The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
expand

Approaching Conflict More Scientifically

For our Agreement to End Hostilities we reach out to all colors, all genders, all ethnicities. In this struggle, if we can satisfy the interests of the other parties while meeting our own, that is best. Yet a blind following of fixed views of one's identity can undermine any assurance that either party will honor an agreement. It's hard, but we must learn to understand how to see our thoughts with thinking. Identity can prove more a liability than an asset if we drive with our eyes closed.

Strategies to Address Conflict

Internationalism is Needed to End Hostility

We must liberate the oppressed from identity politics first. We may be unaware of the political landscape, which leaves us vulnerable to being exploited. A leader may impose a narrative on us, and create feelings of division between us and others. Second we may cling to a negative identity, defining who we are as against the other side and rejecting anything they propose. In an extreme situation, we lose all semblance of our own identity, identifying ourselves only in terms of opposition to the other side. Third, we may feel excluded from the decision-making process, further dividing us from others. Finally, we may feel like a pawn trapped within an unfair political system.

Strategies to address conflict

Currently at New Folsom, staff are creating divisions leading to dangerous situations. When they read letters agreeing to help us, they may withhold this mail, or give it to another prisoner whom they believe will help them carry out their own personal perverted agenda. These inmates are called snitches, liars or PSU/SHU collaborators who speak against human rights. These inmates are encouraged to write to our families, women and supporters with the intent to disconnect them from us. These actions create very dangerous situations, creating the desire to punish these men for working with the administration. These games are being played throughout the state of California, targeting prisoners who have taken conscious steps to resist being casualties of this low intensity psychological warfare. Warfare that is rarely seen or recognized by the everyday citizen. We must find ways to monitor our incoming and outgoing mail. If we ever want to truly stand for the UFPP principle of Independence, we must have resources independent of the enemy.

chain
[Organizing] [Principal Contradiction] [Culture] [ULK Issue 51]
expand

Book Review: Lumpen by Ed Mead

lumpen ed mead
Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead
Kersplebedeb, 2015

Available for $20 + shipping/handling from:
kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8

As anti-imperialists and prison activists, we can recommend Ed Mead's recent autobiography as a useful read. There are a couple inconsistencies with the form and the line promoted in the book, however. While Mead critiques anarchism and reformism in the book, at the end is a list of a number of organizations that struggle for prisoners' rights, and they are all reformist/mass organizations with a couple anarchist groups thrown in. Mead stresses that he does not believe communists should hide their beliefs. Yet it is odd that he finds no communist prison support groups to be worthy of mention. Moreso, it seems that for much of Mead's life ey couldn't find a communist organization to be a part of and support.

We also must question the form of an autobiography. Our culture promotes the idea of writing one's own story. While this author has been told to write an autobiography multiple times, having lived much less of my life than Ed Mead, i don't plan to ever do so. I hope that if i do live as long as Mead i'm too busy fulfilling my tasks in a communist cadre org (or hopefully state by then) to spend a bunch of time writing about myself. Certainly there is some value in terms of the building of humyn knowledge of documenting the conditions of the time and places that Mead experienced. But it does not seem a high priority for communists. It was probably for this reason that i found the first chapters of the book tiring to read. I didn't really need to know all about Mead's family growing up to learn some lessons about how to organize with prisoners effectively. But perhaps that was my own problem as that was never a stated purpose of this book.

The foremost stated purpose of the book by Mead is to "extend an invitation to sections of the lumpenproletariat to join the international working class." While not a bad goal, it does hint at differences we have with Mead and other communists within California Prison Focus (CPF) regarding whether nation or class is the principal contradiction. This has led to divisions in our work to shut down Security Housing Units in California. In the 2000s, MIM was part of the United Front to Abolish the SHU, which was dominated by parties and organizations struggling for national liberation. While CPF was nominally a member, their difference on this issue led to a lack of working together. This was despite the fact that the United Front explicitly allowed for organizational independence in terms of political line outside of our agreement on shutting down the SHU. In the 2010s, CPF was part of the leadership that created the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. Mead was perhaps the only one who tried to include MIM(Prisons) in that effort. But the coalition structure forced us to the outside this time as MIM(Prisons) refused to subsume our politics to the coalition.

