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
[Hunger Strike] [Campaigns] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 71]
expand

Hunger Strike in Allred Unit Wins Promise of Phone Contact with Family and Friends

[UPDATE: Phone Zap/Petition campaign targeted around 14 September 2020]

I would like to update you all on what’s been transpiring the last month here in tekkk$a$. The last time i wrote i believe i mentioned my organizing of a hunger strike. We were initially set for the national date of Black August 21st through Bloody September 9th. However, due to the advent of the social uprisings in the wake of George Floyd’s lynching, We collectively decided to begin on the imperialist’s independence day. Due to receiving word thru inmate moles and rats, the Senior Warden Jimmy Smith, called one of our committee members out along with another participant. This committee member laid our just demands down. The most immediate of which was access to communication with loved ones via telephones being put on each dayroom. (This is for isolated-solitary-restrictive housing) and an alternative to visitation (video visits) and TV for audio/video stimulation, rehabilitation, education, cultural socialization classes or functions, and a clear path for release from isolated solitary RHU confinement. In addition, there were a few smaller, in-house demands. These were the main ones though.

Of course the warden attempted to negotiate without us actually striking. This was 1 July 2020. The committee member wasn’t hearing it. On 2 July 2020 all phones (in general population) were suddenly out of order. Of course this was a tactic by the fascist pig power structure to keep this in house as much as possible. We committee members were ahead of them; 2 weeks prior, we had provided 250 stamped envelopes, written memos, and passed them out at 30 a piece on five out of six total pods. These went out to an array of media outlets.

On 4 July 2020 we began with 141 hunger strike participants out of about 600 prisoners on the building. This was a multi-national, multi-organizational collective campaign. The committee is composed of 2 [email protected], 1 New Afrikan and 1 Anglo-amerikan.

On 5 July 2020 Gang Investigators (G.I.) searched every strikers’ cell. It was merely an intimidation tactic, because all they did was inventory the commissary for those who had any. 2 people ended their strikes for the time being due to not wanting the G.I. in their cells. So we were down to 139. By policy (Management of Offender Hunger Strike G.53.3) after 72 hours (9 meals) without eating, a hunger strike becomes “official.” This means medical will begin getting vital signs, urine samples, and weight at this time.

On 7 July 2020 we all were supposed to be pulled out per policy. However, on each pod, more than half of the strikers weren’t pulled out. I wrote a grievance, and flooded the tier out that night. I was told medical had to catch up on some people the next day. This was a lie. On the next day, 8 July, i was still not on medical list, along with about 3 or 4 others on my pod. I can’t account for the other pods on that date.

This refusal of medical was an administrative tactic utilized to:

  1. discourage the participants, so that those of less determination will quit our mission

  2. To keep the reported numbers as small as possible. After 72 hours the unit must report all the numbers to the prisonkkkrats in Huntsville daily.

I scribed an urgent communique to others of the committee , and it was then passed down to all the participants. The communique basically outlined how we were to conduct our own independent 1095 for this specific reason. It called on the people to stay encouraged, and also our counter-tactics if/when such things continued.

On that same day, 8 July, I was in the dayroom for my out of cell time. I hijacked the dayroom, forcing pigs to come down and speak to me directly. A particular Sergeant whose pretty fair came down and i informed him of the problem. A nurse, whose very favorable to prisoners had previously informed me that Major Washington, an Uncle Tom, was in charge of viewing security cameras to verify whether we were taking trays. Therefore he was the one falsifying state documentation. I informed the Sergeant of this directly. Also that there would be a mass of LIDs (life in danger) filed on the Major and all rank who i’ve informed who do nothing. The Sergeant took a list of each persyn who was being neglected medical attention.

The next day, 9 July 2020, while in the dayroom again the nurse i mentioned above informed me that i and the other comrades were still not on the list. I was infuriated to say the least. All the day rooms were hijacked. The Warden was on the building i was told, but eventually i fell out. Upon this development, various ranking pigs, medical and other pigs cautiously entered the dayroom while i lay motionless on the floor. I hear SGT Barbara Atteberry threaten me while pulling her riot baton. I hear a comrade who is known for severely hurting pigs threaten her in return. The kkkaptives began going crazy. Burning things, flooding the tier. The dayrooms is still hijacked and of course the shouting of expletives is the soundtrack. After this reaction to her threatening me, i guess Atteberry changed her mind. I was rolled out in a wheelchair, when after finally getting my vitals taken, Atteberry told me i would be going to suicide cell if i didn’t get off strike. I refused. Yet the “pretty fair” Sergeant vetoed her decision and i was eventually put in my cell. I told the pigs i wasn’t satisfied because there were others who hadn’t been pulled out.

Later that day, certain committee members were pulled out, “investigated” by regional Gang Investigators due to a pig and agent provocateur-circulated rumor that a conspiracy to murder prison guards in the “free world” and in the prison if we didn’t receive our demands was in play.

