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Under Lock & Key

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[Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Prison Labor Stats in Texas

How many prisoners (slaves) at this facility: 500, it's a so-called transfer facility. More like a large holding cell or big shoe box where you stay for up to 2 years.

How many of them work?: All except the medically unassigned, seg and medium custody.

What do they work for?: To avoid negative retaliation by TDCJ (example, I am currently in seg becaues I refused to work in TDCJ forced labor.)

What work do they do?: Kitchen workers, SSI, Broom squad, laundry, over half of them work in the "hoe squad". Field work is all forced labor.

How much do they get paid? What is that question, some kind of joke? Sorry. Nothing. No one gets any type of compensation other than to please parole (like a rabitt with a carrot typed to the end of a stick) or to avoid catching a case and being placed on discipline.

All TDCJ offenders are forced to perform labor under one type of direct threat or another. How they are able to keep the lid on this I don't know.

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[National Oppression] [Texas] [ULK Issue 7]
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Gang Affiliations and Organizing

My upbringing was a lot like others before me and those who share the same living conditions as I do now: poverty, boys home, foster homes. My mother was a junkie and my father was a junkie/womanizer. So I grew to know the "system" well before I could understand it. Well as time moved on I became more rebellious by the minute. But I did not know why I was so rebellious to begin with. My crimes landed me in the belly of the beast.

Before I go any further I must explain my past affiliation. I used to be a Crip. As most young men with no family no structure at home, I was infatuated with the bling, money, females, drugs, guns and colors. But doesn't Crip stand for Community Revolution In Progress? But here we are shootin' things and people up, robbing and selling drugs. All within the confines of our community. Crips are without question the most numerous group in Texas state prison. How can this be so? Well I continued my affiliation until 3 years ago due to the fact that this and similar questions kept nagging at me.

Well now I am currently a member of our prison chapter of the BPP. I believe myself to be a realist. So I understand the reality of the 6 years that I face. So in essence it's not about me anymore. It's about the people. That is why a LK comrade directed me to you.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As we work to push the Peace Issue of Under Lock & Key, this letter is useful as an example of what we are trying to enable. This prisoner is at a transitional stage that is common among our comrades who have gone thru the process of developing political consciousness that begins with asking the simple questions of 'What am I doing?'. The system pushes the rebellious attitude he talks about in his youth into certain outlets that involve self-destruction of oppressed communities. Prison is the typical end of that path.

Now some will point out that if this comrade was never sent to prison he would have never turned around. In fact, we often hear from prisoners themselves that prison gave them the time to think and ask questions. And it is true, that struggle forces people to overcome adversity, and in the process they will grow. But that does not make u$ prisons a positive force on the lives of the oppressed. It is a negative force that the oppressed succeed in spite of, not because of. Programs run by MIM(Prisons) would be examples of positive forces that help people take this path. Because if we are real, there are more people who come out of the system mentally damaged, hooked on drugs, full of hatred and rage, physically handicapped, etc. We must organize the few who make it out stronger now, so that we can all become stronger, more productive members of society in the future.

It is no secret why youth join street organizations. What's a little less well known is the government's role in getting these organizations involved in the international drug trade and other serious criminal activities. They need these orgs to act as agents of the state to keep the oppressed communities in place because the oppressors themselves can only do so much to occupy these communities as outsiders. To the extent that the state has been successful in this strategy, conscious comrades will find it necessary to leave these organizations for ones that serve the community.

So the lesson to take from letters like this is that the oppressed want liberation and purposeful lives, not that the prison system can kick some people into shape. The current system wastes humyn lives and potential. It is up to the oppressed to build institutions to counter that trend. Work with MIM(Prisons) to take up this important work.

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[Abuse] [Texas]
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No services and much abuse in Texas

I am writing to report the dehumanizing situations that we face here every day in this legalized injustice slave camp. Every day the food gets smaller. Now they are feeding the same food 3 and 4 days in a row. They lock us down for no reason at all, make us get on our knees just to receive our food and then they throw it on the floor and kick it in our cells.

I had officers daily threaten my life on multiple times and still been denied my amendment rights. They have given me empty pens so I can’t write out, denied me access of my 1st amendment when I tried to mail my cousin and her kids a handkerchief for valentines day, and had officers call me a racist to my face because I stand up for myself and refuse to allow them to call me all kind fo derogatory names and animals. I had officers blackmail me on cases so they can make my record look worse than what it is.

