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Under Lock & Key

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[Political Repression] [Gang Validation] [California Institution for Men] [California]
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CA Continues to Torture Blacks for Reading

Greetings Comrades. I'm reporting from the Correctional Institution for Men in Chino. The fascist pig COs (correctional officers) are trying to validate a fellow comrade because of books he had in his possession. First they attempted to get him to snitch on who gave him the books. Now Investigative Services Unit (ISU) is holding him in isolation "pending an investigation" accusing him of being a member of the Black Guerilla Family. All behind books he was reading! The books he had were on the Black Panther Party, anarchism, Che Guevara, the Symbionese Liberation Army, etc.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Recent struggles in California have focused on the so-called "gang validation" process used to put people in torture cells for years and even decades. This is just another example that the process is a thinly veiled tool of political repression. While the carrot offered to Blacks in the United $tates has gotten quite tasty for our generation, the state continues to target Blacks who are seeking political education or doing political organizing.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 25]
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Tossed in Segregation for Grievance

I have spent the last 60 days in the hole for writing an administrative remedy on the superintendent. He turns around and has me placed in segregation and charges me with an offense due to my political activism. I am what they call a trouble maker because I teach others with our knowledge. But that's what I do. I was taught by the old heads to do what I do.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This response to prisoner's fighting for their legal rights against repression is all too common. It is one of the driving forces behind our expanding campaign demanding grievances be addressed. While we organize and educate for broader anti-imperialist change, we can use this campaign to fight for greater freedom to carry out political organizing behind bars. Write to us for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or to help expand the campaign to your state by customizing the generic petition to your local conditions.

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[Abuse] [Political Repression] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 25]
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Texas Limits Privileges and Denies Grievances

Due to the budget cuts and Governor Perry refusing the stimulus package, in Texas prisons they've attacked those housed here. They ceased serving prepackaged cartons of milk, and went to powdered milk, and now they have attached a fee of $100 annual to medical. If you need medical care you will be charged for a toothache, diarrhea, headache, etc. But what's devastating is TDCJ doesn't pay its offenders money. Instead it uses good time which they take away as a punitive measure, causing you to do more time.

Since TDCJ doesn't reward or pay offenders, money needed has to come from gifts via family, friends etc. In other words they're extorting our loved ones, and this will follow those who parole with money to be paid and attached to parole fees.

Upon being released from the Texas system you'll receive a bus ticket to your county of conviction and $50. Upon reporting to parole you'll receive the second $50 from which parole fees of $12, victim fees, educational fees, and restitution fees will be deducted, so you're to reenter society on a very small amount of money.

Texas's systems practically operate on what they produce themselves for consumption. Clothing, shoes, food, etc., is all made at the multiple units, sent to central stores and resold to each unit.

TDCJ has the offenders scared. They will stack free world time on any act of violence - any kind of unions or solidarity will be attacked as Security Threat Groups and figureheads will be placed in level III Administrative Segregation.

They have sought out to break any sort of groups and unauthorized activities. Since I've been involved in prisoner rights we've lost more than gained: We have lost smoking products, canned goods, beans, meats, fruits, educational classes, GED, college courses, radios with speakers, cable TV, art privileges, and even carton milk. Long hair and facial hair were banned. They hold supposed good time above these bamboozled offenders and make them comply.

I recently received a major rule infraction, just because I told the law library trustee to stop throwing my photocopies on the floor. So he filed a LID (life endangerment) on me: he forged a letter and signed my name to it - saying I asked another to beat him up, so I received a major rule infraction for Penal Code 71-02 Organized Crime. I've filed 4 grievances on his department and security staff for sabotaging my legal request and destroying my letters. All were denied.

So I wrote to the law library supervisor with no response. I then wrote to the senior warden to no avail. The Office of the Attorney General offered nothing, but they found a dummy letter forged and they promptly protected their SSI (Support Service Inmate).

In Texas you're only allowed to file one grievance a week, and I've been here two years plus. I've filed approximately 94 and all have come back denied - no proof.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This story of grievances being denied over and over for legitimate cases is all too common, not just in Texas but in prisons across the country. This is why United Struggle from Within initiated the campaign demanding our grievances be addressed. We currently have petitions for California, Texas, New York, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arizona and the campaign is spreading. We need legal researchers to create petitions for other states. And if you are in a state that already has a petition, write to us for a copy and join the campaign to demand grievances be addressed in your state. It's time to destroy the idea that people can effectively go to the state for protection from abuse in prison.

