigs can know that policy, we can't fight it.

Even if I could know it and struggle with it and beat it in court I'd just be labelled "mentally ill," more so than I am now. And this is the purpose of sensory deprivation and mental illness: halting revolutionary leadership and maintaining the status quo. Stopping information and throwing dirty jackets on truth.

Who does bourgeois psychiatry serve by destroying oppressed peoples? The oppressor nation. What types of people are being killed off in these concentration camps? The oppressed nations. What population turns a blind eye to this reality, or even worse, that the Third World is parceled up and packaged for First World consumer consumption? The oppressor nation. What nation must be organized to defeat the oppressor nation? And if we wish to succeed shouldn't we discern friend from foe?

"The job of psychiatrist [and those that subscribe to bourgeois psychiatry] must be abolished [and reeducated after repenting oppressive policy, genocidal injustice and terroristic 'spreading of democracy'], if only because it is corrupting to the truth to have a profession of people [or nation] making money by constructing various vague illnesses [vague reasons for war or psychotropics/institutionalization] that people have. Instead, all oppressed people and progressive-minded people must take up the science of controlling their own destinies."(4)


MIM(Prisons) adds: Just as physical violence is used against the oppressed as a means of control and installing fear, so is psychological violence. So when we think about promoting safety in prisons, we cannot do that without addressing psychological violence as well. Often that is the predominate form of violence used against revolutionaries. Our approach to this must be twofold in terms of helping comrades survive the torture they currently face in U.$. gulags, and to put an end to that torture altogether to really ensure people are safe. It is for this reason that we reviewed and distribute portions of the recently revised Survivors Manual from the American Friends Service Committee. Our Serve the People Programs, such as our Free Political Literature for Prisoners Program and University BARS study groups exist for all prisoners, but are especially important for keeping those in isolation engaged, active and sane. All comrades should support these programs with money and labor, while comrades on the inside should keep the issue of long-term isolation at the forefront of the general struggle for prisoner rights.


Notes:
1. MIM Theory 7, 1995 Revolutionary Nationalism, p. 119.
2. Asylum, pg 29, "Asylum: A Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry, Vol. 5, No.1, Winter 1990-1991 ℅ prof FA Jenner, O Floor, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield 510 2JF, England.
3. Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, Ballantine: New York, 1973, p.262.
4. MIM Theory 8, 1995 The Anarchist Ideal, p. 70.

chain
[Abuse] [Mental Health] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

Institutionalized Mind: The Breaking Process

cdcr pacifying lobotomizing
In prison one comes face to face with the harshest reality. A prisoner is at the mercy of his captors. Once confined the breaking process begins with the strip search — the intrusive search and viewing of one's body parts by complete strangers - over and over again. To refuse brings one response: assault and abuse. Physical assault at the hands of the prison guards (pigs) becomes a regular ritual.

The pigs will feed you a bag lunch consisting of bologna and cheese, three times a day, seven days a week, or a loaf and raw cabbage. The "Nutra Loaf" supposedly has all the nourishment a body needs baked into a loaf of bread.

The pigs will delay or destroy incoming and outgoing mail. There are men and women who go months without hearing from family and friends, as the pigs want you to believe no one loves you. Visits and phone privileges are denied as a form of disciplinary measure, for years at a time.

Then prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, in control units given various names: SHU, SMU, etc. In these units prisoners are locked down in the cells 23 hours a day. This is even done to pretrial detainees not yet convicted of crimes who in fact may be innocent. In the summer, heat is pushed through the vents, and in winter ice cold air is pushed in. Men are kept in ambulatory restraints (handcuffed, with waist chain and black-box, and shackles) or "four pointed" (handcuffed and shackled to a bed or restraint chair) for days at a time.

There are "cell extractions" where prison staff (pigs) suit-up in riot gear in five-man teams (allegedly a man for each body extremity). These five men enter a cell of one man, and beat him or her senseless, breaking arms, teeth, head, legs, ribs, etc. These are carefully crafted beatings with the words "stop resisting" yelled over and over for the camera operator who stands outside the cell, pointing the camera at the backs of the pigs in riot gear. The prisoners are then either "four pointed" or placed in ambulatory restraints. "Non-lethal" munitions are used, which are the chemical agents. They gas you until you choke; many have died this way. They throw concussion grenades into the small confines of the cell, which is a grenade that contains black balls. Or they shoot rubber balls into the cell at a range of five feet and less. Many have been maimed. These attacks are justified by reports concocted and written by staff to cover their ass. In fact, United States Penitentiary Lewisburg (USP Lewisburg), where the newly formulated Special Management Unit is instituted, has more cell extractions and men placed in restraints than any facility in the federal Bureau of Prisons, including ADX which supposedly confines the most dangerous prisoners in the country.

