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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada]
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Nevada Prisons Repression, Call for Resistance

Since early April there have been at least three prisoners shot, all in the head/face, and other shots fired resulting in lockdowns, two institutional lockdowns, and a number of pig assaults on prisoners including one in the seg unit I was released from and two on prisoners in the unit where I am currently housed. Most recently (last week) a Black comrade was assaulted in retaliation for exercising his first amendment right to expose pig misconduct. All of these assaults have been on Black prisoners by white pigs.

Amidst the above the food issue has been revived but has met textbook excuses - all of which boil down to:

  1. A prevailing sense of hopelessness among prisoners here
  2. A prevailing attitude of complacency among prisoners here and
  3. Fear of retaliation against prisoners here

The common factor? The state of mind of prisoners.

The Texas brothers demonstrated that victories are possible even with the grievance system, and history teaches us that: "In all ages and under all circumstances there will always exist abundant reasons not to fight but that will be the only way not to obtain victory." (Fidel Castro)

History teaches us that our victories are always the result of the work of a few against the many. It teaches us that we will never be a majority so we must fight that much harder and with greater determination and not allow few numbers and temporary failures to terminate the struggle. At this moment there are a few of us here fighting for proper food, proper medical treatment, and an end to staff abuse, assaults and retaliation and theft/censorship of mail. We are simultaneously trying to bring unity within the prisoner class. This will not happen today, but there is always tomorrow, as our Texas brothers so accurately noted in ULK 32, we are all fighting for tomorrow.

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[SAMAEL] [Control Units] [United Front] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 32]
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Expanding the California SHU Struggle to Nevada

Recently a fellow prisoner told me he had heard that Nevada was the only state in which a CO had never been killed. Knowing that I have more than 3 decades in this system, he asked if this was true. I looked back and had to admit despite hundreds of assaults, attacks, hostage situations, takeovers, etc., I could not recall one CO being killed, ever.

Up until Nevada State Prison (NSP) closed (2011-12) it was the oldest prison still in use in the united states. The building in which the first experimental execution with gas occurred (on a cat) still stands as a testament to the gravity of the statements above.

In the early 1980s NSP received attention on "Good Morning America" as the most dangerous prison in the continental united states. This was true for prisoners only (apparently), who've died by the score.

I arrived in 1979 and the two dominating prison-formed organizations were well established, all other groups were extensions of existent street organizations. These two prison-formed orgs were based on racially charged genesis mythologies of defense from other prisoners.

The COs tended to "turn a blind eye" to, or participate in, prisoner-on-prisoner violence out of fear of retaliation or through "negotiation." Prisoners also turned a blind eye to, or participated in, guard-on-prisoner violence/oppression in return for concessions, creating an environment which thrived on the victimization of prisoners facilitated by guard/prisoner cadres. This relationship still exists in Nevada, though less visible.

Many prisoners have been killed, assaulted and raped at the hands and/or instigation of COs, myself included.

The point of this is that, historically, Nevada prisoners organize on one of two opposing platforms: 1) persynal defense/safety 2) profit. Some combine these two and others degenerate from the former to the latter. This approach inevitably results in a contradiction of defense vs. predation with the consequence of a self-perpetuating condition of disunity among prisoners, due to the self-replicating nature of these positions.

In Nevada this is an entrenched proxy of the prison political landscape which must be dismantled.

Alongside the two groups above, there have formed new organizations whose lines continue to define fellow prisoners as enemies or potential victims. In such a climate, racial polarization is inevitable in the defense camp and predatory capitalist expansion is inevitable in the profit camp.

These philosophies embrace, advocate and promote a prisoner vs. prisoner paradigm, a mirror image of the Amerikkkan/prison paradigm used to oppress the masses and to prevent organizing among prisoners. By making prisoners impotent, it facilitates their continued oppression and the violence and exploitation visited upon them, their families, and community by the state.

It was against this background that SAMAEL emerged in defense against the state and it is against this background that Nevada prisoners are oppressed today. It is time for Nevada prisoners to wake up to the reality of our mutual conditions. We reject the prisoner vs. prisoner paradigm out-of-hand and refuse to cooperate, facilitate, or participate in our abuse, oppression and genocide, or that of others. We are calling on all Nevada prisoners to join us in:

