I've been in solitary confinement here at Louisiana's Prison for 2 years now. David Wade Correctional Institution is a DOC facility. A disciplinary, concentration camp. Louisiana's most repressive prison. Everywhere you move you have to be shackled and handcuffed. Even to the shower if it's a few feet from your cell. You use the phone once a month, for 10 minutes. Our yard time is only 5 days out the week for 1 hour, inside of a chicken wired cage almost the same size as your cell. The prison is designed to break the mind, body and soul.
Incarcerated individuals here are living in inhumanity in its purest form. I met some guys who have been here on extended lockdown (solitary confinement) for six, seven, eight years straight. Our superiors are antagonists that despise the strong. Their job is to introduce us to the elements of repression. Their goal is to break you... by any means necessary.
It's the heart of the summer and it gets really hot on these cell blocks. We're the only prison in the state of Louisiana that only has one fan on each tier. Its nearly 100 degrees! On top of that, there's no water and we're not allowed ice on the tier. The only water that we're allowed to drink is out of our sink. And sometimes our pipes are backed up, or there's a boil-water warning on the news. If we want water, our only option is to drink contaminated water out our sinks, which is cruel and unusual punishment. Inhumanity. Not to mention that we're only allowed books and newspapers. We have no access to any television or radio. The papers is how we find out about the boil water warnings, and sometimes the newspapers come too late because of slow mail.
They want you to put your jump suit all the way on, while you're in your cell all during the day while it's nearly 100 degrees. This is only a tactic to make you as uncomfortable as possible. You see, every day in these cells is war. They take you to war every single day. Psychological warfare.
A lot of the guys here can't endure the delinquency of the officers, nor could they endure these extreme circumstances of dehumanization. I watch guys break right before my eyes all the time. The mind is very elusive... Hold it tight. One minute you'll be talking to a guy and the next minute they just snap, right before your very eyes, as if their mind was an egg that slipped out of their hand, and splattered across the hard rough pavement.
These situations are so frequent that a lot of the individuals here have gotten used to it. They have so adjusted to where they believe that these abnormal situations are normal. Just a couple of weeks ago a guy hung himself in his cell. His body dangled for a couple of hours before anyone even noticed. He was then rolled off the tier, and it was as if nothing had happen.
Guys use to be killed here by guards all the time. That was until word started to leak outside of these walls and into the free world. But that still wasn't enough to mentally liberate us. We need outside help... recognition... the voice of society... we need revolution!
I'm fortunate enough to be one of the few to be spiritually emancipated. Subsequently I have become a revolutionist. The change has already begun. And unity is a very fundamental principle.
We're dying to live....but we're living to die.
There's about 11 of us total who have been on hunger strike. Today makes my 4 1/2 day without food [11 July 2016]. About 8 or 9 other guys have reached their 7 day mark. But this is only the beginning. We would probably have to go a couple of weeks on hunger strike for them to even take us seriously, which is hard work without the outside help, or support. Also the oppressor refuses to stand down without opposition. Their tactics are vital. You could be on hunger strike for 4 or 5 days and they wouldn't even document it. That way they won't have to report so many to D.O.C headquarters. But also subsequently you wouldn't receive mandatory medical treatment, which is protocol after a prisoner misses 9 meals.
You're declared to be suicidal. By refusing to follow their protocol they violate our constitutional rights. But we're willing to go however long it takes. We also have multiple comrades who have made it to the courts system to push even further after they have successfully exhausted the grievance process. Our fundamental goal is for change... Better circumstances. We want the same thing that the "Pledge of Allegiance" taught us. We want Liberty and Justice for all.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We stand with this writer and the comrades in Louisiana fighting back against the dangerous and inhumane conditions at David Wade Correctional Center. This comrade is right that actions behind bars need outside support. It is also important to have some clear demands when we undertake big protests like a hunger strike. This will help focus the response, and ensure that we know when we have won. Fighting for general liberty and justice is definitely our goal as communists, but we know we will never achieve that under capitalism, and so our actions should be focused on winnable battles today while we build for liberation for all through revolution.
I write you to yall to thank you for your letters of support on our” ”hunger strike” to protest long term “solidarity confinement”. Thank you!
I’m still on strike but now I’m being force fed. This is (ex)tremely humiliating, painful, and unnecessary... But it is what it is. I’ll continue to refuse food and water until they place a one year cap on the use of Administrative Confinement….under this status the D.O.C. can currently keep you in solitary confinement indefinitely.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Read this article for a more detailed update on the Wisconsin prisoners' hunger strike to fight long term isolation and other abuse.
Prisoners in Wisconsin have been on hunger strike since 10 June 2016 to protest long-term confinement in control units in that state. As we reported in April, the Wisconsin DOC has been playing games with their policies that determine the length of solitary confinement sentences, but no real change has been enacted and prisoners in Wisconsin continue to be locked away for months and even years in isolation conditions that amount to torture.(1) The protesters are demanding changes to the segregation policies of the WI DOC.
Reports suggest that the administration came down hard on suspected participants in the hunger strike, prior to June 10. In spite of this repression a number of protesters remained strong and undertook the strike. After seven days the prison began force feeding the activists, a clear attempt to torture them out of their resolve, because a seven day fast is not enough to seriously endanger most humyns. Further, force feeding comes with some serious health risks and we know the DOC medical services are already not working in the interests of the prisoners. As of June 29 six people were still refusing food.
A USW comrade reported June 27:
"As of now they started force feeding us and using it as an instrument of torture and punishment. However, because I refuse to let them abuse me and torture me like that without fighting back, I've suspended mine until I can get a restraining order to prevent such. I let them do it one time and they forced it up my nose so hard that when the membrane of the nasal seal popped it sent a bubble through my head and my head still hurts. I can't let the pigs beat me for free like that, but the comrades in Waupun are enduring it and a few plan to join next month."
We continue to stand with the protesters risking their lives to force the WI DOC to end their long-term solitary confinement system. These courageous activists are fighting against a system that has nothing to do with security and is only used for social control. People who peacefully protest, such as these hunger strikers, are the most likely to end up spending years in isolation, conditions that are known to cause serious physical and mental health problems. The use of control units in so many Amerikkkan prisons across the country is just further demonstration that the criminal injustice system is not designed for rehabilitation; its purpose is to control society.
