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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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[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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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Hoke Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 15]
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Sleep deprivation to control oppressed

I am currently in the hole, and on May 19 after the 6 p.m. shift change two second-shift Correctional Officers came on duty here on the lockup unit. Almost immediately these two COs began making their rounds, which was unusual. It seemed every few minutes one of them was knocking on our cell door asking if we were alright, which was certainly unusual. As the day turned into night I noticed these annoying visits did not stop. Around 11:40 p.m. I was awoken several times. I then asked the CO what was going on, why she keeps waking us up every few minutes. She advised me that the shift captain ordered that every prisoner in solitary will be awakened every 30 minutes to ensure no one slips into a diabetic coma. I was flabbergasted by their reasoning for depriving us of sleep.

This prison has recently become a medical unit, but not all of the prisoners here are sick; 75% of us are completely healthy. Nonetheless, there are 20 of us on lockup, and only one prisoner is diabetic. Around 2:30 a.m. the shift captain was making her rounds. I got her attention and I asked who authorized this new practice and its policy. She advised me that she was ordered by our current assistant superintendent that until further notice we shall be awakened every 30 minutes to assure we are responsive. We are suffering, and as a result of us being deprived of sleep we lack the sense of concentration. It seems our assistant superintendent can and does alter the rules at will. No one questions or challenges his decisions or his authority. Nonetheless, we just want the proper sleep we are entitled to. I filed a grievance on this issue with no reply as of yet. I want to let others know what we are going through here at Hoke Hell.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Hoke "Correctional" Institution's purpose is to "correct" and control the behavior of people who they see as a potential threat to their structure of domination. Sleep deprivation, just like psych meds, nutrient-lacking food, and environmental toxins, is one form of physically attacking the humyn brain, with potentially long-term health effects. It's a joke that this is common practice in places that claim to be about "correcting" people, when they are clearly about degrading people for easier control.

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[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 14]
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Snitch strategy backfires

When will prisoners stop repeating the same errors? I'm referring to the different examples where prisoners declare and promise to be the ones to contribute to change prisoners violations, inhumane conditions or prison problems? Then you realize that everything was only a trap. You burn your brain out trying to figure out how you became an oppressor, an enemy of prison change, or prison progress. That bunch of idiots who you thought were down/hard core prison reformers or revolutionaries, as always turn out to be only real cowards, or snitches. Functioning under lie after lie, to control you somehow.

Under the prison system, prisoners are turned into oppressors. A recent example is a group of prisoners devoted to snitching. They keep their Laundry List, as it is called, of targets for repression. They operate under sentencing guidelines 5K1.1 that has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. Under this guideline, they receive preferential treatment in exchange for snitch info. Prison informants usually turn in false information to the prison administration so they can get away with disciplinary infractions or other kinds of illegal actions.

Other city homeboys and I decided to infiltrate the snitch group that claimed they were against prison gangs, even though the group itself was acting as an undercover snitch prison gang that wanted prison protection in exchange for snitch info. They took it to another level: they turned in false info to the administration to lock up gang members or any prison group they feared, violent or not. If you didn't want to be a snitch you would end up in Ad-Seg, on lockdown, usually under false info. So now many sit in Ad-Seg, misclassified to prison gangs they never belonged to. The only way to get out of Ad-Seg in Texas is to denounce a gang. How do you denounce a gang you never belonged to?

Let's recall some of the Texas prison struggles. In 1974 the Texas prison system had no prison gangs, but officials had "Building Tenders" (BTs) carrying out all kinds of violence against other Texas prisoners. The BTs acted as prison guards dressed in white prisoners uniforms. They were allowed to get away with anything, even killings.

In 1976 the first Texas prison gang popped up, promising to go against the BTs, in an act of retribution that would present a better challenge for prisoner rights. The honorable United States Judge William Wayne Justice decided to abolish the BTs system, under a federal court ruling. With the BT system dead, other prisoners in Texas formed themselves into hostile prison gangs.

At the same time racist riots popped off across the Texas prison system because each cultural group was against each others' strategies to defend prisoners' rights. A "we got the better strategies for prison reform" mentality blossom up because "my" race or city is always better than "yours."

Today in the 2000s this group is the New Building Tenders. Yet their snitch, or rather false info, tactics against other prisoners has now backfired in their face because the ex-gang members continue to grow and have become a group that can't be placed in Ad-Seg unless they return back to their old gangs.

