The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Postage is one of our biggest expenses. Why not send a book of stamps or two to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140 next time you're at the post office? help out
[Censorship] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Censorship of outgoing mail at Pelican Bay

This initiative is being brought forth under the social principles of communal cooperative work. The focus point of this initiative is to combat an arbitrary policy that the Pelican Bay State Prison administrators have initiated, which essentially violates the constitutional 1st amendment right to the freedom of speech/expression, as warranted to the captive class of prisoners that is being held in the SHU (Security Housing Unit). On November 13, 2006, the Associate Warden Ms. C.M. Scavetta authorized a memorandum which mandates that: "all prisoners housed in the SHU shall have their outgoing mail stamped in big red letters (Pelican Bay SHU - Unit D3) on the outside of the envelope, as well as on every single page of the enclosed correspondence, or on the noted contents therein…such as; "drawings, cards, political writings being sent out for publication purposes etc…"

We prisoners firmly oppose this new arbitrary policy, in that it vandalizes, defaces, and undermines the essence of our 1st amendment right to the freedom of speech/expression. Furthermore, this practice is semblance to how the Nazi Germans branded (stamped) the Jews that were being held captive in their Nuremburg concentration slave kamps for purposes of social control and eventual extermination! So in the true spirit of communal cooperative work, we prisoners are requesting the community's support in the form of launching a "phone call/letter writing campaign" in opposition to this arbitrary policy/practice.

For those of you who may be entertaining thoughts of doubt as to why you should get involved in this initiative, my people you should try to understand that we prisoners are an extension of every poor and oppressed community out in Babylon. Meaning that we prisoners remain an integral part of the community that we were removed from, but also our families, friends, and loved ones are also affected by this repressive practice via the mail that we send to them as well. What if your loved one or family member had a very important message to get out to you, but when you received his letter, you were unable to read it on account of it being stamped (vandalized) in very big red letters?

It is a historical truth that repression breeds resistance, so let our call of resistance be echoed in the form of placing phone calls and writing letters to the warden and associate warden of this prison in the expressed form of opposition and to the illegality of this practice. It will also help if you would notify your local politicians and legislatures about this to encourage them to investigate this matter, and to send letters as well. Send your letters to the following address:

Pelican Bay State Prison
c/o Robert Horel, Warden
5905 Lake Earl Dr.
Crescent City, CA 95531

Or:
c/o Associate Warden C.M. Scavetta
same address as above
707-465-1000

MIM adds: in our short experience with this policy we can collaborate this prisoner's statement that the stamps on every page of every letter make SHU prisoner's mail very hard to read. Further, stamping artwork essentially ruins the art. This policy serves no purpose other than harassment of prisoner's and their correspondents.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [California]
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Peace between prisoners discouraged in California

In response to an article in the October Under Lock and Key about prisoner's attempting to organize a peace summit at Pelican Bay prison in California, one prisoner wrote:

I have yet to hear of any of this, however, I did hear about the 2001 attempted peace treaty. Which of course was purposely sabotaged by CDC. The very last thing these bastards (CDC) wants is peace amongst the races here in prison. It is not in the material interest of the white middle class who work for CDC to have this violence come to an end. Any time an institution goes on lock down, prison officials automatically get what's called "Hazard Pay" which doubles their pay. So for every violent incident they (CDC) can provoke, they stand to profit from it.

And it's not only the CDC that stands to profit. Other outside organizations are also profiting from what the CDC has created. Organizations such as the Sheriffs department and other police agencies. Which of course are staffed with middle class white amerikans. Every time an incident from in here spills out into our occupied communities, it is these organizations that come in and lock up everyone in sight, not to mention harass, beat and even murder us.