The strikers have asked people on the outside for help:
Call Governor Scott Walker's office and tell em to reform the long-term solitary confinement units in the Wisconsin DOC and to stop the secret Asklepieion program at once. The number to call is 608-266-1212.
Call the WI DOC central office and demand that all 6 humanitarian demands for this hunger strike be met and demand an explanation as to why they are operating a torture program. The number to call is 608-240-5000.
Call any media outlets and demand that they do an independent investigation on the secret Asklepieion program operating at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI), and report on the hunger strike.
Call the FBI building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and demand that they investigate the secret Asklepieion torture program being run at CCI. The phone number to call is 414-276-4684.
Call Columbia Correctional Institution and tell them you are aware of their secret torture program. Harass them! 608-742-9100.
Join in on the hunger strike and post it on the net. Convince others to join as well.
While watching a movie last weekend, suddenly a stretcher and a lot of officers walked by into the entrance of the max control unit. Bizarrely an hour later a lot of officers came out of the max control unit. They held all doors open leading to the infirmary down the hallway. Then suddenly in a hurry came four officers and a nurse pushing the stretcher with a white prisoner on it. I recognized the prisoner, who was deceased. His pale skin was now very swarthy from head to toe, darker than most fair skin New Afrikans. Later I found out that he was paroling out the next day.
Ever since last year I've observed this type of pattern within East Arkansas Regional Unit's max control units. And it continues this year. This means we need to push the campaign to shut down control units harder, by asking all friends and family members to help spread the 2 hour documentary on long term isolation cells and our struggle to abolish them. Ask them to put links to the website on their blogs, facebook, instagram, twitter or whatever social media networks they use and ask others to check out the movie
Let's push the hell out of this campaign the remainder of this year!
I received my copy of the book that you sent entitled Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. I found it quite interesting because of its historical reflections, but it also produced a storm of negative thoughts to disrupt my normal tranquility and this is why. In regards to inclusion of the Agreement to End Hostilities in the Chican@ Power book, for the most part those individuals who reside on a Special Needs Yard (SNY) are not the enemy, but merely opponents with opposite points of view and I believe that to disrespect us merely because we refuse to conform to the ideology of those who believe themselves to be demigods is to go against the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Because not everybody on an SNY are snitches who work for the pigs. Contrary to the propaganda that is preached not everyone has gone through the debriefing process. To be real it's only about 10% who actually had to debrief because they were validated.
I don't understand why you would choose to destroy such an educational book with the propaganda that has been professed to be against "the establishment", but has utilized the worn out but effective tactic of divide and conquer for all these years. If they have learned anything from the treatment that they've been subjected to, for all those years, I would think that they would have learned that when you've got your hands full, that the only way that you will be able to grab on to anything new, is to let go of the past.
Struggle to Unite!
All unity with no struggle is the hallmark of opportunism which leads even those claiming to fight for the oppressed to take up the mantle of oppression as they continuously gloss over contradictions within the broader movement for democratic rights. This is why we must not only unite in order to struggle, but struggle to unite, as only then will the struggle for democratic rights behind prison walls develop to the point that the old prison movement fades away and enters a new stage in its development. This will be the stage in the prison movement in which the prisoner masses finally realize that their oppression is unresolvable under the current system. This will be the stage of the prison movement in which prisoners will give up their illusions of the current system. This will be the revolutionary stage in which millions of prisoners will demand national liberation for the nations oppressed under imperialism.
As dialectical materialists, Maoists are aware that all phenomena develop within the process of stages. The prison movement is no exception. The prison movement is currently in its early, embryonic stage and not yet pregnant with revolution. The Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) and the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective (PBSCC) are still a long way from advocating for the revolutionary nationalist stage of the prison movement. More importantly neither the objective conditions nor the subjective forces of the revolution have been sufficiently prepared for the prison movement to have entered this stage. This is not so much a judgment of the PBSCC as it is a statement of facts. However, as stated earlier, unity without struggle is the hallmark of opportunism and while we support the AEH, because we recognize and uphold the progressive nature of that document in our present stage, this should in no way mean that we won't criticize where it fails to represent the true interest of the prisoner masses. Before going into this topic further however, some background on the Chican@ Power book is needed in order to clarify any misconceptions people have have about who was behind the book project.
To be clear, Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán was a collaborative effort between revolutionary nationalists from the Chican@ nation and MIM(Prisons). It was written primarily for the imprisoned Chican@ masses in an attempt to not only educate [email protected] on our hystory, but our reality. It was an attempt to produce a comprehensive but concise work that fuses Chican@ liberation with Maoist ideology. The authors of the AEH did not take part in the production of this book. In addition, both Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán and the AEH were mutually exclusive projects carried out by two mutually exclusive groups around roughly the same period. This point is extremely important to grasp because of the scope and significance of these projects, as well as their correlation, because it speaks to the leaps in consciousness amongst both these groups. This goes to show that the revolutionary current has once again begun to surge in both the lumpen class in general and the Chican@ lumpen in particular. Both the AEH and Chican@ Power represent positive steps in the right direction.
So, while we most certainly believe that there is much room for improvement in the AEH and have said so since day one, we also believe in such a thing as United Front organizing. United Front organizing involves the unification of various groups, organizations and individuals around a common program capable of bringing together as many progressive forces in order to defeat the common, stronger enemy. The result is an alliance which, while not always easy or without difficulties, gets the job done. Therefore, what is required during this particular stage of struggle is strategic and not ideological unity. To make ideological unity a pre-requisite for U.F. organizing will undoubtedly amount to defeat after defeat for the prison movement because not everyone is at the same place politically, or of the same mind. Some people participating in the AEH are New Afrikan revolutionaries, some are for Aztlán liberation, while more are still stuck in old gang mentality; Norteño, Sureño, Blood, Crip. Some are even SNY! And while there are many things that these groups don't have in common there is still one thing that binds them together — their common oppression at the hands of a common enemy.
