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
[Control Units] [Pennsylvania]
expand

What is the Special Management Unit?

In early May 2009 over 125 prisoners of all nationalities came together for a food strike in United $tate$ penitentiary, Lewisburg, PA to protest their confinement and conditions in the newly opened Special Management Unit (SMU). Hundreds of letters were sent out to media outlets across the country and SMU prisoner family members were called who then contacted national news services. The administration conducted talks with two prisoners who were the alleged "ringleaders" of the food strike on ways to remedy the situation to try and stop the strike. Their story was never heard about on TV or in the newspaper, nor locally in the Pennsylvania paper The Daily Item.

Part of the food strike was to protest for more commissary items since the administration had refused to allow soap or shampoo to be sold on the store list. Their reasoning was that the one tiny bar of soap the correctional officers gave out once a week was sufficient. Also there were no food items, not even coffee being sold to prisoners, nor were they allowed radios in their cells or personal shoes, and a big part of the strike was to protest double bunking in the newly created Super-Max. The media didn't think this was a story since many prisoners gave in to finally eat after the administration threatened to force feed after people passed out from malnutrition. A couple prisoners were even fed intravenously by force after being cell extracted.

Family members of SMU prisoners have since created websites and chat rooms to discuss and expose the harsh procedures and conditions their loved ones are facing. The Lewisburg Prison Project has sent concerned citizens into the SMU to talk with prisoners and administrators, some of whom have recently been allowed to tour the facility and speak to Warden Bledsoe who claims the 2 plus year forced Super-Max program for the "worst of the worst" is working. The Lewisburg Prison Project has been pushing for single-cell status for prisoners like in the ADX, Florence CO to ease tensions created when two people live in such a confined area. Sometimes days will go by and cellies no longer talk to each other, they begin to plot and fight, even murder occurs in cells. Recently one prisoner strangled his cellie due to the tension within their cell.

Since the creation of the SMU multiple prisoners have suffered lung damage and gotten emphysema due to the ongoing construction to renovate the housing units after asbestos was found. USP Lewisburg was not ready to house hundreds of prisoners in 23 hour lockdown. They built recreation cages no bigger than the cells forcing 6 to 8 people to inhabit the area for exercise. Only recently have the exercise cage rules been changed to only allow 2 people at a time after the cages were called "Thunder Domes" with assaults happening daily. There is only one block, Z, with cells having their own showers, forcing most prisoners to only receive 3 showers a week. And sometimes the SMU will be put on lockdown, sack lunches are the meals for weeks, leaving prisoners hungry and bird bathing in their sinks to remain clean.

There are 4 phases prisoners must go through to successfully make it out of the SMU taking many months in each Phase to complete. In each phase certain assignments are given by workbooks from the psychology department to complete for advancement, and in turn the prisoner must not get into any kind of trouble or face the possibility of restarting the program. Like the new Federal CMU's (Communication Management Units), the SMUs are special prisons designed to isolate prisoners from the outside world. All aspects of a prisoner's life is monitored and up until phase 3 to go to recreation or medical the correctional officers must cuff the prisoners through the tray slot in the door and escort them to their destinations.

All communication is monitored, no contact visits are given until one has fully completed phase 4 and returned to general population at another USP. Up until then, in phase 1 and 2 visits are conducted via video monitor, and through glass for phase 3 and 4. Few phone calls are allowed, and photos can't be taken to send to loved ones until reaching phase 3. In such a confined space, even with cellies, prisoners become incoherent, their minds break down mentally, thoughts become confused, speech is difficult and you'll stutter and not be able to complete sentences, many go paranoid and irrational and plot against each other and fights break out due to panic and nerves breaking.

How do I know this? Because I was there! I lived through it, and experienced it first hand. Luckily I successfully completed the SMU after being their over 2 years and I'm currently in a Florida prison. Upon arrival here it literally took weeks to calm down from my anxiety being overcome with noises, crowds, people moving around and near me, and not being confined in such small spaces for hours and days on end. Just think of the prisoners who are released from Super-Max's to the streets!

