U-n-I tied like laces in shoes.
One without the other and your walk isn't as smooth.
Oppression without resistance is a cowardly act.
Therefore united we must revolt in an infinite pact.
U-n-I tied like laces in shoes.
One without the other and your walk isn't as smooth.
Oppression without resistance is a cowardly act.
Therefore united we must revolt in an infinite pact.
It's after midnight and I am exhausted but the racing thoughts in my head will not allow my body to sleep. My anxiety is at its absolute worst and therefore my insomnia is at its worst.
As a result of having to try to cope with these almost crippling conditions without medication, my depression is also quite severe. Most days I have to force myself to get out of bed. (Keep in mind that when I'm "in bed", I'm not there because I'm sleeping but rather because I cannot find a reason to get up.) When I finally do get up I'm in a constant state of anxiety and panic. I've lived every day of the last year and a half on the verge of a complete nervous and emotional breakdown due to my untreated insomnia and anxiety/panic disorder.
Because of "DOC policy" the medications that were successfully treating these conditions prior to me coming to prison in 2009 were taken from me. The only medication I'm allowed is Cymbalta, which treats my depression.
I have complained to psychology staff and my doctor here that I need these medications back as my mental health is extremely unstable due to not having them. I mentioned to them that it is not unusual for me - since not having these meds - to only get 1-2 hours of sleep a night. I also told them about the panic attacks I've been having. (Anyone who's ever suffered from one of these can tell you just how terrifying they can be.) I've told them all of this and they still refuse to provide me with adequate medications to treat my mental illnesses. Prisoners here do not receive any type of individual therapy to help them cope with such illnesses either.
As a result of IDOC's negligence to my mental health I have suffered immensely. I was forced to drop out of a potentially beneficial academic program as a result of my untreated anxiety and the fact that I could not attend some days because I was not getting enough sleep at night due to my untreated insomnia. When my conditions got so bad that I was contemplating suicide they locked me in a tiny cell with no clothes and no blankets or a bed to sleep on and they left me there for about 2 weeks - the first time. They required me to eat with my hands and would not allow any tangible items in the cell with me, not even a soft covered Bible. Now lets be reasonable here, how am I going to harm myself with a soft covered Bible - or any soft covered book for that matter? They also forced me to let them examine my anus and genital area 3 times per day because they thought I may have had something hidden up there even though I never once left the cell and the door never opened once. It was closed and I never had any type of contact with anyone. Keep in mind someone was outside the cell monitoring me through a fairly large window 24/7.
I believe they secretly thought that keeping me in there for so long under such harsh and inhumane conditions would discourage me from bothering them with my mental health problems anymore as I heard one of the pigs say to the prisoner they appointed to monitor me that "if he wants to keep plain' these fuckin' games he can just stay in there awhile." When he used the word "games" he was referring to me becoming suicidal as a result of their negligence to my mental health needs.
I was recently told by a psychology staff that they could not afford to give me the medications I need because of the recent budget cuts here in this state. I write this letter because I figured people should know that Governor Culver, who claims to so concerned about the safety of Iowa's children, is also the one responsible for the budget cuts that put a barrier between prisoners and adequate mental health treatment which would help all mentally ill prisoners, including pedophiles and other sex offenders, be better rehabilitated and prepared to live as responsible citizens upon release.
So I'll close this letter by posing a few questions. What is more threatening, pedophiles or mentally unstable pedophiles? A domestic abuser or a mentally unstable domestic abuser? A drug dealer who sells drugs to kids or a mentally unstable drug dealer who has a history of selling drugs to kids? I think I've made my point.
MIM(Prisons) responds: As we've written in previous articles about mental health, we look primarily to the environment as a cause for mental health problems like this prisoner describes. It is no wonder that s/he is suffering problems, as s/he is subjected to the torture of isolation that has a documented history of bringing mental health issues. Under imperialism we are forced to accept band-aids for mental health problems, and so many people end up using drugs to bring symptoms under control. As we explained in ULK 13, "As with most problems we face, we can find answers to mental health problems through dialectical materialism and in having the correct political line. In the 1950s the Chinese eliminated the more backwards psychological practices in their society and replaced them with ones focused on getting individuals to connect with and help shape the material world through applying dialectical materialism. Mental health care, like much of Chinese society under Mao, emphasized the importance of both self-reliance and collective help, with the understanding that patients can fight their diseases and lead productive lives in the new society."
