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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 63]
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Fighting On Thru Broken Spirits

fighting on

Recently I was transferred here to SCI Chester and was shocked at the difference in the prisoners here compared to my comrades at SCI Greene, SCI Pittsburgh, and SCI Somerset. This facility is very different. A program was incorporated here called welfare to work which allowed many welfare recipients from the surrounding area to be hired at this prison. Now I'm all for giving the underprivileged opportunities but this prison is so "Ratchet" now it's ridiculous. Staff does not do their jobs here. Grievances are ignored, campaigns challenged, and anyone who speaks out is locked down for "inciting a riot" and promptly transferred. With mostly short-term prisoners at this "program prison" prisoners are afraid to fight for their rights out of fear for negative marks on their record for parole.

I've been putting in non-stop paperwork since arriving and all I've accomplished is gaining the ire of my unit manager and other staff. I have even been threatened. I have succeeded in starting an anti-imperialist study group but am persecuted for it. My unit manager lies and makes up reasons to put me on "cell restrictions" so I can't hold group. But I keep pushing and have gotten some other prisoners to start standing up for themselves. But none of our paperwork is being addressed. 90% of the time we receive no response whatsoever.

I have no idea how they get away with it. You would think these staff members who were underprivileged and grew up in the streets like we did would be more sympathetic to our plights but instead they go on power trips and neglect most of their duties. These types of people are why we can't make classless society work. It seems all our efforts here are in vain. We are sending out a call for help; any assistance or advice will be greatly appreciated. Spirits seem broken here at SCI Chester and comrades are dropping out of the struggle and though it is dissuading I will not quit. I will remain constantly a soldier on the front lines of this war. But I'm calling for backup.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While this writer sees the Welfare to Work program at SCI Chester as the cause of repression, many prisons without this program have similar conditions. We can't speak to the effects of this program specifically, but more generally we know that many prisons are built in communities where job opportunities are limited. And that people generally don't take jobs as prison guards out of a desire to help people; just as with most capitalist jobs, people are working for the money.

More generally this writer's letter raises the question of why so many people working in prison perpetuate oppression rather than being kind and helpful to prisoners. There is evidence that oppressing people is not an inherent characteristic of humyns. Instead, this is a result of the economics of capitalism and our capitalist culture. First there is the economic side of things: the vast majority of people in this imperialist country are getting paid more than the value of their labor. They are basically being bought as supporters of imperialism. So when they get paid well to work in an institution that is based in social control and torture of other humyns, they're ok doing it because that's part of supporting capitalism.

Second we have capitalist culture which trains people to be ok with harming others and exerting power over others. There have been studies that show that even random people put in a situation where someone in charge tells them to hurt another persyn, most will do it because they're told to. Most famously in the United $tates there was the Stanford Prison Experiment back in 1971.

But there also has been huge social experiments such as the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s and 70s which showed that even people who formerly were oppressors with great power can be re-educated and become peaceful productive members of society. It's not easy, and we won't win on the re-education front on a mass scale until we have the power to implement a cultural revolution to eradicate a system that values and glorifies power and oppression.

Rather than despair and say that these guards are why we can't make classless society work, we say these guards are exactly why we need socialism and a dictatorship of the proletariat. Clearly we have a lot of work to do to re-train and re-educate people so that they respect all humyns and act kindly towards others. We need a system that is set up to serve the oppressed and forcibly stop those who want power for themselves for persynal gain. The system of socialism will require a long period of cultural revolution, where we transform our culture into one that values humyn life and teaches people to treat others equally rather than valuing power and wealth at any cost to others. It will be a long struggle to reach a society where there is no class, nation or gender oppression. But it is the only path to survival for humynity.

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[Education] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 63]
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Books Ignited a Flame in Me

While growing up in Newark, New Jersey, I always heard of the stories about the riots, the grassroot movements, and life in the aftermath of the 1960s and 70s. However, I was a young kid who only cared about getting high, gang banging, and wanting to be recognized as being big and bad. Well I got recognized alright, but for the wrong reasons. In 1999, at the age of 20 years old, I was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In the first few years in prison I was still acting a fool, still trying to be recognized as big and bad. But it wasn't til 2005 when that revolutionary spark first ignited in my mind. It all started when I went to solitary confinement for a fight I was involved with. While in solitary confinement I didn't have nothing to read or anything to keep my mind occupied. So I spent hours at a time just standing at the door yelling and cursing out the pigs as they went by for their counts. Anyway, I guess my next door neighbor got tired of listening to me yelling, so he knocked on my wall and ask if I needed a book to read. So I said, "yeah, sure why not." He passed me a book called Assata by Assata Shakur. Before this I never knew who she was or even read the book, but being that I had nothing better to do while in solitary I read it.

