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[Organizing] [Montana] [ULK Issue 15]
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Boycotting work is unrealistic

In the May/June 2010 issue of ULK a Pennsylvania prisoner stated that he thinks everyone should stop working so the prison systems would look at our complaints. While I think my comrade has a great idea, I must conclude that it is a very unrealistic one. There simply aren't enough people willing to stand up for this cause. S/he was right in saying people care more about television than their rights. I ask MIM(Prisons) and my fellow brethren to give me, as well as everyone, some ideas on how we can make other prisoners come together to make our Pennsylvania brother's dream come true.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We did briefly address this point in the article "Our unity vs. their crisis" in the same issue of ULK. What many people are recognizing here is that we need to proceed in steps, and we must continually assess our conditions to see how fast we can move. Also, keep in mind that development is not equal across the board. So, while our Montana comrade is correct in general, this might not be true everywhere (see "Back to the basics"). But where it is not true the key is to start with things that can be done with smaller groups, such as lawsuits and study groups, or actions that require less commitment like petitions or fund drives. All of these things can help develop unity. We welcome ideas from others, but specifically ideas that you have tried and worked. Or if they didn't work tell us why. Ideas without testing in practice are a dime a dozen.

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[Abuse] [Texas]
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Filthy Prisons/Filthy System in Texas

I want to lace some of you up about the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutional Division (TDCJ-CID), just in case you ever get the itch to come to Texas. It is a great state but the courts are kangaroo, the Texas court of criminal appeals ignores pro-se (pro-per) filings and TDCJ-CID treats prisoners (now called offenders for effect) exactly like barn yard animals. This prison system is so oppressive that they recently took away our pillows. The following is a list of oppressions that Texas inflicts on prisoners:

You can not purchase anything from an outside vendor. There are no care packages, and no conjugal visits, and you can not purchase your own television. TVs are in the extremely loud and noisy dayroom where everyone argues and/or fights over programs which is usually Jerry Springer, soap operas, or basketball. The Texas prison units are not air conditioned, and the old brick units and some (most) of the sheet metal units are cockroach and mice infected, filthy pigsties. The unit I'm on routinely had black mold on the kitchen and shower walls. Speaking of kitchens, prisoners clean and make all the food - 90% of Texas prisoners take no pride in anything they do - they do not wash their hands.

This prison system is one nasty filthy place. Every summer there are many staph infection outbreaks. Some even have the resistant type called M.R.I.S., and we just got over a Norovirus. Showers are at 6am so you go to bed after 90-100 degree weather sweating. Clean clothes are given only Monday thru Friday. If you went to a hospital environment on Friday (chain leaves at 3am, you get back at 9pm/10pm), you are contaminated with bacteria and/or viruses, etc... but you still get no shower or clean clothes until Monday, Tuesday if the Monday is a holiday. Waiting on transfer transportation, you must leave your coat in the main building and walk to the back gate, pouring rain and/or freezing cold, it does not matter. If there is a shack, it will not be heated. Guards have thick fur lined coats and sit in a hot brick shack sipping hot coffee while grinning. In the dorms in the summer, it is so hot that the fans run 24/7 for almost 5 months. These fans are industrial barrel fans. They are so loud that if you close your eyes you can imagine being on an old propeller airplane - 24/7 for 5 months! This has to be causing ear damage. Complaints to any state or county agency (health department, etc) are diverted, ignored, or just sent back to prison officials identifying you/me as the whistle blower.

Parole? Forget about it. The records and classification department of the prison system scans the prisoner file when you first get here, evaluates your sentence and any and all allegations by anyone, and then codes your file to tell the parole board not to seriously consider you/me for parole until the "coded amount of years" has been completed. It may be the entire sentence. Getting a "serve-all" is commonplace, and get a "serve all via 1 yr, 2 yr or 3 yr, continuous denials" is also common place even for model prisoners who has completed all individual treatment programming and has full family support. Interstate compact transfers and paroles are rare. Prison staff are "guards" not trained peace officers like California. Most TDCJ-CID guards are off the welfare roll, Nigerians who barely speak English, wanna be police officers who fail the psych exam, and huge ego power trippers who get their rocks off making life as miserable for inmates as possible. And then you have actual gang members - bandana flying gang members. As a lung and bronchial tube cancer patient the prison and medical system deliberately tried to let the cancer kill me - waiting for 1 1/2 years to even get me to a hospital, and 3 years to start actual treatment.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg. And in Texas there are no pro-bono attorneys to speak of. The ACLU of Texas provides no help for Texas prisoners unless it will generate news media coverage, I am assuming to get more donations.

