The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Got a keyboard? Help type articles, letters and study group discussions from prisoners. help out
[Organizing] [Foothills Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
expand

Food Strike in North Carolina

I would like to notify you all that the comrades and myself (about 10 or 15 of us) are going on an indefinite food strike until our demands are met. It will begin on December 1 and the demands are based on conditions at the institution that are unequal to others, inhumane and macabre. Some of the major demands are:

  1. Being able to recreate (on exercise hour) without full restraints
  2. Removal of the metal covering from all segregation windows
  3. Placement of desk, chair and hygiene shelf back in the rooms
  4. Adequate food and full portions on food trays
  5. End of censorship, bans and/or dis-approvals of reading/study material which do not violate prison rules

Most of our demand are for segregated prisoners who suffer greatly in the facility. We have also organized a call-in and letter writing campaign on December 1 and after in response to these conditions we're fighting. Our parents, friends and comrades will be participating. We are learning from our Pelican Bay and Georgia comrades, even though our strike is on a smaller scale. We still need to learn from the experiences of our comrades to eliminate mistakes.

The information for calling in and letter writing is below.


Superintendent Lance Corponing
Assistant Superintendent Larry Williams
Phone: 828-438-5585
Address: Foothills CI - 3720
5150 Western Ave.
Morganton, NC 28655

chain
[Organizing] [Lea County Detention Center] [New Mexico]
expand

New Mexico Pre-Trial Facility Food Strike Against Cruel Conditions

I am writing regarding our circumstances here in Lea County Detention Facility. As a group we have decided to go on a food strike to protest inhuman conditions of isolation. This facility and administration automatically has placed the majority of individuals in some type of Ad-Seg. We are currently locked down 23 hours a day with one hour out to get rec, shower, visit and telephone use. During our one hour out we have to do all that needs to be taken care of, which is impossible. This is cruel and unusual punishment.

We have found ourselves getting treated as if we have already been found guilty for our charges and the majority of us have not even been to court. Their excuse is that a couple years ago some prisoners caused some trouble and now we are being punished for something that we had absolutely no personal participation in. None of those prisoners are in this facility any longer.

At the moment we are on a group food strike. We are being treated like animals. I personally have been to prison and in their Ad-Seg lockdown system we are treated better than here. We would like to be heard, and ask that this facility be investigated. There have been suicidal deaths in this facility due to our situation.

On November 21 I was put in full restraints. I was placed in ankle locks and belly chains with my hands cuffed to my belly chains. And I was forced to take a shower in full restraints! I was also in full restraints during my 1 hour out.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have been getting letters from prisoners across the country who were inspired by the food strike in California prisons and want to use this tactic to bring attention and change to conditions in their own state's prisons. We support our comrades organizing and fighting for better conditions. And we point to an article in Under Lock & Key 23 which provided an analysis of the California food strike and focused on the importance of ensuring comrades are fully prepared for these actions before they begin. How a campaign is led will determine whether it is inspiring or discouraging to the larger prison population.

As we noted in that article: "One of the major lessons of this hunger strike is the need for a unifying organizational structure through which action can be coordinated and goals and information can be formulated and shared. The United Front for Peace in Prisons provides this opportunity by bringing together LOs and individuals who understand the importance of unity against the common enemy."

chain
[National Oppression] [Gang Validation] [California State Prison, San Quentin] [California] [ULK Issue 24]
expand

Validation Leads to Longer Sentences for Oppressed Nations

They like to label us the "worst of the worst" and "California's most dangerous" but in fact most of us are doing time for drugs or property crimes, and through CDCR's blatant disrespect for the constitution and their failure to supply adequate appeals process, we are now forced to do all of our prison sentence. I'm fully aware that in San Quentin alone most validated SHU prisoners are first timers, have never been past the reception phase of intake, and are either here for drug related cases, vehicle theft, or burglary. These are not hardened convicts these are young males age 19-25 of all races, but the majority are Latino and Black.

