The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out
[Control Units] [Organizing]
expand

Once Hostilities Have Ended

I recently read about the "agreement to end hostilities" and seen this as an essential step forward for prisoners but a step that will include many more steps in the future if prisoners are to truly take back our humynity not just in California but in prisons across the United $tates. Although I support the original five demands and will continue to do so along with any future demands for justice I felt the need to add to the dialogue and perhaps bring some other ideas to the scene. What I noticed from the five demands and many other proposals being kicked around is the absence of the very core of our oppression - the SHU itself. What we have learned since the initial strike was that many civil rights groups and people around the world see the SHU itself as torture, all or most of what is being asked for i.e. contact visits, phone calls, cellies etc. can be granted were it not for SHU. Even things like validation and debriefing etc. become easier to combat when the SHU is out of the picture so it is the SHU itself that becomes the kernel of our oppression in regards to the prison movement in general and the current struggle we are facing in Pelican Bay. This is why any proposals should have at the forefront the demand to close the SHUs! How can we talk of justice or prisoner rights without calling for an end to housing prisoners for any reason in these concentration camps? It's like saying "you can water board me but can we listen to a better radio station while you do it?" No other country is doing what Amerika does with the SHU on this scale but it is ultimately up to us whether we steer the prison movement on a real path of transformation or limit any changes to what amount to mild reforms.

Many struggles throughout history that dealt with prisoners gained far more than what has currently been proposed in our situation. A couple of situations that quickly come to mind are the Puerto Rican revolutionary group Macheteros who were arrested in the 1960s for acts against Amerika in their quest for independence. Well it came out via Freedom of Information Act years later that the national security advisor was on record saying the Macheteros should be released because of the protests and support and how these protests do not look good for Amerika in the eyes of the world. This is on record and the Macheteros were released. They were released from prison and linked to bombings and other acts against the U.$. Government

Another group of prisoners were the Red Army Faction of Germany who were in prison for acts against the government; bombings, cop killings, murders of politicians, etc. When this group was arrested they were housed in a specially constructed area of the prison - kinda like the short corridor - and were in solitary confinement and not allowed to come in any contact with any other prisoners but through hunger strikes and supporters out in society raising awareness about their treatment they were finally granted yard time with each other and better treatment after a year or two of constant struggle. My main thrust here is that if those who were assassinating government officials, judges etc., in an attempt to overthrow the government were able to overturn the isolation and draconian treatment surely we can as well!

In beginning to grapple with our oppression and find the best method of resistance we must first understand the origins of our oppression. One cannot move forward with a correct game plan without knowing ones opponent. When a boxer is about to fight a formidable opponent what does he/she do? Well they watch the videos of the opponents fights in order to understand the opponents strengths and weaknesses thus preparing oneself for a proper offensive. We must also do our homework on this current anti-SHU struggle, things like where the SHU came from, why is it used so much by Amerika - more so than in other countries, who controls such a system? We must identify our opponent if we want to more forward.

We know the SHU and all prisons are a part of the "state" apparatus, but who controls the state? The ruling class is not including the people (the poor people) it is the rich who run things. These rich, or capitalists, have developed into what Lenin defined as "imperialism" which is simply capitalism on steroids, it is economic exploitation on a global scale. So the state and thus prisons are run according to what is in the interest of this ruling class. Prisoners in general are not profitable to this ruling class as most prisoners derive from what Lenin defined as the "lumpen proletariat" which is basically the underclass or can better be defined in the United $tates as simply the "Lumpen" which are prisoners, the unemployed, those caught up in crime, etc. Most lumpen don't work or pay taxes so to the ruling class the lumpen are just taking up space and not helping the wheels turn in the economy. But more importantly, the lumpen are a potential revolutionary force as this is the natural order of repression inviting resistance. Whenever one is being smothered the natural reaction is to struggle to breathe. Our acts of resistance in the 2011 strikes clearly proved this to be true.

