Miércoles 9 de mayo del 2012, Youngstown, OH. El pasado lunes 7 de mayo, después de largas negociaciones con el administrador carcelero David Bobby, llegó a su fin la huelga de hambre de los prisioneros recluidos en la Penitenciaría Estatal de Ohio. Dos de los hombres se mantuvieron en huelga hasta el día Martes debido a su insatisfacción con los términos del acuerdo. Luego de una reunión adicional con el director carcelero, los dos últimos huelguistas acordaron también terminar la protesta. El director Bobby reportó que "para la hora del almuerzo del día de hoy, todos estaban comiendo." Esto fue confirmado por dos fuentes independientes de prisioneros.
En este momento los detalles del acuerdo son poco claros, pero algunas fuentes dicen que los huelguistas están satisfechos y creen haber alcanzado resultados positivos. Una fuente describió las demandas y la respuesta del director como "razonables." Sin entrar en detalles, las peticiones principales hacían referencia al costo de productos en la tienda del penal, al monto de remuneración laboral a los presos, a los costos de telefonía, al tiempo de estadía y a las duras penalidades por violaciones insignificantes a las reglas. El director afirmó que había discutido "muchos asuntos" en la reunión del día lunes con representantes de los huelguistas, "muchas cosas más allá de las demandas principales," pero que no revelaría ningún detalle.
Los huelguistas están descansando y recuperándose, pero han enviado por correo información detallada a quienes desde afuera les han apoyado, como es el caso de Redbird Prison Abolition (Abolición de la Prisión el Pájaro Rojo) - información que será revelada al público tan pronto como sea posible. El director admitió que uno de los huelguistas fue transferido a segregación administrativa por violaciones a las reglas institucionales no relacionadas con la huelga, pero agregó que no habrá retalación o castigo alguno a quienes participaron en la huelga de hambre. Una de las fuentes de prisioneros está de acuerdo con esa declaración.
La huelga de hambre comenzó el 30 de abril y fue programada para coincidir con protestas del Día de Mayo en las afueras de la prisión.
MIM(Prisiones) añade: Esta huelga de hambre demandó numerosas reformas a las condiciones de vida en la prisión. Al igual que otras huelgas de hambre en otros estados como California, la administración de la prisión hizo promesas para conseguir que los detenidos terminasen la huelga. Por lo menos un prisionero continuó la huelga de hambre el 4 de junio luego de que el director carcelero fallase en implementar sus promesas.(1)
Las huelgas de hambre se están convirtiendo en una táctica popular cada vez más frecuente en la lucha contra el sistema de injusticia criminal. Los detenidos son forzados a asumir una posición donde hay muy poco que ellos puedan hacer para luchar por sus derechos. El sistema legal se rehusa a responder, los formularios de quejas son ignorados o destruidos, y en las calles hay más apoyo por la política de "dureza contra el crimen," que por los derechos de los prisioneros. Es así como los prisioneros sienten que su única elección es el colocar sus vidas en riesgo al rehusarse a comer.
MIM(Prisiones) apoya los comienzos de la organización y lucha contra el sistema de injusticia criminal. Urgimos a los prisioneros activistas a tomar con seriedad la necesidad de estudio y organización antes de tomar acción. No todos serán comunistas, pero todos podemos avanzar nuestra teoría y práctica a través del estudio y la discusión. Necesitamos teoría organizacional para hacer mejor uso de la unidad y de la acción. Aquellos que están listos para unirse contra el sistema de injusticia deben estudiar la Declaración de principios del frente unido de paz. Discutan con nosotros si usted está en desacuerdo con alguno de los principios, pero si está de acuerdo, únanse a los prisioneros a lo largo del país para construir nuestra unidad y nuestra lucha.
I received the questions on reformatting the petitions. In my opinion, yes, this should be applied to MIM (Prisons)'s already-written grievance petition. I say this because in my response to the grievance petition I submitted to the NC Director of Division of Prisons, it was mentioned that I had no specific complaint on why I filed the petition - in which I resubmitted the petition and attached my complaint. This helped change the grievance system at Foothills, where I was previously housed at.
