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Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 7]
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Retaliatory Segregation in Missouri

Noble salutations comrades! I have been a recipient of your prison newsletter for several months now. In January I was transferred from the South Central Correctional Center in Licking Missouri to Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron Missouri. I have been in administrative segregation (Ad-Seg) since November of 2007. In Feb of 2008 a classification hearing was held (unscheduled) and it was then recommended by the housing unit staff of one house at SCCC that I be placed on "mandated single cell confinement," a status with no end. This hearing was held but twenty four hours after I filed paper work through inmate grievance procedure of the functional unit manager of my unit for staff familiarity and personal conflicts. The day following this unscheduled hearing, I filed again on this DOC employee for retaliation which is plain to see. All of my grievances and appeals were denied and have now been exhausted, my situation remains the same although I am in a different correctional center.

SOP 21-1.2 Administrative Segregation, page 2 states the following: Assignment of an offender to a single cell within an administrative segregation unit [is] for documented safety and security reasons, i.e. offenders who are considered an immediate or long term danger to other offenders that would be celled with that offender based on extremely violent, aggressive, threatening actions towards others, which may include murder/manslaughter, sexual assault/rape, assault with serious physical injury, sexually active HIV positive offender. This offender is not to be celled with other offenders.

Page 8 of the same SOP 21-1.2 states:
Mandated single cell assignment:
1. The administrative segregation committee will evaluate offenders for single cell confinement at the time of the hearing. All offenders who are considered an immediate/long-term danger to harm a cellmate as explained in definition II.E of this procedure should be assigned to a single cell in administrative segregation.

2. Offenders who have recently assaulted/harmed a cellmate or other offenders who staff believe are a continuous threat to other offenders if housed in a cell with them, should be submitted to the deputy division director, who, in consultation with the division director will approve/disapprove these actions. Offenders who have been approved for mandated single cell assignment will require approval from the deputy division director prior to removal from this status.

Upon my arrival to this institution I asked the classification staff if I would now be removed from the mandated status. I was informed by the head of the committee that no one gets removed from this status once placed on it. All staff present for this made noises that I "have life without in the hole," as I'm serving two consecutive life sentences, one of which is without parole.

I have been denied my right to due process. I have quoted their policies and procedures in all my filings. Every action I have taken has been within and following all guidelines. No justice has been given.

I have written several prisoner rights advocates and contacted numerous attorneys offices, all futile.

This is not just a solitary issue concerning just one prisoner. Missouri has prisoners that have been on this status up to ten years (that I know of). Some have had no violations in several years yet remain caged 24/7 like some rabid, volatile beast.

Many of us have no one to reach out to for aid and assistance. More than one is being held for past acts or political reasons while others committing the same or worse acts are given a year with a cellmate in ad-seg then released back to general population.

The South Central Correctional Center hands out this status as though it were candy to any prisoner who staff seem to have personal issues with. And it continues because we have no one to assist us.

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[Control Units] [New York]
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Mental Health Programs Just Expanded SHU

UPDATE: On 9/17/2009 the comrade who wrote this letter was killed in Attica Correctional Facility

I commend MIM and Reel Soldier for the successful release of Unlock the Box. You comrades are relentless in the struggle.

For well over a decade now, the NYSDOCS (New York State Department Of Correctional Services) has been developing housing units and programs to confine mentally ill prisoners who are serving penalty terms in the SHU (Special Housing Unit). These programs/units were created and developed to counter a lawsuit (Disability Advocates, Inc. v. OMH) against the NYSDOCS declaring the confinement of mentally ill prisoners in SHUs to be cruel and unusual punishment. The law firms who brought forth the suit have accepted these programs and subsequent legislation as part of an "out-of-court" settlement (take not that the mentally ill prisoners within the NYSDOCS were not given any consideration in the matter of the settlement, as they were never consulted as to whether they agreed to the terms themselves).

Simply put, units such as the GTP (Group Therapy Program), BHU Phase One (Behavioral Health Unit), and the STP (Special Treatment Program) amount to no more than glorified Special Housing Units (SHUs). They are being used arbitrarily as warehouses for prisoners whom they (the NYSDOCS) wish to keep locked down but must "accommodate" due to the settlement agreement and new legislation.