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[Control Units] [Organizing] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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History of the Peace Summit initiative at Pelican Bay

Concerning the Pelican Bay State Prison Peace Summit initiative, I'm all too familiar with the initiative and the brothas that are seeking grassroots community support. Back in the year 2000, we the progressive class of Black prisoners had initiated efforts through these prison bureaucrats, in order to initiate some peace/resolve to the social conflict that had materialized out in general population, i.e. "race war." But as to be expected, these prison bureaucrats launched an aggressive "armed propaganda" campaign, in order to sabotage and disrupt our efforts. Because, as you know, it is these pigs nature to exist in a quagmire of diabolical, corrupt, and violent practices. So the armed propaganda campaign consisted of spreading a rumor to the head officials in Sacramento (CDC department heads) who had sanctioned the "peace talks" initially, that we prisoners that were directly involved with these "peace talks" were manipulating this opportunity to organize and conspire in criminal and violent activities, which is completely false and unfounded!

But by the time that we got around to challenging this nonsense, our efforts had proven to be futile, as we did not have any grassroots community support, which remains to be a critical component that needs to be addressed in light of our material existence, in being held in the restricted bondage and isolated confines of the SHU (Security Housing Unit). Besides, these fascist pigs in here also had a vested economic interest in seeing that the cycle of violence remained a material factor, as it continues to be perpetuated out in general population (mainline) in the form of a "race war" (southern Mexicans and white supremacist Europeans vs. the class of New Afrikan Black prisoners), in that, if our collective goal towards peace had been materialized into a reality, then the fascist pigs would no longer been able to prey on the fears of the public, under the premise of violence being a out of control issue, and the justification for the continued existence of these super-maximum slave kamps would have also been negated!!

This is why it is ever so critical that we mobilize ourselves now, in order to obtain some real grassroots community support so that we may effectively combat this social dilemma and bring some peace and resolve, to not just these mainliners, but also in the communities of southern California, to where these acts of senseless violence has spilled over. Meaning, that individuals of these racial nationalities who have no knowledgeable insight of this social conflict (race war) is being arbitrarily subjected to the capricious whims of violence, i.e. "innocent victims." So the onus is on us to restore order on these mainlines and in the communities of Southern California, as these fascist pigs (U.$. government ) has never had our best interest at heard, in particular, as it relates to poor people of color.

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California]
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Support the Pelican Bay State Prison Peace Talk

MISSION STATEMENT

In 1989, the CA Department of Corrections (DOC) opened Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Their primary stated reason for its construction was to reduce prison violence by segregating alleged gang leaders and members. But contrary to their stated purpose, prison violence has increased rapidly and dramatically. The CA prison system is more violent now than it was before the opening of PBSP. In fact, it's the most dangerous and deadly prison system in the country, as the statistics will clearly attest.

In Feb. 2001, CA witnessed one of its most violent race riots here at PBSP, where approximately 38 New Afrikan (Black) prisoners were stabbed. A message was delivered to me the next day from a group of brothers who had been involved in the riot, requesting my assistance with resolving this racial conflict/war. I am being housed in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) here at PBSP (solitary confinement), so I am in a position to talk to certain influential Mexican and white prisoners.

That night, I wrote to Warden Ayers, explaining to him that I would like to initiate peace talks designed to resolve this conflict. The following morning, I was escorted to the warden's office. He was interested in my proposal. While I was there, he asked what he could do to facilitate this peace process. I told him I needed to speak with a number of prisoners, and he told his staff to accommodate my endeavors. I was able to bring all relevant parties to the table, a peace plan was adopted and a cease fire was implemented.

We knew there were a number of associate wardens here at PBSP, as well as Institutional Gang Investigation (IGI) unit administration in Sacramento, along with the CA Corrections Peace Officers Association (CCPOA, prison guards union) who did not want this truce to take place or to take hold. True to form, they sabotaged our peace talks with lies and negative propaganda. Because we failed to mobilize an outside, grassroots support base, we were not able to challenge the lies and distortions that were being told.