More to the point, our decision to take part in this United Front comes from the Maoist conception of the principal contradiction. The principal contradiction is the highest, most influential contradiction whose existence and development determines the existence and development of other contradictions. Therefore, it is imperative that all California lumpen organizations and individuals unite and uphold the correct aspects of the AEH, all the while building newer, stronger and more correct foundations based upon the revolutionary aspects of the AEH while rejecting its reactionary aspects. Doing this will ensure that the progressive nature of the document will continue to push the movement forward, lest it retrogress, stagnate and die.
The growing phenomenon of Sensitive Needs Yards in California prisons is itself a manifestation of the principal contradiction within the prison movement; and the principal contradiction is itself dialectically related to the dismantling of the old prison movement and the temporary demise of national liberation struggles within U.$. borders. Many have forgotten that it was the revolutionary impetus of groups like the Black Panther Party, the Brown Berets and many others that originally sparked the revolutionary fire within California prisons nearly 50 years ago. And just as the creation of the SNY was dialectically related to the contradictions within the old prison movement, so should the contradictions that led to the need for SNYs be resolved with the success of the new prison movement. If the new prison movement is to live up to its full potential it is essential that the prison masses learn from the mistakes of the past. This requires that the revolutionary masses behind prison walls begin organizing in opposition to the status quo, as only then will the prison movement truly become a movement of the masses and not one of individuals. This requires that the revolutionary masses begin taking the initiative in revolutionary organizing and that the leadership sponsor and provide safe avenues for the prison masses to organize. If the PBSCC is sincere in its fervor then the masses will see this and work hard for the struggle. Likewise, if the PBSCC and other prison leaders are not sincere in their fervor, then the prison masses will also see this.(1)
The present principal contradiction within the prison movement was identified by United Struggle from Within (USW) and MIM(Prisons) comrades as the parasitic/individualist versus self-sufficient/collective material interests of prisoners. Within this contradiction it is the parasitic/individualist aspect that is currently dominant, although the self-sufficient/collective material interest aspect, while currently subordinated, has been steadily gaining prominence. How this contradiction will turn out is wholly dependent on how the prison movement continues to develop. Will it continue to move forward or will it retrogress?
It is true that the AEH does not conform to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Furthermore, if one reads this document carefully ey will note that the first point clearly states that they are only interested in bringing about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR system in a manner beneficial to all "solid" individuals, who have never been "broken" by "CDCR's torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing..." Indeed, if the PBSCC is being honest then they should acknowledge that it is the powerful lumpen chiefs who bear the brunt of the responsibility in pushing prisoners into becoming state informants in the first place, and not CDCR. [We can look to examples like the siege of Wounded Knee when the FBI and military terrorized and interrogated the whole Oglala Sioux population and no one gave up information to the pigs. - MIM(Prisons)] Admittedly enough, the principal writers who have been contributing to Under Lock & Key since this document came out should be blamed for not practicing one divides into two politics (myself included). If the writers regularly featured in Under Lock & Key and the MIM(Prison) website are supposed to be representing the proletarian pole then it's time we begin pushing the leaders of the PBSCC and their supporters in a more revolutionary direction. If the PBSCC is serious about lessening oppression behind prison walls then they should recognize that they will need the help of SNY prisoners who make up over 30% of the CDCR prison population.(2)
Wisconsin prisoners at Waupun Correctional Institution are planning a hunger strike to begin on 10 June 2016 to demand an end to the torture of long-term confinement in control units in Wisconsin.
In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC) made some policy changes to their use of long-term solitary confinement. According to the DOC, the number of prisoners in "restrictive status housing" was reduced by about 200 by reducing the maximum time prisoners can be put in control units (which varies depending on the justification given for this isolation). The WI DOC refused to release any information about these changes until compelled by records requests, and the total number of prisoners in control units reported by the DOC is highly suspicious as it is far lower than information gathered from surveys.(1) In addition, Waupun prisoners were not notified of the change to this policy, and months later were still being held for longer than the new regulations allowed.(2) It's unclear if the new policy is being applied uniformly across Wisconsin prisons at this point, but small reductions in the length of solitary confinement sentences will not solve the fundamental problem of this system of torture.
The actual policies are available on the Wisconsin DOC website and include a table listing maximum time in "disciplinary separation" for various offenses. This includes 180 days for "lying" and 360 days for "lying about an employee," 180 days for "disrespect" and 180 days for "misuse of state or federal property." These are all easily abused accusations that prisoners are powerless to dispute. Furthermore, a Wisconsin prisoner can be put in a control unit for up to 180 days for "punctuality and attendance" issues and "loitering," and up to 90 days for "poor personal hygiene," "dirty assigned living area," and "improper storage."(3) The policy also states "More than one minor or major disposition may be imposed for a single offense and both a major and minor disposition may be imposed for a major offense" which sounds like they can just pile on lots of offenses and sum up the total max days in isolation so that prisoners are held there for years.
The demands of this protest include the release of prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for over a year, a length of isolation far exceeding what is commonly considered torture by international human rights organizations.
As one prisoner reported to Under Lock & Key a few years ago:
"I have reasons to believe that these people have no plans of removing me off A.C. ... They have me in the worst conditions in the Wisconsin DOC. ... It is fly infested. I have black worms coming out of the sink. We can't have publications.
"I have been in seg for over 13 years. and I haven't given these people any trouble in a long time, and what I'm in seg for is solely political. I am being punished for organizing for Black Unity and against institutional racism. I simply created organizations that advocated the advancement of Black people and that fought against Black on Black crime, poverty, ignorance, etc. It wasn't created to terrorize white people, as the totalitarian state would have you believe.
"As a result of being in seg I have developed a long range of psychological issues, issues that have left me scarred permanently. These issues have caused some professionals to label me psychotic and delusional among other things. I was diagnosed with Delusional Disorder and am being treated for it."(4)
It is well documented that long-term isolation causes mental health problems including hallucinations and delusions. This technique is used in prisons like Guantanamo Bay to torture military prisoners into making confessions (or making up confessions for the many innocents who suffer this torture). But in the Amerikan prison system this torture primarily serves to slowly erode the health of prisoners who are either confined to waste away for the rest of their life, or released back to the streets unable to care for themselves.