The SMU's, CMU's, ADX, and other facilities like Pelican Bay for the "worst of the worst" are terrible places which destroy prisoners lives, relationships, family ties, as well as our minds. Slavery and torture exists in the United $tate$ within the prison industrial complex, especially in such programs as I luckily made it through. Please, let's shut them down!


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisoners on food strike in California Security Housing Units will be lucky to receive the type of program that exists in Pennsylvania SMUs as a result of their current struggle. This just goes to show that reforms in these long-term isolation prisons are nothing but reforming torture. We echo the Pelican Bay prisoners' call for an abolition of torture. And ultimately, we must replace the current injustice system with one that serves the people and works to rehabilitate those who have truly committed crimes against the people.

chain
[Prison Labor] [International Connections] [Education] [Federal Correctional Institution Victorville I] [US Penitentiary Victorville] [Federal]
expand

U.S. Prisoners Build Imperialism thru Military Industries

A friend gave me a little study of yours, Level 1 Study Group in which a participant states that prisoners may be called upon to build bombs and war machines as Amerika's military industry expands. You respond that this is unlikely since "the imperialists will not share their military secrets" and "wouldn't want prisoners building bombs and war machines for security reasons." Well, you are wrong!

Try and take a tour of the Unicor in USP as well as FCI#1 in Victorville, CA by Adelanto. I was there 2007-2009 prior to going to SMU and worked in UNICOR in metal shop. We had a contract on making ammo cans for Humvees and Humvee engines and interiors were also worked on. Also we built little "Iraqi Villages," little pre-engineered huts for the military to put in the High Desert to train troops to raid prior to deployment to the Middle East.

Not just that, but we converted 5 ton and trucks, stripped them down and built them into MRAP prototypes (Mine Resistant Armored Protectant Vehicles), to train troops prior to deployment, with gun turret and everything, since real MRAPs come off the line in some warehouse and are immediately shipped to Afghanistan. We built 15 trainee MRAPs. Also, Humvees came into the shop and if any inmate found a bullet case or shell and turned it over we were rewarded with up to $100 bonus! Go to USP Victorvile and FCI #1 in UNICOR and see for yourself.


MIM(Prisons) responds: First we're happy to hear that prisoners participating in our study groups are sharing the lessons with others. It's a challenge to conduct these classes through the mail as interest grows. In order to expand this educational work more, we rely on our comrades behind bars to share what they are learning through USW-led educational institutions that can be conducted face-to-face.

We're also glad this prisoner took the time to write to us with information about prisoner labor in federal prisons, and to correct our comrade's mistake on the question of letting prisoners work on military construction. The extent of prison labor's involvement in supporting imperialist military repression is something we addressed in the article The Privatization of War: Imperialism Gasps its Last Breaths, printed in ULK 8. Much of our empirical knowledge of the U.$. prison system comes from our many supporters still on the inside, so we always welcome help keeping our facts straight.

chain
[Medical Care] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
expand

Texa$' Extortion of it's Prisoners Reaches New Heights

Prisoners working for free will now pay $100 per year for healthcare. Governor Rick Perry and the Texa$ legislature have signed a bill into law that will charge prisoners a one hundred dollar per year medical care fee. This new law (Sec. 501.063) will take effect September 1, of this year, and is a desperate attempt by the powers that be in Austin to save money on a prison system housing 160,000 people which is the second largest in the nation.

Charging prisoners for medical care, room and board, etc., is not a new idea; but in contrast to most other states, Texas doesn't pay their prisoners to work. Since Texas prisoners have no way to support themselves while incarcerated, they are financially dependent on friends and family members. It's their money they use to buy items like stamps, fans, t-shirts, hygiene and food items.

The new healthcare law will not only be taking from what little money prisoners get, it's in essence taxing the ones who send them money. If the prisoner doesn't have enough money in their trust fund account to cover the $100 fee, then 50% of all incoming funds will be deducted until the debt is paid in full.

Some prisoners only get 50 or 100 dollars a year - usually for their birthday or Christmas - meaning all that money their families sent and intended for them to have, will be seized by the state for something they shouldn't be charging prisoners for in the first place.