The DOC told the politicians and the media that they didn't need us to resolve this conflict. They know that's untrue, that we are the only ones who can resolve it. When I say "we," I mean those New Afrikan, Mexican, and white prisoners presently housed here in the SHU at PBSP in the D-Facility, units 1, 2, 3 and 4. Many of us are between 40-65 years of age and have been in solitary confinement from 20 to 40 years. I personally have been in isolation for 24 years. We are the only ones who possess the respect and influence to end this conflict.

We could have resolved this racial conflict five years ago, but the CDC didn't want us to achieve that goal. As a direct result, the conflict has spun out of control. Since 2001, there have been at least 500 race-based riots behind the walls, and approximately as many individual stabbing incidents related to this conflict. Over 200 race riots took place in 2005 alone. Even worse, since 2001, the conflict has spilled out into the community outside the walls, especially in southern California, and now the community is caught up in the conflict. Of course the CDC will not take responsibility for the escalation of this conflict, but the fact remains that it was the CDC that sabotaged our efforts to end it, and now it has enveloped the whole state of California.

We can no longer afford to expect the CDC or government to end this conflict, or allow them to prevent us from ending it. The escalation of this conflict is a further example of the CDC's criminal negligence. As a class of veteran convicts, we are reaching out to the outside community for your assistance in resolving this conflict. With your help, we can put an end to this war.

We have developed a plan that would consist of a joint effort, but an effort led by us. What we need from you is to force the CDC to allow us to initiate discussion on a peace resolution. At present we are not allowed to get together and dialogue on a truce. We are presently looking for outside volunteers to serve as facilitators and coordinators. The facilitators will assist those directly involved in the process, since being in isolation limits what we can do. This is why it's very important for us to have outside assistance. The coordinators are grassroots organizers that will be responsible for mobilizing a community effort in support of our peace summit. If your are interested in being a facilitator you can contact me at:

Abdul Olugbala Shakur s/n J. Harvey
D-4-112/ C-48884 (SHU)
PO Box 7500
Crescent City, CA 95532
Pelican Bay State Prison

We also have a petition that we are presently distributing in support of our peace summit. Download the Pelican Bay State Prison Peace Talk Petition.

MIM replies: This mission statement underscores what MIM has long reported - the California Department of Corrections is behind the prisoner-on-prisoner violence and conflicts between nations in the prisons. They set up these divisions and they sabotage efforts by prisoners to achieve a peaceful resolution. The CDC's interest in promoting gang warfare behind bars is clear - keeping the prisoners divided and fighting one another prevents them from coming together to fight the injustice system. And these fights give the CDC justification for all kinds of repression and lockdowns. In fact they justify the existence of the Security Housing Units (SHU) themselves, which claim to house the "validated" gang members.

This is the same thing going on on the streets - the U.$. government has played a role in funneling guns and drugs to the streets to help fuel the creation of organizations fighting each other in oppressed communities. These organizations need to turn themselves to genuine self-defense in the interests of their nation, against their true enemy who perpetuates the system of national oppression in Amerika: the imperialist U.$. government. The organizers at Pelican Bay are setting a good example for people behind bars and on the streets, and we will work with them to take the struggle to the next level, beyond peace and onto the united struggle for justice.

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[Control Units] [Legal] [Washington]
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Washington IMU repression

I have been locked up for 28 straight years; the past few on "state tour" being shipped back and forth between Intensive Management Unit (IMU) facilities.

There are four levels in IMU. Level 1 is a sanction and for those hwo receive infractions while in IMU. Everyone starts at Level 2 (no radio or TV, nor allowed a newspaper or magazine subscription). Level 3 allows one magazine or newspaper subscription; level 4 allows two magazines or newspaper subscriptions. Also, the person on Level 3 is allowed a radio; on Level 4 given the choice between radio or TV.

I am the sort of person they kept and continue to keep on Level 2. Various excuses at different times are given (I have not had an infraction for some time!) The present excuse is because I do not attend monthly review hearing (in writing I am given the choice to attend or not.) I do not attend because of being tired of them writing in reports I said things I never said.

