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Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [Pennsylvania]
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Restricted Release in Pennsylvania

Restricted Release is exactly what it says it is: a placement on a segregated list of prisoners who are restricted from being released to any general population for an indefinite amount of time. The practice is being implemented in complete violation of due process laws.

Placement on restricted release is to begin at the institutional level within a PRC (Program Review Committee) recommendation. That recommendation is then forwarded to the superintendent where it is approved/disapproved before being sent to the Regional Deputy Secretary of Corrections for review. If he/she concurs with the recommendation it is then submitted to the Secretary of Corrections (currently Jeffrey A. Beard) and approved. NO prisoner on the restricted release list can be transferred or released to general population without the written consent of Jeffrey A. Beard.

DOC Policy states that an inmate shall be informed and given a summary of his placement on A/C restricted release. Upon the initial placement the prisoner has the opportunity to appeal verbally or in writing within two days to the superintendent. This right to appeal is the due process. However, the institutions are conducting these hearings in private without the prisoner being present, therefore denying any opportunity to refute or appeal such placement. In addition, whenever you do attempt to appeal it's being denied for unspecified reasons. I am currently on the list, and to date, I have never attended a hearing informing me, nor do I have anything in writing alluding to my placement. Everything said to me was told informally.

The Restricted Release is basically 23 hour lock down with assumed privileges at their discretion. Policy states that it should not be interpreted as punishment. Still, this institution in particular fails to adhere to that policy, and the few of us here are being denied any additional privileges. Radios and commissary, but no TVs. In addition to this- all of our stories are similar in that none of us received hearings, nor were we able to appeal our status.

It's similar to the Gitmo concentration facility in Cuba, where individuals are taken hostage because of their dress attire, religion, ethnicity and beliefs. No criminal charges or solid evidence to justify the displacement. Prisoners sit on the Restricted Release list for an average of 8 years. It is not a program that involves any therapy or counseling - it's just confinement until either your age or strength diminishes your will.

To my understanding there are 4 of us housed at this institution and we are all contacting family and comrades for additional support in our litigation.

Despite all of this my spirit remains strong as ever, and I only pray that I become a stronger individual when, and if it's all over. I truly appreciate your literature and commitment to our cause.

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[Prison Labor] [Arkansas]
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Prison Labor in Arkansas

I received the ULK issues 7 and [https://www.prisoncensorship.info/ulk/8]8. There are many issues that come to mind reading them. We here in the Arkansas department of Corrections receive good time for work as follows: for every day Class IV=0, Class III=10 days, Class II=20 days, Class I=30 days. When you arrive at a unit you begin "hoe squad" at Class II for an initial 60 days. Each 30 days you receive 20 days good time, then if you get put up for classification you get Class I and a job change. Hoe Squad is working cotton fields, corn fields, etc. with a Texas Aggie Hoe. Once you get Class I and a job change you get 30 days for every 30 days you work.

If you get into any trouble during your stay you are automatically taken back to class IV, and each time 365 days good time is taken whether you have it or not. Somehow you have to try to get that good time back or you don't ever see a parole date. Imagine losing 3 years good time your first 6 months incarcerated and then trying to get back what you don't have.

No prisoner is paid any funds for their jobs, whether it be in the fields or in the buildings, maintenance, clerks, fire and safety, cooks, laundry, etc. We are held in sub-standard conditions, charge us for medical treatment, and our entire funds are $6 per year per prisoner for Christmas and 1 razor, 1 soap per prisoner per week.

We need OGs of all sets to come to the realization that once incarcerated we are the enemy. Unification is a must. Peace needs to be condoned and even guarded by one another. Shot callers need to unite. Get your boyz together, choose decisions and then roll on together - all of us.

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[Spanish] [Kern Valley State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 11]
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El Agua Contaminada es Buena por CDCR

Hoy recibí la respuesta a mi Apelación de la Administración (602) del Director de las Correcionales de California en relación al agua contaminada de aquí, y ellos sin duda alguna la negaron, diciendo que los niveles de arsénico en el agua no son lo suficientemente altos como para poner en peligro y en riesgo nuestra (los prisioneros) salud y como para proveernos (prisioneros) de agua limpia para consumo humano. Yo digo que eso es una tontería!