The petition put together by prisoners at Waupun is printed in full below:
Dying to Live
Human rights fight at Waupun Correctional Institution starting June 10, 2016. Prisoners in Waupun's solitary confinement will start No Food & Water humanitarian demand from Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials.
The why: In the state of Wisconsin hundreds of prisoners are in the long term solitary confinement units a.k.a. Administrative Confinement (AC). Some been in this status from 18 to 20 years.
The Problem: The United Nations, several states, and even President Obama have come out against this kind of confinement citing the torturous effect it has on prisoners.
The Objective: Stop the torturous use long-term solitary confinement (AC) by:
Placing a legislative cap on the use of long term solitary confinement (AC)
DOC and Wisconsin legislators adoption/compliance of the UN Mandela rules on the use of solitary confinement(5)
Oversight board/committee independent of DOC to stop abuse and overclassification of prisoners to "short" and "long" term solitary confinement.
Immediate transition and release to a less restrictive housing of prisoners who been on the long term solitary confinement units for more than a year in the Wisconsin DOC
Proper mental health facilities and treatment of "short" and "long" term solitary confinement prisoners
An immediate FBI investigation to the secret Asklepieion* program the DOC is currently operating at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) to break any prisoner who the DOC considers a threat to their regimen
How you can help
Call Governor Scott Walker's office and tell him to reform the long-term solitary confinement units in the Wisconsin DOC and to stop the secret Asklepieion program at once. The number to call is 608-266-1212.
Call the DOC central office and demand that all 6 humanitarian demands for this hunger strike be met and demand an explanation as to why they are operating a torture program. The number to call is 608-240-5000.
Call the media and demand that they do an independent investigation on the secret Asklepieion program operating at Columbia Correctional Institution, and cover this hunger strike.
Call the FBI building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and demand that they investigate the secret Asklepieion torture program being run at CCI. The phone number to call is 414-276-4684.
Call Columbia Correctional Institution and tell them you are aware of their secret torture program. Harass them! 608-742-9100.
Join in on the hunger strike and post it on the net. Convince others to join as well.
* Asklepieion is a secret DOC torture program based upon Dr. Edgar H. Schein's brainwashing methodology that in the 1960s was disguised and turned into a Behavior Therapy Treatment program that deals with the literal brainwashing and enslavement of an individual's mind. It retrogresses the individual to the character role of a child and reinforces the need for paternal authority. To achieve such effect the prison authorities, with the help of collaborating inmates, must first break the individual's mind through sleep deprivation and character invalidation techniques, and then, recondition it with Stockholm Syndrom. To see more go to https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/02/16/personal-experience-with-behavior-control-in-a-wisconsin-prison/
[In December 2014 MIM(Prisons) received this petition against the Tier II program from two different comrades, with almost thirty signatures. Considering these prisoners are organizing in extreme conditions of isolation and sensory deprivation, that number of signatures is impressive. We publicize this petition as part of our overall struggle to shut down Control Units in prisons across the country.
The conditions outlined below are common to Control Units in the United $tates. An end to the Tier II program in Georgia would certainly be a step in the right direction. But we know it is only a tiny piece of a much larger problem: capitalism, imperialism, and national oppression. While prisons in general are a tool of social control for the imperialists, control units are used by the imperialists to further control prisoners targeting activists in prison who are fighting for their rights and the rights of others. We organize to tackle these broader problems with our society, and shutting down Control Units is a battle in that process.]
We the People petition
We the people (jointly and severally) come together to petition the government for a redress of grievance, pursuant to the Bill of Rights, "Amendment I" of the Constitution for the United States of America. Furthermore, we the people assert the rights set forth in "the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. More specifically, we assert the rights set forth at Article 1-8, 18-22, 26 and 28 of the UDHR.
We the people now move to set forth the factual basis for this petition. Fact, on December 7, 2014, at approximately 10:45pm, a man [inmate] "died" inside of the J-1 dormitory (cell #124) at Smith State Prison. It is stated that the man/individual committed suicide. The examiner and/or coroner pronounced the man officially dead between 11:30pm and 1am.
We the people believe (with strong conviction) that the Tier II Program (behavior modification program) is the root and cause of the death. During our examination it has been determined that there are numerous "factors" that must be evaluated, and has been evaluated in reaching our conclusion that the tier II program is the "root and cause" of the "death."
Factor #1: The Tier II program is a mind and behavior control program for prisoners, via long term deprivational isolation and segregation, which is a form of psychological, mental and emotional torture/suffering.
Factor #2: The Tier II program is intellectually, mentally and creatively stagnating. People/human-beings [prisoners] are prohibited from receiving any and all books, magazines, newspapers, novels, articles, etc. We are forbidden to read any and all books, magazines, newspapers, novels, articles, and all other forms of reading material [the only exception being a bible or Qur'an; either or, but not both; we may choose one or the other]. This prohibition on reading causes "stagnation" of the mind, which in turn, turns man back into what men were before civilization [barbarians, cavemen, and savages]. To not want people/human beings to read and or have access to divers reading materials is self evident that the goal of this program is not progressive and rehabilitating, but instead, by design it is regressive and debilitating. Reading is fundamental [fundamental to growth, improvement, learning, success and life itself, etc.] No one can put forth a logical explanation for prohibiting reading and forbidding reading. No one can provide evidence that prohibiting reading serves some good cause or rehabilitation. All evidence is contrary to that thesis/theory.
Factor #3: The Tier II program isolates and separates us from our families and loved ones. Most individuals/people placed on the program cannot receive visitation because of the way the program is designed. Most people cannot use the telephone because of how the program operates. For a vast majority of us, the "only way" to contact and or connect with our families or loved ones is the letters. We must write letters; we correspond through the mail back and forth. Mail correspondence is the only form of communication for the majority of us.
Factor #4: The Tier II program is a health hazard. The conditions of confinement are a violation of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment clause) of the Constitution for the United States of America. The food that is served is nutritionally inadequate. Everyone (all of us/all the people) that are on the Tier II program has and/or is losing weight. Some of us have lost a lot of weight, while other have only lost 10-15 pounds (since being on/in the Tier II program). But all of us are losing weight, and have lost weight. Also, the food that is served is often unclean and thus unhealthy. The milks are often spoiled. The "meat" is often raw or old (spoiled). The food in general is old (half of the time). The trays that the food is on are always filthy/nasty, as if they have not been washed. The filthy ways contaminate the food that is placed on them. We have no choice but to eat it or starve. (On phase 1 and 2 of the program we cannot purchase any food items from the commissary/store.) No clean water is passed out or given to us. We are forced to drink out of old, nasty sinks, with rusty spicket/faucet.
