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[Control Units] [Michigan]


i can remember first reading about the above policy and practice in the California prison system employed against captives who were identified as "gang" members. After being so identified, captives would be tossed into Administrative Segregation or an SHU [Segregated Housing Units]. Here they would languish until they either "paroled, debriefed, or died." I recall thinking how diabolical this scheme was. How it could be used - twisted-to be a tool of political repression.

I was still in the fetus stage of my studies when I first read about the situation in California prisons. I hadn't then realized that the repressive policies and practices were designed form the start to neutralize political activism behind the barbed- wire. The disguise of `fighting "gang" activity' was used for legitimacy. If exposed to the public, the people would support it. Who doesn't want an end to the high rate of crime and violence that is commonly associated with "gangs"?

Since my first exposure to STG ("security threat group") policies and practices in the California prison system, I have learned that it has spread to prisons across the u.s. And as of December 16, 1996, the state in which I am held captive had enacted its own political policy: 04.04.113, "Identification and Management of Security Threat Groups and Members."

Comrade George [Jackson] taught Us that "Power responds to all threats. The response is repression." Have We learned from history? COINTELPRO, NEWKILL, etc. If We are not prepared to deal with the Paper Tiger, then it will force its claws deeply into Our efforts at educating to liberate.

STG can be defeated. We ain't got to be forced into a corner with Our only option being to either debrief, to denounce Our political associations, or fact repression. However, the only chance We got to defeat STG is to end Our isolation. We got to reach outside these kkkoncentration kkkamps into the communities from which We came and of which We represent in our organizing and educating efforts. When the Paper Tigers attempt to attack, We got to have an outside base of support. Do Our people on the outside know Us? Do they know what we care about? Or, will they be left to believe whatever spiel the Paper Tigers wish to say about Us? If because We have no roots on the outside We are left vulnerable to unbridled repression, it is no one's fault but Our own!

Myself and others in Michigan want to expose the STG Phenomenon. However, We want to do so based on how it has spread across the u.s. We are asking for captives from any state in amerikkka that has some form of STG policy and/or practice to forward information and documentation to Us.

[Control Units] [Massachussetts Correctional Institution Cedar Junction] [Massachusetts]

Prisoner in Massachusetts exposes isolation

I am a prisoner confined in the state of Massachusetts at
M.C.I. Walpole State Prison and has been confined in the
state as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons since October
27, 1974 for various crimes. When I was first sent to M.C.I
Walpole in 1974 I thought [...] it was one of the worst
prisons in the country along with San Quentin, Attica,
Michigan, etc.

There was nothing but rebellion against the oppressor (the
guards) who was assaulted, maimed, and forced out of the
prison by way of injury acquired on duty or retirement
because we as solid convicts could not be controlled.

In August 1979, Ax-Handle Fenton who was the warden at the
federal prison at Marion and Lewisburg was found guilty of
beating prisoners off the bus at Lewisburg. He became a
consultant for the Department of Corrections and thereafter
locked up the whole prison and shipped out a lot of the
incorrigibles, un-desirables and not wanted convicts to
other state segregation units and as far as to various
Federal prisons. This tactic of shipping convicts out of
Walpole state prison on four (4) separate periods within
1979, 1980 and through 1995.

[...]The way it is now Massachusetts has a control unit
which is called the Department Disciplinary Unit (DDI) and I
would like to hear if there is any other state or federal
control unit where convicts is not allowed to purchase any
canteen with the exception of stamps. We are not allowed to
purchase food from the canteen, and the maggot officers is
the only ones who passes out the food trays. And due to the
facts convicts be working out in the cells or has to eat
what little food they are given. The swines is taking it
upon thereself to adulterated our food trays with spit, mice
droppings, human feces, un-authorized medications (this is
only being done to certain convicts) in retaliation because
there might be grievances filed against them, assaults them,
or the reasons of the placement in the DDU. There is some
inmates, prisoners, convicts that is aware that these swines
officers is tampering with the food and some of the
responses is that "oh it aint happen to me" well how would
you know? If there is a swine that dont like you or be
accident given anyone the wrong tray then you got it.

Its time to stop and allowing tub swine cops to do whatever
they want and nothing is not being said or done. They
already had took the contact visits, personal cloth, canteen
items, yard- recreations. Its time to wake up and stop the
maddness that there doing because it affects us all.

[Control Units]

A History of Amerikkka's Oppressive Control Units

by an Iowa Prisoner, Oct. 18, 1995 (reprinted from MIM Notes)

In the late 18th century, the Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia, PA, became the first penitentiary in U.S. history to experiment with the use of long-term isolation. This was based on the "Quaker theory" that without social interaction, a prisoner could not be influenced by fellow inmates and that a religious conversion would occur during the years of enforced meditation and result in the individual's reformation. This theory had monstrous effects upon those incarcerated between its walls. Some fell into a condition from which it was almost impossible to arouse them. Others became violently insane, some to the extreme of committing suicide. Those who underwent these isolating conditions were generally not reformed. In most cases individuals did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any service to the community. It would seem that after such experimentation, that this type of treatment would be eliminated by prisoncrats. Instead the practice of confining prisoners to small cells for long periods of time is still in full force.