While reading the book, flipping through page after page, Assata's story spoke to me. I felt and recognized her struggle. Within two days I finished the book and now it was me knocking on my neighbor's wall, wanting more to read. My neighbor was an older brother, and throughout the year I spend in solitary he kept feeding me books such as Blood in My Eye, Soul on Ice, and other great books. My neighbor was a firm believer in the ideology of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panthers. Being a Latino myself, he also taught me about people and groups such as Che Guevara and the Young Lords Party. Now, instead of yelling on the gate for hours on end, my neighbor and I would spend hours talking to each other, building and helping me become more conscious of myself. He helped me realize that me wanting to be known as big and bad was just that egotistical force for recognition, which will one day lead me into a brick wall.

After my sanction in solitary confinement was complete, I continued my studies while on mainline. I read up on people such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mao Tse-tung, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Marx and many others. Gang banging wasn't even on my radar. That one spark became a single flame, changing the way I think, the way I talk, and the way I conducted myself. Throughout the years since then, that flame is now a hungry fire inside of me, like the heat of earth on fire. My sole mission is to help educate those oppressed about their political and social conditions that we live under! Because as my neighbor taught me so long ago, "Each one teaches one!" Power to the people!

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[Spanish] [United Front]
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El 9 de septiembre, el USW de California debe preparar la unidad entre la línea principal y SNY

El 9 de septiembre, USW (United Struggle from Within - Lucha Unida del Interior) de California debe preparar la unidad entre la línea principal y SNY (Sensitive Need Yards -Yardas de necesidad sensible), por USW 44 de United Struggle from Within, abril 2018 permalink.

Estoy escribiendo sobre este tema un poco antes porque muchos hermanos y hermanas no tienen el conocimiento verdadero o real con respecto al Black August y Bloody September. Pero para [email protected] de [email protected] que somos políticamente conscientes, ambos meses son ricos con nuestra sangre, nuestra lucha y nuestra resistencia. Como personas que luchan contra la opresión durante estos dos meses como un movimiento del pueblo debemos enfocar nuestras energías en las discusiones y acciones de George Jackson, los Black Panthers (Panteras Negras), Assata Shakur, Che Guevara, y cualquiera de [email protected] muchos [email protected] que nos han precedido.

Deberíamos impulsar la educación política, la acción progresiva y la historia revolucionaria. Deberíamos enfocarnos más agresivamente en el establecimiento de una seguridad más sólida, porque el 16 de abril de 2018 el Departamento de Corrección y la así llamada "Rehabilitación" comenzaron una limpieza de armas en todo el estado de todas las prisiones de California para garantizar que no haya armas en los patios de la prisión cuando el estado integra a la línea principal de prisioneros con prisioneros de SNY (Yardas de necesidad sensible) a finales de este año.

Sabemos de primera mano lo que está haciendo la estructura de poder: esperan que todos los patios estallen. Eso mostraría que sus trabajos todavía importan y que tenemos que estar en la cárcel. Esta es su movida más demente en años, y han estado alimentando la desconexión de la línea principal y SNY (Yardas de necesidad sensible) durante años como una herramienta de dividir y conquistar. La táctica de dividir y conquistar nunca ha sido tan efectiva como hoy.

Como dicen, un árbol sin raíces está muerto, y también lo es un pueblo sin raíces. Hombres como el camarada George, Huey P. Newton y Malcolm X. Comenzaron y mejoraron su línea política en prisión como coloniales criminales. Dentro de estos campos de concentración y confines oscuros y profundos de La prisión de Soledad y San Quentin, la alquimia de la transformación humana tomó lugar. Todos comenzaron a convertir las celdas que tenían en bibliotecas y Escuelas de liberación. Como dijo George, para crear un mundo nuevo tenemos que ser una representación de este nuevo ser, "El hombre nuevo", en palabras y en hechos, pensamientos y acciones. Este nuevo hombre estará en su más alta forma revolucionaria. Así como ellos convirtieron sus celdas en aulas, nosotros también debemos hacerlo. Y así como internalizaron las ideas más avanzadas sobre el desarrollo del ser humano, también debemos nosotros.

George dijo que: "Conocí a Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels y Mao, y me salvaron. Durante los primeros cuatro años, no estudié nada más que política y economía e ideas militares. Conocí a Black Guerrillas, George Big Jake Lewis, James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Tony Gibson y muchos otros. Estábamos intentando convertir la mentalidad criminal negra en una revolución de la mentalidad".