On 10 July i was finally placed on the medical list. During this time i’ve been denied books, letters, pictures, law library materials. Other prisoners were being denied chronic medication such as blood pressure, seizure meds, psych meds as long as they’re on strike.

Also around this time, we began being told that phones have been approved. We’re skeptical of this information. I neglected to mention on 9 July at about 12 midnight nine pigs came to each door ordering those with commissary to relinquish it or they would be taken off strike and gassed. This was a Lt. Mason leading the charge, under orders from Head Warden J. Smith. Most didn’t fall for the banana in the tail pipe and gave up their commissary. We did lose 60 souljas however. This reactionary tactic is of course outside of rules and regulations, not to mention the sensory deprivation caused by the harassment of interrupting sleep not 1, not 2, but 3 times to get one’s commissary finally at 5:00 AM.

We filed all manner of complaints, yet the admin dangled the commissary in front of our faces saying “You’ll get it back when you get off strike.” Most stayed on.

Fast forward to 23 July, we finally ended the strike in abeyance after a diplomatic decision was reached within the Team One organization and the committee met with J. Smith. We were given a communique on TDCJ letterhead saying that TDCJ leadership was requesting phones in each RHU dayroom statewide and video visits as an alternative for visits during COVID. This is being requested to the TBCJ (Texas Board of Criminal Justice), which meets every August to determine new board policy. Upon a 30-45 day abeyance we will re-assess our material conditions and if need be implement stage 2 of our plan.

This is the short version of events. I want the comrades within the walls to know that We truly have power in unity and determined action. Comrades must also reach out to these support orgs and individuals. Network. Get your voice and vision out there. In the words of Nas: “We stronger now, my peoples the time is now!”

[24 July 2020 this comrade was rehoused where ey is further isolated in a unit with active COVID cases and faced regular tampering of eir mail since then.]

chain
[Campaigns] [COVID-19] [Control Units]
expand

Team 1 Demands TX Address COVID-19, Segregation, Release, Food and more

Here we’ve formulated the Team 1 movement. An anonymous and autonomous collective of lumpen dedicated to facilitating a movement that attacks living conditions, corruption, discrimination, and nepotism which permeates tekkk$a$ prisons. Team 1 is a multi-national, multi-organisational collective. Team One’s ‘15 Point Program’ is listed below. (It has been edited for security reasons.)

  1. We want an immediate end to long-term and indefinite isolated confinement in Restrictive Housing. This is in accordance with the U.S. Constitution’s 8th Amendment which outlines cruel and unusual punishment, as well as the international standards of imprisonment set by the United Nations’ ‘Mandela Rules’, which outlawed confinement for 22 or more hours a day for over 14 consecutive days.

  2. We want a housing environment and living conditions fit for human beings while housed in RHU. Namely we want less restricted movement (group rec), OTS/state phones accessible to prisoners in RHU without officer escort, televisions visable to level one RHU which will act as positive re-enforcement for the psychological well-being of prisoners and the social productivity of the communities which we will return to.

  3. We want the Texas Parole Board and state classification to adhere to the sanctioned letter of the law regarding prisoners serving stacked sentences, namely (Michael Lane VS. Director of TDCJ-CID 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26319) which ruled that an inmate serving stacked sentences begins her/his subsequent sentence when s/he would have been eligible for parole, not when they’ve been granted parole. We are seeking an executive order from Governor Abbot on this issue so that many inmates will now be eligible for parole and released. This is to quell the furtherance of the COVID-19 within the over-populated Texas prison system.

  4. We want retroactive legislation and an executive order that mandates the parole board recognize good conduct time, work time, and flat time credit for 3-G (Agg) sentences/offenders: This will make many prisoners eligible for parole and allow for a mass de-carceration, which will help contain this spread of COVID-19 virus within Texas Prison System where people are helpless to protect themselves from the effects of COVID-19.

  5. We want retroactive legislation and an executive order that mandates parole eligibility for (all) Texas Prisoners, including those currently serving life w/o parole, we want the requirements for the eligibility of parole reduced for all prisoners currently serving under the 1/2 (50%) law from that 50% minimum flat time before parole eligibility to that of serving 1/4 (25%) before parole eligibility.

  6. In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic we want an executive order mandate in the immediate release of all prisoners who’re within one year of their discharge date.

  7. We want retroactive legislation and an executive order which mandates mandatory short-way for all first time prisoners with satisfactory disciplinary records, which reflect an effort at rehabilitation. We want identical retroactive legislation should be passed for all youthful offenders (those between the ages of 13-25 at the time of the commission of their offense).

