The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Control Units] [Tucker Max Unit] [Arkansas]
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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 from 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 for we the ex-con 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. Here's a 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 UFPP points 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 refers to in their 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 their 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 prisoner 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 figure out how 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 the Release on Life program MIM(Prisons) is building 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 hope 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 guides and literature, just let us know you're interested.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [North Carolina]
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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.

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[Control Units] [Robertson Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 62]
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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.

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[Control Units] [Legal]
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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.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Folsom State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 57]
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ASU Prisoners Fighting Torture in California

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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.

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[Control Units] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 57]
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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.

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

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[Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [California]
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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.

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Organizing] [Georgia State Prison] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 56]
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Petition Against Tier II Program at GSP

[Comrades in Georgia have been suffering from and fighting against the Tier II program since its inception. Tier II is a long-term isolation program with indefinite terms and severe restrictions on communication and other "privileges." Of course the program is officially not for disciplinary purposes. And of course the program has set terms on paper. Below is a portion of a petition some of our subscribers have signed on to and mailed out to various administrators. It illuminates in detail many of the problems that prisoners in Georgia are facing. In December 2014 another comrade from Smith State Prison mailed us a similar petition with over 30 signatures, which we publicized on our website.

Another comrade in the state is working on a guide on how to fight against the Tier program. We encourage anyone who has successfully won any battle against the Tier program to write in with your experiences, so we can consolidate this knowledge and distribute it to those in need. However, many people on Tier restriction can't even have access to Under Lock & Key or other mail from MIM(Prisons), so those who are in most immediate need of this information aren't even able to receive it. Prisoners who aren't (yet) assigned to the Tier program should take an immediate interest in this topic, so that the knowledge is circulated among the Georgia prisoner population before people can't access it anymore.

As we've been writing about for a long time, we see long-term isolation not only as an atrocity because of the humyn suffering, but also as a political tool that is used by the state to keep the oppressed nations subservient, preoccupied, and broken. We want self-determination of oppressed peoples, and we oppose all tactics that the state uses to subvert this goal. -MIM(Prisons)]

In the name of liberty, life, and human rights the Administrative Segregation population at Georgia State Prison (GSP) is reaching out to you with hopes that you will advocate and intervene on our behalf to put an end to the horrific and inhumane conditions of confinement being forced upon us, through the implementation of the Administrative Segregation Tier II Program, because the grievance system here is a mockery and has rendered us no relief from the oppressive, repressive, and dehumanizing tactics of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).

Georgia State Prison, which for decades has held a large lockdown population with some inmates being on lockdown for 20 or more years, began what is called the "Administrative Segregation Tier II Program" on July 16, 2014. On this date, GDC's tactical squad, along with GSP's correctional officers confiscated all of our personal clothing, hygiene products, health care products, books, photo albums, lawbooks, magazines, newspapers, CD players, radios, drinking cups, bowls, etc., with us only being allowed to keep 20 personal letters, a portion of legal mail, and a Qur'an or a bible (one or the other). Our personal hygiene products were replaced with only state-issue soap, toothpaste, and roll-on deodorant which are of very poor quality.

The guidelines for the Tier II Program (which lasts for a minimum of 9 months) places a ban on all books, newspapers, magazine (novels, textbooks, dictionaries, etc.) and many materials to self-educate ourselves. All books, magazines, newspapers, etc. which are mailed to us are returned to sender without giving us notification or a chance to appeal the prison's decision.

We are not being allowed to continue educational correspondence courses to earn degrees or diplomas so that we can have a better chance of getting legitimate jobs upon release.

Inmates are allowed very restricted contact/access to the "free world" which is perpetuated in part by the ban on books and periodicals and the confiscation of all TVs and radios which effectively blocks us from being kept abreast of current events and aware of the world's happenings beyond the prison's gates. Phone calls and visits are limited to only 3 fifteen-minute collect calls and 3 two-hour non-contact visits for the first 6 months of the program.

We are not being given proper access to the law/courts. Tier II inmates are routinely denied "law-library" by officers. The law library for Ad-Seg inmates only has seven small holding pens and one computer to service the needs of the entire lockdown population, which is approximately 600-700 prisoners.

We are not being given the proper nutrition or portions of food and are not being allowed to purchase commissary as a means to supplement the malnutrition being forced upon us. This is evident in the fact that the number of prisoners being placed on medical diets to increase weight and calorie intake has made a steep incline. Bugs (both live and dead) are often found in the food and the officers still force the trays on the prisoners.

We are inadequately clothed. The prison won't provide us with the proper clothing and won't allow us to purchase the clothing we need.

We are not being given the means to sanitize the cells that we are housed in. The cells are filthy. Most have food, blood, and feces on the walls and there is a serious rodent and insect infestation. We cannot even flush our own toilets; we rely on officers to flush the toilets for us so we may have feces and urine in the toilets for hours at a time.

We are not being allowed to have the hygiene products that we need and are not allowed to purchase any so most inmates have a foul odor because the deodorant the state issues us doesn't work for most of us.