While recognizing whites as obviously having advantages over others, Mead does believe there is a significant white nation working class in this country. While citing Mao favorably multiple times, Mead points out Mao's failure to put class first as a point of disagreement.(p. 164) Mead's line is also reflected in an off-hand comment saying Stalin was wrong to condemn the German social-democrats as social-fascists. We think Stalin and the Comintern correctly saw the class nature and interest of the social democrats as being labor aristocracy and petty bourgeois, who wavered towards fascism, paving its way to power.(1)

Mead talks about "white skin privilege" and uses it as an agitational point to push people to join the class war while discussing eir participation in the militant George Jackson Brigade. Mead admits that eir decision to use revolutionary violence was a direct result of the lack of mass support for abused prisoners.(p. 181) At the same time ey mentions other groups at the time doing similar things and believing that small bands carrying out armed struggle would spread across the country. Mead does not conclude anywhere in the book that it was a mistake to take up this line even though comrades died, while the rest spent the prime of their lives in prison. As we discussed in a recent article on the Black Panthers, it was both common and understandable to conclude that armed struggle would become a reality in the United $tates at that time.(2) Yet, not only are conditions less advanced today, history also proved that armed struggle in the United $tates was premature in the conditions of 1966-72.

From what we know about Mead in real life and from reading the book, it is clear that ey was good at and focused on uniting all who could be united. And while we say it is better for communists to work within cadre organizations than mass organizations, as Mead did much of eir life, ey certainly did so in a principled way according to the book. And most of those principles are ones that we too support.

As mentioned, i came to this book in search of some lessons on anti-imperialist organizing in prisons. And while some of the stories are very abbreviated, the book is not short on examples of Mead's efforts, pitfalls and successes. Mead talks about the importance of determining the principal contradiction at each prison ey organized in. While in most cases ey sait it was related to nation, ey said it was related to sexism in Walla Walla, which led to the formation of Men Against Sexism.(3) Interestingly, Mead takes the position that while nation is principal inside prisons, it does not make sense to build a Black-only prison movement (at least on a large scale).(p. 280) We are sympathetic to this view and spend a lot of time calling for unity between nationalities in prison, while promoting national liberation as a strategy for the oppressed nations overall. A couple of good lessons are well-put in Mead's own words:

"...if the immediate demands address prisoners' rights and living conditions, then the backwards elements will either be won over or neutralized by the growing consciousness of the rest of the population."(p. 305) This was one of the most inspiring parts of Mead's story. In a situation where the prison system was dominated by one lumpen organization (LO) that was guided by self-interest, Mead had the revolutionary fearlessness to organize those victimized by the LO to build a mass movement that the whole population came to identify with.

"An organization that depends upon one person for direction is doomed to fail; each level of cadre should be able to take the place of a fallen or transferred comrade, even if that person occupies a leadership position."(p. 306) Mead learned this from experience, both in situations where ey was that sole leader and others where ey was surrounded by a dedicated cadre. Inspiring stories include the first strike ever at McNeil Island, which had 100% participation.(p. 139) While many of the challenges of prison organizing are still the same decades later, you'll find many other inspiring stories in this book as well. It demonstrates both the importance of the prison movement as part of the overall movement for liberation and against imperialism, while showing the limitations of a prison movement that is not complemented by strong movements on the outside. As the current struggle focused on police murders continues to ferment, we work to build a prison movement, and they will feed each other as we move towards the next revolutionary period in history.