  1. Organizing for our mutual defense against our mutual enemy, the state, by opening dialogue and forming alliances with all fellow prisoners to address conditions of confinement as a single body.
  2. Ending all inter-tribal disputes by adopting the agreement to end hostilities as proposed by the PBSP-SHU short corridor collective. This should include all facilities in Nevada and all custody levels in these facilities striving to expand this initiative beyond prison walls and into our respective communities.
  3. Rejecting all racial, gender, sexual, religious and custody divisions as counter-revolutionary distractions. The enemy does not limit its capabilities based on these distinctions and we must stop allowing these distinctions to be an exploitable weapon against us. Our weakness is their strength.
  4. Ending prisoner-on-prisoner predation. While Nevada prisoners are victimizing and exploiting each other, the state is fomenting and capitalizing on this disunity to further abuse and oppress us. Do not assist this process through inaction or abuse and oppression of fellow prisoners.
  5. Breaking silence: when a CO mistreats you, grieve it. Put it on paper and into a public forum. When a CO mistreats a fellow prisoner, step up and back their play. Put it in writing and get it into a public forum. The COs back each others' play without question and we must do the same. We will only be oppressed further by enabling them with silence, and they are exploiting this reluctance to speak up. Every voice counts (see addresses below)
  6. Back up the California comrades. It is not just their struggle — many prisoners in Nevada have been segregated/tortured for decades and their voices are not being heard. We must speak for them because all prisoners are united by captivity, suffering and oppression.

    Nevada prisoners must unite against our captors and stop enabling and assisting in our own destruction.

    Expose abuses to:

    NV-CURE, 540 E. St. Louis Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89104
    Jonathan Smith, Chief, Civil Rights Div U.S. Dept of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Washington DC 20530


    MIM(Prisons) adds: Also send your reports on abuse to MIM(Prisons) for publication in Under Lock and Key!

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[Theory] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 31]
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Expanding the Debate over the Political Prisoner Label

I'm responding to ULK 29, "Less Complaints, More Agitation and Perspective." While most of the position is on point, I believe that important considerations were left out by both this comrade and MIM(Prisons)'s response.

I agree with the broad definition of political prisoners as announced in MIM Theory 11: Amerikan Prisons on Trial (article "Political Prisoners Revisited") precisely because courts are maintained as a tool of political oppression and inseparable from political oppression. Thus the political component is inseparable from those who become further oppressed by imprisonment. The hierarchy of society, cops, courts and state is one of a functioning cadre in this country.

I also understand the distinctions this comrade makes between inmates, convicts and the rest — an inmate is the prison version of the "sleeping masses," but whether or not these people recognize their oppression does not determine whether they are oppressed. And we can't forget that distinctions such as inmate, convict, POW, PPOW, PP, PS, GP are meaningless outside of the prison context, rendering these issues inapplicable to society.

In terms of the bigger fight for prison revolutionaries, these labels are also somewhat moot outside of a strategic context as well; everyone will get the benefits brought about by revolutionary action or they will simply be "washed away when the dam breaks."

What was missed is part of a larger problem (largely analytical). Whether one is or is not a political prisoner speaks directly to the conditions which led to one becoming a member of their class (under the broad definition), but not the class perception and what it means, nor what to do as a member of that class. The political conditions of our confinement being a given, our focus, especially insofar as making revolution is concerned, should not be on whether or not one is a political prisoner, but rather if one, as a prisoner, is political (i.e. moved to political action). If we must distinguish between members of the same class (i.e. prisoners), and to a certain extent we must in order to accurately assess conditions on the ground, then let it be a functional distinction which advances the revolution as a whole.

Subcategories of class must be used in such a way that it produces knowledge, not conjecture. Even an "inmate" can be turned to use. Further, people change and there's no way to know the moment of awakening of political consciousness in others without objective observation. By assigning static labels and categories, we limit our objectivity.

I wholeheartedly agree with this comrade: there are many tactics which can be tailored to circumstance but the labor of these tactics is necessarily dispersed to many people of differing skill sets and levels of political awareness; some are dupes, others are not, some are soldiers, others are tacticians and printers.

Finally, I believe a common mistake we all make as revolutionaries is to become solipsistic. We forget that not everyone wants change or revolution; some are satisfied with their condition. In prison or out, this distinguishes one as counter-revolutionary. This distinction is functional and applies to society without getting bogged down in specific labels. It is part of the equation we must, as revolutionaries, deal with, but in the end, revolution depends on maximizing our resources, exploiting the weaknesses of our enemy and most important, unification of the people.

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[Abuse] [Download and Print] [ULK Issue 29]
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Campaign for Adequate Food in Nevada

Petition for Adequate Food
Click on the pdf to download and print the petition

Enclosed is a document which has been generated for circulation within the Nevada DOC. The purpose of this correspondence is to raise awareness and begin a resistance campaign which transcends all lines drawn. It is to respond to the Nevada Department of Corrections's increasing inhumanity, malevolence and brutality being forced upon prisoners.