If you come to Texas, remember that its a good 'ol boy state and the highway signs that say "don't mess with Texas" is not talking about littering, as advertised. On a final note, the Texas government code has a section that states that no state, county, or city government has to answer any correspondence from anyone "incarcerated" (convicted or not).

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[Medical Care] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 15]
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Pleas against brutality following suicide attempt

I write to you in regards to a sexual assault, battery and abuse that I am a victim of. I would have written to you sooner, but my resources are limited, and I have just very recently received your info and address from the psychological services staff here at the prison.

On April 13 I made a suicide attempt by trying to hang myself, which the officers here at the prison responded to by removing me from that unit and bringing me to DS-1, the segregation unit. As we arrived on the unit the officers asked me if I would comply with the strip search, to which I responded "I need help," referring to psychological help or treatment. As I stated no, one of the officers slammed my head into the steel shower door and I fell to the ground. After falling to the ground the officers piled on top of me and rolled me over on my stomach and began tearing and cutting my clothes off me. Then they spread my legs and arms out and the officers began to punch me and twist my arms and wrist behind my back. The officers also choked me and placed their knees on my back and in my face and told me to stop resisting, though I had never resisted, nor had I ever become physically or verbally abusive or hostile. After all this, the officers then began to poke and insert their fingers inside my anus and squeezed my testicles after lifting them up while laughing at me during this unlawful and unconstitutional assault.

I've written to numerous prison officials and have also spoken with several white shirt lieutenants about this matter and about being transferred to another institution because I'm not safe in this prison and the officers are still harassing me. I've done all that I can possibly do and now you are my very last and only hope for help. I respectfully ask you to please please please publicize my story.

MIM(Prisons) adds: We publish reports like this as a small service to some of the most oppressed people in the United $tates who send us these pleas. We hope that our readers are appalled by these injustices and driven to work harder to end imperialism. However, we also recognize the limitations of these moral appeals, and want to reiterate that for the oppressed who write these letters and hope for their conditions to change. Recently, USW comrades discussed the question of appealing to the emotional sympathies of the oppressor. In that discussion comrades recognized the primacy of class and national interests. Emotional appeals may strike a chord in a small minority who may commit class/nation suicide and fight for the oppressed. But overall, Amerikans are aware of what is going on and they support it, even if they don't like to think about it.

As one comrade put it, "we shouldn't base our strategy of building public opinion on whether we can guilt trip amerikans into not being parasites." Our strategy should be based on the vast majority of the world who are the victims of this parasitism. The difference for the oppressed is that they don't have a choice whether to think about the brutality of this system when they are seeing it on a daily basis. It is only a minority in the United $tates that faces this level of oppression, and that is the minority that should guide our strategies for anti-imperialist organizing here.

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[Censorship] [National Oppression] [Texas]
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Mexicans targeted for censorship

I am caged up here in this racist Texas Department of Criminal Justice where Mexicans and African-Americans are treated unfairly. As everyone knows, this justice system is one of the biggest in the country. It is so overcrowded. Texas is in debt so bad that they need to make budget cuts to save money. But they won't even consider releasing people as a way to save money.

Well, another reason I'm writing is to address the issue of racism and censorship. Whenever Mexicans attempt to order books on our culture, especially revolutionaries, it is denied. Their excuse is that it is "gang-related." The general library here at this facility has a few books, maybe 5, on a little Mexican history. But when we take notes for our knowledge, and future use, these notes are confiscated by officers during routine cell searches, and labeled as "gang-related." Then the person who was in possession of it is placed on a watch list.

