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Under Lock & Key

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[Campaigns] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California]
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Hunger Strike Report from Kern Valley

I am currently at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) and I was involved in the recent hunger strike. We stayed on strike until July 5th, not just the 24 hour strike that your article stated we did at KVSP. It would have gone on longer until ISU and IGI started pulling out certain individuals and demanded we get off the hunger strike! As you know, validations are very easy to come by nowadays. So the hunger strike ended.

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[National Oppression] [Political Repression] [ULK Issue 22]
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Studying BPP History Earns STG Label

I write this to inform you that the COINTELPRO is still alive and active today under another name, and is used to continue their tactics of divide and conquer. If you are a Black Panther or have a tattoo of a panther, or if you are interested in the history of our beloved fallen comrades, you are now considered a security threat group (STG) [in Texas]. So now they are targeting the majority of Black prisoners as "gang members." After 14 years on the same unit under many different officers, now all of a sudden I'm labeled as an STG. This is based on books one reads and notation that one might write for a broader understanding. In other words our freedom of expression of political beliefs is now viewed as inflammatory and a security threat.

This article referenced in:
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[Campaigns] [California Correctional Institution] [California]
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Two Weeks on Food Strike: Seeking Update

I got your letter about the food strike. I did my best to hang in there, I gave it 2 weeks and I had to eat. Sorry, I could not last any longer. So what is the outcome of the food strike? Did they accomplish their goal? Can you please let me know what's going on right now? I am validated and I got 6 years clean and they won't let me out of the SHU either.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are doing our best to keep our comrades behind bars updated on the food strike, which ended at Pelican Bay on July 21, at least temporarily. The latest issue of Under Lock & Key just went out with this update. The original goals of the strike were not won, but the administrators promised a major review of policies and the latest report from others in touch with strike leaders say that the CDCR has a few weeks to complete their review before the strike begins again.

One thing is for sure, if we don't keep up the pressure and hold them to not only review but actual policy change, the conditions of abuse and torture in prisons across California will remain the same. In addition, hunger strikers are likely to face reprisals as punishment for their protest if we don't continue to increase support inside and outside California prisons.

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Texas]
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United Front Needed to Fight Texas Prison Abuses

I appreciate you sending me the book I had requested. You see, I've got to stay busy to not allow myself to get sucked into the Texas prisoner slave mentality. Just perhaps, being armed with initiative and the right knowledge, I can get these guys minds off of the TV and gossiping, and onto unity and change. It's a very pitiful state here in Texas (no pun intended!) Last week an officer turned off the dayroom TVs during count and left them off for an hour or so. The prisoners went crazy! They were yelling, cursing, making threats and demanding to speak to rank. They're willing to come together and protest over something trivial like the television, but not over important things like parole, our good time and work time being honored, and getting paid to work.

As we know, slavery and capitalism go hand in hand. This is evident because there's no equality; slaves are less than, and whoever is the richest and most famous, their lives are more precious than the common and poor folk. Capitalism takes on a new meaning in Texas prisons. Since we work for free, and the state has enslaved us in their TCI factories to exploit and profit off of us; it's every "offender" for themselves, and some are doing whatever it takes to survive.

While the warden and major sit in their air conditioned offices, and officers are huddled up in the air conditioned pickets, us offenders are sweating like pigs in the scorching hot day rooms and cells. We're running around like savages hustling and conning for a ramen soup, stick of deodorant, a stamp, or a shot of coffee. And the ones who are fortunate enough to have friends and family sending them money to buy stuff from commissary; they're revered, admired, despised, or the next potential victim. Thanks to the state of Texas, petty criminals and first timers become hardened criminals, and whoever has the most money, has either the most power, or has to make the most protection payoffs.

If prisoners were treated as people and paid for their labor like everyone else in civilized society are, they would in turn, act accordingly. There would be real equality, unity and harmony. MIM, please give me some advice on how to make this come about.

On a related topic, I've enclosed my latest timesheet showing I have 213 percent of my sentence completed with all my worthless earned time credits. I want people to view this state issue timesheet so they can see for themselves what a scam this is. The time credits look great on paper, but they're not worth a damn. If they were, I would have been released last February when I reached a hundred percent.