Workplace injuries and ailments due to prison conditions comprise a considerable percentage of prisoner requests for medical care. With the new law, they will be charged to receive medical care for on the job injuries; the same jobs they receive not a dime for.

chain
[United Front] [ULK Issue 23]
expand

United Revolutionary Movement Joins United Front for Peace

We, the United Revolutionary Movement, will join with the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons in the United Front to continue the struggle against imperialism and the injustice system. The United Revolutionary Movement's mission is to speak out against imperialism, racism, capitalism, police brutality, fascism, and poverty. We do agree with the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles. We agree with MIM(Prisons)'s cardinal point number one: "Communism is our goal. Communism is a society where no group has power over any other group."

One of the four principles of the United Front is internationalism. We struggle for the liberation of all oppressed people. While we are often referred to as "minorities" in this country, and we often find those who are in the same boat as us opposing us, our confidence in achieving our mission comes from our unity with all oppressed nations who represent the vast majority globally. We cannot liberate ourselves when participating in the oppression of other nations.

chain
[Organizing] [Security]
expand

SNY or Violence: Making Choices for the Revolution

I would like to comment on the letter written to MIM(Prisons) by Loco1 "Forced into SNY for Political Organizing" that was published in ULK 20.

Most people cannot say or determine how they'll react in any situation unless they've had similar experience under the same pressure and conditions. Most of us can only theorize and examine best options one should take from an objective standpoint and hope to learn valuable lessons from another's mistake, in attempts to prevent oneself from ever having to face the same problem.

One general fact is that the words "snitch" and "rat" are probably the worst and last label anyone would care to have placed in conjunction with their name, especially in prison where one's name and respect is the ultimate factor in dividing and determining a "man" from a "boy." (A "boy" is one step above the label of snitch.) Once labeled a rat, Special Needs Yard (SNY) or Protective Custody (PC) are your only options, because snitching is penitentiary sin number one and the only justice served for this act is punishment upon death - as very painful as possible!

I've noticed that MIM(Prisons) made a good-hearted attempt at bringing forth evidence of credibility by producing past letters that reveal Loco1's anti-SNY sentiments and truth of his commitment to the struggle, but after a complete examination of the full story (never cross-checked), I don't believe snitching to be the issue nor do I think anyone, after investigation, feels that he snitched. His lumpen organization (LO) members were within listening range and heard the pig loudly read the hidden message found in a medicine bottle. They also allowed him to choose an option. Snitches do not receive options. Snitching is an irredeemable violation that cannot be forgiven no matter how many pigs one is willing to "clean up." This verifies that snitching was not the reason for group violation.

My judgement is that a major security breach in communications was initiated due to an irresponsible lack of diligence and, as a result, vital information fell into the hands of the enemy that brought harm to others. My discipline methods may have been different, but regardless, every man is responsible for his actions and must face the repercussions that come along no matter how great or how small. If I was presented with options given in his situation I would've unhesitatingly chosen the choice of cleaning up a pig (in a clandestine manner). Doing battle with a comrade(s) in defense of my life would've never been an option and running from a disciplinary violation would've never entered my mind. George Jackson even made the statement that a coward is no good to the cause.

What makes matters worse is that now he's labeled a snitch and a coward! All benefit of the doubt and creditability was lost when he ran and checked in with the enemy. What's he going to do when the revolution kicks off? If a person's max out date is more important than maintaining his dignity, and trust as a true revolutionary — I say fuck a max out date.

As long as the people remain in chains, there is no personal liberation for me. The struggle doesn't exist in here or out there, it exists in one's heart, mind, and soul. The only max out date is on the day of freedom or death. Some may call Loco1's actions a tactical retreat, but I don't see nothing tactical about completely losing support of allies and comrades. My assessment may seem overly critical but in the war against oppression everything is critical and criticism can never be stressed enough.