Also I noted a problem that would be difficult to resolve. In the response to my petition, which I have sent to MIM(Prisons), they listed all the grievances I had filed while on that unit at Foothills. The grievances which were thrown away or didn't get turned in to unit managers weren't listed. So it was difficult to prove I ever turned it in without reviewing the cameras. It was still difficult to prove that the papers I turned in were truly grievances.
This problem we had at Foothills changed how grievances were processed. Now it has to be signed by the receiving officer in front of you and your copy is returned right there. Also this "new" petition only regards appeals and not actual grievance forms - which is the main problem. We wouldn't have to appeal if the regular grievance process was fixed.
In prison one comes face to face with the harshest reality. A prisoner is at the mercy of his captors. Once confined the breaking process begins with the strip search — the intrusive search and viewing of one's body parts by complete strangers - over and over again. To refuse brings one response: assault and abuse. Physical assault at the hands of the prison guards (pigs) becomes a regular ritual.
The pigs will feed you a bag lunch consisting of bologna and cheese, three times a day, seven days a week, or a loaf and raw cabbage. The "Nutra Loaf" supposedly has all the nourishment a body needs baked into a loaf of bread.
The pigs will delay or destroy incoming and outgoing mail. There are men and women who go months without hearing from family and friends, as the pigs want you to believe no one loves you. Visits and phone privileges are denied as a form of disciplinary measure, for years at a time.
Then prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, in control units given various names: SHU, SMU, etc. In these units prisoners are locked down in the cells 23 hours a day. This is even done to pretrial detainees not yet convicted of crimes who in fact may be innocent. In the summer, heat is pushed through the vents, and in winter ice cold air is pushed in. Men are kept in ambulatory restraints (handcuffed, with waist chain and black-box, and shackles) or "four pointed" (handcuffed and shackled to a bed or restraint chair) for days at a time.
There are "cell extractions" where prison staff (pigs) suit-up in riot gear in five-man teams (allegedly a man for each body extremity). These five men enter a cell of one man, and beat him or her senseless, breaking arms, teeth, head, legs, ribs, etc. These are carefully crafted beatings with the words "stop resisting" yelled over and over for the camera operator who stands outside the cell, pointing the camera at the backs of the pigs in riot gear. The prisoners are then either "four pointed" or placed in ambulatory restraints. "Non-lethal" munitions are used, which are the chemical agents. They gas you until you choke; many have died this way. They throw concussion grenades into the small confines of the cell, which is a grenade that contains black balls. Or they shoot rubber balls into the cell at a range of five feet and less. Many have been maimed. These attacks are justified by reports concocted and written by staff to cover their ass. In fact, United States Penitentiary Lewisburg (USP Lewisburg), where the newly formulated Special Management Unit is instituted, has more cell extractions and men placed in restraints than any facility in the federal Bureau of Prisons, including ADX which supposedly confines the most dangerous prisoners in the country.
These abuses in American prisons are real and it's all designed to de-humanize the prisoners and destroy their sense of self-worth, self-respect, dignity and morals.
Often I ask young pigs "is there a difference between a man and an inmate?" The majority say yes, but when I ask the difference they cannot explain it. Others have come back later and said no, but their initial response is a "learned one." For example, new staff (pigs) are taught at training facilities (at Glencoe for federal officers, local places for state officials) to not eat prisoners' food, and to not drink prisoners' water. They are indoctrinated psychologically to view prisoners as sub-human, a separate species, in the same manner as the U.S. Constitution counted Black people as three-fifths human. In the year 2011, USP Lewisburg had on display in the institution toy figurines: a gorilla complete with orange pants, a broken handcuff attached to one wrist, and a toy white man in the costume of superman. This is how they view themselves and us.
But I will not delve too deeply into the racist mentality inside America's prisons; that is a well-known and accepted fact. There are many tortures perpetuated in America's prisons, from those stated above to sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, to brutality and killings. These acts are well known and rarely is anything done.
Instead, the judicial system turns the proverbial blind eye. There are over a thousand cited juridical cases of prisoner lawsuits dismissed as frivolous, or on some contrived technicality, e.g. failure to exhaust administrative remedies/the institutional grievance process, even when that "grievance process" affords no capacity for redress. See Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 USC 1997; 28 USC 1915(g), Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S. Ct. 2378 (2006), Booth v Churner, 532 U.S. 731 (2001).