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[Political Repression] [Control Units] [California]
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Political Activist Locked in SHU on Falsified Evidence

Excerpted from a longer article by this prisoner: Who Am I

As is the case with just about every young Black male/female of the inner city ghettos of the world today, I first came to prison at a very young age, via several previous stints in juvenile hall, the California Youth Authority (CYA), etc. While in prison, I began to become politically and socially conscious through my individual studies and political education classes that I was fortunate enough to be involved with while housed in the adjustment center at San Quentin State Prison, with other like-minded brothers.

Due to my various political positions that became manifest in my active participation in speaking out against, and my refusal to accept, the many social injustices/abuses that were being perpetrated by our kaptors, against the prisoner class, I became the latest target of these gestapo agents' neo-fascist scheme of COINTELPRO [government counter intelligence program aimed at political activists such as the Black Panther Party]. In 1994, as a brotha was commemorating the historical significance of my New Afrikan Black ancestors' legacy of struggle, that entails the elaboration of, and the redemption of all New Afrikan Black people from the subjugation of U.$. colonial slavery, I was removed from the general population mainline of New Folsom State Prison, under the spurious premise of me planning a physical assault for a prisoner that I have never met, or been around, in my entire life!

A prisoner supposedly sent me a letter through the regular U.$. mail system, and ordered me to do this physical assault. It was later proven that no such letter ever existed, and I was never found guilty of anything. But nonetheless, I was still given an indeterminate Security Housing Unit (SHU) term, based on this one source of information. A room full of informants collaborated this information to prison officials, along with the fact that I was supposedly a prison gang member. This collaborated information was coerced from these prisoners via the arbitrary threat of them being removed from the general population mainline. It has been proven that some prisoners, as some civilians of the free world, would sell you their soul to keep from being locked up, or as in this case, from being placed in the SHU indefinitely.

My validation as a prison gang member, on this one source of information, violates the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) own rules and regulations. In particular, CDCR Title 15 Section 3378, that states that for a prisoner to be validated as a prison gang member, there must be three independent sources of information that are proven to be reliable. My case is a concrete example of the fruit of the poisonous tree phenomena, because as the years passed on, with me now being housed in the SHU indefinitely, more and more informants have been forth to accuse me of being a prison gang member. This makes it impossible for me to be released from the SHU to a general population mainline.

But in addition to these material factors, Pelican Bay State Prison's (PBSP) Institution Gang Investigation officers have instituted a new phase of fascism, for purposes of implicating the indeterminate SHU class of captive New Afrikan Black prisoners as allegedly being involved in gang activities, by way of the political and social commentary that we send out through the mail to people of the free communities. This practice amounts to state-sponsored persecution for our political beliefs. This phase of fascism is continuing in spite of the court having ruled that:

"PBSP - CDCR Institution Gang Investigation unit officers, have been utilizing a race-based (e.g. 'racism') approach to say that our political and social commentary is gang activity."

The courts even went on to say:

"That PBSP - CDCR Institution Gang Investigation unit officers have not produced any evidence that said political and social commentary is gang related."

Make no mistake about it, 17 years later, and the struggle still continues as a New Afrikan Black political prisoner of war!

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Connally Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 25]
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Peaceful Protest in Connally Yard

On November 14, 2011 in 4 building recreational yard, 20+ prisoners (Brown, Black and white) gathered in an historical moment in the state of Texas. This gathering consisted of different organizations, and was the result of the Connally Unit's continued lack of responsibility:

  1. unsanitized trays in the chow hall
  2. no cleaning supplies for individual cells
  3. lack of nutritious food
  4. medical enslavement
  5. high commissary prices
    etc.

As a result of this peaceful gathering, we were targeted and harassed by the units of "gang intelligence," Ms Gonzalez and 30+ officers, all coming out to the recreational yard and surrounding us as we sat on the ground discussing our reasons for coming together. The unit warden also came out but never asked us any questions as to why we were gathered. I did have a piece of paper stating all the above and more, that Ms. Gonzalez took from me. Ms Gonzalez questioned me as to why this gathering was in place and I simply stated that she needed to read the piece of paper she got from me. But she didn't believe what was on it and stated that we were there because we wanted to start a racial riot. As we sat peacefully with their cameras on us we continued to discuss some of the concerns prisoners had pertaining to the health and well being of every individual.