A search of the Texas constitution reveals no trace of the word slavery or any reference to the use of prisoner labor as slaves. Nevertheless, Texas has a long and unbecoming history of resisting the economic integration of Blacks into it's society and exploiting the use of prisoners as slave labor (including Mexicans) etc.
The 13th Amendment to the US constitution states in pertinent part: "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime... shall exist within the United States." The 13th Amendment was formally adopted on December 18, 1865. Texas was not among the states ratifying this amendment. In 1866, participants at a constitutional convention took the position that it was unnecessary to adopt this amendment. By taking an oath to support the united states constitution, they had indirectly abolished slavery and this was sufficient. It was not until February 18, 1870 that Texas formally adopted the 13th amendment, and this was only done grudgingly, to satisfy conditions for gaining admission back into the union.
Prisoners perform valuable services in their prisons and in a multitude of different prison industries. Without prisoner labor, these prisons and prison industries could not function. From the inception of its prison system, Texas historically refused to pay its prisoners any wages for their work, no doubt relying upon the clause carving out an exception for prisoner labor in the 13th amendment of the US constitution as their authority for doing so.
The 70th Texas legislature reversed this long standing practice and policy by creating work credits as part of its major overhaul of the parole system. Under the 1/4 as this legislation came to be called, these work credits vested when earned, and hastened a prisoner's mandatory supervision date. Since this law was enacted, prisoners have been receiving a half day of work credit for every day of calendar time served.
During the term of the 74th legislature, from 1995 to 1997, the parole board's ability to perform its statutorily delegated function of reviewing all parole candidates applying the Texas parole guidelines to their cases and issuing decisions as to their fitness for parole was clearly illusory. The parole board was vastly lacking the staff and resources to perform this task. Nevertheless, the 74th legislature increased the authority of the parole board by giving them the right to cancel a prisoner's work credit, simply upon a finding that the prisoner's release could endanger the public's safety.
A finding that a prisoner's release could endanger the public's safety is ambiguous, vague and vulnerable to abuse. Parole candidates have seen their mandatory supervision date pass as well as their good time and work credits rescinded for just this reason, with no factual basis and no reasoned decision to support this finding.
The parole board is making its prisoners serve their sentences day for day, acting above Texas law and of our US Constitution, like the 13th amendment, claiming it is giving out parole when a prisoner is within months or a year of finishing his or her entire prison sentence. Is this not illegal, and prison slavery? Indeed.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We don't like to use the word "slavery" too much in reference to the modern U$ prison system. Though in fact, slavery is legal in U$ prisons according to the 13th Amendment, which this writer seems to ignore. As we have discussed elsewhere, the prison system is not akin to the economic system of slavery in capitalist or pre-capitalist societies. It is a form of the mass lumpenization that is unique to modern imperialism, and is about managing excess populations, not acquiring populations for exploitation.
We appreciate the brief history of Texas policies provided by this writer, but would add to it the significance of the history of the 13th Amendment. As mentioned, this amendment allowed for slavery in prisons at a time when imprisonment of Blacks was even easier than it is today. This was a bone thrown to the white nation in the South who stood to loose out from the new economic realities following the Civil War. Southern whites were given a means to control Black labor on a small scale to get them through the transition. Today the 13th Amendment plays a similar role, where mostly Blacks and Latinos are forced to do much of the maintenance labor to support their own imprisonment, while predominantly white staff make fat checks as watchdogs and bureaucrats in the system.
Here in our Texas prison system, prisoners with mental health issues are being abused, mistreated, assaulted, and forced into harming, hurting, endangering themselves as well as other prisoners and officers. The unit officials are negligently using chemical agents against mentally ill prisoners by spraying pepper spray (OC) directly on us and then leaving us in our contaminated cells as a form of punishment. They leave us there to suffer as they watch with gas masks on. OC cause you to burn for days, and by the cell not being decontaminated, it's an ongoing torture. Every time you touch something in the cell it starts all over again.
Mentally ill prisoners are constantly written bogus disciplinary infractions, which we are automatically found guilty of. The mental health and medical departments are co-defendants with the administration's corrupt misuse of disciplinary policy and procedure by falsifying documents, and signing off on these cases without any sort of support on the prisoner's behalf.