I have been confined to such programs since late May of 2005 (due to diagnosis of PTSD and Antisocial Personality Disorder). These programs have proven generally to be anything but therapeutic, primarily because they are only slightly modified SHUs structurally and are subject to the automatic efforts of security and administrative staff to assert control over prisoners/patients during the therapeutic process. Much of the "programming" (especially Dr. S. Samenow's "Commitment to Change" video series) is blatant brainwashing administered to induce total subservience to prison and state authority.

What is most disheartening is the vanishing of the general political consciousness of prisoners in the NYS prison system, that was given birth during the 1960s & 1970s. How many prisoners are even aware of the history of the Black Panthers, or that ideologically they were Maoists?

This article referenced in:
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[Control Units] [Limon Correctional Facility] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 7]
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Thrown in segregation for writing complaint about conditions

I am living in segregation on a plantation in Limon, Colorado. A month ago I wrote a comprehensive and detailed letter to the American "Corruptional" Association asking how they could give a score of a hundred percent to a prison that denies a third of its population (self included) pillows, trash cans, trash bags, mattresses that are thicker than a piece of cardboard, jobs, and other items.

With Colorado DOC it is all about greed. Prisons do not exist in this state to provide rehabilitation to "offenders," but instead exist to provide a lucrative and easy lifestyle for employees of the system at all levels. We as prisoners are merely an inconvenience and are treated as such. And at a time when corporate Amerika is cutting back and doing away with pensions and insurance, Colorado DOC just received an additional $64 million for the new fiscal budget, and additionally is getting 1,630 new employees. The prison budget is fast approaching $1 billion annually for a state of roughly 5 million inhabitants. Meanwhile, we are having things like real beef, fresh vegetables, and other essential items taken from the menu, which they hardly follow anyway, and we get laundry back that has not been washed with any amount of detergent. In addition there are no trash cans, trash bags, pillows, new mattresses, or even chairs or stools for the wall mounted desks. I am currently writing sideways on a TV shelf.

Shortly after sending the letter to the ACA I got a horrific shakedown that the guard says was "ordered by admin" in which they found a broken razor in the trash that had arrived broken in the package. Then based upon finding this "dangerous weapon" four thugs came and arrested me while I was in the middle of typing a letter to my attorney in the law library. Now I have been in here 15 days and have not seen any paperwork or charges, but I have been told repeatedly that they exist. Now what do I do? I have never once been to seg here at this hell hole and I have successfully completed two terms of probation for minor offenses during my two years here.

I have never once had a charge for assaulting a staff member or inmate, nor have I ever been charged or even accused of having dangerous contraband, drugs, or weapons. But now due to a broken razor I am too dangerous to be in general population.

It is not uncommon to have wardens making six figures and lower levels of admin making $85 to $95k per year plus all the goodies. If I were a taxpayer in this state I would be outraged.

Our mail is illegally searched, copied and/or read all the time without probable cause or justification (legal mail included). Currently, the two items that you sent me have been sent to the alleged "reading committee" due to what is more often than not, the uneducated, unsophisticated mailroom staff's inability to figure out what they are looking at. However, I do expect to receive these copies that I was really looking forward to, in about a month.

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[Control Units] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania torture units

I was in Camp Hill prison control unit called the SMU which means special management unit. The race there is only Black prisoners and the staff there beat Black prisoners until they are bloody or deprive them of their food. In 2005 the SMU guards killed a prisoner - a black prisoner that is - by not feeding him his food. I myself have been beaten and deprived of food, water and other things mainly medical care. These control units are slave torture camps and the staff that work in these control units are diabolical devils. They only build these control units for Black prisoners to torture, murder and rape our mind from our sanity. These staff who work in Camp Hill SMU are all white and they do so many unlawful things it's crazy. The courts of commonwealth of PA backs them up. Many lawsuits have been filed against Camp Hill control unit, but nothing has been done. Outside people need to realize that us prisoners are being tortured and murdered because of the color of our skin.