One by one we were stripped and placed back into our cells. The whole building, which consists of 432 prisoners, got locked down for over 24 hours due to our actions and the administration's lack of understanding.

Seeds were scattered that day and the growth of these seeds we shall continue to maintain for a better tomorrow. We have reason to believe that persistence and dedication will soon give us a beautiful "rose within the garden."

I hope that those who read this article familiarize themselves with past experiences before trying to engage in the same, from the uprisings in the plantation camps, to the more modern times: the Attica uprising and Georgia's historical lockdown December 2010, and the more recent, Pelican Bay fasting this year.

Together we can move mountains!


MIM(Prisons) responds: This severe repression in the face of peaceful protests for modest demands provides a good example of the importance of building a strong and unified prison movement if we hope to fight the criminal injustice system. To further build this unity we are calling on all lumpen organizations to join the United Front for Peace in Prison. The Statement of Principles of the UF includes this first point of Peace, "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

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[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Scotland Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Fight Oppression at Scotland Correctional Institution

This is a cry out for help from the brothers in the struggle at the confinement of Scotland Correctional Institution located in Laurinburg, NC under the ruler and dictatorship of Karen Stanback, Asst. Superintendent of Security. It grieves my heart to know and witness an African American woman, apply rules of oppression to camp populated by 80% minority races. Actions of oppression ordered by K. Stanback are:

  1. To ban all Under Lock & Key publications
  2. No state or local newspapers
  3. No shirt jackets worn in the dinner hall, school, or any religious programs (no matter what the temp is)
  4. No showering from 6pm until 9pm (with a population of 1500 prisoners)
  5. No jobs for close custody prisoners once they lose their assigned job. (All jobs are then referred to medium custody prisoners)
  6. Confining over 145 prisoners in one unit called Green D,E,F or "Gangland". This is where all the gangs are housed at, mixed together, and not giving any opportunity for regular programs or employment like the regular population.
  7. Only 1 hour of recreation. Without proper exercise, fresh air, and movement an individual develops a mentality like a caged in animal.

    She and the admins here have created a very hostile environment and seem to enjoy it.

    Brothers and sisters please! This is our cry for relief the hammer of oppression being applied to us at Scotland CI under the watch of K. Stanback. Please contact the appropriate resources to aid us in our struggle.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this comrade's call for prisoners to stand up against oppression. This prisoner and others are leading the struggle at Scotland and they provide an example to prisoners across the the criminal injustice system who are facing similar conditions.

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[Censorship] [Legal] [Political Repression] [Control Units] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 24]
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SCDC's Illegal Ban and Inadequate Law Libraries

Peace, comrades in the struggle! First and foremost, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is a modern day slave plantation. Being political is a crime within itself; once I became aware of the truth then the system considered me a threat. I'm a Black man in solitary confinement due to my passion to stay alive, and I strive to use this time to analyze my legal problems and how to continue to educate myself.

I write to this so-called law library to request certain law books and other legal material, but I am denied because the law library is not up to date and lacks current books we need. So I reached out to receive The Georgetown Law Journal 2010 Edition from Georgetown Law. I was denied permission to purchase that journal out of my own funds. Then I wrote to Prison Legal News, South Chicago ABC Zine Distro, Justice Watch, Turning the Tide, the Maoist Prison Cell, the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights. All these organizations sent me material but I was denied access to have the material and it was sent back because of the so-called policies OP 22.12 and PS 10.08.

The SCDC has designated a ban on all magazines, newspapers, books, photos, etc. that come from outside sources, whether it be from publishing companies or organizations. In Special Management Unit, where prisoners are housed 23 hours a day behind a locked door, SCDC mandates all above material must come from its institutional library, whereupon no newspapers or magazines are allowed, period. Only the inadequate out-of-date law books and library books. Because of this ban many people suffer from lack of information and educational and legal materials.

And the thing about it is the mailroom staff has a list of names of publications that aren't allowed to send mail to this institution. She has no education in security besides searching mail for contraband.

I have limited information I can use to fight oppression as a whole. I have offered my problems at the hands of my oppressor to hopefully serve as a springboard for further war against oppression. Times do get hectic, and recently I was placed in a full restraint chair off the words of another prisoner's statement! I am aware of some cases that deal with censorship, so I'm doing my research the best way possible even though the law books inside the library don't have cases past 2001. Of course I'm aware of the Prison Litigation Reform Act; that's why I am going through the grievance procedures now. I will continue fight this system and hopefully my voice will be heard outside of these walls.