I have been denied parole three times because of crimes that were dropped when they found me guilty of my conviction. They are using my childhood mistakes and refusing to talk to me face to face and see if I have changed.

They have a Texas workforce commission which is supposed to help you get aquainted with finding a job but they deny you entry because you are somewhere, where they dislike, period, or a certain person they dislike.

I have been given no chance at getting in school. They have refused me my rights to attend my own religious services (Islam) and been denied adequate protection of the law. They even have certain prisoners who work for them to undermine the ones who are fighting to making corrective change with in america. They water down or deny you and opportunity to have access at legal or other knowledgeable information. It is a hard and long fought battle to just earn a little respect for our race and the ones that want to see equal injustice.

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[Prison Labor] [Texas]
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Fighting for good time in exchange for slave labor

Here is a copy of my timesheet. This is one of the topics I feel should be looked into. See a prisoner filed a lawsuit to get the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to either pay the prisoners for working or give them good time for working to help the prisoner be released early for good conduct. Well that was a Federal ruling and he won the case and agreed to good time for working instead of pay for the slave labor they make us do.

Well a few years later the state of Texas changed its policy to that ruling so that it overrode the federal ruling and made it discretionary to the release of a prisoner. So here in simple terms is what that means. The federal courts say when a prisoner's flat time, good time and work time equals his/her full sentence you have to release that person to mandatory supervision. Well by Texas making it discretionary they have overridden this federal order and made it where they can deny the release and it's wrong as you can see. I have 203% of my time done.

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[Prison Labor] [California]
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Calculations on Prison Population and Labor

At this prison, a prisoner who is on full program who works one of their job or education or vocation schemes is classified as A1A. For an A1A prisoner the CDCR gets $45,000 a year. A prisoner who is programming and is eligible for a work or education position but none are available are classified as A2B. For an A2B prisoner the CDCR gets $35,000 a year. A prisoner who refuses to program or is in ad-seg or the SHU is classified as C-Status or D1D status. For a prisoner of C-status or D1D status the CDCR only gets $22,000 a year.

There are 37+ CDCR prisons. Each prison has 4 prison yards. Each yard has 5 buildings plus a gym full of captives. Each building has 100 cells (doubled up - two prisoners per cell). That's 200 prisoners in the cells per building. Each building also has 40 dayroom bunks and each gym has 220 bunks. All total per prison yard that is 1,420 prisoners. And multiplied by 4 yards that is 5,680 prisoners per prison. With 37 prisons that would be 210,160 prisoner captives.

Now here's where everything gets very ambiguous. The CDCR won't give a clear number of prisons. They always say 37 (plus) prisons. It's the "(plus)" that is so ambiguous. It's what ex-pres Bush called fuzzy math that only a politician could understand.

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[Political Repression] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Brutality in Texas Prison

My mail is being illegally withheld. I have to hold on to my mail and mail it out whenever I go by the mailbox myself. This is only when I'm taken out to the mail hall for reasons that suit the corrupt administration. The mailroom supervisor, Glenda F. Vandiver, gives my mail to the titular officers. The unit OID Jeffery W. Armstrong also works along with the administration and has told me this.

I've been beaten up four times since I sent those grievances out [to MIM last month]. I was beaten up on 11/17/08 by 2 titular officers, Hicks and Hopkins. I sustained a blackened left eye, swollen shut; swollen left cheekbone; knots and bruises all over my face; and cuts on my left upper chin. RN Mary Gribble saw all my invoices and refused to report it. OIG Armstrong sat face-to-face with me as I filled out a witness statement about the violent attack and beating. He told me the titular officers who attacked me are his true friends and that he's going to protect them, and not report what he saw. Sgt. Betty J. Myers, "Safe Prisons ACA Coordinator," refused to take photos of my face, but took photos of my back while I was fully dressed. They are conspiring and covering up a criminal assault. They're all working together to hide and conceal the criminal activity, and the cruel and unusual punishment they subject me to daily.

My food is being contaminated with a noxious chemical. An officer told me that every one of my food trays is being laced with windex or ammonia. The officer no longer works here; he told me this before he quit. The chemicals in this windex cause me to lose consciousness, pass out. I have excessive vehement vomiting, dizzy spells, migraine headaches, blurred vision, starvation. I am deprived of showers and recreation.

