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[Medical Care] [Connally Unit] [Texas]
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Fighting for Sanitary Conditions in Texas

Since being at Connally Unit, going on a year since I was released from administrative segregation, I can honestly say that conditions are at their worst. I've submitted grievances and nothing has been done about it. For one, we have five showers to each pod, each pod holds 48 prisoners, each shower has only one shower head, and we are limited by the time we receive during day room, which is less than 2 hours a day. These showers are only opened during that time. If you go out to recreation before or after day room, you are not allowed to shower. These showers are locked most of the time during and after recreation. And to finish that off, the temperature of the water can cook a soup.

I am also concerned about our health and the drinking water in the day room that we don't have, with this hot weather, the hottest in South Texas record. Our water fountain has not produced water since the beginning of the summer. Prisoners here have passed out, dehydrated, and have had bad chest and headaches since this started.

We get our mail stolen from time to time, racist staff employees harass and abuse their power and authority as if they have something to prove to the white man (most employees here on Connally Unit are Latinos and Blacks). They like to see us divided, fighting our own oppressed brothers, they want us blind and confused and then on top of that you have these puppets who cater to their masters, by snitching and who help keep us down.

Our food is not properly washed and cleaned such as our beans and greens. Sometimes I find pieces of rock and dirt mixed in there. Our greens are spoiled and have been for the past six months, our bread most of the time is baked with mildew.

Exterminators for mice and ants and other insects have not done their job. Mice get into our lockers and eat our food, the ant eats what's left from that food. Our hygiene is not properly attended to, such as tooth brushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shower slides, etc. Speaking about shower shoes, all this is sold to us through the commissary store, and if you don't receive money from your family, you can't afford to purchase these items because here in Texas you don't get payed for working in prison. In our cell rooms we don't get any kind of chemicals to clean our toilets, sink, floor, walls, bunks, and lockers from germs.

Our showers have fungus on the floor and walls. Just recently they (prisoners working for the system) came with their boss (state employee) and laid down a layer of sand glue to cover up the fungus under it. Just imagine if you have no shower shoes: that causes one to see medical due to foot fungus.

You only have 10 people you can put on your visitation list, and if you receive money from anyone, no matter who that person is, if that person is not on your visitation list and you receive money unauthorized by administration, you can receive, such as I did, a 15.0 trafficking and trading case, which is a major case.

So let us unite our strengths and fight for the oppressed masses, which are many, and not our personal gains and recognition. Let us stand side by side and demonstrate, for a better way of life.

As Mao told us that an army "is powerful because all of its members have a conscious discipline; they...come together and they fight not for the private interests of a few individuals or a narrow clique, but for the interests of the broad masses and of the whole nation."

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[Legal] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 13]
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Anti-Censorship Lawsuit Strategies Used by a Successful Jailhouse Lawyer

This article was submitted a year ago after the author won a successful anti-censorship lawsuit in Wisconsin where the prison administration was censoring materials because they were critical of the department and encouraged legal challenges to their abuses. As MIM(Prisons) continues to stress, censorship has nothing to do with the safety and security of humyn beings and everything to do with the safety and security of the state and its use of repression. This article is being posted as we work to release a collection of legal documents and launch a Serve the People program for jailhouse lawyers. We apologize for not publishing this sooner.

Dear MIM Distributors,

I am glad to share with your readers the successful strategy used in my First Amendment case that could be used by other prisoners in the future. However, I would be remissed if I didn't acknowledge the assistance of well known Legal Activist and Para-legal "MoSo" who actually litigated the case.

He provided me with this information for your article. He indicated that prison officials always rely on the trusted and well used excuse to deny your rights by asserting "security" or as in this case, that the material was "inflammatory".

This derives from the well-known phrase that although you have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech, you cannot shout "Fire!!" in a crowded movie theater. Even the Supreme Court has recognized there are limits of what a person can say, including things such as "Fighting Words". These types of restrictions are amplified in the prison context, of course, and are over exaggerated by prison officials.

Thus, the first thing in litigating such issues is to make sure to continue to remind the court that it is their Constitutional duty to review those decisions "independently." This is true despite the assertions put forth by prison officials to support their decisions, and despite the fact that the court owes such decisions some deference. So once you can get the court to step outside of the prison official's mind set, and look at the issue legally, then you have passed the first hurdle.