Prison officials may restrict reading material in punitive segregation, although most cases upholding this practice have involved short periods of time:

Gregory v. Auger, 768 F.2d 287, 289-91 (8th Cir. 1985) - inmates in disciplinary detention could be deprived of all but first class mail of a "personal, legal or religious" nature where detention was limited to 60 days), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1035 (1085); Daigre v. Maggio, 719 F.2d 1310, 1312-13 (5th Cir. 1983) - ban on newspapers and magazines in segregation upheld as applied to an inmate who served 10 days); Pendleton v. Housewright, 651 F. Supp. 1354, 1366-68 (S.D. Tex. 1983) - deprivation of publications except for legal and religious material sin solitary confinement upheld where limited to 15 days.

However, the above refers to punitive or disciplinary segregation. They have me on administration segregation. See e.g., Hardwick v. Ault, 447 F. Supp. 116, 128-31 (M.D. Ga. 1978) - mail and reading material restrictions in administrative segregation held unconstitutional. An added interesting note is although I am not allowed magazines or newspapers, I may have books. Isn't that something!?

You can help by sending letters of protest to:

Eldon Vail, Depty Secty, Department of Corrections, PO Box 41118, Olympia, WA 98504

Carol Porter, Superintendent, WA Corrections Center, PO Box 900, Shelton, WA 98584

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[Control Units] [Great Meadow Correctional Facility] [New York]
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Corruption and Retaliation in New York

Dear Mr. Goord, Mr. Malone, Governor Pataki, and Reverend Sharpton,

There is very serious problem going on here in Comstock Prison. On June 6, 2004, I was set up by Sergeant Brown and his gang, who took me into a strip frisk room and put some dope on me. They told me that I'm going down if I don't go into the hearing and make a deal. On the day of the hearing, the hearing officer was already aware to make a compromise with me if I plead guilty. So I did and received four months but that is not the biggest issue.

The biggest issue is that they have me in a special housing unit (SHU) with claims of me being an Al Qaeda member. They are treating me like the prisoners in Abu Ghraib Prison. They gave me one old ripped up mattress, no bucket to receive hot water to wash up, no net bags, no boxes, no toilet paper, a dirty filthy cell with no kind of cleaning supplies. The toilet bowl is extremely filthy and most of the time they don't feed me. They place empty trays on the gate so that on camera, it looks like they're feeding me.

These are untrained, rude, racist and rebellious people who are decorating themselves in blue and green uniforms and saying that they are promoting democracy and justice. They say they're watching over criminals. Let the records reflect that these prison guards are doing this wickedness to me on the order of their supervisor, whom I have a complaint on. They are doing this in retaliation. They know fully well that I am a Muslim and not any member of Al Qaeda but that is their excuse to cause me great harm and suffering. This is the same evil mentality that caused great harm to the people of Iraq. These are the same people who jumped on Malcolm X's grandson. These are the same unruly, arrogant, outlaw, racist people who are Klansmen hiding behind government uniforms.

When they pass my cell, they burst out in laughter and make racial epithets. They also prevent me from writing to anyone to obtain relief. From this day on, I assure you that these guys who have decorated themselves in blue uniforms must stay away from me. I will go straight above these Rumsfields because they are the ones who are giving out orders. They know what is going on so I will go over their heads. I won't write to them anymore. They never remedy any situation when it comes to prisoners.

I request a serious investigation into this serious matter.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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[Control Units] [Prison Labor] [Oklahoma]
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Repression in OK SHU

I am a female Segregation Housing Unit (SHU) inmate, and this is my fourth time on Administrative Segregation (A.S.). I have spent a total of eight years on lockdown. As of May, 2004 I have been on SHU for one year and seven months, for an alleged battery without a weapon on another inmate. The inmate that I battered has a paper filed on me that keeps us separated on a yard divided from mine by a brick wall.

Nail clippers are not allowed in this facility, so I am charged $2.00 to see the doctor and fill out a form, and $2.00 to use the clippers. This leads me to ask where is the money that is supplied to run this facility? Has it been reduced? Even as an indigent inmate, I must pay for any doctor visit, plus medications.