Once a Laundry List is turned in with all kinds of prisoners' names, 99.5% of the time they are placed in Ad-Seg. So the snitches proclaim to be doing a great job against Texas gangs. The prison system refuses to classify them as a gang so they cann't be placed in Ad-Seg as long as they stay in line.

Under the sentencing guidelines 5K1.1 methods, it allows the government (in this case the prison security threat office) to recommend a downward departure from the guidelines. In this case disciplinary reports given to prison informants, in exchange for substantial assistance provided to the government by a prison informant in the prosecution of others.

The availability of a benefit by cooperation with the government (prison administration) can create a strong incentive for a criminal defendant (prison informant) to exaggerate or even fabricate false info against another prisoner, which is usually acted upon without real facts or evidence.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Most lumpen organizations(LOs) have their origins in youth from a certain group banding together in self-defense. Originally, it was always self-defense from the oppressor nation who terrorized them to keep them outside of the labor market. Once the prison boom launched off the backs of the oppressed nations, then the need for self-defense from constant state harassment and brutality was needed. But the broader the organizations of the oppressed were, the more they were targeted for repression and destruction, leaving only the small, narrow-focused groups who were more easily turned against each other, especially after crack cocaine was thrown in the mix to create real economic competition between the groups.

Amerikkka has always repressed LOs because they represent a power of the oppressed that is independent of the state. When mere membership in an organization triggers the state to throw you in a torture cell, you must realize that something serious is going on.

Many people on all sides recognize that the struggle and strife between LOs got out of control a long time ago. Many among the lumpen have been critical of their current and former affiliations. As we said to the LOs in the last issue of ULK, the best way to stop snitching is to run an organization that the oppressed can respect, especially if you are recruiting people by claiming to represent the struggles of the oppressed in some way. Criminal organizations will never have a shortage of snitches, especially when the state is much more powerful than them.

Another issue brought up in this letter is the emergence of "anti-gang" organizations, which is not an uncommon thing. The writer asks how we can stop repeating the same errors and getting fooled into following false leaders. Well, the answer is by studying and establishing principles based on your studies that you always follow. One key principle of the anti-imperialist, or anyone hoping to serve the oppressed, is not to collaborate with the oppressor's state. That principle would prevent anyone with genuine intentions from joining a snitch group like the one discussed here.

Traditionally, Marxism considers the lumpen to be a fickle ally. They are often at the forefront of conflict, but have served many different class interests. Their lifestyle and conditions promote an individualism that is easily translated to snitch behavior. Note that the unnamed group discussed here is reportedly large and diverse and this story does not necessarily represent all groups going by that name, which is indicative of this individualist, fickle nature. As this comrade also points out though, among the oppressed, the snitches are the minority. So with good organization and correct principles, the interests of the oppressed will win out.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Northern Correctional Institution] [Connecticut]
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Revolutionary POWs fight to abolish control units

Northern Correctional Institution in Connecticut is a control unit that houses security risk group safety threat members (SRGSTM), chronic discipline prisoners, administrative segregation (A/S), and death row prisoners. Both authors of this are labeled SRGSTM and because of a peaceful protest are now A/S prisoners. One author has been in this control unit for almost 4 years and the other for 1 year.

We are locked down 23 hours a day and 24 hours a day on the weekends. We are only allowed 3 showers a week with leg irons on our feet. Visits: behind a window, SRGSTM gets 1 hour visit, A/S and chronic discipline 30 mins, only immediate family members. There is no school, except for prisoners under 21 years of age with disabilities who qualify. No job training to anyone. No law library except to death row prisoners. No real medical assistance. Telephones: the state of CT has a control contract with a phone company that forces us prisoners to pay far more for our calls than people in the world. We are only allowed a list of ten phone numbers that has to be approved. SRGSTM are allowed three 15 minute calls a week and A/S and chronic discipline one 15 minute call a week and all telephone conversations are monitored and recorded. We are all also cuffed with leg irons and handcuffs while on the phone. We are cuffed this way for all out of cell movements.

Recreation yard is 1 hour on weekdays. SRGSTM are cuffed behind our backs while in the yard for our 1 hour of out of the cell rec. A/S are taken off of cuffs once we are placed in a rec yard cell about the same size as our cells. Sometimes they make prisoners pick between hot food or their rec. If you go to rec, your food will be given to you cold. You are not allowed real footwear in A/S or hats and gloves in the jail, same for SRGSTM, CD, and death row. Meaning no matter how cold it is outside we are never allowed inside dayroom rec. We are only giving things to clean our cells once a week.