There were no excuses for the mistakes Loco1 made. What organization does not teach their members to write and speak in codes especially while operating within enemy territory? It's also common sense to never use real names or known aliases, especially on the same line with incriminating statements. Developing security awareness and communications is the most important aspect of any revolutionary organization. One wrong word in the right ears can cause whole nations to fall. I wish Loco1 the best of luck and hope he finds the road to recovery. Mao said, "a fall in the pits a gain in the wit." He never mentioned anything about diving in head first.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This response to Loco1 is a rational analysis of mistakes made and the importance of security. While many people insist that it is not possible to be classified SNY or PC without ratting someone out, we know that conditions vary between prisons and even more between states, so there is no way one person can make this blanket statement with certainty. We printed Loco1's story as an example that this is not always true. We did not print it to say that one should always choose the route Loco1 did.

Our main disagreement with the above author is in his/her insistence that it's better to opt to clean up a pig than to go SNY. Most likely, given the current balance of forces, that thinking is putting ego above the movement. You cannot be a revolutionary if you are not ready to sacrifice as an individual, but there is a difference between courage and bravado. And we can tell the difference by putting politics in command. Sometimes appearing selfless is better for the individual but hurts the struggle. The streets are where we need our comrades, and temporary setbacks in the name of long term successes are sometime valuable choices to make. We know each situation is different, and sometimes there are no options besides fighting back, but no successful military strategist engages the enemy every time they attack.

chain
[Censorship] [Campaigns] [Abuse] [Wabash Valley Correctional Facility] [Pendleton Correctional Facility] [Indiana]
expand

Censorship and Grievance Denials in Indiana

Enclosed you should find Under Lock & Key number 14. I am returning it to you because prison staff disallowed it's delivery to me and confiscated it stating 1)"contains information about performing work stoppages" and 2) "photos of dead klan members (cartoons)."

Apparently the issue was confiscated in May/June 2010 while I was housed at the Pendleton Correctional Facility (PCF). I was not notified of the confiscation until July 12, 2011. I was transferred from PCF in November 2010 to the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (WVCF). PCF staff forwarded the confiscated mail (almost a year after receipt) to WVCF staff. WVCF staff notified me of the confiscation.

I have attempted to challenge this confiscation via the offender grievance process. However, WVCF case manager Marty Hale refuses to provide me with a grievance form. On August 9 he responded to my request by becoming irate and yelling at me, "fuck your grievance... every time an issue comes up you want to file a grievance, fuck you... you're just a sniveling complaining bitch", "you bitch", and "stick a grievance up your ass." To date I am still being denied a grievance form.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Prisons in Indiana are blatantly violating what few rights they tell us prisoners have, both with their illegal censorship and failure to notify both MIM(Prisons) and the prisoner of this censorship, and by denying this comrade the ability to file a grievance. By documenting such abusive denials to grieve we can continue to expose their sacred grievance system for what it really is, a sham. Even if the public buys it, all prisoners need to understand what it means to file a grievance and what it takes to change conditions in prison.

This is the inspiration behind the current campaign to Demand Our Grievances Be Addressed, currently active in California, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Write to us for a copy for your state, or if one does not yet exist, help create one by researching the citations and policies specific to your state and we will type it up and get it circulated.

chain
[United Front]
expand

Enforcers Elite Society joins United Front

I XYZ, National President of the Enforcers, and my Enforcers, all fully support the United Front and believe that if the Statement of Principles are lived out to the letter this would be the start to bringing about change and creating a better world for all people.

We have all been subject to oppression for some reason at some point in our life, but if we remain united we can peacefully battle the unrighteousness and create growth and independence and that also includes all oppressed people. I, XYZ, and the Enforcers Elite Society will stand behind these principles so that together, in unity, forever we will all be!

In solidarity,
National President and O/B/O Enforcers (CT & MA)

chain
[Abuse] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]
expand

Deaths in Texas Prisons from Heat and Negligence

Five people on the Coffield Unit have been allowed to die due to heat related issues. Now all of the sudden the administration and staff are "concerned" about the prisoners' well being - bullshit or they would have been doing more to prevent needless deaths long ago. Now Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is doing what they call "inmate wellness checks." This is just a real sad attempt (after the fact) to try to cover TDCJ's ass for their lack of concern effectively causing the deaths of inmates due to heat related illnesses (e.g. heat exhaustion, heat strokes, etc.)