There are many phenomenon that occur that are long held communist principles that may be practiced today by many prisoners without ever knowing their origins. We must use these tools to gain victory in our current situation, one such tool is historical materialism which is used to transform things in the material world. It does this by understanding historical events and processes which created a specific reality. In our current struggle in order to change or transform our torture conditions in SHU we would first have to understand the process of what brought the SHU itself to be created. When we understand it was the state and ultimately the ruling class which created the means to throw away vast swaths of the population and smother any embers of resistance then we'll know we won't change things simply by picketing around a prison or filing a lawsuit because we are up against something more sinister than simply "tough laws." Marxism is a method not dogma and so it is fluid and continues to find new responses in its interactions with the material world, so it will continue to be applied to different phenomenon. Although asking the state for changes is cool and must be done, the more crucial change must come from within one's own approach to our oppression, we are deprived of so much but the most vital opportunities are low hanging fruit, these being opportunities in the theoretical realm. The truth is we can't "change the system" and by system I mean capitalist Amerika which runs prisons and SHUs, it is all in the state apparatus so it is one and the same - in prison lingo it is one "car." We can't change the system we must rip it out by its roots, dismantle it in order for true change to occur. To really believe we can change this system is to take a stance as the democrats who think change comes out of the voting system via reforms.

The task we have ahead of all of us held in U.$. prisons is a real uphill battle that is in sync - even if we don't realize it - with many other struggles aimed at the U.$. empire not just in the United $tates but globally. While our effort is different in many ways, we should face this effort like a guerrilla war. Rather than a passive state, guerrilla warfare is a combination of defense and offense in our pursuit of victory but our initial victory should be to unmask the brutal dictatorship of the state and deny it the ability to operate cloaked in secrecy. Let us strip it bare and display its most grotesque parts to society. In doing this let every dungeon where conditions have peaked to intolerable proportions raise the banner of resistance in regards to material conditions, in this way we will expose the contradictions in "American democracy" while obtaining small gains to our conditions. What occurs in our living conditions is worse than what we even realize. Even though most have grown accustomed to SHU, it is not norma. People are social animals. Our entire existence as people is to interact with others, our senses demand this, it is a dialectic which exists on reacting to people and the environment and when all sensory input is deprived it works against our very being, i.e. it destroys us, dehumanizes us.

Lastly, although I would of course always like to hear editors of publications ramble about what some have referred to as "commie rhetoric" I would much rather hear a prisoner's perspective on communist principles or how they apply to the prison movement in general or the anti-SHU struggle in particular. But one cannot discuss "prisoner rights" without discussing prisoner oppression and thus what is behind prisoner oppression (capitalism). Today's society profit is put ahead of the people as far as education, food, land, etc and thus crime rises then our next natural step is finding an alternative society where prisons and SHUs are not used as concentration camps. The only society that would really truly change the system is a socialist system — to deny this is to deny history.

chain
[Control Units] [Organizing]
expand

Reforms Won't End Indefinite Isolation

We can't afford for prisoners to sacrifice their lives because self-appointed vanguards refuse to do a little philosophic/scientific homework and make a few minor adjustments to our current path. We're pursuing what is essentially a tactical issue of reforming the validation process as if it were a strategic resolution to abolishing social-extermination of indefinite isolation. This is not a complex issue to understand, and it requires a minimal amount of study at most to understand that the validation process is secondary and is a policy external to the existence of the isolation facilities. It's not difficult to comprehend that external influences create the conditions for change but real qualitative change comes from within, and to render the validation process, program failure, the new step down program, etc, obsolete, and end indefinite isolation, requires an internal transformation of the isolation facilities (SHU and Ad-Seg) themselves. Otherwise, in practice, social extermination retains continuity under a new external label. Appearance is reformed, hence the suffix "re", while the essential composition (contradictions) is unchanged. Do you fix a bad motor on a car by altering its appearance with a new paint job? It might look nice, but it's still the same motor.

I don't know if these "representatives" are just refusing to consider anything else, if they are making a conscious decision to hear the sound of their own voices only, or if they believe that to acknowledge a need for course adjustments will discredit them. They hold power in here, but it's a power held through threat of force, and most youngsters aspire to this, or those who don't, understandably keep their mouths zipped. Either way, because of this power, they're not used to hearing the truth, but praise form the brown-nosers who tell them what they think they want to hear and tell them what will benefit them. This only hinders the accuracy of their analysis. This refusal to be more receptive and adjust course where necessary based on an application of dialectical materialism is going to cost us lives pursuing an incorrect course. Our victories are superficial and exist more in appearance than anything. They are privileges, rights that we already had coming to us, so what appears as a victory is really implementing our established rights (abstractly anyhow), without actually making essential progress. It's a vehicle to distract us without actually conceding essential transformations. And these are, and will be, reversible.