They are starving and abusing us on a record scale. There have been more than 11 prisoners shot since January 2012 in Protective Segregation alone. I know of several more in surrounding units with at least one fatal. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence is rising due to forced housing even amongst enemies. We also suffer from sexual assaults by pigs on prisoners, and coordinated retaliation and attacks on prisoners at the behest of the hats. Is this what we will allow ourselves to be reduced to?

This petition addresses the inadequate, contaminated and sometimes nonexistent food we are being served in Nevada. It is already in circulation where I am. Originally the petitions were sent to the facility Warden and Director. A few of us sent copies to the Department of Justice and Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC referred me to the Nevada Health Division. The Warden, to create an illusion of propriety, referred the matter to the Nevada Department of Corrections Inspector General. I contacted the Health Division who apparently also contacted the Inspector General within two weeks of notice of referral. An investigation was begun and is ongoing. In addition to these above noted, a copy was also sent to Nevada CURE and the United States Inspector General.

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[SAMAEL] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 28]
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Llamada para demostración de Solidaridad 9 de Septiembre

Incluimos este articulo sobre la demostración en Septiembre porque no tenemos el reporte de actividades traducido. Es algo que pensamos en organizar cada año y animamos a todos a contemplar que quieres hacer el año que viene.

SAMAEL esta llamando a todos prisioneros para participar en un demostración de solidaridad el domingo, 9 de septiembre 2012. Nosotros estamos pidiendo a todos prisioneros (quienes son capaz) a embarcar en un ayuno y paro de trabajo desde media noche 8 de septiembre hasta medianoche 9 de septiembre en una muestra de solidaridad con:

1. Ayunando por el periodo citado arriba a menos que una necesidad medica requiere comer.
2. Abstener de trabajar por nuestros captores (o trabajo lento a productividad mínimo) por el periodo citado arriba.
3. Participar en solo contra-oppressor, acciones redactes y solidarias por el periodo.
4. Cesar todo prisionero - contra - prisionero hostilidades a pesar de pandilla, raza, custodia, sexo, religión o otro división.
5. Mostrar respeto por nuestra esclavitud mutuo y sufrimiento también los sacrificios de todos hermanos ye hermanas revolucionarias.

Esto día coincidir con el aniversario de la revuelta de Attica y es previsto a atraer atención a nuestro tratamiento prendado y abuso intensificante de prisioneros del estado.

A cogemos todos prisioneros - encarcelado o no - ha mostrar apoyo con participar o hablar claramente.

Solo un día, solo una voz!

No esperamos que nuestros hermanos y hermanas incurren heridas ni muertes - pero si queremos mandar un mensaje, no solo a ellos, pero a nosotros mismos. Esto es una casa de nosotros - una frente verdaderamente unida.

Solo un día.

MIM(Prisiones) añade: Apoyamos esta llamada desde un grupo participando en la Frente Unida por Paz en Prisiones por un día de unidad y protesta pacifico, y va trabajar con células locales organizantes para coordinar este demostración. Este es una oportunidad por el FUPP a desarrollar sobre el principio de paz: "Nosotros organizamos para acabar con conflictos innecesarios y violencia adentro del medioambiente de prisiones estado unieses. Los opresores usan estrategias de dividir y conquistar para que peleamos entre nosotros en vez de contra ellos. Nosotros nos pararemos juntos y nos defenderemos de la oppressión."

Este acción de 24 horas requierirán un poco de sacrificio por prisioneros, pero no debería incurrir herida, y debe resultar en una reducción de violencia así que todo prisionero-contra-prisionero hostilidades cesará por el día. Podrémos aumentar conocimiento mas grande sobre la opresión contra cual luchamos, y construir la unidad que es necesaria por esa batalla, con organizar grupos y individuos a participar.

Desde Georgia a California, desde Virginia a Illinois, a cruzar los Estados Serpientes, déjenos mostrar que la lucha de prisioneros es una lucha común.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [ULK Issue 27]
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Call for Solidarity Demonstration September 9

united front for peace in prisons
SAMAEL is calling on all prisoners to engage in a solidarity demonstration on Sunday, September 9, 2012. We are requesting all prisoners (who are able) to embark on a solidarity fast and work stoppage from midnight September 8 to midnight September 9 in a show of solidarity by:
  1. Fasting for the period above cited unless a medical need necessitates eating.
  2. Refrain from working for our captors (or slow work to minimal output) for the period above cited.
  3. Engage only in anti-oppressor, networking and solidarity actions for the period.
  4. Cease all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities regardless of set, race, custody, gender, religion or other division.
  5. Show respect for our mutual bondage and suffering as well as the sacrifices of all revolutionary brothers and sisters.