Along with the mistakes that have brought them to this place, many here have made the mistake of freedom of expression by tattooing themselves with cultural pride. Those tattoos combined with their nationality get these prisoners validated as gang members when they first walk through the prison doors. Validated prisoners are not entitled to any good time credits, which means they serve longer prison terms than those not validated (more often white prisoners). So those of us validated straight from the reception center, in here for non-violent crimes (drugs or property theft), are not entitled to any good time credits. I was sentenced to 8 years, I must do all 8 years, but a convicted sex offender who is sentenced to the same amount of time is out in less than 6 years.

Due to an administration policy, most if not all of us who have been validated have never received a rule violation report for the alleged gang participation for which we are validated. What happens when the people who are in a position to assist in fixing the system only loosen the nuts more, so the pipes will break, because their family are plumbers!

This new realignment (in the name of reducing the prison populations) is hilarious. Now prisoners will stay in county jail, which means CDCR will have more room to house SHU prisoners, currently in San Quentin, Carson section. Right now we're forced to stay in reception centers for up to 2.5 years before being transferred to a SHU.

I can 100% agree with the demands of Pelican Bay, and I really wish that those in San Quentin would look to them as an example to follow. The prisoners here in San Quentin participated in the hunger strike for one meal on the very first day of the strike in July.

All validated prisoners are part of the same struggle. Stop opposing each other because of separate beliefs, and start to truly unite as humans in the same fight for true justice!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a great addition to our recent review of The New Jim Crow, which discusses how the criminal injustice system targets oppressed nations for social control. However, we do not have statistics to support the author's scapegoating of sex offenders. We have seen sex offenders do their full time and then be sent to a "hospital" where they will spend the rest of their lives locked up without being charged with a new crime!

chain
[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Scotland Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
expand

Fight Oppression at Scotland Correctional Institution

This is a cry out for help from the brothers in the struggle at the confinement of Scotland Correctional Institution located in Laurinburg, NC under the ruler and dictatorship of Karen Stanback, Asst. Superintendent of Security. It grieves my heart to know and witness an African American woman, apply rules of oppression to camp populated by 80% minority races. Actions of oppression ordered by K. Stanback are:

  1. To ban all Under Lock & Key publications
  2. No state or local newspapers
  3. No shirt jackets worn in the dinner hall, school, or any religious programs (no matter what the temp is)
  4. No showering from 6pm until 9pm (with a population of 1500 prisoners)
  5. No jobs for close custody prisoners once they lose their assigned job. (All jobs are then referred to medium custody prisoners)
  6. Confining over 145 prisoners in one unit called Green D,E,F or "Gangland". This is where all the gangs are housed at, mixed together, and not giving any opportunity for regular programs or employment like the regular population.
  7. Only 1 hour of recreation. Without proper exercise, fresh air, and movement an individual develops a mentality like a caged in animal.

    She and the admins here have created a very hostile environment and seem to enjoy it.

    Brothers and sisters please! This is our cry for relief the hammer of oppression being applied to us at Scotland CI under the watch of K. Stanback. Please contact the appropriate resources to aid us in our struggle.


    MIM(Prisons) responds: We support this comrade's call for prisoners to stand up against oppression. This prisoner and others are leading the struggle at Scotland and they provide an example to prisoners across the the criminal injustice system who are facing similar conditions.

chain
[Censorship] [North Carolina]
expand

Proof!: The State Lies in Order to Censor

NC MLDP

On October 17 I received Under Lock & Key 22 even though I was not supposed to. It was a mistake made by an officer who was passing out mail. Attached to the publication was a notice to prisoners of statewide disapproval of the publication; this particular issue has been banned statewide. I was supposed to sign this notice to verify I've been informed but luckily the officer was distracted by his duty of distributing mail and instead of having me sign the notice attached to ULK 22, he just slid them both under my door.

When I realized what the notice was for, I grew kind of excited. The kind of excitement one has when you feel you just got over on someone in power. This made me even more interested in the ULK publication. First, because I'm thinking I'm the only one statewide who has one. And second I know this publication has material and information the state doesn't want me to know; why else would they ban it statewide?