  8. We want an immediate improvement to the food trays prisoners are provided. This is accordance with (Keenan V. Hall, 83 F.3d at 10911 - “Prison food must be adequate to maintain health”), Morales Feliciano V. Calderon Sierra 300 F.Sup.2d 327-341 (DPr 2004) says failure to provide prescribed diets implicates 8th Amend. right violation…

  9. We want food which is edible, (Hot);

  10. We want a recantation of the unconstitutional Board Policy enacted March 1st 2020 which prohibits or otherwise restricts who may send inmates funds.

  11. We want the administration to institute an act of mediation in the event prisoners receive outside mail, novelty cards, postcards, flyers, cutouts etc, all those items deemed impermissible by the new mail room policy enacted March 1st, 2020. We ask that the mailroom be made to photocopy the contents of cards, postcards, flyers, cut-outs etc, which will negate the said ‘security risk’ while still allowing inmates contact with the outside world. Furthermore, prison sensitive tablets may be a logical recourse if made available to prisoners.

  12. We want the re-instatement of current/former prisoners’ right to vote in Texas.

  13. We want all prisoners to be paid for their labor; via monetary funds and/or work time credits which go towards parole eligibility.

  14. We want an immediate end to, and a federal investigation into the retaliatory, racial profiling of prisoners in TDCJ, namely the ______ Unit; The administration, Office of Inspector General, Gang Investigators, routinely falsify State documents, by falsely labeling prisoners as “Gang” or “STG” members without due process of law or meeting the burden of proof. Furthermore, they actively seek legal prosecution on purposely trumped up charges on innocent prisoners in order to coerce inmates to give false testimony on other prisoners, thereby putting their lives and safety in danger. This is a reoccurring problem involving the ______ unit Safe Prisons, OIG, and GI and condone by head Warden ______ and local ______ County district attorney.

  15. We want the legislators to pass the bill filed by House of Representative District 139, Jarvis Johnson in the legislative session of 2019; this bill will establish an independent Ombudsman that will be independent from TDCJ. This agency will ensure that prisoners constitutional and human rights are met by TDCJ officers and officials.


While we struggle actively to bring this program into fruition the activities which will bring that about will simultaneously (A) elevate the class consciousness of the masses of lumpen through activity and (B) carry us to the next stage of development or at very least entrench us more within the current stage - (Stage (2))

As of now we are attempting to spread this ‘15 Point Program’ far & wide to comrades inside and those outside, in order to garner support for mass direct action approaching on the anniversary of George Jackson’s death - through the anniversary of the Attica rebellion.

chain
[Education] [Control Units] [Tucker Max Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]
expand

Sparking Conversations, Building Independent Institutions

First off I want to express gratitude and respect to the comrades that contributed to ULK 68. It has sparked some interesting conversations on the tier. And this dialogue is strengthening the unity; the only unity I’ve seen at this unit in the year and a half I’ve been here.

Here at Tucker Max Unit they have been keeping us restricted housing prisoners locked in our cells 24/7. We get one hour of yard every two weeks here at Gilligan’s Island due to “lack of security.” They recently re-opened their re-entry program and when they did so, they took officers off yard crew to go work the re-entry. They have made no effort in the past 3 months to replace these officers so re-entry is essentially running at the expense of our constitutional rights. Yard call is a constitutional right, re-entry is not. From my understanding they receive so much money per each prisoner enrolled in their programs, i.e. re-entry, substance abuse treatment, therapeutic comm., and in my opinion the biggest sham of all: the step-down program that restricted housing prisoners are being forced to enroll in. The parole board is notorious for stipulating the first three programs as a condition for prisoners to be considered for release. They reap double benefits thru this system. They get extra money for your enrollment in this program and they can release you with some semblance of rehabilitation.

We, the prisoners, know these programs are a joke. And when they don’t provide the rehabilitation sufficient upon release to hold it down and keep on top of our responsibilities then we become we the repeat offender. And the Dept. of Corruptions is right here with their paternalistic arms wide open, all the while telling us it’s our fault.

But to get another shot at freedom we’ll be forced back into the same programs. Spoiler alert: it’s not gonna work no matter how many times you take their programs, and that’s by design. They don’t want the programs to work. Why would they want us to stay out of prison? A requirement of these programs here in Arkansas is that you drop kites on other prisoners for shit as small as not tucking their shirts in, and if you don’t you’re considered as not “participating”. What the fuck does that have to do with a person getting their shit together and preparing for the responsibilities that weigh us down when we get out?

To boycott these programs would be ideal, knowing the money they rake in off of them. But far be it from me to tell the next man to not do what he’s gotta do to go home. But we can’t depend on these programs to be the substance of our rehabilitation.

So now that I’ve made the argument against their programs there are two questions to be addressed. How do we implement our own programs, and which programs should take priority? Well, as far as the programs that should take priority, we’ve got to implement those that build unity into community where everyone has a role, minus our egos. We must work together to come up with a format that has a higher potential of success when it comes to tackling the issues that perpetuate our carceral existence, and by “our carceral existence” I’m speaking of the shackles on our mind that even upon release from these dungeons into the free world, remain fast in place.