We are routinely denied the right of religious freedom and expression. We are not allowed to practice beliefs that forbid cutting the hair, keeping kosher or other restrictions from eating certain foods.

Prisoners are subjected to brutality, humiliation, and harassment by correctional officers and staff at any given time. Prisoners are often assaulted while in handcuffs/restraints for no reason at all, but most frequently for practicing "freedom of speech." If a prisoner addresses the warden or other administrative staff about anything they don't like, or mistreatment, you are liable to be sprayed with mace, OC spray, any of the other toxic gases, stripped naked and humiliated and be placed on "stripped cell" with no bedding, clothing, or anything else (regardless of the temperature) for 8 or more hours just for exercising your 1st Amendment rights.

Prisoners are forced by the administration to bunk with other prisoners against their will, even when they let officers know there will be a conflict. This deliberate indifference has led to deaths, stabbings and other serious injuries.

Mental health prisoners are often times punished for mental infirmities and deficiencies which are beyond their control and made worse by the conditions of confinement forced upon them. Mental health patients here are suffering because of a lack of treatment and staff. Many are wrongly diagnosed and are either over- or under-medicated.

Prisoners validated by the GDC as being part of Goodfellas, Young Mafia Family or plain and simply as "Mob" are being subjected to group punishment and all prisoners with this validation are kept on Tier II, and most have been on lockdown since November 2011 or even longer. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Tier II program states that prisoners can only be held on the program for 2 years, but those validated as "Mob" are being transferred from prison to prison at the completion of one prison's Tier program requirements and forced to begin the program again at the entry level at the new facility.

We know that prison isn't supposed to be comfortable, but what we are experiencing at the hands of the administrators and staff here is torture and extreme abuse of authority. Regardless of our debts to society, we are no less human than anyone else. Many of us are mentally unstable, indigent, or have no family or friends who are willing to help us fight for our rights to be treated like human beings and not be subjected to such demoralizing and dehumanizing treatment.

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 53]
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California November Updates: Stamp restrictions, Santa Clara strike success and Ashker settlement update

In our last update letter to United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades in California, we announced that the California USW Coordinator would be working with the California USW Council to provide better, more regular updates in ULK to coordinate our campaign efforts in the state. This will also reduce the need to send out separate letters except in time-sensitive instances. This issue of ULK is the first with such a CA-focused section.

One issue that came up among CA USW recently is restrictions on mailing stamp donations. This was happening at CSP-Sacramento, and more recently reported from West Valley Detention Center. In ULK 36 (3 years ago), we printed a report from San Quentin where they successfully campaigned against the same issue through a combination of 602 appeals and letters to the press exposing these restrictions on freedom of expression.

Appeal #CSQ-J-13-03205 was submitted October 27, explaining exactly how operational procedure 608 article 7 was being illegally circumvented. This appeal was rejected by appeals coordinator puppet M.L. Davis on November 1. Davis offered to process the appeal if appellant directed a CDCR 22 to the mailroom. Davis also demanded appellant remove copies of Article 7 and OP0212 which are in fact the official rules/directives regarding "items enclosed in incoming first-class mail."

If readers have other examples of successful tactics around this issue, or rules to cite, send them to MIM(Prisons) for the next issue.

Santa Clara County Strike a Success

In "Broad Participation in September 9 FAM Prison Strike" we refer to the challenge of organizing in California with more comrades in county jails not under CDCR control. Perhaps this will be a temporary setback though, as prisoners organized a recent strike in Santa Clara County. On 17 October 2016, over 300 people went on hunger strike, according to the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. The demands were around ending solitary confinement, inadequate clothing, a faulty appeals/grievance process and the overcharging at commissary. The strike was suspended after less than a week, when the sheriff's department agreed to the demands. Comrades will maintain the strike in suspension until the changes are actually made. MIM(Prisons) commends the organizing efforts of these comrades and the focus on key campaign issues of solitary confinement and the grievance process.

Ashker Settlement Hearings Done, SHU Victims Decrease

The number of people being held in SHU has dropped sharply since the Ashker settlement (see "Torture Continues: CDCR Settlement Screws Prisoners" in ULK 46 for more background). The review process has been completed, and 1,512 of the 1,557 people covered by the settlement have been released from SHU according to CDCR, with the remaining given dates for release. The number in SHU cells in California is about 1/6 of what it was before the settlement, with less than 500 SHU prisoners as of August 2016 (according to CDCR statistics). But we know a number of our readers are still in SHU, and many more are in other forms of long-term isolation in California, which is not covered by the settlement.

We must remain vigilant now to continue the fight against solitary confinement in California. As we've always pointed out, these reforms with such narrow focus only make it harder for those who remain in these torture cells to get out. SHU cells represented less than a quarter of the prisoners in California in long-term isolation according to our last count prior to the recent decrease in SHU (see www.abolishcontrolunits.org/research). But as the comrades in Santa Clara have demonstrated, this battle is still alive in the hearts of prisoners.

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