Most of these conservative Republican judges simply read what the prison official says and accept that as being a valid reason to infringe upon a Constitutional Right. However, a judge's job is to "protect" the Constitution, not act as a supervisor authority for the prison or a rubber stamp, nor be a sympathetic ear for something bad prison officials did against you.

Whether the Court is in your own Circuit or an outside Circuit (if you can't find one in yours), try to develop arguments that show that the Court had ruled against whatever it is the prison officials did. A lot of prisoners make the mistake of thinking the more cases you cite for a proposition, the stronger your argument is and the court will be impressed. What I have learned is stick to one or two cases that are factually the same and continually argue from those cases, showing such excuses are either not valid, with no connection to the "concern," or are exaggerated to such a concern.

In convincing a court such excuses are not valid or are an exaggeration, I used the "comparison" technique. There is well-known case law which holds that if you can show other prisons of the same security allow certain things, even publications, when another bans it, the concern put forth by that prison has been shown to be either invalid or exaggerated. So in the case cited as Lorenzo Johnson v. Rick Raemisch, et al., Case No. 07-CV-309-bbc. (W.D. Wis), we got affidavits from other prisons showing the publication was allowed in those institutions and yet was banned from mine. [note: MIM(Prisons) can often provide documentation of where certain items have been allowed if needed.]

In addition, in discovery, I requested what specific material the defendants deemed objectionable. Then when arguing in the briefs, proved that all that same information alleged to be inflammatory was in fact available to inmates from other sources allowed in the prison, such as on the computer, news paper articles, or even in prior published court decisions.

And lastly, what I would like to import to other prisoners attempting to litigate any First Amendment claims is the fact that most publications are denied based on prison officials' conclusions that such publications create a risk to security because they are either inflammatory, or contain gang symbols or racist materials. So one should make sure to read and cite the Supreme Court's decision in Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1976). Another case I would recommend to read is Bressman v. Farrier cite as 825 F. Supp. 231 (N.D. Iowa. 1993). These are just good cases to keep in your ammo belt.

I hope this information helps others. I believe Judge Crabb's decision in Johnson, supra, could also be helpful if cited, as it was finally a principled decision based purely on law and showing that a true judge's Constitutional responsibility is to uphold the Constitution, no matter who's right and wrong. The judge is supposed to be "impartial."

Justice for all!!!

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[Legal] [Abuse] [California]
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Wasting Money Prosecuting Lifers in California

I would like to shed some light on a scam being run by the establishment here on level 4 SHU yards in California. I'm certain if tax payers knew how their money was being wasted they would have a problem. People here in the SHU with life sentences already are getting taken to court for frivolous prosecution for knives, mutual combat, participating in riots, crap like that.

Now if a person with life doesn't murder anyone you can't upgrade his time so the question arises, why are they trying lifers for petty crimes? Then it dawned on me, these capitalist crooks don't pass up a chance to make a dollar, even if they have to waste resources. California is broke, but the pig has the audacity to waste money on frivolous prosecution, just so they can boost their conviction rate and feed that propaganda to the public about how awful prison is. And in doing so the public is not paying attention to the wastefulness and lies of the establishment. I thought I'd share this fraud with the brothers locked in the struggle.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This prisoner exposes a good example of the criminal injustice system creating reasons to pass around the profits of imperialism and keep the prison system growing. This is very wasteful, but we are under no illusions that alerting the tax payers to this waste would rally them to join the fight against the criminal injustice system. Even in this economic downturn, Amerikan tax payers are benefiting from the profits of imperialist exploitation of the majority of the world's people. And the prison system is a tool of this imperialist system. A majority of Amerikans will continue to support that system even when presented with evidence of it's abuses. Just like a majority of Amerikans support the imperialist wars that murder innocent people around the world and cost billions of dollars.

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[Abuse] [Massachusetts]
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Fighting Pig Brutality in Massachusetts

I've recently received the latest issue of ULK 9, July 2009. I must clench my fist and pound my chest to salute all who contribute to make ULK happen, for it is a contributing factor in allowing us all over the world to know and become aware of the conditions and ongoing struggle inside amerika's koncentration kamps.