Sanitation: The showers are always filthy and disgusting. When I/we enter into the showers, often there is hair (shavings), urine, semen, (sometimes) blood, feces and other bodily filth. Cells have bugs, rats, roaches, ants, spiders, and other unknown species of insects or bugs. In the summer time the flies and gnats are overwhelming. We are only allowed to clean out the cells 1 time a week and sometimes 1 time a month. (But according to GDOC standard operating procedure cells are supposed to be clean at all times.)
Exercise (yard call/outdoor recreation): We are denied and or deprived the opportunity to go to outdoor recreation and exercise (which is a judicial-constitutional guarantee - for prisoners; see Spain v. Procunier, 600 F. 2d 1490 (9th Cir. 1984) and a plethora of other federal cases). Yet and still they deprive us of outside recreation/exercise for months and months at a time (case to case basis). Some of us are deprived for days, and some for months and/or years. The bottom line is, they deprive us of exercise. On phase 1 (of the Tier II program) we are not allowed to buy any hygiene from the commissary. We are prohibited form buying hygiene for months at a time. Yet, they take all our hygiene items. The list on conditions of confinement goes on and on, so for time sake we must proceed.
Factor #5: Many of us are put on the Tier II program without due process of law (procedural due process of law, as set forth by the Supreme Court on Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-655 (1974)). We were put on the Tier program without receiving written notice; we were not given a constitutional hearing; we were not allowed to call witnesses; we were not provided an opportunity to present documentary evidence or any other form of evidence; we were not provided an opportunity to be heard/to speak; we were not provided an "advocate" to assist us, or to put up a defense (of any kind) or to investigate (into the alleged matter); thus, no due process of law.
Factor #6: When we were put on the Tier II program, all of our property was confiscated illegally (confiscated without due process). Property that was taken include: all our CDs, CD players, headphones, earphones, all pictures and/or photos, all books, magazines, novels, articles, newspapers, and all other reading materials (except a bible or Qur’an), lotion, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, grease, toothbrush, hairbrush, nail clippers, comb, dental floss, soap dish, photo album, free world clothes (tshirts, socks), pajamas, wave cups, thermals, etc. All food items purchased from commissary, be it soups, honeybuns, buddy bars, chips, drinks, etc. The property/items they took/confiscated include the above mentioned things, but are not limited to those things/items. Other personal property was taken that is not on this list.
Factor #7: Some people are on the Tier II program for an indefinite period of time which could last many years. Others will remain on the Tier II program within the time line specified in the SOP (ITB09-0003), which is 9 months - 2 years.
Factor #8: Whenever we are taken out of the cells, we are mechanically restrained (handcuffed and/or shackled and/or waist chained) and escorted by two or more guards.
Factor #9: If there is an emergency, such as death in the family (or something of that nature), we are not allowed to attend the funeral or memorial services, because of the Tier II program.
Factor #10: Because of the Tier II program, we can not look at TV or listen to the radio. For some of us it has been over 22 months since we last seen TV, seen a movie, or even seen a commercial, or heard the radio.
Factor #11: Some of us, they will not let out the hole (segregation/isolation) even when we may have earned and received a certificate (and or receipt) stating "successfully completed the Tier II program.
Factor #12: We are deprived of almost any environmental or sensory stimuli and of almost all human contact.
Factor #13: The conditions of confinement are an "atypical and significant hardship" upon us.
Factor #14: The above mentioned deaths, is not the 1st death this year, that was caused by the Tier II program. Earlier this year (on or around February 12, 2014) in J-2 dormitory, cell #240. On 2/12/14, another man dead on the Tier II program. This man was killed by his roommate. Currently his real name is unknown but he was known as Sa-Brown. Sa-Brown was murdered, stabbed to death by his cell mate. We believe and/or it is believed that the Tier II program drove the man crazy/insane, then he murdered Sa-Brown.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) II B09-0003, Section I, Policy (page 1) states: "This program is an offender management process and [supposedly] is not a punishment measure... The Tier II program is a behavior modification program." The truth is - this offender management process/behavior modification program induces death (whether directly or indirectly). And we believe those that are responsible for the deaths are the creators, maintainer(s), operator(s), and manager(s) of the Tier II program; that would be: Brian Owens (GDOC commissioner) and Randy Tillman - the authors/creators; and Stanley Williams (Warden of Smith State Prison) and Eric Smokes (the unit manager of the Tier II program). These individuals (Owens, Tillman, Williams and Smokes) are responsible for the Tier II program and are responsible for the deaths (whether directly or indirectly).
The above mentioned factors are not the only relevant factors to be examined and evaluated in determining our conclusion. The above mentioned factors are included (in the examination and evaluation process), but are not limited to those factors (mentioned above). But for time sake, we will cease to elaborate on the numerous factors.
The Declaration of Independence (in relevant part)
We the people inhabiting the North American continent, freemen, "...hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." having been granted by our creator dominion over all the earth, reserve our right to restore the blessing of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, under necessity, that I/we declare, "that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." and as declared in many states constitutions; "we declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people" ... and "that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
Therein, the greatest rights of the people is the right to abolish 'destructive' government, those administrating as trustee, or those institutions that have become destructive and/or corrupted.
We the people call for an end to the Tier II program!
No doubt even throughout the global community many have heard of the infamous "3 Strikes Law." In California if someone gets 3 felony convictions they face a sentence of LIFE in prison. The law has created quite a bit of controversy and there's been a few token reforms to it that mean about as much as calling San Quentin (SQ) a "Correctional Center" instead of a prison.