These abuses in American prisons are real and it's all designed to de-humanize the prisoners and destroy their sense of self-worth, self-respect, dignity and morals.

Often I ask young pigs "is there a difference between a man and an inmate?" The majority say yes, but when I ask the difference they cannot explain it. Others have come back later and said no, but their initial response is a "learned one." For example, new staff (pigs) are taught at training facilities (at Glencoe for federal officers, local places for state officials) to not eat prisoners' food, and to not drink prisoners' water. They are indoctrinated psychologically to view prisoners as sub-human, a separate species, in the same manner as the U.S. Constitution counted Black people as three-fifths human. In the year 2011, USP Lewisburg had on display in the institution toy figurines: a gorilla complete with orange pants, a broken handcuff attached to one wrist, and a toy white man in the costume of superman. This is how they view themselves and us.

But I will not delve too deeply into the racist mentality inside America's prisons; that is a well-known and accepted fact. There are many tortures perpetuated in America's prisons, from those stated above to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, to brutality and killings. These acts are well known and rarely is anything done.

Instead, the judicial system turns the proverbial blind eye. There are over a thousand cited juridical cases of prisoner lawsuits dismissed as frivolous, or on some contrived technicality, e.g. failure to exhaust administrative remedies/the institutional grievance process, even when that "grievance process" affords no capacity for redress. See Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 USC 1997; 28 USC 1915(g), Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S. Ct. 2378 (2006), Booth v Churner, 532 U.S. 731 (2001).

In federal civil rights cases, the U.S. Attorney (and Department of Justice) for the district where the prison is located "represents" the prison staff at the tax payers' expense. In state 42 U.S.C. §1983 civil rights cases it is the state attorney general who represents prison staff, again at tax payer expense. Prisoners are rarely given an attorney to prosecute their civil actions.

Emboldened by success at having prisoner lawsuits dismissed, prison staff have become more abusive and more blatant. This abuse and torture has had the desired effect, and many prisoners stop reporting staff abuse and just accept it. Thus happens the moral decay of the prison population. Men and women who were social pariahs, when free, for economic reasons, become scavengers, who lack morals, integrity and principles. Human beings are confined and allow the conditions of that confinement to make them into predatory beasts. Whether you are incarcerated for murder, robbery, drug dealing, extortion, or burglary, these crimes have a rational basis, often poverty-bred crime.

In America's prisons, what morals and integrity are left in the prisoner are slowly eroded away. Those who never used alcohol become drunks on prison-made wine and white lightening; those who never used drugs become heroin addicts with self-made needles; psychotropic medication-babies; gunners-flashing and masturbating in front of prison staff; men raping weaker men.

Prisoners are not doing time, the time is doing them. Mentally, prisoners are being dumbed down. It used to be when the youth entered prison they received a book from elder prisoners and a knife from their comrades for protection from the other prisoners and the pigs. Now the youth sit in front of the idiot box (TV) tuned in to BET and MTV.

The majority of prisoners pled guilty and got more time than they deserved, yet few ever even look inside the law library; they cannot read or write, yet do not go to school. They simply play the yard all day, until they find themselves in the SHU for a stabbing over being drunk, fighting over a "punk" or some minor offense perceived as disrespect.

Prisoners have lost the identity of who their enemy is and is not. Do other prisoners lock you in at night, deny you visits and phone calls, throw your mail in the garbage, tell you to strip naked, squat, cough and spread 'em?

All these groups, formed for this fight against "oppression" or claiming to be pushing an agenda of growth and development, and representing truth, justice, etc., are only oppressing themselves. On every yard in the country more Bloods stab Bloods, Crips stab Crips, GD stab GD, Vice Lords stab Vice Lords, LK stab LK, Norteños stab Norteños, Southside stab Southside, and the pigs lock us all down at the end of the night. Where is the comradeship amongst yourselves in particular, and prisoners in general? Where are the George Jacksons of today, Geronimo Pratts, Huey P. Newtons, Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebrons of today? How can you be a man or a "G" and sit confined every day without ever trying to liberate yourself? Is that gangsta, to sit idle chasing dope for the rest of your years in the womb of oppression?