George y sus camaradas se convirtieron en ejemplos vivientes e inspiraciones de la resistencia organizada para [email protected] [email protected] en todo el país. Pero el 21 de agosto 1971, el camarada George Jackson y otros dos fueron asesinados junto con tres guardias de la prisión en un tiroteo dentro de una de las prisiones de máxima seguridad de California, llamada San Quentin. Por esta razón, y muchas más, mantenga el sangriento agosto como sagrado.

Huey P. Newton fue asesinado el 22 de agosto de 1989, en West Oakland, a la altura del décimo y el centro, por un joven traficante de drogas llamado Little Blood. Era un producto de este sistema, [email protected] jóvenes odiando a los viejos, [email protected] de piel clara odiando a [email protected] de piel oscura. Esa es la misma división que tenemos aquí hoy. Puedo meterme en esa mierda y levantar el polvo con el resto y con los mejores. Pero no permitiré que nadie detenga mi arduo trabajo como organizador y educador. He dado veinte años para esta red principal y SNY, así que voy a seguir adelante. Como Frantz Fanon declaró en Wretched of the Earth (Los condenados de la tierra), "No hay toma de la ofensiva – ni redefinición de las relaciones. "Sabemos que el poder estructural nos quiere muertos o encerrados. Entonces, en caso de que no lo supieras, la revolución está activa. Poder para la gente hecha para ganar y la gloria es el juego que está en el hombre calvo

Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (MIM- Ministerio Internacional de Prisiones Maoísta ) agrega: El manual de USW (Lucha Unida del Interior) de California explica cómo la división SHU (Unidad de vivienda de seguridad) / red principal y SNY en California está en el corazón de la construcción de un frente unido de prisioneros en el estado. Todos [email protected] camaradas del USW de California deben tener una copia del manual como guía para su trabajo. [email protected] lectores [email protected] de la ULK (University of Local Knowledge) sabrán que hemos impreso innumerables artículos sobre este tema. Escriba si puede usar copias de algunos de estos artículos para ayudar a organizar el Día de la Paz y la Solidaridad del 9 de septiembre de este año. La campaña para construir la paz y la unidad entre la red principal y SNY llegará a un punto crítico este año, y USW debe jugar un papel primordial en orientar las cosas en una dirección positiva como lo exige este camarada.

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Maryland] [ULK Issue 63]
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Building Unity to Fight Abuses in Maryland

My celly and myself formed a small coalition between my brothers and his brothers, red, blue, white, even hispanics to speak out against the administration (the real enemy) about their abuse of power and their negligence. We strategically created conversation and before you know it the whole housing unit was in an uproar. We had planted the seed. Now, without organization, we tend to turn our anger and frustrations into violence and destruction, which is a losing battle. So, we pushed that pen, which turned out to be mightier and more effective than the sword. We wrote Administrative Remedy Procedures (ARP), the Inmate Grievance Office (IGO), the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), commissioners, the Deputy Secretary of Operations, and even the Governor, Larry Hogan, himself.

The issues we raise weren't addressed, so we're still waiting for responses. But regardless if we're denied any relief and we are aware of those possibilities, we created a solid peaceful foundation for unity and realized who the real oppressors are. So as long as we support each other's positive causes we are making forward progress, in the opposite direction of negativity. One step at a time!

Some brothers feel we won't get any relief because the administration do what they want. So I ask them, "if they ain't giving us this and taking that already, how is filing complaints and grievances and them not giving us any relief hurting?" "They doing what they want without so much as an inklet of rebuttal, so how do you lose writing them up?" Then I wait... No response.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Elsewhere in this issue of ULK the point is raised that leading includes showing victories, and not just talking about them.

Committed revolutionaries know that building a movement strong enough to end oppression worldwide is a huge task that takes years and years, and we're going to have lots of small failures along the way. But when building with new recruits, we need to be careful to not lead them down a dead end, in a way that discourages them and undermines unity building. Building initial interest should be energizing. It should inspire people.

At the same time, we can use our organizing defeats as opportunities for education. As this writer is doing, creating a foundation for unity and clarifying who are the real oppressors is a victory in and of itself. But we should be clear with people that there's a good chance we won't win grievances. This doesn't mean the time was wasted, because we've put the administration on notice that we won't take their bullshit lying down. Where we anticipate few victories we need to think creatively about how to inspire people to action and help them understand how this work fits into the larger struggle so that movement building is a victory in and of itself.