This causes mentally ill prisoners to max their sentences because every major case is automatically a year set off by parole, plus the fact that it's also a year's wait before you can receive eligibility for the appropriate line class all over again. So if you are bipolar paranoid, or have another psychotic disorder, you are constantly in harm's way.
And as I've mentioned, the psych staff corroborates with the administration to keep you down and in the last place. There are not any successful programs for prisoners like myself who are provoked to act out in order to receive immediate help and relief. Our ADA rights [granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act] are being stomped on.
MIM(Prisons) adds: For more on mental health abuses, causes, and cures check out Under Lock & Key issue 15.
In 2006 I stated that the state of Maryland was conceivably the most corrupt DOC in the nation. But the state of Connecticut now holds that distinction. With layer after lay of indecent filth and moral decay, wicked dishonesty and corruption. Prisoners are fair game to be brutalized and tortured, and to have our property stolen or destroyed with impunity. then they act shocked or surprised when one of their captives strikes back. And instead of learning, they intensify the torture, and the cycle starts over again. I am aware of the systematic efforts to stop and delay any mail that is critical of staff or policy. And none of the draconian policies or tactics being used are accidental, and in fact they are a part of larger illegal psychological experiment, disguised under the code name 'behavior modification.' Because there is no outcry by the sheeple as we are stripped of our human and civil rights it will only be a matter of time before the same tactics will be used to control those in the larger society. Prisoners are the most vulnerable in society and if our most basic rights are ignored and denied then none are safe. Prisons always mirror and reflect society.
Prisons across amerikkka are charging astronomical fees for phone calls, victimizing our wives and children so that the millionaires and billionaires can continue to reap untold profits, and a profit is all they care about. Confining you to only your immediate family who can come and visit. Leaving your girlfriends and other important interpersonal relationships out in the cold. They subject your family to all kinds of degrading mistreatment, as if to try to dissuade them from future visits. Once they cut you off from your phone calls and visits then they withhold your mail. Creating a state of total isolation from any community support you may have had. Furthering your dependency upon your captors, they deprive you of any meaningful reading material.
The program of isolation is being run by persons from the mental health field so I know they are aware of the damage and negative effects that are caused by this extreme isolation and sensory deprivation upon its victim's psyche. They are very much aware that by reducing the sensory feedback, which is essential to a person's well being, cracks can appear in their mental defense system. They take those of us who they consider troublesome, militant agitators, writ writers and even jailhouse lawyers, severing all your community ties, depriving you of all human contact, while making every effort to weaken your internal defenses and heighten your susceptibility to the influence and control of the prison authority. If you abandon your individuality and independence as a man, then and only then are you granted so called privileges, i.e. phone calls, commissary or the use of your radio. Personally I see this as the modern equivalent of the old slave breaking technique. If you do not conform your psychological torture continues indefinitely.
In 2009 I was attacked vigilante style by a hoard of guards in retaliation for an assault on a guard that they alleged I did. There were 13 to 17 on top of me, all of them out of control. Without any resistance from me, they sprayed a powerful mace substance point blank up my nostrils, shook the can and sprayed my entire face. This sadistic act was done only to inflict gratuitous pain and suffering. The chemical agent burns upon contact and takes your breath away at 10 feet, so you can imagine the effects of it being sprayed up my nose at point blank range. I believe the chemical burnt the membrane of my nasal passage. Because I was never properly decontaminated, the chemical remained on my skin and in my hair for days, continuously burning me. Contrary to the instruction, they forced my upper torso under hot water, knowing that such action would cause me excruciating pain because the hot water caused the pores to open up and allowed the chemical to go directly to my nerve endings. It felt like someone was striking a red hot poker to my face and skin. The powerful chemical totally took my breath away. While I was unable to breath, a full mask covering my entire head, like those worn by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, effectively preventing me from breathing. My heart was under excessive strain and I had over 1200 pounds on top of me. One guard was punching me repeatedly in my jaw while another one was standing and dropping his knee with all of his weight onto my body. Someone else was trying to break my legs while someone else tried to break my fingers.