In federal civil rights cases, the U.S. Attorney (and Department of Justice) for the district where the prison is located "represents" the prison staff at the tax payers' expense. In state 42 U.S.C. §1983 civil rights cases it is the state attorney general who represents prison staff, again at tax payer expense. Prisoners are rarely given an attorney to prosecute their civil actions.
Emboldened by success at having prisoner lawsuits dismissed, prison staff have become more abusive and more blatant. This abuse and torture has had the desired effect, and many prisoners stop reporting staff abuse and just accept it. Thus happens the moral decay of the prison population. Men and women who were social pariahs, when free, for economic reasons, become scavengers, who lack morals, integrity and principles. Human beings are confined and allow the conditions of that confinement to make them into predatory beasts. Whether you are incarcerated for murder, robbery, drug dealing, extortion, or burglary, these crimes have a rational basis, often poverty-bred crime.
In America's prisons, what morals and integrity are left in the prisoner are slowly eroded away. Those who never used alcohol become drunks on prison-made wine and white lightening; those who never used drugs become heroin addicts with self-made needles; psychotropic medication-babies; gunners-flashing and masturbating in front of prison staff; men raping weaker men.
Prisoners are not doing time, the time is doing them. Mentally, prisoners are being dumbed down. It used to be when the youth entered prison they received a book from elder prisoners and a knife from their comrades for protection from the other prisoners and the pigs. Now the youth sit in front of the idiot box (TV) tuned in to BET and MTV.
The majority of prisoners pled guilty and got more time than they deserved, yet few ever even look inside the law library; they cannot read or write, yet do not go to school. They simply play the yard all day, until they find themselves in the SHU for a stabbing over being drunk, fighting over a "punk" or some minor offense perceived as disrespect.
Prisoners have lost the identity of who their enemy is and is not. Do other prisoners lock you in at night, deny you visits and phone calls, throw your mail in the garbage, tell you to strip naked, squat, cough and spread 'em?
All these groups, formed for this fight against "oppression" or claiming to be pushing an agenda of growth and development, and representing truth, justice, etc., are only oppressing themselves. On every yard in the country more Bloods stab Bloods, Crips stab Crips, GD stab GD, Vice Lords stab Vice Lords, LK stab LK, Norteños stab Norteños, Southside stab Southside, and the pigs lock us all down at the end of the night. Where is the comradeship amongst yourselves in particular, and prisoners in general? Where are the George Jacksons of today, Geronimo Pratts, Huey P. Newtons, Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebrons of today? How can you be a man or a "G" and sit confined every day without ever trying to liberate yourself? Is that gangsta, to sit idle chasing dope for the rest of your years in the womb of oppression?
I commend and salute the brothers and soldiers of Georgia State Prisons that in 2010 had a six-facility work stoppage to protest deplorable prison conditions. Every year, there should be a whole month where prisons across America simply refuse work; working for under a dollar for your captors is a crime against yourself. Every time a prisoner is beaten, collectively, without discussion or plan, everyone should simply refuse to work.
In all prisons, and the federal system in particular, there needs to be a moratorium on prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. This needs to go on with each "gang" and I say "gang" because you do not act like freedom fighters, revolutionaries or movements.
"No people to whom liberty is given can hold it as firmly, and wear it as grandly as those who wrench their liberty from the iron hand of the tyrant." - Frederick Douglas
MIM(Prisons) responds: In June of 2010 we had someone write to us about the degrading conditions in Georgia prisons, while lamenting how sorry and submissive the prisoners in Georgia were. Six months later thousands of prisoners in at least 6 prisons launched a coordinated strike just as the comrade above describes. Eighteen months after that, a hunger strike is approaching the one month mark after expanding to multiple GA prisons as well. So, while everything about the breaking process this comrade describes above is true, its hold is not permanent on the minds of the oppressed.
It is already traditional that the month of August be used to honor those who came before us, and SAMAEL has answered this comrade's call for a countrywide fast and work stoppage on September 9, though only for 24 hours. We encourage comrades to use the month of August to do education work around the history of the prison movement. Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) if you need additional study materials. We hope this comrade will follow through on his own suggestions and organize where he is at for a day of solidarity with others in the United Front for Peace in Prisons on September 9.