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[Organizing] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 63]
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Say It and Show It

I'm writing because I have received my first issue of ULK, and I am going to tell you about how I became who I am, and what I am. It started in 2010 at South Central Correctional Center with a brother by the name of Supreme. At that time I was 21 years old and didn't want to hear a thing from no one cause I thought, "you can say what you want but it don't mean a thing if you can’t show it." I never used to listen to nothing until he started talking to me and on top of that he was showing it to me. So I can see that it was true.

Once I started to see what he was showing it all came to me and I said to myself "this is a brother I can believe and count on when I'm in need, and need help against the pigs." Because at that time I was having problems with the pigs and they were giving me hell back to back and I didn't know what to do about it. He saw it and started helping me and showing me how to go at it with them. I saw what he was showing me was working, so now I'm a believer. He's an older brother and I respect him a lot for what he did.

I have had a lot of guys tell me things and couldn't show it. They say "look at the message and not the messenger," but sometimes the message don't mean a thing if you can't show it. I had a guy tell me one day, "yeah man we all should write some letters to people outside. I don't think it's gonna work but we can do it anyway." See! That right there told me a lot, that he didn't even believe what the fxxk he was saying, so why should I believe that would work?

Now I listen to the ones that show and tell and I make sure I do the same. I never feed anyone bull because I don't let anyone feed me bull. And I have a lot of brothers that show and tell. One, a political prisoner, does a lot to help all of the brothers that he can. So I give a lot of love to brothers like him and Supreme.

I liked the whole issue of ULK 62 for May/June and I am letting a lot of other brothers read it too. I have read some of your ULKs in the past but I never had a chance to write to you guys and it seemed like noone ever heard of your paper. I realized that there are a lot of guys in prison that are not doing their job, the job of educating other brothers. So now that is why we have a lot of b.s. where everyone is against each other. We see this again and again in all of Missouri prisons. I don't know everything, and I'm still learning, but as I go on I try my best to help all of the other real brothers gain knowledge.

I know just as well as you know that we have a lot of guys that are faking and trying to bring the movement down working with the pigs. I can tell you a lot of dudes don't like me because I tell it like it is and I don't hold nothing back for no one. A lot of these guys are just all talk, they act like they are something they are not, but see they don't like that I'm about all of that and some, I practice what I preach. I want to help all of the brothers that I can and I mean it and I show it too. So guys don't like me because I show and tell for real! I want to thank you at MIM(Prisons) for your time and allowing me the chance to talk with you all and the reading material you all send me to help me more. I'm still growing.

Keep on fighting the fight, never give up. To all the brothers and sisters of the struggle: a warrior never gives up. Freedom is what we make it.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This article is especially interesting to us because it's easy for such a long-term project as ours to sound like what this comrade is criticizing above. "[W]e all should write some letters to people outside. I don't think it's gonna work but we can do it anyway."

We write letters to prison administrators to defend our right to send prisoners our literature, and a lot of the time it doesn't go anywhere. We run the grievance campaign, and often times we're just sent in circles between the Inspector General, Ombudsman, and the warden. But we're not discouraged. We already have strategic confidence in our work, because we've studied enough history to know that what we're doing today will pay off in the long term. Engaging in the endless bureaucracy is tolerable because we already understand how it relates to the big picture.

However, this comrade's skepticism underlines the importance of how we recruit new people. Our strategy ultimately is to build unity and confidence among the oppressed masses. Busy work (sending letters just to send them) does not have this effect. Even if we don't expect an immediate positive response from admin, if people just see us as wasting their time and resources, it's going to discourage them even more and cause them to distrust us.

Part of encouraging people is in picking battles that are winnable. Part of it is in framing these battles as a piece of our larger struggle. Part of it is in showing historical successes and broadening people's vision. And part of that is relating our goals to the perspective and values of the people we're attempting to recruit.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [First World Lumpen] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 63]
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Why Take Action?

uswpeace

We take action regardless of whether we will ultimately win or lose. We take action simply because it is in our nature to resist injustice and oppression. It is who we are. And we recognize that not everyone has that same nature. We should not criticize or look down on those who don't have enough strength for this fight against the odds. After all, oppression of the weak and unfortunate is the very thing we are struggling against. So we hold no animosity towards the naysayers as long as they do not directly interfere with our cause, and we are happy when our actions benefit them even though they refused to participate. People cannot help being the way they are. For those of us with the revolutionary spirit the struggle comes as naturally as apathy and passivity comes to those who refuse to participate.

But the truth is that we most definitely can make a difference. The government and the TDCJ administration would like us to believe they are all-powerful and can do whatever they want without concern for any consequences, but that is just propaganda intended to make us give up before we even start. We know this from experience because we have won victories already. We have seen even just a handful of prisoners come together many times and force the administration to improve conditions or follow its own rules.