I commend and salute the brothers and soldiers of Georgia State Prisons that in 2010 had a six-facility work stoppage to protest deplorable prison conditions. Every year, there should be a whole month where prisons across America simply refuse work; working for under a dollar for your captors is a crime against yourself. Every time a prisoner is beaten, collectively, without discussion or plan, everyone should simply refuse to work.

In all prisons, and the federal system in particular, there needs to be a moratorium on prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. This needs to go on with each "gang" and I say "gang" because you do not act like freedom fighters, revolutionaries or movements.

"No people to whom liberty is given can hold it as firmly, and wear it as grandly as those who wrench their liberty from the iron hand of the tyrant." - Frederick Douglas


MIM(Prisons) responds: In June of 2010 we had someone write to us about the degrading conditions in Georgia prisons, while lamenting how sorry and submissive the prisoners in Georgia were. Six months later thousands of prisoners in at least 6 prisons launched a coordinated strike just as the comrade above describes. Eighteen months after that, a hunger strike is approaching the one month mark after expanding to multiple GA prisons as well. So, while everything about the breaking process this comrade describes above is true, its hold is not permanent on the minds of the oppressed.

It is already traditional that the month of August be used to honor those who came before us, and SAMAEL has answered this comrade's call for a countrywide fast and work stoppage on September 9, though only for 24 hours. We encourage comrades to use the month of August to do education work around the history of the prison movement. Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) if you need additional study materials. We hope this comrade will follow through on his own suggestions and organize where he is at for a day of solidarity with others in the United Front for Peace in Prisons on September 9.

chain
[Mental Health] [ULK Issue 36]
expand

I'm Not Crazy for Identifying with My People

When one is imprisoned and kept away from society for a rather long period of time, it's not unnatural to feel as if you're beginning to lose your bearings, and it's not unnatural for one to seek help from "medical professionals."

What is considered unnatural however is to speak of the plight of the oppressed. I found this out the hard way when I went to my annual psychiatric review. To be "mentally-ill" or depressed when one is from oppressed nation origin and imprisoned is perfectly normal. However, to be perfectly normal or "sane" under the oppressive conditions of imperialism is certainly abnormal. One cannot be of oppressed nation origin and imprisoned and be content. Depression is a completely appropriate state of mind when oppressed by imperialism; there can be no other reaction.

As stated above I attended my annual psychiatric review and was introduced to the four member committee. I was asked a series of questions. How did I feel? Have I experienced any depression lately? Am I suicidal? I answered their questions as quickly and concisely as possible. I felt I passed their test with flying colors. As I was about to be excused however one of the psychiatrists stopped me from leaving and asked me if we could talk about my revolutionary tattoos. My first instinct was to ask him what my tattoos have to do with my "mental health." However, I felt it might look bad to not cooperate so I agreed to stay.

The psych wanted to know what they meant. I simply stated that they were political symbols and took it no further, but he pressed and wanted to know exactly what they meant. S/he kept pressing and at this point I once again thought, "what the hell do my political beliefs have to do with my mental health?!" I figured I'd play their little game and see exactly what they were trying to get at.

I was asked why I choose to have this artwork on me. I replied that they were simply expressions of my solidarity with the oppressed and exploited of the Third World. But why did I feel the need to show my solidarity? "Because" I stated, "they're oppressed and exploited, they've been oppressed and exploited and they're gonna continue to be oppressed and exploited for the foreseeable future!" "Oh, is that all?" At which point I lost temporary control of my emotions and strongly stated: "Yea, that and the fact that they're currently being massacred across the globe!" The committee then collectively jumped and stared at me as if I was indeed crazy for saying these truths.

The psych then attempted to further bait me and get me to incriminate myself by asking me if I felt the need to show my solidarity in any other way. To which I simply laughed and stared in h judgmental hate-filled eyes and said "of course not, I'm in prison." But what if I wasn't in prison? And of course I laughed and just said no.