Also with this letter is my last denial letter from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. I want the people to see this too. To see the absolutely ridiculous reasons why we're denied parole and "mandatory supervision." The following is their most absurd: "The inmate has a previous juvenile or adult arrest for felony and misdemeanor offenses." We've all been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor. We wouldn't be in prison if we hadn't. The parole board might as well deny prisoners because they wear white uniforms, since that applies to all of us too.

Truly amazing the Lone Star State is getting away with such widespread and blatant fraud, and exploitation of its prisoners. But, in our capitalist society and capitalist prison system, money and profit always trump humanity and morals.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is correct about the need for unity to fight the injustice in prison. We point everyone to the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a starting point for developing principled unity to fight our common enemy. We do, however, need to point out that the prison economy does not lead to prisons, the state or the imperialists profiting from prisoner labor. It is a system primarily used for social control, not for profit. Though of all states, Texas probably has the most productive industries in prisons, and workers receive no wages, only room and board.

As we concluded in our article in Under Lock & Key 8 on the U.$. Prison Economy: "A number of articles in this issue include calls from prisoners to take actions against the prison industries that are making money off prisoners, and to boycott jobs to demand higher wages. All of these actions are aimed at hitting the prisons, and private industries profiting off relationships with prisons, in their pocketbook. This is a good way for our comrades behind bars to think about peaceful protests they can take up to make demands for improved conditions while we organize to fundamentally change the criminal injustice system."

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[Control Units] [New Jersey State Prison] [New Jersey]
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NJ Control Units Violate Court Ruling and Basic Rights

I am a prisoner at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, NJ. I am presently housed in what is called the Management Control Unit (MCU). I have been in this unit since 2008. New Jersey's MCU is basically the equivalent of other states Security Housing Units (SHUs) or Intensive Management Units (IMUs). The reason I'm writing is to alert you of the numerous human and civil rights violations that we have been subjected to here. I also want to bring to your attention the fact that the administration at the prison has intentionally instituted a system designed to violate procedural due process rights of the prisoners in MCU.

Design and intent of the Management Control Program

The MCU program was designed to house the prisoners the administration considered a threat to the daily operations of the prison, to the correctional officer, or those they considered unable to house in general population with the other prisoners. The MCU unit in theory was not supposed to be a punitive unit for punishment since you could be placed there coming directly from the street never having received a disciplinary infraction inside of the prison. The prisoners of the MCU unit were told that the MCU is basically a "population for MCU prisoners." However, the MCU is anything but.

The MCU is supposed to be governed by what's called the New Jersey administrative code 10A. However, the administration does not adhere to it's own rules as put forth in the 10A. The so-called release program of the MCU is a three phase program (levels 1-3, one being the lowest). Completion of the following programs are requisite: Cage your Rage, and Thinking for a Change. The problem with this criteria is that the programs are very seldom offered, or capriciously and arbitrarily offered. This situation has only gotten worse recently. Since April of this year (2011) the administration has had the unit on lock-down. This lock-down is supposedly the result of a couple of random fights between a few prisoners (no correctional officers were involved in either of the situations). Since these random fights, the administration has done the following:

  1. Canceled all requisite programs needed to be considered for release
  2. Painted the cell windows so that we can no longer see outside
  3. Closed down the pantry in the unit where the food is served
  4. Taken all the jobs from the workers in the unit
  5. Canceled indoor recreation
  6. Changed the outdoor recreation schedule from every other day to once every four days
  7. Changed the amount of people allowed to go to the outdoor recreation. Everybody that was on MCU was able to go to the yard together. Now only six can go at a time.

It is my opinion, which I believe to be firmly grounded, that the couple of fights had nothing at all to do with the draconian measures taken by the administration. On July 2, 2010 the superior court of New Jersey appellate division issued a crushing ruling that the administration of New Jersey thought would never happen! In that ruling the court said that once a prisoner has reached phase three (the highest level in the MCU program) the burden then shifts to the prison to show why the prisoner should be held in MCU. The burden the administration must meet is to show a present identifiable threat that the prisoner presents. Up until this ruling the administration in New Jersey was just throwing prisoners on MCU and leaving them there. The average prisoner in MCU has been there for about a decade.