We know that just because our actions are ignored at first or because we got a rubber stamp response on a grievance doesn't mean it didn't have an effect. Everything has an effect and it all adds up. We recognize that change in any area of life generally requires sustained action over a long period of time. The pigs' first line of defense is to keep us ignorant and keep us discouraged, but we must know better than to fall into those traps.

What we often see is prisoners coming together in a spontaneous uprising when abuses reach a crisis point. The administration will quickly back down and meet their demands. But then when this temporary mobilization of the mass of prisoners falls apart, the administration incrementally begins the same abuses all over again. If they overstep and the prisoners mobilize themselves once more, then the administration just repeats the process of backing down and incrementally reimposing the same abuses. In this way they gradually accustom the prisoners to accept the abuse of their rights and human dignity.

So another reason why we take action is simply to stay mobilized and able to resist the incremental erosion of our rights. We don't fool ourselves about the possibility of keeping the whole mass of prisoners fully mobilized. The majority will always care more about watching TV and playing fantasy football. But there are also at least a few prisoners who see revolutionary work as a way to pass the time that is just as enjoyable and interesting, with the added benefit that it actually gives them some real power over their circumstances. If we can keep this core of dedicated revolutionaries organized and active at all times, then we can put up constant resistance to the erosion of our rights. And we will have an organizational framework and leadership already in place that allows us to quickly mobilize the masses for some larger project whenever it becomes necessary.

We know all this is an uphill battle, but we can take heart when we study the past. In the broad sweep of history the course of events has overwhelmingly been in our favor. The oppressors of the world have been fighting a desperate retreat for the last thousand years, losing battle after battle in the struggle for human rights. It is clear which way the wind is blowing. And the struggle for prisoners' rights fits squarely within that larger struggle.

There will be a day in the not-so-distant future when people look back with horror and shame at our current culture of mass incarceration and the conditions in these prisons. And those who struggled for prisoners' rights and reform of the criminal justice system will be grouped among the heroes who fought to overcome absolutist monarchies, colonialism, slavery, worker exploitation, racism, sexism, and every other form of oppression. We can take action with absolute confidence that we are on the right side of history. In the long run, we are assured of victory.


MIM(Prisons) responds: So much of what this author writes here speaks directly to the value of perseverance in our work. The project of building revolution (or making any great impact on the world) is made up of many, many, many days of mundane tasks. Some days of excitement. And many more days of mundane commitment.

In a debate on whether people are born as, or developed into, revolutionaries, it seems like this author would argue the former. But surely everyone who's turned on to politics can also remember a time in their life when they were apathetic and passive. Whether from an incorrect understanding of how the world works, or a lack of faith in our own ability to change and make change. At some time, probably over a long time, we decided to stand up.

Well, how do people turn from only participating when there's an acute problem, to making that long-term commitment to building a revolution? (Hint: it's not a persynality trait we're born with.)

Author and bourgeois psychologist Angela Duckworth says developing interest and passion for your work (the type of passion that sticks it out through the hard times) is made of "a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening."(1) In the quote below Duckworth talks about "having fun" as part of developing interest. While prisons certainly aren't fun, we can apply this concept to prisoners facing repression, where the "trigger" for interest is repeated exposure to examples and experiences of resistance.

"Before hard work comes play. Before those who've yet to fix on a passion are ready to spend hours a day diligently honing skills, they must goof around, triggering and retriggering interest. Of course, developing an interest requires time and energy, and yes, some discipline and sacrifice. But at this earliest stage, novices aren't obsessed with getting better. They're not thinking years and years into the future. They don't know what their top-level, life-orienting goal will be. More than anything else, they're having fun."

"... [I]nterests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient. This is because you can't really predict with certainty what will capture your attention and what won't. You can't simply will yourself to like things, either. ..."

"... [W]hat follows the initial discovery of an interest is a much lengthier and increasingly proactive period of interest development. Crucially, the initial triggering of a new interest must be followed by subsequent encounters that retrigger your attention — again and again and again."

Just because someone is initially uninterested in the politics behind the mass action, through repeated exposure and "retriggering interest," we can encourage them to go deeper. And after the initial interest is sparked, Duckworth says deliberate practice, a sense of purpose, and a hopeful attitude, are what enable us to commit and excel. These approaches are what cause us to overcome the adversity that the author describes in the article above, of administrative failures, discouragement from staff, and even our own mistakes.