S/he then accused me of being a gang member, to which I immediately objected and said "no, I am not a gang member!" But the bald-head, the tattoos and last but not least the fact that I'm from the oppressed nations certainly means that I'm a gang member. S/he then asked me what I'm in prisyn for. I told h the truth and told h that I'm in prison for "gang violence." S/he then repeated that I was a gang member. "No!" I once again corrected h. I explained to h that while I once was a gang member, I no longer am today. However, s/he insisted and asked me if I was in solidarity with the Third World when I was on the streets. I told h of course not. I was in solidarity with myself and my "gang". "So you've changed?!" Of course I changed, everybody changes. To which s/he then looked at me curiously and asked if I'd ever been in an insane asylum. "No" I stated. "Would you like to go to one?" "No" I once again stated. I was quite simply surprised that s/he would threaten me so openly. I was then excused.

The implication is clear. To speak of the plight of the oppressed and exploited Third World masses, one must be "crazy."


MIM(Prisons) adds: Check out the article "Psychiatry and Psychology as National Oppression" for a good analysis of this pseudo-science that classifies revolutionaries and oppressed nations as crazy. Also request a copy of MIM Theory 9 on Psychology and Imperialism for a complete analysis of this topic.

chain
[Mental Health]
expand

Psychology: A Battle for My Mind

I recently received MIM Theory #9 about the psychology of imperialism. This magazine has so much eye opening knowledge in it! I am very grateful for my copy and for helping me understand myself. I have been labeled as insane for so long and looked down on because of it.

I have been tortured in mental hospitals for refusing to take medication that caused me such very painful side affects. I was billed 29 thousand dollars for a few days of treatment. I was told I had to take medication that was given to make me unhealthy. This medication was priced at thousands of dollars a month.

I was told that my vision of a new world was psychotic delusion. I was told that wanting to have revenge for what was done to the natives of this land was threatening to myself and others. That since I was having vision that I was just a nigger slave on a plantation in chains that I was crazy. That my fear that these damned imperialists might just start a war that will kill us all was not rational.

Many people can't see the world as a whole so it doesn't affect them. Others just need to take a pill for their nerves. I know this enemy of the people and I will expose it. From now on I have pledged to fight for freedom. My next move is to educate myself so I can use my mind as a tool to end injustice. I plan to study law so I can help others. I will try to serve the rest of my time without violence.


MIM(prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade, psychology is used as a tool to control people who do not conform to the norms of imperialist culture. We do not agree with the oppressor's definition of mental health. It is healthy to question the oppression and exploitation of the world's people. It is correct to want to challenge inequality and injustice. And those who are truly in need of help are the ones who think it is ok to profit off the suffering of others. Under communism we can re-educate these people and help them understand the need for a world system that works for the interests of all people.

chain
[Medical Care] [Mental Health] [California]
expand

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.

chain
[Abuse] [Mental Health] [Dade Correctional Institution] [Florida] [ULK Issue 22]
expand

FL Grievances Forbid Helping Others

I am a prisoner currently incarcerated in the Florida department of corrections. At this time I'm being held at Dade Correctional Institution, in the mental health dorm transitional care unit.

This unit is for prisoners who have had, or who have developed serious mental health problems. This place is supposed to provide treatment such as counseling, one-on-one therapy, groups, etc. And it does that, but only to a bare minimum.

I am writing this because the prisoners here are being neglected. Not so much the ones who have good sense left, such as myself, but the severe cases of the prisoners who are so far gone they've lost touch with reality; the ones who are truly mentally disabled.

I've been writing grievances about this neglect, but the FL DOC has this rule that if the incident does not affect you personally then you cannot grieve the issue. This makes no sense to me at all. Some of these inmates are gone, and cannot grieve when they are done wrong.

There's an incident here that I continue to grieve of a prisoner who sleeps in the cell across from mine. This comrade has nothing in his cell except his being and a set of blues. He has no mattress, blanket, sheets, nothing. This guy doesn't talk at all. He makes noises sometimes that have no reasonable meaning but that's about it. He's lost to the world and he is mentally unstable. He cannot ask for these things, and he definitely cannot file a grievance. So this prisoner must continue to live like this because of some stupid rule that the DOC made up about this not affecting me directly.

There are a lot of prisoners here who are being literally warehoused. There are guys here who haven't taken a shower for months. They don't ask so it's not offered.

This is a mental health dorm. The staff are suppose to be helping these prisoners who cannot help themselves, and instead they are ignoring them.