I have reported all of this to the following staff countless times, and these ranking officials call me "cry baby" or "nigger bitch" to name a few: Wardens Dawn E. Grounds, Devery W. Mooneyham, and Kenneth L. Dean; Capt. Richard Pillot, Lt. Donna S. Jennings, "Compliance Sgt." William E. Lyon, Sgt. Dan Griffin, Lt. Kurtis Pharr, Lt. Robert M. Presto, Lt. Oriando Flecha, Lt. Steven W. Schumacher, Stg. Steven L. Harris, Sgt. Morrison, Sgt. Michael Kluck, Sgt. William A. Burroughs, and Sgt. Brian Pollock. More over, they are the orchestrators and authors of all my problems: the death threats, beatings, starvation, deprivation of recreation, medical. The aforementioned employees are the very crooks who make it possible for the non-ranking staff to do all these terrible, inhumane, evil, unconstitutional things to me daily.

When anyone calls this unit, they all claim to "look into it" or "investigate." They're not going to "investigate" themselves; no one will. The Director of OIG, John Moriarty, and Executive Director Brad Livingston, and Chairperson of TDCJ Christina Melton Crain, and [TDCJ Administrative Review] Ombudsman Kathy Cleere can have me transferred if the right pressure is applied. I have a huge stack of grievances to prove that I've contacted every office in TDCJ all the way to the Executive Directors. I'm not being protected in any way, shape, form or fashion and therefore need transfer to a completely different prison unit in this system because this is cruel and unusual punishment.

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[Political Repression] [Abuse] [California] [ULK Issue 7]
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Who are the Real Gangs?

I have been accused of this gang allegation but actually it is the prison guards at the prison, especially ISU and IGI, who are a gang, always oppressing and beating people up at their desire. I’m not sure if you have heard about how ISU operates at this place. In an attempt to catch prisoners off guard when they’re about to search for contraband, they rush into buildings and go straight to specific cells with huge pepper spray canisters on hand. When they reach their target they first start emptying out their canisters at the occupants inside, then ask questions later.

Now, when they do these raids they’re not supposed to enter the cells, but wait until the prisoners themselves put their hands out through the food port to be handcuffed or get down prone on the floor. Then they can open the door and pull them out. (They are not supposed to even use their pepper spray cans unless somebody’s safety is at risk or in immediate danger but they do it anyway.) This is a CDC policy throughout California’s prison system but it’s not what they do at this prison.

Right here they just barge in and after beating down the prisoners and cuffing them up, they literally drag them out of the cell. Also, while they’re restraining them, they always yell out loud for everybody to hear “stay down, quit resisting!” when they’re not resisting, in an effort to excuse their excessive use of force.

Later on you can hear them bragging about their abusive actions or making fun of how the prisoners were screaming. Needless to say, at the time they file their reports they always omit the part where they barge into the cells and beat down the prisoners. This is exactly what happened to me and my cell mate at the time back in December 2007, but when I filed a formal complaint against ISU they shot me down saying I took too long, that I only had 15 days to file.

The fact is, I did take longer than 15 days. It was several months actually. However, the appeals coordinator has the discretion to accept a late filing on a showing of good cause. When I explained my reasons (fear of retaliation, among other things) they simply responded that my appeal had been reviewed by the chief deputy warden in accord with AB05/03, and further suggested that I “research this in the law library” knowing full well that prisoners in ASU do not have law library access unless they have a court ordered deadline. Just another form of oppression by higher ups…who is actually the gang in this picture?

But they want to cover up their wrongful acts by locking us away indefinitely, in spirit breaking lockup units until we parole, die or become snitches. The worst part of all is that the so-called gang allegation doesn’t even have to be proven at all. All they need is “some evidence,” under their own standards, which they often fabricate. Or like in my case, use someone else’s on somebody they want to get rid of for any reason. It’s a convenient tactic they have been using for many years and since it has given them results, it doesn’t seem like they will be changing their ways any time soon.

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[Prison Labor] [California] [ULK Issue 8]
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Prison Labor and Economics in California: Who Really Profits?

There's a little over 4,200 prisoners at this institution. About 200 or more of these prisoners are level one. They are housed outside the gun towered perimeter, in what they call the minimum support facility. All of these prisoners have jobs consisting of laborer positions, from warehouse workers to clean up crews and landscaping, their wages are at a maximum of 13 cents an hour. Other jobs include dump/garbage truck drivers and car/truck maintenance. These other prisoners cannot earn more than 32 cents an hour. The rest of the population is level IV prisoners housed in A, B, C and D facilities, and two ASUs (D facility is SNY). With the exception of facility D, which has a joint venture program where about 100 prisoners earn the minimum wage. There are no other type of jobs in any of the other facilities, with the exception of support services positions such as yard clean up crews, kitchen, chow hall and a few clerical positions in education, program office, canteen, and law library. There would probably be somewhere around 150 job positions per facility with only about half of these positions being pay numbers earning anywhere from 8 cents to 32 cents an hour.