To circumvent this ruling the administration has canceled the programs preventing prisoners from reaching phase three which would render them eligible for release if the administration is unable to meet it's burden. I have more proof that this is the administration's intention. The court ruling was issued on July 2, 2010. Up until that ruling whenever a MCU prisoner would appeal the Management Control Unit review committees (MCURC) decision to continue his placement in MCU, the administrator would quickly respond to the appeal 99.9% of the time upholding the MCURC decision.

Let me explain. Every three months the prisoners in MCU are given what's called routine review where the committee decides whether or not the prisoner should be released or if his placement in MCU should be continued. Every MCU prisoner is allowed to attend even though you must be phase three to even be considered for release. This is not more than a ceremonial display and out right sham. Again, after these hearings about a week later you receive the MCURC decision on paper which you can appeal to the administrator. The decision from the court was issued July 2, 2010 and since that decision none of the MCU prisoners have received a response back from any of the routine review appeals which would be September 2010, December 2010, March 2011, and the last one June 2011. I do not believe in coincidences. As I said up until that decision from the court we were getting every single one of our appeals back.

There are a few prisoners in the MCU unit right now that are phase three and still the administration have not let them go. Not only have they not let them go, but by not responding to the appeals they are preventing prisoners from taking their case to the court. The court has ruled that before a prisoner can prevail on his complaint s/he must afford the administration the opportunity to make it's final decision. Thus, the administration is violating the MCU prisoners procedural due process rights! If this is not suppose to be a punitive unit and a general population for MCU prisoners, how do you explain the actions taken by the administration?

They have stopped me from being able to finish the programs, they have painted over my cell window so that I can't even see outside! I'm only allowed to go outside every four days and you cover my window. This is treatment one would expect to hear being done at Guantanamo Bay. Before the covering of the window the MCU unit was already a socially and sensory depriving unit. The prisoners are in single cells and the only time they come out in the unit is for a 15 minute shower one at a time. Thus any conversation is carried on by yelling through the crack of the door. The only contact you have with anyone is during recreation every four days. I truly hope that my concerns and suffering, as well as the concerns and suffering of the other prisoners will lead you to pick up our cause and help us fight for and defend our human and civil rights. We are still humans.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Lack of due process and group punishment were two of the main complaints behind the California hunger strike that started in the Pelican Bay SHU and included participation of at least 6600 prisoners across the state. As stated by the author these conditions of long-term isolation are very similar across the United $tates, as are the policies that keep people there. This example also parallels that in California where the courts are ordering the state to make release easier (whether from MCU or prison altogether). But the interests of the Amerikan workers has made sure that in neither case has the state government begun to comply with court orders. While the courts offer a facade of justice, the state continues on as it always has in its efforts to control oppressed people.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 21]
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Assassination Nation: The World's Foremost Terrorist State is America

America is delusional. One need look no further than the Disney Corporation's attempt to trademark "SEAL Team 6," in order to market the image of paid killers as toys for children. How is this acceptable on any level? It's not, it's insane. In fact, a reasonable psychological diagnosis of the American state would conclude that it is severely schizophrenic.

Americans are indoctrinated since childhood to believe that America is a bastion of freedom, equality, and law; a bulwark against the lawlessness, murder, mayhem and terrorism that is rampant in the world today. Nevertheless, the reality is that America is the number one source of lawlessness and terrorism in the world today and has been for quite some time. Moreover, when America isn't committing acts of terrorism, it is abetting those that do, such as the European settler state in Palestine known as Israel.

America has many fine-sounding laws against assassination, hostage-taking, and torture (in a word "terrorism") but follows none of them. See the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 USC §1602 et seq.; Civil Liability for Acts of State Sponsored Terrorism Act of 1996, 28 USC §1605 (i.e., the Flatow Amendment); Antiterrorism Act of 1990, 18 USC §2331, et seq.; and Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, 28 USC §1350 (i.e., the Alien Tort Statute). Further, America is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, and the International Convention Against Taking Hostages, codified at 18 USC §1203.