Finally they put leg irons and cuffs on me. The leg irons were so tight that I was unable to walk so they dragged me down this quarter mile long hallway. I was put in a dirty filthy cell, and in all my years of doing time I had never been in a more foul place. It smelled like the den of wild animal. There was dried blood, urine and spit on the floor and walls. The toilet had crud caked on it. They 4 pointed (chained feet and hands) to the bed. Three months later I still suffer pain from that night. I was four pointed over night, the longest night of my life. My clothes were ripped off me, leaving me totally naked and the cell was freezing cold.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner has faced brutal repression at the hands of the criminal injustice system, an unfortunately common story, which exposes the oppressive system. This testimony argues that the conditions in prison will eventually be applied to the rest of Amerikan society "it will only be a matter of time before the same tactics will be used to control those in the larger society", but it would be both difficult and unlikely for the imperialists to turn on the oppressor nation in such a strong way. Prisons are a means of social control, used against those who pose a threat to the system. Since Amerikan citizens benefit greatly from imperialism, such measures will not be needed any time soon.
We also need to point out that prisons are not reaping profits, that is not their reason for existence and in fact they require significant subsidies from the government to exist. As we explained in ULK8, prisons are primarily for social control, not profit. They also provide some good labor aristocracy jobs for Amerikan citizens who earn high wages at the expense of the international proletariat. But that is not a profit, that is just imperialist superprofits being redistributed to the labor aristocracy via a job that furthers the imperialist government's goal of social control.
First off, let me just sympathize with the many innocent individuals behind these gates. Remain strong my people.
The North Carolina Department of Corrections (NCDC) is targeting the same exact groups that the California Department of Corrections is targeting: the Muslims, 5 Percenters, Disciples, Crips, Bloods, Moors, Mexicans, and all other non-Amerikans. What gets me though is that everyone knows this, yet do not take the initiative to give their Nations (organizations) a more decent look. I do not feel any sympathy for a group of people who's soulful intentions are to destroy humynity. Most of these gangs, groups, religions, etc. have more negative energy within them than they do positive. Why can't someone start up a food drive or something for Haiti using the CRIP Nation's name (Coloreds Rising In Power) or the BLOOD Nation?
We as gangstas are not making sure that first our house is cleaned, secondly, we are protected, and lastly, that what we represent is receiving a positive acknowledgment from this country. Every time you turn on the television a member has managed to put yet another negative look on the Nation. Stanley "Tookie" Williams was killed by the government, not because of the things he did, but rather, the things that other Crip members were doing. Basically, homies got the "G" killed.
Now, I understand that things can't be controlled after a certain action has taken place, however, we can determine what and when things happen. Gangstas are leaving graffiti, bandanas, and all other sorts of clues for the government to make their cases with. We are supposed to be secretive yet visible.
Inside the prison system, gang members are showing off tattoos, signs and scars. They are admitting to being affiliated and also are telling staff who else is a part of these Nations. There is not one secret kept within these Nations anymore. It's all just a fun game now. These so-called "Big Homies," OGs, 5-star Generals, and Lieutenants aren't pursuing a positive outcome of change. They just love controlling other individuals.
While the gangstas in Cali may be seeking relief from the oppression, the so-called gangstas in North Carolina have grown content with such oppression. Is there any group fighting for the validated members locked up around here? These dudes will hurt each other before they think about helping one another.
About a year ago an indigenous prisoner was murdered by a so-called Crip. Guess how many Crips got charged? Eight! These niggers started snitching on each other. I stay as far away as a I can from the bull jive.
It's just so sad to see so many brothas lost. They believe this gang thing is BLOOD vs. CRIP. I tell them that it is not. It is BLOOD and CRIP. We are 1 Nation together. Divided we aren't anything.
MIM(Prisons) responds: One of the contradictory aspects of the popular language is the use of the term "nation" to refer to a collection of sets. This comrade wants to unite Blacks as one "nation," but goes on to refer to various "nations" among the lumpen, many with Black members. The lumpen organizations took on this language following the righteous revolutionary nationalist movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this period, organizations represented Black, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Chinese and First Nations, and they all worked with each other as allies. Their power came from their correct understanding of national oppression. Today, these groups going around calling themselves "nations," fighting each other, are often part of the same nation, and almost all of them are from the oppressed. When they start recognizing the oppressor as their enemy, then we'll see the kind of power our predecessors had.
This comrade also mentions trying to receive positive recognition within this country. Within one's nation, among the oppressed nations, that is a righteous goal. But Amerika is never going to recognize the oppressed nation youth organizations as positive as long as they represent their interests as oppressed people. The ALKQN has struggled with this exact problem. Even the Black Panthers, who didn't have the same internal contradictions that the ALKQN has, faced general condemnation from Amerika, though they certainly found allies among a minority.