The Five Stages of Consciousness model in the Five Percent tradition will break these chains when utilized to the fullest, but so many of us only attain the base stage of consciousness or the second stage of subconscious and go no further. So many of us attain all this knowledge on our quest for truth, only to use it to know more than the next man. But how many of us are using our knowledge to help win lawsuits, win appeals, and other battles that build upon our independence from this paternalistic system? I constantly see pride and ego hinder all 5 of the United Front for Peace in Prisons points of unity, and keep a lot of prisoners from reaching out to others to build these independent institutions. It’s imperative that we tear these individualistic walls down and build upwards on community consciousness. We need examples of what these independent programs look like and how to build them.

The book Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett that MIM(Prisons) refers to in its response to “Fighting the System from Within” in ULK 68 sounds like a good place to find this example. The writer makes a good point in eir letter that if our people would come to work in these prisons that they could expose the deficiencies and ill treatment.

Which reminded me of a question a comrade asked me a while back pertaining to the “lack of security” I referred to above. The question was: why did I think that this place has such a high turnover rate? C.O.s get $17 an hour and Sergeants get $20 but they can’t keep them working here. It’s not like they work them especially hard. Myself, wanting to hold out hope in humanity answered that maybe once they started seeing this shit for what it really is, decide that they don’t want to be an active participant in the oppression of their community. Maybe I put too much faith in their moral standards? Even if my answer was right they are still actively participating by not exposing the things done in here. I also like how the writer put it that the “moral obligation is ours,” not just to end oppression, but to build a new system in its place. We the prisoners must champion our own rehabilitation and re-education, independent of our oppressors’ programs, no longer allowing them to determine our value and self/community worth.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer picks up on the theme from ULK 69 where we discuss building independent institutions. As this comrade points out, we can’t count on the criminal injustice system to provide us with effective programs for rehabilitation or release. And so we need to build these programs ourselves. One such independent program is this newsletter, in which we are free to expose the news and conditions that the bourgeois press refused to cover. An independent newsletter is critical to our education and organizing work.

Another example of independent institutions is MIM(Prisons)’s Re-Lease on Life program to help releasees stay politically active and avoid the trap of recidivism. This program isn’t yet big enough and is greatly lacking in resources, so right now we’re not very effective. But we have to start somewhere. And we work to connect with comrades like this writer to build this program on the inside and on the streets.

In the short term, anyone looking to build small independent institutions behind bars can start a study group. This is a good way to start educating others while also learning yourself. And you can build from there with anyone willing to sit down and study. We can support this work with study questions and literature, just let us know you’re interested!

chain
[Abuse] [Control Units] [North Carolina]
expand

The Criminal Injustice System Works for the Jailers

It’s August 2019 and people say that the Criminal Justice System doesn't work. I beg to differ. I've come to believe that it works just fine, just like slavery did as a matter of economic and political policy. How is it that a 16 year old in North Carolina who can't get a job can suddenly generate $54,750 (which equates to $150 a day for prison upkeep) when trapped and inducted into the Criminal Injustice System where architects, food and medical providers, masons, carpenters, electricians, painters, correctional officers, administrators and a myriad other skilled trade workers get paid with guaranteed job security?

Just like the era of chattel slavery, there is a class of people dependent on the poor and on the bodies of all of us who are behind bars. All throughout the Criminal Injustice System, the policies of the police, the courts, and our prisons are a manifestation of classism, racism and dishonesty which governs the lives of all of us. Then you have prosecutors. They are like nasty little rats with quivering noses that have invaded our court systems with full impunity across the country feeding thousands of human bodies into the bowels of the razor-wire plantations without the slightest remorse for the hell they are sending us to, where slavery is mandated.

No matter how you look at it, involuntary labor is slavery. You see, the United $tates didn't abolish slavery, they just transferred it into their prisons. So last year on 20 August 2018 with the help of outside human rights activists, prison abolitionists, anarchists, and other public supporters who did a peaceful demonstration in our prison parking lot, I, [Prisoner A], alongside [Prisoners B, C and D] all organized together with hundreds of other prisoners across North Carolina and questioned these policies by assembling peacefully and petitioning our government for a redress of our grievances.

As a result, we were all labeled as rioters and Security Threat Group individuals and sent off to super max prisons and thrown into solitary confinement where we were subjected to all sorts of mistreatment: glass was found in [Prisoner D's] food, I was poisoned and never receiving any treatment, [Prisoner B] was sent to the Rehabilitative Diversion Unit (RDU) program where he is currently being brainwashed. [Prisoner C] got out of prison. I finally got out of solitary hell after spending 8 long months of sensory deprivation and losing 53 pounds only to face more repression and mail censorship that resulted in me receiving another 6 months for simply writing and organizing the 21 May 2019 National Grievance Day complaining about the new discriminatory JPay policy that limits who can send a prisoner money.