SCDC has no educational programs so it's more about self-education, but as you see I'm limited on that also. They have even started feeding prisoners in here two meals on Saturday and Sunday due to so-called budged cuts, but Monday through Friday we receive three meals per day. This is a very hard battle but my will is to survive physically and mentally until there's no fighting left. I hope you can continue to send me updated info because I can receive up to five pages of material printed out like the Censorship Pack you recently sent. Thanks for your support.


MIM(Prisons) Legal Coordinator adds: Since 2010, MIM Distributors and South Carolina prisoners have been challenging the policy of "no periodicals allowed on lock-up unit." From our study of case law, we don't believe that this policy could withstand the scrutiny of the higher courts, but to date all prisoncrats who have responded to our letters have upheld the censorship and/or evaded our direct questioning.

SCDC is not the only prison administration that is more interested in political repression than rehabilitation. Because national oppression is the name of the game, all prisoncrats try to push the boundaries of legality, and fortunately bourgeois democracy sometimes get in their way. Regarding this particular type of repression, we have received similar reports from prisoners held in North Carolina, California, Connecticut, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.

It is a set-up for backwardness, which is the obvious goal: no programming, no reading materials, and you are barely able to prepare a lawsuit. They can't actually expect prisoners to reform.

As a movement, we are held back by this censorship in South Carolina. But rather than it defeating us, we should be inspired to push even harder to spread ULK, the United Struggle from Within, and the United Front for Peace in Prisons where we are able. Comrades affected by censorship should file grievances and go to court if necessary, so that conditions where they are don't mirror South Carolina's. Those with legal knowledge should write in to get involved in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic.

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[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia]
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Fighting Segregation, Inspired by ULK

I have just recently been introduced to Under Lock & Key. I regret that I've been ignorant to the existence of such an inspiring movement. I commend you all in exposing the harsh reality that is the Department of Corruption nationwide.

Here in West Virginia the nature of incarceration is mostly mental and emotional torture. Segregation time is handed out in 30- and 60-day increments for infractions of the pettiest kind: borrowing someone else's CD can get you 30 days. Giving a man a soup because he's hungry lands you in SHU for 30 days. Multiple class 2 writeups get you 60 as well as any class 1. Tobacco products get you 60 days. Then god forbid you get caught with a weapon... that's 2 years minimum on the "Quality of Life Program."

The SHU is sensory deprivation to the fullest. There is no access to reading books from the library, and of course no radio or television. If you get no newspapers or magazines in the mail, you have nothing. Get caught passing reading material and it's another 30 days. It's a very stressful game to hold on to your sanity.

Though the atmosphere is not very violent, it is taxing mentally. Behind every face is a potential informant. There are few that can truly be trusted and even fewer who can be depended on. We have no unity. Some try to open the eyes of others to see the true enemy, but often times to no avail. Administration members play us against each other at every turn. They oppress religious freedoms and the mere freedom of thought. Voicing opinions in grievances gets you put in the SHU.

I anxiously await the next issue of Under Lock & Key for advice, direction, and inspiration.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The torture of prison control units, like the SHU described by this prisoner, is widespread in Amerika. It is something we have been fighting against for years, many comrades decades, but with little success in actually stopping the torture. Isolation units are used as a tool of social control for a population that the imperialists have no productive use for. In this system, prisoncrats work hard to set prisoners against one another by rewarding snitching as another method of control. Division and fear are powerful tools for the criminal injustice system. Under Lock & Key is an important tool for prisoners to fight back, organize, and unify. Share this publication with others, form discussion groups to talk about the articles, and get in touch with us to share your stories and struggles. There are many more people like the one above who have plenty of experience with repression, but have had little access to comrades and forums for analyzing and struggling to end it. We are working to change that.

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[Political Repression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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PBSP Punishes Prisoners for Hunger Strike

I am writing you from Pelican Bay State Prison. At the conclusion of the hunger strike the COs in General Population at PBSP initiated a 90 day lock down for no specified act or incident from the prisoners. Details are hazy at this moment but there was a fairly wide search of the yards and all the grass is now gone on the exercise yard. What we believe was a "sweep" for weapon stockpiles is turning out to simply be an excuse to hold our privileges hostage.