SQ's Adjustment Center (AC) is also in the midst of controversy and in the process of implementing reactionary token reforms in much the same way. They also implemented what could be called "The 2 Strikes Law." The SQ oligarchy calls their oppressive tool of retaliation Operational Procedure (OP) 608 Section 825 A.4. Here's how it gets implemented:
On 25 December 2015 while en route to group yard Sergeant Rodrigues waved a piece of paper in a prisoner's face, after asking him if he remembered refusing to show his asshole to officer C. Burrise the other day. Rodrigues tells the prisoner he is going to the AC for receiving two serious Rules Violations Reports (RVRs) within 180 days of each other. A death row prisoner receives an indeterminate SHU term for that.
The two RVRs involve the prisoner's refusal to submit to unclothed body search procedures either prohibited by OP 608 Section 765(2) (local prison rules) and state law, or not applicable to East Block (EB) prisoners. In fact, before either of these RVRs were fabricated the prisoner had filed several staff complaints citing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and alleged "sexual harassment under the guise of security." The prisoner also wrote an informal letter to Specialized Housing Division Facility Captain J. Arnold asking him to abolish his "Perversion Enforcement Team Training Project" (PETT Project). That got the prisoner a punitive cell search response resulting in the confiscation of a loaner TV and theft of art supplies valued at $48. So now you know the motive. But let's see what else this means for ALL death row prisoners thinking Seigle & Yee are to the rescue.
Seigel & Yee are the attorneys currently representing the "AC class" regarding the long-term/indeterminate SHU program conditions experienced by death row prisoners in the AC. One prisoner who corresponded with Seigle & Yee attorney Emily Rose Johns in early 2014 from his recently acquired EB (SHUII) cell reports advising her a wave of prisoners formerly doing indeterminate SHU terms in the AC was flowing into EB and being assigned to the "Sun Deprivation Program."(1) This prisoner came over to EB just ahead of that wave. Johns's response to our dilemma was, "We intentionally kept the scope of the case narrow for many reasons, including out of respect for the experience prisoners in the AC had with the Thompson case."
So now it's about time that someone points out that experience prisoners in the AC had with the Thompson case, including not rescinding the 2 Strikes Law, and that OP 608 Sec. 825 A.4. is still being used as a revolving door into the abyss of indeterminate SHU terms. How leaving that door wide open could be hailed as a reform or "respect for the experience of prisoners in the AC had with the [SQ/Seigel & Yee] case" remains to be seen by a lot of prisoners literally LEFT IN THE DARK for years.
This unfolding experience brings to mind an article from a recent issue of Under Lock & Key.(2) It sets the record straight, explaining in detail the "reforms" hailed in the media regarding indeterminate SHU terms with respect to prisoners subject to the cruel and unusual conditions in the Pelican Bay gulag. Just as the so-called reform left the doors wide open to every other SHU in California's gulag system, merely limiting the time spent doing an indeterminate term at Pelican Bay to 2 years. It's nothing, NOTHING different than SQ's 2 Strikes Law being intentionally contested. Torture cannot be reformed. So the practice of long-term isolation must be ABOLISHED. The construction of more SHUs at SQ must stop because it is torture.
by Informacioni Sekretarijat of Revolutionary People's Party-Front
Reprinted from http://en.rnp-f.org
Although the Marxist-Leninist theory advocates the validity of all methods of struggle for the sake of the revolution, one particular method is often ignored or frowned upon: hunger strikes. Western worker’s movement is proud of the acts of self-sacrifice by its militants as it's the basis of the most important historical victories, yet hunger strike is often seen as a waste of human lives with little or no value for the class struggle.
Such is the general opinion of the hunger strike led and organised by Party-Front of Turkey (DHKP-C) in the period of 2000-2007, also called "Death Fast". Seven years long, Death Fast has claimed lives of 122 revolutionaries and it was considered to [be] a victory. Something that fellow communist parties very often criticise and questioning the effectiveness of such methods of struggle.
However, to entirely understand and properly evaluate the Death Fast, it would be incorrect to limit ourselves to the superficial manifestations of the whole process. Given a perspective of over a decade since its beginning, we are in a good position to see its effects and give more clarity to the historical circumstances in which it took place. Let us consider it from the historical perspective, the perspective of the class contradictions and the state the revolutionary movement in Turkey was in during that period.
The years between 1999 and 2001 were politically very interesting years. There were a couple of reasons for this:
Turkish state was in a state of permanent crisis. Since almost 10 years there were nothing but impotent coalition governments that failed to win the consent of the people. They were forced to resort to violence but this quickly made them unpopular, which, in the long run, undermined their legitimacy.
In February 1999, Kurdish leader Ocalan was captured and delivered to Turkey by CIA. During his trials in 1999 he made a surprisingly submissive defence and offered collaboration to the state. This made a serious negative impact on the Kurdish movement and the other left-wing movements that are tailing the PKK. What had been experienced and felt after the collapse of Soviet Union inside the European communist parties, was now being experienced in Turkey after 10 years. Since 1990, apart from a couple of movements, majority of the radical left were reduced to legal, weak social democratic parties. And the imprisonment of Ocalan meant to deliver the finishing blow:
"Everything was in vain, state was too powerful to beat, armed struggle brought nothing but pain, the only solution was to be a member of EU, so that the country might be democratized." This was the general mood among the wide reformist circles.
In August 1999, a huge earthquake hit the Marmara Region which was the most industrialized, most populated part of Turkey. It killed approximately 50,000 people. Three months later another earthquake with the same severity hit the same region for the second time. The state was incapable of bringing any aid. They just swept the rubble of the buildings off towards the sea with the dead bodies of the people inside. It was soon revealed that the corrupt businessmen who were then backed by the state built the collapsed buildings. People were angry, but the revolutionary alternative was weak, stuck in prisons and some revolutionary neighbourhoods with some armed cells here and there.
In September 1999, the state forces launched a violent attack against Ulucanlar Prison. This turned into a massacre as the military forces killed 10 revolutionary prisoners from 4-5 different organizations and wounded hundreds of prisoners with real bullets. This was done to send a message to the revolutionary movements: "It is your turn."
By the end of 1999, the balance of the class forces was like this:
There were the weak, scattered and ideologically low self-esteemed reformists, begging for EU involvement.
There was the demoralized Kurdish movement, with its leader in prison, openly talking about disarming and disbanding the organization.