All the foregoing laws and conventions expressly forbid the majority of acts taken by the American military in the world, but America ignores them all when it comes to its actions and only applies them to other countries when they dare try to emulate America's propensity for murder and mayhem. Long ago America's rulers chose to follow the old Spanish Colonial aphorism that "the law is to be obeyed but not followed."

For example, in Elahi v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 124 F. Supp. 2d 97, 107 (D.D.C. 2000), the court found Iran's murder of an American citizen fit the definition of an extra-judicial killing, as follows:


First, ...the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, Cyrus Elahi was not afforded the judicial process contemplated by the statute. Third, as this Court stated over twenty years ago, assassination is "clearly contrary to the precepts of humanity as recognized in both national and international law."[citation omitted.]

The American government's murder of Osama bin Laden on International Workers' Day, May 1, 2011, is no different than Iran's alleged murder of Cyrus Elahi and meets all three of the criteria set by the Elahi court. First, the assassination was a deliberate act. Second, he was not arrested and brought to trial, i.e., afforded judicial process. Third, assassination is illegal in accordance with national and international law. Bin Laden was summarily executed because, as a known CIA asset, he would have exposed secrets the American government did not want exposed.

The American government admitted bin Laden was unarmed and surrounded by his children, who had to be cleared out of the way, and at least one of his wives, who was shot in the leg, so as not to interfere in the U.S. Navy SEALs' hit. And hit it was, as bin Laden was shot once in the chest and once in the head in the classic assassination style known as the double-tap. No doubt there were powder burns surrounding his head wound, where the coup de grace was administered by these cold-blooded killers as he lay on the floor of his home, but we will never know as his body was promptly disposed of as is common in many professional hits.

Earlier the same day, it was reported that Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were murdered by NATO bombs dropped on their home. Whether it was done by American planes or not is of little matter, as we all know if the American government didn't support this bombing it wouldn't have happened. This was nothing less than an assassination attempt, that included the intentional bombing of civilians in their home, which was done in direct violation of the UN mandate to protect civilians in Libya via a no-fly zone and the laws and conventions cited above.

It should come as no surprise that the assassination target was Qadhafi, who was said to have been at the home and narrowly escaped along with his wife, as the American government has been trying to murder him for years. President Reagan had Qadhafi's home bombed on April 14, 1986, successfully murdering women and children but failing in his attempt to murder Qadhafi. President Obama has proclaimed his authority to assassinate anyone overseas, including American citizens, without a trial, so murdering Qadhafi would be no problem for him. Wives, daughters and sons are all just collateral damage.

America has never hesitated to murder civilians, men, women and children, in their homes. In WWII, America fire-bombed civilian targets in Germany and Japan's cities and used nuclear weapons on Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the Japanese government tried to surrender. Post-WWII, the American government has targeted the people of Korea, the Congo, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and, now, Libya. My apologies if I left anyone out.

This campaign of control through terror is by no means limited to the rest of the world. Here in the good ol' USA, on May 13, 1985, the infamous "Mothers' Day Massacre" occurred, perpetrated by the police, who murdered 11 MOVE organization members, including children, in their home and incinerated an entire neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the full cooperation of the American government, who supplied the explosives used in the massacre.

Not to be outdone, the FBI murdered 76 people, including children, in Waco, Texas, by blowing up their home and burning them alive on April 19, 1993. The FBI has proven time and again that it is willing to murder whoever, wherever, whenever, from Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago, Illinois, on December 4, 1969, to Randall Weaver's wife and son at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in August 1992. "No crime too foul" ought to be the FBI motto.

Speaking of mottos, the infamous mass-murderer and war criminal Harry S. Truman had a motto: "the buck stops here." No doubt, the buck should stop with the American presidents, but it also reaches back into the cesspools known as corporate boardrooms. Consequently, it is time to end this criminal reign of terror. Every single one of these criminals in high office, national or corporate, should be tried and hung as the murderers they are. To continue to allow them to run free, let alone run the country, makes us all complicit in their assassination nation. It is high time we, as Americans, put an end to our complicity and our complacency once and for all!