Where does inmates' money go and what is it used for? Starting May 3, 2004, we are going to be charged for any form we need for in-house mail. We are charged for copies of cases from the law library, legal-sized envelopes to mail to the courts, etc. Being on the SHU it is almost as if I am cut off from the world completely. I have no resources to raise hell about injustice.

At this prison, slave labor is in full effect. Inmates work at a plant here called Oklahoma Corrections Industries. They handle Department of Motor Vehicles-related paperwork. They're paid a few cents an hour, according to how many huge boxes they sort through.

There are 37 rules for the SHU that we must comply with or have our exercise (which is a right) terminated.

[From the prison's handout, these rules include: "9. Materials will not be allowed to hang over the cell door to obstruct observation. ... "15. Magazines, newspapers, and catalogs are not allowed for DU/PI/PD/TD/TS inmates. ... "17. Library books cannot be traded between inmates, left outside of the cell, or placed in the windowsill. ... "22. Inmates are subject to urinalysis testing at any time. ... "30. All inmates shall be allowed one hour of exercise outdoors, weather permitting, five days per week. The Shift Supervisor may cancel outdoor exercise for security reasons. If exercise is indoors, inmates will be restrained in belly chains, hand cuffs, black box, and leg irons ..."]

If an A.S. inmate receives a misconduct for not having our shirts tucked into our pants, we must spend more time on A.S.

Your Notes are an informative inspiration. I am now being transferred to another yard. I will fight for my beliefs if I am sent to hell.

Sincerely,

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[Control Units] [Washington]
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Intensive Management Units: Behavior Modification or Psychological Subjugation?

From inside of this beast called the Prison Industrial Complex, I find that the agenda upon which its foundation was laid is being fulfilled to our detriment. I find that Black Men are not only being physically arrested but they are also being developmentally arrested, their psychological, spiritual, political and cultural development confined and suppressed to the point of retardation. But what transpires behind these steel curtains is only a replica of what transpires out there in so-called free society on a smaller scale.

Prisons were constructed from the recesses of man's mind yet Man's mind has become subject to prison cells, the very atrocity born of his incomplete thought. I've watched prison cells cause man's mind to regress to the point where he becomes primitive in his application of thought to this reality.

I've witnessed confinement to a cell for 23 hours a day in Intensive Management Units (IMU), sensory deprivation, and the deprivation of human contact cause my brothers to become so consumed by emotions that it distorts their ability to conceive reality. At this stage they lose the faculty of progressive thought and this causes them to become perceptual beings instead of conceptual beings, making it hard for them to grasp concepts that transcend their confinement.

This causes them to fall down on all fours psychologically in regression designating for themselves a cave of ignorance as a domicile where ambition is imprisoned. They're cast out to the peripherals of reality and held hostage there, never pondering the full extent of their inherent potential, therefore never becoming cognizant of the duality in man's nature. Man can exhibit the highest manifestation of life on earth, or he can exhibit the manifestation of an animal in human form, yet it is not a cell that keeps man confined or imprisons ambition.

Physical freedom is concomitant with, and a product of, psychological liberation. These two elements, physical freedom and psychological liberation, are procured through abstract intellectual concepts, not physical precepts. The ability to grasp abstract intellectual concepts and apply them to one's plight frees the prisoner and the lack of ability to grasp abstract intellectual concepts and apply them to one's plight imprisons the free man.

In light of this reality, sensory deprivation becomes self-realization, for it alleviates sounds, smells and circumstances that redirect man's attention from self, causing estrangement between the physical and the intellect and the deprivation of human contact becomes the introduction to self because it forces man to contemplate self.

It is time that our brothers and sisters overstand that in order to transcend our perceptual confinement, we must elevate our conceptual consciousness! Then and only then will we taste psychological liberation and embrace physical freedom.