Although it is dangerous, and all it takes is for the current so-called reps to openly denounce any true vanguard, all others will accept this proclamation, and the true vanguard will be discredited and hit first opportunity. So a true vanguard must tread very carefully to build large scale support with their ideas and education. But what's of greatest importance, it must be done in the interest of all! As we, you and I, know, a vanguard is not someone, a program, philosophic logic, etc, that appoints itself, it is the most advanced line and it must be complemented with a corresponding practice. As Lenin and Joe Steel said, "there can be no theory there can be no movement" Just as a "movement is necessary to develop theory upon." Obviously, I'm paraphrasing but the point is evident.

I'm convinced we need to circulate a few pamphlets that serve an educational purpose, but more importantly, function as an outline. And if necessary, appeal to convict mass to launch our own hunger strike, one or two at a time. Write up our own list of demands - tables in each pod, phones, bars, cellies, dayroom time for social intercourse, demands that can all be achieved by a victorious struggle for "association" based on U.S. constitutional rights and UN Geneva conventions (for publicity). To implement "association" (social intercourse) would necessitate the peripheral demands above and thus qualitatively change the isolation units from within as we currently know them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Control Units are isolation cells within prisons where people are confined to small cells for long periods of time. Control units are a common tool of repression throughout the Amerikan prison system, frequently used to target prisoners who are actively fighting for their rights. They target Black, Latino and indigenous people who are a disproportionate part of control unit populations.

As a part of our ongoing campaign to shut down the control units, we fight for reforms to give our comrades in indefinite isolation some improved conditions, especially when these reforms are focused on better enabling their political study and organizing. We recognize that some reforms may mean the difference between physical or mental health or serious illness. But we agree with this author that we need to fight the attempts by proponents of the criminal injustice system to paint a happy face on long-term isolation and call that "reform." It is only by ending long term isolation completely will we actually win this battle.

chain
[Abuse] [Control Units] [Tabor Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
expand

Arbitrary Use of Control Units in North Carolina

I am currently on a 6 month program called Intensive Control Unit (I-Con). Since I've been on "state" I have come across many injustices towards prisoners from the administration. I know the situation in California with the debriefing process in Pelican Bay SHU. Here it is very different. Here a prisoner can get snatched up off the yard solely on the words of a confidential informant (CI). The administration does not need facts to convict, just the label "reliable source," and a prisoner will be stripped of school/work and be placed in Ad-Seg, possibly Security Threat Group (STG). And, like in my case, thrown in a lockdown program.

Not only this, but prisoners who have completed their term in I-Con or M-Con (Maximum Control) have gone to board to be released without any incidents are being lied to. Board is telling prisoners that they have completed their term only to still be held for another 6 months. Corruption.

There's many injustices that I can write about and share with you. But truth is that these people really don't want us to learn and better ourselves. So this is why I believe that one has to approach this life behind these walls with caution. Do our best to move and operate under the radar of these people, and of those who are blind, misled or sometimes brainwashed.

chain
[Control Units] [California]
expand

Commemorating California Hunger Strike, Continuing Fight Against Control Units

I'm writing to contribute to the continuing exposure of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)'s corrupt capitalist-imperialist system locking up human beings in long-term solitary confinement for decades.

As we know, the anniversary of the 1st hunger strike just passed 1 July 2012. We must remember the three soldados who lost their lives in this battle for our basic human rights and to end all indefinite isolation units (SHUs and Ad-Segs).

And to all who participated and those who gave and continue to give us moral support over our torturous and inhumane conditions of being segregated and placed in solitary confinement, known as CDCR's SHUs and Ad-Segs "Crypts", indefinitely with no rights or due process.