I come in the universal salute of peace. I was recently made aware of your movement and newsletter ULK May/June 2012 Number 26. And as I read it I started to see plenty similarities between our causes. I am a native of Aztlán and therefore the ways of valuing self are embedded in my way of life.
Here, like in any other plantation in PA, exist the ordinary issues of: abuse of authority by staff, unconstitutional living conditions, a definitely inadequate grievance system and last but not least plenty of incompetency in the form of correctional officers and other staff who are not fit mentally, intellectually and/or physically to perform their job who seek revenge on us.
June 30, 2012 in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) an incident took place involving a certified mentally ill prisoner who was moved by force to the "reinforced cell/dry cell/ suicide watch cell." After he was placed in that cell the lieutenant sprayed him with pepper spray, even after the prisoner had already stopped struggling. The whole block and every prisoner felt the effects of the spray because they didn't bother to stop the air ventilation circulatory system which let the pepper spray enter every cell. Soon after the prisoners with asthma started to have complications with breathing and vomiting. But instead of providing health care for us, the guards left the block because they couldn't bear the effects of the pepper spray. This happened at SCI-Cresson June 30, 2012 8pm to 1:30am.
I'd like to personally urge any prisoner to educate him/her self in the law of the land and apply it to their everyday life behind bars. Knowledge is the only cure to the fast growing and deadly disease of "ignorance." Being anti-establishment and/or anti-government doesn't mean that you are an outlaw, a villain or a ruthless piece of trash as they see us. No! It means that you would stand for your principles in accordance with how you want to live your life, and apply those principles to yourself and to how you'd like your legacy to be written.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is correct that even events that seem relatively small and common like this pepper spraying incident need to be fought. Prisoners need to learn the legal system and try to use it to our advantage. At the same time, we have to know that we won't win this battle through the legal system. It is a part of the broader criminal injustice system which, as a tool of social control for imperialism, will not give up power without a fight. Only by overthrowing imperialism will we be able to establish a system that truly serves the interests of the people. But while we build for that struggle we can fight the day to day battles to gain some small rights and freedoms for our comrades behind bars, putting them in a better position to organize and build the movement.
Ever since Colorado prisons were mentioned in your previous issue of ULK concerning the grievance petitions, Colorado Department of Corrections has cut off our hobby work providers in favor of hobby items (colored pencils, paper, crafts, etc.) that are supposed to be sold on monthly canteen. They post these phantom hobby items on our monthly canteen lists, but won't actually sell any of it to us. The administrative regulations were created as smoke and mirrors to retaliate against us for grieving and petitioning (attempting to have a voice / be heard) for their inequities and injustices. So the hobby items simply don't exist in real life. It all looks good on paper when the auditors are here, but there's no one to put these pigs in check, hold them accountable. We have already grieved this issue in mass, what more can we do?
MIM(Prisons) responds: Often we face repression when we speak up against oppressive conditions and for basic rights. There are a few things we must do when this happens. First, publicize what's going on. Under Lock & Key is a good place to expose the prison's tactics. Second, use this opportunity to educate others. Spread the work in your prison about what's happening and organize others around the oppression. Third, continue the fight. Grievances aren't working: try the grievance petition to protect first and fifth amendments in Colorado. It's exactly situations like this one that led to the grievance campaign that MIM(Prisons) is helping to spread across the country. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state.
[MIM(Prisons) has received several letters from prisoners about the water situation at Connally Unit in Texas. The water is apparently contaminated and is unsafe to drink. As a result, the prison has shut off the water to the cells, creating dangerous conditions for prisoners who have no access to alternative water sources.]
11 June 2012 - The enclosed mandatory notice about our water [which informs prisoners that water must be boiled prior to consumption] was not sent to prisoners at the John B. Connally unit until after about two weeks of having our water supply turned off and on from time to time. Going without water for days is not only abuse but a human rights violation. Prisoners were consuming this hazardous water without any knowledge of it being contaminated! Now they advise us to boil our water before we consume. These people are either stupid or are literally trying to kills us, because we have no appliances to use to boil water.