We here are only being allowed to shower Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We should be allowed to shower just to cool off (since all Texas prisons are without any air conditioning). We should also have access to ice and cold water, but all of the above is scarce and this unit is observing "water conservation." The heat of Texas summers is not a new thing and neither is the penitentiary system in Texas.

Now the officers are tormenting us by asking every 30 minutes "are you alright", "are you ok?" most insincerely. Yet we are still made to wear very heavy woven cotton clothes in the summer - the same ones we wear in the winter time. Had they ever been truly concerned the five prisoners would have never been allowed to die of heat related illnesses. It is a real shame that so many people had to die before they even acted concerned, it is still hard for me to understand how they avoid any criminal charges behind these deaths.

chain
[Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
expand

Running Out of Space for Falsely Validated SHU Prisoners

I am currently serving an indeterminate SHU term here at the infamous Pelican Bay. All the SHU space is full here yet they continue to send prisoners to their torture compound. To make room for the growing number of (unjustly) validated prisoners B-4 mainline has been manipulated to accommodate them. And B-5 A section now houses Administrative Segregation(ASU) overflow.

This leaves me and others like me (with long SHU terms) to merely exist in ASU, a concrete soul snatcha. The powers that be will tell some of us that we're property housed due to lack of bed space. According to their rules SHU prisoners are allowed one appliance. Everyone knows TVs can be poisonous but they can come in handy during situations like this. Never the less death island (ASU) does not issue out appliances (per chapter 5, article 43 ASU IMs are allowed an appliance). Pelican Bay ASU is one of the last ASUs not to be modified to support electric appliances. Without hesitation I continue to put pen to paper in an attempt to slay Goliath by making him play by house rules.

The saga continues here at Skeleton Bay where double standards are eroding the conditions of professionalism amongst staff, which is worn on the population's face. Prisoners are eroding mentally, physically and spiritually from the elements of sucka punch justice applied by the powers that be. It is unexplainable to me why we all are not fifty pounds lighter. When the strike was announced, all of us here in ASU had all the motivation in the world to go in hard on that. Due to lack of communication, the foundation of structure and organization were unapproachable, resulting in the scrambling for excuses and loopholes not to stand up and be accounted for.

MIM(Prisons), asante for allowing me the time and space to exhale. By the way I would also like to congratulate you on your coverage and support of the hunger strike. Also, what you're doing with the Peace Summit is active! I'm working on something as we speak. It would be a shame if I didn't get in on that. Major props to MIM(Prisons), ULK, United Front and all the dedicated women and men at the MIM(Prisons) fam. I build on every issue of ULK then spread the wealth.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have a few things to add to this useful account of the situation with SHU in Pelican Bay. First, we hope this comrade and others, who are stuck in their cells 24/7 make good use of their time and read and study! There is a lot that can be done. TVs should not be necessary if you have books and pen and paper. Let us know if you need something to study, and write articles about what's going on like this comrade did. Second, we need our comrades in this situation to start the educating of others now, so that next time there is a mass action in the prisons we can count on everyone to understand the importance of participating. Share Under Lock & Key, start study groups, and get organizing!

chain
[United Front]
expand

United Gangsta Nation joins forces with UF for Peace

As an organization we stand firmly together as a collective body, to utilize strength, integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Education is very essential, especially in politics, to become a power beyond boundaries without measure, and bring peace to prisons within this nation we reside in amongst other organizations either affiliates or adversaries. So we can all come together and unite as one body.

That's why I extend my serving hand to link up with the United Front for Peace in Prisons. I believe our concepts are somewhat interrelated. I am a member of the Gangster Disciples so me putting together UGN was a vision within my struggle to make a powerful impact. So that's why I want to be listed to join forces with the UF. Growth, Organizational structure, education, justice, social development and unity plays a major role.

chain