Visitor and work assignment movement has not ceased, however the administration seems to believe that a facility lock down is necessary for 90 days, even though they are still running the laundry service which is unheard of during "lock down" status.

This is clearly a tactic to impose a punishment for hunger strike participation. Now all quarterly packages and store for the holiday season has been stripped from an already isolated, deprived group of prisoners.

It is rumored that the COs uncovered a rusted piece of metal believed to be a home fashioned knife on a section of yard off limits to prisoners when yard is refused. Sounds real convenient that the COs get to have the last word on our concluded demonstration. When an incident occurs on the yard and a weapon is found, the COs resume yard, why is it we are on lockdown without a riot occurring? Typical "Green" bullshit.

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[Political Repression] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 23]
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Corcoran Represses Strikers: Denies Salts, Sugars, Liquids

I am writing from 4B1L C Section short corridor isolation unit. It is October 9, day 13 of the second hunger strike in support of our Five Core Demands and the abolition of SHU torture units as a means of manufacturing informants, crushing progressive political ideas, and maintaining the status quo for the prison industrial complex.

At this writing all New Afrikan and "southern" Mexican prisoners in this isolation unit are fully participating in the hunger strike, while our "northern" Mexican and white brothers are providing their moral support. We have not eaten since September 25 and the administration here has unleashed an unprecedented wave of retaliatory reprisals against us, aimed at breaking the hunger strike and provoking a violent reaction. This of course would undermine the non-violent basis of this peaceful effort, and they have thus far failed.

In response to this second effort, on September 29 CDCR revised its medical evaluation policy for hunger strikes to minimize the amount of medical data gathered and maximize the chance of serious injury or death to those on hunger strike by ceasing the taking of vital signs (blood pressure, heart rates, temperature) altogether and only weighing us twice a week — unless it appears you need it. It was only because myself and another prisoner have lost so much weight since this began (over 10% of our body weight from the first weigh in on September 30) that our vital signs have been taken. Others who've requested it or asked in connection with complaints of dizziness, weakness, light headedness, etc., have been told to "put in a sick call request," which will cost $5.

Canteen purchases for hunger strikers have been restricted to hygiene and stationary items only; no food or drink. On or about October 3 they raided 4B1L C Section and removed all food and drink items (even coffee and salt packs) from the cells of hunger strikers. A short time later this warden and her entourage arrived in our section, laughing and joking like it was a day at the fair, and ordered sandbags placed in front of each of our cell doors to prevent any fishing [sharing between cells]. This was an attempt to prevent non-hunger strikers from getting coffee or Kool-Aid to those on hunger strike.

Human rights attorneys were barred access and we have been denied access to yard, and the law library. The warden even directed IGI [the "gang" unit] to open and/or confiscate legal mail for hunger strikers here. They have been dismissive and outright verbally disrespectful to some hunger strikers in a blatant attempt to provoke us. Earlier this week, pursuant to a 1030 confidential informant chrono alleging that two of our "southern" Mexican brothers here "ordered the hunger strike," those two brothers had their visits taken by the administration for 90 days. This is an absurd and blatant abuse of power clearly designed to provoke a violent reaction.

This is a peaceful human rights initiative supported across racial lines. It is impossible for any single group, let alone individual, to "order" anything. We are all participating of our individual free will guided by a collective desire to see an end to this systematic torture and industrial profiteering at our expense.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This statement from NCTT went on to express support and solidarity with the "Occupy Wall Street!" (OWS!) movement currently taking place across the United $tates. OWS! is essentially a movement to save the Amerikan dream, which is a nightmare for most of the world's people. In most parts of the country this movement has regularly appealed to cops as being "one of them." They call themselves the "99%," when in reality Amerikans are all members of the top 13% of the world in wealth; a position they maintain at the expense of the exploited Third World peoples.

While more progressive elements participating in OWS! in California have proclaimed support for the prisoner hunger strike, this mostly serves to Black/Brown-wash a movement that is openly about the enrichment of a group of people who built their wealth on the exploitation of Black and Brown people. From day one the Amerikan nation has been a supporter of colonialism and later imperialism, which in turn depends on Amerikans to expand its exploitation among other nations. For the oppressed people of the world, the awakening of Amerikans to action should be worrisome, as their demands for more translate into further tightening around the necks of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where their wealth is extracted from.

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