It's also very important we don't forget about the women and girls locked up in women prisons, Central California Women's Facility Chowchilla, Valley State Prison for Women, California Institution for Women, White Oaks, CRC, etc. I can't imagine the hardships and torturous conditions these women/girls have to endure. I would bet my life on it that thousands of these women/girls are also locked away in isolation confinement crypts. So let's walk side by side with our equal counterparts women and girls who are being isolated to indefinite SHUs, where concerns around living conditions of mental/physical torturous behavior fall on deaf ears.

I know this first hand because I've been in solitary confinement indefinitely since 1993 and counting. All we're asking for is to be treated as humans. Our 5 core demands are very reasonable.

But as the world now knows, California CDCR continues to deny that we are human by placing us in their "crypts" based on lies and making it a priority that we don't get basic necessities: medical, mental health treatment, human contact with our family, and sunlight.

I ask everyone who is a part of this struggle to join the fight to eliminate unjust solitary confinement.

The prisoncrats will never admit they are terrorist dictators who are allowed to run California's prisons with no honest oversight or accountability for their terrorist ideology, behavior and actions. They falsely use so-called "prison security concerns" to label thousands of human beings as prison gang members or associates to justify decades of isolation practices.

Attorney Peter Schey, from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, has filed a petition to the United Nations concerning our solitary confinement. There is also a separate federal civil rights action in motion. This will take time, as we know how the court system operates.

Don't give up hope, this is gonna be a long battle and journey. A lot of us are stuck in these "crypts" until real change comes. It's up to us to protect the new generation - so they don't have to go through torturous inhumane isolation.

chain
[Organizing] [Abuse] [Control Units] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

Georgia Hunger Strike Approaches One Month Mark

In December 2010, prisoners across the state of Georgia went on strike to protest conditions. Rather than address the prisoners' concerns of abusive conditions, the state responded with repressive force, beating prisoners to the point where at least one prisoner went into a coma. Since then, 37 prisoners have spent the last 18 months in solitary confinement, a form of torture, in response to their political activities. On 11 June 2012, some of those prisoners began a hunger strike in response to the continued attempts to repress them. More recently, prisoners in other facilities in Georgia have joined the hunger strike.

MIM(Prisons) stands in solidarity with these comrades that are combating the abuse faced by Georgia prisoners, being beaten and thrown in solitary confinement. State employees have told these comrades that they are going to die of hunger under their watch. Oppressed people inside and outside prison need to come together to defend themselves from these state sanctioned murders and abuse.


All information in this article is summarized from reports found on www.blackagendareport.com, where you can find contact information for public officials responsible for this torture, and an online petition to demand the end of long-term isolation in Georgia prisons.

chain
[Control Units] [Florida]
expand

Solitary Confinement Torture in Florida

Evidence is never impartially investigated or presented at disciplinary hearings. Contrary to claims of disciplinary teams, captives are railroaded and cheated, subject to arbitrary one-sided, kangaroo court, despite the evidence (camera and/or eyewitness) in captive's favor.

Air Conditioning is used as a torture device in disciplinary confinement. Cells are kept freezing cold, so cold that frost can be seen coming from the AC vent. Captives are allowed no sweat shirts or long johns from their personal property, only thin, torn and inadequate state issued blues, boxer shorts and socks in these freezing cold cells. Cruel and unusual, inhumane. Lights on, whistle blow wake up calls 4:30 a.m. every morning including weekends screaming "wake up, get dressed, bunks made." Captives are not allowed under their sheets or blankets till 5:30 p.m., forced to remain exposed to the cold in these locked cells. How cold is it? Between 50-60 degrees. Prolonged hours of cold causing numbness of bones.

Confinement meals are always cold due to being intentionally left to sit on the food cart in the hallway, way before feeding time.

Strip (property restriction, steel) captives are placed on steel or strip by overseers for 72 hours or more at a time in these cold cells. Stripped of all property except boxer shorts and a steel bunk, based on fabricated reasons of zealous overseers. If captives are caught under their covers, or wrapping themselves in their sheet worn under their blues, or overseers claim that captives are too loud, standing on the door or talking on the door, overseers will lie that captives have been disruptive and disorderly. They would write on a captive's contact file that he is being disruptive even while he's not just so he can be placed on steel or gassed (sprayed with chemical agents, i.e. pepper spray). Picture prisoners being gassed, placed on steel, and receiving more disciplinary reports. Captives are being gassed or placed on steel for asking for 303s (grievance forms), request forms, sick call forms and/or ink pens, tooth brushes, tooth paste, toilet paper and other necessities permitted by law but are denied.