Another prisoner wrote: Now that we have this problem with the water they won't give us dayroom time. Just imagine being in this cell 24 hours a day with no sink water, no flushing water, and, the most important one, no drinking water. Personally I don't think that's right at all. We need some justice, but what do you think we should do to get this to improve? For one thing, we need unity in this unit!
Evidence is never impartially investigated or presented at disciplinary hearings. Contrary to claims of disciplinary teams, captives are railroaded and cheated, subject to arbitrary one-sided, kangaroo court, despite the evidence (camera and/or eyewitness) in captive's favor.
Air Conditioning is used as a torture device in disciplinary confinement. Cells are kept freezing cold, so cold that frost can be seen coming from the AC vent. Captives are allowed no sweat shirts or long johns from their personal property, only thin, torn and inadequate state issued blues, boxer shorts and socks in these freezing cold cells. Cruel and unusual, inhumane. Lights on, whistle blow wake up calls 4:30 a.m. every morning including weekends screaming "wake up, get dressed, bunks made." Captives are not allowed under their sheets or blankets till 5:30 p.m., forced to remain exposed to the cold in these locked cells. How cold is it? Between 50-60 degrees. Prolonged hours of cold causing numbness of bones.
Confinement meals are always cold due to being intentionally left to sit on the food cart in the hallway, way before feeding time.
Strip (property restriction, steel) captives are placed on steel or strip by overseers for 72 hours or more at a time in these cold cells. Stripped of all property except boxer shorts and a steel bunk, based on fabricated reasons of zealous overseers. If captives are caught under their covers, or wrapping themselves in their sheet worn under their blues, or overseers claim that captives are too loud, standing on the door or talking on the door, overseers will lie that captives have been disruptive and disorderly. They would write on a captive's contact file that he is being disruptive even while he's not just so he can be placed on steel or gassed (sprayed with chemical agents, i.e. pepper spray). Picture prisoners being gassed, placed on steel, and receiving more disciplinary reports. Captives are being gassed or placed on steel for asking for 303s (grievance forms), request forms, sick call forms and/or ink pens, tooth brushes, tooth paste, toilet paper and other necessities permitted by law but are denied.
Captives arriving in confinement any time after the monthly issue date of tooth brushes or the biweekly issue date of tooth paste or the weekly issue of toilet paper are deprived until next issue date. No toilet paper? Use your hands or your sheets.
Captives cannot file complaints due to being intimidated with retaliation or due to being denied ink pens and 303 forms. The grievance box is empty, not because captives are okay but because of the above mentioned reasons. Without ink pens, captives can not only not file complaints, but cannot write or contact family or outside sources, cannot fill out sick call or canteen forms. Overseers and the whole administration adhere to the rules only when and if convenient.
MIM(Prisons) adds: It is descriptions of conditions like this one that led us to initiate the campaign to shut down prison control units. Part of our work on this campaign is documenting both the conditions of torture in these isolation units and systematically documenting where and how many of them exist. Write to us for a survey of control units in your state if you can provide an accurate count for your prison or others.
En este numero de Under Lock & Key estamos presentando reportajes de camaradas en varios estados quienes están dirigiendo esfuerzos por una campaña para tener las quejas de prisioneros eschucadas y respondidas por oficiales y empleados estatales. Esta campaña ha ido creciendo en popularidad, con mínimo esfuerzo por MIM(Prisons), pero aun muchos no han oído de ella y hay mucho espacio para expandir. Para todos que siguen inspirados por los ricientes esfuerzos de prisioneros en California y Georgia, pero sienten que sus condiciones no están tan avanzadas, les sugerimos que laboren con la campaña de quejas encabezada por USW para empezar ha organizar gente en tu área.
Las acciones básicas necesarias para avanzar la campaña de quejas son: 1. Presentar quejas sober las problemas que enfrentas donde estas. Hacer que gente a tu alrededor presenten quejas. Apelar tus quejas hasta el nivel más alto. 2. Si tus quejas no son contestadas, organiza la gente a tu alrededor para firmar y enviar las peticiones de quejas creadas por USW, distribuido por MIM(Prisons). Mande cartas siguiendo to queja periódicamente para averiguar la condición de tu petición. Manda respuestas a la petición de quejas a MIM(Prisons). 3. Si tu estado todavía no esta cubierto por la petición de quejas, pero tus quejas siguen sin contestación, traduce la petición para que trabaje para tu estado. Esto requiere buscar citaciones y pólizas, y figuran a quién sería mejor para mandarle la petición.