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[Control Units] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 6]
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Oppression at Pennsylvania's SMU

Oppression in Pennsylvania's plantation "Special Management Unit" is at an all time high. This is where the so-called worst of the worst convicts are sent, but it's not for any form of rehabilitation but rather to be abused. A lot of strong brothers are being physically and mentally abused in an attempt to break their fighting spirit. Note: the oppressors fear what they can not conquer.

It is said that all those of us who have the mental ability to organize the masses and structure any type of movement for the betterment of the oppressed peoples movement "need" to be locked down.

The abuse at SCI Camp Hill runs deep, to the point where it'll drive the weak crazy. The other day a brother (new arrival) split his own forehead open in an attempt to get transferred. He was taken to medical for 3 days and brought right back to the SMU. I personally have been experiencing a lot of abuse. I'm labeled by central office, under the Security Threat Group as a high ranking New York Blood. Officers use this to confiscate my literature, mail, photos and legal materials (all is labeled gang related).

We are not allowed to buy soap, deodorant, toothpaste, or lotion off of the commissary even if we have the proper funds in our accounts. Every time we request copies of any policies that tell us what we're allowed to have, we're told, 'oh you can't have that in the SMU.' Everything is considered a security risk at this concentration camp.

All other facilities allowed me to have MIM Notes except here. Officials don't follow publication procedures and take it upon themselves to determine what is and isn't allowed. I've filed a grievance on this and a number of violations here including health risks and I'm currently planning to file a class action suit with a few other comrades. Our ultimate goal is to get this concentration camp shut down.

We are currently working with a number of organizations who've been very supportive. I write so that everyone may know the seriousness of the situation. Officers beat brothers senseless in this control unit even if we're completely restrained, wearing cuffs, tether, shackles and restraint belt. This isn't rehabilitation at all but it sure is oppression at its worst! Still in all, we remain strong and focused on shutting this joint down!

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[Control Units] [Allred Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
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Life in danger after being labeled a gang member

I am here in Allred Unit in Texas. I was reading a friend's Under Lock and Key paper and it caught my eye when I was looking at the article about segregation in Texas. I can't believe it, but it's all true the way security threat group classification works in Texas prisons.

I'm here in Seg at Allred. It started back in San Antonio Texas. I went to court for my charge and the DA was talking about me being a suspected gang member, which I am not at all. My case was not strong so I took a 3 year sentence. I got to the prison and the Security Threat Group label is waiting for me like a hawk. They start asking me all these things about my past. I told them I am not part of anything. They said it's on my travel card from court. I did all I could to make them understand the card is wrong. But they pulled me out in front of the other prisoners and so the prisoners started thinking I am somebody. So my only chance was to ask for help.

Not only do the prisoncrats think I am a gang member, but now these other guys think I'm a member or ex-member so my problems got worse. Some of the prisoners planned to take me out so my only chance was to tell the prison administrators that my life is in danger. When I told them this I got segregation under investigation. They transfered me to another unit. When I got to the new unit I told them I can't go to population so they told me I will stay in pre-hearing detention and wait for the prison to make a decision. They finally shipped me to an ex-gang member unit and then transfered me to population. I got jumped and beat up real bad. Then they told me that if I don't tell the prison that I'm an active gang member they will leave me where I am. To protect myself I have to claim something I am not. If I claim I am a gang member I can go to Seg.

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[Control Units] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]
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Abuse in Texas adseg

I'm a texas prisoner housed in Administrative Segregation on the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, TX. I have undergone severe mistreatment and harassment from numerous officers and supervisors by way of tampering with my food, denial of food, bogus disciplinary cases, and physical assaults. Just recently, in November, I was attacked while handcuffed behind my back and tear gassed by an officer, because I expressed my frustration of having been left inside the shower over an hour. I filed a grievance and all supervisors are aware of this misconduct. But they've only turned a blind eye to this officer's behavior, and condone further abuse by this staff who continue to harass and threaten me. This same staff is part of the same group of staff that has preyed upon me since 2006. And they all wait for any opportunity to catch me off guard.