There were the ruling classes with their strong military and police forces, but with a withering hegemony over the desperate population who has been looking for an alternative. And after the earthquakes not only the political crisis but also the economic crisis was at their doorstep.
And there were the radical/armed/revolutionary movements:
Some of them, like Maoists, were still obsessed with the old strategy of storming the cities from the countryside, whereas the 70-80 percent of the population had now started to live in metropolitan cities rather than villages. They were also in a state of crisis and getting divided into smaller organizations because of disputes on strategy. Some other organizations were opportunists with a not-so-clear ideology about how to make a revolution: Now you see them heavily criticising the Kurdish movement, and now you see them tailing the PKK. Gradually sinking into legalism, reconciliation, hesitation.
Finally there was the Party-Front (P-C). Although not as physically strong as the Kurdish movement, P-C had a kind of ideological hegemony over the other radical/revolutionary organizations and was constantly pushing them to take a solid attitude against the establishment. This was the case in 1996 Hunger Strikes and in the other prison resistances after it. When the other political parties stepped back or showed some signs of hesitation, militants of P-C encouraged them, criticised them in the prisons. And exposed them in its publications when they stepped back, which would harm their prestige among their own people.
In the year 2000 the crisis was deepening, the ruling classes knew that they had to take the necessary precautions. They were done with the reformists, they thought that they were done with the Kurdish movement and now, if these revolutionary/radical movements could not be bowed down, they would become an alternative for the desperate Kurdish and Turkish masses in case of a crisis. And if you wanted to destroy them, you had to start from their ideological hegemons, the P-C, that still continued to preach revolution, armed struggle and anti-imperialism.
Thus, the state prepared a plan to destroy the revolutionary discipline in the prisons: It decided to transform the existing prison system into a high-security prison system where the political prisoners would be isolated from each other in small cells. In this way, the ruling classes were hoping to destroy the organizational ties among the prisons, turning the political prisoners into isolated individuals.
Then came December 19, 2000. 20 prisons were simultaneously raided for three days with nearly 9000 soldiers. They used more than 20,000 gas bombs, thousands of real bullets against the unarmed prisoners. As a result 28 prisoners were killed, nearly 600 prisoners became permanently disabled in 3 days. The rest of the prisoners were forcedly sent to high-security prison cells.
It was not an issue of physical destruction alone. Compared to 60 million population at that time, there were only approximately 10 thousands of political prisoners in total. But still the prisons were like the headquarters of ideological production. Prisoners were writing [a] majority of the articles and books, composing songs, heavily training the future militants. Imprisoning stopped being a punishment and the militants knew that if they were sent to the prison, near to their comrades, they would undergo an extensive Marxist-Leninist training and continue their revolutionary activity.
On the other hand, the ruling classes at that time were trying to spread the ideology of desperation as opposed to revolution. "Nothing is worth to sacrifice yourselves" they were saying, "especially for socialism and revolution which has already collapsed". It was the end of history. The entire world was giving up. IRA in Ireland, ANC in South Africa, FMLN in El Salvador, Palestinian Liberation Organization, PKK in Turkey. The dream was over.
And one year after the Hunger Strikes began, 9/11 happened in US. Bush has declared the New World Order and clearly put that [b"“you are either with us, or against us".
What would it mean if the prisoners had submissively accepted this menace? Since 1980s it was one of the main tenets of the revolutionaries that if you are left in a position where you don’t have any weapons to fight, you should better die than to surrender.
P-C knew that from past experience: Those who surrendered to the impositions of the 1980 Military Junta were destroyed. They either became reformist, legal organizations or their militants were transformed into liberal, even right-wing intellectuals. Yes, they physically continued to live, but they had had a brain death. They had become the extensions of ruling class ideology.
They were the best propaganda materials for the ruling classes: "Look at these so called leaders of proletariat! They are telling you to fight until the end, but they do not want to make even a smaller sacrifice for their own cause. Is this what you are going to die for? Don’t be stupid young people."
However, when people resisted and died (either in hunger strike or an armed action) it made a huge impact, firstly among its comrades and among the people. It was the same in Kizildere in 1972 when Mahir Çayan and his comrades were massacred. The entire organization had been destroyed with them. But in just 2 years, hundreds of young militants swore to take their revenge. It was the same in 1984 and 1996 hunger strikes.
That was the basic thinking behind the hunger strikes: If you make the necessary sacrifice, you may die but at least it can make an impact that deeply influences the others to carry on.
Death Fast Logic
Two main causes can be emphasised over the others to explain the logic behind the death fasts:
Death or permanent injuries were the risks of the hunger strike. But the same risk is carried by any other revolutionary activity, especially the armed one. On the contrast, the submission to the government and accepting high security prisons would result in what the government really aimed at: to destroy the organisation from within and incite the ideological crisis. The revolutionaries in prison that preached heroic self-sacrifice and struggle would be discredited in the eyes of the people outside of the prison and in the eyes of the guerillas and militants who risk their lives on daily basis.
By design, these prisons were intended to interrupt the communication between the revolutionaries and isolate them from their comrades, from the external world, so that their thinking and behavioural habits would change and they will give up the idea of revolution later on. They are meant to destroy the revolutionary fervour and discipline, something which the organisation could not submit to. In such a case, giving up would mean willingly destroying the tradition of resistance inside the prisons, for the inexperienced, incompetent young militants would sink into depression and despair. What should they do, even when their "leaders", "wise comrades" surrender? The high security prisons would be seen as "hell [on] earth", as the horrible factories that produce tamed, subdued ordinary people out of the fervent, audacious revolutionaries once you go in. You can force the people to do everything, once you instil this "fear of imprisonment" in their minds.
The hunger strikes started [on] 20th of October 1999, after the state openly declared its new prison policy, and went on until 2007, when the state agreed to show some flexibility in its isolation policy.
From this perspective, we can say that hunger strike was a political victory. Because:
Revolutionary movement and its militants managed to protect the tradition of resistance inside the prisons. Now in every single high security prison there is a very strong network of revolutionary prisoners who wake up, do exercise, study, write, and paint – according to one single schedule, although they may not see each other for years. They developed innovative and complex networks of communication inside the prison. In the former prison system, it is said that 60% of the revolutionary prisoners resumed the struggle when they were released, whereas this rate is now 80% according to some sources. The massacre and the new prison system created the opposite results for the ruling classes thanks to this resistance.