I'm currently at a Massachusetts Maximum Security prison due to my affiliation (ALKQN) and undying will to be free. I haven't come across too many conscious comrades or even unity amongst the people inside this prison. Although the other day I experienced a feeling this ink-drop will never be able to describe. Two slave-keepers (correctional guards) aggressively jumped on a fellow comrade (we are located in a controlled unit setting, 96 total capacity).

Me and the comrades who were out 30-35 in total (all races) immediately took to the incident, got between the slave keepers, removed and protected the comrade they jumped on. As more kops rushed in to back up their own, armed with billy bats, shields, chemical agents, etc. (approximately 50 in total), we stood our ground and stood up to the oppressor pigs. They asked for peace.

To anyone who is reading this: that is true freedom. I don't care how long you've been in the belly, or how much time you are doing, we must come together as one oppressed people, no matter your affiliation, organization, or set you claim. We must stand up to the injustices as one people, and for the people. That's keeping it true to who you are and the flag you fly.

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[Prison Labor] [Georgia]
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No pay for work in Georgia

Prisons in Georgia cut down trees, scoop waste from pipes, make clothes, cook food, repair equipment, do plumbing, fight fires, till the land, teach school, make boots, and many other things. Yet we don't get any benefits, workers comp, or pay, whatsoever. Any labor, whatever the work, is done for free. Wages don't exist in the Georgia Department of Corrections. The only way you can earn money is by working the last 6 months of your sentence in a halfway house or pre-release center.

Most of the public has no objections to Georgia prisoners not being paid. They support laws that make it harder for us to succeed or enjoy life. They want us to stay in prison forever. When we get out they don't want us to be able to get a good job or live anywhere near them.

Politicians talk about rehabilitation but that ain't what they really want. They want only to exploit others for gain and retain power. This system we are under doesn't care about the people, they only pretend to care.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Pennsylvania]
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Unite for change

I am a prisoner in Texas and a member of the ALKQN. I want to shed some light on those who are members of my beloved nation and to those who are prisoners or in the struggle. It is time we unite to judge the oppressor and his ways. We must no longer stand asleep not knowing that for so long we been letting the oppressor keep us as subjects, where our minds are programmed to do what he says.

We must start by awaking our people to realize that we can make a change in our communities and in the court system. We must also have the will to stop selling drugs to our people, because we are killing them with the oppressors ways. For every minority that catches a drug/murder case the oppressor sells them to a prison, or should I say one of these industrial complext warehouse, to get rich. So when are we going to change for the betterment of ourselves? The question lies within you!

I'm not just talking to my King brothers or Queen sisters. I'm talking to every person who belongs to an organization or is just independent. I ask that we stop dwelling on yesterdays and start thinking about tomorrows, because our time to change things is now. I also ask that whoever reads these newsletters start educating yourselves by getting a GED, business degree or degree in anything. Also to start learning the law, so we can teach our families and children on how to not be subjects to the oppressor and his system, but to beat his system within their own laws and rules. Let's stand united as a whole sun and shine our powers into the mission of human service for if we put our minds together we shall accomplish many goals to live in freedom.

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[Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 11]
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Response to Legal Help Request

I just got my first issue of Under Lock and Key (July 2009, No 9). Needless to say, I sure appreciated it. The mail room personnel did not censor it, but that does not necessarily mean they won't in the near future. I write to respond to the letter that was written by the Georgia prisoner (Pig Enables Stabbing of Prisoner in Riot, May 2009). Hopefully you will print my letter so our comrade can read it and use the information therein.

First, to our comrade, you've got to file your complaint at the unit level and keep copies of it and any other documents that you file with the administration because you'll need to file a title 42 United States Code Section 1983 lawsuit for a redress of grievances. Write down everything that happened to you, as well as everything else that you have done since to secure medical care, etc., for this will definitely come in handy for your lawsuit. If you've got any witnesses that are willing to help you out by testifying you need to try to keep in contact with them.

Second, you need to do some legal research in the unit's law library to better understand your situation and to go about filing your lawsuit. You can write the district court where the incident occurred and request the necessary forms to file your suit. The district court's address should be in the unit law library (there should be a "venue list" or simply request the address from the unit law library). There's a lot you need to know and do and there's not enough space here to expound.