I, fortunately, cannot be ignored. My mental health issues developed from doing long periods of time in close management settings (control units). I admit I became weak in a way. I picked up a bad habit that eventually turned into an addiction: self mutilation — I'm a cutter. But I am not beyond bouncing back. I do time how I want to do time. And that's the way I'm comfortable right now so it is what it is. I've got good sense though, trust that!

I'm going to continue to write up everything that I see these pigs here do, and I'm writing everything they're not doing up too. Someone will eventually listen. They cannot run a mental health unit like this. I'm going to keep on fighting for our rights until something is done.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Health care in prisons across the U.$. is terrible so it's no surprise to hear about the lack of even basic care in these Florida Mental Health units. We are also not surprised to hear the effect that long term incarceration has had on this comrade, leading to self mutilation. This is a good example of capitalism causing so-called mental illnesses. In reality, we should call these torture illnesses, as they are a direct result of torture in prisons. For more information about imperialism and psychology request a copy of MIM Theory 9: Psychology and Revolution.

This article referenced in:
chain
[Mental Health] [Control Units] [Ely State Prison] [Nevada]
expand

Ely State Prison: Depravity, Despair and Death

Ely State Prison(ESP) is a place of death, stagnation, misery, pain, loneliness and indeterminate lockdown. If you were to take a walk on one of these depressing tiers back here in "the hole," you would hear many disembodied voices ring out, yelling in anger and frustration, trying to tell you how bad it is for us in here, in between the isolated confines of steel and stone.

This is a maximum security prison, but not everybody here is a security risk, but if you were to ask these pigs that, they'd probably tell you otherwise, just to try to justify the fact that they're keeping us warehoused in here, whether we deserve it or not. With time things change, and usually for the worse. Deterioration is a normal occurrence in here. In fact, if you were to ask the prisoners around here if they think the conditions here will get better or worse, most of them will tell you things are only going to get worse. Pessimism and hopelessness permeate the minds and attitudes of the average prisoner in here. There's nothing much to look forward to, besides the next meal, and maybe a letter in the mail, if you're lucky.

Back in the day, ironically when ESP was opened (when we were allowed group yard, tier time, porters, etc.), the majority of the prisoners here were actually befitting of the status: maximum security. Back then, a man was sent to Ely State Prison for failure to adjust in another, less secure prison, violence, escapes and things of that nature. But even then, that could also mean he was disruptive, someone who organized other prisoners, led religious services, or filed too many legal writs or grievances.

Not every man at ESP is told why he's here these days, and not every man here has committed a violent crime. Not every man here has done anything serious to even warrant maximum security status. For example, I have a neighbor here in the hole with me right now who was transferred up here simply for contraband. A prisoner has no chance to appeal a transfer before being sent to ESP, and sometimes arrives in the middle of the night without warning. Brought into a world of darkness, locked into a cell, left to get stale and stagnant as he deteriorates, like a moldy piece of bread.

Nobody belongs in a world where they're buried alive, where they're in a tomb for the dead, basically. The police have total control, and many of them frequently abuse that control, either on a psychological level, or on a physical level. And over the days, weeks, months and years, a prisoner who is confined to this every day misery, begins to degenerate. I've seen it happen, over and over again. Nobody belongs in a world like this, where death permeates the atmosphere. Where pressure is applied so constantly that all it does is make these men hard and mean as time goes by.

Some of these guys in here feel they only have 2 or 3 choices now: escape, snitch or suicide. Nobody has escaped from here yet, but many turned into snitches, and many have committed suicide. And others have succumbed to psychotropic medications, which is a form of both escape and suicide. For so many of us in here, there's nothing to strive for, no aim, no goals, no hope, no light at the end of their tunnel, and they just give up; give in. There's no love here, just the artificial love that you'll find in the gang culture of prison life. This is a terrible place to be, especially for someone who has to return back to society.

All you have to do is read a little psychology to figure out what's going on, to understand what's being done to us in here. They try to break us down, sever our family and social ties, dominate us, talk shit to us, treat us like children, going out of their way to try to keep us stagnant and ignorant, and always out to break our spirits. Needless to say, I pass around books, articles and notes on psychology, so that prisoners can get a deeper understanding about things. Not just about being in prison, but also about how our minds work, personality, emotions, why we act the way we act, and why we are the way we are. It's very important to actually be able to come to an understanding of these things; to raise our level of conscious and to be able to elevate our thinking under these circumstances is very important in more ways than one, and it's also necessary for our survival in here, where psychological warfare is being waged on us every day.