Notes:
1. see MIM Theory 10: Labor Aristocracy, or the MIM(Prisons) study pack, The Labor Aristocracy and the International Communist Movement.
2. Under Lock & Key 50: Black Panther Party 50 Year Commemoration
3. PTT of MIM(Prisons), Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, Under Lock & Key, Issue 29, November/December 2012.
chain
[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 52]
expand

USW Study Group Poppin Off

USW Study Group

I am delighted to enlighten you regrading our new study group/think tank, based upon the ideas/ideals of information contained in recent and past Under Lock & Key. In July 2016, we held our first study group member meeting, with some supporters. We met for over an hour, with 29 people in attendance and 18 committed members.

We deputized four positions of responsibility: 2 moderators, and 2 curators. We plan to conduct smaller study groups in individual pods, with direct dialogue from and with the larger weekly group meetings.

Our first meeting dealt with (1) Revolutionary Consciousness, (2) Revolutionary Activism, and (3) Accepting Accountability and Responsibility — in conjunction with the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles on page 3 of ULK 50: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.

We will need study materials to continue to move the study group. We are young, new and eager to be a part. We are entertained by what appeals to our conditions — as it relates to Maoist and Under Lock & Key principles. Our prison suffers from gangs, disunity amongst offenders/captives, and a gross lack of understanding of revolutionary ideas/ideals.

The questions we discussed at our first meeting were:
1) What is revolutionary consciousness?
2) What is revolutionary activism?
3) What does "accountability" and "responsibility" mean to you?
4) What can you, and will you, contribute to the ideas of: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, & Independence?

The hard work will be keeping the young guys inspired, motivated, and focused on getting and achieving our goals (as we set them). We will need as much and as often materials (and possibly books). We will continue to send stamps as often as we can to cover materials. We have good writers of articles, poems, etc. which we will send.

I have enclosed a list of named members - verbal committals - who wish to receive a subscription of Under Lock & Key. I have also enclosed their state number and prison's address. Please sign these Brothers up!

If you have any back issues of Under Lock & Key, articles on uniting gangs, revolutionary understanding, or any fundamental ideas to help our young study group, please send them. We will send an updated report bimonthly detailing our weekly meetings, topics, etc. Please support us, as we are new to this, and young. Be sure to know, we are with you in whatever way we can help with larger goals of MIM, and our local goals - we are with it!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this report to encourage other readers with the example of our comrades in Virginia. You can focus on topics that interest your group and we will try to supply reading material and study questions. Most study groups start by talking about questions like this comrade describes (such as, "What is revolutionary activism?") or even more basic topics. And this leads to more questions and greater consciousness. People who wonder why so many are locked behind bars are just a few steps away from wondering why Amerika attacks so many other countries, and why people within U.$. borders are so much wealthier than the majority of the world's citizens.

By building through education we can set up solid core of cadres who can apply what they've learned to analyze conditions and lead political organizing with correct political line and strategy.

chain
[Hunger Strike] [Abuse] [Organizing] [Control Units] [David Wade Correctional Center] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 52]
expand

Louisiana Prisoners Hunger Strike Against Inhuman Conditions

I've been in solitary confinement here at Louisiana's Prison for 2 years now. David Wade Correctional Institution is a DOC facility. A disciplinary, concentration camp. Louisiana's most repressive prison. Everywhere you move you have to be shackled and handcuffed. Even to the shower if it's a few feet from your cell. You use the phone once a month, for 10 minutes. Our yard time is only 5 days out the week for 1 hour, inside of a chicken wired cage almost the same size as your cell. The prison is designed to break the mind, body and soul.

Incarcerated individuals here are living in inhumanity in its purest form. I met some guys who have been here on extended lockdown (solitary confinement) for six, seven, eight years straight. Our superiors are antagonists that despise the strong. Their job is to introduce us to the elements of repression. Their goal is to break you... by any means necessary.

It's the heart of the summer and it gets really hot on these cell blocks. We're the only prison in the state of Louisiana that only has one fan on each tier. Its nearly 100 degrees! On top of that, there's no water and we're not allowed ice on the tier. The only water that we're allowed to drink is out of our sink. And sometimes our pipes are backed up, or there's a boil-water warning on the news. If we want water, our only option is to drink contaminated water out our sinks, which is cruel and unusual punishment. Inhumanity. Not to mention that we're only allowed books and newspapers. We have no access to any television or radio. The papers is how we find out about the boil water warnings, and sometimes the newspapers come too late because of slow mail.