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[Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Pelican Bay Striker: Drastic Approach Needed

I am one of the participants involved in the peaceful protest at Pelican Bay, basically and simply just to challenge our predicament. We've exhausted all other resources but no one within the system listens to our cries for human decency and respect. We are expected to abide by the designed laws of the state, but when we elect to exercise so-called given rights, we are condemned for such action.

A peaceful protest presents us the opportunity to demonstrate our humanity contrary to the misguided propaganda that's utilized to degrade and demean our intelligence. It is definitely a drastic approach and sometimes when there are no doable options, its necessary to take the struggle to the next level of development. Dialectical materialism teaches us about the science of reason and logical development in order to reach a synthesis to whatever that contradiction is, anything that isn't growing is definitely stagnant!

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[Political Repression]
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Relating to ULK Articles on False Validation

I was recently given the privilege of reading your newsletter Under Lock and Key number 20. I was very impressed with the variety of topics and issues discussed at length in your newsletter. Some of the issues addressed hit home with me, particularly because I have and am experiencing the exact same, or incidences that juxtapose with the issues in your newsletter. Specifically, the articles False Validation Campaign in California, and Forced into SNY for Political Organization.

My current status and situation, and what led to my current housing status and prior events, correlates to both articles. I arrived at Pleasant Valley State Prison (level III) in December 2009 from High Desert State Prison (level IV), on a bi-annual favorable transfer. In January 2010 I attended my initial classification committee (ICC) and received my CDCR 128-G chrono. It indicated I am a member of the "Ansar El Muhammad" (AEM) disruptive group.

When I arrived in December 2009, while being processed through receiving/release (RR) I was called an extremist-terrorist by CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) staff and my religious properties were confiscated. At the time I didn't give this event any value, except that I filed a CDCR 602 (complaint). But since then multiple incidence of retaliation, harassment, false claims and the confiscation and destruction of my religious property has occurred. Furthermore housing assignment staff and building floor staff have been putting active gang members in my cell, and as result I've been assaulted, received multiple threats of violence from prisoners and staff, labeled a snitch, received a rule violation report (CDCR 115) for refusing to cell up with any more gang members, and currently I'm in Administrative Segregation (pending SNY) transfer.

CDCR staff have falsified chronos in my central file (C-file) dating back to 2006, and I didn't discover this until 2010. It is my strong belief that prison officials have manipulated and orchestrated prisoners since 2006 to cause me physical harm, as I was stabbed and assaulted in 2006.

In 2009 I settled out of court for a §1983 civil complaint I filed in 2007 for the stabbing of 2006. But I strongly believe that somewhere in my central file prison officials have kept a record that I received an out-of-court settlement against prison officials (CDCR), which is what is and has motivated prison officials (Green Wall) to use these tactics of falsifying records and manipulating prisoners to continue to cause me physical harm.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This false jacketing of prisoners and setting up divisions and fights as retaliation against those who exercise their legal rights to protest abuses in prison is a common practice. This is a strong reason for our campaign to build a United Front for Peace in prisons. A key principle of this United Front is unity among those facing the same struggle.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [United Front] [ULK Issue 21]
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United Front for Peace


Fuck the hatred
It's time for changes
To free this world from the oppressor
It's time for us to make some better arrangements
In order to make our lives better
Revolution's the lesson
Not oppression as a profession
Anti-imperialist
Being groomed for a new session
Educate each other
As we're one within this struggle
United in this Front for Peace
Because Revolution is on the bubble

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[National Oppression] [California Correctional Institution] [California] [ULK Issue 22]
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Gang Validation for Doing Aztec Art

I am doing an indeterminate SHU program for being validated in the last place I was at. And the reason they validated me is because I was doing a lot of Aztec art as well as Aztec tats, which they didn't agree with because they considered it to be associated with the “big boys.” So they locked me down. But what they fail to realize is it's all part of our culture. Yet to them it's based on association, so they see a direct link to prison politics. So here I sit on the shelf locked down in this crazy and very sad place where it's all about no movement whatsoever.

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