And what have I learned in all of this? I've learned that any time you restrain a person from going where they want to go, its an act of violence. Anytime you bully and mistreat someone by placing them in a cell 23 hours a day, it's an act of violence! I've also learned that it's not the inhumanity of the cruelties prisoners face in prisons on a daily basis or inhumane conditions: the cold, filth, callous medical care, tasers, unnecessary chains, pepper spray, beatings, excessive censorship, dehumanizing strip searches, extended and excessive isolation in solitary confinement for simple things like writing, or the robbing of our trust funds of $10 each time a prison guard accuses us of a rule violation that are criminalized; it's the complaining about our conditions of confinement that's made criminal. Right now there are tens of thousands of humans living in enforced solitary confinement cells in U.$. prisons.

Over a decade ago when news broke about what was going on in Abu Ghraib, President Bush stated "what took place in that prison doesn't represent the America I know." Unfortunately, for the more than 2.5 million prisoners and undocumented immigrants and the rest of us living in U.$. prisons, this is the Amerikkka we know, our family members know, and the anarchists and prison abolitionists know. Furthermore, prisoners have got to wake up and realize that the entire executive branch of the U.$. government seems to sanction torture in our prisons and all of the repression and disrespect that we endure on a daily basis from prison guards is unacceptable. It is imperative that prisoners continue to organize and to write about their experiences and complain to folks on the outside so that the public can realize what's happening to people in U.$. prisons. There are watchdog organizations that expose, ridicule and punish Internet and school bullies and there are laws against bullying. The prison guards are also supposed to observe these laws.

The conditions and practices that men, women, and children can attest to here in North Carolina are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In addition, most U.$. prisons practices also violate dozens of other international treaties and clearly fit the United Nations' definition of genocide. Aren't you tired of being told where to sit? What to eat? Who you can socialize with inside and outside of prison? What you can watch on TV? What you may read or what you can write about or to whom? Of being denied basic dignity based on race or class? Aren't you tired of your bodies being examined, exploited and used through dehumanizing and invasive strip-searches on the whim of a prison guard or a jailer?

Prisoners have got to continue to organize and alter the very core of every system that slavery, racism and poverty has given birth to, and particularly the Criminal Injustice System. The entire prison system must stop violating the rights of men, women, and children in North Carolina! We must effectively eliminate solitary confinement, the restriction of our civil rights, their devices of torture, family-run prisons, and all forms of sentences of "death by incarceration" or sentences that are overly burdensome, oppressive and too lengthy that financially benefit the government instead of victims of crime!

It's plain to see that many victims could be better served by working out an honest agreement with those disingenuous persons who have wronged them, and that prosecutors have a lot of undue power to decide whom to criminalize as well as what cases are or aren't priority. Of course these mutual agreements will not be ideal in every case, but failure to account for social context is such a crucial aspect of what's wrong with our current system. We need to put context first and resolve each dispute in its own way rather than just applying a rigid legal formula.

I think the call for universal basic decency and respect towards all living creatures as well as towards prisoners is a powerful message that's made more powerful when people share their stories of mistreatment. Each of our personal and individual struggles are one of many, but when we as prisoners stop focusing on the color of one's skin, or what he or she is in prison for, and all join hands, that's when we can get our freedoms back and that's when we can all win.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is right on when ey says that prisons do work. It's all about understanding the real purpose of prisons. Amerikkkan prisons are not meant for rehabilitation, they are meant for social control. The author speaks of the child prisoner who is "generating" $54,750 per year. This is another purpose of prisons: distribution of profits stolen from the Third World to First World workers. All those workers in the criminal injustice system are parasites, earning good wages to further this system of social control. Those wages come mostly from state budgets. And those state budgets are just a redistribution of wealth. Imperialist wealth. Which is taken from the Third World through exploitation of workers and theft of natural resources.

This redistribution of super profits is a side "benefit" of the criminal injustice system. The focus is social control, particularly of oppressed nations. That social control wouldn't be complete if prisoners were allowed to study, communicate and organize freely. In fact, there is a contradiction inherent in the United $tates prison system. Locking up people as a means of social control puts these people in close contact, with lots of time on their hands, which facilitates organizing and studying together. So the prisons turn to greater repression behind bars to try to stop these activities. That's exactly what this writer is fighting against. We must demand an end to solitary confinement, an end to censorship of prisoners' mail, and access to a real and effective grievance system. These are small goals in the context of the larger fight against imperialism. But they are goals that will bring real progress for our comrades behind bars. Progress that will allow the prisoners to organize and educate and build.

chain
[Control Units] [Robertson Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
expand

Solitary Confinement Ongoing in TX Despite Policy Changes

I would like to ask your staff a question. I recently received ULK 60 and it made a statement that solitary confinement was abolished in Texas in 2017. When I seen that, it floored me. I say that because i'm writing this letter FROM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. So did I miss something? And if so, how can I fight from here to rectify the situation?