Before I began to read the ULK, I read over the notice to find out exactly why this particular publication was banned. The notice said: "The publication/material violates Division of Prisons Policy at Section D.O 109 and is disapproved for the reason listed 'violence, disorder, insurrection or terrorist/gang activities against individuals, groups, organizations, the government or any of its institutions.'" With that my excitement grew even more, thinking I obtained material of such nature. The notice went on to say that this "violence, disorder, insurrection..." was on page 4 of the publication.

I immediately thumbed to page 4 and found the headline "Time for Peaceful Revolution" written boldly atop the article. I began to read. I was confused. I retrieved the Notice to Inmate of Statewide Disapproved Publication once again to make sure I read it correctly, and I had. I was so confused that I had to go over the article once more because maybe I misread!

I was confused by the reasons given for banning this material. It was banned because it was supposedly promoting violence, disorder and so forth against individuals, groups, organizations, the government or any of its institutions. But really, one hundred percent honest, the article was speaking of a peaceful revolution. In none of its lines through the article did it speak of violence against anyone. It spoke of unity amongst the many LOs and a little history of Kingism.

It was then that I really and truly realized the power we have amongst us if only we could just unite as one and struggle together. I realized it's not us as individuals who they are afraid of, it's we as a people who they fear. Why else would they ban an article speaking of a peaceful revolution and that urges others to come together as one? And also, it's not necessarily violence that they avoid, it's a revolution, period! It's not how we go about the revolution that frightens them, whether its violently or peacefully, it's simply the thought of a revolution, an end to their domination over us, that unsettles them.

And they will do what they have to do in order to maintain control, whether it's murder, imprison or, in our case, censor mail. If the officer hadn't mistakenly given me the ULK 22 I would have actually thought that maybe MIM(Prisons) was influencing violence. But now the truth is out and it has me in question about the other publications that were banned. Were they really banned because of the reason these prison administrators told you they were? I don't think so.

Our rights are being trashed! We must, I repeat, we must, stand up for our rights. Fight censorship!

chain
[Idealism/Religion] [Religious Repression] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 48]
expand

South Carolina Offers Prisoners Religion or Starvation

I am a prisoner in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), where the prisoners are forced to march around in filthy, tattered uniforms, and most are packed three to a cell, with one sleeping on the floor. But in addition to a huge list of miserable conditions here, the state has a sickening carrot-and-stick method of converting prisoners to Christianity.

Our cafeteria basically serves dog food, and even that is withheld from prisoners as punishment for minor rule infractions. The prison only serves real nutritious food to prisoners who have attended a certain number of religious indoctrination programs. This amounts to many prisoners not being able to eat well unless they convert to Christianity and jump through all kinds of Jesus-themed hoops.

Prisoners are also being recruited, in the guise of "education," into an indoctrination and training program that eventually ships them to other prisons to proselytize and spread Christian propaganda. As a requirement, new recruits must sign a paper that declares their willingness to be transferred to any prison SCDC desires. Often prisoners sign up for this program to temporarily escape the violent conditions at other prisons, only to be returned to the same brutal dungeons after completing the program. In such institutions, prisoners are commonly beaten, stabbed, and raped. Who wouldn't sign up for the Christian fascist training program to escape that?

It all amounts to the prisoners being coerced into religious social control programs. And many of us must choose between going to church or going hungry; between being indoctrinated or being beaten, stabbed, or raped.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is typical of the Amerikkkan criminal injustice system to force feed their approved form of "education" on prisoners while denying them real education through censorship or just refusal to offer programs. Religion has a long history of being used as a tool of social control by obscuring the material conditions that determine our reality on Earth.

Many people ask us about religion because they have heard that communism is anti-religion. In some ways communism is the best way for religious people to uphold their beliefs and put an end to the evils of murder, rape, hunger and other miseries of humyns. Some argue that Jesus Christ must have been a communist because he gave to the poor.

An issue with religions, however, is that they uniformly reject scientific thinking. Religions require people to accept on faith that there is a higher power controlling life for humyns. So the first problem with religions is that they are fostering idealist thinking. Even those who do not believe in organized religion often look for answers in ideas, rather than a scientific study of the material world.