They want you to put your jump suit all the way on, while you're in your cell all during the day while it's nearly 100 degrees. This is only a tactic to make you as uncomfortable as possible. You see, every day in these cells is war. They take you to war every single day. Psychological warfare.

A lot of the guys here can't endure the delinquency of the officers, nor could they endure these extreme circumstances of dehumanization. I watch guys break right before my eyes all the time. The mind is very elusive... Hold it tight. One minute you'll be talking to a guy and the next minute they just snap, right before your very eyes, as if their mind was an egg that slipped out of their hand, and splattered across the hard rough pavement.

These situations are so frequent that a lot of the individuals here have gotten used to it. They have so adjusted to where they believe that these abnormal situations are normal. Just a couple of weeks ago a guy hung himself in his cell. His body dangled for a couple of hours before anyone even noticed. He was then rolled off the tier, and it was as if nothing had happen.

Guys use to be killed here by guards all the time. That was until word started to leak outside of these walls and into the free world. But that still wasn't enough to mentally liberate us. We need outside help... recognition... the voice of society... we need revolution!

I'm fortunate enough to be one of the few to be spiritually emancipated. Subsequently I have become a revolutionist. The change has already begun. And unity is a very fundamental principle.

We're dying to live....but we're living to die.

There's about 11 of us total who have been on hunger strike. Today makes my 4 1/2 day without food [11 July 2016]. About 8 or 9 other guys have reached their 7 day mark. But this is only the beginning. We would probably have to go a couple of weeks on hunger strike for them to even take us seriously, which is hard work without the outside help, or support. Also the oppressor refuses to stand down without opposition. Their tactics are vital. You could be on hunger strike for 4 or 5 days and they wouldn't even document it. That way they won't have to report so many to D.O.C headquarters. But also subsequently you wouldn't receive mandatory medical treatment, which is protocol after a prisoner misses 9 meals.

You're declared to be suicidal. By refusing to follow their protocol they violate our constitutional rights. But we're willing to go however long it takes. We also have multiple comrades who have made it to the courts system to push even further after they have successfully exhausted the grievance process. Our fundamental goal is for change... Better circumstances. We want the same thing that the "Pledge of Allegiance" taught us. We want Liberty and Justice for all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We stand with this writer and the comrades in Louisiana fighting back against the dangerous and inhumane conditions at David Wade Correctional Center. This comrade is right that actions behind bars need outside support. It is also important to have some clear demands when we undertake big protests like a hunger strike. This will help focus the response, and ensure that we know when we have won. Fighting for general liberty and justice is definitely our goal as communists, but we know we will never achieve that under capitalism, and so our actions should be focused on winnable battles today while we build for liberation for all through revolution.

chain
[Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 52]
expand

Call for Unity with LGBTQ Prisoners

Queen D.I.V.A here, I want to speak on why LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/transexual, Queer) comrades are treated like shit. This is my second bid and I've seen a lot of love towards my community but to be totally honest I've seen more dislike and hate towards my community.

Comrades will rather be respectful to a kkkorektions officer than a homosexual, why? Comrades will rather say good morning with a smile on their faces to a kkkorektions officer, why? Don't you guys know these pigs are the ones throwing your mail away and then telling you that you didn't get any, that they will beat your ass and say you assaulted them and give you a new bid, and that they will deny your visit after your family just drove 7 hours to see you?

What have LGBTQ comrades done to you? Nothing. We were born different, that's it! What if your own flesh and blood son came to you one day and confessed that he's gay? Would you disown him? Would you treat him like you treat imprisoned gays, or would you put your ego, pride and fear to the side and embrace him?