I let others read that and we all was stunned. I mean stunned. Are we reading this statement in your newsletter wrong?

Also we would like to know what is the Texas Pack and how can I obtain one? Your newsletter has shed light on a lot of things that are helpful for us in this place, and I just would like to say thank you and keep up the good work.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In September 2017, TDCJ announced it would no longer use solitary confinement for punishment, or as a method to encourage good behavior. It would "only" use "Administrative Segregation" (totally different from solitary confinement, right?) for "gang members, those at risk of escape, and those who are likely to attack other inmates."(1) That month, 4,000 people were still held in isolation on these grounds. Consider that only 75 prisoners were actually released from solitary confinement after this policy change.

We appreciate that this writer spoke up, because this is a very common practice. The Department says "we're not using it for punishment," while holding many, many people in isolation. The claim of gangs and security threats is often cited as the justification for the "exception" to their superficially-humanitarian publicity stunt.

Some examples include the Tier 2 program in Georgia, and the indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons that led to the hunger strikes in 2011-2013 and the Ashker settlement.

No matter what you call it, or what "justifications" are given for why it's used, solitary confinement is always torture, and never necessary. We have no doubts that solitary confinement can and should be ended, for everyone, today.

As for the Texas Pack, we are still updating and mailing this out. It's one of our more expensive projects, so we're asking for subscribers to send a donation of $2.50, or work-trade, to get the Texas Pack. This packet contains all our campaign info relevant to TDCJ, including on the grievance process, medical copay, and indigent mail restrictions. Send your donation to the address on p. 1, and tell us first if you want to send a check or M.O. so we can send instructions.

chain
[Control Units] [Legal]
expand

Tier II Challenges in Court

I am on the Tier II Program in Georgia. I am confined to an isolation cell 24 hours of every day. I'm not allowed outside my cell for any reason, other than to shower three times a week. I'm not allowed ANY phone calls, visits, photos (of either friends or family), nor am i — unlike other prisoners — allowed to posess the recently distributed electronic communication device.

My entire waking moment is expended ONLY on either legal or political endeavors (this includes assisting others in such endeavors), even if it simply entails me devouring some relevant item of legal or political literature. In light of the intensity of my torture and the urgency of my struggle — our struggle — nothing else is relevant enough to warrant my attention or time.

The enemy succeeded in depersonalizing me — in dehumanizing me — in emotionally and psychologically MURDERING me! — a long time ago, before i even became aware of the fact of my systematic, gradual death. But as a result of my "death" i've grown to be as militant (and stoical) as they come. My creed is simple: "If it doesn't concern the political, it doesn't concern me." Frantz Fanon in his Wretched of the Earth stated that "any torture deeply dislocates, as might be expected, the personality of the tortured." I cannot state, with certainty, that i would have — or that i even could have — grasped the gist of Fanon's statement were it not for my own continual involuntary subjection to torture.

But to return from my digression, my lawsuit concerning the Tier II Program raises a number of colossal implications. For one, my case is the leading case attacking the inadequate due process procedures attendent upon both a prisoner's initial and continued assignment to the Tier II Program, as well as contesting, in the so-called civil and human rights context, the totality of the Tier II program confinement conditions. What this means is that my case is inevitably going to set the precedent (the criterion) by which all other subsequent Tier II cases are to be handled in the judiciary.

Moreover, with regard to my motion requesting to be released from the Tier II Program, that issue is currently pending in the court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. If i am successful at the appellate level — and it looks as though i will be — the favorable ruling would provide prisoners with a vehicle through which to remedy "unlawful" or otherwise erroneous assignments to the Tier II Program (and ALL assignments of prisoners to the Tier II Program are arbitrary and intentionally carried out by prisoncrats in derogation of formal Departmental policy).

But most importantly, my case — because it is the test case — is going to settle (for better or worse) important questions with respect to both the civil and human "rights" of prisoners nationwide. Such is the significance of my case. But even a string of "bad" decisions would still be "good" for the anti-imperialist movement, because it would only further "expose the fallacies of the reactionaries"(Mao), here, the futility of the Amerikkkan court system.