In addition, historically many religions have acted as apologists for the oppressor class in power, telling the oppressed people not to worry about their terrible conditions in this life because a better afterlife awaits them if they just suffer in silence. There are notable exceptions to this, including the liberation theologists of Latin America, some Muslim activists, and others.

Overall we see the best of the religious movements and groups as allies in the fight against imperialism. But we still caution people that religion, like television, is an opiate for the mind. Even worse, religion provides a philosophical justification for never searching for real solutions to the problems and contradictions we face. Belief in spirituality or religion is not a dividing line question to work with MIM(Prisons), and we accept into USW all who take up the anti-imperialist struggle. We will be honest in our push for everyone to study materialist thinking and why we oppose idealism.


Related Articles:
chain
[United Front] [Texas]
expand

Revolutionary Mandingo Warriors Join United Front for Peace

To an amazing extent, my organization, Mandingo Warriors, would like to put our strength with your strength and unite as one, under one common cause - the United Front for Peace in Prisons. It is our honor to be listed as an affiliate of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.

The Mandingo Warriors are a non-disruptive organization in Texas prisons which was formed to protect each other from harm and defend our community from oppressors. We strive to improve spiritually, morally, mentally, politically and economically. Our concepts and principles are no different than the United Front organization: peace, unity, growth, internationalism and independence. We study and uphold the five principles, our cause is not about self-destruction and mis-educating the people. Instead our purpose is to educate the people and uplift our people from fallen humanity. We will incorporate no different principles into our cause than the United Front's five divine principles. We will help promote peace and unity between factions where we are at on the basis of opposing oppression of all prisoners and oppressed people in general.

chain
[Organizing] [Control Units]
expand

Connecting Struggles Across the Country

I read the article in Under Lock & Key 22 FL Grievances Forbid Helping Others and I would like to thank the comrade in Florida for having the dedication and strength to fight against these pigs.

To my Florida comrade, I want to tell you to stay strong. Like Mao said "In times of difficulty we must not lose sight of our achievements, must see the bright future and pluck up our courage." I'm asking all of our comrades to remain constant to fully override this oppression in all prison systems. I'm in similar conditions in the Mass DOC, I'm in a control unit serving three years with one hour free to roam around a steel cage I call a dog kennel. Not only do we suffer from isolation, prisoners here are beaten by the staff and fed cold meals. Not only do the Correctional Officers in this facility oppress us directly but they also provoke situations between other comrades to enjoy the show and watch us destroy each other.

The staff continue to steal magazines and not allow grievances to fix these problems. I for sure will continue to speak my mind regardless of the repercussions or reprisals . Until next time stay strong united and positive.


MIM(Prisons) adds: One of the important contributions of the Under Lock & Key publication is connecting prisoners across the U.$. to share information and organization. As with the recent hunger strike in California, prisoners all across the country are inspired to learn about activism and unity. Do your part to share ULK and send donations to help with the cost of printing and mailing.

chain
[Censorship] [Legal] [Political Repression] [Control Units] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 24]
expand

SCDC's Illegal Ban and Inadequate Law Libraries

Peace, comrades in the struggle! First and foremost, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) is a modern day slave plantation. Being political is a crime within itself; once I became aware of the truth then the system considered me a threat. I'm a Black man in solitary confinement due to my passion to stay alive, and I strive to use this time to analyze my legal problems and how to continue to educate myself.

I write to this so-called law library to request certain law books and other legal material, but I am denied because the law library is not up to date and lacks current books we need. So I reached out to receive The Georgetown Law Journal 2010 Edition from Georgetown Law. I was denied permission to purchase that journal out of my own funds. Then I wrote to Prison Legal News, South Chicago ABC Zine Distro, Justice Watch, Turning the Tide, the Maoist Prison Cell, the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights. All these organizations sent me material but I was denied access to have the material and it was sent back because of the so-called policies OP 22.12 and PS 10.08.

The SCDC has designated a ban on all magazines, newspapers, books, photos, etc. that come from outside sources, whether it be from publishing companies or organizations. In Special Management Unit, where prisoners are housed 23 hours a day behind a locked door, SCDC mandates all above material must come from its institutional library, whereupon no newspapers or magazines are allowed, period. Only the inadequate out-of-date law books and library books. Because of this ban many people suffer from lack of information and educational and legal materials.

