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
[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 Only the inadequate out-of-date law books and library books.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
[Censorship] [McCormick Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
expand

Fighting Prison Officials' Belief that Prisoner's Have no Rights

Comrades, I received the copies of letters that were sent to Director Gary Boyd and McCormick Correctional Institution Warden L. Cartledge concerning censoring of mail from MIM Distributors. I sent Warden Cartledge a detailed request form concerning that issue also.

I think I'll wait until I receive mail from CRC and then file a grievance claiming discrimination and harassment against this mailroom. From my understanding two prisoners here have filed lawsuits against the mailroom already.

South Carolina Department of Corections (SCDC) officials are quick to tell you that they don't care about lawsuits. All SCDC officials have qualified immunity. If a lawsuit is successful the state has to pay a monetary settlement.

What makes these matters worse is higher institutional officials tell staff that as prisoners, we don't have any rights. And that the harder they make it on us the less likely we'll be to return to prison.

To them our being sent to prison was not punishment. The punishment is to come from them once we get to prison. Imbeciles masquerading as psychologists. To become a warden in SCDC all you've got to do is take a prison management class, which is provided by SCDC.

Due to a staffing shortage they're hiring new recruits who're in their 50s and 60s. They're the worst pigs to have as guards, they think they have everything about life figured out and they're really doing society a favor by working here.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We need our comrades behind bars to follow this prisoner's example and fight censorship of mail. We have to follow the legal procedures even when we know the officials are not worried about lawsuits if we want to win these battles. If you learn about censorship of mail from MIM(Prisons), let us know and work with us to fight back.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

Throw Your Fist in the Air!

Let us return to the acquiescent essence
Where our people were taught life's lessons
Now let us fast forward, from Gabriel Prosser
And Nat Turner to when Marcus Garvey stood on the
Corners, calling for UNIA, National Consciousness,
And for our people to be returned to our own land
Elijah said we must have a place to be ourselves.
While Malik moved our peoples' learning towards social innerstanding
Within the context of this capitalist white man's nation
Their words would help give shape for our struggle today
Give us, us free like Cinque!
This thought was given motion by Malik Shabazz who preached
Arm yourselves with AKs for each
His ideology was studied, because his ideology he would teach
To comrade Huey, and the rest of the Panthers that roamed the streets
Protecting the Black man from the white man's feet
Power to the people, I recall their feats
Socialism and political education were the things that
They would teach
As K9 dogs jumped out of their seats
To attack our people who were trying to meet
And protest the injustice of capitalism calling
For communism throughout the streets!
I see it so clear...
Yet, to this day it's still not fair
Some gave up, some murdered, some overwhelmed and some
Placed here (the new Jim Crow), prisons
And the Amerikkkans just don't care
But I still hear that Panther roaring in my ear
And there is nothing I won't do, to get this message
Once again through to you
I will fight without fear
Until this message again becomes completely clear
Power to the motherfuckin people!
Throw your fist in the air!

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

Fertilizer


I wake up early in the morning
I look around and ask why
Then I take a few minutes
2 decide if I wanna live or die...

Could da other side be worse
Could it be more drastic
I'm already buried alive
In this concrete casket...

My mind declaring war
My spirit yearning for peace
I got pushed out of the belly
Into the ass of the beast...

Now I'm invisible, like passed gas
Known only by my scent
Digested and turned 2 waste
My captors call me a piece of shit...

They wanna flush me down the toilet
And hope none would be the wiser
'Cause they know if I ever hit the turf
I'm a turn 2 fertilizer...

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 24]
expand

For the Struggle

Revolution is a must
Without it, we will surely die
It's time for the oppressed to rise
Locked down there's no trust
Next man will get ya head bust
Maoist movement will get us liberty
We can't achieve liberty
If we don't have unity
I'll fight til the death of me
Til the last breath that's left in me
Forever screaming "Revolution!"
This is the new world solution
Fuck Uncle Sam and his pollution
Stand with your brothers in struggle
Stand on top of the rubble
Remember Maoist movements
For the struggle

chain
[Censorship] [Legal] [California] [ULK Issue 25]
expand

Sending a Donation is Contraband

I wish to apprise you of the recent censored mail to and from your area. As you can probably recall, I promised to send you $20 off my books in exchange for reading material back in August. Well that month has long been left in our background.