We wouldn't go so far as to say that the state killed Tookie because of what other Crips were doing. We do agree that they used the anti-people activities of groups like the Crips to justify killing Tookie, not to mention to justify locking up 1 million other Black men across the United $tates. But Tookie was killed because he represented true rehabilitation from a misled gangsta youth into a righteous Black nationalist.
When Tookie was killed in 2005, MIM Notes wrote, "The Crips developed within a certain social and historical context. Tookie took part in leading the formation of the Crips after living his life in a certain context, just like the conditions of his life later led him to repent and take on a new purpose in life. The unscientific idea that bad people are just bad cannot explain why Tookie engaged in anti-people activities as a youth, but then turned around to be a positive member of the community later on. In upholding this mantra avoiding scientific explanation, the state ultimately decided that Tookie was just faking his redemption. This was a ridiculous lie." (MIM Notes 329, p.1) Tookie should be upheld as an example for the criminalized youth of today.
I am writing in regards to an article titled "False Gang Validations to Repress Latinos" featured in your Under Lock & Key, May/June 2010 newsletter. The author "seeks advice, assistance or referral on how to get word out about biased racial profiling, mass validations, and [officials'] failure to follow their own policies and laws." I am somewhat familiar with the validation process and can only offer advice on that subject. Hopefully it is enough to help steer anyone interested in the right direction.
For starters we have to address the fact that officials are knowingly violating your rights because they know that prisoners are not familiar with the validation process and because appeals coordinators will prevent your CDCR-602 [grievance] appeal from being processed. This is accomplished by screening-out 602s by either applying false rules that don't exist in the California Code of Regulations, Title-15, or the Department Operations Manual (DOM), and by also manipulating current rules by applying them to situations that don't justify the use of that particular rule. The Federal Court in Nunez v. Duncan , 591 F.3d 1217 (9th Cir. 2010) and the State Court in In re Hudson (2007) 143 Cal. App. 4th 1, 49 Cal.Rptr.3d 74, have caught on to these obstructionist tactics and now deem a 602 appeal exhausted if the appeals coordinator prevents you from exhausting your appeal. But you must still follow legitimate and established rules and regulations. The exhaustion exception only applies when officials are the ones who are preventing you from exhausting. So don't be discouraged if the appeals coordinator repeatedly screens out your appeal. Challenge their screen out decision two or three times in order to create a record for the Court that will show you made a good faith effort to exhaust and that it was officials who were the obstructionists.
DOM § 54100.8, only allows the appeals coordinator to: (1) screen appeals to determine if you followed proper procedural rules. They are not to use the screen-out form to discourage you from pursuing your appeal by addressing the issue on part "A" of the 602. The issue is to be addressed by a reviewer not the appeals coordinator; (2) this section also prohibits the appeals coordinator from construing the appeals process in any way that would place an unreasonable burden on your right to file a 602; and (3) the appeals coordinator is to provide you with clear instructions needed in order to have your appeal processed. They always screen-out a 602 by telling you what rule you allegedly violated but they don't tell you how to correct the problem. Make sure you insist on clear instructions needed to overcome the screen-out decision. With this in mind we now turn to the validation process.
When a prisoner is being considered for validation, at the minimum, the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1, Sections 7(a) & 15, of the California Constitution, require prison officials to provide you with: (1) meaningful notice of being considered for validation through a CDCR-114 lock-up order; (2) an opportunity to express your views to the Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) prior to your validation package being submitted to Sacramento for approval; (3) CDCR-1030 Confidential Disclosure forms for each source of information they intend to count as a validation point (the 1030s must be provided 24 hours prior to IGI interview); (4) officials must designate you as being a current active member or associate by identifying specific gang activity or conduct allegedly performed by you on behalf of the gang; and (5) if Sacramento approves the validation package, you have a right to be taken before a Classification Committee. (see Toussanint v. McCarthy, 926 F.2d 800, 803-05 (9th Cir. 1990); Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F.Supp. 1146, 1276-77 (N.D. Cal.1995); the terms of a settlement agreement in Castillo v. Alameda, Case No. C-94-2847-MJJ (N.D.Cal.), which became binding on the CDCR in September 2004; and California Code of regulations, Title-15, Sections 3378; 3000 (see definition of "gang"); and 3023.)