Yes, pay numbers are a joke throughout California prisons, and yes, we are being exploited to a certain degree, but not in the way that you may think. Profits are being made not so much from prisoner labor but from filling up the bed space in all of these prisons. Each prison creates more than 1,000 job positions with prison guards and medical staff being the highest number and receiving payment at about close to $50 an hour plus overtime. And it is my belief that besides the heads of the CDC, it is the prison guard's union that is profiting the most from our incarceration.

It is no wonder they always spend millions of dollars to kill every proposition or assembly bill that goes on the ballot concerning reduction of prisoner sentences or amendments to modify their biggest accomplishment, the three strikes law. Many people benefit from crime (police officers, public defenders, district attorneys, judges, etc.), and from incarceration in state prison, the matter at issue here. All these people in turn spend money and contribute to the imperialist economy. Then, there come the contracts each warden has with many different food suppliers where a lot of money is being handed down under the table. Also, the contracts with the phone company and package vendors where a lot of kick backs go to wardens or other head officials within the CDC. So as you can see, everybody's a winner in this game except us of course. With the biggest winner being the imperialist government, followed by CDC head officials and the prison guard's union being the ones getting the biggest piece of the pie.

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[Abuse] [Cameron County Detention Center] [Texas]
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No Rehab in Texas

I am currently at Cameron County Texas Jail/Detention Center. There are more prisoners here than this facility is equipped to hold, making it harder for many by having to sleep on the floor. The water is terrible and I believe it has added bleach and/or salt. The food is lousy and even when the food is decent we always get a small serving. We are made to pay taxes even though we're in prison and when we complain we're told that the citizens are paying for our food and housing. When I mention that I too pay taxes I am laughed at or mocked. We are denied a special diet tray for religious purposes and for vegetarians, etc. There are no rehabilitation programs and the community complains when so many prisoners come back again and again.

Here the mail officer censors whatever he wants, it is at their discretion to deny anything: letters, photos, books, etc. Worse yes, there is no appeal process in place to fight this, this is a violation of our prisoner's rights. Though we are incarcerated, we do not cease to have rights, though they are less. I have brought some issues up to the Texas Jail Standards (where complaints are sent for Texas jails only) and they seem to go with whatever is decided in the facilities.

I have seen officers mace a guy more than once when there was no need to, and use force excessively to take their anger out for having to get up out of their chairs and do some work. Here it is mostly a sitting job except for those bringing and taking out people to wherever they need to go. This does not help to rehabilitate and that was what I thought these kinds of places were for.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Waking From mid-fight scenes... and the shit ain't a dream: Imagine being me


Imagine losing your fucking mind from being confined behind dollar signs
Imagine the times I’ve cried
The times I’ve tried
Imagine me alone in a dark room dying inside.
But can you imagine me locked on the block?
One more shot
Jumpin’ back hot like hollow tips from a glock
Rippin' the spot
Grippin’ a knot
If they ain’t shittin’ getting em off the pot.
Imagine after a decade of space
Me showing up at my ex-girls place
Imagine her face
Imagine her mouth’s taste
As she wishes she could erase the day she went astray
And the way I was betrayed
Imagine me not having anything to say and just walking away.
Yea, imagine me hittin the streets again
Reheatin’ beef’s again
Breaking limbs off of the family tree and friends that sinned
Imagine me back after just doing ten.
Imagine hate being so strong it becomes one man’s home
The beat in his heart, the strength in his bones
The seed in the garden that grows all his wrongs.
I imagine getting one more lot to cast
For all things new and things passed
I imagine puttin’ a flame to gas
An aim to the blast
Imagine me telling the whole world to kiss my ass
Yeah, imagine that
The system stealing your life ‘til you’re old then saying you can have it back
Stuck in a box like a savage jack
And expected to pop back to society like an average kat
But I can’t imagine that
Imagine my eyes being the last ones you see
My expression being the last one you read
The last time you breathe
Imagine the need
Imagine being me!

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