A lot of the time they force prisoners to go in the cells with other prisoners who have life sentences and have already told the administration they do not want cell mates and they will kill the person they put in their cells. Most of the time these prisoners they put in the cells with these lifers are short timers and parole violators. Northern has already had 5 killings because of this about two this year. They will not give prisoners personal hygiene items, writing paper, envelopes, copies of legal work, or cloths if your account says you have had money in the last 90 days, meaning you have to not have money for 90 days in order to receive any of those things.

The grievance procedures are set up to prolong your rights to the courts. They only have 30 business days to answer your grievances. If that time is up they can file for an extension. The problem with that is there is no limit to how many extensions of time they can give for one grievance.

I know you are well informed about in-cell restraints and 4-point restraints (both authors have gone through this a number of times). In cell restraints are for 72 hours, you can't use the bathroom and if you somehow find a way to, you can not clean yourself. Food comes in cups and no utensils are given to eat with forcing you to eat with your fingers at the same time you are not allowed soap or any kind of hygiene items (but if you were how would you use them on restraints?). The in-cells are never cleaned after another prisoner comes out and one goes in, you can't flush your bathroom, nor are you allowed a role of bathroom paper. These are some of the things that take place in this control unit.

They also have dogs next to you every time you leave your cells. You are strip searched for all out of cell movement even when you have not come in contact with no one. You have officers who retaliate against prisoners who file grievances on them or their fellow officers. Prisoners are beat, maced in the mouth, face, eyes, even after the situation is under control.

We stand ready and willing to assist any way we can to abolish these control units.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 14]
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Forty-three to one


I never learned to turn the other cheek,
to bow down to oppression I think is being weak;
And who taught our children to love thy enemy,
how can they have pride in themselves and,
yet be accepting of tyranny;
I will not allow our youth to be confused by
false Amerikkkan history;
I will teach them honor of Marcus Garvey, George Jackson and Joseph Cinque of the Amistad mutiny;
I will show them unity, though it be a fist of solidarity,
gloved and also in a clench,
I will dispel the myths of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Bush and the notorious Willie Lynch;
You hold up images of Armstrong Williams, Clarence Thomas and no child left behind,
yet you outlaw Malcolm, Huey, Nat Turner and Bobby Seale's Seize the Time;
Your greed is fed by capitalism which creates
a world of endless war zones;
You sell Israel F-14s, yet you watch Palestine
defend itself with nothing but sticks and stones;
You proclaim equality, so we had hope during the trial of Rodney King;
You spoke of love as an eventual reality,
but in 1968 you assassinated our dream;
You exploit our words with pawn shops,
liquor stores and broken down shacks;
You sell our kids guns, pork chops, Jordans,
Lil Wayne, Kools, heroin and crack;
you brainwash our youth to be killers and to
fight for ole Uncle Sam, but when they lose
an arm, a leg or just need a helping hand,
you say there's no money in the nation's
wealth care program;
Innocent until proven guilty, at least that's what
the supreme court say;
It took you almost 14 years,
but you still came back to make O.J. pay;
Your credibility is reminiscent of chickens
being in the care of a sly old fox;
You gave the Amerikkkan natives a trojan horse,
infected with small pox;
You invaded the motherland, with a smile, a pistol
and filled with the holy ghost, and in the blink of an eye
it turned to mischief and bloodshed,
on Afrika's west coast;
You stole kings and queens and tried to turn
them into slaves,
but some chose the Atlantic ocean to be their cold wet graves;
Some were passive and obedient, they did what
they were told,
some were like Harriet Tubman and sought
their freedom on the underground railroad;
One refused the draft as he floated like a
butterfly and stung like a bee,
while one used nationality and religion to help
uplift fallen humanity;
one was on the move, got bombed, so you know
that we had to keep her,
One used a podium and socialism and we coined
all power to the people;
We've produced lawyers and doctors
and Langston Hughes a very poetic talker;
And with great ingenuity, our first female
millionaire was the incomparable madame CJ Walker;
Some tried to shake names like Toby or George
or even Cassius Clay,
But some were called Oscar because of "Monster's Ball" and Denzel's Training Day;
So now we have Obama, the 44th President is our own native son,
but you still find reasons to hate us,
even though you're still winning "forty three to one."

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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Mahanoy] [Pennsylvania]
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PA transferring prisoners out of state

I'm writing from SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA about the department of corrections new policy of saving money off the backs of prisoners. They are getting contracts for shipping PA prisoners to Michigan and to Virginia, shipping them out by force and making them buy new products if they are not clear/see-through: radios, TVs, footlockers, you must trash or send them home. If you don't want to be transferred they use force.