And Duckworh argues, based on eir decades of study, that these qualities can be nurtured and developed — by individuals themselves, and by people outside of those individuals. As organizers, we need to work to develop interest, practice, purpose, and hope in others. In eir book Grit, Duckworth lays out many methods to do this, some of which we've touched on in other articles throughout this issue of ULK. With this response, we primarily want to highlight that a revolutionary fighting spirit is something that we can cultivate; just because someone doesn't have it now doesn't mean they won't ever have it. And it's the organizer's job to make that process as successful as possible.

Note:
1. Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Scribner, 2016.
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[Abuse] [Powledge Unit] [Texas]
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TDCJ Erroneously Coding Grievances, Denying ADA Rights

Please send me the Texas pack. I shared mine with someone who did not return the entire contents. I have found the information to be most helpful. Just this week I won a Step 1 Grievance using the Texas pack.

The unit grievance officer had erroneously coded a Step 1 Grievance. The previously filed Step 1 had been concerning sleep deprivation only because I am wheelchair mobile, a "wheeler." Thus, the sleep deprivation is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (28 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.). However, the grievance was coded as "denial of access to health care." There is a very big difference.

While at the TDCJ Hospital Galveston (HG) Unit the staff denied me access to a bed for all but three hours during a four day period. Instead, I was forced to remain seated in my wheelchair in a holding tank. Just so their records would show that I had been assigned to a bed each night I was taken to a bed late at night and awakened a short time later to go back to the holding tank. Basically, I only obtained three hours of sleep during an approximate ninety-six hour period.

In further error, the unit grievance officer had misrouted my Step 1 to the senior practice manage. Presumably because it had been incorrectly coded. The senior practice manager knew he had no authority over the grieved issue. Yet he responded anyway, saying as much, and thus denying an opportunity for relief at the Step 1. I filed a Step 2 grievance asserting that no relief was available at the Step 1 for the reasons explained herein above.

In the TDCJ, denial of access to the grievance system is a grievable issue. Thus, I submitted a Step 1 Grievance asserting that (1) the unit grievance officer erroneously coded my ADA Step 1; and (2) the senior practice manager should have rerouted my Step 1 back to the unit grievance officer for appropriate handling.

It was only the availability of the TDCJ grievance codes in the Texas pack which allowed me to cite the appropriate code for my ADA complaint and to identify the erroneous code used by the unit grievance officer. As you know, the TDCJ Offender Grievance Operations Manual has been removed form the unit law libraries. I would not have been able to formulate my argument had the Texas pack not been available to me. But once again I am at a disadvantage with an incomplete Texas pack. Thank you for making this valuable resource available.

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[Campaigns] [Colorado]
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Don't be mislead by Colorado's lies in AR 850-04 "Grievance Procedure"

Colorado's grievance procedure is designed to intentionally mislead the prisoners who have to follow it into believing that they have to comply with certain provisions, such as the relief requested, or face being barred from suit due to "failure to exhaust" administrative remedies which is required before any civil action addressing prison conditions can proceed in court, by the Prison Litigation Reform Act 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a).

Colorado's Grievance Procedure AR 850-04IV-E-3-C-2 states: "The grievance officer may deny the grievance on procedural grounds, without addressing the substantive issue, if the grievance is incomplete, inconsistent with a former step, incomprehensible, illegible, requests relief that is not available, fails to request relief, or in any other way fails to comply with the provisions of this regulation, when the grievance is denied for a procedural error, the grievance officer shall certify in the response that the offender has not exhausted the grievance process."

First, there are many conjectures that I could make as to whether this Administrative Regulation oversteps its bounds by diminishing First Amendment rights, however I won't do that at this time. What I will do is simply prove the claim stated in the opening of this paper by presenting a brief history of jurisprudence of 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a).

42 U.S.C. 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act reads: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. 1983 … or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted."

Once again: "(T)he modifier 'available' requires the possibility of some relief." When the facts demonstrate that no such potential exists, the inmate has no obligation to exhaust the remedy."

"Next, an administrative scheme might be so opaque that it becomes, practically speaking, incapable of use. In this situation, some mechanism exists to provide relief, but no ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate them. As the solicitor general put the point: when rules are "so confusing that no reasonable prisoner can use them 'then' they're no longer available" Tr. Of Oral Arg 23

"And finally the same is true when prison administrators thwart inmates from taking advantage of a grievance procedure through machination, misrepresentation, or intimidation. In Woodford v. Ngo, we recognized that officials might devise procedural systems (including the blind alleys and quagmires just discussed) in order to "trip up all but the most skillful prisoners. As [appellet] courts have recognized, such interference with an inmates pursuit of relief renders the administrative process unavailable. And then, once again 1997(a)(e) poses NO bar." Ross v. Blake, - u.s. - , 136 S.ct. 1850, 1959-60 (2016)

Essentially, if for any of these reasons the grievance procedure is made unavailable, the prisoner need only to exhaust the process, i.e. file all steps, remain consistent with your relief, and comply with time lines. In actuality this was decided in 2001, before Woodford or Ross in Booth v Churner, 532 U.S. 731; 121 S.ct 819(2001). In Booth it was decided that an inmate seeking a remedy outside the scope allowable in the procedure in Booth that was monetary damages, he must still go through the process and complete all steps. Once he has completed all steps of appeal, he has exhausted all "available" remedies, and when officials misrepresent that fact, we have 3 supreme court cases to show otherwise.