And the thing about it is the mailroom staff has a list of names of publications that aren't allowed to send mail to this institution. She has no education in security besides searching mail for contraband.

I have limited information I can use to fight oppression as a whole. I have offered my problems at the hands of my oppressor to hopefully serve as a springboard for further war against oppression. Times do get hectic, and recently I was placed in a full restraint chair off the words of another prisoner's statement! I am aware of some cases that deal with censorship, so I'm doing my research the best way possible even though the law books inside the library don't have cases past 2001. Of course I'm aware of the Prison Litigation Reform Act; that's why I am going through the grievance procedures now. I will continue fight this system and hopefully my voice will be heard outside of these walls.

SCDC has no educational programs so it's more about self-education, but as you see I'm limited on that also. They have even started feeding prisoners in here two meals on Saturday and Sunday due to so-called budged cuts, but Monday through Friday we receive three meals per day. This is a very hard battle but my will is to survive physically and mentally until there's no fighting left. I hope you can continue to send me updated info because I can receive up to five pages of material printed out like the Censorship Pack you recently sent. Thanks for your support.


MIM(Prisons) Legal Coordinator adds: Since 2010, MIM Distributors and South Carolina prisoners have been challenging the policy of "no periodicals allowed on lock-up unit." From our study of case law, we don't believe that this policy could withstand the scrutiny of the higher courts, but to date all prisoncrats who have responded to our letters have upheld the censorship and/or evaded our direct questioning.

SCDC is not the only prison administration that is more interested in political repression than rehabilitation. Because national oppression is the name of the game, all prisoncrats try to push the boundaries of legality, and fortunately bourgeois democracy sometimes get in their way. Regarding this particular type of repression, we have received similar reports from prisoners held in North Carolina, California, Connecticut, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.

It is a set-up for backwardness, which is the obvious goal: no programming, no reading materials, and you are barely able to prepare a lawsuit. They can't actually expect prisoners to reform.

As a movement, we are held back by this censorship in South Carolina. But rather than it defeating us, we should be inspired to push even harder to spread ULK, the United Struggle from Within, and the United Front for Peace in Prisons where we are able. Comrades affected by censorship should file grievances and go to court if necessary, so that conditions where they are don't mirror South Carolina's. Those with legal knowledge should write in to get involved in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic.

chain
[Censorship] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 25]
expand

Fighting Censorship Through Litigation Works

Back in 2008, I was denied a lot of reading material and did not file grievances about any of the instances. During that time, I was stubbornly relying on just physical action to challenge these oppressors. That certainly was not conducive to making my situation better.

Fortunately, I've grown wiser over the years. I now litigate against these tyrants and use the grievance system regularly. Since I began utilizing the pen against them, I am yet to have any material from MIM(Prisons) rejected. Should that change in the future, I will file grievances and subsequent appeals. I will also keep MIM(Prisons) abreast of the results and be willing to take action in the court if there is strong probability of success.

This prison recently rejected some issues of a Turning the Tide newsletter. I will send you a copy of the grievance I filed, the appeals, and responses.

I know they would like to prohibit us from receiving and reading literature that teaches us correct ideology and ways to thwart their oppressive establishment. I will no longer allow them to get away with trying to control my mind by putting unreasonable limits on what I can read.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We don't want to mislead our readers to think that filing grievances will guarantee your rights are respected, as other articles in ULK will quickly disprove. But as materialists we should be struggling to learn and utilize the most effective means towards progress. And this correspondent's change from physically challenging COs to utilizing the administrative process is a very common transition for readers of Under Lock & Key in this learning process. Progress is not just about using the legal system, it's about organizing for our own needs and building independent institutions of the oppressed.

While MIM(Prisons) continues to discourage violence against COs, and we see this play out in prisoners' behavior, the prison administrators regularly censor ULK as a "threat to security." It is clear that they are not concerned about the physical safety of prisoners or staff, but rather the security of their jobs, hazard pay and white power.

chain