We are all in this struggle together, let us say "screw what people think." A "unit" is something that works together. We're behind these walls and fences together so why can't we stand together? Stop disrespecting us and you'll see we're not your enemies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade eloquently pushes the United Front for Peace in Prisons principle of Unity around the question of sexual orientation and gender identity, elements of the strand of oppression of gender. We need to look beyond petty differences, and beyond socialized prejudices around gender. Our movement cannot afford to be divided along these lines. Instead we need to judge people by their actions and their political line. Those who side with the pigs, who feed them information, and who help them by provoking fights and doing their bidding: those people are our enemies. People who stand up against the criminal injustice system are our friends. And those who don't stand up but refuse to work with the pigs are our friends in need of a little educating and leadership so that they too will join the struggle.

chain
[Organizing]
expand

Build a Revolutionary Mind and Body

Brothas and Sistas, as freedom fighters we must stay ready every day to act, for we might be called to duty to support and protect our brothas and sistas in our struggle. In the revolutionary units it's mandatory we get our military on. Getting our military on is exercising because we are units with a People's Army.

We must train our body for endurance, stamina and strength. Run long distance and sprints around a track. Do pushups, pull ups, sit ups, squats, lunges and cardio like burpies, windmills, jumping jacks, etc. When getting our military on work out at least 30 min to 1 hour every day. Then during the day do little 5 to 15 minute workouts to keep heart rate up. Sometimes I do a routine every time a commercial comes on TV if I'm watching a program or when I'm ready I will do a routine after I read a page. This is how I stay war ready.

We must not only watch what we feed our mind we must watch what we feed our body and the food portion size we put in our body. We encourage people not to eat pork. People can eat beef, lamb, fish and chicken. We recommend eating fruit and vegetables. Cut back or limit pasta, white bread, white rice, candy and cake intake. Eat plenty of nuts like peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews.

The revolutionary must build revolutionary minds by studying history and resistance movements, study our environment as in how people act, their different characters, study or pay attention to world events and we study our ancestors' and leaders' legacies, which are instructions we use to benefit us in this day and time. We build off of them. We study our experiences on what works and don't work for certain situations, times and places. This way we know how to continue to move forward and not get stagnated. We focus on actions, building programs and kampaigning to spread the revolutionary kulture. Actions speak louder than words so let our actions speak for us whenever we see oppression being done to us by our common enemy.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good follow up to Under Lock & Key 49, which focused on survival and stamina. This writer has some good suggestions for building a strong body and mind. Using activities like television and reading to provide timed exercise breaks, and maintaining a healthy diet are very good suggestions. Of course we know that many comrades in prison have little control over their diet, but when possible it is always good to eat the healthiest foods available.

We are not in agreement with the position that people should not eat pork but should eat other meats. There is no scientific evidence that pork is less healthy than beef and lamb, for instance. Perhaps this suggestion is related to a religious belief, but as materialists we focus on material benefit of foods rather than spiritual doctrines.

All revolutionary comrades should build their own routine of exercise and diet to help maintain the strongest possible mind and body behind bars. This is part of our responsibility to survive and stay active during this protracted battle against imperialism.

chain
[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 56]
expand

Struggling for Unity Through Study

The real task before us is to convince prisoners that struggling for pecuniary aims solely is to struggle for nothing more than a piece of the imperialist pig pie. I myself don't give a fuck as to whether prisoners get paid or not, just as I was not concerned with the whining "Occupy Wall Street" labor aristocracy complaining when their opulent pig lifestyles were compromised by the "Great Recession" of '08. Good! But I am encouraged there are some stirrings of dissent from Texas prisoners regarding conditions of confinement. It is before us now to harness and direct this dissent into revolutionary channels.