Once in segregation for validation reasons, the State and Federal Due Process Clause also guarantees you the right to periodic reviews by the Classification Committee on at least a weekly or monthly basis during the first two months of segregation and then once every 120 days thereafter. (see, Toussanint v. McCarthy, 926 F.2d 800, 803-05 (9th Cir. 1990); and Toussaint v. Rowland, 711 F.Supp. 536,540 fn.10 (N.D.Cal. 1989).)
If validated you could challenge each validation point under the Due Process Clause by alleging that each point is unreliable because it does not meet the "some evidence" standard and do not have an "indicia of reliability" as there is no corroboration, the information is hearsay obtained through someone else, or the information is completely false. (see, Superintendent v. Hill (1985) 472 U.S. 445, 105 S.Ct. 2768; Cato v. Rushen, 824 F.2d 703,705 (9th Cir. 1987); and Cal. Code of Regulations, Title-15, Sections 3321; 3084.5(h)(2)(C); and 3378(c)(8)(A)-(M)
If officials allege that you committed a specific act of violence on behalf of the gang, then you are entitled to greater Due Process protections: (1) they must issue you a CDCR-114 Rules Violation Report outlining in as much detail as possible, who, what, when and where this alleged violation took place; (2) they must state what evidence they have to support the CDCR-115; (3) they must allow you an opportunity to present witnesses and documentary evidence; and (4) they must assign an Investigative Employee (IE) to assist you in preparing your defense. (see Wolff v. McDonnell (1974) 418 U.S. 539,563-66; and California Code of Regulations, Title-15, Sections 3315-3319.)
This information is only a basic starting point. You should make every effort to research these cases. Good luck with your struggles.
I just got a letter from you a couple days ago and I think that y'all movement is really what I am into and what I stand for and that is putting an end to all oppression. I am locked in prison at this moment and I am also a part of a gang that Tookie Williams put together, which is the real reason why he got the death penalty.
I'm in a Security Housing Unit (SHU) right now for watching a fight between two prisoners. Just because I'm in the system as a Crip they took me to SHU where I have been going on two years. A couple of days ago I was maced for not letting the CO throw a Rasta Crown away. I asked them to let me send it home if I could not have it but they told me that sending it home was not an option. So I told them to go get the higher rank. The assistant unit manager told me that I have no rights to be requesting to talk to anyone, so they left my cell door and came back a few minutes later with 8 or 9 COs threatening to come in my cell to beat me up and spray me with mace if I did not give up my Rasta Crown. So I told them that if they were going to throw it away then I was not giving it to anyone and they popped the trap on my cell door open and shot mace in my cell and left me in there where I couldn't breath. Then after six minutes in a cell with a lot of mace everywhere they took me out and stripped my cell to the point that I had not even a roll of restroom paper. They left me like this for 72 hours; no socks on my feet, nothing to keep me from being cold. It got to the point where I was throwing up blood so I put in a sick call. When the time came for me to see the doctor they would not let me go.
I will not stand and let these COs think that they are getting the best of me. These people who say they are here to stop the crimes or violence behind the wall are really the ones who are beating on people and doing anything to oppress. And they are the justice system, prison system. They hate to see a Muslim, Rasta, gang banger sticking together to overcome this oppression that these people are coming at us with. They hate to see a Black man reading a book about Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party or anything to learn about your Black history. They are willing to do whatever to make you dumb so that you will never know about where you came from.
The only people in SHU are Black and Latino; no white people are in SHU here.
MIM(Prisons) responds: As we wrote in a response in ULK 16, Tookie was murdered because he was a Crip and he truly reformed himself to serve his people.
In reading the May/June 2010 newsletter Under Lock & Key I have come to grips with the fact that we prisoners in Florida are not the only one subjected to and victimized by this oppression, corruption, and systematic abuse in the US prison system. As a new subscriber to ULK, and a fellow comrade, I have also come to grips with the fact that in order to change this oppressive prison system we must use litigation and the creation and maintenance of a prisoners' rights movement both inside and outside of the prison walls. At the same time we can't lose focus of the bigger picture of imperialism and must be carrying out our work as a part of a larger anti-imperialist strategy.