The depravity and despair in this graveyard continuously pushes men to death or insanity. I wrote an article on November 18th, 2009, about the mysterious death of death row prisoner Timothy Redman. Nov 18, 2009, was the day he died, and I was there when it happened. This is a prime example of the daily depravity that takes place in this hellhole. Approximately an hour after Redman allegedly tried to grab a correctional officer by the wrist and pull his arm through the food slot (apparently the pig had to struggle to free himself), an extraction team of officers was made up to physically and forcefully remove Redman from his cell, or at least to try. Redman refused to surrender and to be placed in handcuffs, and he did so by displaying a weapon. What's cold about this whole thing is that the policy (administrative regulation) even states that any time a prisoner has a weapon in his cell, his water and toilet is to be shut off, an officer is to be stationed outside of his cell, and nothing is to come in or go out of his cell - not even meals, and this officer is supposed to stay stationed outside of his cell until the prisoner either gives the weapon up, or for 72 hours, and then they have to decide what to do from there, whether excessive force is to be used or not. Did this happen? No. These pigs refused to follow their own rules and a man died as a result.

A Story of One Man's Death

I can tell you exactly what took place. After Redman refused to surrender, the pigs then proceeded to spray one can of pepper spray into his cell. After that the senior officer in the control bubble commenced to open Redman's cell so the pigs could run in on him and retaliate, and then remove him from his cell. But the cell door was jammed from the inside, and they couldn't get it open. Obviously Redman was no dummy, he knew how to keep the pigs out, and he knew why it was so important to do so. That's a situation that you usually don't win. They come in and beat your ass, and after they've got you fully restrained, they beat you some more as they yell out "Stop resisting! Stop resisting!" So, over the course of two hours, the pigs emptied a total of 6 canisters of gas into Redman's cell, and then sprayed a seventh canister one time. They would spray him, and then go hide out in the upper storage room, so that the gas wouldn't affect them (Redman was housed in 3-B-48, right next to the upper storage room). When they were finally able to open Redman's cell to get him out, he was dead. His face was purple, his body was blue and blood was coming out of his nose. His boxers were stained with feces and urine and he had what appeared to be a smile on his face. The nurses and doctors tried to revive him, but to no avail.

What's mysterious about this whole situation was that when they pulled Redman out of his cell, there was no rope tied around his neck or anything. But they say he hung himself. They said it was a suicide. But did he really hang himself, or was he murdered by six cans of pepper spray? Was it a cover-up? People need to be concerned about this, and they should demand to see the video footage of the extraction, just to make sure. Because the whole things seemed mysterious to the majority of the prisoners who saw the incident take place.

All seem to agree that Redman died from the pepper spray. They think he was murdered. Who knows what happened. Death row prisoners have been murdered before under McDaniel's administration. I know this much: a couple of hours after they carried Redman's body out of the unit, two of the wardens, the coroner, and the investigator were all standing outside of Redman's cell laughing, smiling and joking around, thinking it was funny. I piped up and said, "What are you laughing at? If that was one of your own who died, you wouldn't find it very funny, now would you?"

The really cold, cold part about it was, when the coroner asked the warden, on two separate occasions, "How should I decide this?", "How do you think I should decide this, suicide or murder?" The warden looked around, seen that prisoners were standing alert at their doors and said "I can't decide that, that's your job." But what would even propel the coroner to ask such an odd question like that in the first place?

I knew Redman personally. He wasn't really a friend of mine, but someone I talked to occasionally. I don't know what set him off to go after the pig, but i do know this: Redman was a death row prisoner who had had to endure 23-hour lockdown while on HRP (High Risk Potential status) for 16-17 years straight. I heard him talking once about how the administration is stripping one privilege away from us each year. Tobacco, milk, scrambled eggs, hot lunches, food packages, clothing packages, etc. They just take, take, take and keep you locked down in a cell with a death sentence hanging over your head. Oh yeah, and I know that they were messing with Redman's mail too. He seemed to think that his wife left him due to this; because certain letters never got to her. So i think it's safe to say, with all those things taken into consideration, you have a man who has nothing to lose, and no hope in sight, who has basically been driven to a point where life doesn't even matter anymore.