So these people all across Texas prisons do this to us, we are being denied our culture, to be able to study it without fear. Meanwhile, all of their racist propaganda material is readily available, and allowed to enter with no problems.

We've also had to deal with officers racist remarks toward Mexicans and Blacks. The grievance system here is useless. This is a whole network of klansmembers. So they all cover for each other. When we speak up and make it known we won't tolerate any of this, we are retaliated against.

I really appreciate your newsletter. It is very informative. I can relate to the revolutionary mindset completely. I educate myself as much as possible and I do my best to get others around me to do the same. I stand up for my rights as much as possible. These people know I won't be intimidated. They can lock me up but they won't take my pride or will to fight for what is right.

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[Legal] [State Correctional Institution Muncy] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 15]
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Obstruction of justice at SCI Muncy

I'm facing some harsh conditions here at SCI Muncy when it comes to fighting for what I believe in and our rights. I have several lawsuits against the DOC and pigs here, and I am constantly facing obstacles that they try to put in my way. One lawsuit I have is against the grievance coordinator of Muncy, Troy Edwards. This lawsuit is why Edwards does everything in his power to prevent me from exhausting my administrative remedies, so I can't sue him because of the requirements of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act.

One trick Edwards uses is he tells me he doesn't get my grievances, when I know he really does get them. He stole numerous grievances, my lawyer's letter, and mail my mom sent to me. He had the search team confiscate all my property and legal work and it was never given back to me.

I was approved to take declarations (which is like a statement) from several prisoners here. One of the prisoners I requested to take a declaration from told me this: Edwards called h and about 5 other prisoners and told them I wanted to take their declarations. He continued to say it was a waste of their time because my lawsuits are frivolous, I don't have a lawyer, I am representing myself, and other bullshit! That scumbag bastard tried to deter these prisoners so they would refuse to let me take their declarations, and I would not have proof of my claims, which would lead to the prison winning judgment.

I was furious when I was told this, but I was not surprised at Edwards's pathetic attempts. He does this all the time! He and the superintendent backdate their grievance appeal responses so it looks like I am too late and I can't exhaust my administrative remedies. They also backdate their requests. They have this stamp they can rig to put any date they want on anything.

In December 2009 and January 2010 I sent over 19 grievance appeals and never got one response back. I kept writing this grievance coordinator and the superintendent and got nothing but run-arounds. Even a few of my initial grievances were not processed. Troy Edwards picks and chooses which grievances he does and doesn't want to answer. The ones he doesn't want to answer, he lies and says he never got them. I have copies, though!

Prisoners do not have a right to court-appointed lawyers for their civil suits against prison administration. When it's clear a prisoner needs one, the judge can appoint one. A good case I recommend you read if you are asking for a court-appointed attorney is Tabron v. Grace, 6F.3d 147, 155-58 (3d Cir. 1993).

MIM(Prisons) adds: One of the most active campaigns being led by United Struggle from Within comrades in a few states is to demand that prisoner grievances be heard. If one were to accept the pretexts of the existence of the U.$. "justice" system one would think they would want prisoners to have avenues to address any injustices or problems they face while incarcerated. Instead, we see the same story all over the country and the hypocrisy of the injustice system is exposed. While we appeal to those in power to recognize the importance of granting everyone basic humyn rights, we must organize the oppressed to demand those rights.

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[Abuse] [Missouri]
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MODOC: Promoting conflict, Discouraging rehabilitation

There are quite a few struggles here in MODOC (Missouri Department of Corrections). The biggest ones are 1. How they decide on who we can cell with. They go by a process of Alphas, Kappas and Sigmas. You see, the big problem with that is, you have violent offenders, and child molesters who are kappa and DOC says kappas can cell with anyone. Now, I'm sure that MIM knows what happens to child molesters in prison. They are put in a very life-threatening situation. I understand you can not segregate them, but you can make it to where they can only cell with other sex-offenders.