Uhuru SaSa (Freedom Now)

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[Control Units] [Upstate Correctional Facility] [New York]
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NY SHU full of Non-violent convictions

Now, to give you a list of things that's going on in Upstate Correctional Facility (NY). This prison was built under the eyes of the government for "violent prisoners" (yet it's double cell) in 1999... It's 2004, and the majority of the SHU (isolation cells) is filled with drug tickets, medium prisoners who only have 30 days, and other "non-violent" cases. Therefore the way they're keeping us in this box (SHU) system is just to keep it full. So what is it really for?

Then you have programs established in SHU that are only beneficial to the economy in the colony of Malone, New York! Give jobs to these people who don't care about the prisoners per se (example: nurses, educational staff, counselors, etc.) They have a cell study program established in SHU. I haven't seen the school teacher in a month and when they do come around they have nothing educational to give me, but have Donald Goins books, etc. The things that have kept our kind down for centuries. Ignorance is power over our kind. Then you have a ASAT workbook program, and it's not established for the well being of drug addicts. Let me point out just what I'm going thru. I have been in SHU for 27 months, and the reason I came into SHU was drug related tickets.

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[Control Units]
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Wastelands: prison control units

When exploring the ethical implications of some socially sanctioned institutions, it is understandable how society at large might not invest due attention to human rights questions that arise based on the severe conditions within prison control units. After all, the ones who are affected may not be society's most beloved individuals and may even be regarded as deserving of less than compassionate treatment.

This logic, however, does not fully encompass the extent of the issues that control units present. Practically speaking, these types of environments inevitably serve as breeding grounds for a wide range of psychological disturbances. What the average person might not realize is that these disturbances manifest themselves in behavior and it is precisely for this reason why people who don't care should.

One specific dynamic that is universally present in inmates who endure long-term isolation is social starvation. Not being exposed to regular social situations creates a profound loss of touch with the world from which they came - the world that bore them. This severed connection can lead to distrust (to the point of extreme paranoia), introversion, and a distorted path of normal, healthy social development.

Anxiety, insecurity, and ultimately, resentment, are also common elements that contribute to an individual's alienation from their community. In fact, isolation is the antithesis of the concept of community and is, in itself, implicative of cruelty and abandonment.

The very term "control unit" is an irony. Yes, while an inmate is housed in one of these places he is under control. However, it is this very "control" that precipitates a wholly negative change in one's character. The inherent coldness of such a barren place demonstrates a disregard for the monstrous effects such a cruelly oppressive environment creates. Instead of nurturing improvement and growth, it actually fosters hostility. It is insanely counterproductive.

Long-term isolation forces inmates to construct elaborate coping mechanisms to deal with the psychologically crippling conditions. It requires an emotional detachment, which is a precursor to antisocial behavior and is not in any way healthy or helpful.

It is for this reason that the notion of control units being effective deterrents to future, disruptive behavior is absolutely illogical to a laughable degree. These coping mechanisms become so entrenched into one's personality, that it completely alters their entire psyche. The process is allowed to continue for so long, that inmates become accustomed to isolation at a hefty expense to their emotional well-being.

Strangely, it can become a perverse measure of mental strength - being able to withstand the crushing weight of isolation as a show to "prove" they cannot be broken, when in fact, this contempt may be evidence that they have already been cruelly affected. It amounts to no less than psychological mutilation - a perpetually self-defeating attitude.

It is difficult to believe that control units have any redeeming qualities. The fact is this: nearly all inmates housed in control units will re-enter prison populations, or in many cases, will be released directly back into society.

Human beings are known for being products of their environments. So what do you get when you subject a person to inhumane conditions and an utterly complete lack of compassion? It appears to be as simple and reliable as working out a mathematical equation. It seems though, if you don't get the answer you were looking for, why would you stick with the same formula?

That's not how progress is made. Reexamination, acknowledgment of mistakes, and the redressing of faults are the key to a healthy, moral society.

- a prisoner at Walpole MA in the Department Disciplinary Unit, March 2004

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