Systematic Problems Require Organizing

There's a lot of people like that in here. They weren't always like that though. They've deteriorated, and have been broken, and just stopped trying, stopped caring, with no one or nothing to help pull them through. It's a sad sad story, about depravity and despair. Some of us fight and struggle trying to make it through this, trying to better ourselves and better our positions in life, and some just give up all hope. It's easy to give up in a filthy, foul-ass place like this, where nobody cares about what you're going through, or about what happens to you, one way or another.

The guards who work here don't care about us, they're not trained to care about us, they are only trained to control us. Ely State Prison is an unproductive, unhealthy environment, even for these pigs. it has been documented that prison guards have the highest rates of heart disease, drug and alcohol addiction, divorce - and the shortest lifespans - of any state civil servants, due to the stress in their lives. Prison guard are in constant fear of injury by prisoners, and the fear of contracting diseases always lingers in their minds, since prisons are normally flooded with all kinds of diseases, from hepatitis C, tuberculosis, to AIDS.

From the first day in the academy these guards are trained to believe that they are the "good guys" and that prisoners are the "bad guys." They are pretty much programmed into fearing and despising us - before they even come into contact with any of us! They are led to believe that all prisoners are manipulative, deceitful and dangerous, and that all prisoners are the scum of the Earth. So no, they don't care about us, they are not even allowed to care about us. We are not even human to them. Needless to say, none of this leads to rehabilitation, but on the contrary, it only contributes to the everyday depravity here in this hellhole.

I'm writing about all of this for a reason. I'm here to expose the abuse, the disparity and hopelessness. I'm here to raise awareness about all of these things, and I'm here to help seek solutions. One of the things I'd like to help Nevada prisoners understand is that the situation for us out here is deplorable. There is a real problem with this whole system, and if we don't recognize these problems, we will never find solutions, not to mention the possibility that we ourselves could even be contributing to many of these problems. Please believe, the way they've got us doing our time is not the way we're supposed to be doing our time. This whole prison is "the hole"; there's no general population here at ESP, there's no incentive, no programs, no rehabilitation, nothing. We have way more coming to us than this! We are not supposed to just lay down and accept this, we have to start finding ways to come together, we have to start striving to make the necessary changes that will help better our positions in life, so that we don't have to keep coming back to these dead ends.

Furthermore, there's no real level of activism in Nevada. Prisoners do not have any available resources, bookstores for Nevada prisoners, no prisoners' rights advocacy groups, no solid help from the outside, whatsoever. In order to make changes on the inside, we need support from the outside. We must take it upon ourselves to build a proper support structure for Nevada prisoners, and we have to do this from the ground up!

So, if you're a prisoner doing time in Nevada and if you have family/friends out here in Nevada - or anywhere else on the outs - I would like to encourage you to explain to them how bad the situation is for you/us in here. Let them know that we cannot expect any type of real rehabilitation from this system; explain to them that the administration is not going to do anything to help us further our growth and development, or push us close to becoming reformed, socially functioning individuals. We have to take it upon ourselves to do these things and we can't do it without a proper support structure from people on the outside.

Talk to your families talk to your friends, talk to your loved ones out there (show them this newsletter if you have to), see what they would be willing to do to start up programs for Nevada prisoners. Something needs to be done, but nothing will improve unless prisoners start taking the initiative.

The guys who have to do life sentences, or who have to be here for the duration, I encourage you to start learning the law, use it as a tool to make changes for everybody; start stepping up to the plate, instead of waiting for others to do it for you. As long as we keep trying, sooner or later something has to give. It's better to try than to do nothing, especially when we're living like this! We can do anything we put our minds to, it all starts with a thought, and what we think about we become, so let's get cracking!

Until then, we are just going to sit here, warehoused in this misery, as the years go by, more people losing their minds, more deaths and suicides, more repression, more rules being placed on us, making it harder on us, more restrictions, more losses of privileges and whatever else they want to take from us. We will sit here with sad looks on our faces, as anger and hatred eat us up inside. The despair will lead to depravity , and the depravity will do us in. Death is the only outcome tomorrow, for those that don't start taking action today.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good discussion of the need for activism in the context of concrete examples of repression and brutality in the criminal injustice system. Further, this writer is correct that there is a bigger context to the repression that is an inherent part of the system. We do not believe that psychology is the appropriate place to look for answers, but it is useful to understand systemic motivations and factors. See our article on mental health in ULK15 for more analysis on this.

chain
Go to Page [1] [2] 3 [4]
Index of Articles