Outside, the memories and sacrifices of resistance continued to live and both ideologically and emotionally strengthened the cadres, militants and sympathisers of the revolutionary movement. It was clearly shown that socialism is a cause that is still worth to die for and the revolutionaries in Turkey were ready to do this, while the Islamists and patriots who always talked about "making sacrifices for Allah or for the homeland" became part of the establishment.
Regarding the other radical/revolutionary movements: 15 years later after the prison massacre and 8 years after the end of the hunger strike, now there is a huge ideological gap between the other left and the revolutionary movement, the P-C. Some of these organizations that refused to take part in the resistance splintered into pieces. Some of them went through an ideological crisis and legalised themselves, liquidated their illegal organizations. Many of them started to tail the Kurdish movement and became part of HDP as the Greek reformists did with Syriza in Greece. Revolution stopped being the main purpose, whereas imperialism stopped being their main enemy; they started to look for some excuses when the Kurdish movement initiated an open collaboration with US in Syria. For years they have not carried out a single legal democratic, mass campaign apart from their campaigns for the corrupt elections. Marxism-Leninism was thrashed. Their mass base waned.
When the hunger strike was ended 2007, none of the initial demands of the revolutionaries were accepted. A revised version of the demands, which involved the freedom to see other people for 10 hours a week, was agreed on. Compared to the main aim of the ruling classes to isolate the revolutionaries, to bow them into complete submission, it this was an important achievement too.
As to the question: "did it worth to sacrifice more than a hundred people just for this?" while ignoring the political and ideological victories of the Great Resistance. The purpose was to put an end to the revolutionary ideology in Turkey and they failed in doing this. Turkey did not become the next Guatemala, Palestine or South Africa as they wanted it to be.
Hope survived and although the revolutionary movement came out weakened, it did survive and grew stronger over the years. Now there are pro-Party-Front groups emerging in different fields of the struggle. There is a music band called Grup Yorum that organizes public concerts all around Turkey where they sing their revolutionary songs with hundreds of thousands people. An institution called Engineers and Architects of the People started to organize inside the revolutionary neighbourhoods, trying to put forward an alternative way of living with popular assemblies, public gardens, wind turbines to allow the community to produce their own electricity. There are attempts to organize the shopkeepers within a cooperative so that they can resist against the monopoly of the shopping malls and big supermarkets. In the last couple of years, a series of successful worker resistances were supported by the Revolutionary Worker Movement, which declares itself to be pro-Party-Front. On the other hand, Party-Front itself continued its armed activities, some of which are widely publicized in the international media. It has militia bands in the main revolutionary quarters of Istanbul which fight against gangs, drug dealers and the state forces. These activities must have attracted the attention of the imperialists, so that some analysts started to speak of Party-Front as an "emerging threat" in Turkey. The US State Department issued a warrant of arrest for whom they think to be the top leaders of Party-Front. Imperialism declared that "up to 3 million dollars" will be rewarded to those who assist in capturing these people, whom the US considers to be the "most wanted people in Europe".
We will see what will come up in the following years.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We are reprinting this analysis from http://en.rnp-f.org because of the relevance to conditions and struggles within Amerikan prisons. Our comrades behind bars sometimes find themselves in a position where a hunger strike is one of only a few potential avenues of protest against conditions that are brutal and often deadly. This article demonstrates the potential successes that can be gained from long-term hunger strikes.
However, it MUST be noted that these strikes in Turkey were in a very different political context than the one faced by prisoners in the United $tates. In Turkey in 1999 there were relatively large networks of revolutionary organizing in the prisons and a solid (and armed) network of support outside. Without those conditions the sacrfices made would not have had the same impact. In our current conditions in prisons in the United $tates we are not anywhere close to this level of organization. Hunger strikes in U.$. prisons are not focused on protecting such advanced political activity and organization behind bars, rather they are used to gain reprieve from conditions of torture and create opportunities for some organizing. Because of these differences we can not simply apply this analysis directly to our situation.
Our knowledge of the RNP-F is limited. We applaud what little we have seen of their work and look forward to learning more about their political line and practice.
I was recently made aware of the settlement agreement in the California solitary confinement case. I agree with Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) in the article in ULK 46"Torture Continues: CDCR Settlement Screws Prisoners". The agreement that was reached is not worth a grain of salt. It still permits the use of solitary confinement within California. The fact that the agreement seems to eliminate indefinite terms of solitary confinement is not a real accomplishment at all. It is merely camouflage. This "concession" hides the fact that no real victory has been made. A prisoner can still spend up to 5 years at a time in solitary confinement within California prisons. We must continue to fight back.
Earlier this year three prisoners within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) filed a class action lawsuit challenging the use of solitary confinement within IDOC. In mid-2013 approximately 2,500 prisoners were being held in solitary confinement within IDOC. These numbers may seem small compared to the situation in California but Illinois has a significantly smaller prison population.
This lawsuit creates another chance for prisoners to combat the oppressive conditions of solitary confinement. I am asking that prisoners across the United $tates send any information that they can to Uptown Peoples Law Center, 4413 N. Sherridan, Chicago, IL 60640. Address your letters to Allan Mills. He is the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the Illinois lawsuit. If this lawsuit is successful it could be the beginning of the end of solitary confinement everywhere.
Let us practice unity and show that state lines do not alienate us from each other. There are several prisoners who were directly involved in the struggle against solitary confinement in California and elsewhere, who have access to resources and support groups that could be useful in the Illinois struggle. Unite and fight against imperialist oppression. Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
MIM(Prisons) adds: The fight against long-term isolation in Illinois is definitely part of the broader fight against control units everywhere. Even if it's hard to win in the imperialist courts, this doesn't mean we stop fighting, especially when we have the legal resources to take on the fight.
But we still need to be clear that even if we could shut down all of the solitary confinement cells in the United $tates, this would still be only a small part of the criminal injustice system. We need to approach this battle as a part of the larger struggle to take down the imperialists more broadly so that they don't just come up with a different way or a different population to torture and oppress.