This is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Attica uprising and is intended to draw attention to our devolving treatment and escalating abuse of prisoners by the state.

We welcome all prisoners - confined or not - to show support by participating or speaking out.

Just one day, just one voice!

We do not expect our brothers and sisters to incur casualties or harm - we do want to send a message, not to them only, but to each other. This is an us thing - a true united front.

Just one day.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We support this call from a group participating in the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) for a day of peaceful unity and protest, and will work with local organizing cells to coordinate this demo. This is an opportunity for the UFPP to build on the principle 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."

This 24 hour action will require a little sacrifice by prisoners, but should incur no harm, and should lead to a reduction in violence as all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities cease for the day. We can build greater awareness of the oppression against which we fight, and build the unity that is necessary for that battle, by organizing groups and individuals to participate. Comrades organizing around the solidarity demo are encouraged to send their plans or reports to Under Lock & Key. Note that copy for the next issue will be due the week of the demonstration, so send your reports in on September 10 to make the deadline.

From Georgia to California, from Virginia to Illinois, all across the United Snakes, let's show that the prisoner struggle is one common struggle.

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[Religious Repression] [Lovelock Correctional Center] [High Desert State Prison] [Nevada] [ULK Issue 26]
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Religious Repression and Retaliation Against Grievances at Lovelock

Pursuits of justice for religious rights are maliciously being hampered and restricted within the Lovelock Correction Center (LCC) in Lovelock, Nevada. Prisoners fighting religious repression are becoming victims of retaliatory transfers to the maximum security High Desert State Prison; a facility reputed for physical abuse, assaults, and beatings by its staff. High Desert State Prison has been and continues to be a deterrent to and punishment for filing grievances and lawsuits against the misconduct and constitutional violations being perpetrated and committed by LCC staff.

In 2009 six prisoners housed at the LCC were transferred to High Desert State Prison after filing grievances against Lovelock staff for destroying the worship place of their earth-based religious practices.

In 2011 a single individual was also transferred to HDSP for his pursuits against the Nevada Department of Corrections in relation to his Jewish practices and the LCC law library conditions.

Most recently, on March 6 2012 SAMAEL lost a member after he was transferred to HDSP. This prisoner had recently filed suit against several Lovelock CC staff in response to religious discrimination and abuse. Threats of retaliation and actual events of retaliation are an ongoing and increasingly recurring tool of intimidation and abuse used by the Lovelock staff as well as at other Nevada institutions. Toleration of such actions must be eliminated and opposition must arise from the ranks of all voices willing to scream justice! Justice! Justice!

SAMAEL speaks out and calls for aid against retaliation. One's voice may be heard, but many will cause revolution! Let your voice join in.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is another good example of the failure of the grievance systems in Amerikan prisons, which pretend to offer prisoners a way to fight for their legal rights and hold prison administrators to their own rules. In reality the grievance process often only serves to identify the "troublemakers" who expect prisons to follow their own policies and are willing to speak out when this is not done. Then grievances can be ignored and prisoners filing them punished for their efforts.

Even though this is how filing grievances plays out in many circumstances, we also know from our own experience that “playing by the rules" occasionally leads to significant improvements, although often temporary, in our ability to organize for our ultimate goals.

While our movement is too weak to take on the oppressors in armed struggle to overthrow the underlying causes of the corrupt grievance systems, we must continue to use legal means of redress to make and keep space for our movement to grow. This is why we have supported a grievance campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. We have petitions for the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. Write to us for a copy, or if you are in a state without a petition volunteer to modify a generic petition to meet the legal requirements of your state. To get involved, see USW campaign info here.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 21]
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SAMAEL Signs on to UF for Peace

I am writing this on behalf of S.A.M.A.E.L, aka "The Ministry". We are a small autonomous revolutionary organization devoted to engaging in, and fomenting, resistance via individual, tribal, direct, and guerilla action in the cultural, social and political milieu. Our ideology is within the ambit of class consciousness and holistic resistance, "each according to will and ability."

We feel the Statement of Principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is, in spirit, consistent with our own charter, oaths, and declarations which stress the need for unity in the face of a common enemy and resisting any "doctrines which divide us."

This being said, we accept this unilateral invitation and ratify the Statement of Principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in the spirit of solidarity and the advancement of our common goals.

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