Since beginning this letter I have been approached by a prisoner housed in my wing. This prisoner, "Ivo," avowed themselves to be communist. Ivo receives ULK. Ivo was born in Honduras, but raised in the United $tates. Ivo is a Guevarista. I have initiated and opened a channel of dialog with Ivo and a Black prisoner, "Mississippi." Mississippi has preferred access to the MLM - MIM materials I have available. I have broached the subject of forming a study group with these two. The idea was received rather coolly by both. The three of us are to meet this weekend to discuss it. Ivo says they have serious reservations concerning the MIM line. When we meet I will inquire of their position regarding MIM's 3 main principles. As for me, as it is for MIM, these principles are fundamentally decisive.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter as an example of the hard work required to build unity. This comrade demonstrates how to build common ground with others, and then studying together to discover areas of disagreement and build greater unity. Of course there will be times when we find that we have disagreements too significant to continue working together. For us (and for this writer) those questions are summarized in our dividing line questions. Any other differences we consider to be non-divisive and things we can struggle through or put to the side in the interests of united action and the greater anti-imperialist movement. We also need to keep in mind that those who disagree with these dividing line questions are not enemies just because of that disagreement. At this stage in the anti-imperialist struggle these folks are still potentially valuable allies in the united front against imperialism, even if they are not communists.

chain
[Organizing] [Political Repression]
expand

Always Salute the Comrades

I always express how important it is to salute the comrades to the young prisoners and the unconscious prisoners. For them to always assist in some way in the struggle. Here in [the facility where I am] it's a whole different world. It's like the twilight zone, you have to see it to believe it. But it's our duty to still push to get the fire burning and to keep the fire burning.

These oppressors, the pigs, have domesticated and brainwashed so many of these prisoners, to where they think that comradism is nutty. So I give my all to try to enlighten the ones whose ears I can catch. Explain to them that if it wasn't for this comradism, some of these small opportunities that we do have as rights (to see your lawyers, phone calls, rec time, keeping your legal work, law library), some of these battles have been won on the back of some hell of men. Even cost some of them their lives, and they was willing to die for something. We must be grateful and love these warriors.

I try to make an example about how much these oppressors fear and hate these warriors. I try to tell them to look at yourself and some of the other brothers that we say put work in. These prisoners can stab another prisoner numerous times and get one year or six months hole time. But the warriors don't have to touch a soul and be in the hole, for ten, twenty, thirty years, and never put a knife or nothing else in another prisoner. I tell them that they're more afraid of the knowledge they possess, they know who the true enemy is. So these warriors is some of the most feared prisoners and go through a lot of torture, for the cause that all prisoners benefit from. So I salute the comrades - THANKS AND KEEP THE FIRE BURNING.

chain
[Organizing]
expand

Emotion vs. Strategy

As a California prisoner, constantly under attack by this oppressive regime, I'm glad to have found a forum to voice our collective pain and discuss attempts at real liberation. Over the years, discussing aspects of this struggle with various people, I come to notice a consistent pattern. Since I myself was victim to this philosophical perspective, I find it necessary to enlighten the new, young, freedom-fighter in order to equip them with the proper tools to effect real change.

As a young revolutionist, there was a time that when faced with oppression, my initial reaction was to grab the closet weapon, rush my oppressor, swing away and let the chips fall where they may. In retrospect, however, I came to realize that this reaction was, unusually, emotionally, charged and lacked any strategic depth. (Make no mistake, the Young convict in me still, occasionally, smiles at those actions, having delivered the oppressor a "fierce" blow). Usually, it wasn't until I was in Ad-Seg, afforded the benefit of hindsight, would I realize that, while I did enjoy the temporary high from my actions, (a) I hadn't effected any real change; and (b) if anything, my actions had caused the oppressors to double down on their tactics.

With the passage of time, the acquiring of more experience and a diligent study of various successful social movements, I've realized that a cool head, and a strategic plan is the most effective prerequisite to a successful revolution. Vanguards like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC, Thurgood Marshal and the legal wing of the NAACP or Gandhi and those leaders all preceded every move with a thorough round table discussion, during which effective formulas were instituted to meet a specific end result; and while subsequent generations have criticized Dr. King for what they considered his pacifist ways, they could only wish to accomplish a fraction of what he did. From the Montgomery bus-boycott, the Voting Rights Act, to the abolishment of Jim Crow laws, each success was preceded with a cool, calm and collective strategic aim.