I have attempted to get it processed from the start, yet finally it was blocked for the so-called reason that MIM is banned. I find that hard to believe because when you sent magazines and they were returned, the Sergeant who spoke to me checked into it and specifically told me MIM was not on the banned list. Still, in the documentation they refer to a memo from 2006.

Furthermore, the Trust Officer told me that anything over $50 has to be approved by Squad in advance. My donation was way below the $50 mark to go to Squad, yet before responding back to my request, my Counselor forwarded it to Squad. So yes, the Trust Office was just deflecting my question.

In the recent events of hunger strikes I think these pigs are getting petty and they are bringin up their repression tactics by stripping out all property from those who participated. Sending you money from my account seems to be out of the question for the time being.

The policies regarding donations is actually simple. As it states in Title 15 Section 3240.1 Donations, "Inmates may with permission of the institution head make voluntary donations from their trust account funds for any approved reason or cause. Permission shall be denied if any of the following exist: (a) There is evidence of coercion. (b) The inmate's trust account balance is less than the amount of the proposed donation. (c) The inmate is mentally incompetent. (d) The proposed amount of the donation is less than one dollar. (e) The reason or cause advocated could jeopardize facility security or the safety of persons."

None of the above pertain to the case at hand. It is an illegal stretch of the policy for this donation to be denied.


MIM(Prisons) Legal Coordinator adds: Recently, there has been much discussion and some legal challenges to the law stating that corporations are people with the rights to free speech in the form of unlimited spending on political causes. Incidents like this beg the question, are prisoners people? Do they have the rights promised to people in U.$. law? The stories printed in ULK tend to support the answer as "no."

Regarding the alleged ban on MIM, on July 12, 2011, Appeals Examiner K. J. Allen, an employee who investigates Director's Level Appeals, stated in an appeal decision to a prisoner,

“While Maoist International [sic] Movement publications were previously disallowed based upon the direction of CDCR administration staff, the publications are currently not listed on the Centralized List of Disapproved Publications. Thus, a blanket denial on all such publications is inappropriate, and the institution must process the appellant's mail in accordance with applicable departmental rules/regulations.

“As with all publications, the appellant's mailing must be reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with all departmental regulations. Unless this specific Maoist International Movement publication is considered contraband, as noted within the CCR 3006, the publication shall be issued to the appellant and/or allowed to be ordered and received.” (When citing this Director's Level Appeal Decision, it may be helpful to use IAB Case No. 1020001.)

The Director's level is the top of the top within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). A decision made at the Director's level would generally apply to all facilities and all prisoners in the CDCR system. When the author of this article cited the above Director's Level Appeal Decision in defense of h donation to MIM(Prisons), s/he was told to omit it from h grievance because it "belongs to another inmate." How a Director's Level Decision simply re-explaining and re-correcting a CDCR practice can "belong" to only one prisoner is beyond reason.

In ULK 24 we put a call out for donations to keep Under Lock & Key functioning at its current capacity. When a prisoner is unable to send a donation to MIM(Prisons), the prison administrators are limiting our ability to publish and send out literature, thereby illegally limiting our (and the donating prisoner's) First Amendment right to free speech. When they cite a defunct memorandum to limit donations, it is even more egregious.