Second issue is the law library isn't always open, it is supposed to open 7 days a week for people to have access to the courts.

Number three is the medical department staff don't check older prisoners for cancer, or any other medical problem in a timely fashion. Mental health doctors and medical staff won't give people that are arrested prescription medical for medical and mental health issues.

The prison staff tell you that if you try to put any paperwork of any kind it will go in your personal file and it will look bad for you when you try to get pre-release or parole.

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[Organizing] [Oklahoma] [ULK Issue 14]
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The situational ethics of snitching

An issue that was addressed in ULK that deserves a bit more comment is the involvement or non-involvement of so-called "snitches" or Special Needs Yard (SNY) prisoners in any political movement and/or prison reform activities.

The philosophy of the snitch is contradictory. I've been in prison for over 16 years. I have done time in three states and I have seen the hundreds of ways people have been labeled "snitches." For example, here in Oklahoma a prisoner is labeled a "snitch" if he files a grievance, even on obstruction of mail. It's seen as "snitching on staff." Prison administrators will utilize that to try and get other prisoners to ostracize a person and/or otherwise abuse, distrust or spread rumors about a person.

This is especially true when it comes to prison officials who harm or abuse prisoners. If you report the abuse, you're labeled a "snitch." Of course, when the shoe is on the other foot and a guard is harmed they run to the "snitches" for information. It's contradictory and it is also what is called "situational ethics."

Situational ethics is when a person uses a particular situation and action to justify their immediate needs, be they financial, safety, etc. If they do not like a person, for example, they'll label him a "snitch." But if they have a friend who has done the same deed they will justify his actions. It is purely situational.

The psychology of it all is baffling. But in the political sphere it has no place. As a prisoner in ULK no. 13 noted, violence on SNY is much, much less, and there is more unity on SNY. I can't attest to that myself because I've never been on a SNY, however, I do believe it to be true. I've heard that same story over and over about so-called "soft yards."

Information gathering is a valuable tactic in the political sphere as well. This is true whether it is the oppressed or oppressor. Information can be used to protect or harm. How you utilize your sources can be beneficial. If you know someone is a "snitch" or you have reasonable suspicions, then feeding that person false or beneficial information can help you and others. For example, if you know someone will run to the cops and report you then the information you tell them should only benefit, not harm you. They become an unwitting agent of good.

Lastly, prison reform will never come if you constantly look to others to motivate you. Just do what you have to do, and when you come across like-minded people - or even people who may not support your beliefs but support your efforts - you can add them to your album of associates.

MIM(Prisons) responds: What this comrade calls "situation ethics" we would also call "subjectivity." Like s/he said, subjectivity has no place in politics. We need to have a set of ethics that serve the most oppressed people in the world. We cannot let our criticism be swayed by whether we're cool with whoever did the action. This is true in all actions, not just sharing info with the pigs.

On the group or political level we define our ethics by our class perspective. It makes sense for the COs to both persecute snitches and utilize snitches depending on who they are snitching on, as this writer describes. Similarly, we want COs to expose other COs for abusing prisoners. In general, opposing snitching is progressive, because it is a source of conflict and repression as people are opportunistically spreading information to benefit themselves in the short-term. But to take an absolute moral stance on snitching ignores the fact that we need to expose the oppressor to the people.

The only point we disagree with this comrade on is that they say we should only control the information we share with known snitches or people we suspect to be snitches. We would push this one degree further and say that we should only share information on a need-to-know basis, and assume everyone is a possible informant. We went much more in depth on this topic in ULK 13.

This article referenced in:
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[Control Units] [Florida] [ULK Issue 15]
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Rolling with the punches

I'm in disciplinary confinement for 300 days. I'm informing you to let you know they are all about punishment. However, there are several benefits to confinement as opposed to general population.

First, as an analytical thinker, I have the solitude to concentrate on what's more important, instead of the normal population activities of doing what Masta says and spending my people's money on the high-priced zoom zooms and wam wams. Second, I can think of ways to further the struggle and communicate with you all from within this "think tank." Last, regardless of where on the plantation I am, the clock still ticks, so 300 days is that much closer to my max date.

I'm getting much rest and I'm preserving my mind and body for the revolution and the future. So if I can help formulate any ideas and/or literature to help enlighten and educate the masses, just let me know.