So, in conclusion, what I'm saying is that while an emotional reaction is natural and shouldn't be suppressed, perhaps between the offense and the reaction we should insert some time during which we harness that energy and direct it in the most effective way towards the real aim we're after. Thank you brothers, keep fighting!

MIM(Prisons) responds: For a deeper look at line, strategy and tactics, check out our Organizational Structure study pack. This comrade gets at the first step towards a strategic approach, but we must go further to assess our conditions to determine a strategic orientation for our time and place. While there is no doubt that Dr. King's success reflected his ability to do just that, there is also a question of line that precludes determining our strategy. Towards the end of his life King commented that he feared they were attempting to integrate into a burning house. In contrast, MIM(Prisons) promotes the goal of self-determination and national liberation, which leads us to strategize differently than King did.

chain
[Organizing] [Snake River Correctional Institution] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 50]
expand

Oregon, Punished for Requesting Copy of Grievance Petition

I received a letter from you with a petition addressing complaints with these police retaliating and conspiring to violate prisoner First Amendment rights when exhausting administrative remedies. Well, as soon as I got it I filled it out and sent it in to get copies so I can send it to the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), Director, Department of Justice, and Inspector General. But today I received a confiscation form for the petition and a write up for unauthorized organization for attempting to file a petition without ODOC function unit manager approval. I had no idea that if I file a petition addressing a complaint that I could be written up for it without warning but I ain't sweating it.

In fact, in order to prevent other comrades from being a victim to this corrupt process I have a couple suggestions. First, the back page of the petition at the bottom the last word says “petition.” I believe that not only should that word be replaced with “complaint” but that within this petition it should have a section which states that it is a complaint. Even though a complaint/petition are similar and requests the same conclusions, ODOC and maybe other DOC facilities are playing the word game. Until this is addressed in Federal court, Oregon prisoners, if not prisoners in other states, will be subjected to unnecessary obstacles in addressing their concerns through the current petition format you have. So please re-word it to be a “complaint” and disassociate it as a petition and then resend it to me.

The misconduct report this comrade received reads:

"4.46 Unauthorized Organization II: An inmate commits Unauthorized Organization II if, except as specified by Department of Corrections rule on Group Activities (inmate) (OAR 291 145) (B) 4.46.02 Engages in a petition drive without specific authorization from the Functional Unit Manager

Form was generated from https://www.prisoncensorship.info/, on 4/5/16 I was working in SHU Library, received a kyte from above AIC requesting copies of the petition, I approved one copy due to not being able to identify this form and it was addressed to the Director of the Oregon Dept. of Corrections, due to the question at hand I elected to error on AIC's behalf and allowed one copy. On 4/15/16 AIC is again requesting copies of the petition. This petition or authorization for envelopes has not been approved for circulation or approved envelopes through out SRCI and other Institutions in accordance with:

291-107-0015 Procedures

(1) Those inmates and/or community persons who have not been able to resolve problems through other available channels (i.e., the Ombudsman, Department of Corrections staff, or grievance procedure), may request approval to circulate a petition. Petitions may be circulated with the approval of the functional unit manager as directed in this rule. Circulation of a petition is a process through which inmates can show support for community endeavors. Any inmate or other person desiring to circulate a petition will present the petition to the functional unit manager adding any supporting information that would justify its approval. Permission to circulate petitions within a Department of Corrections facility will be approved if..."


MIM(Prisons) adds: The Oregon Department of Corrections has a policy denying prisoners the right to peacefully appeal denial of their rights. It is ridiculous to expect that the prison administrators would approve prisoners circulating a petition that is criticizing the DOC. What is interesting is that this comrade didn't even try to circulate the petition, ey merely tried to get copies made for eir peryonal use. Yet another example of the injustice system at work and why we can't expect any serious progress on questions of humyn rights within the criminal injustice system that serves imperialism.

Let us know if you need a copy of this petition rewritten as a complaint.

chain