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[Abuse] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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Officers Assaulting Prisoners in Texas

I am writing this letter in an attempt to contribute to the truth and show others that they are not alone in this struggle. I was incarcerated on the Beto Unit before they shut down seg and shipped me here to the Allred unit. I came from Beto with a jacket on my back because while in seg an officer (using a sliding shield panel) slammed and cut the tip of my right ring finger off. A mockery of an investigation was said to be in progress for over a year, and it wasn't until I was here on the Allred Unit that i was informed that the officer involved was not at fault nor would be held accountable.

I had watched others on Beto getting physically assaulted and yet when I chose to fight back (both physically and mentally) I was deemed unfit to be released to general population and sent to the Allred Unit with the aggression "threat" to officers jacket on my back. True enough, I will not allow an employee to ever touch me again without just cause, and yet of late (thanks to my jacket) I have been targeted for frivolous disciplinary forms.

I have faced numerous b.s. write ups. When I go before the disciplinary officer during the hearing it is pointless. The counsel substitutes they provide on this unit to assist and defend us do nothing more than ask for lenience on your behalf. You have to gather your own information, witnesses, and evidence on your own. Even when you prove that the officer who wrote you up is wrong, lied, or is without common sense, you are still found guilty. We are told to appeal such hearing decisions and yet that is to no avail.

I recently had an incident where I was accused of "threatening to hurt anyone who came to get me", "slid out of one or both handcuffs" and "disobeyed to come off of the rec yard." When a camera was present that shows I was in handcuffs the whole time, came and was escorted off the rec yard without incident. Even the accusing officer's verbal testimony at the hearing shows he refuted his own written report. When this was brought up during the hearing I was told to file an appeal to the disciplinary hearing. What a crock! Everything written (in policy, procedures and rules) was totally disregarded for this good ol' boy of theirs.

It has gotten worse now that I'm on 12 building. I have seen an utter and complete disregard for humanity. I have witnessed them running into a prisoner's cell after spraying him with chemical agents, slamming him, beating his head into the concrete, poking him in the eye, and kicking him from head to toe the whole time yelling "quit fighting us, stop resisting." Even the nursing staff (present at the time this was happening), when they perform a physical on you (on tape) will simply state "offender complains of this or that and he has sustained such and such injuries due to his resisting or non-compliance during the use of force".

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[Education] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Cellies Educating Each Other

Studying in Allred UnitGreetings to all my brothers and sisters and political prisoners. I want to encourage all comrades to promote educational thinking. My cellmate, who is a Crip, took time out of his schedule to teach me how to count. Yes, count. I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade to only have to come to prison and learn math. I'm 37 and my celly is 28. He encouraged me and pushed me to use my mind. We have had our ups and downs inside this cell which is in a high security unit.

The administration does not care if we kill each other, but instead we build each other. He sees my potential and motivated me to use it. Comrades, do not let youth fool you. They look at us as leaders. But if you only want to prove how ignorant and violent you are or "was", they will continue to promote that too.

Failure is falling down and staying there. Get back up! Know thyself.

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[Organizing] [Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Arkansas Uses Contraband to Control Prisoners

I am writing to let you know that all the articles in the July 2009 issue of ULK I agree with. I am a prisoner housed at Varner Supermax in Arkansas and we have it hard here too. The system here uses some brutality as a means to keep us apart. But mostly they use material things (rings, watches, drugs, cell phones, women, etc) as a means to have us at each others throats.

I mean really if the DOC didn't want any of this to get in their prisons then it wouldn't. But they allow it because they are getting kickbacks and it keeps prisoners at each other and not focusing on the real issues. As long as we are at each other then we can never unite and as long as we don't unite then we can't stand for the greater cause. This allows them to treat us like beasts and do as they please.

Here in VSM we are living in filth. Our cells are so nasty. We aren't being given any brooms or mops. Our cells flood every time we shower in them. We have to take a couple paper towels sprayed and clean our whole cell. But we are too busy down here hatin' and trying to get each other knocked off, all for a dollar, that we ain't trying to bring this to the outside attention.

We just can't give up and lay down. Use your grievance systems, write letters, and do what you have to do to let it be known how we are being done. Pushing paper works.

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