I recently left this unit for 8 months, and returned with every intention to make things right with the staff, but they only seek my demise and condemnation. And to make me out to be the kind of person that I'm not. Sympathy is not what I seek. But respect is what I demand. Here the other day the same staff that had assaulted me on the 9th was permitted to search my cell for 30 minutes and he wrote down all the names and addresses of my family and relatives living inside the Dallas and Tarrant County areas of Fort Worth, Texas; and threatened to bring harm against them or have it done by someone else. Then he wrote me a disciplinary case in an attempt to hinder my progress.

This same officer already has a documented disciplinary history of abusing other inmates by way of physical assaults, and unlawful use of his chemical agents. But the supervisors continue to fail to take corrective action to curb his misconduct.

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[Control Units] [Utah] [ULK Issue 7]
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Utah classification system - we must rise above

Here in Utah the lower your classification number the higher risk you are. For example, level 5 prisoners have gate passes and can work in the community or get home visits. Level 4 and 3 prisoners are housed in general population, level 2s are housed in one of two different control units here at the Utah State Prison, depending on if they are considered STG or not, and level ones are housed in a single man cell, with no commissary privileges other than hygiene or writing materials. If you are a level one and in the hole, then you come out three times a week for a fifteen minute shower. You're walked on a dog leash, cuffed and shackled with a spit mask placed over your face by two pigs.

I've been a level one prisoner before and I am grateful for the learning experience. I can tell you first hand that this injustice system is designed to break your mind, body and soul. The best way to combat this system is to first educate ourselves and one another. Unity is essential to our survival and our rise out from under the oppression!

I would like to give thanks to MIM for all the work y'all do to educate the masses. I can go on for days about the conditions of control units and how some of us rise above and how others fall for the okeydoke. Please send me more literature whenever possible.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Locking down the fighters against injustice as so-called "high risk" prisoners is one strategy used by prisons across the country to fight prisoners' attempts to organize. It is true that prisoners are given privileges for closing their eyes and ignoring the injustice and brutality of prison. And those who rise above and take up the anti-imperialist fight are given control unit housing.

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[Control Units] [Washington] [ULK Issue 5]
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Control units used as retaliation in Washington

I read your article about lockdown units, I’m in a Special Offender Unit. We have only one program, it’s like a hygiene class or something that is only available half the time, and a GED program with very limited extra topic access, which for me is hard because I’m college level in everything but math and punctuation.

We are in shackles whenever we are out of our cells and get dayroom time to watch about 2 hours of TV several times a week. Our cells are flooded almost weekly, the phones are broken much of the time, and I have had mail I sent to my 14 years old son and several legal firms taken.

I’m also told I cannot grieve (fight back through the administrative system), and they will not bring me to the office to call lawyers that do not accept collect calls, and they say none of the offices want to speak to me or don’t answer. This has gone on for over a month. I have two civil suits, one about the legal mail and my family mail being taken and another for failure to administer thyroid medicine. The conditions are very poor and I’ve been punished for asking for attorney calls – having my level frozen at 8 leaving me in shackles with no hope of release.

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[Control Units] [Young Medical Facility Complex] [Texas]
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Isolation at Clements in Amarillo, TX

I am incarcerated at the William P. Clements Unit in Amarillo, TX since 2002. In 2007 I got a case for "conspiring to commit assault on an inmate," and placed in Administrative Segregation. We are confined 24/7 and we are supposed to get 1 hour of recreation 3 times a week.

Some will do all their time back here because of their Security Threat Group (STG) status. The department of Corrections has a list they go by to determine who fits STG status, so these men only come up for review once a year.

I was placed in AdSeg for "threat to the physical safety of others" yet now I'm classified a confirmed member of a STG. Yes the group I used to be a member of does not fit the requirements. Not only this, out of ALL other confirmed members of this group I used to belong to, I'm the only one in AdSeg.

This unit has somewhere around 700 inmates in the Expansion Cell Block (ECB). This includes "closed custody" which houses 2 inmates per cell, locked down 24/7 except the supposed 1 hour of recreation 3 times a week. In the ECB there are on 3 pods with 68 cells per pod; the rest of the building is AdSeg. These pods have singles cells. They all have showers in the cells and there are 68 per pod.

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