Aunque conseguir respuestas a las quejas es esencialmente un ejercicio en reformismo, vemos promesa en estos esfuerzos porque luchan para darle voz a unos de los mas oprimidos. Esto es una lucha democrática en una parte de los Estados Unidos donde la menor cantidad de democracia existe. Americanos te dirán que eso es la chiste, "haces el crimen, haz el tiempo." Pero nosotros no estamos de acuerdo. No pensamos que la sistema prisionero de los E.U. tiene algo que ver con justicia o aplicar leyes sociales imparciales a sus ciudadanos. La simple realidad de que la mitad de todos prisioneros estadounidenses son Nuevo Afrikanos, mientras que sólo son el 12% de la población de E. U., rebate la teoría de un solo golpe. En general, las naciones oprimidas han visto un aumento de democracia en los Estados Unidos, pero aun un creciente segmento de estas naciones, estan teniendo sus derechos negados legalmente. Esos que han cometido crímenes reales en contra del pueblo y deben pasar tiempo en prisión bajo estándares proletarios, creemos que un programa de reformación criminal requiere responsabilidad de ambos lados.
Algunos han empujado por campañas para darle derechos de votación a prisioneros como un método de aumentar los derechos democráticos de prisioneros. Pero nosotros vemos elecciones imperialistas como algo que tiene muy poco que ver o nada con las condiciones de naciones oprimidos. En contraste, vemos la campaña de quejas como una campana democrática que nosotros podemos apoyar porque verdaderamente puede tener éxito en dandole mas voz a prisioneros en sus condiciones de día a dia.
La campaña de quejas a cual nos refirimos fue originalmente despertada por unos camaradas de California en enero del 2010. Desde entonces se ha extendido a Aroznoa, Colorado, Missouri, Carolina del Norte, Oklahoma y Tejas. Las peticiones son puestos al dia regularmente basada en reacciones que recibimos de aquellos usandole. Los tres estados que son particularmente activos recientmente son Tejas, Carolina del Norte y Colorado.
La campaña en Colorado se lanzo justo antes de que recientes reformas fueron promulgados en la sistema de Colorado como resultado de resistencia pasiva por trabajadores de prisión siendo usada en industria a escala-grande. Similarmente, la petición de Missouri es especifica a sus condiciones de censura alrededor de una nueva póliza prohibiendo música con clasificación consultiva de los padres.
En este numero, hay dos reportajes saliendo de Tejas demostrando los niveles variantes de organización dentro un estado. Un camarada en la unidad Connally reporta de una demostración masiva. Mientras otro camarada ha diligentemente presentado las quejas máximas que ha podido por casi dos años, el ha probado que este camino es inútil por si solo. ¿Pero cual es la lección aquí? ¿Valen la pena nuestros esfuerzos? Nosotros decimos que no hay derechos, solo luchas de poder. Nosotros ya sabemos que la sistema de injusticia va ha abusar de la gente, esta hecho para controlar ciertas poblaciones. Para ganar una lucha de poder, el otro lado tiene que sentir un tipo de presión. Algunas veces una queja a un nivel mas alto es suficiente para aplicar presión. Pero cuando el nivel mas alto esta involucrado en la represión, va requerir mucho mas que la queja de una sola persona. Mira el ejemplo del encerramiento de Escocia. Un camarada reporto que quejas estaban siendo ignorados, como ha sido común en Escocia antes del encerramiento. Pero hemos oido por un ULK corresponsal de ULK, Wolf que una combinación de quejas de prisioneros y partidarios de afuera resultaron en mejoramiento de condiciones, aunque pequeños. Esto es paralelo a las peticiones para acabar con el zoológico de modulario 2 en la prisión estatal de High Desert, que conoció algunos éxitos este año pasado.
La lección no es la del consiguiendo un poco de tiempo fuera de las celdas, o una gorra, es una gran victoria. La lección es como prisioneros y sur partidarios de afuera trabajaron juntos y ejercieron su influencia sobre el DOC como un grupo. Al mismo tiempo, un camarada de Carolina del Norte reporto como resistir a solas puede ser riesgoso.