Captives arriving in confinement any time after the monthly issue date of tooth brushes or the biweekly issue date of tooth paste or the weekly issue of toilet paper are deprived until next issue date. No toilet paper? Use your hands or your sheets.

Captives cannot file complaints due to being intimidated with retaliation or due to being denied ink pens and 303 forms. The grievance box is empty, not because captives are okay but because of the above mentioned reasons. Without ink pens, captives can not only not file complaints, but cannot write or contact family or outside sources, cannot fill out sick call or canteen forms. Overseers and the whole administration adhere to the rules only when and if convenient.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It is descriptions of conditions like this one that led us to initiate the campaign to shut down prison control units. Part of our work on this campaign is documenting both the conditions of torture in these isolation units and systematically documenting where and how many of them exist. Write to us for a survey of control units in your state if you can provide an accurate count for your prison or others.

chain
[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

New Prisoners Isolated as Security Threat in Texas

The control units here were designed for prisoners the state couldn't control physically. Later it became a place for those it couldn't control mentally as well. Example: I was placed in Administrative Segregation immediately upon my arrival in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) because of tattoos. These were used to confirm me as a member of a Security Threat Group (STG). I don't deny I am a member of [an organization]. However TDCJ made it a rule violation to be a member of any STG. All members are placed in isolation, no matter if they participated in clashes or not. I was never given a chance in population nor is any other confirmed member of any STG. We are all judged on the actions of others who are/were incarcerated.

If an organization will give over a list of its ranking structure and work with the state, then the label of STG may be removed. Prisoners can return to population if they participate in Gang Renouncement and Disassociation. Yes, it's a program and they attempt to program the individual. It's straight up brain washing.

All organizations (or gangs as they call them) were in population somewhere. Only by their own actions should they be segregated, admitted to the Special Management Unit or ADX.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Across the country prisoners are placed in isolation based on labels the prison imposes on them. Often this has to do with who the prison administration thinks they associate with, and nothing to do with the prisoners' behavior as described above. Either way, these isolation cells are torture, causing many to become both physically and mentally sick. MIM(Prisons) is keeping one of the most comprehensive counts of control units as a part of our campaign to abolish control units. To help collect statistics for your state write to us for the control unit survey.

chain
[Control Units] [Abuse] [Potosi Correctional Center] [South Central Correctional Center] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Southeast Correctional Center] [Missouri]
expand

Missouri Forces Fights, Brutalizes Prisoners

I have been incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corruption since 1997. Over these many years I have been confined to seven different "camps" within the state of "Missery."

I have seen prisoners maced and beat severely at Potosi Correctional Center in the late 90s. Officers there would routinely chain prisoners up "hog tied" like and leave them lying in their cells. Rather than move prisoners that didn't get along or otherwise weren't compatible they would make them fight and in two instances I know of, prisoners were murdered by their cellmates.

All over the state it is common practice to place completely incompatible people in a cell together. Guys with life without parole being celled with prisoners with only a matter of months left in their sentence.

At Crossroads Correctional Center I saw a sergeant kick a "chuck-hole" closed on one prisoner's arm. Another sergeant grabbed a prisoner in a reverse headlock and dropped said prisoner on his face using all his own body weight. Prisoners with asthma or other health problems are sprayed with pepper spray.

All over the state it is common for prisoners to be "free-cased" for violations or crimes they had nothing to do with because a scape-goat was needed in a hurry to save face or out of animosity issues between staff and prisoners.

At South Central Correctional Center prisoners were "free-cased" for another prisoner's murder because the institution needed scape-goats to cover up their own incompetency in running a safe and secure 'camp' and insufficient security equipment.

All over the state there are prisoners on a status termed "long term mandated single-cell confinement." This security status has no set end, no guidelines and no governing policies or any unit set aside for such a special security status. There are men on this status who have been confined solidarity for over ten years.