Furthermore, all this has already been established, not only in the supreme court, but the 10th circuit and Colorado district courts. In Gandy v Raemisch, 2014 u.s. Dist. Lexis 43668, and affirmed by Gandy v. Barber, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis 3285 (10th Cir. Colo., Feb 23, 2016). Here Anthony A. Decesaro, Colorado's administrative head over the grievance procedure and, step 3 grievance officer, concluded that because Mr. Gandy had requested "written acknowledgement of retaliation and compensation," which are prohibited as allowable remedies by AR 850-04, that "[He] have not exhausted [his] administrative remedies in this matter based on your failure to satisfactorily request relief allowable." The case goes on to say "The defendants (CDOC employees) cite no authority for the proposition that an inmate's request for relief that exceeds that available under the grievance procedure results in a failure to exhaust, and indeed, Supreme Court precedent establishes just the opposite. In Booth v. Churner…" "To the contrary, the record reflects that Mr. Handy timely filed [his grievance] as a challenge to his allegedly retaliatory transfer out of AVCF, properly pursued that grievance through steps 2 and 3, and thus fully exhausted it."

The failure to correct this misleading policy with so much solid evidence against it, in eluding first hand knowledge by the 2 most capable people in CDOC, Rick Raemich and Anothny A. Decesaro, more than 2 years later can only be seen as intentional. For prison officials to intentionally mislead prisoners in an effort to manufacture a way to defeat their claims in court is a violation of the 1st amendment rights to petition the government for the redress of grievances; access to the court. This is especially true because congress has made administrative procedures a mandatory prerequisite to suit.

What body of the United States government would violate such a fundamental right of modern and civilized society? Could they have some vested interest in preventing claims from reaching full litigation? Could it be to prevent the public from becoming aware of even worse infringements on society and humanity? One only needs to see what really goes on inside of an "MCU" or "SHU", then examine the fact that the prison litigation reform act bars damages for "mental pain and anguish," and that the u.s. military's most recent change in tactics is towards what's called "effects based warfare" aimed at taking actions to influence the way the enemy thinks and makes decisions. If it were illegal to practice psychological torture techniques on its slave citizens, where else would they be able to develop these tactics?

Addition to Grievance Campaign

Colorado's grievance procedure, AR 850-04 violates 1st Amendment rights by knowingly and intentionally misleading prisoners. Among other things, requesting a remedy that exceeds that available under the AR does not result in failure to exhaust as stated in AR 850-04. This has been clearly established in the District of Colorado 10th Cir Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court; please see: Gandy v. Raemisch, 2014 U.S. Dist Lex is 43668 (Dist Colo. March 31, 2014) affirmed by 10th Cir, Booth V. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 121 S. Ct. 1819(2001); and Ross v. Blake, - u.s. - , 136 S. ct. 1850 (2016).

This violates our right to access the courts under the 1st amendment. Please fix this policy immediately to consider grievances exhausted in accordance with these decisions.

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[Organizing] [Political Repression] [Colorado State Penitentiary] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 64]
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Shower Power in Colorado

On 14 May 2018, after seven days of being on lockdown and receiving one shower, 6 prisoners at the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) in the Management Control Unit covered their windows in protest and demanded they be given showers. The administration argued that they had been taken off lockdown on May 12, and therefore were not due showers.

On May 12, the facility had been taken off lockdown for 10 minutes and as soon as the doors opened multiple prisoners began fighting and the facility immediately went back on lockdown not ten minutes later leaving prisoners without a chance to take showers since May 10th. Colorado's policy is that prisoners get a chance to shower every 72 hours.

At CSP each tier has 8 cells housing one prisoner each, 2 tiers per pod and 8 pods per unit. Six out of 8 prisoners all agreed to protest by covering their windows. Rather than allow the prisoners the human dignity of a shower, the cell extraction team was deployed, and a chemical weapon known as FOXISPRA Jet Oleoresin Capiscum (O/C) spray was applied. This caused several of the prisoners, including the author who has respiratory issues and is "O/C restricted" yet was still sprayed, to pass out. Apparently to Colorado DOC, being unconscious is considered resting. As usual staff tailored the reports to fit their needs, each prisoner was given disciplinary charges and monetary fines of $117, most of which was for one time use items that should have been split six different ways.