In any event, i will be forwarding the Prisoners' Legal Clinic some relevant court documents from my case within the next week or so, if only to keep you abreast of developments. Actually, the trial court, to its credit, has already condemned the confinement conditions of Tier II as "so egregious that a constitutional right was clearly violated."(Nolley v. Nelson, No. 5:15-cv-75-CAR(M.D.Ga.), Doc. 50, p. 29.

chain
[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Folsom State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 57]
expand

ASU Prisoners Fighting Torture in California

pbsp

Recently, comrades held in Administrative Segregation Units (ASU) at Folsom State Prison stepped up the battle against long-term isolation. On 25 May they began a hunger strike to protest the extreme social isolation faced there. ASU is just one more form of control unit, or long-term isolation in California prisons. At Folsom prisoners protested the lack of TVs, pull up bars, education, and social and rehabilitative programs. Outside supporters held a rally in Sacramento.

CDCR responded to the strike by transferring a number of perceived leaders of this campaign a few days in. On 19 June 2017 the strike was suspended.(1) But comrades remain steadfast and call on anyone in an ASU in California to file 602 grievances if they are facing similar conditions of extreme isolation to continue to push this campaign forward.

The various categorizations of long-term isolation units in California are a legal loophole that limited the scope of recent reforms related to Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay, which were already weak to begin with.(2) Meanwhile, at Pelican Bay on 24 May 2017 a fight between prisoners and guards was reported that ended with guards shooting five prisoners.(3) We do not have updated information on their conditions.

chain
[Control Units] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 57]
expand

Security Investigation Division Goes Around Court Ruling

About two years ago the Third Circuit Court of New Jersey ruled that the Security Investigation Division (SID) could not keep prisoners inside of Management Control Units (MCU) without a way to get out of the unit. And now, two years after this ruling, New Jersey SID has found a new tactic for keeping prisoners in MCU.

A quick summary of what MCU is, for those who do not know. MCU is 4 special housing units meant for high security prisoners in New Jersey. These are generally high-level gang members, with vast networks and influence, cop killers or people who killed people in prison, escape artists, radical prisoners, etc.

A prisoner in MCU cannot go to the law library; he has to write a request slip and await for someone to come see him. He cannot be in contact with other General Population (GP) prisoners. His visits are much more restricted. You can't get college courses or other things that GP could get. And you have no movement.

SID had been keeping some prisoners back in MCU for 10, 20, and even over 30 years! Sometimes more! But as said above the Third Circuit Court ruled this unconstitutional and ordered these prisoners released.

After this ruling, prisoners were shipped all around the country and often put in the same conditions in the new states they were placed in. And since then SID has found a new tactic to fill MCU back up again, by placing high level prisoners that go to Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) for any infraction, no matter how minor, on an MCU tier for Ad-Seg. And when their Ad-Seg time is up SID places them on Involuntary Protective Custody (IPC). And the reason they cite is rival gang threats.

SID has done this now to about 20 people and this new tactic is spreading rapidly. Grievances, writeups, complaints, and inquiries have all gone nowhere. New efforts now must be taken in the courts to address this which may take years, and will be much harder now that SID can argue that they are doing it for the safety of prisoners.


MIM(Prisons) responds: New Jersey is following in the footsteps of other state DOCs that have lost court battles regarding long-term isolation of prisoners, only to come up with new work-arounds to lock up people in long-term segregation. It is important that we continue to expose the torture by control units, be they called MCU, Ad-Seg, SHU, IPC or by any other name. There is no justification for long-term isolation, regardless a prisoner's conviction, conflicts behind bars, lumpen organization history, or escape attempts. Torture is inhumane and can not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Our campaign to shut down prison control units has been going on for many years, and unfortunately it is no closer to victory than it was when we initiated the campaign. As long as prisons are a tool for social control for the imperialist state we're unlikely to win this campaign overall. But sometimes battles are won in court, which both help to expose the isolation as torture and help provide relief to some prisoners.

chain
[Control Units] [Abuse] [David Wade Correctional Center] [Louisiana] [ULK Issue 57]
expand

Isolation and Torturous Conditions at David Wade Corrections Center

To whom it may concern, this is a plea for help from all prisoners housed in David Wade Correctional Center (DWCC) located in Homer, Louisiana.

Warden Goodwin is locking us inside these torture chambers for years with no educational activities, no corrective-rehabilitative programs, and no counseling for mental health. The lawmakers' and courts' intentions were to send those convicted of a crime to prison as a punishment, not to be oppressed, tortured in a cell 24-7 with nothing to do for years with nothing to better themselves, also with no TV or radio to have contact with the outside world. The lawmakers' intent was that prisoners receive correction and rehabilitation so as to return to society as productive, tax-paying, law-abiding members. By prisoners not being able to better themselves behind these walls, that is what makes us the highest incarceration state of the U.S.