In modern times the U.S. penitentiary at Alcatraz became notorious for holding the most dangerous criminals within the U.S. penal system. In reality it became the first "control unit prison" used as a mechanism to enforce control over prisoners and society. More recently the super-max penitentiary in Marion, Illinois became the new "End of the line" for both state and federal prisoners who prisoncrats considered to be "institutional problems" or "too dangerous" to be housed in any other institution. Because of appalling conditions in October, 1983, a riot broke out and two guards were killed. This gave the prisoncrats the excuse to lock down the entire prison population. This meant that prisoners were confined to their cells for 23 and a half hours a day and all visits were suspended. Until a court order was enforced, even attorneys were denied access to the prison. Eventually the lockdown eased in some areas, but stringent and restrictive policies remained largely in effect. Months after the riot an emerging pattern of brutal repression against the 350 inmates became apparent. 60 additional guards were brought in from other parts of the federal prison system to systematically beat and brutalize scores of prisoners.

The idea of Marionization spread rapidly throughout the Amerikkkan prison system because prison officials cried that their institutions were unsafe and control over the convict in every way possible was desperately needed. The truth behind the reasons these control units are needed is they are a means of political, economic and social control of a whole class of oppressed and disenfranchised people. These include especially African, Latino and indigenous people who are a disproportionate part of control unit populations.

These torture units go beyond the usual constraints of maximum security prisons. Better defined as a prison within a prison, these control units are used to defeat prisoners' revolutionary attitudes, organization, militancy, legal and administrative challenges; and anything else the prison administrators deem objectionable. These control units have various names such as: Adjustment center, security housing unit (SHU), maximum control complex (MCC), administrative maximum (ad- max), intensive management unit, and administrative segregation (ad-seg). Every prison possesses the label control unit status if long-term punishment and/or isolation are used.

While conditions vary from prison to prison, the goal of these units is always to achieve the spiritual, psychological and physical breakdown of the prisoner. Once prisoners are confined to a control unit, gross human rights violations take place on a daily basis. With minor differences, these control units share the following features: Prisoners spend years of isolation in tiny cells, usually 6 by 8 feet for 22-23.5 hours a day. The short time that they do spend outside their cell within a cement or chain link "dog pen" that lacks any kind of equipment and proper space to for physical exercise. Participation in programs including religious services, educational/work/job training, congregate dining and exercise are strongly prohibited by the administration. Also greatly limited is access to medical and psychiatric care.

The most damaging aspect of control units is the physical and mental torture that is imposed upon their victims. First the methods of how physical torture is inflicted: Forced cell extractions by militarily attired, baton-wielding guards are constantly used without cause or warning. These guards violently beat, choke, and kick already-shackled prisoners. Sometimes these cell extractions are so abusive that prisoners require extensive medical attention. Devices such as tazer guns, pepper spray, maces and manacles are used and four-point restraints and hog-tying are routinely overused, despite the fact that such instruments have caused bodily harm and death.

Another cruel practice is "caging". This is where scantily clad or naked prisoners are held in outdoor cages for hours in cold and rainy weather. The systematic use of firehosing shackled prisoners while in their cells, with high-pressure cold water, then leaving standing water in the cell, usually accompanies a prisoner being put in "strip cell status." While frigid temperatures make it impossible to sleep or even lay down, a bright light shines upon the cell 24 hours a day.

For those who can endure the physical cruelty, the mental torture can surely affect one's sanity. One example of this is sensory deprivation. This is when the prisoncrats forbid prisoners to have books, televisions, radios and contact visits, including those with lawyers. In some control units it is impossible for prisoners to communicate amongst themselves. Verbal harassment containing derogatory or racial statements are made by the guards. Mail is misplaced, delayed, destroyed or censored. Threats are made against family and visitors. The passing of false confidential information to foster paranoia and fights between convicts is utilized to weaken any unionization between prisoners. Legal access is another area that is greatly violated. This includes the censoring of lawyer and court mail, guards monitoring attorney-client phone and visit conversations, and the hindering of access to legal books and materials.

Control Units are designed to administer the very most in sensory deprivation and dehumanization of inmates. Currently Iowa is building a control unit and this writer faces the possibility of being transferred because of my political and rebellious attitude toward the capitalist system. Essentially control units serve only one purpose, and that is to control society. All control units must be abolished, and the victims of these dungeons treated as survivors of torture.

[Control Units] [Westville Correctional Facility] [Indiana]


I have received the 1/95 issue of your newspaper [MIM Notes]. I love the way it's written. I enjoyed reading the letters the prisoners wrote and sent in plus your answers. I hope to keep reading your paper and hope you keep sending them to me. I probably will be out of prison by September 1995. I've been locked up since October 1992.

This is a Maximum or SuperMax prison. We're only allowed an hour or half hour out of our cell or closet cellbox a day. Plus they have the goon squad or the extraction team. They come in your cell and beat you up and strap you down to your bed if you act like the man you are or don't want to make your bed up or kick on the door - little things like that. You can't get out of your cell unless they let you out. Everything here works by electricity.

If a person caught a heart attack or something serious, he can hang it up because you have to be handcuffed behind your back before you can leave the cell. Plus leg shackles. And they're so scared of you that they get all suited up before they come get you.

That is just a bit of what's going on at this concentration camp. If you ever truly want to know what's going on down here, let me know.