It's a shame that these people try to make the public think they're all about trying to make prisoners better people so they'll be productive members of society, yet in confinement we are not allowed any books except a bible. We can't have a dictionary or any other book to educate your mind. It's obvious that they couldn't care less about our betterment when they use education material as a punishment.

They also use hygiene products as a punishment. In confinement I can't have my soap, lotion, toothpaste, dental floss, etc. They give us half of a hotel bar of soap to last a week, and a hotel toothpaste to last a month. So I'm only able to brush my teeth once a day or it won't last for 30 days. If food gets stuck in my teeth, I have to get a piece of string out of the sheets or boxers.

Socks are also not provided so the ones I came in with have to last 300 days. With no soap to wash them, I have to take an all-water shower once a week to save the soap to wash my boxers and socks. But hey, I'm learning survival skills and I'm stronger for it!

A weak mind will take this punishment or these conditions and feel degraded, but I often think about the conditions my ancestors endured on those slave ships, and the savage, degrading and humiliating conditions of life on these plantations under forced servitude and criminal bondage. Their only crime was being born with melanin in their skin. I think of how the Masta cut up a hog and took all the lean meat for ham, pork chops, bacon, and sausage, then threw the garbage to the slaves like the intestines, the feet, ears, tails, etc. Yet they made "soul food" with it. They made swamp grass into collard greens. And everything else that was used as punishment they used to become stronger, resilient, and more hardened to whatever the enemy came up with.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Adapting to whatever challenges the oppressor throws our way is an important part of survival under imperialism, including maintaining mental health. Long-term isolation is probably one of the greatest mental health challenges the oppressed will face. So we commend this comrade's positive outlook and willingness to do work, even though it is much more limited while locked in isolation.

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[Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Repression at RJD

I'm a prisoner here in Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) in San Diego. I can relate to the story of the brother on your article in ULK 13 (Inspired by Mao, fighting legal battles). Like that brother, I've been sitting in the hole since November 2009.

I came to RJD on the CCCMS program [for prisoners who have been diagnosed as mentally ill]. I got on that program to get away from Calipatria prison. I was at the prison for 10 years and had enough of their corruptions. Little did I know that RJD is a lot more corrupt than Calipatria prison. Since arriving here last November I've filed numerous grievances to try to get sent to the Sensitive Needs Yard, but the 602s [grievance appeals] don't go no where. They mysteriously get disappeared. They said they would look into it and call me back to classification the following week. That was in January 2010. I've yet to go! I feel like I'm lost in this cell!

My mail comes late. I've yet to receive any of several magazine subscriptions I have. The guards don't pass books like they are supposed to. The few books I have I'm being forced to reread repeatedly to stay sane! Some of the prisoners don't have anything to read. It's no wonder why so many prisoners lose their sanity or attempt to commit suicide.

I look all around me and I say to myself, "This is not the big house. This is the crazy house!" For obvious reasons I've chosen to refuse cellies! In March, Captain Koen illegally tried to force prisoners in my cell. On both occasions I've fought them and get soaked in pepper spray; which was not legal. In the hole you have to consent to a celly before one is put there with you. On these two occasions I didn't consent. I don't know what to do. I've written the proper procedures to commence a lawsuit which begins by submitting a 602. I know the first ones got torn and thrown away. I've filed a third one, to the Director of Appeals, signed as confidential mail by a guard. I prey that made it out of the prison. Also I sent a letter to the Prison Law Office in the hopes they could assist me.

That day, there were several other incidents as well. You're right, oppression is getting worse and worse as time goes on. There's no unity whatsoever. It's so terrible here in Ad-Seg that the guards trade our showers for extra trays or lunch. We usually don't shower because we're all damned near starved. The food is just enough to keep you alive.

And for the last two or three weeks they've claimed they lost a gun so the entire prison has been on lockdown. It's all a farce as to what the real reason why we are on lockdown. It's plain to see - overtime. The CDCR is out of control and so are their guards. They believe that because we're in prison we're lesser humans than them.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Comrades in California have taken up a campaign to fight the useless system for processing 602s that leads to harassment and retaliation instead of resolution of the problems. According to the Department Operations Manual (DOM), Subsection 54100.2, the purpose of the Inmate/Parolee Appeals Procedure is to:

Provide a vehicle for review of department policies, procedures, practices, conditions, incidents and actions which may adversely affect an inmate's welfare, status and program," and to "provide for resolution for grievances at the lowest possible level with timely responses to the appellant.

Write MIM(Prisons) to get a copy of the petition and other campaign info to join this campaign being led by United Struggle from Within (USW) in California.

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