2. There are some people who come to prison that have race problems, whether they are Black, white Latin, or Asian, you should not have to cell with someone your racism is directed towards, but that's what they do here in DOC, they call it "compatibility." If a white man refuses to go into a cell with a Black, Asian or Latin man, we are issued a conduct violation for refusing a "compatible cellmate." Now if a white man goes into a cell with a Black man, and one man assaults the other, they are both given a conduct violation for a fight. They don't take into consideration that one of the offenders may have a race problem.

3. The policy for books, pictures and personal letters. They say you can only have 1 reading book per cellmate, 1 magazine, 1 newspaper. They also say you can only have 5 personal pictures and 5 to 10 personal letters. Now with the books, magazines and newspapers, how do you expect to read an entire magazine and newspaper in the short amount of time it takes to receive the next magazine or newspaper? I don't understand it. Also, if they do a cell search, and you have over the limit on books, magazines or newspapers, they write you up for contraband. With the pictures and letters, how can they put a limit on how many you can have? I personally have had a correctional officer search my cell and remove the number of pictures I had over the elicit and try to write me up for it. Plus I receive 3 to 5 letters a week. What am I supposed to do, tell some of my family members that they can't write me because i have too much mail and I get written up for it? Some people throw their mail away. I save it because it is a part of my past and memories and hard times, which gives me motivation to not go back to the man I once was, and I get in trouble for that. That is preposterous.

Last but not least, the state tip. The state tip for people who do not have a High School diploma or a GED is $7.50 and for people who do have them it is $8.50. Now if you only get $7.50 a month, but you owe money to the state, they take $2.50 from you and leave you with only $5. How is a person who gets only $5 a month to buy what is needed? After you buy toothpaste ($1.80), body wash (86 cents) Deodorant (70 cents), that's $3.36, stamps are 44 cents and envelopes are 3 cents and writing paper is 80 cents. After you buy your toiletries you can only buy a pad of paper and a stamp. What are you supposed to do it you have legal work to send out? Forget about cosmetics and have them issue you a conduct violation report for sanitary issues?

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[Organizing] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
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SNY prisoner: How to stop snitching

I'm sad to say that the CDCR is winning the struggle so far. They have managed to keep us too paranoid to trust the next man. But every time a guard walks down the tier talking about one of us, spreading propaganda, the majority of the prisoners will believe what that guard said. It can be completely fabricated.

The guards also have other strategies to spread false propaganda. They'll walk to the loudmouth on the tier and for extra food he'll put out on the tier whatever the guard wants him to say. The loudmouth doesn't understand that whatever the guard wants him to broadcast is because the guards want to direct a message at certain individuals.

I'm a SNY prisoner. Over the years the SNY yards and population have grown a lot, especially with the level IV. The bottom line is we're all prisoners suffering the same oppression from guards. There's no such thing as I'm better than so and so, because I'm this and you're that. That's all propaganda from guards telling the mainline.

If someone snitches on you, that's your fault for exposing your hand to individuals you didn't trust or know. Any sensitive issue should never be told to anyone, anyways.

After being in Calipatria for 10 years and going through several problems with staff, I decided to get on the CCCMS program and make a quick exit out of that joint. The CCCMS is a mental program and once you get in the program and you take some type of depression medication the prison has 30 days to transfer you because it's so hot and any type of psych meds can't be taken in that climate. Well I got away from a bad dream only to go into a nightmare!

Since 70 or 80% of the population here in RJD prison are on some type of psych meds, we're considered "J-Kats." The 602 inmate appeals process is non-existent. Any serious grievance you filed gets thrown away: a violation of our constitutional due process!

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[Religious Repression] [Iowa]
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Religious persecution of Muslims in Iowa

I am a young Muslim in the Department of Corrections in Iowa. I am a Sunni Muslum and am being persecuted for being a Muslim. Since the Fort Hood incident the Correctional Officers (COs) in here have been violating my civil rights. They told me that I can not wear my Kufi in the building nor can I give praises to Allah in the dayroom or outside in the yard. I was told that they better not hear about me having my Dhikr beads out where the COs can see them or they will take me to the hole.