Nosotros pensamos que la campaña de quejas es un buen paso firme para camaradas que dicen que unidad y conciencia estan faltando en su área. Como sabemos por los reportes en ULK, las condiciones en la mayoría de las prisiones en todo este pais son muy similares. Entonces la base para organizaciones masivas debe existir aunque requiere algún trabajo duro para empezar. Circular la petición de quejas no requiere mucha gente para empezar, y todos pueden identificarse con ella.
Un líder USW involucrado en la campaña original en California salió ha cuestionar la eficacia de la táctica de firmar peticiones mandadolas a oficiales estatales y observadores oficiales. El/Ella propuso moverse hacia demandas para hacerlos tomar atención, particularmente después de que un miembro del personal del CDCR insinuo que no oirán ni, una queja sin demanda. Como Jon Q Convict indica, todavía hay otras conexiones que hacer entre la campaña de quejas y el acceso a los medios de comunicación en estados como California para crear mas responsabilidad para los captores. La mejor táctica va depender en tu situación, pero la petición es un buen lugar en donde empezar y poner las aguas a prueba.
Este trabajo no es solo un camino para juntar aliados localmente, pero esta conectando luchas a través del país. Un camarada de Massachusetts fue inspirado por los esfuerzos de un camarada de Florida quien estaba teniendo problemas movilizando a otros y escribió ha decirle, "A mi camarada de Florida, te quiero decir que te mantengas fuerte." El/ella siguió ha citar Mao, "En tiempos de dificultad no podemos perder la vista de nuestros éxitos, debemos ver el brillante futuro y debemos animar nuestro valentía."
Por supuesto, opresión siempre existirá bajo imperialismo, porque es una sistema definido para la opresión de algunos naciones a otras. Y no podemos esperar usar reformas para componer una sistema que tortura gente y luego ignora remedios administrativos para cubrirse los traseros. (pagina B) Pero nosotros tenemos que empezar en algún lugar. Y la campaña de quejas abarca mucho de las batallitas que nosotros hemos peleado no mas para poder leer lo que queremos, hablar con quienes queremos y para tener una voz en esta sociedad.
I am writing to your publication to report some troubling statistics concerning Black men incarcerated, the parole system, and the latest Supreme Court cases regarding parole denials.
Black men incarcerated
There are approximately 27,494 Black males in the New York state prison system (50.8%) - New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) - and, that's over half (51%) of the prisoners in custody as of January 1, 2011, according to DOCCS Under Custody Report: Profile of Inmate Population. These figures are extremely drastic, appalling and warrant investigation by the United Nations, because Blacks are being targeted to fill up NYS prisons in order for certain whites to maintain employment in the rural areas up north in NY.
Black females incarcerated
In NY prisons DOCCS is warehousing 965 Black females (43.7% of the female prison population). Of the total number of prisoners (54,109) under custody in NY (including DOCCS, jails and other facilities), 2,206 (3.9%) were Black female, according to the Under Custody Report (2011). Compare these statistics to the white prisoners women who are only 1.5% of the prison population.
Blacks and Parole
Dating back almost 50 years, the Board of Parole (BOP) commissioners have been denying parole to Blacks more than any other ethnic group in NYS. Despite our (Black male and female) efforts to rehabilitate ourselves via obtaining education (GEDs, mandated programming by DOCCS and college), the BOP continuously denies Blacks parole at an alarming rate compared to other nationalities. Also, for years the BOP has utilized the nature of the crime as the sole reason for denying Blacks parole - although the nature of the crime (NOC) will not change - it is whatever someone was locked up for. This means that those convicted of some crimes have no chance at parole no matter what they do in prison. This amounts to the BOP admitting that prisons are not about rehabilitation since the one thing a prisoner can not change is the NOC.