La primera vez que me di cuenta de los altos niveles de arsénico en el agua de la prisión de Kern Valley fué a travِés de la Red Institucional de Televisión. Ellos habían publicado un memorándum de CDC diciendo que el agua de las prisiones estaba contaminada con arsénico por sobre los niveles límites y legales del EPA's, y que las personas que beben agua de este tipo podrían ponerse en riesgo de contraer cáncer. [Los prisioneros en Kern Valley han estado peleando ésta batalla más de un año.]

[En otras noticias]...Al principio de ésta semana los cerdos se enojaron conmigo porque estoy ayudando a un amigo para que pueda recibir su pago. Los cerdos se equivocaron y pusieron a un prisionero de nivel cuatro dentro de una celda de nivel tres, el prisionero de nivel cuatro terminó atacando al del nivel tres, entonces yo decidí ponerlo al tanto de como obtener dinero de estos cerdos.

Ellos intentaron jugar conmigo y con mi compañero de celda tratando de ponernos en contra de nosotros mismos. Dañaron sus artículos personales, dejando mis cosas intactas tal como estaban. Pero nosotros sólo gozamos de esa mierda. Nosotros sólo miramos lo que ellos hacen desde lejos, y la lucha continúa. Ellos no pueden detener nuestra moción de avance ni nuestro desarrollo.

MIM(Prisiónes) añade: Una vez más, empleados estatales están tratando de promover la violencia en las prisiones del estado y los camaradas de MIM(Prisiones) están evitando conflictos, mientras luchan por justicia. La CDCR dice que censurará a MIM(Prisiones) porque somos una amenaza a la seguridad. Si los prisioneros ya no pueden ser manipulados por el Cuerpo de la Administración para que peleen en contra de ellos mismos la seguridad de la Institución está en peligro según la lógica de la CDCR.

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[Abuse] [Polk Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Mice, Ants and Mold in Polk Kitchen

Two prisoners wrote to MIM(Prisons) with concern about the conditions of Polk Correctional Institution's kitchen. This disregard for the health and safety of prisoners is typical of Amerikan prisons.

The first prisoner writes:

I am a prisoner working in the kitchen at Polk Correctional Institution and I'm a little worried about the rat infestation, ants and mildew problem. The rat infestation is so bad that they food they pass out sometimes has rats or mice in the food. And the ants are all over the place, unless staff hears of an inspection and then they have the prisoners clean the coolers out where most of the mice and rats get food. The mildew is so bad that it has upset my asthma.

The second prisoner goes into more detail:

This letter is to inform you of the conditions of Polk's kitchen. I am a first shift kitchen worker. I have worked in numerous kitchens in North Carolina such as Bob Evans, Red Lobster and others. So I accepted the job here at Polk figuring everything should be rudimentary. What I learned on the job about the preparation of the food has led me to barely eat due to sanitation issues.

As soon as you enter the kitchen you smell an odor of mildew and once you reach the pots and pans and segregation line stations the smell is so unbearable that you get cold chills, goosebumps, etc. They tell us to use dish soap on it or scrub it, but the problem never gets solved.

I remember a time when the potatoes were dropped on the floor and we were told to pick it up and put the lids back on and proceed to delivering them to prisoners. The most dangerous thing in the kitchen besides the mold is the mice. There is a serious infestation in the kitchen that needs to be taken care of.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Abuse and Neglect in Texas Prisons

I have been imprisoned for 12 years. Believe me when I tell you that Texas prisons are not paying prisoners for the hard labor, and this is just one of the many problems they have. Two of the biggest problems are poor medical care and lack of control over the correctional officers.

Let's start with medical. Most of the staff are poorly trained, only here for the pay and benefits. I have personally witnessed RNs and doctors do things that would start a malpractice law suit in the free world. I have seen prisoners have heart attacks, and it took medical 10 minutes to get to them. All the while staff stood over them doing nothing. A co-workers in the kitchen had a hernia, medical department scheduled him for surgery 9 months down the road when he was discharging his sentence in 6 months. He walked around constantly in pain and couldn't sleep. One of my cellies was a seizure patient. Because the medical department could not get his medicine balanced he had more seizures than normal. Doctors prescribe the wrong medicine and prisoners get really sick. I could go on and on.

Because there's no outside oversight these types of things keep happening. Now to the correctional officers. They have the mentality that the uniform gives them the right to talk, treat and do as they will to prisoners. they do just that on a daily basis at all the units in the system. Some will cuss at you, even when you give them respect, because they know nothing is going to happen to them. On two different units I've seen prisoners get gassed, handcuffed, beat until they are bleeding and can't walk, all over a piece of contraband, or because the CO didn't like how the prisoner responded to a question.