On March 26, 2010 I filed a 1983 Civil Rights complaint in the United States District Court of Florida's Northern District for cruel and unusual punishment against officials of Florida's Department of Organized Crimiaals (DOC). These law abiding criminals (Correction Officers) are taking advantage of a systematic "torture procedure" that was implemented as a tool of intimidation and torture to keep prisoners in check and from rebelling against this abusive and oppressive prison system. This "torture procedure" is a use of force procedure that allows prison officials to administer chemical agents into the cells of prisoners at the slightest infraction or if a prisoner does something or says something an officer does not like. You may get gassed out of retaliation or even if the officer doesn't like you.
It usually goes down with an officer coming to your cell role playing like he is counseling with you about your behavior. This role playing is continued with a sergeant and lieutenant or captain to make it appear for the cameras as if they are counseling with you about some alleged behavior that was "disruptive" or "a threat" to staff. Once the role playing is done the oppressors role your door with a chain on it and unload big cans of mace into your cell to torture and abuse you. The spraying or gassing (as the oppressors call it) usually goes on for three rounds. During each round you are left in the cell at least five minutes or longer to suffer from the effects of the mace (coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing and severe burning of the skin and eyes). Once the gassing is over you are pulled out of your cell and placed in an empty cell for 72 hours in only your boxers with no clothes, property, mattress, sheets or blanket. If you refuse to come out your cell to be subjected to this additional punishment after you have just been victimized then the oppressor (usually a captain) will assemble a good squad (extraction team) to come in to get you.
This article is written to expose the corruption and systematic abuse within Florida's Department of Organized Criminals. If we are going to abolish oppression and systematic abuse systems such as this one in Florida, it's going to have to come through litigation and a unified effort on our part and our fellow comrades on the outside to establish a prisoners' rights movement. Meanwhile, our motto should be: resistance! resistance! resistance!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this prisoner's call for resistance in the legal system and building a strong resistance movement. However, we have no illusions that we can abolish oppression through litigation. This comrade does mention that we can't lose sight of the larger struggle against imperialism, and it is this struggle that leads to our understanding that fighting legal battles is a strategy for this stage of the struggle but not a solution to end oppression.
I received your pamphlet on control units and the introductory letter. I enjoyed it and am in favor of any campaign calling for the abolition of such cruelty and torture as is inflicted by the DOC's control units.
These torture chambers are also used to monitor mentally ill prisoners who are at risk of suicide. They force the man (I don't like to use the term "inmate" if it can be avoided - we're human beings who have worth and value. Words such as "inmate," "offender," and any other titles that have been given to incarcerated individuals are very degrading as they have very negative stigmas attached to them) to strip completely naked and put on a suicide smock, which is basically comparable to wearing a cardboard gown. They do not allow the person any tangible items whatsoever to be in the cell with them - not even a bible or some other book - until a psychiatrist determines that he/she is no longer a danger to hself.
Now, let's think about this: How is somebody going to kill themselves with a book? Now, if one wants to play the "what if" game, they could ask, "what if they got a hold of a hard cover book and bashed their heads in with it until they were dead while the guy who gets paid to sit right outside the cell and watch them through a window 24 hours a day takes his eyes off them for a split second for the purpose of looking at the booger on his finger before flicking it?" (And trust me, this is the kind of ludicrous crap these DOC pigs use to justify some of their absurd policies.) But this problem is very easily solved; don't give them hard cover books! Give them soft-cover books.
Anyway, while in the cell the individual is forced to do 3 strip searches per day per IDOC (Iowa Department of Corrections) policy even though he/she may never have left the cell or even had their cell door opened for any reason. In one particular facility of the IDO , the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, the prison officials won't even allow the mentally ill person to shower, on the grounds that they "might drown themselves." I have personally experienced this kind of humiliating and dehumanizing cruelty as I was placed in a control unit cell when I temporarily lost hope in life and became suicidal. They called it "mental health observation status." (MHO)
MIM(Prisons) responds: As we pointed out in the issue of ULK 15 on Mental Health in prisons, the brutality of prisons causes mental health problems. It's no surprise that prisoners, facing daily humiliation, brutality and oppression, and cut off from family and friends, become depressed and even suicidal. And by keeping these prisoners from access to reading material and subjecting them to strip searches, things can only get worse. Join MIM(Prisons) in organizing against this oppression.