I have filed a grievance against the DOC policy and I was told that this matter is non-grievable. I filed another one and that was denied also. I can't do anything to fight the violation of my first amendment right (freedom of speech and religion). I can't even make my Salat without the COs making comments.

Today I was written up and told that I better not get caught with my Kufi or my Dhikr beads on my head nor in my hands if I am not in religious service. I am reaching out to anyone who will help me and my brothers in here. I know that our rights are being violated and I need some help to be able to practice Islam freely without being persecuted for our beliefs. You have brothers afraid to speak up because of the COs in this prison.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There are no rights under a class system, only power struggles. This is yet another example, from another u$ prison, where grievances are powerless on their own.

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[Abuse] [California] [ULK Issue 15]
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Suicide attempt leads to pepper spraying

On January 21, 2010 I was feeling suicidal due to facing an arson charge which could've given me a third strike and life in prison, when I only had less than 6 months until my parole date. In fact, it was my celly who had set the fire in order to get me emergency medical attention. I have severe and chronic back issues with several-inch-thick files documenting my issues. I stood up, my back gave out on me, and I fell and hit my head on the wall knocking myself partially unconscious. For over an hour my cellmate yelled "man down," "emergency," etc. The responding officer approached our cell, saw me laying unconscious on the floor, and said "I won't do shit because he's faking it." So my celly set fire to the cell in order to get attention for me.

I was later found not guilty of the arson due to my celly's admission to setting the fire, and medical documents supporting my claims. However, the following day, when still facing a third strike case, I was feeling suicidal and cut my left wrist in three places. When the first watch officer, Sgt. Limon, saw me he contacted Sgt. Badgett and he brought several officers with him including CO Lonczewsky. Limon and Lonczewsky asked to see my hands to verify they held no dangerous objects. My hands were empty and I was asked to stick my hands out of the food port.

However, these 2 officers are very corrupt. They claimed I was still trying to harm myself and ended up pepper spraying me with a can of Oleo Resin Capsicum (OC) spray. I spent 11 days in crisis bed afterwards. The COs assaulted and used excessive force on a prisoner in need of psychological help.

Since this incident I've filed a grievance against the officers but I can't even get a copy of the incident report. CDCR administrative officials know their personnel are in the wrong so they are trying to make it that much more difficult for me, and are finding stupid reasons to prevent me from obtaining any material to help in my future lawsuit. CDCR administration knows that I have helped at least 3 other prisoners win millions of dollars and that I am very capable of filing successful litigation. I have been granted $63,000 for medical negligence lawsuit.

Recently my cellmate had to get the attention of these same COs due to a possible suicide attempt in our neighbor's cell. Limon approached our cell and noticed my information tag. When he saw it he called for Lonczewsky to "come see who it is." After approaching our cell both officers asked my cellmate, "are you feeling suicidal?" "do you need to get sprayed too?" while shaking an OC spray can.

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[Control Units] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Unlock the Box: Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility has 2 Ad-Seg buildings, 7 and 8.

I've been in it since 5/16/2010 for non-disciplinary reasons. Approximately 400 prisoners are housed in buildings 7 and 8, and only 7 and 8 are currently Ad-Seg units.

Approximately 30% Black, 25-30% Latino, about 30% white, and 10% other.

The primary reasons for housing in Ad-Seg are disciplinary (approximately 70%), safety concerns (20%), debts, drugs, etc. (10%)

I am not sure when it first opened. It's expanded a couple times due to excessive Ad-Seg population to include Facility 2 building 8 as overflow, and Facility 4 building 16 overflow. Neither is used currently.

The guards here at RJD Ad-Seg are some of the most corrupt at the prison. They deny food, meal, clothing. They assault prisoners regularly despite video cameras. Guards verbally abuse nearly all prisoners. Administration continuously moves prisoners to keep them uncomfortable and from being able to relax. Not all guard, but at least 60-75% of them are corrupt. The rest refuse to snitch against co-workers and turn blind eyes, which shows them to be cowards and corrupt in their own ways. I have been the victim of numerous abuses by at least 4 or 5 guards personally.

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