At South East Correctional Center things are to a point where at the time of this writing there are prisoners eating foreign objects such as ink pens, screws, and any item obtainable (in one case the ear stem of a pair of eye glasses) to express the need to be transferred away from the tyrannical oppression found in this backward run facility.

All over the state prisoners are housed in single-man cell units with prisoners with severe mental illness so they are subjected to round the clock beating on walls and sinks, yelling and screaming, smearing and throwing feces, urine, etc. Lights are left on or shut off per the whim of the officers.

chain
[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Security] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
expand

More Orgs Labeled "Security Threat" for Raising Consciousness

Recently I was informed that my nación is now considered a Security Threat Group (STG) here in the state of Texas. Not because we are doing anything that's criminal, but because the system knows that we have the potential to make change possible for all, which they see as a direct threat to their institution. For years we have been around, but now they see more and more of us getting tuned in to our doctrine, becoming aware of the de-humanization of the system. So it seems that they want to slap us with this label. Recently in an article published in ULK there was a fellow Black Panther, who is here with me, informing you all that the Gang Intelligence staff have also classified them as an STG in the state of Texas.

All I can say to those manitos and manitas doing time representing [these groups]: there is nothing new under the sun! Keep underground not because we have a sense of guilt, but because by watching and studying history we made ourselves a threat and now the system is ready and waiting to take us out just like it does with so many others. The war on STG is real and the tracking mechanism they use is serious, inside and out.

¡Trucha! Always be aware and make the right decisions.

Remember, just because you are in general population doesn't mean that the future is going to be the same. This goes for all the lumpen class. Prepare yourselves for that ripple effect because the war on so-called STGs is going to get much more repressive.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that the prisons throw around the "security threat" label as an excuse to lock down conscious prisoners organizing against the system. We get many letters talking about this happening in states across the U.$. In addition, the "security threat" label is used to keep Under Lock & Key out of prisons. This censorship is so common that every issue of ULK finds many copies returned to us, in some cases banned from entire facilities.

This writer gives good advice to be very careful about what information we reveal. We don't need more good comrades locked up in segregation just for their lumpen organization affiliation. Don't make it easy for the pigs. Don't give them any information.

chain
[Control Units] [Apalachee Correctional Institution] [Florida]
expand

Control Units in Apalachee Correctional Institution

I am currently housed in an administrative confinement unit in Florida's Apalachee Correctional Institution. The East Unit has two confinement buildings: Disciplinary Confinement (DC) and Administrative Confinement (AC). In DC we are on 24 hour lockdown except to take showers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 3 minutes to wash. Once you've been on DC for 30 days you are eligible for recreation outside for 3-4 hours on Saturday, but they only give us 1 hour, if that. We exercise in what's called a dog cage. It is 15x8 feet approximately.

Administrative Confinement (AC) Y Dorm houses prisoners placed here for security purposes ranging from disciplinary reports, protective management, or investigation. They sometimes use AC as a form of punishment just because they want to. You can stay back here up to 180 days. AC holds about 30-40 prisoners on each wing (1,2,3).

The cell is 6x10 feet with bars as the door. I can touch wall to wall with both arms extended. We rarely get recreation. It's infested with rats and ants which come in and out of your room throughout the day. Your toilet only flushes two times every hour, sometimes less. There's no central heating or air conditioning so right now it's summer and it reaches 100 degrees and we have to be fully dressed. They only have fans at each end of the hall and certain officers will turn them off as a punishment. The office has AC so it won't affect them. Here showers are also Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but you are in a cage with another prisoner which is dangerous because there's a possibility of rape. They give you a piece of a whole soap about the size of a credit card broke in half, if even that big. It's hotel soap and we only get one a week. We get toilet paper every 10 days, sometimes it takes longer. We are supposed to receive 2 rolls per inmate but they just give us one and if you run out, you're just out until next time.

This place is terrible. I wouldn't want my worst enemy here in AC or DC.


MIM(Prisons) adds We have been collecting statistics on control units in prisons across the country as a part of our campaign to shut down the control units. This prisoner's report is part of more general information he provided about the units in Florida. To help us compile accurate statistics about control units in your prison, write to us for a copy of the control unit survey.

chain