Female COs tell supervisors a prisoner said or threw something at them, just so they could see the prisoner eat up, and then stand there laughing. I saw a prisoner in handcuffs, when he initially went to seg he was fine, when they brought him back out 10 minutes later he was bleeding from the nose, eyes were bruised, and limping. Found out later that night that he was beat with a walkie-talkie and pushed down the stairs. Medical was told he fell. This came from a CO. Two weeks later that supervisor was fired.

You constantly see bogus disciplinary cases because an officer doesn't like a prisoner, and wants to see them receive some type of punishment. Most of the time it's recreation, cell or commissary restriction, loss of good time, and loss of class depending on the case. These bogus cases create a lot of problems especially when it's time for a parole review.

There has got to be something that can be done to bring some type of constant oversight from the outside to make sure the state is held responsible for what the staff does. Until this happens the prisoners are basically sitting ducks for abuse. We were sentenced by a judge to do time, and to rehabilitate ourselves, so we can return to society as a free and productive citizen. That can't be done when you have out-of-control correctional officers constantly causing you trouble.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer that the prisons only pay lip service to rehabilitation while actually making it very difficult for people to return to society as productive members. The criminal injustice system is not about rehabilitation or even punishment, it is a system of social control.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 10]
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Save Hip Hop

I just finished reading the latest Under Lock & Key issue 8 and, comparatively speaking, the articles and overall issues seem much more focused than the days when ULK was only a sub-section of MIM Notes. As to the topic of ULK 8 [prison labor and economics], I find myself agreeing with the line drawn by the ministry. In addition, though I can never stress enough that the progress to be made among the prison population, especially among the prison population (whether in regards to labor, health services, or any other abuse of inalienable rights) lies in the political unity and education of the existent Lumpen-Proletariat Organizations within the prison system itself.

As a 32 year old, young Hispanic male, having been raised in the inner city and having spent nearly half my life in the system, hip hop has been a reflection of my (and mines) existence for as long as I can remember. It has been blasted by everyone, from the working moms and pops to the bourgeois conglomerates; from the so-called community leaders to the bona fide revolutionaries of old. It was an expression of struggle and strength, and a message of perseverance and preparation. It was a passing fad that was eventually manacled, manipulated, and monopolized by the evil designs of capitalists who not only see the promise of a dollar, but the perpetuation of our demise.

There is too much to be said of hip hop (its history, present state, and future) than can justly be compiled into one issue of ULK alone. For far too long it has, in my opinion, been neglected by the revolutionary community as a whole. As Frantz Fanon said in regard to the lumpen, the same applies to the culture of hip hop and rap - the revolution neglected, the reactionaries didn't, and so where hip hop should (and could!) be serving as a spearhead of revolutionary spirit, it has been fashioned into one of the greatest bulwarks against revolutionary progress.

Hip hop is an art, it is music, and just as any art it is most relevant to the mind. It is a culture, and as such it is even more directly relevant to the minds of those who embrace it, not just as a form of entertainment, but as a painting of their own reality - the reality of the ghettos and slums the world over. Hip hop is international, and in most Third World countries it can still be experienced in its most free and pure form. And hip hop is a weapon, a weapon of the people, that has been turned against us.

From the days of "get free or die trying" to today's mantra of "get rich or die trying," it is apparent how deep the federal government has affected the core of our production. The government's counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO), under any other name, is still very much involved in countering the produce of intelligence harvested by the oppressed. The east coast - west coast drama that brought the murders of Biggie and Pac (not to mention the nameless bodies laid down in-between) did not occur by chance. The rise of the South and overall materialism and sexploitation permeated throughout today's industry did not occur because it was the "natural" course of hip hop. These things manifested because before hip hop was ever projected to the masses through the mainstream, it was mass inflected through its very own blood stream.

Nas - hip hop's Street Disciple - said hip hop is dead. The ALKN says that the rising of the dead is the spiritual awakening of those who have been sleeping in the graveyard of ignorance. Therefore hip hop can be resurrected and it must be. As the fans continue to bob their heads in a trance and the artists continue to be used, as the record labels continue to sell out the vibe, the revolution and hip hop must re-unite, or die trying!