Warden Goodwin is forcing mentally ill prisoners in a cell together 24-7, only coming out for a shower, and in turn these prisoners are hurting each other and raping each other. The policy #035 stated no maximum ext-lockdown inmate should be housed together but they are at DWCC where if you do not go in the cell you will be pepper sprayed. And not knowing what to expect or having any idea as to the length of confinement is added stress and particularly traumatizing, compounded by simplistic practices. The courts have also held that housing mentally ill prisoners under conditions of extreme isolation is unconstitutional, see Wilkerson v. Goodwin 12-17-14 [This case addressed long-term/indefinite solitary confinement, not specifically for the mentally ill - ULK Editor]. There has been much research that demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement is most dangerous to the mentally ill. Thus, we become disturbed with mental anguish that compels us to grab and adopt to other means and channel our pain, many are cutting themselves and going on hunger strikes. These are only a few experiences of prisoners. We need help, we need change, expose this torture!

Help us today, make a call or fax our governor and head of DOC. Ask them to close the torture chamber confinement unit at DWCC:

James Leblanc, Secretary of Corrections 225-342-6740 fax: 225-342-3095
Governor John Edwards 225-342-7015 fax 225-342-0002

MIM(Prisons) adds: As we have discussed elsewhere, isolation in prisons and mental illness reinforce each other under the current imperialist prison model. Too often people in these institutions are seen as lacking as individuals, when it is a system that creates this crisis in mental health. That is one reason we have continued to focus on the campaign to end the torture that is solitary confinement in the U.$. injustice system.

This issue of Under Lock & Key is focused on disabilities in prison. The use of control units to torture people, leading to physical and mental health problems is very much related to this topic. Long-term isolation is creating more and more disabled prisoners, by destroying their health. And then prisons are perpetuating this problem by failing to provide adequate care for the problems they created.

chain
[Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [California]
expand

CDCR Not Upholding Ashker Settlement on Due Process

In August of 2016, a comrade was written up for possession of Security Threat Group (STG) contraband and given a 115 Rules Violation Report(RVR). This was in direct violation of the Ashker v. Brown class-action settlement agreement terms around "Due process" as described below. The new rules to reform isolation practices in California didn't even eliminate the outrageous practice of using drawings and greeting cards as reasons to put people in isolation in California. The "due process" clause was the only promising term of the weak Ashker settlement, and it seems CDCR does not intend to uphold it.

Political repression is the clear motivation here, as the target is a well-known anti-imperialist who works tirelessly for the improvement of the New Afrikan nation.

Facts:

On August 4, 2016, CO J. Hunter reviewed [XYZ]'s outgoing mail and found a drawing that included the image of a gorilla.

He based his conclusion that the drawing constituted "STG contraband" on:

  1. In past investigations, he received information from unnamed BGF members and associates that the "Silverback Gorilla is symbolic for the strongest force of the Guerrillas much like how the Silverback Gorilla is considered to be the dominant leader amongst a family of gorillas."
  2. The word "Gorilla" can be found in various documents used by the BGF. He provides one example: The "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF includes a verse stating "Long live the graceful guerrilla."
  3. The BGF recognizes the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power.
  4. The Office of Correctional Safety has established the credibility regarding the meaning of these symbols.

[XYZ] was found guilty of this offense and given 30 days confinement to cell, leaving only to shower. I have written him for these documents.

Challenge:

[XYZ] points out that item #1 above is based on unnamed confidential informants who allegedly have connected the "gorilla" animal with the BGF. However, CDCR has not complied with its own rules regarding confidential information (no 1030s, etc.) Also, this sentence makes no sense. Who are the "Guerrillas"? Does he mean BGF members or BGF leadership?

The picture depicts several fierce animals (lions, tigers, elephant, Pharaoh hound) and various male fighters who look more Aztec than African (to me). The gorilla does not dominate, nor is there anything else in the picture to suggest an STG.

The word "Gorilla" does not appear in the "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF. I was unable to find such an oath on the internet, but did find a BGF oath on a police-oriented website — see attached memo. It does not contain this term or phrase. The officer cites no authority for this claim, or is citing the confidential informants described above, without providing proper documentation.

The BGF's view of the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power is also asserted without attribution, or it is attributed to confidential informants.

The statement about the OCS establishing credibility is insufficient. Credibility is a term referring to people — the statement does not say who the people are. But broad reference to another CDCR office establishing the credibility of an informant or the reliability of the information seems like an end run around the responsibility of the hearing officer.

Finally, on what authority does the mere drawing of an animal among other animals constitute gang contraband?

Additional information:

I have done a little internet research on the "Silverback gorilla." Apparently, this refers to a mature male gorilla whose back hair has turned grey with age. He is the "alpha male" among the group of gorillas that he lives with. The drawing does not purport to be a Silverback gorilla. It doesn't say it is a Silverback nor can you see his back. We can guess that the gorilla in the picture is male, but even that is not necessarily true. That the officer brings up the "Silverback gorilla" is suspect to me. He is making himself sound like he knows more than he really knows. He does not purport to be an expert himself, yet by throwing out this term, he is making himself sound knowledgeable.

chain