In a recent ruling the court wrote: "...they [BOP] cannot base their decision exclusively on the seriousness of the crime and must explain their denials in detail..."(1)
On March 31st, 2011 several significant amendments to the Executive Law (BOP) were signed into law - including Executive Law (Exec. Law) 259-c(4); however, BOPs "lawlessness, arbitrariness and their refusal to follow the mandates of the legislature..." warrants an independent investigation by the United Nations (UN) for further scrutiny about denying parole to eligible inmates who have earned their freedom by doing the right thing (i.e. completing their minimum, taking responsibility for their crime(s) and obtaining their mandated programming).(2) If you are reading this article and you have been denied parole after March 31st, 2011, or you know someone in NYS-DOCCS who has been denied parole unfairly, then please be aware of the following cases recently appealed by inmates that - as a result of their litigation - were released:
Velasquez v. NYS Board of Parole (Feb 6, 2012)
Thwaites v. NYS Board of Parole, 934 NYS 2d 797 [see also Pro Se, Vol 22 No 1] and;
Winchell v. Evans, 27 Misc. 3d 1232(A) (Sup.CT.Sullivan Co. June 9, 2010), [reported in Pro Se, Vol.20, No.4].
All the above cases (Article 78s) are winning cases which resulted in prisoners - who chose to litigate their matter by challenging the BOP - being released from DOCCS custody.
Out of twenty years of my incarceration, I have witnessed the BOP deny parole to many men and women based upon their nature of the crime - despite their efforts to rehabilitate themselves. Some of these people have earned Master degrees, Bachelors and the minimum of an Associate degree, only to be denied by the BOP commissioners who judge the prisoners for a period of 15-30 minutes, if that, during their parole hearing.
The nature of the crime doesn't, will not and cannot change so why are we being denied parole solely based on the very element which will not ever be different?
In my humble opinion - after serving 20 years in NY DOCCS - the only way we prisoners will receive justice is by taking our case to the UN for review. How do we attempt to go about this? Reflect back on the Egyptian people and how they were successful in spreading the message of support for their cause via internet. This tactic will have to involve our families who are already walking around with cellular phones all day so this should not be a difficult project. I strongly believe that we can change the BOP unfair practices against us Blacks and Latinos. If we care enough to work together, putting your petty differences aside to bring our relatives home. Our family members have served their time, changed their lives by establishing entirely new ways of thinking and by obtaining higher education. It's time now for our people to step up and support our cause for challenging the BOP unfair parole denials against Blacks and Latinos.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As we reported in our review of The New Jim Crow, these statistics on national oppression in the criminal injustice system in New York mirror what happens across the United $tates. This author makes a good point about parole hearings and reasons for denial. If parole is going to be based on the very crime for which someone is locked up, there is no point to having a hearing. If prisons in Amerika were truly serving a rehabilitating purpose, the work prisoners do educating and changing themselves should be the primary basis for granting parole. It is good to hear that some court cases are being won on this front.
We do agree that this is a battle worth fighting to help get our comrades onto the streets sooner, but we don't anticipate the imperialist-dominated United Nations to offer any support for the oppressed people of the world. We may win small reforms through the courts and with mass protests, but the only way to truly put an end to the criminal injustice system is by dismantling the imperialist system it serves.
I have received a response from the Warden - Ms. Susan Jones - who was only temporary (we've had three wardens in the last 6 months here at Fremont Correctional Facility) and it was a two paragraph "toe-the-CDOC-company-line" statement of how CDOC has a solid policy for grievances and all are addressed all the time. Basically a complete lie, as it did not raise serious awareness for our issues here at FCF.
However, there have been at least 30 inmates who filed the Colorado Petition that I know of for a fact, and only a few of us actually got a response, the identical B$ response that CDOC is doing the legally right thing, BLAH BLAH, BLAH, and that these matters have been addressed. Well, they literally have done nothing, and now with another new warden, all petitions were also reported to the U.S. Attorney General's Office as per the petition design, so at least somebody outside Colorado's corrupt system got the same message. I have not received a response from them, nor has anyone here that I know of.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is building off the grievance campaign that is spreading across the country. The petition for Colorado was designed for exactly the situation described here: prison administration ignoring prisoner's grievances while pretending they are following policy.
This campaign is part of the United Struggle from Within organizing work to gain some basic protections for prisoner's legal rights. We know that under the existing criminal injustice system we will never have broad sweeping change. But as long as we live in a bourgeois democracy, and not a fascist state, we can win battles holding employees of the state to their own rules. And the rights won through grievances create space for prisoners to organize and build the anti-imperialist movement. Write to us for a copy of the petition in your state, or to create one if it doesn't exist.