At least one persyn in the CDCR's Director's office made at least one correct decision, at least once. We encourage our comrades to continue grieving and re-grieving the defunct 2006 ban of MIM Distributors up to the top, and take it to court if necessary. To help in this process, we've put together a history of the ban with quotations for specific facilities. We are sending out this Censorship Guide Supplement for California to help prisoners hold administrators to their word. Write in to get it.

chain
[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 25]
expand

Something to Say

I just wanna address the distress of the oppressed
All flesh who depend on the rest cuz no food is left
Camouflage-dressed in green and black
Warring in Iraq praying that you live to come back
Distraught from Jihad attacks
Can't sleep and not moving
Sounds of gunfire in ya head even when they not shooting
The truth is as thin as foil
Severed the head of Osama to sign a deal and get oil
Propaganda is spoil, I can see the ballistics
How you think gunz got into the hands of the children
I get it
Thinking with the teaching they feed us, defeated
Cuz we don't see hood politics come from politics
Say we all free but free as they want us to be
State prison a new fashion of slavery
Make Obama just a racial distraction
Say he fighting for all
Stop it that awkward like a dog wearing draws
Pause, turn off the TV and open a book
Look and know the truth, be down for the cause
Flow strong like a bear paw, sharp like a bear claw
Quick to sever the head of the united law
And brawl for revolution
Speak the truth that they not producing
Until I achieve the conclusion
The Maoist movement

chain
[Control Units] [Political Repression] [Abuse] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia]
expand

Fighting Segregation, Inspired by ULK

I have just recently been introduced to Under Lock & Key. I regret that I've been ignorant to the existence of such an inspiring movement. I commend you all in exposing the harsh reality that is the Department of Corruption nationwide.

Here in West Virginia the nature of incarceration is mostly mental and emotional torture. Segregation time is handed out in 30- and 60-day increments for infractions of the pettiest kind: borrowing someone else's CD can get you 30 days. Giving a man a soup because he's hungry lands you in SHU for 30 days. Multiple class 2 writeups get you 60 as well as any class 1. Tobacco products get you 60 days. Then god forbid you get caught with a weapon... that's 2 years minimum on the "Quality of Life Program."

The SHU is sensory deprivation to the fullest. There is no access to reading books from the library, and of course no radio or television. If you get no newspapers or magazines in the mail, you have nothing. Get caught passing reading material and it's another 30 days. It's a very stressful game to hold on to your sanity.

Though the atmosphere is not very violent, it is taxing mentally. Behind every face is a potential informant. There are few that can truly be trusted and even fewer who can be depended on. We have no unity. Some try to open the eyes of others to see the true enemy, but often times to no avail. Administration members play us against each other at every turn. They oppress religious freedoms and the mere freedom of thought. Voicing opinions in grievances gets you put in the SHU.

I anxiously await the next issue of Under Lock & Key for advice, direction, and inspiration.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The torture of prison control units, like the SHU described by this prisoner, is widespread in Amerika. It is something we have been fighting against for years, many comrades decades, but with little success in actually stopping the torture. Isolation units are used as a tool of social control for a population that the imperialists have no productive use for. In this system, prisoncrats work hard to set prisoners against one another by rewarding snitching as another method of control. Division and fear are powerful tools for the criminal injustice system. Under Lock & Key is an important tool for prisoners to fight back, organize, and unify. Share this publication with others, form discussion groups to talk about the articles, and get in touch with us to share your stories and struggles. There are many more people like the one above who have plenty of experience with repression, but have had little access to comrades and forums for analyzing and struggling to end it. We are working to change that.

chain
[Censorship] [Education] [South Carolina]
expand

SCDC Prisoners in the Dark

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 because 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 this so-called law library to request certain law books and other legal material but I'm being denied because the law library is not up to date and lacks current books we need. Not only that, 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 (SMU), where prisoners are housed 23 hours a day behind a locked door, SCDC mandates all above material must come from its institutional library, where 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 material and legal material.

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. These policies can be downloaded on the SCDC website.

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 because 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!! And the thing about it is the mailroom staff have 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. 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 to 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) adds: We don't like to echo the common accusation that U.$. prisons are modern day slavery because it is misleading about who is being put in prison and why. Yet, we can't deny that the repression of basic education in South Carolina seems to be very similar to the slave days. This is above and beyond what most U.$. prisoners face in 2011, and is straight up doublespeak for an organization that claims in their mission statement that "we will provide rehabilitation and self-improvement opportunities for inmates."

chain