Sadly, the goal was not accomplished, however the 6 were allowed to shower to remove the O/C spray. The bright side is that solidarity such as this is on the rise in higher security prisons in Colorado, and this story has been circulating around the facility with high regard.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Building unity around common oppression is an important part of organizing behind bars. When people start to come together to demand their basic rights, they also start to see the power of this unity. Revolutionaries can build on this unity by helping folks to see how these individual situations of oppression are tied to the broader criminal injustice system. And making these connections we can start talking about what we need to do to fight back on a broader scale. Lots of people report their political awakening going back to persynal experiences of oppression, coupled with revolutionaries helping them see the ties to the broader system of oppression. United Struggle from Within comrades can play this leadership role by starting from where people are at and building with them.

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[Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 63]
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Grievance Battle Sustainability

In January 2018, I was written a case at 9:45pm for creating a disturbance along with six other comrades. The case was read to me at approximately 10:30pm the next day. I had read that they have 24 hours to read you a case after it is written. This was the first in a long list of procedural errors that followed. It did not matter that one elderly lady was heavily medicated after the death of her sister and was asleep on the night in question. It did not matter that we all wrote a statement for her. One lady had an answer to go home, three ladies were waiting to see parole, and I had just requested a special review. We were all found guilty, but not of creating a disturbance. We were all found guilty of a charge they added while we were at court: Disobeying a direct order.

Needless to say I grieved the case, which was a major infraction. I knew the Lt. involved was involved in an alleged beating of another comrade some years ago, so before I sent in my grievance I sent a copy to my mom. Yes! Us women are beaten, raped, sexually harassed and/or assaulted, and placed on chain gang/hoe squads as punishment. I made a carbon copy of the grievance, and my mother sent a copy to the Regional Director's office and the Ombudsmen. Someone from the Regional Director's office visited me to ensure I was not being harassed.

Of course Step 1 was returned claiming "no procedural errors were noted." A blatant lie. I sent in a Step 2 and am awaiting a response. In the wake of these bogus cases one lady’s parole answer was revoked and three others fear the same fate awaits them. I was denied the opportunity to take correspondence courses for a bachelor’s degree. In situations like this I have to remind myself that the worst case I ever caught was the one that put me here. I will not live here in fear.

I do not yet have the TX Pack, but I advise you all to read your rulebook thoroughly, learn your A.D.s (P.D. 22s get kicked back often as unprovable, your word against theirs). A.D.s aren’t so easily denied, and Step 2 EVERYTHING! When necessary Step 3. Also, obtain a list from sub counsel of all the reasons you can successfully appeal a case. Last, keep your nose clean. There are people who tell me they will never write a grievance. They find it insulting when a pig tells them to “grieve it”. “I would NEVER” they say. Then some injustice is done to them and they come to me. I give them a code to go look up. The seed is planted in this way.

Another response I get is “write it for me and I’ll sign it”. Comrades, it seems nearly impossible to gather the troops. However, don’t look at it from that angle. Writing 20 people's grievances is just like doing their homework so they can graduate. They still won’t be able to peep the science nor do the math. When you have 2-3 people who are willing to campaign with you then each of you are known for activism, you’ll have people coming to you. When that time comes, guide them, don’t do their homework. In this way, “less is more, it’s plenty of us”.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is clearly leading by example, and one of the examples ey sets is ey doesn't let small failures upset em: "I will not live here in fear." Success takes sustained effort over a long period of time. COs will discourage us every chance they get. The DOC administration will do everything they can to shut down our protests even when we play by their own rules. This all is part of the battle, to expect it, and keep doing what we're doing in spite of any discouragement. Often our grievances will fail, but that doesn't mean we give up. It just means we need to look at our plan of attack.

The more successful we are, the more people are gonna hate on us. The better we get at filing grievances and lawsuits, the more the state is gonna repress us. Strong comrades like this writer stand up to this repression and continue to demand their rights be respected.

This writer also brings up an important point about leadership. Leaders need to prepare people to do things themselves, how to fight their own battles. The important thing is not filing the grievance itself. The important thing is teaching people how to fight these battles, and helping them build confidence that they can fight back. These lessons will carry over into other parts of their life and political work. We need more leaders to step up and provide this education behind bars. In this issue of ULK there are lots of suggestions for ways to engage people and do organizing work. Find a way that works for you to become a leader in the anti-imperialist movement!

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