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[Prison Labor] [Colorado]
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Poor and Tired in Colorado

I got your latest ULK #8. I think they couldn't find a reason to deny this issue. In this issue you had a section on prison labor. Colorado pays 60 cents per day. After taking DOC's 20% cut we get 48 cents for slaving for Governor Ritter all day. This is just another way the state of Colorado keeps us poor and unable to call our families. Poor and tired the Governor Ritter way in Colorado.

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[Organizing] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 9]
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Inspired to join the struggle in Maryland

I just received my first issue of Under Lock & Key (May 2009, #8). Wow, I'm sold. I'd love to be a comrade in the struggle.

The article titled "Remove the Profit Motive" by the comrade out in California has me sending my money out to my family. I'm becoming indigent as my first step to join the movement. Now I see why they keep building prisons. Thank you for opening my eyes.

I'm going to spread the word here and educate as many as I can while you educate me. This imperialist country spends billions on lost causes while millions are starving and homeless. Please send me literature that will help me to better understand the movement. I'm ready to do whatever I can for the revolution.

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[Religious Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Build Unity and Non-violence

This is your fellow brother in the struggle for equal rights. I am sitting here reading your latest ULK 8 about state by state labor data, and I would love to commend you for another exceptional publication. I never knew so much kickbacks, and in house cooperation was going on from state to state. I completely agree with all the brothers who help to inform unenlightened brothers such as myself. I try desperately to inform a lot of the other brothers. The harsh treatment and neglectful respect for one another continues to tear unity apart.

It has gotten so bad that I hardly stand by a fellow brother because all they do is talk about sex, drugs, violence and gang banging. I left that lifestyle alone almost 3 years ago and I try to keep myself away from that environment. I try to talk and show your publication off but not too many want to read it.

I took a stand of non-violent protest against all injustice becaues what you say is right. I believe violence will not solve these problems that are going on. Here on my plantation in Texas, within the last 8 months these officers killed 2 prisoners and fractured, or cracked one African-American frontal lobe of his skull. I was threatened by a Sgt saying "your grievances don't work so stay out of the way."

I have been denied my religious service of Islam multiple times and there is no help in sight by the administrators. There are times when I come in from my work detail "field squad" manual labor and they have pork for chow. I am a muslim and can't eat pork so they give us 2 slices of cheese instead. I was forced to go out and engage in manual hard labor in my boots which were hanging on by a thread. Both of my boots were torn off and barely together when a C/O and Sgt said it will be a case if I don't turn out for work. I was forced to endure twigs and other stuff puncturing the bottom of my feet to comply with regulations.

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[Political Repression] [California]
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Prisoner Punished for Seeing Things Greater than Himself

... All of [my grievances against censorship are] of course used against me. In my annual review report it was written that, "He does display some twisted thinking with moral reasoning... When the topic goes too close to personal issues, [XYZ]'s defense is to move the discussion to grander political issues." The institution that I'm in would have me believe that my being incarcerated had all to do with poor decision making skills. How I wish it was that simple.

When I look at my community I can see that everyone I knew had a family member who was doing or did time. Going away to do time was deemed normal, and I don't say that to minimize my own actions. You do better once you know better, but yet here I am attempting to learn better but they're refusing me that knowledge. Why? Because knowledge turns into wisdom and wisdom is authority.

Well, here I am comrades, inside of one re-education camp of America. A place where they attempt to teach me that my community is fine, the system works, it's me that has the problem. They want me to get out and worry about myself. Get all the nice things that money can buy, so that I can sit in luxury and watch my people suffer inside of poverty. They can keep attempting, because I will not reform. I will fight the battles in my reach to continue our progression, and that will be until victory or death.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good example of how bourgeois society pushes individualism on people, and how psychology serves that purpose. The so-called "corrections" profession in amerika would have you believe that they are doing the objective work of punishing those who did "bad." But to those in the system, it is much clearer what is really going on. And when people start to develop consciousness of how the system works, the system does all it can to keep people thinking in narrow individualist terms.

Individualism serves the capitalist system where few prosper and many suffer. The system is threatened when the oppressed masses act as a united majority instead of as individuals going up against powerful institutions all alone. The individualist world outlook has repercussions that go much further than the u$ injustice system. It is crucial for all aspects of maintaining a system where a few nations benefit off of the many. That is why we struggle for a socialist society, where re-education camps actually encourage people to look at the systematic level and see things from a perspective much greater than themselves. Only by building on the accumulated knowledge of our whole society can we progress to a more peaceful, harmonious world.

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